Sunday, 10 March 2013

Brian Craig: Old School Warhammer Author's Pawns of Chaos

The original cover to Brian Craig's novel. Not quite as bad as most of the truly appalling covers that the Black Library put out in the late '90s, early '00s.
Just a quick update today... 

Those of you who frequent my other blog, Realm of Chaos 80s, will know that I am a fan of the old school Warhammer Books novels from the late '80s. Last year, I wrote an article detailing the fantasy ones here

One of my favourite authors from that early range was Brian Craig, who of course wrote the superb Orfeo trilogy (Zaragoz, Plague Daemon and Strom Warriors) as well as a number of highly regarded short stories.

Much of the fiction is required reading for Oldhammer enthusiasts, though I have yet to chronicle the Rogue Trader era novels that were published, mostly written by Ian Watson. The big difference between Warhammer Books and the Black Library is quality of writing. To be fair, very few of the authors now writing for BL are 'proper authors' while many of the voices from the early Warhammer book range were, and still, respected writers; Ian Watson, Kim Newman and Brain Stableford to name but a few.

Now Brian Stableford is also Brian Craig.

I wonder if you knew that?

Anyway, in the late 90s he wrote a 40k novel that, well, didn't go down too well with early BL fans. Too much plot, character development and layers of metaphorical meaning and not enough 'kill, maim, slaughter' I suspect. He also produced a new fantasy volume called the Wine of Dreams. 

But I digress. 

The Black Library have made the 40k novel, the Pawns of Chaos, available as an expensive eBook. If you are after something different from the usual BL hackery and fancy something with an old school whiff, you will probably find yourself enjoying this one. 

The new eBook cover.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Illuminations: The Art of Ian Miller

Long time no blog.

My Rogue Trader project has ground to a standstill. Hopefully, you know why! This blog's sister, Realm of Chaos 80s, has taken up all my limited blogging time with interviews, Oldhammer Day organisation (well the Slaves to Darkness bit, Gaj has down a sterling job on the rest) and warband creation. 

The same is true with my Dark Future project. 

Occasionally, I feel guilty and pop over to one of these other forgotten places and have a wild stab at throwing together an article. Well, today is one of those days. I have for your viewing pleasure an '80s article into the twisted mind of Ian Miller culled from the crackling pages of an ancient White Dwarf. 

Illuminations was a long time semi regular feature in White Dwarf that sought to present the work of in house and freelance artists. A bit like 'Eavy Metal, only without the miniatures. What is interesting about this particular extract is the fact that Miller was experimenting with a faster, more fluid art style to help produce enough art for Rogue Trader. Which explains the raw, combat-exhausted feel of many of the black and whites within the famous rulebook. 

One of the things I love about Old School GW art is the fact that each artist had a recognisable style. Their work was also actual art, it said something, and did more for the viewer than simply advertise models.
I have vivid memories of images such as these. The frantic, fantastical combat really inspired my imagination. Beaky marines are also superior to all others. Its a fact!
The humorous 'fact files were also a lovely feature of Illuminations. Some of them were serious, other less so. Which category does Ian Miller's fit into?
This image could generate much debate. Are they chaos marines in an early form? Is that a proto-titan exploding in the background? Are they orks? Mutants? What do you think?

This article also contains one or two images prepared for Rogue Trader that never made it into the book itself. 

Can you spot them?

Its seems that after completion of the artwork for Rogue Trader. Ian Miller moved into the GW studio and started a six month stint creating illustrations for Realm of Chaos. SIX MONTHS! And, he was working alongside Tony Ackland and a wealth of freelancers. So much time lavished on one product.

It really shows, doesn't it!


Friday, 25 January 2013

New Rogue Trader Blog: Classic40k and some other bits and bobs...

Pete Lloyd has recently launched a new blog concerning Oldhammer 40,000! Its looking promising already, and he hopes to discuss both Rogue Trader and the (almost) equally loved 2nd Edition.

Here's the link...

Inspired by his old school orcs, I had a quick splash around with some Citadel Colour and started painting my second Rogue Trader model...

Here's a WIP

I have also received my first Rogue Trader Realm of Chaos models... Four chaos renegades with heavy weapons and a Slaanesh marine/champion. Obviously, they have gone straight in the stripping agent. As soon as they are cleaned up, I'll have them up here for your viewing pleasure. I intend to do a small force of Slaaneshi renegades to act as an antidote to the Khornate army I am currently painting for 3rd Edition Warhammer, so expect lots of titillating pink and bilious green to come.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dark Technologies: Index Astartes, Rare Miniatures, and Rick Priestley talks time...

Great cover to this issue, keen eyed readers will recognise it as the cover of Dungeon Quest (released that month, BTW) by Peter Jones. 
It has been sometime since I trod the ashen wastes of the 41st Millennium, distracted as I have been with the freedom of the highway and Dark Future (here ). Not that I have managed to accomplish very much, having only painted four of the vehicles, but the pressures of work and family life take a terrible toll on the modeller's life!

However, thanks to my new tablet (Kindle Fire HD) it is now possible for me to blog from, well, anywhere with a wireless connection. This has provided me with (technically) more time to blog (though the wife has just discovered it has LOVEFILM and pesters me to watch movies and old episodes of Downton Abbey) and hopefully update the three of them more equally.

Today, we will be exploring the musty (yet hallowed) pages of White Dwarf 97. An issue packed with goodness of an Old School nature. So without any further ado, let's get going...

An advert for the forthcoming expansion (though GW used the more 'grown-up' word of supplement back in those days) of The Book of the Astronomican. Expect a full retro review in the near future. 


I present for you a little slice of history, the first ever edition of Index Astartes, concerning (who else?) but the Ultra-Marines - yes, that is with the hyphen. Here we meet a radically different protrayal of the famous chapter, with a few key concepts already in place - such as Macragge, Calgar and the Tyranic Wars, though much else is different. The meatiest Rogue Trader article yet. The link is below.

WD97 Chapter Approved and Index Astartes

PS: I have added a short Chapter Approved article from this issuing concerning the 40k dateline.


Now this is a special release of Rogue Trader era miniatures. Why? Well, we have here some of the more rare models as well as some of the most popular, all designed by Kevin Adams. Starting with Gordal (bottom centre) with his red power armour, this orc appeared many times on the pages of White Dwarf, rule sets and even on the first series of Combat Cards. The ultimate early RT Ork command figure!  Other models of note are the two musicians, particularly Braglub who has only been seen in this ad! Anyone got him? The two standard bearers are also fiendishly rare. A fantastic set.


While we are on the subject of rare models... here are the zoats. You do see these models a lot on line, so perhaps the word rare should be replaced with the word expensive. Ugly great chunks of lead that they are, they have an old school charm. Early versions of the tyranids.


Finally, command figures for the space dwarfs (not yet squats) and some impressive hardware to boot! These are lovely models, don't you agree?


It won't be so long until the next post, this time...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Dark Technologies: Chapter Approved Arrives On A Jetbike!

The First Ever Chapter Approved! WD 96
 Long time no type! Such is the nature of the Warp I suppose, its malignant influence prevents the miniature enthusiast from doing what he does best - painting and gaming with classic Citadel miniatures, especially those from the Rogue Trader period.

That is exactly what FightingFantasist has gone and done. He's only gone and played 'The Battle at the Farm'  and gone and written an excellent battle report about it. And to top that, there is only a piece of scenery made out of a shower gel bottle! Old school through and through.

 Follow the link and check it out!


Issue 46 of White Dwarf saw the launch of a series of articles that many 40k longbeards remember with a fanatical fondness- I speak, of course, about Chapter Approved. Its concept was explained in typical style by Rick Priestley at the beginning of the article (read the pdf here) and to paraphrase the series was designed to 'explain loads of new stuff, fluff and miniatures relating to Rogue Trader'.

The first subject was a new Jet-Bike designed by Bob Naismith. The Mk14 'Bullock'- hmm? I wonder why they dropped that name, eh? The article goes on to provide background about the vehicle, including an amusing 'in game' test report by a pilot by the name of John Blank (who looks surprisingly like a certain head of art) as well as full rules and background.

Additionally, the Raven Wing are introduced. With an interesting piece of fluff that expands on the Horus Heresy (as it was known in 1987) and even incorporates the chapter of the Dark Angels into the fluff set up for the Crimson fists and New Rynn City. Major characters of the Dark Angels are also introduced and their bike configurations are given. Psyker rules are also expanded on.
The MK14 Mechanicus Armories Jet-Cycle 'Bullock'. Is it me, of does the Dark Angel on the back of the beast resemble Maniac from Mayhem? Obviously, Norwegian Black Metal was still big in the 41st Millennium. 

Further releases for the early Imperial Army range. 
Here we have more troopers for the, now extensive, range of Imperial Army troops. There are some lovely, and other not so lovely, sculpts here. My favourites? Trooper Jones with the ork head, Sniper Lang and Female Trooper Vaskez. I'm not a fan of the grey colour scheme though. I much prefer the expanded and developed Imperial Guard that came in later years. With many elements of this release shared with that range, it would be easy to paint these classics up in the black jacket and urban colour scheme design.

Jet-Cycle models were designed to fit the plastic space marine. The article also saw the arrival of the infamous Christmas marines! Sadly, no rules or fluff were provided for them!
Hmmm? I wonder if I can get hold of these Christmas Marines specially for Christmas 2012? I used to own them back in the day but foolishly flogged them for pittance.

You live and learn, I suppose!.



Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Dark Technologies: Early RT Box Sets, Mercenaries, Dreadnought Armour, Deodorant Stick Space Vehicles and Restoring Space Marines!

An advert for the ruleset and, of course, the now famous first two releases; the plastic Space Marines
and the metal  Space Ork raiders by Kev Adams. I have most of these models now...

Hello and welcome back to Dark Technologies, the history of Rogue Trader through its releases, publications and rules. Today we need to discuss the Rogue Trader material from White Dwarf 95. As many of you will know, this particular issue was a Warhammer heavy... Not only was there a flexi disk of Warhammer inspired music but there was also loads of Warhammer Third Edition release material on offer. Subsequently, Rogue Trader was a little squashed up in this issue and rather limited.


Bob Naismith and the Perry twins produced a wonderful range of space mercenaries here. There are obvious prototypes to what would later become 40k standards. We have squats, ratlings, power armoured troops and Imperial Guardesque soldiers. All the sculpts in this set, as I am sure that you will agree, are extremely well executed and quite varied. These models must have been a real pleasure to paint back in the day (as I am sure they will be today, if you can get your hands on them...) and one theme that I am keen to explore myself when painting up Rogue Trader minis is the bizarre 'future camo' scheme evident on several of these models. I particularly like the colour scheme on Mad Morris with the jet black comet tail effect.

Additionally, if you look to the top right hand side of the models you will see a character by the name of World Burner. Some time ago, in the Art of Rogue Trader, I wondered at who this chap was... and here he is for all of the world to see... Still, it doesn't give us much to go on does it?

Over all, a fantastic early release with some really nice sculpts.

Dreadnought Armour

Upon first glance, they look a little disappointing, don't they? That is certainly how I felt when I first saw these models a back in the mid 2000s. Compared to the massive modern plastic versions the design boys at Citadel have certainly moved on a long way from these early concepts. However, in more recent years these models have really begun to grow on me and I find them rather endearing now. They positively reek of 1980s design ethic though don't they? What is interesting is the number of weapon options that these first releases were intended to have, and its clear that even at this early stage it was possible to create the armour you wanted.

The colour schemes for the red and blue dreadnoughts lack depth, especially when compared with their armaments, so I would not be taking any inspiration from there. The first model is must better and I really like the way the Citadel painter has managed to achieve that oily metal look, very apt for a giant, robotic killer really! And the faces? They are just begging to be painted, aren't they?

'Eavy Metal Rogue Trader Modelling

Those of you that frequented the 1980s will no doubt recall the classic television series, The A-Team. Many of you probably watched it on early Saturday evenings as I did. BA was always my favourite character, not because of his tendency to 'pity the fool' or throw bag guys throw windows but his skill at building incredible vehicles and weapons from the tools left lying around in garages and lock ups. Rick Priestley shares many of these skills, but instead of fighting crime he produces wargames terrain from the junk that is left lying around.

In this famous article, he goes on to explain (with the help of a few other GW illumni) how to produce vehicles from (yes, that's correct) a deodorant stick and other bits and bobs. Classic '80s madness!

Here is the article in full... Rogue-Trader-Eavy-Metal

Restoring Space Marines

 They stripped down well didn't they? A few days in the dettol solution was enough to strip off the layers of paint that had engulfed these marines for too many years. Peeling the stuff off left a mess that must resemble a bulimic pick 'n' mix sweet fanatic's vomit after a particularly heavy stuffing session... These boys must have been painted, then repainted and then painted again. The white enamel was rather tricky to remove as the dettol left a white powder residue over the marines. I had to use a sharpened match stick to shift this. I didn't quite get it all off but I feel I did enough to result in a good finish.

The broken down parts of my test marine. The piece had been stuck together with cheap poly-cement so there was
some considerable scarring to the edges. Strangely, the model was made up of pieces of two different coloured plastic.
 Using superglue, I messed around with the pieces until I produced a finished piece that I was happy with. A nice secure bond ensures that there will be no accidents during gaming. What do readers think of the pose? Once I was sure the marine was nice and dry I added a layer of sand to the base.

A front shot of the rebuilt marine. The green and blue could be a colour scheme on its own!

Review shot of the rebuilt marine. Here the scarring caused by poor application of poly-cement is obvious. I used putty and a good bit of filling to flatten this out.

Undercoated in black you would never know that this brother marine was once covered by 50 shades of grey!

Rear view shot. Now all I have to choose a chapter!

With the marine cleaned, built and undercoated I was ready to think about his adversary. I selected a random ork trooper from the Space Orks set with the intention of painting them both to a good standard at the same time. This way, I'd gradually build up two forces; marine and orks.

Ork with shooter. He obviously doesn't like Cadbury's...

He's not going to win rear of the year, is he...

Off to the paint pots then...


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Dark Technologies: A Skirmish on Rynn's World

Advert for Rogue Trader taken from White Dwarf 94. Note: before Chapter Approved reared its sci-fi styled head, the powers that were toyed with 'Imperium Approved'.

Welcome back to Dark Technologies, the history of Rogue Trader told through the products, articles and miniatures released by GW in the late 80s. Things are certainly moving on... We remain with WD94 and will be discussing the second scenario published for Rogue Trader (the first being the rather lamely titled, the Battle at the Farm, in the Rogue Trader rulebook) called 'A Skirmish on Rynn's World', authored by the mega-talented Rick 'I am largely responsible for modern wargaming' Priestley. 

This is a title that should be familiar with modern 40k audiences. Rynn's World has an iconic place in 40k history, with novels and fluff aplenty published about it. Subsequently, we needn't discuss the background to the scenario too much. A brief overview will be sufficient, I think!

The battle that this scenario describes is that of Jadeberry Hill. Not very GiRm DaRk is it? Jadeberry Hill sounds a bit like a place out of a girly children's programme and not a violent, futuristic table-top wargame. Still, it fits in with the Battle at the Farm for being suitably '80s naff. The article continues to explain that Rynn's World is part of the 'Rynnstar' system located near to the Orkish Empire of Charadon. This area of space is ruled by one Arch Arsonist by the name of Snagrod. This vicious and sadistic leader has plotted to invade the planet, despite the presence of the Crimson Fist Chapter of the Space Marines, and launched his invasion ten days previously. Incredibly, a one in a billion chance saw the shields protecting the Space Marine's base malfunction just as an enormous rocket crashed into it; wiping out most of the Chapter. Only the group at the Farm and one seconded to the Defence Force of New Rynn City guard are left alive... Suitably stirring stuff...

The rest of the article contains the GM's notes. Remember, at this time Rogue Trader was intended to be a skirmish game with a heavy roleplay element. The thought that people would go on to play massive pitched battles had not yet fully developed. The idea was that you would only need a few models to play Rogue Trader, after all, at this time Warhammer was king of the castle and Citadel were shifting over a million metal models for that particular game a month.

I won't elaborate on the GM's notes, I'll leave you to read them yourselves (just in case you're planning on running this scenario with some friends and don't want to be 'in the know' so to speak) but I can say that they cover a few interesting tactical problems for both the Orks and the Space Marine player. Just reading them gets me all excited for the tactical side of games like this instead of just 'Cleanse and Burn' tediousness. One thing that is interesting are the notes on the set up of the playing area. The name of the famous 'Pakomac' River is misspelt as 'Pakamac' on several occasions in the text and it makes you wonder with hindsight if this was the river's original name. If so, I can see why it was changed; 'Pakamac' sounds like a raincoat you'd screw up in a sack and take to a music festival, doesn't it? Again, not very GrIm DaRk is it?

There are a few notes that give suggestions about how to incorporate this game as sequel to 'The Battle at the Farm' from the Rogue Trader rulebook, as well as giving a few suggestions about how to create further games. They really is quite a lot of scope here for some excellent campaigning with a little effort.

Next up, we are given an interesting summary of the all the weapons and equipment used in the game, including some more typos (was this article produced in a rush?) and an intriguing mistake where the word '***piccy' appears where it should say 'Chainsword'. This is really quite useful to photocopy if you fancied a quick game as it has all the details needed to play any game of what I like to call 'Early Rogue Trader'.

Two further pages remain in the article and these go on to describe the forces used in the engagement. Looking at the detail, I have most of the models required to play this scenario, though some missile launchers are still required for the Space Marines and some Heavy Bolters for the Orks, nothing eBay couldn't remedy though.

Overall, a nice little article and I have included a link to a pdf copy of the scenario at the bottom of this post if you are interested in a little further reading.

Moving on, and there is a nice little colour page detailing some Rogue Trader releases for that month. Here we see for the first time some of the Space Elves (not yet Eldar) and the Space Dwarfs (not yet Squats). Both sets, I am sure that you agree, are instant classics. The Eldar at this point have that lovely '80s punky feel and sculpted by the genius of Jes Goodwin are absolute musts for any serious collector. The paint schemes too are suitably wild and alien and I just love the names that they are given... Kern Proudbrow anyone?

The Space Dwarf release is more substantial. Twenty models to the Eldar's (or should we call them Space Elves?) six. I love their design (I too never found GW's 'excuse' for dropping them in any way satisfactory) in a wonderfully '80s biker way (which many of the GW staff were at the time I am lead to believe...). The colour scheme is also fantastic; the green and red and blue working perfectly to create a gritty, almost Vietnam vet looking force of troops that even though are set in a sci fi universe are entirely believable. The names too are amusing, all puns or half-puns on famous guns. I am sure that you will agree that this set is an absolute must for any fan of Citadel miniatures.

Bet Erny has got the lot in that fabled lock up of his too...

Anyway, here is the link to Skirmish on Rynn's World.