Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Games Workshop's Lost Games: Chivalry rediscovered!

From time to time, we have the opportunity to glimpse something that could have been. Unreleased models, artwork and occassionally whole games themselves. Some of these games survive as mere mentions, ghosts on the page, such as Richard Halliwell's Lustria campaign or Blood for the Blood God supplement for Warhammer. Others have lain lanquished and forgotten, only to be rediscovered and enjoyed once more, as with the Bolt Thrower or Bust game I blogged about last year. 

Chivalry was one of those lost games, only one that existed as a simple card game published in White Dwarf 130 in October 1990. There were always rumours and suspicions of more, especially when the enthusiast reads back through the original article, and I quote: "As some of you will know, we have been working on a new Warhammer game called Chivalry. It is quite a departure for us because, rather than being set in our own game universe of the Warhammer World, it takes place in the wholly historical setting of the fourteenth century, complete with knights, retainers, peasants and all the bloody trappings of medieval warfare." 

Flicking through copies of White Dwarf from this era, it is obvious that something was certainly afoot. The Perry's produced a stunning range of medieval miniatures (labelled Bretonians, though clearly purely historical models) which saw considerable coverage in the magazine, with painting and iconography guides being published. Several works of art appeared baring a discernibly historical tone and a couple of beautiful Pery dioramas captured our imaginations with their gritty realism and bright, intricate heraldry. As David Frost used to say on 'Through the Key Hole' - "the clues are there!" 

Over the years, former Games Workshop illuminati have also briefly mentioned Chivalry and shared what they could remember of the project. 

Graeme Davis: I remember the Chivalry card game, though nothing really beyond the fact of its existence. I also remember that someone (the Perrys, I think) was working on a jousting game at some point between 1986 and 1989, but nothing beyond that. I don't think the game got any further than Bob Naismith's Tower of Screaming Death. I'm pretty sure that was Nigel Stillman's Bretonnia book, so Bretonnia wasn't really on the radar at the Design Studio at that time. 
Quoted from comment made on RoC80s in November 2014

Rick Priestley: The Chivalry game was actually written up and developed by Nigel Stillman - based on an idea from Bryan Ansell - and utilising a range of models developed by the Perrys. So, yes Alan and Michael were involved - and did contribute to the game - but it was Nigel who worked up the game and Bryan had the 'vision' for it. In fact it was many games interlocked - with an overarching dynasty building game behind it - as I remember. There was a jousting system I think - and a man to man combat game that was based on cards - which I think I had a hand in. I remember playing it with the Perrys on the train down to Salute! 

Just one of the very many things that were worked on and adandoned back in the day. 
Taken from a Facebook conversation about the game 'Chivalry'. March 2015

The card game is well known, and I have blogged about its several times. I too, have pleasant memories of playing the game on long journeys (to and from school) and incorporating it into a WFRP campaign, complete with the PCs mimmicking the poses with plastic swords everytime a combat was played out. Very entertaining I can tell you! Over the years, I have met many an enthusiast who has fond memories of the game, with most of them recalling the more amusing 'distract' and 'boot' cards with oblivious relish. In 2013 some Oldhammer chaps utilised the card system in a Robin Hood inspired game and the Grognard's Grognard, Harry Howells, shared his thoughts about their implications. 

Harry Howells: Everytime any two characters got into a fight we used the cards to resolve it. It played pretty well, although sometimes it could drag on a bit waiting for someone to get the upper hand. But a perfect bit of fun to add to a narrative game. We didn't worry about the weapons they were actually using. I always thought it looked good... it took me all these years to make any use of it, but I was really glad I gave it a go. It made the character fights between Robin and Guy more 'cinematic' as the advantage passed backwards and forwards and there were lots of opportunities for Errol Flynn style banter... "Not so fast, Guy!" and "Take that you saxon scum!" 

This would have otherwise have been lost in a simple roll of a dice. I would certainly use it again. 

Now, if you have got to this point in this article and you are thinking - what on earth are these Chivalry cards everyone keeps banging on about? Let me illuminate you with a couple of photographs. If you are looking for some scans of the cards themselves, then look here for some slightly blurry examples that are fairly straightforwards to print out, trim and get into the action with. 

What we have covered so far is all that was published for the Chivalry game, and for some 'was' the Chivalry game, but for years I'd been fascinated by what the rest of the game would have been like. Last month, I was chatting to Bryan Ansell and Tony Ackland at the fifth Oldhammer Weekend when out of the corner of my eye I saw a battered, plastic boxfile wedged under several pieces of original GW artwork. It was unremarkable and unassuming really, just another piece of stationary save for the word 'CHIVALRY' scrawled in permanent pen across the front. 

You can imagine my excitement was palpable when I asked them about it! I was even more jibilant when Bryan told me it was all that was left of the Chivalry project and that I was free to borrow it for further study! By now you have probably realised that the image I began this artcile with is a conceit. I crafted it on my computer but it is funny how that old 'Bretonian' painting that appeared in White Dwarf seems to make the perfect frontispiece for a rulebook - it makes me wonder if this image was indeed intended to grace the cover of Chivalry. 

Obviously, the game was never published and Bryan's manuscript is very much a manuscript, complete with scrawled and slightly illegible annotations in blue pencil. 

Here's the front page.

The historical background to the fourteenth sets the perfect stage for everything from small scale raids and skirmishes, to pitched battles as well as the proving grounds of the melee and joust. The overview to Chivalry explains Feudal obligation and uses as a context to hang a campaign on, including the role of the king attempting to prevent any single baron becoming too powerful. There are a huge number of different ideas here, far too many to cover in a single post like this, and some of the content is fragmentary at best. As Bryan explained; 'we never finished it'. But a great deal of material has survived, including detailed rules for tournaments and baronial conflict. 

Though art is mentioned in the manuscript, much of it is obviously missing - with some of it no doubt making it into the pages of White Dwarf. On other pages are some wonderful illustrations of mounted knights, though whether any of these were intended for publication I do not yet know. However, it is clear that the campaign game was a card based affair and that 'Chivalry' can be best described as a series of games within a game, miniature wargaming being just a part, just as Rick Priestley recalled. 

The campaign seems to have had a strong RPG flavour with a number of components indicating that the baronial characters would have experienced positive and negative events in life, including marriage - which I guess can go either way! Flicking through the pages that survive gives me the impression that character progression would have been a considerable part of the game and can well imagine the fun you would have leading a lowly knight from the tournaments to wielding considerable power along the way. With a multiplayer campaign, there would have been plenty of scope for skullduggery and deception too. 

Some of the cards were printed to become test pieces, like these campaign maps that appear similar in style to Mighty Empires. If you look closely you will notice a few admendments made in tipex or some other white out material - a relic of the time before desktop publishing was a breeze. The cards are interchangable and can be used to make inumerable combinations for play. 

A question now needs to be asked. What can be done with a 'used' unpublished game? I am lucky enough to be custodian of the document for a while, and will return it to the Ansell family archive in October when I take part in Night of the Living Lead. Between then and now I intend to scan the entire document in high definition for posterity but I am really tempted to do more... 

Perhaps, even have a go at finishing the game and trying it out at next year's Oldhammer Weekend! Looking at what survives in the document, I can imagine a project like this would consist of three phases:

1) Tweaking the Chivalry card game rules to develop a narrative based tournement ruleset for battling knights, including some additional campaign rules - think Chaos Warbands aka Slaves to Darkness only for knights. 

2) Complete the Chivalry card game rules for jousting, which are sadly mostly missing. This could eventually be incorporated into the Melee game in phase 1. 

3) Edit and play the full campaign game in a series of events to simulate baronial conflict circa AD 1300, recruiting some suitably bloodthirsty Oldhammerers to slug it out to victory. This would include a Mighty Empires style map, cards and small and large scale battles. 

Expect to see more about this discovery in the coming weeks, and some of my progress on Phase 1 of this project. I just need to get hold of a couple of suitable knights, real and miniature. 


Monday, 14 August 2017

A Historical Interlude: Bronze Age people by Michael Perry

Two additional figures from the Wargames Foundry range - an older woman and a young man - note the 'pageboy' hair cut and the hairnet!
A few weeks ago, I published a post about my love for the Foundry's European Bronze Age range and discussed how the 1921 discovery of the Egtved Girl came to inspire Michael Perry's sculpting. She certainly inspired me too, and I have continued to work on this seemingly unpopular, but excellent range, as you can see! 

This time we are going to have a closer look at the garments worn by people in North West Europe around 1600 BC, as illustrated by these two wonderful character figures. I like to think that these represent the Egtved girl's family; perhaps her parents or siblings and that they inhabit the same village or environment. Roleplaying is possible in Europe's distant past, see? Though as we will find, these two additional figures may be more closely matched to each other than I originally thought. 

So what do we know of the people who inhabited this sceptred isle three and a half millenia ago? The first thing you need to forget is the concept of the nation state. Modern views of nationality and regional identification didn't really develop into the form we recognise today until the end of the 18th century. People were tribal for sure, but where one tribe began and another ended is now largely lost to us. 

Here, in what would one day be called England, population density seems to increase significantly from the Neolithic period, with smaller family clans gradually morphing into settled, larger communities. Some scholars have even suggested that the total population of the British Isles (that includes Eire, remember modern geo-politics don't apply here) could have reached 1,000,000 by 2000 BC. 

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Ye Olde illustration of Bronze Age costume inspired by the Danish oak coffin finds. Again, note the hairnet and rounded hats, both present on Michael Perry's models. 
The reasons behind this population increase are hotly debated by prehistorians to this day, but the general consensus is that farming practices developed rapidly and this resulted in a more substainable food source. As the population grew, there were more people to work the land and in turn generate further produce. Environmental archaeology, particularly the discipline of palaeoethnobotany, has provided evidence to suggest that these growing populations cleared large areas of forest to develop the first field systems. Occasionally, these fields were enclosed with boundries, using earthworks, wooden pallisades or drystone walling, such as at the Dartmoor Reaves. Much of the woodland remained as a managed resource, with scholars arguing that around fifty-percent of forest growth had survived by the Middle Bronze age. Ancient versions of barley and wheat (remember, our crops are the result of thousands of years of manipulation: GM produce being nothing new) were harvested, alongside hay and straw to aid in animal husbandry, thatching and many other purposes, such as bedding. Malt was also cultivated, as alcoholic drinks were fermented and no doubt enjoyed in copious quanities- just like today! 

Climatology surveys suggest that the weather was probably slightly warmer in the Bronze Age, with a two degree difference on average to modern times, and this obviously effected agricultural land use, as arable farming was able to spread to moorland and upland environments. By the later Bronze Age, this weather pattern changed into the cooler, wetter variety the inhabitants of these islands are famous for enduring, and so many of these upland farms were abandoned. 

With food production no longer a day to day necessity for all, some people began to specialise in skilled activities. Evidence for metal workers, shipwrights, leather tanners and so on suggest a varied cabal of craftsmen operating throughout the Bronze Age. Despite having the name 'Bronze' in this period, stone tools were still used extensively, though their production lack the artistic finess of the Neolithic or Mesolithic periods, and any modern day search of freshly ploughed land, or even your own back gardens here in Europe, can result in the discovery of these stone relics if you know what you are looking for.

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Bronze Age stone tool, discovered by the author in his garden. 
As we learnt from the Egtved Girl's teeth, travel around the European continent seemed to be a common enough occurance three and half millenia ago. Archaeological excavation has proven time and time again that there were strong trade links between the British Isles and the continent even then, with metalwork and ore (particularly tin) being shipped out and amber, jade and such being imported, and that these links were probably already well established by the Neolithic. Exotic or unusual items would have been seen as status symbols and the relative 'worth' of a item needs careful examination and avoidance of modern bias. A good contemporary example of this can be found in Ancient Egypt, where silver was deemed of greater value than gold, something that was beyond the ken of our Victorian antiquarian forebears. 

If we now return to the subject of clothing, we can understand that there is a good likelihood that textiles would have been traded and may have seen specialised production, though if we look at comparative societies in the Iron Age and Medieval periods, the production of textile was an activity carried out by women and sometimes children. Though I very much doubt that the production of textiles was a 'women-only' pastime, sewing was a skill of great importance for thousands of years, and it didn't matter if you were a queen or a milkmaid, you still spent some of your time at the loom and needlecraft was a highly valued skill. 

Though we can never know who actually made clothing in the Bronze Age, at least we have a few glimpses of how clothing was made and what these outfits looked like, largely thanks to the Danish Oak Coffin burials we touched on last time. The Egtved girl being one of the twenty so far unearthed. Hopefully, the ongoing investigations at Must Farm (nicknamed Britain's Pompeii) will reveal more in future about clothing in what would one day become England. What we do know is that clothing was mostly wool based, with a variety of weaves and more sophisticated that the animal hides worn during the Stone Age. As natural dyes were used to colour clothing, we can expect fairly drepressing shades of brown, green and dark red to have been the norm. Leather was plentiful during the Bronze Age and was probebly used extensively in clothing, and elsewhere. A shoe dated to 1420-1260 BC was found by accident in Norway in 2006, thawed from an icefield in the Jotunheimen mountains, and was found to be an equivalent size to a UK size seven. One of the shoe's seems was very well preserved and there was some indication that shoelaces were used to fasten the garment. 

Interestingly, the simple design remained in use until around AD 1600! 

Bronze Age clothes
A great reconstruction for Bronze Age clothing found at Ancient Craft, though not exactly like the outfits worn on our miniatures. 
The male miniature seems to have been based on male clothing excavated as part of a suspected family group found at Borum Eshøj. First discovered in 1871, these burials were uncovered inside a large barrow situated near Århus, the second largest city in Denmark, and weren't fully recovered until 1875. Sadly, both excavation and preservation techniques were primitive at best, with local visitors recorded as poking and proding the bodies after their removal. 

The excavations of 1871 resulted in the discover of a single grave with the body incased in a oak coffin, similar in many ways to the Egtved Girl's. Inside, lay the remains of an elderly woman. During more extensive fieldwork four years later, two further coffins were discovered and were found to contain the bodies of two men - one considerably older than the other. It has been suggested that the barrow itself was originally raised over the body of the older man, and the subsequent two further burials were added later. Dendrochronology provided a date of roughly 1350 BC for the oak coffins used, so about twenty to forty years after the Egtved Girl. 

Careful analysis of the skeletal remains, suggests that the older man had reached later middle age when he died, around fifty to sixty years while the younger male was around twenty years when he was buried. The female's age was estimated at being similar to the older man. 

The primary inhumation was very well preserved and had to be dismembered for transport to Copenhagan, as the sinews and muscles were still holding the skeleton together. His nails were well manicured and his face newly shaven, perhaps suggesting that he had been cleaned up after death as some people still do today. Like the Egtved Girl, he lay on a cow hide and was covered by a woollen blanket. He wore a wool hat, its crown round in shape, a kidney-shaped cloak, a kilt, two foot cloths and and belt. As far as I could gather, the only other item of clothing in the grave was a wooden needle, which may have been used to fasten the cloak around the neck. 

The female had a short but stocky build, and the preserved traces of muscle on her bones suggests she carried out a great deal of hard physical work. Again, her clothes are well preserved and were more numerous. A dress made from several rectangular pieces of cloth made up her dress, along with a blouse, hairnet, cap and two belts, all made from wool. She was clearly a wealthy individual, and this is reflected in the many grave-goods associated with her burial; a bronze belt plate (similar to Egtved Girl); two tutuli (ornamental bronze plates in case you were wondering), a neck ring, arm rings, spiral finger rings and a clothes pin. A ceramic vessel, a wooden box, a bronze dagger and a horn comb were also found in her coffin. 

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The preserved clothing of the older male found at Borum Eshøj is practically identical to our wargames miniature's.
The younger man most closely resembles the figure shown here. He was twenty years old when he died, and again his body was well enough preserved that his muscles and other tissues were still attached to much of the skeletal remains. His hair was also very well preserved and could be described as being in the modern 'pageboy' style popular in the 1970s and with George Lucas' leading boys ever since, just check out Jake Lloyd in the Phantom Menace and you will get the general idea. Like the older man, he wore a kilt of woven wool and a kidney-shaped cloak with the obligatory belt to hold it all in. If you return to the Foundry figure you can see he is wearing one of the rounded hats on his head, similar to the elder male individual. It is clear that the male burials at Borum Eshøj inspired Michael Perry with this model. In fact, there is an elderly man with a walking stick in the set which I suspect is based on the older individual - I just haven't painted him yet!

It is tempting to state that these burials must represent a family group, with two elderly parents being interred with their son. The dendrochronology certainly suggests this, with the initial burial being dated at 1351 BC while the latest is dated at 1345 BC. I couldn't find any record of a DNA analysis having been carried out on the bodies, but I suspect that such an investigation would be hazardous, considering the amount of contamination the bodies have suffered since burial, but I would love to be corrected. 

Though the female burial at Borum Eshøj shared some of the clothing items with our Foundry figure, she doesn't closely match her in the same way as the male figure matches the younger burial. In fact, I couldn't find a really close match for her at all. The female at Borum Eshøj was buried with a hairnet of singular type, though today she doesn't have any hair left on her skull, thanks to the rummaging hands of local farmers during her discovery, and beyond a simple illustration made during the excavation we have no idea what her hair style was like. Thankfully, we know more about ladies' hairstyles and their hairnets thanks to a more recent discovery (1935) in a burial mound not far from Skrydstrup, in Southern Jutland. 

This reconstruction of the Skrydstrup Woman is very similar to Michale Perry's figure, note the embroidary on the sleeves and the pleated top to the dress. 
The so-called Skrydstrup woman was around 18 when she died and was laid in a oak coffin wearing a short sleeved blouse of woven wool with embroideries on the sleeves. Dated to around 1300 BC, she too was laid in a oak coffin wearing a large piece of textile fashioned into a long skirt. Her hair was finished in an unusual style in which all of her hair was combed forwards over a hair pad. A woollen cord was afterwards bound around her hair, which was plaited across the forehead, temple to temple like a wreath of flowers might be incorporrated into the hair. Finally, a hairnet was used to cover the elaborate style, crafted from horse hair, though a woollen 'cap' constructed using the 'sprang' technique was also placed alongside her in the grave. Large, golden earrings lay by both ears and a horn comb was attached to her belt. 

Sprang technique hairnets or caps
There seems to be a nod to both the hairnet and the sprang constructed caps on the female figure. Looking at the sculpting I was unsure how to procreed as the band around her forehead seemed to suggest a textile. In the end I compromised, giving the top of her had the plaited hair look and the band a woven, woollen tone.

A modern reconstruction of the Skrydstrup's woman elaborate hairstyle. 
Looking at the modern reconstruction, hair was clearly just as big thing for women then as it is today. I could imagine my wife spending and hour or two plaiting such a design into my own daughter's hair and there must have been quite a few tears, not to mention a harsh word to two if such a design was intended to be worn by a child. The fact that both razor blades and tweezers have been found in Bronze Age burials just goes to show that these ancient people took personal grooming just as seriously as we moderns, and that fashion and 'looking right' was clearly part of death, so it must have been part of everyday life. 

Before I depart I would like to talk about the colours I chose for the models. On the whole I took Nigel Stillman's advice (published on the Foundry website) and kept the colours very natural and subdued. Browns, greys, greens and dark reds seem to be very much the order of the day when talking about Bronze Age clothing. But as I said in my last post, the very special enivronment that ensured these garments survival also affected them over the years, often tanning them a rather turgid brown in tone. Recent investigations into the fabric of another preserved individual, Huldremose Woman, has revealed a start difference between what her clothing looks like now and how it might have appeared when she lived during the Iron Age. Of course, there is a thousand years between this individual and our Bronze Age people, but who's to say that the same vivid colour counldn't have been possible three and a half thousand years ago?


It certainly gets the miniature painter considering the possibilities, doesn't it? In the end, I opted for a much muted colour pallette for my figures and though I am deeply satisfied with their appearence, I think I might well pick up a second set one day and attempt something more imaginative with their paint schemes, perhaps something patterened as can be seen in these images. 

Right, before I go I really must point out a blog post by a fellow enthusiast, Red Orc, who wrote a wonderful opinion piece entitled 'In Defence of Ritual' after I gently mocked this most controversial of archaeological habits. It is well worth and read, so please go visit. 


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Unreleased Empire Landsknecht

At the time of writing it is a beautiful, summer's day in England. The sky is a cloudless blue and my family duties consist of cooking the Sunday Roast. With the meat, potatoes and vegetables well at hand, I found myself with a morning to work on this unusual figure. Ever eager to move fast, this figure took me less than three hours to complete and was a joy to work on. Like many miniatures of its ilk, this Landsknecht feels a little unfinished and rather Maraudery, judging by the size of the chap's hands. His weapon is not gigantically proportioned though, and it is hard to place. A halberd? Short pike? 

I am guessing here that this model was sculpted by Aly Morrison and seems to fit the style of the Marauder Fighters range more closely than true Citadel. Why is never saw release is anyone's guess and I am thankful to Steve Casey for this model, as he generously bequeathed it to me at the Oldhammer Weekend last month. 

Thanks a lot old chum! 

Not being the type to horde these rarer models, nor sell them on for gratuitous profit, I much prefer to get them painted and on the table as soon as I can. Somewhere in my lead pile is a bulging bag of other unreleased gems that I really must crack on and complete, perhaps for October's 'Night of the Living Lead' game?

The casting is of good quality and needed little cleaning up before painting. As is now usual, I undercoated the model in white and then blocked in the colours. A sepia wash was then run over the model, head to foot, to help generate a little depth. Landskneckts can be intimidating for any painter and one of the key elements to success is getting the colour scheme just right. 

As I do when inspiration is needed, I searched through the work of the late Angus McBride, probably the finest military painter who ever lived. If you haven't heard of him, you will no doubt recognise his work, especially if you grew up with any Osprey titles cluttering up your bedroom. 

It didn't take long to find a similar character among McBride's copious body of work. 

Obviously, there are some design differences between the two but I took the pink, red, white with blue ribbons colour scheme and transferred it to the figure. It was a fairly strightforward paint job with each colour being blocked out and highlighted until I was satisfied with the tone. It practically painted itself. 

A lovely, relaxed painting session is what Sunday is all about, isn't it?

I experimented with orangey brown and a buff colour on the reverse of the model and I am very pleased with the results here, as in the past I felt that the leather trappings on my figures were a little lack-lustre and washed out. I found that using the lightest shade in Foundry's Boneyard triad helped give the leather a more worn out look. Definitely something I will try again. 

Right, the Yorkshires and crackling awaits.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Slaves to Darkness Era Khorne Beastman

Hello again fellow Oldhammerers! Hope you like my Khornate (why did GW stop using these excellent and atmospheric words?) beastman? I actually painted him up just before the last Oldhammer Weekend and only found the time to get him photographed today. Despite being August, the weather in England has been its usual drenched self and so I lacked the light to get a decent shot outside. 

Today is a little better and so here we are. 

With this figure, I was hoping restore my trademark superfast painting style. Completeing a model in a single sitting is the only way for old Orlygg to go and so I was keen to get back up to speed. There is a little conceit in this, as I actually undercoat, basecoat and wash all of my figures before starting work on them proper. Sometimes years can go by between the time I prime a model and actually sit down to paint it. Not so with this model. 

He was undercoated in white then based entirely in a dark red. A few dark brown washes over the top of that and he was ready to work on. Drybrushing and highlighting made short work of the fur and skin, with increasing amounts of orange being added to the red base coat. I used British Camo Green for the trousers, highlighting with Foundry's Boneyard paints - an essential shade, with a great many uses. 

The metals were easy too. Black undercoat, then based in a black/dark metal tone. This I washed over with a chestnut ink wash to age the metal before drybrushing over again with silver. For the shield (a metal Maurader one, I think) I went a little further and based with bronze, before washing over with glazes to create an aged verdigris look. Again, a bright silver was drybrushed over to bring out the detail. 

Painting the horns was a little more challenging and I was pleased to see my hands growing more steady and confident. I used the Boneyard Shade for Foundry to complete these (working from a black base for the hoof, to create a little variation) before adding a brown glaze to tie the colours all together. A three tone yellow highlight of my own devising helped finish off the rope belt and the boots and eye-patch were drybrushed in grey before being highlights along the edges. 

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable painting experience and a fantastic model, from a less overwrought and more subtle age. A classic Warhammer model that deserves to be in everyone's painted collection. 

How many of you have one? 


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Oldhammer Weekend 2017: Painting 'Olivia' the Event Miniature

As you may already know, Jon Boyce got his act together and comissioned John Pickford to produce a special model for this year's event. Unlike previous years, I was determined to actually paint up this one rather than letting someone else's hard work disappear into my leadpile. Having arrived home pretty tired and using my hobby time to write plenty of blog posts, she sat on my bureau for a few days until I could whack an undercoat on here. 

She was a really enjoyable model to work on. The Rogue Trader feel of the sculpt (it is based on an illustration from the same publication) gave her a suitably nostalgic feel, only with the crisp casting of more modern production methods. Minimal cleaning was necessary so well cast was my figure, I cannot comment about other people's but mine was near perfect. 

Hard to believe I know, but this little model was also immediately posted on eBay after the event for a whopping £125 by a 'collector'! Incensed enthusiasts almost immediately sprang into action, locating the seller and giving them a really good telling off (despite their rather poor attempt at relisting the item for £50) for their avarice. 


On a more positive note, she was great fun to work on and gave me a few headaches. Trying to give her the leopard print leggings was a touch challenging but I don't think I did too bad. 


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Oldhammer Weekend 2017: Forget Daenerys, Here Be Bryan Ansell's Dragons!

My wife forces me to watch Game of Thrones. I can tolerate the programme I guess, but it suffers terribly (despite the endless grinding of a million dollar marketing machine) from not being as good as Lord of the Rings, in both print or celluoid. Not being as good a wide range of other fantasy in fact. Much like the Harry Potter novels; how much is the global spread a result of the author's skill and imagination and how much the result of a relentless, exorbitant and cynical advertising campaign?

The dragons are rather blandly conceived too, feeling more akin to the computer-game polygon constructs of Skyrim than the mythical, grandiose flying lizards of yore. Thankfully, the beautifully defined dragons I saw preserved in art during the Oldhammer Weekend were quite the opposite. Colourful, characterful and beautifully executed by an artist Bryan Ansell couldn't really remember. Anyone know the chap's name? 

If the above image rings the bell of recollection that is because this painting was printed on the front of the famous Blue Dragon boxset released way back when in the 1980s. To ease those memory synapses, here is a quiet reminder of what that packaging looked like. Any of you buy one of these?

Some years ago, the award winning Steve Casey snuck Welshly into Stoke Hall to capture its collection of ancient metal figures. This was in the days 'before Oldhammer' and happily the Citadel Collector snapped away, serendipity resulting in the very same dragons (the White Dwarf studio ones) being captured digitally. And here the Blue Dragon is, in all it's damaged, dusty glory. 

No sign of the sorceress, mind you. Perhaps she married a dothraki?

Back in the 1980s the Blue Dragon may have been a popular purchase but it wasn't the badger's nadgers of the box set world. That title could only be bestowed upon the Great Fire Dragon - after all, we all know that 'red wunz goez fasta!' 

Well, that painting was also on display...

You probably remember this dragon as 'the one with those bloody hard to paint wings with bloody holes in them' model. I never could quite fathom the purpose of the holes - had the dragon been suffering from a dose of wing rot? Or perhaps the majestic, red beast had a run in with a eighteenth centure ship-of-the-line who mistook the red wings for the sails of an enemy ship? Pummling a dragon with chainshot certainly conjures up some exciting images, does it not?

It seems that the painting was flipped when the packaging was put together and I can't help wonder how such a trick was pulled in the late '80s without all the computer trickery we have now. It still remains the most striking of the three boxes, and the bright red colouring certainly cements this. The pose of the heroic knight also helps, bravely (or perhaps foolishly) deflecting that bolt of flame with his shield. 

As you can see from another one of Steve's photographs the original model has also survived, only this one seems to have been posed like a mid-ranking doorman looming large over the threshold of a Nottingham Greggs, rather than a sophisticated and arcane creature. Nice paint job though, don't you think?

The Green Dragon's painting is by far the superior piece of art, at least in my opinion. And I love the characterisation of the dwarf, nipping off to safety carrying his no doubt looted loot. Looking at him in more detail made me realise that he is somewhere in my leadpile, sadly without the Green Dragon, so he must have made good his escape. 

The artwork remained unchanged on the packaging of the Green Dragon and the model itself is the most closely matched of the three. As you can see below. 

Looking at the three models makes me wonder how they were originally based, considering that all three of them seem to have a grey, lavafield look to them. I didn't notice these models on the new and improved shelves of the Wargames Foundry, but that doesn't mean they are not there.

Did anyone spot them?

Popping over to Orclord's Solegends in always a rewarding experience. And his collection did him proud once again when I found this lovely photograph of the same menagerie, complete with infantry figures. A lovely collection of dragons I am sure you would agree, and not a gratuitous nude scene in sight! 


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Oldhammer Weekend 2017: Tony Ackland's Sketchbook: Unpublished Advanced Heroquest, WFRP and Confrontation

One of my personal highlights of the Oldhammer Weekend, as I suspect it is for many, is speaking with the Grand Master of Chaos himself, Tony Ackland. As in previous years, Tony had brought with him a new batch of illustrations from his long GW career, including quite a few pieces he had recently uncovered. 

One of these pieces was the illustration above: another one of those evocative landscapes that Mr.Ackland produced for the Warhammer mythos that conjures up imaginative thoughts of unlimited adventure. Well, dear reader - do you notice anything familar about the unpublished (as far as we can tell) illustration above?

Have a closer look at the four figures contemplating the ramshackle conurbation below them. Do they ring an adventurous bell?

Of course, they are the four player characters from Advanced Heroquest. Tony couldn't remember anything about this particular sketch so I spoke to Oldhammer's authority on all things Heroquest, Geoff Sims. He instantly confirmed these were the characters from the game before checking through his leatherbound edition of the AHQ publications. We couldn't find any sign of this illustration so it's pretty safe to say this is its first public airing. 

Isn't it fascinating?

We are pretty sure this illustration is also previously unpublished, though with the sheer amount of WFRP material out there we could well be wrong. Please correct me if this is the case. Tony could remember more about this illustration: it is a pirate player character from WFRP's career section. For whatever reason, this character (and a number of others, apparently) didn't make the final cut of the game and wasn't included in the rulebook. 

I wonder if anything else has survived like this waiting to be discovered, eh?

This famous illustration certainly made the grade and appeared a number of times in print, most notably in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rulebook. I always loved this picture, and after recent events in my life really strikes a chord. I really know how that guy is feeling! 

These illustrations also caught my eye and I am pretty sure I have seen them before in print. Anyone recognise them? The two illustrations are separate peices, with the first depicting some kind of beastman while the second is a rather swarthy looking hobbit, probably sneaking into someone's kitchen for a quick second breakfast. 

The remaining images from this post are all from Tony's six month sojourn to Necromunda. I am not enough of an authority of these materials to state if they have been been previously published, but I certainly cannot recall seeing any of them before. 

All of the images represent the different denizens of the underhive and I know little more about them than that. Enjoy them and wonder what might have been if this project had ever seen completion. 

As always big BIG BIG BIG thank you to Tony Ackland for unearthing this artwork and bringing it to Newark for fans to appreciate, and for spending many, many hours with curious collectors and their questions. 

If you want to know about Tony and his artwork, why not have a look at the two interviews I did with him in years past, both of which are packed with loads of his recollections and artworks. 

More interesting artwork in my next post. 

Speak soon.