Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Chaos through the ages

Not just years ago, not just decades ago, not even in just the last century, but in the last millennium, when as a child I was first made aware of Games Workshop products, I became captivated by Citadel Miniature's Chaos Warriors range. I say range, but back then it was mainly comprised of a handful of different foot soldiers that had very little in common outside of being supplied with slightly larger bases than the good guys.

One of my earliest miniatures, circa 1985, can be seen below. When I repainted him (somewhere between ten and fifteen years ago) I took the opportunity to swap his weapon for something bigger, add a skull-faced shoulder pad, and sculpt some fur on his cloak.

I always preferred the warriors that had chunkier armour and scary-looking, yet relatively simple head gear, so I went about collecting as many of them as my meagre pocket money would allow. Fortunately for me, but less so for my financial situation, my preferred 'look' started to become more popular. The warrior below is from the late 80s (with the extra banner poles added by me at a later date) and was one of a handful of releases (most likely designed by Jes Goodwin) that really helped to define the range. For roughly the next ten years Chaos Warriors were represented by metal miniatures clad in heavy armour and draped in furs.

Somewhere around 1998 the first plastic Chaos Warrior boxset was released. For collectors like myself it was an exciting time. Finally we could build the warriors we wanted. Except there was a slight problem. Once constructed, the plastic miniatures in the box all ended up hunchbacked, deformed and rather awkward looking. The trick to combatting that was to reposition the head on top of the torso and try to cover the old neck join (now in the middle of the chest).  But while doing all this work I decided I may as well go a step further.

For some time I'd been wondering what the people wearing all this armour might look like underneath - their faces, skin tones etc. So with a plastic kit, that I was already committed to chopping up, mixing it with parts from other sprues seemed something of a no-brainer.

At around this time the decent metal releases pretty much dried up. Thus if you wanted some warriors that weren't simply based on the clumsy plastic boxset you had to look elsewhere. Other manufacturers were beginning to emerge, and quite a few of them had some pretty decent stand-ins for Chaos Warriors. The character below is by Heresy Miniatures. All I did was sculpt the iconic closed faceplate with a bit of greenstuff, and stick a shield on his back.

And I didn't always feel the need to look that far afield. I began raiding my own collection of unpainted Citadel Miniatures. Models that had been released as part of different ranges, that I'd never got round to painting. The guy below is a Thrud the Barbarian limited edition. I gave him a weapon swap, a head from the old plastic Chaos Warrior set, and a cloak from an elf. I reckon he makes a pretty good Marauder champion. He's quite a big fella, so he's probably been blessed by his God. Maybe he's the brother of that character I converted a few weeks back.

The next major release was the excellent Warriors of Chaos Regiment (which I'm pretty sure was predominantly designed by Brian Nelson). These guys still form the core of most Chaos armies today.

Although a bit limited in their variety of poses, there are so many spare parts in the box it's an absolute gift to a Chaos Warrior collector. And of course the beautiful basic models can always be chopped up and combined with other parts to add some variety.

Pretty much every model in my Chaos Warrior army fits in one of the above 5 categories. Very few have escaped my meddling hand completely untouched. As a result, for better or for worse, the army is now comprised almost exclusively of bespoke, and suitably disparate infantry, and includes models that stretch from the most recent releases almost all the way back to Games Workshop's roots. I'll share some of the other models in the future.


  1. Nice look at how Chaos warriors have changed over the years! The first plastic warriors regiment was so wonky and terrible. But, looking back, I am kind of nostalgic for them, despite there awfulness. Brain Nelson's revamp of the kit (you are right, it was Nelson, I think entirely him) was an incredible shock. Taking the worst looking plastic kit in the range and making arguably the best. I think they are still one of my favorite plastic kits. He designed the metal Chaos Knights that were released at the same time. That kit was later replaced by a more flashy kit, which was not nearly as good, in my opinion.

    1. Gregory, I agree, the current plastic Chaos Warrior kit is among the best. The only downside is the lack of posing options. Imagine if it had the interchangeability (is that a word?) of the Space Marine range. But still, I'm not complaining. Brian Nelson's work is always fantastic. Do you know if he still works for Citadel?

    2. It would be nice if the kit had some poseability. But, I feel that sometimes that is a detriment to natural and good looking poses.

      From my understanding, Nelson is still working for GW. He had a part in the redesigned orcs/orruks for Age of Sigmar, and I think that you can tell. No one makes orcs like Nelson does. Seb Perbert and others have tried to emulate him, and have done a reasonable job, but they never capture the magic of Nelson. I have read that Nelson sculpted the Orukk Megaboss. I think he helped with the brute kit, as well.