Friday 30 October 2015

Night of the Living Lead III: Jeremiah O. Lygg and his hired goons

Good evening all! I have managed to put together a nice little warband for tomorrow's game at the Wargames Foundry and the leader is this; one Jeremiah O. Lygg, the rather dubious druid. It is fair to say that he isn't a good druid - more a dishonest one - but he was great fun to paint. He is part of the old Citadel C series from 1987 but for some quirk of fate was never actually released. You can find an unpainted example of the figure here at Solegends if you are interested. 

I won him in a painting competition last summer at BOYL3 and he has been sitting around for ages in need of painting up - so I took the impending game as my cue to get him finished. Sorry about the crap photo - but by the time I had based him the light was gone and I had to resolve to using a desk lamp - which washes out most of the colour. I will take some better photos of him and his 'hired goons' tomorrow. 

He will be leading these gents; Paulus, Chico, Stefan and Ratter on a perilous adventure down an abandoned gnomish mine. 

Here's the GM's background: 

Deep in the mines at the dead of night, a grinding sound. But the sound of the rock being hewn is not the work of the miners. None of the gnomes of the village of Thingwall have been down the mine in days. Nobody would dare, not since several of the miners went missing. Some were found days later with their throats slit and their blood spilled on the floor in the shape of a pentagram. Others have simply disappeared.

YOU are an adventurer, called upon by the Duchess of Thingwall to help the little people in their hour of need. YOU and your band of companions have been asked to investigate. Who or what has caused the disappearance of the miners? Who or what is producing the strange grinding sound in the night?

Beware. Not all is as it seems in the village. Who can be trusted? More importantly, what's in it for you? And how can you be sure that the other would-be 'investigators' aren't involved in the murders and disappearances themselves?

An adventure for small bands of warriors (3-5 models) using the Warhammer 3rd edition rules.

And here they are, in a much better picture I took in the summer. 

As always with these scenarios, and you can expect a full report on all the goings on Sunday, we all had to draw up some background for our forces for Richard, the GM, to play around with. Here's mine: 

"Oi, that's my bacon!" Chico blustered, grabbing Paulus' wrist and squeezing his flesh until the greasy meat was released back onto the filthy table. Paulus gave his fellow footpad a hearty shove and leaned back against the slime-ridden wall that held up the abandoned farmhouse, the smirk never shifting from his lips.
"Calm down you two," Stefan mumbled, "I have nearly got the lead up to temperature and need you rapscallions in your places. These coins won't forge themselves."

Chico picked up the stamp Stefan had left on the workbench. Next to it were the cooling piles of the previous hours work - piles of ersatz coins any fence would be proud to shift. He peered at the tiny writing that curled across the face of the coinage.
"What king is that supposed to be?" He asked for the hundredth time.
Stefan sighed, and told him.
Three ne'er-do-wells, Chico, Stefan and Paulus, are busy doing what they do best - forging coins and running up debts. They are just about to complete work on a huge order of 'McDeath' groats when there is a sharp knock at their door. Sure that their whereabouts were secret, the three footpads are startled and reach for their blades in panic. Before any of them can react, the battered door creaks open to reveal the thin, wiry frame of Jeremiah O. Lygg - the dubious druid of Dunststadz.
"Good evening, there is no need to be alarmed!" The druid said, his deep voice filling the room twice over. "Do settle down Gerald!"
Chico looked at Paulus. Paulus looked at Chico.
"Who's Gerald?" They asked in unison.
"I need your help once again," Jeremiah went on, ignoring (or perhaps, not hearing) the question. Adventurers are needed to clear a mine to the South and there are, well, reasons why I need to be there. Reasons that are not open for discussion... Do sit still Gerald!!"
Baffled, Chico peered around the room to check that there were indeed only four of them. Who the blazes was this Gerald?
"I can pay," the druid went on, "and in Imperial silver too!" The old man's eyes looked over the fraudulent coins on table with indifference. "Do you still have that old hound, what was he called? Fatter?"
"Ratter." Paulus corrected.
"That's right!" The druid exclaimed, adjusting the pouch at his side. "I have need of his nose - stop that Gerald! We shall meet beneath the sign of the crow at dawn. Don't be late."
With the words spoken, the druid turned to leave. "Come on Gerald, let's go home," he said to the large, green toad that curled up on his palm, it's yellow eyes glinting evilly in the gloom.

Thursday 29 October 2015

A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers: The Palanquin is complete!

Way back in September I thought it would be pretty straightforwards painting up this miniature for the Tale of Four Oldhammer Painters project. Little did I realise what I was letting myself in for, as the job took far longer to complete than I previously thought. Sure, much of that was due to the impact that a new year group and curriculum would have on my lifestyle - though it is true to say that I am really enjoying the class I have and the challenges they throw up, more so than ever before. But, I get home quite late now and the light has long gone. You see, I much prefer to work in natural light, preferably morning light so painting this time of year is confined to Saturday and Sunday. I have a nice arrangement with the wife which is fairly simple - I have until 10am each weekend morning to do what I like before she can give me anything more 'useful' to do. So there is my painting time! Only, much of the previous four or five weekends has been taken up with weddings, anniversaries or trips to Chessington World of Adventures. 

Ultimately, time has been short. 

Still, I have managed to slowly chip away at the project in tiny chunks over September and October and I am pleased to say that the palanquin is finished. I have also nearly finished October's entry in the project too, but have about three or so hours left of work to complete on him until he can be shown. I think last time we spoke about the palanquin I had finished work on the chair itself and had the rest of the structure to complete. 

My first job was to paint up the three nurglings that can be found on the chair of the model. As before, I used the new Foundry green paints I picked up at this year's BOYL to pick them out, and used purple as a spot colour. Red and yellow were used to highlight the eyes and provide a few raw looking spots to their bellies. My personal favourite was the little chap poking his head out from under the chair with his tongue hanging out. The palanquin structure was highlighted in a fairly dark gold. I toyed with the idea of using a silver highlight to bring this out, but I felt it made the palanquin look too clean. No good for a Nurgle character I thought. 

I opted to not include the two banners that go with the model for several reasons. The first is a purely practical one - they are quite weak and I was worried that transporting the model with them attached would only result in them becoming broken. Secondly, they are quite small and I fancy trying to convert my own - perhaps adding some iconography based on what the Nurgle warband get up to in games. 

The slime trickling out the back caused a few problems. I wanted the slime to be green, after all that IS the colour of slime but I already had two different versions of that colour on the model. In the end, I created something a little more pastel and used yellow ink washes to bring the colour tone up a little. During this process, I noticed a little maggot thingy had been sculpted on the back of the chair, so I used a little red and white to pink it up and create an interesting contrast. 

With the palanquin complete, it was time to work on the rider. I wanted him to contrast against the opulent colour choices of the palanquin itself, so chose a muted, metallic scheme to start with. This was fairly easy to achieve through a black basecoat drybrushed with a dark silver. This brought out much of the detail and left some suitable shadowing in places - but it was much, much too bright. Once dry, I washed over the silver with a mix of black and chestnut inks and used the wife's hairdryer to speed up the drying process. Then, I washed over the darkened silver with a brown/orange 'rust wash' and again made use of the hairdryer to speed up the stage. 

Next it was a case of painstakingly edge highlighting the armour in the same silver I used to base the model. Here and there I picked out detail in a dark gold too, and then dulled everything down with a black ink glaze. The chainmail was then washed with a blue/green mix to represent verdigris, as were the golden areas on the armour. These were highlighted up with the original gold. 

I chose purple for the gloves to create some variation on the armour. It was a very simple layering job in which a dark purple was painted over the gloves and slowly highlighted up by adding bleached bone to the mix. The face proved to be challenging. After basing in flesh, I washed over with a chestnut ink/ dark red paint wash and highlighted up with the flesh colour, adding increasing amounts of bleached bone until the skin look sickly enough. Purple washes were added to the eye holes and the exposed brain. Once dry, I drybrushed over the brain with bleached bone and glazed with a bloody red. I picked the damaged eye out with a brighter red and a nice yellow dot for a pupil. 

Wanting further contrast with the dark armour and the palanquin itself, I went for a fourth green colour, this time created with the addition of sunburst yellow. I used it to paint up the whip to look like some living coil of chaos - pure yellow was used to highlight the horrible spots that cover the weapon. 

Finally, the sword was painted - and on a whim I went for a blazing red, similar to the one I used fofrone of the faces on the back of the palanquin. I felt that this would add further contrast and tie the seat figure back into the rest of the model. 


It certainly was an epic project and one I really enjoyed. I feel like painting this palanquin has pushed me as a miniature painter and provided some interesting problems to solve. I am also really pleased to have finally painted up one of the this brilliant models. I have wanted one for over twenty-five years so this sees a wish fulfilled!  Sorry about the rather dark snaps -  I use natural light to photograph all of my work and in the depths of October trying to find some is bit of challenge. 

So what do you dear readers think about my Palanquin of Nurgle?

The Harlequin: An interview with Darren Matthews

Iconic cover art from the original Rogue Trader released harlequins. But what do they have to do with Darren Matthews? Read on. 
Oldhammer is a product of two things. Nostalgia and Social Media. Without both of these, we wouldn't have the community that so many of us enjoy today. And it's an international community too, with regular events held in the UK, US and beyond. The ease of communication that modern technology allows has fuelled our considerable growth over the last three years and facilitated the organisation of events, trades and research impossible a decade ago.

We must owe the existence of this latest Old School interview to Social Media as its subject, Darren Matthews, became part of the online Oldhammer Community through the Facebook Group. In case you do not recognise the name, he was one of the original members of the 'Eavy Metal team way back in the later part of the 1980s. But Darren's connection to Citadel and Games Workshop doesn't just begin in the later part of the decade - he was involved from practically the beginning, as we shall see.

Thankfully for us all, Darren was more than willing to exercise his memory and draw deep into the Warp to bring us some recollections of his time with the company - doing the job all of us really wanted to do: paint miniatures for money. So, on behalf of Oldhammerers everywhere, I will thank Darren for giving up his time to talk to us about his time at Games Workshop.

RoC80s: So what first got you into fantasy gaming and miniatures?

DM: I first got into Fantasy via watching movies and my Dad was a massive fan of Jason and the Argonauts so I suppose it went from there. I bought my first Citadel minis in around 1980 at a little shop on Steep in Lincoln. They were the Fantasy Tribe Skeletons. Kobolds were my next purchase and things sort of went from there. A Toy Shop in Lincoln started to sell blister packs and it was an open road from then on. Around 1985, I met Chaz Elliot in Lincoln and he got totally hooked on fantasy miniatures and I was in awe of his painting and practiced to emulate. A shop also opened in Lincoln that just dealt in fantasy miniatures and games so I started painting for the display case in the shop for lead. Also, I read the Colour Of Magic in its first ever release by a certain Mr Pratchett and was totally hooked after. I never got into gaming or could get my head round it but was collector and painter from the start.

Fantasy Tribe Skeletons: Darren Matthew's first Citadel miniatures.
RoC80s: So you were rather experienced with fantasy miniatures and their painting by the time you began working for Games Workshop. How did you get the job of painting professionally?

DM: In early 1987, when I was in my early 20s, I moved back to Nottingham and enjoyed collecting and painting miniatures. The work I had been doing in archaeology had come to an end through a cut in funding and I decided to send a sample of my painting in to the studio but with no real hope that it would lead to anything. A week later, John Blanche turned up at my front door and offered me the chance of working in the studio!

I was stunned to say the least at the time and until then thought my painting was nowhere near good enough for White Dwarf.  Sean Masterton, who was the then editor of White Dwarf, turned up with John. It was after work I found out later and they were going for a curry!

My first day was one of nerves beyond belief and a real baptism of fire meeting the established painting team. At that time, The 'Eavy Metal studio was comprised of Mike McVey, Colin Dixon, Dave Andrews and Sid and John Blanche was our boss. Tony Ackland and H also shared the studio and I really felt out of my depth. After a few weeks I understood most of the banter and what was required of a full time painter in the studio. 

Some of the other 'Eavy Metal boys from Darren's time. Lee 'I have a magnificent set of '80s curtains' Dudley was helping out during his summer holidays. Lucky bugger!
RoC80s: You mentioned the elusive Sid the Painter. We don't know much about him beyond a few photographs and an article or two. What can you tell us about him?

DM: Sid was called Tim Croxton. I think that is how you spell his surname and he came from Eastwood. He was a very intelligent guy, but a bit of a rebel. He was very good natured deep down when you got to know him.He was big into his motorbikes and cars. I don't know what happened to him after he left and I left not long after as the studio vibe had started to change.

RoC80s: What were the early days like training to be a Studio Painter?

DM: For the first few weeks I finished off old projects that had been on the back burner; such as the Wood Elves, Orcs and Snotlings from the fantasy ranges. Gradually, I was given new releases to paint before they would appear in White Dwarf, normally the following month. I also started on a few things in my spare time and meeting the Perry Twins who worked in a different part of the studio started me off on collecting historical miniatures. Bryan Ansell was the owner of the company and we always got on well when I met him. John Blanche encouraged me to experiment with paint and inks and try new painting techniques that I hadn't thought of using before. 

I have always considered John the total master of painting and Mike McVey a very close second. We all had different painting styles at the time and don't think there was a house technique to painting at the time. Gradually we saw the artwork that Tony Ackland was working on for Realms of Chaos and gradually the miniatures arrived in the studio to paint. Some of the sculpts I adored but others I wasn't so certain about and but still enjoyed painting a lot of it.

Darren's iconic colour scheme for this Ork noble. Come on, how many of you have copied this one? Below we have examples of his Chaos Dreadnought and an early Imperial Guard Sentinel. 

And here is the same model in digital form. Photograph by Steve Casey. From The Bryan Ansell Collection, Wargames Foundry, Stoke Hall Stables. 
The sentinel too, though a little blurry. Photograph by Steve Casey. From The Bryan Ansell Collection, Wargames Foundry, Stoke Hall Stables. 
RoC80s: Were you able to work on more personal projects in the Studio? We see a large number of dioramas and things coming out around that time - what did you work on?

DM: I was also working on my own related projects in my spare time (for my own collection) and had the idea one day to convert a plastic Rhino AFV into one that had been overtaken by Nurgle. I liked the idea of melding a tank with living things and ended up sculpting green stuff maggots bursting from the hull. It threw a few people at the time when they first saw it but I just went with it. 

I loved painting tanks and completed some of the first few Rhino AFV's and the Predator. Khorne and Nurgle were my two favourite Chaos elements and enjoyed painting miniatures for both. At one stage for inspiration, Kev Adams sent Phil Lewis to come and take photos of us all pulling faces and they were used for his inspiration for some of his Chaos sculpts. Each day was different and I enjoyed the variety of the painting and kit making. The first plastic 40k Imperial Guard were released to mixed reception in the painting studio and part plastic miniatures were becoming a regular thing and they were always a challenge to work on. Titans were also slowly lifting off and epic scale was also being developed while I was there. A real challenge was painting all of Jes Goodwin's first Eldar Harlequin miniature's for the boxed set in one bank holiday weekend. It took every ounce of my painting ability and threw it together, but looking back still think they were a bit rushed. 

The back of the RTB6 release. Darren's patterns and ideas here still influence painters to this day, so it is a real pleasure to give credit to him here. 
RoC80s: Did you just say you painted the original Harlequin models over a Bank Holiday weekend?

DM: Yes, they were the Harlequins from the very first boxed set release and they were given to me on the Friday afternoon and I delivered them back painted on the Tuesday morning - much to everyone's shock! My girlfriend at the time was away and I just sat and painted for 12 hours solid each day until they were done. I had a very small brief from Jes Goodwin and I was left, more or less, to my own colour schemes and patterns. I got a bit of a telling off for painting nipples showing through on one of the female eldar's torsos, and I was told to paint them out - but i don't think I ever did. I understand that that box set was one of the biggest sellers they had ever had and in some way I am proud that my painting helped sell them. Jes Goodwin's sculpts were stunning and very advanced for the period in regards of the poses he used. Looking back at it now, it was a lot of work - but i enjoyed it!

RoC80s: You mentioned the 'Studio Vibe' - what was it like to work in?

DM: The working environment was great, but it was something I wasn't really used to as I had worked outdoors in archaeology with very mixed teams. At the time I first started, I wasn't that confident in my painting ability and it showed to start with. I have always been very self critical of my painting and don't like to rush things. The banter took some getting used to and I suppose Sid gave me a bit of a testing time teasing for the first few weeks but it came to a head and I stood my ground and we became great friends after. Seeing Sid leave when he did was one of the worst days, if not the worst, I had in studio as we had become a very good friends by then. 

Some days we could each have a single miniature to work on, but on others we had a batch to get done for deadline and that could be a lot of pressure to get finished on time for a publication date. After a few months, I settled in and enjoyed the small level of chaos and the minor anarchy which was the painting studio at the time. We were a superb team and worked well together and were mostly the same age group, so we all had a similar sense of humour and outlook.

The Golden Demon days we did in the 80s, I always found a bit scary and overwhelming to be honest. I was fairly nervous of people but used to put a front on, I also dreaded painting in the shop or in public in those days. I think I could handle it now if I could see to paint well these days. Bryan was an excellent boss though and so was John Blanche and both put up with my nerves. I met Fraser Gray and he was great bloke, I loved his work and was totally blown away by what he could achieve. He visited the studio a couple of times while I was there.

Darren's Nurgle Rhino makes an appearance in this diorama from the back of White Dwarf 113. 
RoC80s: So how did that vibe change with time?

DM: Things had started to go a bit corporate towards the end of my term to some extent and a studio painting style was emerging which not all of us fully enjoyed or felt totally comfortable with. Before that I think people had been trusted to deliver the goods constantly and they mostly did. If you were not happy with something you ran it by the team and got a honest response and the lads were always superb for that and it was highly valued. I suppose by time I was ready to go I wasn't enjoying it as much as I did.

RoC80s: Were there any other stand out ranges that you worked on that really excited you as a painter?

DM: I enjoyed working on the miniatures for Space Hulk. The first terminator miniatures blew us all away when we first saw the sculpts. Sapce Wolves were my favourite marine Chapter and I as one of the first people to paint the black wolf head on a yellow background. By mid 1989, my life had changed and I was commuting between Lincoln and Nottingham and this was putting a lot of strain and pressure on my work. In a rash moment in 1989, I decided to leave and I suppose at the time I wasn't thinking too clearly but had worked for the company for 18 months and needed a change. Looking back, I have no regrets about working in such a fantastic environment and working with so many good and talented people. I will always remember it fondly and enjoyed my time painting miniatures for one the best miniature companies in the world, at that time.

I also enjoyed working on a slow-burning solo Space Wolf project but I never got around to totally finishing it, what with all the other work I had on the go on top, but it was intended to be a full chapter. Some photos were taken by Phil Lewis and I think one got on to a back cover of White Dwarf. I also enjoyed painting the Marauder Dwarves for Trish and Aly Morrison. This was 'in house painting' but don't think we ever got credit for it as painters. Mike McVey's Empire troops he did for them were mind blowing at the time. Mike was the best painter on the studio floor.
One of my personal favourites of Darren's time at GW. This magnificent ork gargant. 
I am almost certain that this model was in Bryan's cabinet display of his genestealer cult last year at BOYL.
Chaos warriors are iconic in Warhammer. And the painting schemes were never really any more chaotic than this. Another favourite of mine. 

Wednesday 28 October 2015

'Oldhammer Day' Ireland Event 21st November in Kildare

Good news for the Irish! Piers Brand and company have only gone and organised an Oldhammer Day in Ireland. With a large number of Oldhammerers in residence there, I expect a number of you will rejoice at this news, if you didn't know already. 

The event is a single day of informal action at the in Kildare. Just click the link for full details of the address. 

There are already a fair few games planned for the day including; a 40k Bar Room Brawl, a skaven versus dwarf saga and the Battle of Ashak Rise. Hopefully, there will be much more to come on the day too. 

There is a Facebook Group to join for further details. The link is here

I am looking forwards to the photographs . 

The White Dwarf 95 Flexi-Disc

There are a great number of ways to collect classic Games Workshop stuff. For starters you could just amass unpainted lead figures and keep them in bags in your house - not even worrying about cleaning, basing or painting them. Some people go further - such as my friend Stuart - and collect as many of those miniatures as they can mint in the blister packaging. 

Then, of course, there are the publications themselves. The 'literature of Warhammer' if you like. For most, I would imagine this would involve chasing down real copies of all of the hardback rulebooks and supplements that Games Workshop published in whatever period excites you the most. You could go further and collect the magazines, flyers and novels too. 

Like any range of collectibles there is that small subsection of the more unusual things to locate for your archive. Copies of Black Sun, or the Dwarf Flasher or one of those amusing GW staff Christmas cards that you occasionally see. Quite the strangest has to be the Flexi-Disc from White Dwarf 95!

It's arrival between the pages of the World's Greatest Roleplaying magazine was hardly unexpected. As you will have seen above, the issue was advertised before hand with a supporting release date - which is something rather unusual for White Dwarf at this time. 

But trying to find a copy of the magazine with the Flexi-Disc intact is becoming a bit of a challenge now. I was lucky. I bought mine in the years before there being an 'Oldhammer' and nothing could be found on the subject of older Citadel products online beyond a couple of White Dwarf archives and a Wikipedia entry or two. I had just got back into gaming with then forth edition of Warhammer 40,000. I had done Warhammer to death in the previous decades and fancied having a go at something a bit different. I read widely, absorbed the then new 40k novels and absorbed all I could about this newer universe. 

But there was something lacking. Even in the silver age of Phil Sawyer's White Dwarf and so I slipped online during my lunch breaks at an NQT and decided to buy up old White Dwarfs I enjoyed as a youngster. Not knowing where to start, I chose issue 90 and proceeded, in order, to buy and read each issue as a supplement to my 40k gaming and collecting. 

My first true issue of the magazine was WD 108, so I was keen to explore the eighteen months or so of GW I had missed before finding the hobby in 1988. It was quite the journey. The magazine was very different from what I remembered and starkly so when compared to the magazine I was buying off the shelf at W H Smiths. 

The Flexi-Disc add certainly took me by surprise when I first saw it. This was SO far away from the GW I knew - one that would happily go toe to toe with the greasy thrashers that made up the ranks of Heavy Metal fanatics it was quite refreshing. 

And here is my copy. There is a wonderful article all about how the disc came to be on the inside of White Dwarf. If you are interested - have a look here at my Warhammer Rocks article I did some years back. In short, it seems to have been all Bryan Ansell's fault, as according to the article he decreed one day that it would be a great idea to have a giveaway disc in the magazine. A chance meeting with John Blanche at a Slayer gig, saw Sabbat being offered the chance to record a song inspired by the developing Warhammer Mythos. 

That song was to be 'Blood for the Blood God'. 

If you are lucky enough to have a copy of this magazine, or can find one today with the disc intact, then you are holding an unusual piece of Warhammer history. If you look above, you can see that the disc itself is even marked by the symbols of Chaos and Khorne. Nice! 

Of course, you could be cynical here and question why the disc was done in the first place. After all, its shares space in a magazine that sees the launch of Warhammer Third Edition too. A game that had been incredibly successful for Citadel, and one that would go on to conquer the world. Was the plan to draw in those crazed metallers once more? It's certainly clear that there was once a very strong link between Heavy Metal music and roleplaying/fantasy wargaming. They were, believe it or not, the target market for the games and magazine - little Timmy was nowhere in sight. 

Still, its an enduring and intriguing footnote in the history of Warhammer and one that many people are unaware of perhaps due to the far better known 'Realm of Chaos' album by Bolt Thrower

And if you are interested in what the song sounds like then give this YouTube link a click. Some fan of the song has put together a video using various images (some of them of our period of interest) and supplies the lyrics too. 

All together now... Blood for the Blood God!


Tuesday 27 October 2015

McDeath: Is this the world's worst recast?

As many readers will know, I have been (slowly) re-creating the McDeath scenario using many of the original models. We even managed to play through the first game of the scenario several times in August at the third annual Oldhammer Weekend at the Wargames Foundry. 

Getting to that point was a real challenge, partly due to the scale of the project. I am just one man, with limited time, who needs to paint hundreds of models, build scenery and create custom tables for each part of the narrative. The other great hurdle of the project was getting hold of the models themselves. Not only are some of them quite rare, they are also highly desirable and have very high price tags - think £100+ for McDeath and Lady McDeath each!

My quest through the fathoms of collectingMcDeath have hit some real lows and reached some wonderful highs. The generosity of some Oldhammerers has been remarkable - especially my friend, Steve Casey, who supplied McDeath himself. But the dodgy dealing and dubious miniatures that I saw for sale on that journey shocked me. 

Though nothing I saw shocked me as much as the above listing I found on eBay this morning. Just look at that image boys and girls! Isn't this the worst 'recast' you have ever seen? If indeed it IS a recast as its SO bad it might even be a sculpted copy.

Here is what McDeath SHOULD look like! 

And I am afraid that the rear view of the model is even worse than the front! Just have a look below if you don't believe me. What makes matters worse - its up for sale for an astonishing £150!!!!!! The seller is called 'deiv-zalg' and has zero feedback. Make of that what you will! 

Sunday 18 October 2015

An 'Eavy Metal Die-hard: An interview with Tim Prow

A close up detail of a Space Hulk diorama Tim began in the late '80s. It is still not finished!
If you were anything like me, the day that White Dwarf was published in the 1980s was like D-Day. The preparations had been completed, the task force (well, my bike) was prepped and ready and the ammunition loaded (okay, my pocket money was safely in my wallet) and ready to go. I am sure that you had your own route to travel. My journey was to the rather unsavoury newsagents not far from my house. The one that doubled as a video shop, sold penny sweets and cassette tape computer games. My friend Ben said that the infamous doorway (blocked with those plastic dangling strips shops used to boast back then) housed a 'porn alcove' but I was never brave enough to slip through and goggle at the racks of Razzle and Mayfair. 

Not that I had any need, as I had White Dwarf. 

The magazine felt different back then. It was more adult and grown up, with hyper-violent artwork and gurning photographs of the motorcycling (and spectacularly leatherclad) staff. The shelving in the newsagents also suggested who it was 'for' - in the eyes of the suspicious old lady who ran that place anyway. For White Dwarf inhabited the singular 'middle shelf' alongside such grown up publications as Judge Dredd, the Punisher and Gardener's Weekly.

It felt great buying a copy. Despite the owner's misgivings, no doubt inspired by the diatribe of the Daily Mail, that the magazine wasn't suitable for a young 'un like me - money would change hands and that delightful ride home would ensure. With my copy dangling from my handle bars in its plastic bag, I'd make the journey home all the while wondering what mind-blowing images, miniatures and ideas I would find within. 

THAT idea would buzz around your head. What must it be like to work there? What must it be like to be a Games Workshopper?

Well, the subject of this latest interview knows the answer to that question, and a fair more besides, as he was once just like us. A common fan of old school Citadel. Only, he made that awesome transition - and got to ACTUALLY work there. To contribute to that wonderful period in British fantasy gaming. 

Tim Prow. 
I love the art. It looks modern but has obvious links back to the Golden Age - those icons for each of the factions are brilliant!
And now, Mr Prow is at it again. Only going and getting a group of highly talented miniature professional together to work on a rather interesting project. Diehard Miniatures - an Oldhammer inspired range launching via Kickstarter.
And the Kickstarter is now LIVE!

In celelbration of this, I tracked Tim down to the fetid gym where he resides and forced him to document the story of his time at GW, his subsequent international career in miniature design and, of course, his plans for Diehard Miniatures.

RoC80s: So how did all begin for you Tim? Fantasy gaming? Games Workshop? If I remember correctly, you were employed as an apprentice painter. How did it all come about?

TP: I think in much the same way as many others back in the day. I must have been around 13 years old, a friend had gotten a couple of figures from the local GW store in town (the old golden dragon, and some fighters, I seem to remember). That is where it all started. I still have the first figure I ever painted, a dwarf fighter with a round shield and raised sword. Good old Humbrol paints! Think I was more into the collecting at first, but I did play Warhammer Fantasy Battle and WFRP. Oh, not forgetting the Fighting Fantasy books! When I was about 15, I went to GW and painted during my Christmas school holidays for a week or so - a great honour and eye opener for sure and I still have the letter from John Blanche asking me to come in! I worked in the same room as Colin Dixon, Dave Andrews, Sid and Tony Ackland (think there was more guys there, but I cannot remember their names). I used to hang out with Phil Lewis upstairs in the photography room. He really nice bloke. I painted an early Eldar command group and some chaos thugs, they were not that good a paint job but it was the early years. Back then, you were allowed to smoke at work and the room was full of cigarette smoke, I can remember coming home smelling like a chimney! After that I kept in touch with GW. I left school at 16, had a couple of jobs, and at the age of 17 managed to get a full time job with GW as a figure painter. I was taken on for the kingly sum of £4000 a year! The figure painting room was the same, but in those two years the people had changed - now GW had Mike McVey, Ivan Bartlet, Dale Hurst and Andy Craig. Phil Lewis and Dave Andrews were in the adjoining room, and Kev Adams off in the alcove room.

A shot of some of the old school Citadel models that reside in Tim's collection.

RoC80s: What were the first few projects that you remember working on?

TP: Well it was a long time back, and I blame eating green stuff on my dodgy memory now. From what I can remember I was too late to work on the first book for Realms of Chaos, but I managed to contribute to the second book. A lot of the Nurgle stuff was from my private collection. We’d play test in our lunch breaks with small warbands, I remember coming across Adrian Smith's forces on one such break (let’s just say Nurgle was not watching over his chosen that day) I can also recall the first lot of Ork books for Rogue Trader/Warhammer 40,000. I loved that stuff, and ended up painting a lot of Orks for those early books.

RoC80s: How was the studio set up and run? Could you just pick models and get on or were you directed?

TP: It depended. Some paint jobs were looser than others but anything new that had to have a strict paint scheme would go through with either Jez (if it was Eldar/marines related) or Alan Merritt. Occasionally, we also had our say on the development of colour schemes so it could be symbiotic too. Once the colour scheme had been set, we were free to do the figure in our own way and use our own imagination. Later on in the 90s, the colour schemes got stricter but then you always had your own time to paint a figure how you liked if you wished. I still have a large collection of my own stuff from the time, many of which have 'unofficial' colour schemes.

A closer shot of that gorgeous Eldar titan.
RoC80s: What was the working atmosphere like among the 'Eavy Metal painters?

TP: I think for the most part it was a happy crew. While we worked at Enfield Chambers we had our own section away from the rest of the company, so we could work how we liked, listen to what we like, and have a laugh without the bosses hearing what we said. A lot of the time you’d have people like John Blanche coming over to work in our room as it was a better atmosphere. As the youngest, I’d get what was given to me but as time went on I’d was more able to choose what I painted. I remember thinking how honoured I was to paint the Eldar Reapers after Mike had done the first figure from each of the (then new) range Jez had done. To be thought good enough to follow the technique of Mike was pretty cool. I went on to do a set of Scorpions and I think some Banshees as well.

RoC80s: How did the team influence and support each other? Was there any other particular painter or painters who inspired you the most?

TP: We all had our separate way of doing things. I think as I was young and ready to soak up ideas and techniques I was best placed to learn and develop. Others were set in their ways or were happy to do what they were told. Ivan was very earthy and natural in his painting, Dale had a similar approach but added more colour in there. Dale was also colour blind (not something he mentioned while applying for the job) and I can remember all his paint lids had the colours written on them. Andy liked his bright colours, but it was Mike that influenced me the most, his use of colour and his natural blending was never equalled.

RoC80s: You attended Games Day as part of the 'Eavy Metal display team, as well as a punter. Any juicy memories of those events?

TP: I remember attending the factory open days before I believe there was a Games day or Golden Demon I just remember them being very happy days. We really worked hard putting up the stands and sorting all the display cases. The countdown to opening the doors, and the sudden rush of people entering. It was a mad day for sure. And nothing amazed me more than the enthusiasm of the crowd, to talk and show them techniques, and to see them appreciate it was the ultimate reward. We’d always have a laugh signing autographs, making our signatures more and more outrageous (and taking the piss out of the fancy signatures of the higher ups). People would rip down sign boards and get them signed!

RoC80s: Life as an 'Eavy Metal painter in the '80s seems very Rock 'n' Roll at times! Any wild stories to share?

TP: I think because I was so young at the time and the fact I joined at the end of the 80’s most of the ‘Roll’ had left, still plenty of ‘Rock’ though. I remember getting back stage passes to see Megadeth from Gary Sharp Young, I also met them at a press only function in London, I was over the moon By the time we moved to Castle Boulevard the company was becoming a lot more strict. Dale, Ivan, and Phil were gone, leaving only myself and Mike. All the painted figures had been given to Bryan as part of the deal when he sold the company, so we had a hell of a job repopulating the shelves with painted stuff.

Dark Angel diorama close up. 
RoC80s: You've mention painters like Ivan Bartlett and Dale Hurst several times now. These are people of great interest to us, anything further you can share about them?

TP: They were great characters and we used to game at their apartment - mostly using Rolemaster rules in the Warhammer world They were really fun nights. I once made the mistake of challenging them to a drinking competition…. not the smartest moves as they were, let's say, well built for drinking! I ended up on the last bus home and all I can remember is waking up at the bus station in Alfreton (a town I’d never been to) and my dad was not pleased to have to come pick me up! Did I ever mention I was young and naive?

RoC80s: How did GW change and develop during you time there?

TP: I was lucky in a way, I got to see the changes but didn’t end up seeing the final fall. I started in 1989 and we were still in Enfield Chambers, A very cool rabbit warren of a building. I worked with people I looked up to and thought myself very lucky. Once Byran Ansell had sold the company things began to change. Soon after Dale, Ivan and Phil were ‘let go’, and it all started feeling a lot more restrictive and corporate. The move to Castle Boulevard was another sign. We now worked in an open plan office with Rick Priestley and Alan Merrit sat within controlling distance Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fun time to be there and we were producing so many cool games at the time. I was able to play test many of those great titles during my lunch break too. We took on several new painters, and a new 'Eavy Metal crew formed.

Tim Prow on tour. Love the shorts but what on earth was the toilet roll for?

RoC80s: What can you recall about the 'Eavy Metal tours you used to do?

TP: I think I got to see more of the UK than I had so far in my teens. It was a bit daunting for me at first, but then I really got into it. I regularly did the Nottingham shop, but remember doing Luton, Hammersmith, Plymouth, Manchester, and Glasgow (and I am sure there were more). I remember the Glasgow one vividly as it started off with the train breaking down and being stuck in God knows where before finally arriving late to the station. The ext day, I got to the shop okay, but one of the first guys to ask me a question, well I had no idea what he was saying! I recognise most accents, but this one was beyond even me. I asked him to repeat himself several times with no luck, and in the end I just gave him an answer I thought he’d want.

More from Tim's collection.
RoC80s: Apart from Mike McVey, you seem to be the only original 'Eavy Metal painter still in business. How did you make the transition from painting to sculpting?

TP: I think like most people who dabble, it all started with wanting to convert figures. With our ability to get figures by the weight price we had no end of opportunity to mess around to our heart's content. From converting and filling gaps, it was a short jump to sculpting heads, items or figures. Kev White and I started to sculpt in our lunch breaks and we were helped by the sculptors. With the advice we gleamed sitting by their desks watching how they did stuff, we were able to progress quite quickly. Rick Priestley was very gracious, and let us have castings of these first attempts. We learnt what would cast and got to see what worked and what didn’t on the sculpt once in metal. But I couldn't really go anywhere despite developing these skills. It was made clear that GW didn't have the resources to take either Kev or myself on as sculptors, and I’d hit the very low pay ceiling for a painter, so it seemed if I wanted to take this further as a career I’d have to move on! During a week off, I sculpted my first test piece for Heartbreaker Miniatures. By the time I was back at work I knew I was ready to leave. Rick asked what I’d do once I'd left and I said 'sculpt', I remember him saying somethig like ‘it’s a cottage industry out there, you won’t make as much as you did for us’. Well the first year of self-employed sculpting I made twice as much as I had as a GW painter I think these words were the best spur I ever could have had in starting up and making a go of it! So I'd like to thank Rick Priestley for giving me my determination to prove I could make a success of it. So I moved on to Heartbreaker Miniatures. Phil Lewis had been there for just over a year I think. Bob Watts gave me a trial piece to work on, and by the end of the week he offered me a job working freelance for Heartbreaker. The old team was back, Phil Lewis, Chaz Elliott, me and soon after, Kev Adams joined us. Heartbreaker produced figures for many different companies during the 90s, but the main one was Target Games sculpting Mutant Chronicles. Paul Bonner had left GW and was producing brilliant artwork (as ever) too. 

By 2000 I was going through a divorce, I was offered a full time job at Ral Partha by my very good friend, Kevin Bledsoe. He had previously worked with Bob, and when Bob moved to Ral Partha, Kev came with him. It was the obvious choice for someone suddenly free of all attachments, so I took up the offer and America was a great ride, I loved every minute of being there! I started in Cincinnati with Partha, but after just 6 months they were bought out by Wizkids. I was working with Dave Summers, Jeff Grace, Steve Saunders, and Jeff Wilhelm. Really nice crew of guys with great talent. There was a lot of skills and techniques being passed back and forth, it was an amazing melting pot. 
Later in 2001 during GenCon, Jordan Weisman asked Jeff Grace and myself to come join them in Seattle, and the adventure continued A new team was formed, one of which was Brian Dugas. I was there till the end of 2003, before returning to the UK. The company had been taken over, and as much as the new parent company says they are a family company and look after their employees… well they didn't! It was, however, a blessing in disguise as I got to spend the last month or so with my father before he died in Nottingham.
Since then, I restarted my freelance career and have been a freelance ever since. I could reel off possibly 40 or 50 companies I’ve worked for (I really need to go back through my books and find out!). Most recently I’ve worked on stuff for Mantic, Mierce, Fenris Games, Reaper Miniatures, Avatars of War. I’ve also worked on many Kickstarters, I’ve worked on Marvel and DC collectable magazines, and even a short stint at Pinewood Studios!

The chaotic faction from Diehard Miniatures - including the Son of Slomn in the centre. 

RoC80s: So we are right up to the present day and with your new project. And an Oldhammer inspired one to boot! Why Diehard Miniatures?

TP: Why not?
I think it is an idea that has been bandied around for a while now. We sculptors sometimes chat about getting a company together and working as a collective. Ideas bounce around, nothing gets done, and we go off on our own ways. It wasn’t until around this time last year that something came together and stuck. The idea that we could cut the middleman out as it were, and be that much closer to the customer was very appealing. Together we have control over what we do and where we go, giving us a flexibility and strength not many companies have. The initial idea was to sculpt just a handful of figures and float a KickStarter and just see where it went. From there, the project has grown into 9 factions, 6 pieces each, ending with dragons and giants! We do love a challenge

Eru-Kin miniatures from the Diehard kickstarter. Painted by Mr Prow if I recall correctly. 

The team that’s come together fits surprisingly well, and despite being in three different time zones, it works. Apart from myself, we have Chaz Elliott on the Isle of Lewis - renowned from the GW glory days, Drew Williams is based in San Francisco and is a very natural talent and with great knowledge. Finally, our linchpin is Richard Luong in Texas. His art has surprised us all with its ability to merge the 'Oldhammer' style we were after with a new updated look. With our Oldhammer inspired guidance in the art briefs, Rich has given us delightful concepts to work from. We've all picked races that we are passionate about too.

Undead faction Diehard miniatures. I love that skeleton model. 
My first choice was the Eru-Kin. As some of my earliest collection were Space Frogs and I loved those figures. No-one has really ever taken took those figures much farther. My goal is to take the Eru-Kin where their ancestors should have gone; I’ve lots of ideas for these guys! Undead and Chaos I also love to sculpt for the project, as if I’m ever given a choice or asked to sculpt them I smile. Hopefully if we do well, I’d like to see the next project as a Sci-Fi one - can you imagine Eru-Kin in full power armour?

Here is a useful comparison shot between a period '80s Citadel miniature orc and a Diehard equivalent. 
I have written about Diehard Miniatures before here at Realm of Chaos 80s and if you are interested in reading my thoughts on the subject just click this handy link here for all that I shave shared. If you have enjoyed this interview and appreciate the Diehard models that you have seen then please do support Tim's project. 

Just click the link below to pledge a few quid and make this range a possibility. 

Before I go, I would just like to thank Tim from his time on this as it can take a while to extract these memories from warp shattered minds such as his.  Always end on a song they say, well I am going to ignore that advice and end with a video inside. Enjoy!