Posts Tagged ‘Games Workshop’
Last May I wrote about my love of the golden age of Citadel miniatures (the ‘slotta’ era – late eighties and early nineties), inspired by Ben of Darkly Through Glass’ fantastic collection of scanned Citadel Combat Cards. Although that site is now dormant, Ben is back with a new blog, Fantasy3D, and one of the first things he has done is upload the rest of his combat cards, completing the set (with the Dwarfs and Warriors decks). Seeing all the cards together warms my little lead coveting heart, and having them at my fingertips is an invaluable resource. These cards are a nostalgia trip, painting guide, and collector’s list all rolled into one. Ben’s scans are so immaculate I almost don’t regret losing my well-worn and beat up decks. I recommend downloading them yourself, but here are a few of my favorite dwarves and warriors (click for full size).
When I was younger I had a bit of an obsession with the realm of chaos line, so it’s hardly surprising that I have a soft spot for the chaos dwarves as well. I should have bought these when I was a teenager. These two are from the iconic Chaos Dwarf Renegades boxed set (featuring an equally iconic John Blanche painting), which, if it does come up on ebay, is insanely expensive, so I doubt I’ll be adding them to my collection anytime soon. I can’t really argue, but I blame the high demand on the lame redesign Games Workshop did on their newer Chaos Dwarves (the ones with the silly hats as tall as their bodies).
One of my favorite features of the painting style of this era are the cool, freeform designs that took advantage of Citadel’s trademark plastic shields. It really makes each model stand out, and emphasizes a ‘lived-in’ implied setting where soldiers recycle equipment from fallen foes (kind of like D&D). Although I never had the mini, Flint inspired my friend’s character ‘Ralkan the Mighty’ in the first campaign I DMed.
There are some miniatures you track down just to have in your collection and there are others you want so you can build a D&D character around them. This is one of the latter. Despite being from a boxed set, the Heroic Fighters of the Known World (also John Blanche illustrated) are far easier to come by than the Chaos Dwarves. I was able to pick up Giovanni cheaply last year and I’ve been itching to play the mighty thewed gladiator ever since.
So often when I’m browsing through my collection I find myself wanting to make characters for the miniatures, instead of looking for a miniature that suits a character. If there is any reason to call this period Citadel’s golden age, this is it.
I wish I could say my slowdown in posting here has been because I was away at GenCon, but sadly that’s not the case (I’ve only been once, back when it was in Wisconsin, but I will return). My partner and I recently purchased our first home (so I’m not really all that sad), and I’ve been pretty busy getting ready to take possession and move in. It’s been stressful, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to generate Ménage à Monster content.
I’ve always hated moving, so I knew that packing up the apartment would put me in a bad mood, but home ownership is an entirely new game – one that I don’t have a complete understanding of the rules. It draws on a knowledge base that I am woefully ignorant of, and I’ve got to admit I’m a little bewildered. I’ve always been a renter, so I never really concerned myself with anything that I deemed the landlord’s problem. I’m not one of those guys who watches Holmes on Homes (my brother is Mike Holmes’ spitting image, but I guess that doesn’t count), so when the insurance broker asks what kind of wiring the house has and what the wires are made of I don’t even know how to go about finding out (compounded by the fact that there is a major language barrier preventing clear communication with the current owners). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, the ‘known unknowns’. It’s the ‘unknown unknowns’ that I’m really worried about.
It doesn’t help that every time I watch the news or open a newspaper there’s another story telling me that buying a house was a dumb idea and describing in excruciating detail how sinkholes, sewage mishaps, bedbugs and termites are going to make it unliveable.
But I’m also excited (I can’t wait to get my group together and christen the house’s basement as our new gaming space). I guess if this were a D&D adventure, right now I’d be the stereotypical crusty dwarf who complains the whole time but secretly can’t wait to get back into the dungeon for an old-fashioned crawl. I’m way too tall to be a Dwarf, so no more bitching from me.
One benefit of packing is that it’s pretty fun getting to sort through some of my stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day for many years (is it weird I like to flip through my old comics to sort them alphabetically?). The whole process is a bit like a strange archaeological dig into your own life.
Apparently, somewhere in the chaos, I also found the time to screw around on Photoshop and create this homage to the classic Absolut ads of my youth (which are apparently experiencing a renaissance), using the awesome, Nurgly (not a real word) Les Edwards cover of The Lost and the Damned. I’ve said it before; life just isn’t worth living if you can’t find the time to procrastinate on something completely unproductive.
So over the next couple of weeks expect a slowdown of activity here while I establish a lair in new territory and clear the land of monsters. I’m going to need more boxes… and some men-at-arms would be nice too.
Monster miniatures are one of those subjects that I‘ve been meaning to write about for a while, but much like my painting schedule (I think I just might be the world’s slowest painter), I haven’t gotten around to it (until now). I really got into miniatures around the same time that I graduated from playing a henchman in my older brothers’ D&D games and started running games for my friends. So owning and painting minis will always be intertwined in my mind with the idea of being a dungeonmaster. Coincidentally, this is also when Citadel adopted the ‘slotted base’ and moved from a pure 25mm scale to the larger 28mm size (both changes which today are industry standards).
I’m not sure what it was about those early miniatures that clicked so deeply with me. Maybe it was the John Blanche and Ian Miller artwork which Fighting Fantasy books had already planted in my mind. Maybe it was the way Citadel was changing miniature design. Everyone’s opinion on the ‘golden age’ of anything is subjective, but for me this was the golden age of miniatures. I know objectively that sculpting techniques and advances in materials have made unquestionably better miniatures over the years, but much like the first James Bond movie that you see indelibly marks you with an opinion on the ‘best Bond’, nothing will replace those Citadel miniatures from the late 80’s and early 90’s for me (yes, I even like ‘beaky’ space marines).
Whenever I had the money, I would pick up a blister pack, or split one with my friends (minis were a lot cheaper back then – if I were a kid now I don’t think getting into miniatures on my family’s budget would be possible). I started collecting White Dwarf magazine, even though at that time it covered only Games Workshop games. I poured over the painting and modelling advice and the ‘eavy metal section of photographed miniatures (the artwork kicked ass too). For Christmas one year I got a copy of Advanced Heroquest, and my friends and I played the hell out of it (I still have many of those plastic skaven); I played a little epic scale Warhammer 40,000, but I wouldn’t have even known those games existed if it hadn’t been for White Dwarf.
Somewhere in that mix I came across Citadel Combat Cards. As a game, there really wasn’t much to the cards. They were basically another version of war, or top trumps – if you were bored they were good to kill a half an hour with your little brother but that was about it. But the pictures on the cards were the main attraction. They featured photos of the ‘greatest hits’ of the citadel miniatures line. Like ‘eavy metal in White Dwarf, the pictures on these cards opened my eyes to the potential miniatures held – they could be works of art in themselves and the choices you made as a painter could completely alter the personality of the finished product. They also became something of a wishlist for miniatures I wanted to own. Even now, when I have far too much unpainted lead (enough to enrage my partner), if I see one these miniatures listed on ebay, it’s hard not to scream “It must be mine!”
Now I lost my collection (Chaos, Dwarf, Goblinoid, Monster and Warrior) of Combat Cards years ago, and since then I’ve been looking for a scan of them on the internet (they are long out of print and far too expensive to pick up on resale). Enter Ben from the blog Darkly Through Glass to answer my muttered oaths. Besides being a nice guy, he’s also been scanning his (amazingly pristine) sets of Combat Cards and posting the digital copies for the benefit of nostalgia obsessed souls like me (his download page is here).
I have a pretty good memory of the cards, but actually being able to flip through them once again really took me back (and more importantly made me vow to pick up my brush more often). You should check them out for yourself, but here are a few of my favourites (click for full size):
Ah, the unholy quartet of Chaos. In high school I was absolutely obsessed with the Realm of Chaos stuff, especially the art of Ian Miller who I desperately tried to emulate (ripe fodder for another post). I’ve also always wanted a complete set of the 4 greater daemons. It’s only taken me two decades but I’ve only got one more to go – for some reason old-style bloodthirsters are in much higher demand than the others (and a little out of the reasonable price range).
More Chaos. Many years ago, without knowing the Combat Card connection, Sathash was the first miniature my partner ever got for me (is there a better sign of true love?). I stole the look of Stugen and Droog in their bone armour for my depiction of Hedrack when I ran the Temple of Elemental Evil (and its 3rd edition sequel Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil).
Finally, I’m pretty sure that Snoti and Bogi here are the reason for my love of annoying little goblinoids and imps (probably the Wormy comic as well) to torment my players with (as helpers, enemy familiars, messengers, even a loan officer in Planescape).