Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Eavy Metal Special: White Dwarf 120

Analysis of painted figures is always rewarding. Tricks, tips and inspiration are very easy to come by if you take the time to observe what other painters have done before. I am always doing it, and really enjoy cruising through the copious Oldhammer blogs, forums and websites in search of new ideas. In truth, we are spoilt these days. Its hard to recall what life was like in our younger days, when waiting for news or images of the latest releases revolved around White Dwarf's release into newsagents nationwide. No internet, no downloads, no pdfs... nothing. If you wanted to see painted models you had to either get out there and socialise or flick through the monthly hallowed pages of White Dwarf. 

'Eavy Metal was always the first thing I would flick to when I received my copy of the magazine. The blue, granite backdrop a welcome balm to the hurried paint smeared attempts that were my early figures. I would peer closely at the paintjobs of Andy Craig, or Paul Benson or Mike McVey and wonder impossibly about how the effects I was seeing were achieved. After all, my technique at the time was base colour and then wash with black!

Thankfully, none of my early efforts survive to this day but we can rejoice that many of the old school pieces we enjoyed in our younger years still do, either on the pages of ancient issues of White Dwarf or in the collection of Bryan Ansell. Today, we are going to take a stroll through the miniatures that were presented in issue 120 of White Dwarf.

Staff pieces begin our little nostalgic trip. Some recently released transfers seem to be the order of the day here, with the primitive marine top left being adorned with one. Only this transfer has had additional detail added through repainting. You have just gotta love that retro '80s rocket launcher! This spread is typical of the time and sees a hotpotch of different miniatures from different games, including those rather naff early '90s Marauder minotaurs. Its nice to see some epic vehicles get some love on this page too. Of note to us here is the converted jump pack marine who looks like he is standing in mid-air and the Bad Moon Noble ork, painted by Andy Craig- if I am not mistaken. 

There is lots to like on this second page. The Inquisitor top left is not known to me and I am not sure if its a conversion or an unreleased model. No doubt you serious collectors can give us further information in the comments section about that particular model. I do like its paint scheme though, the pinky red works very well with the gold of the armour and fittings giving the model a patrician look. The minotaur is a little better than the model shown on the previous page but it is still very dull compared to the models released earlier on in the 1980s in my opinion. The ratling snipers are fantastic models (by the Perrys if memory serves) and just ooze the wacky character of Rogue Trader. The converted ork Snakebite shows us the the ear of the Ork books is about to hit us hard on the pages of WD. Genestealer hybrids were also very popular at this time (and are also rather popular in Oldhammer circles in the time of writing) and various models from a personal army appear here regularly. More of the new Citadel transfers are shown off on the shoulder pads of the space marines, proving once again that the plastic box set from all those years ago is still excellent. The star models on this page begin with the excellent Palanquin of Nurgle (which I have managed to acquire recently for a very reasonable price) and the multiple mounted figures shown provide usual for the model in both Warhammer and 40k, and early example of GW doing this. Next we have the brilliant Link Angel, which I am assuming is a Judge Dredd model so please correct me if I am wrong, which looks very Mad Max and Dark Futurey - if such an adjective is possible! The stand out models on this page are the plastic skeletons because they have great shields and bases and just look totally different to anyone else's interpretation of these models. 

By this time, Paul Benson was giving up teaching (very sensible) to join the Design Studio and so more of his work starts to appear in GW publications. I have always found this page of his painting quite interesting as you can start to see his style shift away from the bright models he was famous for into models that looked a little bit gritty. You can see this with the terminator models at the top of the page. One can only assume that Paul started to undercoat in darker tones. His orcs here are top, top notch and in my opinion rival even the greatest painter of them all, Fraser Gray.

Champion - as they say up North.



  1. Mr Benson also earns extra points for the use of hex bases.

  2. My favourite era of White Dwarf for sure. The techniques used to get that lovely sherbet lemon yellow on the ork nob fascinated and eluded me at the time.

    The Inquisitor is an off the peg model, although the backpack cloak may have come from somewhere else. I am fond of that sculpt and I would like to get one some day.

    Lastly, because I am an anal retentive: the first marine is carrying a conversion beamer, not a missile launcher. Its a cool looking weapon regardless :)

    1. I picked up one of those inquisitors a while back and have since sold it on, but I *theeenk* that it came with a cloak-backpack. Though it was second hand, so I suppose it may not have been original.

  3. That marine with the heavy weapon is actually a Conversion Beamer, not a Rocket Launcher.

    Interestingly, he's also been flipped.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. While we have sources of inspiration all around us nowadays thanks to the internet, i do cherish the days where White Dwarf was the source of our inspiration. There are no words to describe the excitement of a new White Dwarf in hand

  5. "After all, my technique at the time was base colour and then wash with black!"

    That's nothing, I was using Testors enamels with no shading/highlights! On the upside, it did help me learn to paint neatly, so when I did learn better acrylic techniques (ie. beyond drybrushing everything), my work suddenly became much better.

    Your retrospective is, as always, fun and interesting.

  6. I'm late to the party on this but this is first White Dwarf I ever purchased. I was 10 years old and found it at a local hobby shop. I spent more time looking at those Eavy Metal pages than most kids do playing video games. I read every word of that issue dozens of times (even the ads). I was that crazy about it. For me those Ultramarines are still the gold standard and what I look to when painting marines to this day. Great review and I appreciate the context!