Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bones brigade

About a month ago I mentioned my plan to paint up a bunch of old skeleton miniatures that I still had from my childhood. I decided the first batch would include most of the metal infantry figures, plus a couple of plastic test models for the next batch. Some of the metal models were, ahem, 'bona fide' skeleton models, while the rest were from other Citadel ranges, that I had roughly converted about a decade ago (mainly by decapitating them and grafting on a plastic skull head instead).

This left me with quite a mixed selection of characters, with very little coherency from one model to the next (other than the fact they were all Undead, of course). But this was exactly what I was after.

I love the idea that each model in my collection is an individual. There are no indistinguishable troops, faceless and identical to each other – even when talking about skeletons whose faces have literally rotted away. Every single warrior in a battleline will have had an entire life stretching out behind them before they got to that moment. And with the Undead they'll have had a death or two thrown in for good measure.

This concept of individuality has been with me since my earliest days in this hobby, and was probably fuelled by the fact that in the 1980s most purchases of miniatures were in blister form – where you built a unit by buying three or four unique warriors at a go.

The official photography of the time reflected that, and nowhere was it more apparent than the wonderful, sprawling dioramas occasionally found in Games Workshop publications.

With the Undead there was a particular diorama that imprinted itself on my young mind. I think it was first seen in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd edition book (released in 1987), having been painstakingly created by the now infamous John Blanche, Games Workshop's director of art.

Stretching across a double page spread we got to see what looked like hundreds of Undead troops rambling towards a Dwarven stronghold in the mountains. The Undead warband was comprised of skeletons, ghouls, zombies, wraiths and other strange and fantastic creatures, all in various stages of decomposition and clearly meant to be possessed of different levels of free will.

As far as I can tell this incredible diorama is now on display at Warhammer World. But if you can't get there to see it in person, there are some decent pictures to be found online. You can see a good few of them at either Orlygg Jafnakol's Realm Of Chaos 80s blog here or Steve Casey's Eldritch Epistles blog here.

Anyway, as a young boy, when I first saw that shambolic horde of re-animated corpses, I really wanted to create a tabletop army equivalent. And now, as a middle aged manchild, my Addiction Challenge seems like a good excuse to, ahem, bring the idea back to life.

So in this post let me present the next twelve warriors in my Undead warband.

In the above photo the character on the left was a head swap on a miniature from the old Men At Arms range, the middle one was a regular skeleton warrior (perhaps released a little later than most of the others shown here), and the one on the right was part of the Skeleton Command Group selection.

The next three include another Skeleton Command Group miniature, a head-swapped Deadman of Dunharrow from the original Lord of the Rings range, and a plastic Skeleton Horde miniature given arms from the plastic Zombie Regiment.

Here we have another Skeleton Command Group member, a zombie of some kind, and a converted Paladin.

And finally, the above three miniatures include the Skeleton Horde conversion that I showed last month, the final Skeleton Command Group miniature and another Lord of the Rings Deadman of Dunharrow (whose head seems to have been replicated on the top of the banner next to him).

So that's twelve new miniatures to subtract from my Addiction Challenge. But before I show you the score, here's a group shot of my completed Undead warriors so far.


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