Wednesday 24 January 2024

Agents of the Imperium, shoulder to shoulder, side by side

I'm doing something a little different today. I wanted to try out an idea, so for this single exercise I've briefly changed my approach to the hobby. But before I get into that, a bit of backstory.

In late 1998, Forge World was unleashed on the world as a specialist offshoot of Games Workshop aimed at older, more experienced hobbyists. Although it was meant to concentrate on large scale busts and terrain, by the early 2000s it had dramatically expanded its scope to include an incredible selection of 28mm resin models.

There were so many amazing sets available, from just about every variation of Imperial Guard tank you could imagine, to mobile Ork fortresses on caterpillar tracks, huge Chaos War Mammoths, Death Korps of Krieg troops mounted on gas-mask-wearing horses, servitors, Inquisitors, dragons, aircraft and a hundred other models that I really wish I'd bought.

Forge World's Krieg Death Riders and Ork Battle Fortress. The latter is sadly out of print these days.
And the Chaos War Mammoth and Marauder Bomber. The elephant might be one of the rarest kits in existence.

In that last category 'models I wish I'd bought' were the Titan Crew On Foot, consisting of a Princeps and two Moderati, sculpted by Simon Egan. When they were first released they cost something like £12. My younger, naive self didn't know what was to come with the prices of models, and I think I found them too expensive. Yet they stayed in the range for about another decade, slowly creeping up in price to around £17, before eventually being consigned to the big-glass-display-cabinet-in-the-sky in the mid-to-late 2010s.

As soon as they disappeared from the Forge World website, I realised how much I wanted them in my collection. More so than any of the other fantastic models that were still available. A feeling I'm sure many other hobbyists out there are frustratingly familiar with. So I then spent several years scouring eBay trying to find them, in the hope of not having to pay the £70 to £100 they were routinely going for.

Finally, about a year ago, I found them for not much more than their original store price. Result! The downside was that as well as having been painted in colours not to my taste, they had also been converted slightly. But these were minor gripes, and it was still an opportunity too good to miss. So I bought them, dipped them in Dettol until the paint came off, then stripped away all the extra parts that had been added. To my relief the base models were almost 100% intact.

Last week I thought it would be an interesting project to get some paint back on them. I realised that the original Forge World paint job was pretty much exactly what I was after, so that got me thinking about the aforementioned experiment. I decided to break out my smallest brush and do my absolute very best to emulate the display colour scheme of the finished Forge World models as closely as I could. Obviously having the small brush wasn't enough in its own right, and unfortunately my lack of any real painting talent soon came into play.

Nonetheless I've posted the results here for all to see. Below are the original models, expertly painted by Stuart Witter for the catalogue, and then after that, my somewhat less expert attempt to copy the colour scheme and photograph them from the same angle.

Once I got started I soon realised that these characters sported some serious detail. So much so that I actually couldn't see it, even wearing my strongest reading glasses. For the first time in my hobby career I tried using a magnifying glass, but that made it extraordinarily difficult to coordinate the brush, so instead I came up with a rather foolish looking solution. I wore two pairs of glasses at the same time – and it revealed a whole wealth of detail that I had no idea was even there. Below are some more shots of Stuart Witter's beautiful smooth paintjob, followed immediately by my not-so-smooth effort.

Although this has confirmed my suspicions that I'll never be a superstar painter, I have actually surpassed my meagre expectations and am secretly quite pleased with the results. These guys will be a proud addition to my collection, going in among the various denizens of my hive city, Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda.

So now I just need a Titan to go with them.

RIP Forge World of old, you will be sorely missed.

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