Saturday 27 December 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Mounted Chaos Knights and Dark Elf Shadow Scouts

Welcome back to Realm of Chaos 80s! If you are anything like me, you are probably thoroughly sated by the excess of the Christmas period and ready to settled down once again into something that resembles a routine. I am quite lucky as I still have well over a week off before the return to school and I always use this time to get a good bit of painting done, usually finishing off some of those projects that never quite made it through the rest of the year. 

Before I dust off the paint brushes and get started, let's discuss the next installment of Acceptable in the '80s: my history of the Warhammer Third Edition. By now we have reached December 1990 and things are really beginning to change at Games Workshop. Bryan Ansell, for so long the visionary behind the Warhammer Mythos, had been spending more and more time overseas expanding the company in the USA. The sale of the company was only months away. The first signs of the future of Warhammer and 40K can be seen... The beginning of the phasing out of RPGs, streamlining the rulesets and a major shift towards a much younger market. 

The Golden Age of Games Workshop was drawing to a close. 

Still, Citadel and Marauder still had plenty of gems to share with us as we shall see. 

Marauder Mounted Chaos Warriors

Now the first thing you notice about these models is how closely they resemble the 'on-foot' versions we talked about in September. If you are not sure what I mean by this then pop over to this article on the Marauder Chaos Warriors. They are obviously conversions based on the original models, with changes to the weapons (most notably the lance) and legs. I have always found it curious that Marauder didn't put out any more chaos warrior models, especially when you consider how popular the figures are, but there you go.

These models are now highly sought after with the collectors and the horse can often sell for £10 each! Personally, I much prefer the Citadel warriors myself but I can appreciate why these models still prove very popular with people today.

Its the painting that interests me the most though, especially those shields. The tree bough example (bottom left) we have spoken about before on this blog and is one of my favourite freehand shields. Like all great designs for shields and banners, its really quite simple but the orange background creates a great sense of brooding atmosphere. The second freehand design (bottom right) has always reminded me of a Tzeentchian chilli pepper but continues the theme of using a bright background with darker foreground detail.

A very effective combination.

The other two models sport the new plastic Marauder shields and these, though they paint up very well, spell the beginning of what we would come to expect, shields and banners with all the detail provided. The age of the freehand design being actively encouraged by 'Eavy Metal and Games Workshop generally was passing with the shift to a younger market.

Dark Elf Shadow Scouts 

Now I must admit to not really having taken notice of this little set of models before writing this article. Looking at the models now, I find that I really, really like them. They share some elements with Bob Naismith's original sculpts but that have a strong nautical flavour that makes them seem all the more piratical.

Again, the paint jobs on these models really bring out the feeling that these menacing chaps are reavers of the sea. Brought up on saltwater and slaughter. They are a worthy contribution to any Dark Elf force in my opinion. 

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Citadel Miniatures and Christmas: A potted history

The first Citadel Christmas miniature. A mail order special by all accounts. Part of the collection of Billy Bunter.

Ho ho ho! Fresh from upsetting the 'serious' clique of Citadel traders with a post about the truth behind the business of buying and selling old school GW miniatures, I thought it was time to settle down and enjoy some Christmas cheer. Mince pies, Christmas ale, the family argument... followed along by me trying the squash myself into last year's Christmas jumper!

Suitably attired, I made my way down the stairs to settle myself down in front of the modelling table. With the wife's official command of 'no jobs' to be done today, I find myself free of any real responsibility for quite some time (well a couple of hours). What shall I do with my newly acquired freedom? Finish off my McDeath minis? Begin my 1987 Citadel giant? Complete the painting of my model Oldhammer cottage?

No, I spin off into that perennial time waster that is the internet, browsing through the many festive posts that grognards the world over share this time of year. It doesn't take long to stumble across some of the vintage miniatures that Citadel Miniatures put out back in the less corporate and cynical 1980s and every year I kick myself and think 'why didn't I get one of those to paint this year?' 

Then I commit myself to getting hold of one of them for the next Christmas period, but I always manage to forget and shift my attention to other things. So what better use of this sudden and unexpected free time but to delve into the depths of Christmas past and bring you a celebration of all the festive figures that were put out in times gone by. 

Ho ho ho, indeed! 

The Mail Order Father Christmas 1981 (edit- by the Perrys)

This model is a new one on me and is so rare that I have only just discovered it, despite years and years of research. But then, freewheeling through the history of Games Workshop and Citadel Miniatures is always a journey of discovery. I don't actually know much about this model beyond it was part of a mail order promotion in the year 1981. As you will have seen, the only painted version I could uncover was in the collection of Billy Bunter and I will share his rear view (the miniature, not Billy's - sorry ladies and Chico!) 

As an aside, if you haven't checked out Billy's incredible collection of fully painted classic Citadel then you really should. In my opinion it is the finest collection in the world and is a joy to browse through. Follow the link for a lovely Christmas present of visual stimulation. 

On to the model itself, and the second version you can see here is taken from the CCM archive and is the only other visual record I could find of the figure. I really like the model though I cannot be certain who sculpted it and there are obvious parallels to Gandalf striding through the wilds, and there should be. Father Christmas shares a close pedigree with the wizard from the Lord of the Rings, and share the same root of being Woden, the old English god (similar in many ways to Odin) and a suitably wise and bearded figure, slightly dangerous, with a perchance to give gifts!

Like many single piece models sculpted by an artist, the model is charming in its composition if a little primitive by later standards. Still it feels real to be (unlike multi-part plastic kits) and reminds me of the things that the Wargames Foundry put out from time to time. 

Funny that.

A rear shot showing Father Christmas' sack (cue Chico!) and his long staff.

Dwarf Santa - Aly Morrison Chester Store Opening Special 1985

This example is from the collection of Steve Blease, the famous blogger and proprietor of Bleaseworld.
If the first model is not well known, at least to me, then this model is the precise opposite. The Dwarf Santa model is a regular on eBay and can sell for a reasonable amount, especially in the spring, but is still victim to silly price syndrome from the rip off merchants online. According to legend, they were produced to celebrate the opening of the Chester GW store in the winter of 1985 and were handed out. There must have been a great number of people there as there are quite a few of these in people's collections though I suspect that it was cast up for subsequent Christmases due to the frequency of them appearing for sale or in collections. 

Obviously, this figure lacks the gravitas of Father Christmas, despite the red coat and bristling white beard. I get the feeling that he started life as a regular dwarf and the Christmas bits were added later. Still, he is a great fun figure full of dwarfish charm and no doubt ready to strike down goblinoids and consume drams of whiskey in equal measure. Its the tab that I like the most though, and the image below this piece of text shows you what was printed on it. MERRY XMAS. A nice touch.

This painted example can be found, along with loads of other quality miniatures on the Bleaseworld site. Just follow the link to see more of Steve's stuff.

Space Santa- Bob Naismith Limited Edition LE6

Space Santa, complete with Christmas cracker inspired raygun? From the collection of Sho3box.
Back in the days when Bryan ran things and GW produced new products all the time, a sense of fun prevailed and Citadel put out lots of zany limited edition miniatures. The term limited edition is a bit silly really, because all things are ultimately limited, aren't they, but the term does make good commercial sense for obvious reasons. This model started life as a festive release back in 1985 and according to what we know, was sculpted by Bob 'I invented the Space Marines' Naismith. 

Again, like the Dwarf Santa, this model is often seen for sale at a range of prices on eBay and other places so there must be a great number of them kicking about. In fact, Sho3box, who painted the model, got his in a trade from Just John (a thoroughly nice chap to share a few drinks with at an Oldhammer Weekend) who had a spare - still in its packaging! 

Here's Sho3box's photograph below.

I bet the 1980s air trapped inside there smelled great when it was released. 
It looks nice in the packaging, doesn't it? Pristine, and some collectors like their models this way. Thankfully, Sho3box is like me and collects his miniatures to paint up and used so he didn't waste time getting this chap cleaned up, based and fully painted. And he has done a really nice job too. I included an other 'from behind' shot which I have shared below so you can further appreciate his painting and have a look at what the back of this model looks like. 

Oh, and before you continue reading this little Christmas missive, why not drop off at Sho3box's blog and have a peruse around as there is quite a lot of interesting things to be seen there. 

I lot of fun could be had with this model in scenario terms, especially if you are playing a wacky Rogue Trader game. 
 Sanity Claws- Bob Naismith LE16 1986

You wouldn't want this coming down your chimney, would you?
Bob Naismith was the mastermind behind this handsome chap, and it seems that the Christmas sculpt was very much his responsibility in the mid 1980s, doesn't it? Now I have read in various places of people's confusion over why this miniature was released at all, apart from the obvious Christmas connection as nothing in the Warhammer Mythos contained anything like this. Well the answer is simple, GW had just published their version of the classic RPG Call of Cthulhu (the third edition of the game) and this miniature, Lovercraftian with a little British humour, was created in celebration of that event. 

He even made the cover of White Dwarf in December 1986 in a work of art by great, and chaotic, Ian Miller! 

The first Citadel cover star! 

Here is Sanity Claws on his sleigh (slay?) whirling through the skies of the Old World. White Dwarf December 1986
We will return to Billy Bunter's brilliant collection for this model as the diorama he has shared with us is first rate. The image above is a close up shot of what you can see in all its glory below. I love this little scene; the old house, the rope and grappling hook and old Sanity Claws himself ready to 'drop off' a few presents. 

Mistletoe and slime no doubt! 

Sanity Claws. From the collection of Billy Bunter.

Now that we can see the model from both sides all the amusing little details spring out at us. He appears to be carrying in one hand some type of bell, though I very much doubt anyone alerted to his presence will be wanting to sit on old Sanity's knee, if indeed he has a knee at all! But its the rear shot of the sack that I like the most, with the tear in the material and the hand hanging out!

A great fun figure and my personal favourite of the lot. 

Chaos Santa- Perry Twins limited release date unknown

I know a bloke like this. From the collection of Billy Bunter.
Another great painted miniature from Billy Bunter's collection. This time we have the Chaos Santa model who is also a regular on eBay. I am not sure of the date of this release, so if anyone reading this knows any more than I, please do get in contact with us and share what you know. What I can say is the model must have been produced after 1985 as it has a slottabase and MERRY XMAS is once more written across the tab! If I was to hazard a guess, I would say 1987, but this is only conjecture as miniatures seem to have been released for Christmas in 1985, '86 and '88. 

It certainly follows a pattern.

Slottabase, Slottabase, Slottabase all the way...

As before, I have included a 'rear shot' of the model so you can appreciate the detail and quirks on the model. This time, the figure has an even more gruesome bag of presents and seems to be holding a lump of flesh in place of a mince pie. He is also armed with a rather hefty looking axe and wears a rather fetching chaos cultist mask. If this model is from 1987 then there may be an additional connection to GW lore. 1987 was of course the release of Slaves to Darkness, so a link to the Dark Gods would have been most appropriate. 

Oh what fun it is to ride...
Dark Future Santa 1988

This little chap is a bit of a mystery but I know a little about him. He is a Dark Future scale model so much smaller than the miniatures we have discussed thus far. Again, like many of the others he is a popular eBay listing but does suffer from some very silly prices. Even so, like all the Christmas models he is very collectible, despite his small stature. 

If you don't know, Dark Future was a car combat game released in 1988 and set in a alternative history of the USA. Its great fun and something I once began a project on, but the lure of this blog and its subsequent success put paid to that idea for a while. It had a fairly short lifespan and was discontinued in the early 1990s, probably due to the fact that it didn't have anything to do with the main Warhammer brand. If we follow the pattern of thinking at Citadel I have suggested in this post, it makes sense to have a Dark future release in 1988 alongside the game. 

This example comes from the Solegends site dedicated to the Citadel Santas but I don't know whose collection they belong to. If you know, please do share. 

And Finally... The Christmas Marines 1987

The infamous Christmas Marines from a WD advert. I had these once, but had to sell them during a period of hard times. 
At last, the truth can be finally shared with you all. Something that Games Workshop have been trying to keep secret from the wargaming world for well over twenty years. What happened to the missing two legions in the 40k background? There have been many theories and even mentions in the Horus Heresy fiction. Well, at last I can reveal the truth to you. 

It seems that the two missing legions appeared on the scene in the very early says of Rogue Trader, though in exactly what order remains to be decided. Its seems to me that the infamous 'Christmas Legion' appeared second and as they are more relevant to this post we shall discuss them first. Little is known about this Legion save that they were a festive bunch whose combat doctrine involved the consumption of fermented vegetable products and unruly singing. Its no wonder that they were quickly cleansed from the Imperial Records. 

They would have really got up Angron's nose! 

The other Missing Legion were called 'The Spaced Out Sons of Horus' and can be seen below. Though I believe these were released first. Nothing more is known about this Legion, save they shared the same geneseed as Christmas Legion. 

Spaced Out Marines. From the collection of Billy Bunter
Ho ho ho!

And so ends our little Christmas countdown of classic Citadel celebrations of the festive season. I really rather enjoyed researching and writing this little post and I hope you fellow Oldhammerers enjoyed reading it just as much. 

All that is left for me to say is...

Have a very Merry Christmas one and all. 


Tuesday 23 December 2014

'Eavy Metal Bonanza: Fraser Grey, Richard Pickup, Francis Ellyard, Paul Robins and the 1990 Studio Staff!

If you were anything like me, then the blue marbled pages of old school 'Eavy Metal were the first pages you thumbed to when you got your hands on a new issue of White Dwarf. Its odd looking back from where we are now in the twenty-first century in the midst of the age of the internet. Its just so easy to access information. Pick a theme, type a keyword into a search engine and you will be confronted with hours of text to digest at your whim. 

Back when these pages were put together, print media was still the only real source of visual and written information and the wait between issues of White Dwarf could be long and tiresome. Still, after absorbing whatever the cover art offered, my eager thumbs would flick through to the photographs of painted miniatures. It was really what I bought the magazine for and I would gaze at the images for hours in confusion about why my attempts at miniature painting did not resemble those of Mike McVey or Tim Prow! 

Twenty-five years later and my painting is still not resembling those of the 'Eavy Metal painting team back then but I am still trying. And so, the old 'Eavy Metal article pages still fascinate and encourage me in a way the more modern presentations do not. One thing that I enjoy about these old articles is the breadth of style between different painters and the studio and guest painters who contributed work. There is always a lot to see and seldom do the pages focus on just the latest releases. A new model may well share space alongside something from the early 1980s! 

The first page I have shown above highlights the work of the GREATEST of all miniature painters, Fraser Gray. Now here is a gent I have written extensively on in the past and his work still amazes me all these years later. This is a spread of models that I think we have seen before here at Realm of Chaos 80s but I am sure that you will not mind seeing them again. 

Richard Pickup is a name that jumps out from the Fantasy Miniatures books from the late 1980s and very early 1990s and is someone we haven't discussed here before. At first glance its Richard's bases that jump out at the viewer, largely due to their realistic tones and use of natural components. The Troll Champion at top left is a prime example of this technique and isn't something I have explored myself beyond using a few pieces of slate on a base. 

Mr Pickup obviously liked his Big Uns as there are two very well painted ogres on show here too. The top example is the Shaman figure by Jes Goodwin as is part of his incredible ogre range from the mid 1980s, the second, below it, has been taken from Marauder's very different take on how an ogre should look. I love the dark browns to be found on the shaman's skin and the way they merge in with the base to create a pleasing finish. I found brown quite a challenge to paint and get right, especially on bigger models. One problem I find is created by adding too much white to the mix as this results in a rather washed out look. The ogre captain is wonderfully bright and contrasts very well with the dark skin tones we have just discussed. The power of the pose, with its shades to Henry VIII and Hans Holbein, along with the colour harmony behind the scheme make this one of my all time favourite paint jobs. 

Its nice to see some Rogue Trader stuff on show as well as the fantasy models and his marines are just as good as his ogres, if not better. The techmarine stands out from this bunch due to its original and intriguing colour scheme. I love zany '80s armour styles like this but find them really fiddly to create myself. 

The stand out models on this page are, for me at least, the two Nurglings painted as individual models. Despite their small size, Richard has been able to cram everything his is good at into the models. The natural bases (cleverly raised up to bring the model more attention) to the dynamic use of colours. I don't think you will see Nurglings shown in this way in any other contemporary publications. Great stuff. 

Francis Ellyard was very good at painting horses, as this page illustrates, and it seems she was also a dab hand at the scenic base. Like Pickup before her, this page gives us a great range of models from both of the Warhammer Worlds, and the Rogue Trader Commisar and Guard Officer are excellent. They also show just what is possible with those chunky old plastic Citadel horses - note the converted tail on the Imperial Guard Officer! 

She clearly spent a great deal of time researching the patterns that appear on animals. The speckled effect on the horse we we just discussing is brilliant and something I would like to try myself at some point. But its is the zebra stripe effect employed on the centaur and Slaanesh champion that really impresses. Getting the stripes looking right takes real skill as you cannot just paint random lines on a white horse and hope for the best - believe me I know this to be true, as I have tried it! 

My personal favourite here? It has to be the Space marine Scout. I love the way that the camouflage painted on the figure matches so well with the scenic base. I can tell you, with the materials at their disposal back then, this wouldn't have been as easy as just buying up a few packs of basing material and just sticking them on! 

A great model!

Paul Robins is another newcomer and has a style that reminds me of Steve Blunt's work. The smooth muted colours seem to merge together and produce a warm, living figure ready to step off the base and into some adventure. This pages shares an eclectic range of models from his collection but is dominated by that fantastic dragon and its outstanding scenic base! 

Its like something from Skyrim - only twenty-five years too early. 


With the guests out of the way let's have a look at what was going on in the studio at the same time. As this was the age of the Ork books it is no surprise to see quite a few goblinoid models on show. The Gargant dominates the page and just looking at the model reminds me about just how satisfyingly heavy they were to pick up, a feeling that modern resin models can only compete with their fragility. The smaller Gargants bring back fond memories for me as the group I played the Enemy Within with were also keen players of Space Marine and we had a fair few battles with these. 

The Gretchen and Weirdboy and Minders are great models, full of character and invention but the plastic Cyboar is just hideous, just like much of the plastic ork range that was released around this time. Ugly multipose things that they were. 

Rather strangely, the White Dwarf model from some years previously turns up on this page. An unexpected surprise for me considering I painted my version not so very long ago. As does an old Lord of Battle. They just go to show that a classic model is a classic model and deserve painting. 

The stand out models on this page (but sadly not so the paint jobs) are the Bretonnian models that may or may not have been connected to the Medieval game that was being mooted at the Studio around the same time. This range, by the Perry Twins, remains the best Bretonnian collection ever produced in my humble opinion, so its great to see them here. 

This page is of note as it mentions Norman Swalyes, a member of the design team who I have not really heard much about. It seems that he produced an update to two of the older Rogue Trader models - namely the Tarantula and the Rapier. I was never one for big guns and vehicles but these models really do show how more closely related they are with modern 40k than Rogue Trader, don't they?

The Eldar, painted by Tim Prow if I am not mistaken, have been seen before in these discussions as has the plastic terminator models from the Genestealer expansion for Space Hulk. The minotaur champion is an old, old model and is not as good as the Colin Dixon or Aly Morrison versions we have seen before. I do love the Harpy conversion here though, as it shows us how a very simple change, in this case the wings, can create a very different model indeed! 

Again, many of the models on this page have been seen before and have been taken from both the Citadel and Marauder ranges. They all look a bit static and unimaginative in my opinion, especially when sharing a page with the 40k snotlings. Don't they steal the show, utterly? They look like a lovely range of models that I know absolutely nothing about but by the looks of it, A lot of the ideas on show here are still being recycled for modern tastes in the gretchen.

This final page shows off some of the more alien looking colour schemes that are possible with Eldar models, These all look rather impressive and varied to me, with the green and yellow Iyanden and the orange and blue Saim-Hann standing out most strongly. 

But it is the Bretonnian stuff that once again draws my eye. Aren't they wonderful? As I have said before, as have many others, for fantasy to be believable it needs to be based in some way in reality. The Perry Twins clearly understand this rule. 

Sadly, too few others seem to appreciate it these days. 


Monday 22 December 2014

Miniature Prices: Don't Believe The Hype!

As I said in a previous post, I have had quite some time away from contributing anything to the Oldhammer Community but that doesn't mean I have been entirely absent from the scene. Facebook and Google+ provides us with a platform that can be dipped into for a minute or two, when spare seconds present themselves. 

Now there are always trends to follow. Realm of Chaos warbands have always had a healthy interest across many of the Oldhammer blogs and sites, and this really should be no surprise because creating them is enormous fun. And after all, such a practice inspired the creation of this very blog. Orktober is another trend, though not one that I am particularly drawn to, though I know a great deal of people who are. 

Trends will be trends. 

But one trend that has concerned me in recent months is that of miniature price, especially on the Oldhammer Trading Post. Some people seem to be convinced that their lovely lumps of lead are actually worth far more than they really are. I have written about this before and I am sure that many readers of this blog are well award of the grossly inflated eBay prices that can be found out there. 

DON'T take them seriously! 

DON'T pay through the nose for your minis!

Of course, its not fair to point the finger at individuals and to be honest if they are your models and you want to list them online for sale at an overblown price, then good luck to you. But judging by how long some pieces sit online waiting for some plonker to come along at make a purchase, there really cannot be that many people willing to buy them. 

Though a pain in the arse, these internet sellers are not really the issue here. We all know about alexchattaway and his ilk, but there are some newcomers to the scene who seem genuinely shocked and angry at the offers that are made for their models. "What do you mean my sprue of plastic skeletons from 1986 are not worth £25 each?" Continue with disgruntled swearing...

Some of these types are even beginning to demand proof that their models are not worth the enormous sums they are searching for. Well, if you are taking a bit of flack with a difficult customer, why not direct them here for a quick glance through these pages. 

Let us talk about McDeath. The 'Scottish Scenario' has been an ever popular set of miniatures for collectors and internet sellers alike. It also contains some of the more 'sought after' and 'expensive' models according to some. 

The Knight of Harkness is one such figure. If you follow the link here you we see that Vampire_ Knight has the miniature for sale at a whooping £34.99. Our friend alexchattaway has one for even more at £39.99! I bought mine for £2.99. Admittedly, it was a while ago but even then its a drastic difference then the prices suggested here. Yes, the model was part of the McDeath set but is was never unreleased or even limited release. It was available for a great many years in the Citadel catalogues. 

Banquo is a another such figure and is again for sale via alexchattaway. He is listed for a more reasonable 11.99 at the time of writing, but that seems to be with a discount of several quid. Again, he was never really a limited release model but was is fact Axe-Hero in the catalogue. I bought mine for £4.99 (post free) which is quite fair in my opinion for a more sought after model. Again this was a while ago, but other sellers such as the Wargaming Trader have the model at a more reasonable price more in line with what I paid. Its still miles away from alexchattaway. 

Raybees the halfling was again never a limited release. He was available for many, many years and does not in away command the price suggested by hygienicporridge  I picked mine up for £1.99 about a year ago. 

The McDeath Clansmen on offer here from BarterPlanet are actual genuine limited release figures. They were specifically made for the McDeath set in 1986 and I am pretty sure didn't make it into any of the catalogues. They turn up regularly for anything from £10+ to the stupidly high prices seen above. I bought this one a few weeks ago (with the additional P&P costs on top) for £4.80. There were no other bidders.

Slurd is also a generally limited release miniature and this one I bought a few weeks ago for less than £10. As far as I am aware this model was ONLY released as part of the Death on the Reik collection back in 1987. He rarely turns up on eBay, though the last time I saw him sell it was via Steve Casey for a little less than I paid for him. About £7 if I recall correctly. I suspect if some of our 'friends' I have mentioned above in this post had one for sale we would be talking £29.99 territory at least! 

You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that there is a pattern emerging here, isn't there? Extremely high BIN prices (which some people are STILL using as a guideprice to their own sales and trades) and the cold reality of serious, long term collectors like me and their completed transactions. 

The problem is simple.The reasonable transactions disappear quickly as they are bought and sold. The BIN examples remain. Unsold. But they falsely suggest that the models concerned have a cash value that far exceeds what they are really worth. 

In truth, there is no such thing as 'an eBay price' which some traders on the forum and FB group keep bandying about. The only 'price' that matters is yours. The one you are prepared to pay. I know sometimes it is difficult not to cave into temptation and fork out a little bit more than you should to complete a collection, but believe me, with a little effort and patience it is possible to find the figures you are looking for for a lot less. 

Unless you are looking for the Nuln Spearman of course! It cannot be denied that there are some extremely rare models out there that do deserve the high prices that they command. This is often due to the fact that they were either on limited release back in the day or were infact never released at all.But these really are very much in the majority. 

Just remember that much of the hype around miniature prices is inflated, much like the prices themselves. Don't get dragged into drawn out arguments or set unrealistic expectations for the value of your models. If you are in any doubt, just contact one of the admin team on FB or the internet forum.

Happy trading! 


Sunday 21 December 2014

WFRP'd: The Enemy Within

John Blanche's cover painting for the Enemy Within is probably as famous as the game itself. It remains a wonderful relic of a more subtle Warhammer World. A world before the skulls, spikes and the corporate stink. 
The Oldhammer zeitgeist seems to be learning towards Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay these days, and to be honest with you, I am not really surprised. For many of us fantasy fans, WFRP was our only source of information and background for the Warhammer World in the late '80s and early 1990s. Hidden amongst the great many articles that were produced in support of the game are some absolute gems, many of which can be used to base interesting scenarios for games around. 

We have discussed the first 'proper' WFRP article already in this series - On The Road by Graeme Davis and that seems to have been published around the same time that the first supplement for the game was released- the now legendary Enemy Within with its first adventure, Mistaken Identity. 

But what does this first seminal release actually contain? And does it deserve its title of 'one of the greatest adventures ever written?'

The best way to find out is to actually have a little look at what the release contains and look at the first adventure, Mistaken Identity, in a little more detail. A word of warning though, there will be spoilers in this article, so if you are hoping to play the Enemy Within Campaign one day you may well want to stop reading now and leave the horror of the Warhammer World for another day. 

A quick glance at this page will provide a solid overview of what the supplement contains. The first 34 pages present the player and GM with a wealth of detail about the Empire as well as tips on running the campaign. Its also noteworthy for the great picture of the authors posing outside on a set of steps. Rock 'n' Roll roleplayers indeed!

To put this material into context, both the WFRP and WFB3 rulebooks had done a little to flesh out the background to the world we would be playing our games in. Gone was the local view presented by the scenario packs of the mid 1980s and in their place we had a broadsheet with a more national view of how the Empire functioned, not just in the corridors of power, but in the corridors of the inns, temples and dwellings that made up the place. 

There is quite a lot of detail to be absorbed and I would recommend the supplement to anyone who has an interest in the original history of the Empire, as well as its early visual appeal. I have selected a few of my favourite pieces of this tapestry to discuss in more detail below.  

This page is significant for two reasons, firstly it gives lots of background detail to one of the most important pieces of background for anyone playing WFRP in the Empire - the Coaching Houses! If you have played WFRP then you have no doubt spent loads of time sitting on the top of one of these wooden boxes (most likely in the driving rain) or annoying the toffs within. Mentioning them here as a ubiquitous sight in the Warhammer World on the 1980s make me think that I really should go about producing a couple of models of them, with the appropriate bade painted on the side mind you, to help populate the gaming worlds I create with my scenery. 

Anyone know a good model available that could be converted for such a job? Please let me know if you do! 

The other significant fact on this page is the fleshing out of the legend of Sigmar, a character we now know was created by Phil Gallagher. Though the legend was discussed briefly previously, this is the most detailed take on the story seen to date. Its funny just how much has now changed in this particular piece of fluff, isn't it?

I have selected this page as its best illustrates what everyday people would have looked like in the Warhammer World of the 1980s. There is a gritty historical realism that I have always appreciated, largely due to the fact that fantasy works best when it is presented in a believable world. That is where 8th Edition went so horribly wrong for me, with every tree a dangerous spirit, undead incursions sweeping the land endlessly and the geological layer of skulls beneath the ground. 

How was the Empire supposed to function? How was food grown? Etc? Etc? 

I often return to these pages when I am researching colour schemes for my miniatures as the fluff presented here makes the perfect starting point. 

Something that is easy to overlook is that the original characters for the Enemy Within make their first appearance in the Enemy Within. They are beautifully presented with lots of original art to show them off to would be players. I wonder how many adventures these characters have been on over the years? 

As I just mentioned with the PCs, there is a great deal of quality art to be found in this publication, and much of it cannot be found elsewhere. I have selected these two works by John Blanche as examples of what can be found within, so it really is worth chasing up a copy if you have any interest in 1980s Warhammer art. The sense of wacky humour is evident in the two pictures as is that subtle mix between historical possibility and fantastic improbability. 

The two images show off what the military of the Empire should look like and indeed many of the knights you can see in the second image certainly made it into miniature form by the late 1980s. I have a large number of these models kicking around in my collection and one day I intend to do them justice by painting them up in a similar baroque style to these. 

Another favourite section of mine from the Enemy Within is this page detailing some of the herbs that can be found out in the wilds during this adventure. I used to hand this out o Harbull and Wanda in their packs at the start of the campaign and I always enjoyed the gathering of herbs and other resources as a player. In fact, when I play the Elder Scrolls games to this day I often spend hours and hours out and about collecting all sundry of things to become a master alchemist. Its a bit harder to do that in WFRP but a little medical knowledge is vital in this dark and dangerous world!

A nice touch this. 

Now we are on our way to having a look at the 'Main Event' of this first supplement, the first scenario - Mistaken Identity. To me, the ideas presented here, though small in scale when compared with later adventures, make for quality gaming as well as exciting GMing. Having done both in my time, I can honestly say that the moment your coach stumbles upon the mutant ambush your blood is up, either with the thrill of taking on a role or controlling the action.

The scenes set in the Inn at the start of the adventure allow you to spend as much time as you wish developing your characters before the off, with plenty of opportunity to offend the noble patrons who you find within.

Without giving too much away to those who haven't yet have the chance to get to grips with this first supplement, the rest of the adventure contains a mixture of dopplegangers, bountyhunters and ships called Berebelli. The plotline gives your players, or your GM skills, just enough space to begin to florish if you are new to the system as well as setting up the rest of the campaign.

Interestingly, there is another proto version of the mutation table that would later see the light of day in Slaves to Darkness. Obviously, its far simpler than the resource many of us now know and love but it has its uses if you need to create 'quickie' mutants on the spot.

To conclude, this first release is an excellent start to the Enemy Within campaign, and is many ways an excellent start to roleplaying in general. It is packed with loads of information that will help you expand your knowledge about the background to Warhammer Third Edition. With a good mix of social roleplaying and sinister actions there is plenty to sink your teeth into here.

Highly recommended.


Saturday 20 December 2014

Orlygg Rides Again...

I couldn't think where else to pop this single page of advice, so here is as good as any.
Hello again all...

The Realm of 80s Chaos has been quiet of late. A lethal combination of Christmas, a new job and a poorly daughter have had a catastrophic effect on my hobby time. As some of you will be aware, my daughter has not been well in recent weeks and even ended up being admitted to hospital. She has been up and down for a while but my wife and I are now quite confident that she has turned a corner and is getting better. So to celebrate we are all going to Legoland during the holidays to enjoy some family time. 

Of course, like many of my other Oldhammerer brothers, I am a teacher and the Christmas holidays have begun. This means quite a lot of potential hobby time and I am using my new found freedom to get going again with the blog, not to mention completing the many painting and modelling projects that I have left strewn across the paint station. I also hope to get a game in with my friend Stuart, who many of you would have met at last year's Oldhammer Event at the Foundry, on my new gaming board. I am currently developing a fiendish scenario for him to face! 

I have a pile of trades to complete too, so if you haven't received anything owed from me just let me know in the comment section and I will sort you out. 

Before I sign off and start getting the kids up, I would just like to say how pleased I am to see the Oldhammer Community grow so impressively over the weeks I have been away. The Facebook Groups (The Community Page and the Trading Group) have expanded enormously and I need to thank Chico 'Sexy Boy' Danks, Paul 'Warlord' Mitchell and Steve 'Bridgend' Casey for all of their hard work in guiding the Facebook Scene forwards. I have heard some worrying news from multiple sources recently that the Oldhammer Forum is on its last legs. I hope that this is not the case. So if you are not yet a member or haven't posted in a while, please get involved. Additionally, there is the ever growing Google+ Community spearheaded by Paul Mitchell. 

It has never been easier to connect with your Oldhammer colleagues! 


Monday 1 December 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Miniatures Chaos Thug Regiment

The ad as it originally appeared in WD 130
Hello all. This post is the first I have shared since I started messing around with the look of the blog. Its remained pretty much the same for nearly three years now and I felt like fiddling around with the background and banner a little. Its early days, and I may well scrap it altogether and do something entirely different. The great old school Games Workshop coverage will continue though, don't you worry, and the many thousands of your who visit the site each day will still get to enjoy the same old stuff. 

Why mess with a successful formula?

Issue 130 of White Dwarf didn't just contain the marvellous Chivalry rules or the launch of Mighty Empires (more on that soon) it also contained the now regular release from Marauder Miniatures. This time it was the turn of the Marauder Chaos Thug regiment, and judging by how many of these I have seen for sale online over the years, they must have really sold well. That, or everyone is trying desperately to get rid of them!

But are the models any good? We have seen through past editions of this series that for every classic Marauder Miniature that we examine there are one or two real duds. In my opinion, the Chaos Thugs that we are looking at today reside somewhere in the middle of those two categories. 

They are neither hit nor miss. 

If truth be told I always hated the Marauder interpretation of the range, much preferring the look and variation of the Citadel range. Its hard to compare a mere six models with the breadth of the fevered imaginings of the Citadel design team in the latter half of the 1980s but in hindsight its clear that the Morrisons haven't attempted to. Instead, they have taken a different approach, redesigning the thug regiment as a missile unit armed with fearsome bows and ever more fearsome hairstyles. 

A much better copy sac of the range.
The standard bearer model is probably the best of the bunch and that hand painted banner is lovely. The champion and leaser models suffer a bit with 'silly pose syndrome' and the musician looks like he has got lost from filming of Robin Hood Men in Tights. I don't think the colour scheme does the miniatures justice either. Too busy. Only have two variants for the trooper models also doesn't help and I cannot imagine painting a twenty man unit of those would be much fun.

Still, they provide chaos players with an opportunity to field some missile troops in the armies, and if you have ever field a Khorne force you will know how useful such things are!

All in all. Not classics, but far from crap either!