Saturday 30 July 2016

Orlygg Rides Again (again!)

Some days, I have felt as tired and grumpy as this orc bloke.

After many false starts and near teetering collapses I have finally moved house! A week ago we had the packers in to box up our old home and prepare us for the ten mile journey deeper into rural Essex and we officially 'sold' the house this past Monday. The last six days has been spent unpacking, arranging and organising our possessions - not to mention a sizable Old School Citadel stash that had to be carefully manoeuvred so the wife remained unaware of its true scale!

And no, the removals men were not required to shift my painted collection. You may recall one of my earlier posts about how best to shift my painted models, and in the end I opted to using deep sided boxes and ranking all my figures inside. I found that by cramming them all inside, their tendency to fall over was restricted nicely. I asked my father-in-law to care for them in the meantime as no-one I know is as pernickety about safety or security than he.

I am resisting the urge to scrawl 'Blood on the Streets' in a spidery hand across walls or some other utterance from Warhammer Townscape.

Our new home is far larger and immeasurably older than our previous abode. Nestled on the outskirts of a historic Essex village and part of a conservation area, the building dates back to the 16th century. Subsequently, its aspect has a certain Phil Lewisesque Warhammer cottage look about it, and I have already decided to recreate the building in miniature out of foamboard and cardboard.

For once, my entire collection is housed in a single room and is easily available to me. A makeshift painting table was set up last night and the furniture around it cleverly hides everything I have amassed over the years. In time, I want to buy a Victorian or Georgian bureau with a sliding hatchfront to convert into a more permanent set up, but this chopped up old desk will do the honours in the meantime.

Things should go back to normal now, though my ability to post will be restricted to the fact that my computer is currently being used by the kids to watch television on. Sky TV have yet to manage a suitable connection for us and cannot get an engineer out until the end of August to deal with our receiver, so blogging will have to play second fiddle to Holby City and the Lingo Show, for a while at least.

Still, I feel much more positive about getting creative after such a long rut in disinterested street. I blame the uncertainty for the house move for that and I am lucky enough to be only a handful of days about from the BOYL4 and I am bound to absorb inspiration aplenty from there. In the meantime, I have a few Nurgle pieces to work on and a few goblinoid pieces too, not to mention the final touches to another Old School Citadel interview!

We will speak soon.


Sunday 17 July 2016

The First Citadel Open Day: The Photographs of Mark Stevenson

Photograph One: We start with a great shot of the 'it looks quite a bit like the Citadel logo' castle model that was seen at many a show during the 1980s. I am still not exactly sure about who built it and have heard conflicting reports about who was responsible, though this is not surprising as there were two similar castles like this kicking about. If you look at the blog post I did about Guy Carpenter's photographs you can see them both side by side in a single shot. The table itself also makes many appearances through the decade - with the distinctive twin skull scenery pieces being used in many a Games Day. Apparently, the hot air balloon was made from a toilet ballcock!!

Realm of Chaos 80s has a long tradition of bringing it's readers the best that social media vomits out into the unexpected world. Facebook, and other modern methods of mass communication, are surperb platforms to inhibit the spread of information - for good or ill. Thankfully, today's post is a very positive one and brings to you another dose of vintage era photographs set to send your nostalgia circuit into '80s hair metal overdrive.

In previous years, both Guy Carpenter and Andy Craig have offered up their blurry photographs to the altar of Oldhammer and now it is the turn of one Mark Stevenson. I spotted his pictures on Facebook a week or so after he first shared them and inquired if it would be possible to present them here for posterity. As you are ogling his images as you read, you know that Mr. Stevenson was more than happy to do so and many thanks must be given to him. As in similar posts of yesteryear, I shall attempt to provide a little colour commentary to each photograph and try to put things into context. I am by no means an expert in this period of GW's history though. Regular readers will know that my expertise lies in the period 1987 - 1991 so I am more than happy to be corrected by anyone more knowledgeable than myself.

Okay! Strap on your digital watch and clutch your copy of Zzap64 (or CRASH, if you were that way inclined) as we head back to September 1984 and the FIRST CITADEL OPEN DAY in Eastwood.

Photograph Two: A detail shot of the game from the same table as the castle in photograph one. Two lovely (scratch built?) boats with some fantastic attention to detail. I love the way the sail in attached to the mast. One of the famous multipart c28 giants (later used in McDeath) strides across the river.

Photograph Three: More detail from the gaming table. A beautifully made scratch built boat in the harbour. I could study this shot for hours due to all of the tiny details you can spot. The scenery works brilliantly and makes you feel you are part of a real place. I have always felt that is is essential in wargaming and strongly dislike the flat, plastic looking boards you see kicking about these days.

Photograph Four: Tony Ackland's infamous Dwarf Juggernaut, complete with a puff or two of cotton wool. These have become iconic models and getting hold of one in a decent and complete state has been the goal of a fair few obsessive collectors.

Photograph Five: These models are Tom Meier High Elves and can still be bought from Ironwind Metals. The shields look to be scratch built though.

Photograph Six: A distinctive model by John Blanche. Iconic.
Photograph Seven: Too much LSD? Like a combined acid trip from all members of Hawkwind in 1972 this image seems to whirl before your eyes. Don't worry, it is blurred and your eyes have not been blasted by Blanche!!

Photograph Eight: Another mystery to me, I am afraid, but I have a feeling that this is a pre-slotta hobgoblin. Note the heavy black shading. At this point using a mixture of black undercoat and heavy drybrushing produced this distinctive look. Many of the other photographs on this blog share this technique. As colour photography became more simple and frequent, collector's painting skills had to rise to met the challenge.

Photograph Nine: A pre-slotta goblin from Grom's goblin guard, I think, converted into a standard bearer. Note how influential Blanche's banners were in regards to colour. The yellow mustardy background with black and red in the foreground.

Photograph Ten: John Blanche's influence is apparent here with these orc warriors. Note that the standards look to be made of actual material. What a fantastic idea!!! Now there is something worth a try one day.

Photograph Eleven: An ogre mounted on a dinosaur. I have no idea who made either of these models.

Photograph Twelve: A highly disturbing robot. Produced by SFD and painted, I suspect, by John Blanche.

Photograph Thirteen: The Spined Dragon by Nick Bibby. The GREATEST model dragon of the '80s - and probably beyond! Actually, this model has a little amusing story connected with it. It's head is still part of Tim Prow's collection as he found the dragon's noggin in a draw when GW moved premises. Instead of throwing it away he kept it. What happened to the rest of the dragon is a mystery.

Photograph Fourteen: A pre-slotta goblin fanatic

Photograph Fifteen: I have no idea about this one.

Photograph Sixteen: Now here is an interesting model. There has been some debate about whether or not this piece is a conversion or not. I can ID this a Ral Partha Troll and I have seen one in Goblin Lee's collection. It is a cracking model even after all these years and looks rather sinister if you ask me.

Photograph Seventeen: Converted beastmen based on the old Vile Broo model, and some Ral Partha demons which are notable for having multiple heads.. The model on the right just screams crazy '80s Warhammer and is reminiscent of many of Bryan Ansell's more peculiar models.

Photograph Eighteen: Aly Morrison's Oriental Heroes.

Photograph Nineteen: More pre-slotta orcs and goblins.

Photograph Twenty: The original 'White Dwarf' based on the image that was used on the front cover of White Dwarf during much of the 1980s. This example was released as part of the White Dwarf Personalities box set.

Photograph Twenty-One: A Citadel dwarf ranger. He was produced for the opening of the Nottingham store when GW did special give away models. This model later appeared inside the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rulebook when it was released in 1986.

Photograph Twenty-Two: '80s madness. Paragliding dwarves. These later appeared in White Dwarf.

Photograph Twenty-Three: A close up of one of the swooping dwarves.

Photograph Twenty-Four: An finally, a range of pre-slotta fighters, including the chap carrying the lady over his shoulder. I don't think I have seen that model before.

So we end our little trip through the ages and must now leave the First Citadel Games Day behind us. Thanks again must go to Mark for letting me share these fantastic images. As I said, if you can provide any further information about these figures or any of the models shown, please do get in touch.


Saturday 16 July 2016

How do you solve a problem like moving hundreds of painted Citadel Miniatures?

My long, neglected display cabinet. It is beginning to burst at the seams!!
We have had some excellent news this week. The long, arduous process of moving house has come to a head and we have exchanged contracts. We should be moving on the 25th July! I cannot begin to articulate how difficult a journey this was for us, but my wife and I are very pleased that it is now all over.

Only one challenge remains. The physical operation of packing up and moving every object from our home of seven years and transporting the lot miles down the road. Of course, the hardest parts will be carried out by the removals men. We have opted for a full house pack up ( basically, big burly men will be wrapping and packing all of our possession) and move - with the same big, burly men loading everything into a lorry.

But letting them loose on my miniature collection is just not going to happen. And there lies my problem. How do you safely and easily wrap, protect and transport over three hundred vintage Citadel miniatures?

Have any of you dear readers ever carried out such an operation? If so, how did you accomplish the task? As you will have seen from my photographs, most of my collection comprises of single cast models with a few larger pieces thrown in.

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated!!!



Sunday 10 July 2016

Let me tell you a strange story of collecting Citadel

You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that something has been amiss with me. My contribution to the wider Oldhammer community has been minimal and updates on this once seminal blog have slowed to an insignificant trickle. The reasons for this are manifold and need not be discussed here in any depth, beyond that the origins for these problems reside in that potent mix of professional and personal challenges. Oh, and the house move from hell dolloped on the top of it all too. 

The brutal truth is thus: I have had no time nor yearning for anything Oldhammer. Nothing at all. In fact, nearly all of my collection was long ago packed into boxes along with my painting kit and put into storage. Continuing to collect was also an impossibility with limited (and in some weeks) no connection to the internet. Not that it bothered me. I had other mountains to climb, and none of them were made of lead. 

Disinterest had gripped me anyway. Looking back, I think this was largely due to mental fatigue. With my creative energies being spent elsewhere, the last thing I wanted to do was excavate out my collection of Citadel and daub them despondently with paint. If you are anything like me, to produce work of a standard that is pleasing takes time and energy. Two things I have not had much of since March. 

Despite the difficulties, life has this funny way of bringing you back, doesn't it? Some call this serendipity - a happy accident. And I can think of no better way of describing what happened to me yesterday as a happy accident. Not in a physical sense! Please don't envisage falling blocks of Regiments of Renown from passing aircraft or some mysterious stranger tapping my on the shoulder and pressing Sandra Prangle into my palm.

I was not injured in anyway.

As part of our attempts to move house, my wife and I have boxed up much of the contents of our house and selected which possessions are no longer viable. I have three huge boxes of Black Library books destined for a local charity shop alone! Junk, or broken items, have until recently been stacked in the back garden alongside the conservatory. My mission this weekend was to dispose of as much of this as I could at the local tip. 

My wife drives one of those four wheel drive gas-guzzlers and the boot space can be extended considerably by removing the backseats. There was just enough space to shove in the contents of our junk pile and for me to still drive the vehicle legally. The short trip to the council recycling centre was uneventful, save for the odd encounter with a tottering Essex girl or two still reeling from Friday night. Parking alongside the household waste section, I set about gathering up our unwanted items and tipping them into the large, metal containers the council use to dispose of our rubbish. 

Sadly, a great number of people deem this too much effort and abandon their waste alongside the containers. Perhaps the metallic steps are too much for their flabby legs? As I was walking to my car something familiar caught my eye. It was a font printed on a piece of aged paper that stirred some recollection in me. The paper stuck slightly out from a dusty looking book face down on a broken chest of drawers, fluttering slightly in the wind. Could it be? I thought. Surely, that isn't a font similar in style to something GW would have used in the 1980s? 

I walked over and stared down at the purple book. Though covered in thick dust, it looked in great shape and clearly had not been exposed to the elements for very long. After all, it had rained in the night and the book had no protection from the weather at all. I brushed the dust off idly, curious to determine what it might be. Bright flower patterns were exposed as my fingers curled around the edges of the spine and I lifted the book into the light. Flipping the volume around I was astonished with what I had found in this place of decay and dust...

Yes, it's a Pop-Up Kama Sutra!

And the piece of yellowed paper with the familiar font on?

Incredibly, it was a near mint flyer/poster for Citadel Miniature's Summer Sale in 1986! 

How this piece of history came to be abandoned inside a spiritual sex manual with optional moving parts is totally beyond me. But it made me smile from ear to ear. After a quick glance at the models displayed, I grew concerned that the paper might become damaged by the weather, so I carefully refolded it and placed it inside. My smile even broader. 

"Like the dirty stuff, eh?" Came a strong, Norfolk voice. I looked up to see one of the refuse-workers, who run the recycling centre, guffawing at me, his eyes leering down at the image on the front cover. "Stuff like that puts lead in ya pencil!" he exclaimed further, his eyes bulging in appreciation of his mastery of comedy. "Feel free to keep it mate," he smiled. Walking off. 

Forget lead in your pencil - I thought - a discovery like this puts lead back into your soul. Where it has always belonged. And always will.