Earlier on today, I posted up an article about some historic miniatures that appeared in WD 125. One of those miniatures was the famous Nurgle Chariot by Steve Blunt, which won the Slayer Sword in 1989. I am happy to be able to bring you a special post packed with loads more of Steve's iconic work from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
I am able to do this because Steve has a really interesting, but sadly not very often updated, blog called Paint Splats and some years ago photographed much of his work and published it all on line. Some years ago, in the early days of this blog I mentioned this blog and shared a few of the pictures he posted up. Time has moved on, and that post is buried deep within the Realm of Chaos 80s archive, so I felt it appropriate to do a new, more detailed post about his work for all you old school fantasy fans.
I have organised the work chronologically and have used Steve's own notes to help flesh out the details about the models, and where possible, the positions each piece finished up in at the Golden Demon Awards that Steve attended. All of his quotes are presented in italic with a SB.
I big thank you should go out to Steve Blunt for painting this stuff so exquisitely back in the day, and for taking the time to photograph his collection for us all to enjoy. I do hope he doesn't mind me stealing his photographs and words and sharing them once more!
Right, let's go back in time to...
SB: Like most people my age I started painting with enamels but by the 1980s had moved on to acrylics, and the relatively new concept of using a black undercoat! Whilst I did use a few Citadel paint sets at the time, Windsor and Newton Artists tube acrylics were the predominant paints used.
On the day of the grand finals in Nottingham, one of the lasting impressions I came away with was how dull my figures looked (albeit relatively realistic) when compared to many other entrants. No doubt in part due to the more transparent nature of the tube paint over the black undercoat. Over all an enjoyable day out with one gold, two bronzes and a highly commended, although the gold was a surprise as I felt this piece was my weakest entry at the time! The gold fish did go down well though! The competition report with more pictures of the event and other entries can be found in White Dwarf 93.
Looking at the pictures now, it is glaringly evident how the standard of painting has improved over the past 20 years or so!
|Single Mounted Figure Category, heat winner and Honourable Mention|
This is a fun model to begin with. I am not sure from which range this model comes, but it appears to be some kind of mounted bard or elf with a sturdy looking horse. The three different green tones work really well on the clothing of the mounted figure and the yellow and red stripes on the hose match very nicely. I also like the way Steve used blue, orange a yellow to make more of the horse furniture, and the colours complement the greens perfectly. Note how simple the base is at this early stage in his career.
|Dragon Category, Bronze Demon|
This model won Steve a Bronze Demon and looks similar to the famous stage by stage version of the same model that appeared in White Dwarf in the same year. Here the base is a little more built up with detail, though the quality of the sculpting on the plants is primitive to say the least. Still , they work when viewed alongside the rocks and the rather realistic looking muddy grass. The addition of the books add further interest, but leave me rather puzzled to why they are present. Are dragons big readers?
Single figure Category, heat winner but unplaced at finals.
A lovely model, with well matched colours with the red and blue and certainly something to try myself. Steve's ambition is beginning to really show in this model, and just look at the added details he has included in the paint work. Additional patterns on the robes as well as a rather livid scar on the arm make a characterful model more characterful. The hexagonal base is a real plus too.
|Conversion Category,.Gold Demon|
This model won Steve his first gold, and as he stated earlier, he felt this to be his weakest work! Again, I am not sure of what model this was based on but it seems to be some kind flying goblin or orc. The base is also very worthy of study as it appears to be made up of natural materials that have not been painted - on at least don't look like they have been painted by me! The addition of the fishing rod adds some welcome 1980s zany humour that seemed abundant in the early Fantasy Miniature books.
|Monster Category. Heat winner not placed at final|
The green on those jewels really draw the eye in don't they? A great model from one of the minotaur ranges of the 1980s and based with more natural materials
|Not entered into the competition but contemporary to the other models in this section.|
If you read through Steve's blog in more detail, he goes on to talk about how he tried several times in the 1980s to build up a dwarf army, though he never succeeded. These lovely dwarfs were to be part of the aborted force. These old lead dwarfs are a lovely range, and full of very characterful faces and these are beautifully painted examples. A joy to study this one.
|Vignette Category. Ogres and Snotling, heat winner not placed at finals|
Jes Goodwin ogres face off against a rather cheeky looking Kev Adams snotling. You can see how realistic the tones are here, thanks to the W&S paints Steve was using at the time, which just goes to show you don't have to use wargaming acrylics to paint a miniature up well.
|Diorama Catagory. Bronze Demon|
This is a fantastic looking, and highly detailed, diorama that according to Steve's notes, sadly no longer exists and this is one of the few photographs of it. This is a great example of the 'spot the model' type of work that rewards careful study. If you are anything like me, you will spot something new each time you look at this model. Classic minotaurs, orcs and chaos warriors are just some of the goodies you can spot here. I wonder how that minstrel ended up in that cage?
SB: By this time I had now swapped to a white undercoat in order to brighten things up a bit after the 1987 experience but still combined with the same Windsor and Newton Artists tube acrylics. I suppose this year represented a bit of a purple patch for me as not only had I managed three gold demons and the Slayer Sword, I had also managed to complete five pieces in as many months, pretty prolific for me!
Mounted Figure Category. Chaos conversion, Gold Demon.
Those of you with sharp eyes will recognise this model from my previous post as it appeared as part of the expert conversions section, and it was also featured in the Fantasy Miniatures book for 1989. It really pleasing to see these images, as they allow us to have a look at different angles and unveils details we have been unable to see for some years. Which is a strange feeling sometimes, especially if you have been studying a model for over twenty years! I love the snake that coils around the rocks on the base, and the detailing on the trident. A couple of years on, Steve's bases are much more sophisticated and detailed, though the natural looking style and ideas remain.
One thing that I have never noticed before about this model before, and has been highlighted by these photographs are the multicoloured lines on the chainmail.
Monster Category: Greater Demon of Tzeentch, heat winner but not placed at finals.
This model have an wonderfully detailed base with loads of sculpted fungi growing off a treestump. There seems to be some kind of daemon headed snake monster grappling with the Lord of Change and perhaps that rather innocent looking treestump is its home?
Conversion Category: Great Imperial Dragon-Minotaur Lord conversion, Gold Demon.
Ahhh! Now here is a model that I really do recognise, only this time it comes from the winners section of the Fantasy Miniatures book of 1989. I can honestly say I have spent years studying this particular piece and always wondered about it. Now, with the wonders of digital photography much more of its detail have been revealed to me, including a closer shot of its shield. And it really is a masterpiece is it not, and worthy of the gold it won!
At this point, Steve's work on his bases seems to switch from fantasy to classical in their style, and this is a great development. The nod to the Ancient World is continued further with the addition of a Roman style helmet for the minotaur. Is that the head of a temple dog on the base?
Standard Bearer Category. Elf standard bearer not placed.
If this was not placed, I wonder what the rest of the competition was like for Standard Bearers? The work here just goes to show how far I have to go with my own banners until I reach (if indeed I ever do) the giddy heights of these old masters.
Vignette Category. Nurgle Chariot; Gold Demon and Slayer Sword Winner.
An immortal classic. What can be said about this model and worthy Golden Demon Slayer Sword winner!? INCREDIBLE! Its really pleasing to be able to take a closer look at this iconic model all these years later, and with the clearer photographs it really is possible to spot loads of new little features that have been lost for a quarter of a century or more. I have noticed, for example, the red and green snakes that coil through the base of the chariot as I was working on this post.
One of the all time greatest fantasy models by anyone anywhere.
SB: During this period I only completed a few smaller pieces, none intended for competition entry which was a relief. As usual Windsor and Newton Artists tube acrylics were the paints of choice. First up another Dragon conversion based on the Citadel Rock Dragon, this time with a more medieval flavour.
Wow! Now here is a model I have not seen before and its a real treat. I love the idea of a dragon standing up dressed as a medieval knight- especially considering he has heraldry consisting of a green dragon too! Great fun and a rather nifty base too!
These models were another attempt to complete that dwarf army, and if you look closely you can see that these were clearly never completed. So even the old masters of this hobby have draws full of uncompleted projects!
This is a conversion of one of the Citadel C28 giants produced in the mid 1980s and sculpted by Nick Bibby. This has seen some work, with the right arm being bent to support the dwarf and the beer barrel being cut away so it appears that this giant is carrying a poor dwarf! The axe embedded in the giant's boot tells a wonderful story. So simple. So effective. Beautiful to see.
Next up is that chaos sorcerer with some minor conversion work. Like the giant, Steve's sense of humour comes through with this one, and I really like the way he has repeated the cloud and lightning motif on the robes too.
Ork weirdboyz and according to Steve, one of the few 40K pieces he ever did. A beautiful banner too!
This is another minor conversion. Can you see the added beard on this rather illustrious wizard? The base was made up from three other wizard models and one can be clearly seen in the stone. By this point, it is clear that Steve has really developed up hi skills with creating bases and his work is excellent. Got to love those mushrooms!
SB: A total of 17 goblins go to make up this piece, almost a unit. The initial build was done very quickly in about a month, the caravan being predominantly made from balsa wood and some bits and pieces from the spares box like wheels etc. As far as I can remember the relatively bright green goblin flesh was in vogue at the time and as usual W&N tube acrylic paints were used throughout. Unfortunately one or two repairs still need to be done to bring it back to original condition! Even though it got off to a flying start, in the end it took the best part of a year to complete the project, mainly a motivational thing rather than the amount of work involved.
When I first lay eyes on these photographs I was blown away and I feel this is the best of Steve's work that I have seen. I don't think it was ever entered into a competition, though I may well be wrong. The first place I ever saw this model was on Steve's blog and I cannot remember seeing it anywhere else. There is just so much going on in this one to even begin to make a coherent comment about it.. . so I won't both. My favourite part? Definitely the gobbo getting fired out of the cannon!
SB: This was to be the final time I entered Golden Demon, this time at the Birmingham NEC, an even bigger noisier venue! The piece was finished in about two months and on the whole I was quite happy with it, especially as the competition basing restrictions were even tighter this year in not allowing any overhang of the pre determined base size, so a lot to squeeze in! The sculpting of the gold Minotaur when I look at it now seems very naive by today’s standards or even by the standards in 1992! But on the whole I don’t think it detracts from the piece too much. In the end the piece achieved a bronze demon in the diorama category, although no picture was ever published of it in white Dwarf etc. which was a shame, but there you go and here it is now anyway! This was to be the final piece painted in acrylics for a few years.
And so we end with this, another classical world inspired Golden Demon entry, but as Steve states in his quote, this one never appeared in a White Dwarf and there was not a book published that year of the entries either. Still, its fantastic to see it in all this detail. The Ancient Greek iconography is probably my favourite part of this model.
Well, I hoped you enjoyed this journey through Steve's collection. There are loads of other models and great paint jobs on his blog so it well worth following the link at the top of this article and having a look.
Right, I am off to read up on The Lost and the Damned!