Sunday, 19 April 2020

Riders on the storm

It's another classic-rock-inspired blog title today, because I've been furiously at work digging out, chopping up and putting together all my Chaos cavalry. And I'm pretty sure if Chaos dudes listened to any kind of music, it would, of course, be rock.

When searching them out I was slightly surprised to find there was a grand total of 22 unpainted horsemen in this collection, representing quite the mass of spikey, fast-moving, armoured killers.*

The first three are probably my favourite of this batch. Incredible metal models, that were an awful struggle to glue together – my fingers are pocked, pierced and sore, and possibly even suffering from some kind of lead poisoning – but their fearsomeness to construct is more than made up for by the fearsomeness of their appearance. Especially when you factor in that Archaon, the middle one, is roughly 18 years old now.

Then there are these guys (above). They're the contents of the plastic boxset released around 2008, where the knights all seemed a little too big, and which (some might say, inexplicably) replaced the not-long released metal boxset below (from around 2003).

Then these four miniatures above are all old, unpainted conversions of mine, that were based on classic metal Chaos Knights, released around the early to mid 90s. As such they're probably not as cool as some of the other models here, but I think it's still worth painting them.

And then these guys have all been constructed using the contents of the Chaos Marauder Horsemen boxset. A fantastic kit that gives you a tonne of good-looking options. I borrowed one of their original horses for one of my metal knights, so that's been replaced by a repaired metal horse from an earlier release.

So that's all the cavalry that I'll be adding to my collection. But there's actually a few more models that I'll be removing. These are some of the very first Chaos Warrior miniatures that I owned – probably released about the same time as the first instalment of Kaleb Daark that I showed in the the previous post. The miniatures originally included both foot and mounted versions of the characters, and had simple names like Chaos Champion, Chaos Knight and Chaos General. I think I've repainted them about 5 times since my original effort, and judging from the lack of visible sculpted detail on their present condition, it's clear I've never bothered to strip their previous paint jobs. And, its too late now anyway, as these fellas have been well and truly consigned to my hall of fame.

There are no newly finished miniatures here, so my Addiction Challenge score remains the same. Coincidentally there are 22 miniatures left to paint in the challenge, and I just happen to have exactly the same number of unpainted miniatures here. If this weren't all about Chaos that would sound very much like the beginning of a plan.


*In fact you could say 'killers on the road', to further borrow from The Doors song referenced in the title.**
**According to Wikipedia, psychedelic rock song, Riders on the Storm (released in 1971) had portions of its lyrics allegedly inspired by real-life killer Billy Cook, who murdered six people during a 22 day rampage while hitchhiking to California in the early 1950s. It may also have been the last song Jim Morrison recorded before his death.***
***These probably aren't suitable subjects to discuss while talking about children's toy soldiers.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Black and white, and Daark all over

I'm going to keep my comments brief on this one. That's because I want to share, in full, one of the other reasons for my fascination with Chaos Warriors. As a result there are quite a few images to get through. 

Back in the mid eighties the first Games Workshop publication I ever picked up was The Third Citadel Compendium. Not only was this magazine full of pictures of the most inspiring toys I had ever seen, but the final ten pages had something my young self was particularly blown away by.

It was a specially commissioned story, by some of the top creative talent from the galaxy's greatest comic: 2000AD (home of Judge Dredd, ABC Warriors, Rogue Trooper and a tonne of other fantastic science-fiction stories, too numerous to mention).

Writers John Wagner and Alan Grant had taken Games Workshop's fantasy Warhammer setting and infused it with everything that made 2000AD so popular: action, comedy, anarchy, a spot of vulgarity and even a lone antihero (in the style of early Dredd strips). And the whole package was beautifully, masterfully, illustrated by Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy, working as a team to create some of the very best pages of their already high-quality, signature art style. Even Steve Potter's lettering perfectly captured the tone of the piece.

Sadly, due to a dispute over ownership rights, the story was never finished and has therefore never been reprinted or collected. So, partly as a reference for my Chaos Warrior project, and partly as the act of an adoring fan, I've decided to put all the pages together in one place.

If you were involved with this, and have a claim on the ownership, please don't sue me, it's a wonderful body of work and deserves not to be lost.

For everyone else, read on to see The Quest Of Kaleb Daark.

Monday, 30 March 2020

We come from the land of the ice and snow

I've always liked Immigrant Song, the Led Zeppelin track referenced in the title, but I love it even more now, since it was used as the theme to Thor: Ragnarok. That film, in my opinion, is everything a Marvel film should be.*

I watched it again recently, this time with my kids, who are probably still too small to have been exposed to the Goddess of Death, the melt stick, Clancy Brown as a 1,000 ft tall fire demon, people being punched through walls, Jeff Goldblum's dance moves and a traitorous, bald-shaven Karl Urban. It's a film rich in excellence: the Jack Kirby–style visual design, Chris Hemsworth's comic timing, the Hulk's armour, and I particularly liked the moment at the end of the opening scene, when Thor straps a giant demon skull to his back. It struck me as something that would look pretty cool on a Warhammer Chaos Warrior.

And that started me thinking about other movies where we've seen fighters, knights and bad guys that could, conceivably, pass as Chaos Warrior types. And the first film that sprung to mind, just like Thor: Ragnarok, also featured Vikings, Clancy Brown and Karl Urban. For movie aficionados out there, it was, of course, Pathfinder (2007).

The Vikings in that film have a particularly Chaos-like feel to them, both in appearance and behaviour. They look fantastic, and never more so than when their dark and burnished armour is set against the bright white ice and snow of the mountains.

From there it was a short hop to the equally dark and burnished armour worn by the, albeit far less evil, knights of Britain, prior to the creation of the Round Table in John Boorman's truly epic Excalibur (1981).

And then, finally for now, while we're talking about 80s classics, on to Thulsa Doom's cult of terrible bad guys in the original Conan the Barbarian film (1982).

All these movies have sat in my subconscious, waiting for a time to see their influence surface somewhere in my miniature collection. Waiting for that chance to bubble up into the toy soldiers that I make and paint, filtered through my own ideas of what works and what doesn't. Ideas that mix together, then search out a place to live within the existing lore of the Warhammer universe.

And it seemed like a good time to turn to Chaos for other reasons too. After the successful completion of my Undead project a couple of months back, it made sense to try to repeat the trick of working on an entire army from start to finish – taking every single relevant miniature from my collection, and constructing and painting them all together.

But where to start?

With the Undead project, the first thing I did was grab the handful of already painted skeletons in my collection to use as a kind of proof of concept. Adapting them to sit on the round Age of Sigmar bases.

But where I only had 5 pre-existing skeletons, I already had 30 or 40 finished Chaos Warriors from my previous attempt to paint them up, and none of them really fit my new brief. I wanted to change the look of this army. Not the disparate individuals of before, but a more unified look. Darker and more muted, and based in the wild winter wastes.

So this was going to be a long slog. In fact I'm still only right at the beginning, so it IS going to be a long slog, but below are the first 15 adapted Chaos Warriors from my old collection, as preparation for the forthcoming rest of the force. I've darkened much of their armour, muted any fabrics they might be wearing, and brightened all the skin tones, to a more pallid, sickly tone. None of these are new miniatures, so my Addiction Challenge score is un-dented, but I'm fairly pleased all the same. These guys are definitely coming from the right place.

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow
How soft your fields so green
Can whisper tales of gore
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

* Or at least a significant chunk of the winning formula. I'm also a big fan of the Captain America high-tech espionage films: Winter Soldier and Civil War. Then there's the whole origin story genre, where nothing has beaten the first Iron Man film **
** except maybe Batman Begins, but I wasn't really talking about non-Avengers stuff. In fact I wasn't really talking about Avengers stuff either. This post was meant to be about followers of Chaos. That totally random force that sees you setting out to talk about one thing, only to end up talking about something completely different. 

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The new count

Today I'm laying to rest the Undead project that I started 21 months ago. Bar a few spare arms and perhaps the odd torso, I've gone through my entire collection (over 30 years worth of miniatures) and constructed and painted every ghoul, zombie, skeleton, and vampire that I could find.

Of that last category I've only really got a single model. The metal Winged Vampire Lord, probably sculpted by Brian Nelson and released around 2009 as part of Games Workshop's updated Vampire Counts range. A semi-armoured Nosferatu-style vampire, caught midway between his human and bat forms.

I thought he'd make a decent, potential general for my teething, rotting masses of undead, giving me an interesting, additional option for the allegiance of the entire force. Now, with a simple swap of leadership the army can go from being the re-animated thralls of a crazed necromancer, to the demented followers of a cabal of Chaos sorcerers, or the mind-slaved minions of a lone vampire.*

Talking of necromancers, I thought the middle guy above would make a pretty good proxy for one – especially as I don't currently have one in my collection. He was originally constructed to be a ghoul, but while painting all the incredible detail, I started to think he might just pass for a character model. And not necessarily just an undead-loving-mage – those spiky teeth of his could also see him playing the part of a vampire lieutenant.

Either way, he's seen above flanked by his new-found zombie Chaos warrior bodyguards.

And tucked away here at the end is another really old model that has recently had a slight make-over and fresh paint job. Given the context, I suppose I ought to say it's been "re- vamped". It's an ancient Citadel Miniature, the Arcane Monstrosities Monstrous Orc War Machine from 1983, and is probably one of the oldest models in my collection. Along with a few other rock lobbers, catapults, wagons and bolt throwers, I'm going to use it as a freelancer – switching it between relevant armies and/or terrain pieces as, when and if the need arises.

So that's 16 newly finished miniatures – more than I managed in the whole of last year – meaning I have less than a quarter of my addiction challenge to go. Here's the new count:


*I actually prefer seeing it spelt 'vampyr' for that extra little dose of gothic-horror-ness. Although while I'm on the subject, the term 'haemophage' as used by China MiƩville in his excellent Bas-Lag trilogy, is probably even better.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Rest in peace with the rest of the pieces

Hot on the heels of the previous post, here are the very last miniatures for my current Undead collection. I can hardly believe I'm this close to finishing a whole project. It's such a rare occurrence for me. In fact I'm not sure any of my other collections have ever got this far.

Apart from the Vampire Lord and the skeleton cow, these final models are basically just made up of all the bits 'n' pieces I had left over from the earlier builds, simply glued together as best as I could.

The cow is an ancient model coming from what I believe may have been the very first Undead wagon (or war machine) of any sort to be released by Citadel Miniatures – the Plague Cart, from 1987. If it's not the first, then it's certainly one of the earliest. I've decorated the base a bit, and added a beaten up bell hanging from its neck, but otherwise it's pretty much as it was back at the end of the eighties.

Most of the other miniatures are from the Zombie Regiment (with a few Chaos Warrior parts thrown into the mix), but there's also a straggler from the original Skeleton Horde (with swapped weapon and shield), a Ghoul from Mantic (with new arms), and the remainders of three Ghouls from Rackham (all with head swaps, and the odd new limb).

My goal is to get them painted before the year is out, so the challenge is on. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Elephants and memories

Inside I'm smiling. In fact, outside I'm smiling too. Because I've finished the other skeleton war mammoth that I started way back here, about a year and a half ago. Even though I started it a long time ago, I couldn't just forget about it. I feel a commitment to all the projects I start, and the guilt of not completing them means I will keep revisiting them until they are done. Even if it takes years – which it often does. This is mainly down to my lack of hobby time and skittish tastes, but also because I tend to paint at a lumbering speed, probably not dissimilar to the one an undead elephant travels at. An undead elephant stripped of all muscle, and carrying a small house on its back.

This newly completed model only mildly affects my Addiction Challenge score, but every little helps.


My Undead project is nearing its conclusion now, with both mammoths finished, the cavalry from last week, and all the troops from last year. There's just a handful of stragglers left to build and paint (mainly to use up some of the left over bits 'n' pieces from the previous models). It's kind of exciting to see a project nearing the finish line, so hopefully this will keep my momentum going till I cross it.

But let's not celebrate too early.