Thursday 25 October 2012

Heroines for Warmongers

Citadel Orcs, marching to war under the baleful visage of Baroness Thatcher - the Iron Lady.
Margaret Thatcher's head on a Citadel Orc Banner

The Iron Lady, on a banner for Orcs of the White Hand - slaves to Saruman, the evil wizard from Lord of the Rings who lives in Isengard, the Iron Fortress. Painted by then Citadel staff painter Colin Dixon and first appearing in White Dwarf 81 (September 1986), although the photograph above is a different source.

Was there satirical or even political intention in the image? Tried to email Colin to ask, but just got an automated bounce-back, maybe he's gone undercover. Even without intention, the alignment (pun intended) of the then Prime Minister with forces of inhuman evil, may certainly be read as an anti-establishment message, if not an overtly political one. It wouldn't have been the only British fantasy institution to do so at the time, just ask Sylvester McCoy or pick up any copy of 2000AD from the period. Of course, M. Thatcher would go on to win the 1987 election and hold a 3rd Parliment, one assumes voted in by a legion of olive skinned goblinoids, and she becomes an immortal footnote to the Warhammer universe as Empress Margaritha in WFRPs The Enemy Within campaign - surely a deeply cherished accolade.

I have a hazy mental image of a Dwarven banner depicting Arthur Scargill (Trade Unionist and leader of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1980s) on it, but can't seem to find a source. Perhaps it was Neil Kinnock (leader of the opposition, later vice-president of the European Commission). Maybe it doesn't exist at all but comes from a parallel universe where the editorial jurisdictions of Ians Hislop and Livingstone became strangely merged - 1986 being the year that Hislop took over the editorial reigns of Private Eye, and Ian Livingstone stepped down as the editor-in-chief of White Dwarf...

And speaking of bizarre conglomerates, fast forward to the year 2012 to a more politically apathetic Britain, where people riot on the streets against ennui and radicalists after social reform go urban camping and produce a nice little book explaining economic terms in a slightly less clear nd more fluffy manner than a GCSE text, while extolling the virtues of Waitrose. Apathy and weariness abound, the land of Albion is double-headed up by the unholy alliance of a Conservative and Liberal coalition. And Games Workshop subsidiary Forgeworld give us this beautiful Curs'd Ettin sculpted by Edgar Skomorowski.

Nick Clegg and David Cameron:
AKA the Dick Cleggeron

The Curs’d Ettin can be easily identified by its singular deformities and cruel intellect.
They are born, so it is said, of an ancient treachery against the Dark Gods themselves.

The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron: 306 seats
The Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg: 57 seats

Special rule: Two-headed: The Curs’d Ettin has two distinct personalities
which war for dominance and control.

"safeguarding national security, supporting our troops abroad, tackling the debt crisis, repairing our broken political system and building a stronger society" - Cameron
  "bold, reforming government that puts fairness back into Britain" - Clegg

Option: Gibberer: One of the Curs’d Ettin’s heads has devolved into infantile imbecility,
drooling and wailing constantly.

Coincidence? Probably.

Its hard to imagine a stock-market traded toy company even making the slightest political jest. Yet lurking behind the layers of grim-dark there may be a flicker of social consciousness going on, a little bit of intentional satire gnawing at the edges of the entertainment brand.

 The Cleggeron is available from Forgeworld for about £40 . I'm quite tempted to get one and paint it up,  in Braveheart-like entirely pseudohistorical woad patterns one head Conservative blue, the other Liberal yellow and set him against some LE8 McDeath's Crazed Caledonian Commandos to 'gamify' the impending Scottish referendum "Yooo can toss oor cabers, but yoo will nae tek oor freeedom!". 

The Dick Cleggeron
Originally painted by John Blanche (Via)
Party Political Warpaint photoshopped on by me.

Maggie was no stranger to fantastical portrayals, and seeing how we like ladies (or Baronesses) in armour around here:

Sunday Times Magazine cover (21 April 1980)

Saint Celestine | Games Workshop

I shall leave those images silently hanging, in a John Berger-esque manner, and return to the theme another time.

Moving swiftly on, the source of the Orc Thatcher banner:

Heroes for Wargames | Hardback | Paper Tiger | 1986

Heroes for Wargames (1986), penned by then head-of-sales at GW Stewart Parkinson and published by Paper Tiger. If you don't already have this book, you really, really should get it. It's awesome. Not convinced? Here's some more dodgy camera-phone snaps:

John Blanche: triple headed Minotaur
There is a tonne of old lead painted up and on parade in this book, Chaos Dwarfs,  normal Dwarves, Skaven, Judge Dredd, Eternal Champion, Beastmen, Chaos Warriors ...the list goes on... the book, being published in 1986 kind of straddles two eras, one the era of Chalk and Devers Tabletop Heroes and solid-based citadel, and the other, the era of 'eavy Metal and slotta-bases.

John Blanche: Cthulhu Inferno
Several full-page John Blanche pieces, including Dwarf Lord of Legend box art, Zombie Dragon, McDeath booklet cover,  as well as black and white concept art for Slann (titled "Demon Frogmen" - nice), Chaos Warriors, Knights of Law, Orcs, as well as other black and white pieces by Dave Andrews (some Lichemaster, some others) and other concept art from Tony Ackland and a few from Jes Goodwin, all on crisp white semi-gloss paper that reproduces them beautifully...

John Blanche | Slann and Orc concept sheets

Dave Andrews "Underground Maze of Death"
A fair few dioramas,  a couple of battle scenes (skaven, skeletons, disciples of the red redemption -all around Dave Andrews cardboard buildings  - appeared in Ravening Hordes I think) and some others I'd never seen before. There's some photos of the lads work-benches and some over-the shoulder shots of them pretending to work. The Mad Max poster seems very popular...

Dungeon punk orc, Lord of the Rings Goblin

To be honest, there are about only 14 pages out of the 128 that just seems like filler - black and white photos of miniatures - granted they are sharper photos than the Citadel Compendium images, but they pale in comparison to the artwork and painted miniatures. And the text is a bit basic - explaining what RPGs and Wargames are about, and covering the basics of painting and how models are made - the 'eavy Metal articles from the same period are much more enlightening on that front, but the images here are generally much better quality and larger, and the glossy art stock really helps them sing. The heavy use of chiaroscuro means the figures shapes aren't as clear as they could be - it's evident that the 'art' being referred to is the tradition of oil-painting, rather than say, sculpture. The only other critisism - for a coffee-table book about 'the art of fantasy miniatures', neither the sculptors nor the painters for the individual figures are credited, which his a bit of an oversight. Still, every page raises a smile, and is probably the nicest, most old-school book on Citadel you can get.

Get it at Amazon: Heroes for Wargames .there are a few copies for under a tenner - well worth it methinks. The over £50 probably best left on the shelf. Also ebay.


  1. just got the heroes for wargames book from a freind =) love the photoshop work on the etin... somebody needs to paint one like that.
    I also love Blanche's use of the mona lisa in several of his works.

  2. Thanks for a fantastic article.

    I was getting strange looks from the missus whilst chuckling at what I read.

    Aaaaah... Heroes for wargames... Wonderful book...

    I first discovered it as a child at my local library, I kept on borrowing it and renewing it because I loved it so much. That is until someone else requested it and it vanished from the library soon after.

    I managed to get a copy for myself a couple of months back, the nostalgia came in a flood.

    Still love that book now...

  3. Dave'n'Nick as the Curs'd Ettin is an image that will never leave me. And for that I am eternally grateful!

  4. oh man that takes me back. I've been asking around for the name of the book. you are awesome for posting it

  5. Don't forget the Bob Olley harpies based on Thatcher and Mr and Mrs Reagan!


      thanks very much for that anon, must add it in...

  6. I ordered a copy of "Heroes for Wargames" from Amazon off the back of this blog post - brilliant book! £10 for a virtually mint condition copy - Thanks for the recommendation, a must for lovers of old school citadel lead.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the review, and the book! It really is treat - a great look at the miniatures scene before the whole Golden Demon era.

  7. Great work!
    Thanks a lot for assembling the whole thing!
    One day I will rip off Maze of Death idea, that's for sure... ;)

  8. Great stuff! You just cost me $35 buying a copy from ;-)