Wednesday 31 August 2016

The City of Lead: A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers

Hello all! I have managed to paint up a figure, despite my looming return to work. Sometimes I think the long, sprawling days of summer don't help the painting mojo and work can slow to a painful crawl - but this figure seemed to just paint itself over the last few days.

He is the first model in Steve, Paul, Chico and my new ongoing project - The City of Lead: A year long mission to create a warband for Mordheim. Now, I am a complete stranger to the game and have yet to explore the published materials but I have picked a side.


And this Russian looking chap from the recent Foundry 'Time Warp Wizards' will do nicely for my warband.

There are a couple of other possible models in my collection already, but beyond buying up the original Kislev Warhammer models I am stumped as to where to find medieval looking Russian miniatures.

Can any of you readers suggest any ranges?

Friday 26 August 2016

Citadel Colour: An Interview with Mike McVey

Mike McVey's painting inspired my own meagre efforts more than anyone else. It was his work that I poured over and failed to emulate through the later part of the 1980s and beyond. We forget now, in this age of communications technology, just how limited our source material was back then. You had White Dwarf and the supplements that came with the games you bought. That was pretty much it!

And there was the waiting...

The waiting for the month to turn, so I could make the mile long trip to the newsagents and pick up the next issue of White Dwarf. I had a ritual. I wouldn't open the magazine until I got home and when I did, my first port of call was 'Eavy Metal and Mike McVey's painted models.

So you can imagine, dear readers, that Mr McVey was a the top of my list of individuals to interview and he was one of the very first personalities that I approached. Way back then, Mike ensured me that he would, one day, get back to me and I am very pleased to say that he finally has.

Mike's work dominated the final 'Fantasy Miniatures' hardback book in 1990, as this page illustrates.

RoC80s: How did its all start? Eighteen is a very young age to begin anything professionally, so how did you end up working for GW as part of the 'Eavy Metal team?

MMc: I was very young, and still living at home at the time. It was an advert in White Dwarf that started it all - I can't remember what issue (I really should go back and check…) but it was later in 1986. I painted some miniatures especially for it, and sent them off to the Studio. To my complete amazement I got a letter back asking me to come to Nottingham for an interview - that was all the prompting I needed to leave home and move close to Nottingham. My sister was at college in Loughborough at the time, so I moved in with her before the interview. The interview itself was pretty terrifying - I spent all my youth pouring over the pages of WD, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by the people who made it. Sitting there in John Blanche's office, with his paintings on the walls and his miniatures on the shelves. The thing I remember the most clearly was his Chaos Minotaur conversion - the one with Mona Lisa on the banner. I had stared at that for hours in the pages of WD, and here I was in the presence of the real thing… I also remember the sculpting studio - Nick Bibby, Jes Goodwin, Bob Naismith, and Ali and Trish Morrison - all sitting round laughing and joking, I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was pretty wet behind the ears back then!

The interview didn't go great - I was very young and inexperienced, and was more than a little tongue tied talking to John - so I was pretty pleased when the whole thing was over.

I received a letter about a week later, informing me I hadn’t got the job - but that Bryan would like to talk to me about the possibility of doing some freelance work. I duly rang him up and he told me he'd keep me on file in the event of any work being available. So there I was living in Loughborough, and not working for GW…

The next thing I did was apply for a mould making job over at the factory in Eastwood - I figured if I got in there, it might be easier to transfer across to the studio (as my good friend Richard Wright eventually did, though I had no idea at the time). So I got several busses and trains to travel from Loughborough to Eastwood and had an interview with Steve Bruce and John Ellard (I think…) - who told me they couldn't employ me living so far away…

I had been in Loughborough for about two months (so that would be April 1987), when out of the blue I got a call from John Blanche asking if I would be interested in two weeks work in the studio. They had a big project coming up (which turned out to be Rogue Trader), and needed some help with it. I jumped at the chance, and that two weeks turned into 13 years…

Mike McVey has always stood out from the crowd.
RoC80s: You ended up running the painting team. During your time with the company, how did the way miniature painting was organised change?

MMc: Everything about the way the company worked has changed out of all recognition since those early days. John ran the art department when I joined, and that included the figure painting studio. Back then there was Colin Dixon (who was the first full time painter), Sid (who got the job I didn't), and myself. Really it was just Sid and I doing the painting though - Colin was mainly doing artwork, and only painted miniatures when there was a crunch on. Then there was Dave Andrews and Tony Ackland drawing and painting. I remember my first day in the Studio so clearly - walking into that room with Sid, Colin, Dave and Tony - all bearded with long hair, surrounded with cigarette smoke - and there I was a very fresh faced 18 year old. I was scared out out of my wits! I don't think I spoke a single work for about 2 weeks...

I was employed on the understanding that I would be able to paint five miniatures a day - but some days I painted far more. I remember painting the units for the first plastic regiments box set - where you got 20 each of several different Warhammer races. Most of those were painted in a single day for a unit of 20. Learning to paint at that speed, taught me a huge amount about economy of painting, and it really helped when I slowed down and spent more time on individual miniatures.

The miniature painting and art room was a pretty chaotic place - but we did get a lot done. Everyone went to the pub most lunch times (at least it seemed like that looking back), so the afternoons were definitely more 'relaxed'. I can't remember exactly how things were organised - but John would dole out the work and give us briefs for colour schemes. These were pretty open and we had a lot of freedom as to how to paint things - which was great.

The deadline was always - 'soon as you can'.

There was never any teaching of how to do things, but John would critique work and have us make changes when needed. I was keen as mustard though - this was my dream job and I wasn't going to screw it up.

As time went on over the years, the whole company got more organised, and that was certainly true for miniature painting. I was pretty much running it (under Phil Lewis) just before we moved to the new studio on Castle Boulevard - I think there were 5-6 of us at that point. Myself, Tim Prow, Dale Hurst, Ivan Bartlet and Andy Craig - I think that was everyone. Only Tim and I made it to the new studio though - the others were 'let go'. The whole studio move was a brutal experience, and lots of people didn’t make it - as far as I remember, they only found out a day or so before we moved.

When we got into the new place, we started re-building the team and I ran it properly for a couple of years. Or as properly as I knew how - considering I had no training in management what so ever. It was different place by then - much more organised and formal. We worked in an open plan office, so we weren't hidden away like we were in the original studio - that place was like a rabbit warren and you got get away with all sorts of 'high-jinks'!

These miniatures, and their famous paintjobs, must has launched the painting exploits of millions of gamers!
RoC80s: You were (and indeed still are) rightly famous for your gorgeous blended painting style. How did you develop this? Did you arrive at GW with the skill or did it develop through inspiration or through training?

MMc: When I got to GW, I was pretty competent painter - but I looked at the work of people like JB and Colin, and thought I would never get anywhere close to their level. It's amazing how fast you improve in that environment though - painting eight hours a day, surrounded with like-minded creative people. You absorb information by osmosis. I never remember much in the way of training - you would look at the way someone else did something, and work out how they did it. Everyone was very open with information, but there wasn't the culture of learning and forensic direction there is with miniature painting these days. It was very young hobby in a lot of ways. People had been painting miniatures for years for wargaming, but it was pretty basic stuff - they never focused on quality in the way we did. That was for larger scale painting.

As for blending - it was something that John showed me with enamels, using a second brush to thin the edge of a colour to create the look of a smooth blend. I just transferred that to painting with acrylics. If I remember it right, the fist place I did that was on the original Imperial Guard Sentinel, which I painted blue. I remember Bryan complaining that it wasn't highlighted, as it was bit on the subtle side!

Once I'd mastered that technique, everything else fell onto place though - it was the cornerstone of my painting. It wasn't until I got to spend a bit longer on the miniatures that I felt comfortable with it though - the first time that happened was probably painting the Eldar - that’s when I thought my paining really ‘clicked’, on the aspect warrior miniatures especially, but also on some of the Harlequins.  I was in the fortunate position of being my own boss with painting - so I could spend the time I needed to on miniatures - that allows me to really perfect that technique, and in the end I could produce multi-layered, smooth blends very quickly. 

The original Citadel Colour range.
RoC80s: According to our research, you were credited in helping designing the very well loved original Citadel Colour Range (Citadel Colour, Creature Paint Set, Monster Paint Set etc...), is this the case? If so, what was the process of development?

MMc: Not quite. The original Citadel Colour paints were released before my time at GW - round about 1985 I think. At that time I was painting with Humbrol Enamels, so switching to acrylics was a revelation. No more smell or long drying times. I worked a lot on the first expansion to the range - the inks, washes and metallics - and re-worked a lot of the colours to be a more comprehensive spectrum. That would be early nineties I think - maybe late eighties. From that point on, I was responsible for the entire paint range design. I spent quite a lot of time in the paint labs of several different companies - developing new formulations and colours. I designed about five ranges while I was there - but only two of them saw the light of day. One was a re-design of the entire original range, and the next was when production switched to a new supplier.

RoC80s: Andy Craig's amusing tales of life in the studio have been very popular, do you have any amusing stories or memorable moments to share?

MMc: God - where do I start! I pretty much grew up working at GW, so a lot of my formative memories are linked to that place. When I think of amusing stories, I mainly think of Sid though - he was a pretty hilarious guy.

I remember there was a youth training office above the painting room and he used to terrorise the trainees. They had to walk past our window pretty regularly - we were on the first (second for any Americans reading) floor and they had to walk out under us to the bins at the back of the building. He used to bombard them with anything he could get his hands on - and had various projectile guns to shoot them with. He also used to chase them round the corridors when he met them - and it culminated with the manager taking him to task outside our door, and ending up in a fist fight with him!

Then there was the occasion he built the 'first 40K tank' - which consisted of a large cardboard box, that had holes for his head, arms and legs - he just happened to be taking that for it’s first test drive round the floor of the figure painting room, when Tom Kirby walked in with some important guests...

Sid was never a great painter, but he was endlessly entertaining to work with!

Then there was the time John Blanche disappeared into the spray room to varnish a new drawing, and used black undercoat by mistake.

There are so many more stories involving different members of the GW studio, but many of them are not really repeatable…

The painting room was a bit separated from the rest of the studio, so in some ways we were a bit of a law unto ourselves, especially for the first year or so and it was Colin, Dave, Sid, Tony and me. It was a great place to work.

RoC80s: Who were your inspirations when it came to miniature painting? Who are they now?

MMc: Without any doubt, the largest influence on me was John Blanche. Back in the early days he was just on a different planet to everyone else (and some think he still is), the work he was creating was streets ahead of what anyone else was doing. Colin Dixon was a close second though, as his was the work that directly proceeded me in White Dwarf and in products. I still distinctly remember looking at his work when I started and thinking I’d never be that good. What you have to remember back then though, is that the only good painting you saw was on the pages of White Dwarf, or in the Journals, there was no internet. I grew up in the Lake District, so there were no game shops with display cabinets either. Getting White Dwarf Magazine and the Journals was huge for a budding painter like me - and I used to devour every scrap of information I could. A few of the designers were good painters too - Aly Morrison and Nick Bibby in particular. But, for sure - John was The Man, without him I don’t think miniature painting would have taken off in the way it did.

These days I don’t keep up with the painting scene like I used too - it’s just too big. The standard is incredible, and the amount of information out there for painters is just never ending - which is such a good thing. As a learning environment for painters, it’s a fantastic time to be in the hobby.

RoC80s: Fraser Grey has become somewhat of a legend among enthusiasts. What was your opinion of his work and what are your memories of him?

MMc: Fraser was such a lovely guy, and great painter too. What amazed me most was how clean he could get the colours with enamels - I painted with them before acrylics and always hated them, but I never had the patience he did. He put a lot of time into those miniatures, and it showed. I always looked forward to his visits to the studio, and seeing what he’d been working on.

A classic '80s Jes Goodwin Ogre hiding in one of Mike's '90s dioramas.
RoC80s: You produced many dioramas during the 90s, many of which are still on display. Why did you produce so many of these? Was it direction from management or something you just wanted to do?

MMc: It was my job for over a year - maybe 18 months, and I still count it as the most fun I have had in my entire career. I got pretty burned-out running the painting team, and really wanted to get back to creating, rather than managing. I had total free range to do what I wanted, I just looked at what projects were upcoming (like army books for Lizardmen, Dark Angels, Wood Elves, etc) and do a diorama based on that subject. It was fantastic!

I could make them whatever size I wanted, so really I could let my imagination run riot. The most challenging thing was to produce dioramas that would work well in front of the camera - it’s no good making something that doesn’t reproduce well on the pages of a magazine or book. As a matter of fact - that was pretty much how I lived my painting life, developing a painting style that reproduced well.

The dioramas were a lot of work though - the Warhammer Quest one was several months work, and I remember being completely sick of the sight of it by the end. I made a decision at the start that I was going to use forced perspective to give the illusion of depth - and I regretted it every day after that, it was so much extra work!

One of Mike McVey's early Rogue Trader dioramas.
RoC80s: Later, you moved into sculpting models. Was this something that you always wanted to do? How did you train?

MMc: I was quite happy as a miniature painter, but I reached the top of what they were prepared to pay me (which was very little!) - so they suggested I move into sculpting instead. It was a really hard decision for me - I spent my whole working life painting, and was very proud of what I’d achieved, so it was tough to give that all up and start from scratch.

There was a trainee sculptor program at GW, but it was a little haphazard - and really I was pushed into making production miniatures before I was ready. I learned a lot from Gary Morely, but it wasn’t until I started sharing an office with Jes and Brian Nelson that I found my feet a bit and started producing models I was proud of. The only ones I actually like are the Eldar miniatures I sculpted just before I left.

RoC80s: After leaving GW, you did a wide range of painting work for other companies (including a relocation to the US), was this a positive experience?

MMc: That’s not quite what happened. I left GW to move to Seattle in the US and work for Wizards of the Coast. They were setting up a miniatures division and wanted people with experience to staff it. I was employed as the lead studio sculptor, but was quickly made the Art Director. The first project we worked on was Chainmail, but it was fairly disastrous - WotC didn’t really understand the miniatures market and we were never properly supported by the upper management of the company. That ended fairly badly with one of the round of redundancies that were sweeping the company at the time - and they decided that pre-painted plastics were more their thing (which was probably the case). I art directed the D&D and Star Wars miniatures lines, but it really wasn’t what I wanted to do.

I’d become very disillusioned with working at WotC, and got involved with Privateer Press very early in their development. The three guys who set it up commissioned me to make a promo miniature of a Steamjack (a steam powered robot) from their D20 adventures. They really loved it and agreed to make me a partner in the company, and we started making Warmachine. That’s far too long a story to write here - but it taught me a valuable lesson of only working with people I liked in future!

RoC80s: Eventually you set up Studio McVey. Was this always an ambition of yours? How did you go about creating the company and designing the products?

MMc: Ali (my wife) and I, set up Studio McVey when we moved back to the UK in 2007. It was really a response to working on defined miniature ranges for the past few years - you just get a little tired of making miniatures for the same world/setting. I wanted to create a range where we could make the miniatures we really wanted to paint - and not have any restrictions on style, setting or genre. It was really fun, and I think that range we created was really solid.

The down-side was that the resin collectors pieces only really appealed to painters - and when it comes down to it, most of the people who are buying miniatures were gamers. That lead me to starting the Sedition Wars sci-fi line - and that was really enjoyable, creating a whole setting from scratch. It was a pretty steep learning curve though - working on a game and miniatures line as a one-man company (Ali was concentrating on her illustration work by that time) is a HUGE amount or work, especially when it becomes very successful in a short amount on time…

Horus vs the Emperor
RoC80s: Probably the hardest question for any artist. Which painted model do you think best defines your time at GW and why?

MMc: For single miniatures, I guess that would be The Green Knight, though Tyrion and Teclis brought in a whole new type of miniature - so they would run it a close second. The Green Knight was an important piece for me - it was the first production miniature Michael Perry sculpted after he lost his right hand, so it had great significance to all of us in the studio. I can still clearly remember painting it now, and it must be more that 20 years ago. Mark Gibbons produced the original illustration for it, but that was black and white - so I had to capture the feel of that in colour.

Without any doubt though - the work I get asked about more than anything else are the dioramas - and The Emperor and Horus in particular. I guess they are also the thing that I enjoyed working on the most, and put most of myself into. It’s really great they are still on display at the GW museum too - I’m very proud of that.

Tyrion and Teclis

RoC80s: What's next for Mike McVey?

MMc: Studio McVey is now effectively a miniatures design studio - we are partnered with Guillotine Games making miniatures for board game projects. We launched Blood Rage and The Others on Kickstarter last year, and we’re currently working on an Oriental themed game and HATE - based on Adrian Smith’s graphic novel. I’ve been working with Adrian again for the last couple of years - he’s the sole artist on Blood Rage and did 90% of there art for The Others. It’s really great to be in the same creative team as him again - he’s certainly one of the best artists I have ever worked with. The depth of his imagination is staggering.

I’m not painting or sculpting any more - my eyes just aren’t capable of that level of fine detail any more, but I still get a huge kick out of the creation process - and turning fantastic art into amazing miniatures. I still love it as much now as I did when I started at GW in 1987.

As always, I would like to thank Mike McVey for his contribution to Realm of Chaos 80s and taking us back to the Golden Age of Games Workshop. Years in the making, this interview really does go to show that good things come to those who wait!


Thursday 25 August 2016

Nurgle Plague Banner

I return to work in a week. It will be strange going back, living in a completely different house, though by autumn I expect things to have adjusted to the 'new normal'. Apart from attending the Oldhammer Weekend, Warhammer related exploits have been practically nil - save from this single model. My Nurgle Plague Banner Standard Bearer.

As with all my conversions, this started life as a badly broken figure begrimed in some god-awful black substance that may once have been paint. Cleaning him up as best I could, I used wire to build up the standard and paper (coated in yellow paint) to make the flag. The design came direct from The Lost and the Damned, though I jazzed it up a but in places and added a little texture.

This model was instrumental in destroying Steve Casey's slann force so he deserves a little post of his own. Hopefully, the jobs moving house seems to generate are no coming to an end, so more time can be spent working on some new (and old projects).

Speak soon.


Friday 19 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: John Blanche's Jaq Draco Ilustration

How many of you recognise this illustration? I must admit to not having seen it before, either. It was perched above the sales till at the Wargames Foundry the other weekend and spying it, I took it over to Bryan Ansell and Tony Ackland to ask them about it.

It is, obviously, a piece of art produced by the one and only John Blanche and the characters depicted are from the Inquisitor novel, published in 1990, which was also the first ever Warhammer 40,000 novel incidentally.

Here is the original work, still sealed inside it's protective plastic sleeve. Studying the picture took me back to that early version of the 40k universe. Nothing was really set in stone and we learnt about the place over the years through short stories, colour text and the reams of reams of illustrations that appeared in White Dwarf and other supplements. The gaps in this world were deliberately vast, and into those vacuums our own imaginations were set free to contrive all manner of dark and dangerous things.

The first thing that strikes is the face of Jaq Draco. It is obviously a take on Sean Connery in Russian garb taken, apparently, from a still from the Hunt For Red October, though Bryan felt that the eyes and eyebrows were closer to Blanche's own.

It was Harlequin Man (top left) that captured the flow of the conversation, as he was based on none other than Mr Robin Hood, Tim Pollard. Bryan went to say that the Harlequin Man figure appears in other John Blanche art. Can anyone else think of any pieces in which he appears?

It's funny what can be learnt buying a few pots of paint at Stoke Hall!


Saturday 13 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers Battle

Battle reports can be deathly dull. As anyone who has seen Red Dwarf's 'Meltdown' episode (and Rimmer's Risk story) will attest, the recount of dice rolls and tactical movement hardly make interesting or worthwhile reading. As I said before, I took part in a single game during the Oldhammer Weekend and that was on the Sunday morning with the rest of the Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers crew - namely Chico, Steve and Paul.

As you can see from the opening image, Chico was in a typically restrained mood and spent some careful moments setting out his horde of hobgoblins. They certainly looked very impressive, with their abundance of grey, the mass of near identical bases drawing the force together in a nice coherent whole. You may not know this, but our Chico is a prize-winner with his armies, often picking up awards at tournaments and whatnots. Alas, it was not to be for him at this particular event.

Warlord Paul brought along his undead and as they seemed most suitably matched with my undead, we joined forces. Looking over his models made me laugh, remembering the verb he coined earlier on in the year - namely 'warlording', or spending an incredibly long time painting a model who ends up looking rather unimportant.

When we could prize Steve Casey away from the Casting Room, he set up his unique Slann force across the table from me. Considering the short period of time the Citadel Collector has been painting models, his army looked bright and rather vigorous ranked up on our gaming table. You don't often get to see a decent sized Slann army and it was certainly a treat to play against one. Note must be made of his excellently poised giant spider (which you should just be able to make out to the rear of his line) and Mr. Casey has proven to be a highly skilled converter of models of late. I am looking forwards to seeing what he comes up with in future.

And yours truly, the author of this blog, and the Chaos Warband of Nurgle I have been working on over the past twelve months. Small but putridly formed!

The game got going after much faffing about with armylists and much flicking through rulebooks. Chico and Steve won the roll off and end up with the first turn. They moved forwards in a vague line towards Paul and my troops. Chico's massed ranks of hobgoblins looked a fearsome sight and I was glad I ended up facing off Steve's Slann as having fielded such a small force, being surrounded was a big, big concern. Chico has some choice models on the table - the Foundry giant troll thing almost being consumed by Mr Danks and the rare Temple Dog on the far right.

Here is the view from my table edge. An impressive force of Slann is always a pleasure to see, let alone face across the wargames table. I was very concerned that Steve's cold one riders would reach me quickly and smash my weaker troops off the table, though his Slann magician being carried aloft by his lobotomised slaves also worried me deeply. His magical attacks could cripple my army if used wisely.

Let's zoom in on Steve's army and take a closer look at what I faced.

Here we are. Slann, lizardmen and troglodytes - not to mention a giant spider and a unit of human warriors. A pokey little force weighing in just over 1000 points.

As Chico and Steve has opted to advance, Paul and I stood our ground, deciding that their forces would need to come to us. Chico has a hobgoblin rocket crew which looked dangerous if the dice gods held sway and Steve's magical prowess would also prove problematic if his Slann mage was not dealt with quickly.

Paul's undead were supported by a Skull Chucker. I hate these damn things when I have to face them, especially long range. I recall fighting a bit game one year when a triad of these things decimated by Khorne force at long range. His siege machine launched attacks against Chico's line as it advanced and I moved my plague cart alongside to give Paul's undead a little extra support.

Over the next couple of turns things looked pretty dire for me. Steve prepared to set up his cold one riders for a charge as his Slann mage peppered my chaos warriors with fireball spells. His first magical attack did three wounds and killed off one of my Nurgle warriors of Chaos. I was concerned that a powerful charge from his cavalry would destroy my key unit and push me out of the game.

Luckily, I had a couple of aces up my sleeve. I used my chaos sorcerer to send back fireball spells of his own, targeted against the cold one riders. My initial attacks did nothing, however. My second ace was the Plague Banner that cost me 100 points as each turn it could send a foul disease towards any unit in range, causing d6 wounds (and a further d6 wounds each subsequent turn) if a magic save is failed.

My first attack was catastrophic! Steve used his Slann mage's magic points to boost his resistance to the banner's evil magic and the attack resulted in 0 wounds. With his cold one riders looming large against me and a imminent cavalry charge probably only one turn away I was extremely concerned that the Citadel collector would destroy my best units early in the game. Nurgle's Cloud of Flies rule allowed be to hold the Slann mage at bay for a turn and prevent the relentless fireball attacks from reaching my chaos warriors.

With his magical attacks checked, Steve opted to position his cavalry in order to crush me as well as advancing his other troops. Thankfully for me, he didn't charge and I was able to launch one final Plague Banner attack on the cold ones. This attack was devastating and destroyed two of his models and causes the remaining riders to panic and rout. They fled straight into my beastmen and were hacked to pieces!!

What a superb result!

Steve didn't let up the pressure though. He advanced with his remaining infantry and used his giant spider to threaten my right flank. Over a couple of turns, his spider launched another attack at my chaos warriors but thankfully the magical attacks ceased. This was a critical point for Steve as my Plague Banner was a devastating magical weapon, though I sensed that for whatever reason he wasn't throwing everything he had at destroying it.

The spider was eventually dispatched with a few wounds to me and another plague was cast forth that destroyed his lobotomised human unit. This was a turning point in the battle. With so many of his units destroyed, Steve low lacked the forces to deal with my smaller force.

On my left flank, Chico's hobgoblin rocket crew was destroying Paul's skeleton units. The dead you can see here was from a single attack, causing Paul to use magic points to raise his skeletal warriors once again. A cheeky wind blast spell held Chico's giant in place, restricting the Garbage Pail Man's ability to attack with his rank and file. I have had similar things happen to me when using giants. You work so hard of painting the huge buggers up that you want them to have a glorious central place in your army. This makes them missile and magic magnets unfortunately, and Chico's big boy suffered.

The battle lines close. Chico begins to smirk chaotically after destroying yet more of Paul's undead forces.

Missile fire begins to destroy my plague skeletons as Steve positions his Slann and lizardmen for the charge.

The units collide and the ebb and flow of hand to hand fighting begins. But sadly, Chico's time with us has come to an end. The time now is late Sunday afternoon and people have trains to catch and places to be. We decide to end things were they were and the outcome of this match up will now never be known. Would Steve's forces have done enough damage to my warband to put it out of action? I think they certainly could.

In conclusion, it was a fabulous game. I really enjoyed the process of building up my warband and finally getting it used in a game. I have also got the beginnings of a 'proper' Nurgle army to join the ranks of my Khorne and Slaanesh force.

Nor is this the 'end' of the Tales of Four Oldhammer Gamers either, we have a new plan for next year! But more on that in a future post!


Tuesday 9 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: Who are the Time Warp Wizards? and other miniatures

Last post I mentioned the Time Warped Wizards that Foundry cast up especially for BOYL4 and I promised that we would look at them in greater detail, so here we are. I had seen most of the figures in this collection before, as I had had the near impossible choice of choosing but one in previous years, so it was wonderful to finally have them all.

Now, these figures have lurked out there in the murky world of obsessional Citadel collecting and most are often included as part of the unreleased Empire range. Check out the Collecting Citadel Miniatures wiki here for further details. I couldn't care less whether my models are slotta based or solid, but I know that there are some out there who highly value the original style castings.

As you would expect from Wargames Foundry, the models are exceptionally cast. Witnessing Marcus Ansell's skill and speed producing the miniatures in the photograph above is testimony for that. In fact, comparing these newer versions with some of my more ancient unreleased models the Foundry castings are enormously superior and feel wonderfully weighty in the hand.

Now this first model is clearly not a traditional wizard and bears a striking resemblance to a certain Heroquest character model. He is in fact an unreleased Wood Elf can a reference to him can be found here at the CCM wiki.

If you have been aware of this model for a while, I can give you a sneaky rear shot (steady, Chico) to reveal further detail.

These two chaps have long been considered to be Empire models, though the Russian influence is extremely strong. Though it is fairly easy to suggest that these figures were originally produced as part of a possible Kislev range, they may simply just be late- medieval (note the pistol in the first model's belt) sculpts who have been caught up with Warhammer.

Again, like the Wood Elf, these two models don't strike me as the traditional magic users, though battlemages are always possible if you don't care for strict rules and background. I will most likely use these for warriors in my own games.

These four figures are simply beautiful pieces of single cast design. Each is unique and lovingly detailed and will not doubt prove to be a thorough challenge to paint. The second figure from the left you may well have seen here before as I selected that example as a prize a couple of years back. The first three figures are clearly all traditional magic users and have been attributed to Aly Morrison. The fourth figure is a bit of a mystery, and could possibly just be a standard villager type as he wears pretty standard clothing and carries a goblet.

These figures feel much later in the Citadel chronology and may well have been produced just as Bryan Ansell was preparing to leave GW.

These next three figures feel earlier to me, and match in style with the wizards and clerics that were released in 1987 as part of the C series. A glance at the CCM page will show you that there are an awful lot of unreleased miniatures that share similar characteristics with these, with a large number being conversions of other models. My unreleased druid I wrote about last November is part of this collection.

Many figures in this particular group of unreleased models look unfinished or are rather crudely converted (perhaps giving a clue to why they never saw the light of day) as anyone who has seen this Nurgle sorcerer will attest. Though Bryan has said to us that many of these models never made it to market purely because there was just so much to release back then, that many fine models just slipped through the net. It is fantastic that some of these excellent models are at last seeing the light of day.

I am sure that many readers will be keen to get there hands on these models. Marcus told me that the mould he made for the Oldhammer Weekend is only a temporary one and won't last forever. If you are after some of these models (and they were selling individually and as a whole set) my advice is to contact the Wargames Foundry directly via telephone and speak to them.

I also spotted this chap (image from CCM) being handed out as a prize (along with the unreleased Advanced Heroquest Dwarf and the hideously brilliant female space marine my friend Steve Casey discovered last October) to one of the lucky painting competition winners. Bryan went on to say that only the Perry's would have gone to the trouble of sculpting such an accurate hatchet style weapon, complete with nasty curving hook!! 

But it wasn't just Foundry producing exciting models, Geoff from Oakbound Studios, designed the event miniature based on an image of Morcar he found in an old Heroquest comic. There was a very weighty box of castings being lugged around by even organiser, Garth, during most of the Saturday session.

By the time I took this picture a large number of them had been handed out. As I said previous, Garth ensured me he wants to get these sent out to other Oldhammer communities across the oceans so if you are after one, get hold of him via the Oldhammer forum. He uses the moniker Weasil there.

And here Morcar lies in glorious close-up. I love the horned beast sign he is making with his free hand.

Villains the world over really lost out when the hooded cloak dropped out of fashion, don't you think?

Kev Adams worked flat out to produce a large number of converted models, including a tiny bottle swaggering model with my rough features adorned upon. This model really is tiny. In a couple of days, I will get collect up as many pictures of his work and share them here as I did last year, as well as sort out the three chaps whose models Kev took home as he ran out of time.


Monday 8 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: Overview

So as the dust has now settled on another Oldhammer Weekend I find myself once again faced with the very pleasant task of writing a swift overview of the event. As in previous years, I spent the majority of the Saturday and Sunday socialising, taking photographs and pouring through the blister packs of gorgeous Foundry models, though I did play one game - the culmination of the Tale of Four Gamers with Steve, Paul and Chico-chops.

As always, the creativity and passion exhibited by fellow Oldhammerers astounded me and there were a great many sights to behold and marvel and I present a small selection of those below. It was also fantastic to see so many familiar faces and chat to many new ones, too.

First up we have a photograph of 'Coldhammer' a Warhammer Fantasy Battle 1st Edition mash up of Frostgravesque extravagance. I chatted to Norse and Harry who were busy for most of the Saturday playing through this scenario and I enjoyed admiring the many characterful and amusing models they had selected for the game. The 'Christmas Elves' (created by painting the cloaks of Skarloc's elves red and white) were my personal favourite but there were a great many quality models here for the enthusiast and the scenery was fascinating too. At the top of the shot you should be able to make out the enormous fortress wall, heavily defended by stouty dwarf warriors.

As far as I could ascertain from the mad ramblings of Norse, the scenario involved a goblin attack on a frozen dwarf hold somewhere in the darkest (and I would imagine, coldest) north. I asked Harry about his incredible homemade dungeon tiles (based on many pieces from ancient GW publications) and he was very humble about his achievement. They looked incredible and like many great endeavours were very simple, yet incredibly effective. My personal favourite piece would have to be the Egyptian-style tomb sections complete with 3D skeleton carvings. You can just make out the piece bottom left.

On the other side of the Marquee stood the astonishing spectacle that was the 'Rise of Morcar'. The game has to be the largest I have yet witnessed at the imagination and variety behind many of the units was extremely impressive. There were war mammoths, killer sheep and chickens and loads of fantastic 'homemade' figures based on toys and models produced for non-wargaming purposes. I really do admire the gamers who can turn a child's toy into an unique and interesting figure. How many can you spot in this picture?

Among the many impressive units taking part in the 'Rise of Morcar' was this little tribe of barbarian types. I never did catch the name of the enthusiast who produced these fine looking models but I loved their painting style. The rich tones and varied colour choices really brought the many models to life, and the addition of Thrud (and my favourite rendition of him too) was really the icing on the daemonic birthday cake.

A superb unit!

Inside the stable building, I stumbled upon a frantic clash between some beautifully completed Praetorians (lovingly collected and painted by Lead Balloony's Alex) and the orks of Waaagh-Badlugg. I spent quite sometime admiring Alex's collection and was deeply impressed with the high level of finish he had achieved with his Praetorians. He had brought along an entire army of them and I can honestly say they were the finest examples of the Imperial Guard regiment I have ever seen fielded.


The Foundry had done us proud again and produced a beautiful set of event models named the 'Time Warped Wizards'. We had spotted these being prepared for last year's event and I was extremely excited about getting my hands on them, after winning several of the models in previous painting competitions at the Foundry.

Look out for a more detailed post about these models shortly!

Garbage Pail Kid (who grew up) Chico Danks and the ever-ingenious Richard Legg put together a fast paced Judge Dredd game complete with fantastic scenery. The Mega-City Block came complete with a Saddamesque statue, bridge and even a local Games Workshop store. The imagination and thought behind the game was clear to see and I wish I could have played a game on the set up myself.

This was the Chaos warbands game run by the thrice cursed Stuart Bannister (along with three mutant wretches known only by the dark and evil names of Greg, Ian and Steve) entitled 'The Storming of Perlsea Fort'. Having played in many of these scenarios myself, it was pleasing to see others getting the same level of enjoyment out of Slaves to Darkness. I didn't tarry as long as I should here due to the rather restrictive space around the game, but I greatly admired the scenery - especially the fort itself, which rumour has suggested was a fifteen quid kid's toy converted up especially for the scenario.

Incredible work if that rumour is true!!

While wandering around the gaming tables in the stable buildings I was suddenly accosted by a strange figure whose face was obscured by a heavy cowl. Without speaking a word he held forth a skeletal figure and beckoned me forth into a dark and dingy area of a Foundry that no Oldhammerer would dare set foot (the Napoleonics section). In mute silence he opened a black, velvet lined box and spread these obscene fantasy figures across a nearby table - apparently some twisted version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (yes, I know there is a eighth dwarf) the sculptor of these mind-shattering models remains a mystery...

While on the subject of strange figures, I was lucky enough to be invited deep within the blasphemous bowels (the Casting Room) of the Wargames Foundry by Marcus Ansell. alongside Steve Casey (pictured) and Stuart Klatcheff. Here we were given the opportunity of seeing a second batch of the 'Time Warped Wizards' being cast up as the previous run had nearly sold out. It really was a special privilege to witness Marcus working the mould and pouring the hot metal into the spinning machine. He made such a skilful job look incredibly easy and the models cast looked crisp and bright. It was a special moment to be able to hold previously unreleased Citadel models from the Golden Age in my unworthy palm whilst they were still hot!

I wonder what unlucky chap took that set of models home?

As I said in my previous post, the truly legendary Kev Adams returned to complete a second marathon sculpting session for charity, this time for the MacMillian Cancer Relief. He worked continuously throughout the Saturday on model after model, tirelessly. Massive respect to Kev for doing this again and he told me that he hopes to spend TWO days sculpting next year to try and keep up with the demand.

I found a suitably small figure (a tiny snotling) for Kev to sculpt my flabby face onto and marvelled (like a great many others) over his skill.

Graham Apperley, Chris Webb and Curtis Fell slugged away at each other during this Warhammer 40,000 second edition game. There were some great models here, especially the pre-1994 Imperial Guard stuff that Chris had lovingly painted to a very high standard indeed.

Steve Beales brought along his Epic collection and set up a game involving both Adeptus Machanicus and Space Marine. I loved handling the old AM polystyrene buildings and they brought back many great memories of my early '90s Space Marine games. Hs opponent was none other than the Citadel Collector, Steve Casey, who arrived with some hideously well converted Nurgle titans - more of which, later!

Tony Yates was up to his usual mischief all weekend, telling stories and sketching the wild demands of any who would ask. It is always a pleasure to see Tony and his pal, Alec, who really do embody the spirit of the Grognard like no-one else. They give us 'youngsters' plenty of inspiration with their bizarre and wacky ideas, not to mention Tony's unique collection of wargaming models. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of his strange mekon like castings on the Sunday. I will attempt to emulate his super fast painting style and heavy highlighting method when I come to paint it up.

As an aside, the picture he is drawing here (entitled: busty female magic user) was for my wife. She loved it so much she has decided to frame it and hang the piece of art in her office!

Geoff aka Fimm McCool brought along his impressive Fimir army and leatherbound Warhammer publications (just so you know, he learnt the art of book binding and put the volumes together himself) and was also responsible, or so I heard, for this year's Oldhammer miniature. Inspired by a comic book rendition of the Heroquest villain, Morcar apparently. Any left over models will be shipped off to the US and later Australia for our distant, colonial cousins.

Paul Golgfag (who may or may not consume men when angered) attended and was involved in many a game. Here he contemplates with which monstrosity to best crush his enemies, see them driven before him and hear the lamantations of their women.

Scalene put on a beautiful Rogue Trader scenario outside of the Marquee on the Sunday. The natural light and wonderful scenery, modelling and figure painting really helped bring this game alive. Inspirational and the best looking game at the show, by far!

A glimpse at Steve Casey's uber-horrible Nurgle titans from the Epic game on Sunday. After speaking to him at length, he explained that the models were a mix of modern Forgeworld Plaguefly pieces and classic plastic titans. Here, his Deathguard advance towards Imperial lines with far more prowess than his Slann army later on. These were the standout conversions of the show for me.

Do us all a favour Steve and do a post about these on your blog!! (;

The Grand Master of Chaos, Tony Ackland, was in attendance again and judged the painting competition on the Sunday, aided and abetted by show organiser, Garth James, Tony Yates and Curtis Fell. Curtis was kind enough to hand out many models he produced at Ramshackle to attendees for free, exhibiting the Oldhammer spirit at its best.

The outdoors Rogue Trader games in full flow. The loquacious James Holloway can be spied on the far right, and I had a pleasant Saturday evening chatting with him back at the Deincourt Hotel.

Much of my weekend was spent in the company of the old wizard, Tony Ackland, who as always was full of amusing stories and discussions about literature, art and history. He introduced me to the depraved etchings of Franz von Bayros and Victorian decadence among many other things. Here he is deep in discussion with Stuart about his artwork.

This was an impressive undead game whose organisers I didn't catch the names of. There were some lovely scenery pieces here with all number of weird and wonderful models on the table. Have a closer look and see which pieces you can recognise!

Another chap I met was playing a match up with his boy. The game included these beautiful old school dwarfs and I couldn't resist taking a snap of some of these wonderful models as they set up.

Big bad Erny , his brother Snickit and a mate played through a 4th edition game that would not have looked out of place in a mid '90s edition of White Dwarf.

Steve and Paul got stuck into a game of Spacefleet on the Sunday. Now this is a game so rare that I hadn't even seen a copy before and the ships are certainly interesting models to be sure.

And who is this spotted in Bryan's cabinet of chaos?? Is that Greedo from Star Wars? There were all manner of weird and wonderful models as always.

Harry explores some of Bryan Ansell's treasures. As always, the Mighty Avenger brought forth a massive amount of work in progress pieces for viewing, including several very ancient pieces he produced years past. Kev Adams' Warmonger orcs were also in attendance.

It wasn't just old school gaming on offer either. Exhibition games of Tomahawk's new game, Congo were being played through on the Sunday using models from Tony Yates' collection. I had a good look at the publication and it looks to be of a particularly high standard, as you would expect.

For some, the experience of three days of solid Oldhammer was just too much to bear. He we see an exhausted gamer passed out at the Foundry on the Sunday afternoon as his companions gamed on.

As always, we have so much to be grateful for from the Ansell family. Bryan, Diane, Marcus, Emma and Maria were incredible hosts and kept us all fed and watered over the three day event, held in their beautiful home of Stoke Hall.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS! The Wargames Foundry really is the greatest venue in the wargaming world!!

Wholesome regards and abundant thanks must also go to Garth who organise the chaotic mess that is a Bring Out You Lead and ensured that everyone involved had the gaming tables and scenery that they needed.