Saturday 11 June 2016

The European Range? An Oddity From Dragon Magazine 1988

Hello retro fans. As regular readers will know I have spent the last few days investigating the possibility of 'missing' McDeath models and by missing I don't mean the couple of models not yet secure in my collection. You see my research led me towards an interesting speculative place - perhaps the models released and those originally intended to represent the characters were different?

In some cases we can tally the original figure with the cardboard counter artwork! As I have said for many years, you can research '80s Citadel and Games Workshop miniature ranges and publications for many, many years and still find new intriguing mysteries to explore. And quite by accident, which is usually how these mysteries arise, I discovered another one this week.

The mystery of the 'European Range'. Yes, I haven't heard of it before either, nor have I even seen a blister pack in the style advertised.

Searching for Raybees on an internet search engine brought this image up. You can spot him in the first rank centre stage. Of course, it wasn't long until that Combat Card dwarf wizard caught my eye, now there is a rare figure and I have only ever seen a single example of him - in Bryan's collection in Newark. And by the way, that was exactly the same figure as you can see in this advert.

There are several other very notable figures exhibited here too. Cast your eye around and you can spot the limited edition 'Warlock' figure at the back of the display, not far from the original Lichemaster figure. If you look closer you will also spot a high number of other desirable figures that are part of a number of popular ranges grognards collect to this day. By and large, we have been lead to believe that most of these figures (Warlock and Lichemaster in particular) were super limited editions only and this rarity supports the high prices that collectors demand and pay regularly.

But if we interpret this advert literally, could the models shown in this advert represent the contents of the ADVENTURERS RANGE as it was (if, of course, it ever WAS launched) released in the US. Could they still be out there? Some years ago I was approached by an individual who claimed to have a Lichemaster figure (the original from the '80s he assured me) in a blister pack. I never saw the model in question but I was informed in no uncertain terms by another collector that finding Kemmler in the original packaging was an impossibility.

But was it?

Tuesday 7 June 2016

McDeath: The Lost Scenario Figures?

This blog post has been a long time coming. I have been thinking about writing it on and off for several years and I guess today just happens to be today! It has been inspired by my quest to acquire all of the McDeath figures (something I have yet to achieve, as I am still missing the giant model and Sandra Prangle) and my passion for recreating this wonderful Richard Halliwell scenario. 

Those readers out there not over familiar with the McDeath set may not have ever lain eyes on the artwork for the card counters that came with the box set. Old hands will be well aware of the classic era of cardboard cut out models. Many '80s games came with them and McDeath was no different. They provided an opportunity for cash strapped gamers to use the scenarios without the correct forces in lead.

 Now, there were loads of card counters in the book and I have scanned a small sample here to illustrate my point. 

Take a look. 

Now the first thing that will strike you if you are familiar with my McDeath project is how similar many of the colour schemes are to my painted models. This is not coincidence as I always sought inspiration for my figures from the original artwork. If I liked the way the art looked - I copied the colour selection and if I didn't, I chose the scheme that best suited me. 

What struck me working with the source material was that a great deal of the models looked identical to the artwork, almost as if they had been drawn from life. Just look at Mogro Neckbreak in the artwork above and my finished example below. It is very clearly the same model with a few positional differences. 

Spot, Lady McDeath's fearsome hound, doesn't look enormously similar to the figure I use but I know for a fact that the different pre-slotta models were sent out to purchasers back in the 1980s, and the artwork on the card counter looks very similar to the models in the range. So no surprises here. 

Take a look below and compare with the top image and make up your own mind. 

Juggo seems to have followed Alice into the rabbit hole and mistaken the 'Drink Me' bottle for hard liquor as he has had a serious case of 'The Shrinks' when you compare him to his original card illustration. Yes, that is him top right. The original image is clearly a human figure (and more on him later on in this post) while the 'official' model is of course a dwarf. 

This got me thinking 'why the change?' A fluff mix up? The disappearance of the original figure? I guess we will never know. What we can be sure of is that some of the illustrations are bang on, while others are a million miles off the mark. Are there other models out there that may have one day been intended for the McDeath scenario? It certainly got me thinking. 

Fergus, that muscle bound thug of the McEwman clan, looks identical to his cardboard equivalent, his is just drawn from a different angle than my photograph below. Obviously, it is the same figure. But if Fergus survived the design process unscathed why not Juggo? And to make matters even more confusing there is another trollslayer figure out there in Citadel collecting with Juggo on the tab!! Can the real Juggo please stand up? 

Julia doesn't appear on the cut out scan I shared above but the figure selected for release matches her closely. You can see that it is clearly her in the artwork if you go and look. Dokko, positioned bottom right on the cardboard counter image, again looks strikingly like the model released to represent him. Problems arise again when we take a look at Donaldbane. Compare my painted figure with him on the card counter, I have circled him in red. 

It's clear as day that the two designs are utterly different, though similarly armed. Again, that question raises its head. If Julia and Dokko are bang on the money, then why not Donaldbane?

Though McWrecker is posed differently in the artwork and lacks his magic bowl it is very clearly the same figure, or indeed a variant of the model released. The differences are not so stark as they have been with Donaldbane and Juggo. Glancing at Brooben it's plain to see that they are near identical, almost as if drawn from life. 

Mergrey matches very closely too. Take a look.

As do the iconic Lord and Lady McDeath, beyond a few minor differences.

Things go awry once again with the halfling, Raybees, who looked completely different to his card counter version even though Banquo matches pretty strongly. Take a look, I have circled the card version of Raybees in blue. Why the difference? It is certainly intriguing if you are a collector and a fan of minutae like me. But surely there couldn't be any 'lost' figures out there I hear you ask? This is surely just the rambling of a man who has sniffed one to many jars of Dettol in his life. To be honest, I would heartily agree with you if it wasn't for one thing...

I have found an exact match for the original Juggo illustration, minus an eyepatch - the woodcutter from the villagers/rangers/townsfolk set! Compare the two - I am quite correct am I not? They even share that most essential of '80s fashion items (see Arnie's Commando film for further reference) - the chainmail vest!

This discovery leads on to another question. If there is a clear match to the original Juggo picture why not the two other examples? 

Have a closer look at the original artwork for Raybees (in blue) and Donaldbane in red. As I am not an exhaustive expert on every Citadel range, particularly the pre-slotta stuff, it could well be that these models are 'out there' just as the original Juggo is. Anyone recognise these designs in any actual released models? If so please do drop me a line as I would love to have my suspicions confirmed, or crushed utterly!!

But even with the irregularities of Raybees and Donaldbane left on the table, this story isn't quite complete as there is another character mentioned in McDeath (albeit very, very briefly- you really will miss him if you blink) who has a card counter to represent him. 

Boney Prince Charlie. 

You can see him on the far right circled in red. I have heard in several McDeath collecting circles that there is a zombie model out there that resembles this illustration very closely. I have searched the ranges in hoping of spotting this model but have failed utterly. 

Do you recognise him?

So esteemed members of the Oldhammer Community. Can any of you help unravel my conundrums?

Are there really 'lost' scenario figures out there for McDeath?


Monday 6 June 2016

White Dwarf 138 and the Last Advert for Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition

Hi all! I am living in limbo at the moment largely due to a complicated and ever delayed house move. Hopefully, I will be set back up and Oldhammering again by late summer and have plans for a far more spacious (yet not so light) painting area in the near future. In the short term, I have to start boxing up my collection for transportation. For the last month or so things have been neatly stacked up in the conservatory but they are in no way ready for shifting via burly men. It's funny, the last time I moved, my Old School Warhammer collection fitted neatly in a single box and now it's a sprawling mess spread across multiple locations! 

It just goes to show how much lead a man can collect in seven years, eh? It's astonishing when I look at it all. Anyway, as I was 'tidying up' (what this really means is flicking through my stack of old Warhammer mags while the wife doesn't notice my laxity) I came across this little ad in White Dwarf 138 and as far as I can tell it is the very last advert for Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third edition. 

Time to fetch the tissues?

Not that I was actually playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle at this time. I had moved on, as many of us had I think, to the glory of the Big Box Games. I can recall hours of playing and modelling time being pumped into the first edition of Space Marine and the immortal Bloodbowl and the demise of 'classic '80s style Warhammer' passed me by. 

Of course, when my interest in the game was rekindled after a re-read of the WFB rulebook in 1995 it was too late. Fourth edition just didn't cut my mustard, even after I tried so damn hard to get into it. Luckily, this was the era of Hogshead and it's period of publishing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, so I switched systems. It still missed GW's glory boy (at least my preferred version of it) but there were at least loads of great spin-off games still being released.

Even ten years later after the birth of the internet as a mass media outlet, my beloved Third Edition of Warhammer was practically impossible to find reference too online.I still clung to my battered copy of the rulebook and felt myself to be the only person in the world who loved that edition like no other and saw every subsequent edition as a watered down version of something once so special. 

Looking back over this advert, I find it all a bit cynical really. One final push on stock in the knowledge that a new edition was being developed just around the corner. But I guess that is just the nature of business, eh? Still, Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition is played more often now than it has been for decades. So there is a little happy ending to this ramshackle blog post. 

Why don't you do yourself a favour and pull out your rulebook and organise a game of WFB3 with your mates this week? You know you deserve it!