Friday 26 September 2014

The Citadel Logo

Social media can throw up some unexpected events, and though uncommon, these events are not unheard of on the Oldhammer Facebook page. Recently, a rather interesting conversation played out between several members that I felt was worthy of developing into an article, largely due to the need to preserve these stories and ensure they don't become lost in a long, long thread of eventual oblivion.

The topic of conversation? The creation of the famous Citadel logo. These days its an almost universally known brand, albeit one that has merged somewhat with Games Workshop. They are now interchangable. They have been one and the same for a long time. However, once back in the mists of the late 1970s, Citadel were one against many. Just another miniature manufacturer but a manufacturer with the support of the successful GW chain itself. For a time, they were separate companies, though Citadel effectively owned and ran the GW line roughly between the years 1986 and 1991 until the entire group of companies were sold (and ultimately merged) into what we know today.

Despite being (probably) the most famous and well known logo in the world of wargaming, I couldn't actually find out much about its creation for other websites. There were a few threads to pull, but nothing definate. I am glad to be able to draw these together and organise them in this way so many more of you are able to have access to the facts.

The discussion sprang from Zhu's question about who designed the early Rogue Trader Imperial Eagle image and eventually spread to the Citadel logo itself. Tony Ackland was initially blamed for its creation but later popped up, as people can due to the wonders of modern technology, to put the matter straight. 

"Though the (Citadel logo) has undergone some changes over time. The original logo and the image came from Albie Fiore. Where he got (the idea) from I have no idea. I redrew it because the original was so small and its use became somewhat limited." 

Tony Ackland. Facebook. 2014.

So who was Albie Fiore you will probably be wondering? Sadly, he is no longer with us, having died in 2009 following complications involving a lung tumour. But British newspaper, The Guardian, was kind enough to run an obituary on him that is available online.

Here is an except.

(He was known to many) through his work in the field of architecture, as a contributor to the television show The Crystal Maze, a production designer for Games Workshop, an antiques dealer specialising in slot machines, an adviser in the development of Erno Rubik's puzzles, the editor of the magazine Games & Puzzles, a writer of storylines for children's comic characters such as Scooby Doo and a chef on private yachts. Residents of the Bloomsbury area of central London, too, while not necessarily having known Albie, will have been familiar with the sight of the Tom-Baker-as-the Doctor-like figure cycling around on his butcher's bike on the way to and from various marketplaces.
Albie was born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and educated at Southend high school for boys, Southend School of Architecture, and the Architectural Association in London. Even in childhood he was fascinated by puzzles, whether literal, numerical, logical or mechanical, so it was no surprise that in the early 1960s a bank holiday double puzzle, almost certainly by Araucaria, spawned his interest in cryptic crosswords.
In the 1970s, Albie was on the editorial team of Games & Puzzles, a magazine run from a small office near Tottenham Court Road in central London. While largely concerned with board games, the magazine offered the opportunity for specialist crosswords and articles about crosswords. At first, Albie oversaw the crossword pages, but in the late 1970s took over the editorship of the whole magazine.
Albie later established himself as a setter of crosswords – a characteristic clue, of which he was justly proud, was "No can do (6,5)". He joined the Guardian team in 1992, adopting his nom de plume Taupi from a nickname he was given as a student working on a French farm, that translates as "Moley". His pseudonym in the Financial Times, Satori, in Zen Buddhism "sudden enlightenment", is based on the Basque word for "mole". Satori was first published in 2002. His puzzles for both papers were on the hard side, but always fair – the solution to "No can do" is "Bottle Party".
John Henderson. The Guardian. 2009.

So all in all, not your run-of-the-mill designer of fantasy products. And his name is certainly not one that had really registered in my mind when thinking of Citadel company history. The Grand Master of Chaos went on to explain further what he could recall.

"(I am) not sure whether Albie created it or whether it was a bit of clip art. It was pretty crude, and was reminiscent of some American '50s, early '60s pseudo Gothic imagery. In fact the internal image found in the US movie monster magazine Castle of Frankenstein was a much more elaborate image in that style. But the shadow of Neuschwanstein hangs over then all. The Citadel logo was made up from a US type face that came as a paper cutout. Made Letraset look hi-tec by comparison. I did a revised version of the castle when we were at Victoria St. Mainly so that it could be use larger on the postal stuff we put out. "
Tony Ackland. Facebook. 2014.

Now the internet is full of photographic examples of the Citadel log. A quick Google search will throw them up, though I pinched these from the Oldhammer Facebook thread (thanks Don Slater) but studying them, its clear that there were several different versions throughout the 1980s. 

Changes through the '80s. Here is an earlier version of the famous Citadel logo. 
This painting can also be found in White Dwarf.
Luckily for us, one Bryan Ansell also popped up to share his recollections on the creation of the famous Citadel logo. 

Steve Jackson, Ian Livingston, Albie and me gathered in the upstairs room above the first GW shop to talk about the name of the new company and its logo. I don't think it took us very long. Albie had been to an exhibition of the mad King Ludwig of Baravia's castles. He chose the one that became the logo. It was a castle that was never built (I think). But you can see bits of it in the finished ones I think Albie did the art. Round about the time we moved to Eastwood, Dave Andrews did another version to go on our blister packs.

One of Ludwig's of Baravia's castles. Note the similarity.
The Citadel name was me. I thought it was solid, dependable sort of name. I think I then went back to Arnold and bought the sheet of cut out letters for the logo. It may have been called Stonehenge: though my memory of that is blured now. I expect that I cut the letters out and pasted them down. I do clearly remember going to the same stationer a couple years before and buying the sheet for the Asgard logo. Paul Sully did the pasting for that and drew the Thor logo though.

Bryan Ansell. Facebook. 2014

And so ends the story, for now anyway, as there may be more to this tale than has already been revealed. Perhaps you know something of import and are willing to share it with the readership. If so, please do share.
And if you haven't already, go join the Oldhammer Facebook group!


  1. Great insight into an iconic wargaming image.

    1. I am glad that you think so. Its amazing how many little stories like this that can be uncovered so many years later thanks to changes in technology and communication. The spontaneous way in which these nuggets are uncovered is equally fascinating.

  2. Thank you for that!

    Sorry to bother, but I have just read Jonathan Green's history of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, and the Citadel logo is linked there with the cover of the third book in the series, The Citadel of Chaos (

    However, I can't know remember whether the cover created the design OR if Jackson and Livingstone just wanted to tie the book series to the activities of Games Workshop by streamlining designs across all their activities.

    And of course: thank you for the blog! Keep up the good work!

    1. Citadel was founded in 1979, before the first FF book, so I expect that the iconic design influenced the Citadel of Chaos' cover. I too have read the book by Jonathan and I pretty sure that he states something similar there, or quotes someone who does. I will have to check later. I am glad you enjoy the blog.

  3. What a wonderful article. Since that logo and it's many variants have been a part of so many of our lives, it's enlightening to find out where it was originally conceived.

    1. You are quite right, it is! My wife was suggesting a holiday to Germany in the next couple of years so perhaps I will get the chance to check out on the Ludwig's Bavarian castles first hand. And hopefully some smooth German beer too!

    2. The top part of the logo (especially Tony Ackland's) looks like it inspired the wizard's tower miniature for Mighty Empires too

  4. A great article, really fascinating to read about the history of GW and Citadel and from the creators themselves; thank you for sharing. What an incredible legacy they started all those years ago.

    I've always been intrigued by the decision and changes of management in '91 and the floating on the stockmarket in '94. Can you shed any light on these decisions from those involved?

    1. Well a rough outline might work out like this. By the mid '80s Bryan Ansell had bought out GW (and Ian and Steve) enough to have full independent control of the business. Being a miniature manufacturer, he realised that the profits relating to traditional RPG products were falling but sales of the actual miniatures was much more healthy. Hence, under his control there was a big, big push for miniature related games (WFB2nd and 3rd editions, 40k, and all the big box games etc) and a gradual winding down of RPG support. White Dwarf was changed to push GW games only and the early experiments with plastics began. GW expanded during this period, pushing into new markets, especially in the US. By the early 1990s Bryan had less input as a management buy out (lead by Tom Kirby) was in progress. By late 1991, Bryan had sold the company (for a reported £10 million). The management buyout left the new owners of GW heavily in debt, and so new editions of WFB and 40k were produced (very cheaply I have been told) and published as big box games. These were very much targeted at younger players. A few years later, the company was floated on the stock market and ceased to be a private company. No longer would the creative vision of a small group of likeminded people be at the fore. Now, it was all stocks, shares and shareholders.

  5. Well, this has to be one of he most interesting things I've read on the internet in some time! Great work. And what an interesting chap Albie Fiore seems to have been what a diverse and eclectic career path he had! Good on him!

    As an aside, I remember as a youngster thinking the Citadel logo always looked like a guitar from a distance...

    1. I am glad that you enjoyed it Chris. Yes Albie seems to be a bit of an unsung hero regarding his contribution to fantasy gaming, small as it was. He clearly contributed a great deal more to more traditional types of gaming. But he made his mark.

    2. I'm not sure Albie Fiorie's contribution can be regarded as 'small'. He was responsible for one of the most widely-regarded D&D scenarios ever (certainly of those published outside of TSR/WotC) - 'The Lichway', originally published in WD 9 and reprinted in WD Scenarios I. He was also the editor of the 'Fiend Folio' column in WD, which was if I recall correctly the source for the monsters in the original D&D 'Fiend Folio'. If I'm right, he also created several of those monsters.

      Here's a link to something Fighting Fantasist wrote about The Lichway some years ago:

      This implies that Terry Pratchett was originally hooked on D&D (and then developed the Discworld) through playing 'The Lichway', which, if true, gives Albie Fiore some share in inspiring one of the most successful fantasy fiction series of all time. It's a great shame, I didn't know he'd died. I'm sure he'd have got a kick out of knowing that the classic era of British gaming that he was so intimately bound up with was making a comeback.

      I originally came to this post looking for information on the typeface used by Citadel, when I was making an 'Oldhammer' logo for my blog - - but I still haven't found out what it was originally! It's a pity Tony Ackland and Bryan Ansell can't remember. But, I did come across this - - which was one person's attempt at recreating it, and the font I eventually used for my logo.

    3. If you are after information about fonts for Citadel then I really do suggest speaking to Zhu Baijee, either through the FB group or the forum. I am certain he carried out research into this topic. Tell him I sent you! (:

    4. Thanks - though I've been re-reading all of this, and I've realised that the information was in front of me and I didn't notice. Tony Ackland thought that the typeface was a paper one from the US; Bryan Ansell thought it was called 'Stomehenge'.

      Going back to the computer font, I notice it's from a paper one called 'Stonehenge' but they changed the name because there's a different typeface called Stonehenge.

      So... the computer font is the same as the origin of the typeface that was used by Citadel.

  6. Funny, I assumed it had something to do with John Blanche's Hrthyogg's Tower. In my mind they were pretty much a match, but now I get WFRP out again and have a ood look they're completely different castles!

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