Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chaos Goblin Mutants part I

The C27 Chaos Goblin Mutants were sculpted for Citadel by Alan and Michael Perry in 1984.  They are ten solid-base models, each with a splendid sense of character. Sadly, it's an underappreciated range -- perhaps owing to the fact that they weren't originally designed for Warhammer at all, but rather for role-playing games. That's certainly what the advert for them in the Second Citadel Compendium (1984) suggests:
"Mutated monstrosities of vile appearance, should be enough to surprise even the most zoologically aware adventurers."
And scholars of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay know that there's a three-legged mutant goblin in a circus freak-show ("Doctor Malthusius' Zoocopeia")in Shadows over Bogenhafen (1987). In fact, this scrawny and unfortunate gobbo plays an important part in kicking off the action when he makes a break for freedom. After that, Mutant goblins did make a couple sneaky appearances in Warhammer Fantasy Battle. We see a two-headed fellow getting trepanned on the cover of the Orange Bible, i.e. Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd edition (1987):

Notwithstanding this star-billing, Mutant Goblins barely made it into the game itself. They snuck into Warhammer Armies (1988), but only as an afterthought in the Chaos Ally Contingent. And after that, they sunk from the rules. 

I guess they really are "scorned outcasts", as per the description in the box above. Well, I like my outcasts scorned, my creatures unwholesome and my whims heeded. Let's take a look at these blighters!

Spiky Shaman, Citadel C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant, sculpted by the Perry Bros, 1984

First up is the C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant "Spiky Shaman". Undoubtedly, it was this evil-eyed albino that first brought the Chaos taint on his goblin tribe. Because he craved personal power (or perhaps because his clan was seen by the neighbouring orc tribes as a delicacy), he turned to worshiping the Ruinous Powers. They next thing you know, there are spikes growing out of your back and people start calling you "sir".

Twins, Citadel C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant, sculpted by the Perry Bros, 1984

Above we see "Twins". I tried to give each of his faces a distinct personality. To me, they look a little like Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau from the Odd Couple (1968).

Mace-tail, Citadel C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant, sculpted by the Perry Bros, 1984

Here is "Mace-tail". His friends call him that because he has a mace for a tail. Goblins are very literal minded folks. I like this model's tusk like teeth. It's details like that that make this range so much fun.

Horns, Citadel C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant, sculpted by the Perry Bros, 1984

Above is "Horns". I'm no great shakes at free-hand painting, but I did enjoy giving him and his friends a simple chaos symbol ("The Arrows of Chaos"). This particular miniature was beginning to get some lead-rot when I painted him, giving the final product a pebbly-texture. I hope he doesn't decay further now that he's safely entombed in a few layers of acrylic and varnish.

Three Eyes, Citadel C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant, sculpted by the Perry Bros, 1984

And our final miniature today is one of my favourites, "Three-Eyes". Besides the third eye, I love the skull-like face that the Perrys gave him -- no to mention his skulking demeanour.

Well, I hope this was enough to surprise even the most zoologically aware adventurers. Next week we'll look at the last five miniatures in the range. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the work of other painters who have tackled these mutants, like JiNNai and Goblin Lee and Don Hans.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Emperor Palpatine, Ahsoka and Maul

Here are my painted versions of the latest three miniatures released for Star Wars Imperial Assault: Emperor Palpatine, Ahsoka Tano and Maul. 

I can feel my enthusiasm for Imperial Assault dying a little bit more each day. When it first came out in 2014, I couldn't have been more excited. Star Wars was finally getting the deluxe war-game treatment: good sculpting, innovative rules, and the support of a tried-and-true gaming company in Fantasy Flight Games. I invested a lot of time, energy and love into collecting, painting and converting the miniatures.

It quickly became evident that the situation wasn't perfect. The miniatures were made out of cheaper, bendier plastic. The game play focused on unknown Rebel characters rather than the beloved heroes from the movies or TV shows. And new figures arrived at a glacial pace, leaving lots of holes in the cast (In fact, because Imperial Assault coincides with a raft of new movies and TV shows, charismatic new characters appear in the Star Wars universe much faster than the sculptors sculpt. As a result, with every year that goes by, there's a bigger deficit of miniatures. It reminds me of Tristram Shandy, who wrote his autobiography at a slower rate than he lived his life, so that the longer he lived, the further behind he lagged in his writing).

Underlying all of these problems is Fantasy Flight Games' rigid approach to gaming. They keep each miniature closely bonded to the rules, with character specific cards and counters. Miniature development is slow because the miniatures are subordinate to games development. 

But, even with these downsides, Imperial Assault seemed worth the investment -- especially since it was the only game in town if you wanted to paint a lot of Star Wars miniatures. But Fantasy Flight Games has just continued to disappoint me, and now I feel pretty listless about the whole thing. The quality of miniature became inconsistent. And the slow pace of new releases stuttered to almost nothing in the past year. For instance, the only character from the original trilogy released in 2017 was Emperor Palpatine.

And then Fantasy Flight Games announced that they were producing a new Star Wars war-game with better quality miniatures. Star Wars Legion should have been excellent news. Thirty years ago, Games Workshop showed how much fun it can be when a company releases many different games set in the same general universe. The hobbyist's opportunities for creativity multiply as he or she re-purposes, converts and assembles miniatures in various combinations. Mutually complementary games means more miniatures, more variety, and more reward for the miniature painter (who can paint one miniature and then use it in two, three, or four games). And so, at first, I thought that Star Wars Legions was the answer to many of the problems be-deviling Imperial Assault.

Nope. Fantasy Flight Games decided that they would make Legions in a slightly different scale than Imperial Assault. They are just different enough that setting miniatures from the two games together looks awkward and silly. The message was clear: There is only one way to enjoy our products: in silos. 

That, of course, is their prerogative. But that's where I check out. I like this hobby because painting gives me a sense of freedom and plenitude. I feel like a rich man when I paint a Skaven and can then use him for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Advanced Heroquest  and Mordheim (not to mention D&D, Descent, Frostgrave or any number of generic fantasy games). That a gaming company would do its best to foil that sort of fun seems sad. More to be pitied than scorned.

So I just don't know what more I'll paint in the Imperial Assault range. I guess I'll just play it by ear. But, to quote Catullus, my love for the game has cacked it, uelut pratiultimi flos, praetereunte postquam tactus aratro est.

Emperor Palpatine, painted miniature sculpted by Niklas Norman, 2017

For all my whinging, I did enjoy painting Palpatine. I love his face, with its bluish pancake make-up, red-rimmed eyes and yellow teeth. Jeepers, the man rules an entire galactic empire but can't find a dentist. The sculptor, Niklas Norman, created an ambiguous expression that a painter can pull into a grimace or smile. I went for the smile. I always thought that Palpatine was a hundred times creepier when he looked happy.

Ahsoka Tano, painted miniature sculpted by Adam Martin, 2017

Above we have Ahsoka Tano, the erstwhile Jedi from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. I'm pleased that the sculptor, Adam Martin, opted to give her more realistic features, rather than giving her a cartoon-like proportions that mirror her appearance on the animated shows (In contradistinction, see the miniature for Hera Syndulla -- her sculptor, Gabriel Comin, made her look much too much like an animated cartoon).

Ahsoka Tano, painted miniature sculpted by Adam Martin, 2017

In general, Ahsoka is a lovely miniature, with a dynamic pose and good detail. I did, however, have to replace her bendy-lightsabers with copper wire.

Maul, painted miniature sculpted by Cory DeVore, 2017

Above is the miniature for "Maul, Seeker of Vengeance". He's sculpted by Cory DeVore, which means that each of the three miniatures in this post had different sculptors. There are so many different sculptors in Imperial Assault that there's no consistency and you never know what you're going to get. And what we got here is an awkward and unimpressive pose: bum thrust out, arms extended, torso tilted. Get this man a chiropractor. I honestly don't know how you screw up Darth Maul, who's such a naturally terrifying figure... but somehow they managed to do it.

Oh Imperial Assault, you break my heart.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Undead Cavalry for Vengeance of the Lichemaster part 2

The skeletal horseman produced by Citadel in 1986 are badass miniatures. As my final installment of my tour through The Vengeance of the Lichemaster, here are the final five Undead Cavalry that I painted for the army of the Lichemaster himself, Heinrich Kemler (the first five death riders are here).

Dead dudes riding horses is a an old and scary image in European folklore. For example, Germany, Scandinavia and Britain have all given us variations on the legend of the "Wild Hunt", a collection of ghostly horseman that may be led by the Devil, a dead king or a god like Odin. A spectral hunt like this is mentioned as an ill-omen in medieval English manuscript, the Peterborough Chronicle (1122-1154):
...several persons [in 1127] saw and heard many huntsmen hunting. The hunters were swarthy, and huge, and ugly; and their hounds were all black, and wide-eyed, and ugly. And they rode on black horses, and black he-goats. This was seen in the very deer-park in the town of Peterborough, and in all the woods from the same town as far as Stamford. (Laud Misc. 636, Bodleian)
Other ghost riders include Celtic headless horsemen, the Dutch Bokkenrijder, and fairy riders like the Green Knight. But I think the well-spring for the image of a sinister skeleton riding a horse is the Bible. To be more specific, it's the Book of Revelation, where John of Patmos describes Death incarnate as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:  
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8, KJV)
This brief description gave way to a host of medieval and renaissance art imagining Death as a skeletal rider. Here are three choice examples:

From left to right we have details from Book of Hours, Yates Thompson 6 MS, Naples, 1477; Book of Hours, Comites Latentes 54 MS, Florence, 1470-1480; and The Apocalypse Tapestry, Paris, 1377–1382.

Deathly riders passed from folklore and art, and into the world of modern fantasy literature with such works as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (1954). There we get two different flavours of undead cavalry. On the one hand, you have the iconic Black Riders slouching and hooded on their evil steeds:
Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible. (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 3)
And on the other hand, you have the Dead Men of Dunharrow: this is the ghostly host of ancient oathbreakers that Aragorn summons to his aid for the War of the Last Alliance. Tolkien is too good a writer to give us too much of a description of these ghosts, instead leaving them to the reader's imagination. All we really get is Legolas's statement as he emerges from the tombs beneath the White Mountains:
'The Dead are following,’ said Legolas. ‘I see shapes of Men and of horses, and pale banners like shreds of cloud, and spears like winter-thickets on a misty night. The Dead are following.’ (The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 2)
It seems to me that both the Dead Men of Dunharrow and the Black Riders owe a lot to the Wild Hunt. With respect to the Dead Men of Dunharrow, the resemblances include the fact that the Wild Hunt is sometimes said to be led by a great King, like King Arthur or Fredrick Barbarossa; and in other versions of the story, it is populated by wrongdoers or criminals who are cursed by their crime to ride without rest. 

The connection between the Wild Hunt and the Black Riders is also pretty clear: sinister horsemen who hunt across the wild places of the earth in search of some mysterious game. In fact, the description of the black hunstmen in the Peterborough Chronicle that I cited before seems like an inspiration for the Black Riders (except that the Nazgul don't ride goats). In any case, I think it's interesting that Tolkien seems to have been influenced by the myth of the Wild Hunt, but used it to create two totally different species of deathly horseman.

Well, on to the miniatures!

While I mainly used the Citadel C21 range of Undead Cavalry for the Lichemaster's forces, I also wanted an excuse to paint some of the gorgeous miniatures for Citadel's 1980's Lord of the Rings range. 

Above is the mounted "Dead Man of Dunharrow" (Citadel ME72, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1985). Although it hard to find precise information about who sculpted Citadel's 1980's Lord of the Rings range, I'm confident in attributing this one to Bob Naismith. First, it looks like a Naismith, and second, the Citadel Journal Spring 86 mentions that Naismith created the Middle Earth cavalry (and, I suspect, sculpted most of the other miniatures in the range too). In any case, this is a fantastic sculpt. I love the slouching rider and the way he seems to lean on his spear like an old man gripping a staff.

Here's the "Black Rider" (Citadel ME64, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1985). Once again, Naismith (Citadel's "most outrageously Scottish designer") has nailed it. Don't you love the way the dagger is held aloft in an invisible hand?

Next comes the alternate "Black Rider" (Citadel ME64, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1985). This model has a spectacular sense of speed. I tried to accentuate this galloping sensation by adding in a set of reigns (which I modelled from the thin metallic wire that you find on some bottles of Rioja - as if i needed another excuse to drink more Rioja.) 

The above model goes by two names depending on which advert you examine: "Elfcleaver" or "Serratus the Reaper" (Citadel C21 Undead Cavalry, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986). He's another fascinating model - I love the way he leans on one side of the horse, as if his rotting corpus can barely keep itself in the saddle. For reasons that are still not clear to me, I gave his robe a saucy striped pattern.

And finally, we have "Leopold the Exhumed" 
(Citadel C21 Undead Cavalry, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1987). This model features another one of Naismith's fantastic skeletal horses - this one has ox-like characteristics like a heavy skull and stubby horns.

And here are all 10 models arraigned for battle...

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Undead Cavalry for Vengeance of the Lichemaster part 1

Three armies face off at the monastery of La Maisontaal in Vengeance of the Lichemaster (1986). We've already looked at the monks of Abbot Bagrian and the Skaven warband of Gnawdoom. The third army and last force belongs to the Lichemaster himself, Heinrich Kemler. In almost every respect, army of this powerful necromancer is identical to the one that he fielded in the Battle of Frugelhofen (which is the climatic battle that ended Terror of the Lichemaster, which precedes Vengeance of the Lichemaster). Kemler's line of battle includes:

There is, however, one important addition to Kemler's roster. It's not a unit or a hero, or even a new magic weapon. It is a spell. As the undead Lichemaster slays the hapless residents of the Frugelhorn Valley, he recuperates the vast magic powers that he once possessed as a living mage. Just in time for the Battle of La Maisontaal, he regains mastery of the spell Summon Undead. But what's more, there is a new modification to this spell. For the first time in 2nd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Summon Undead can be used to conjure up undead cavalry. This will let Kemler raise some much needed mobility for his army of slow moving zombies.

The Citadel Journal Spring 86, the same magazine that published Vengeance of the Lichemaster and the modification to Summon Undead, also introduced a new line of Undead Cavalry miniatures sculpted by Bob Naismith. HOW CONVENIENT!

Well, this week and next week, let's take a look at some of the miniatures I painted for the Lichemaster's stable of death riders...

Above is "Goreprow" riding on "Bones" (C21 Undead Cavalry, Citadel, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986). He's the skeleton featured on the advert for Vengeance of the Lichemaster in the Citadel Spring Journal 86. This is just a great miniature. I love the way his robes seem to trail off into smoke or spectral ectoplasm. You can see that I tried to accentuate this effect with a judicious use of bright green paint.

Next is "Doomsmile" (C21 Undead Cavalry, Citadel, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986). When the Lichemaster was handing out scary names to his henchmen, Doomsmile was near the back of the line. Like "Goreprow" he's riding an excellent skeletal horse. At the time, the slender nature of these steeds required some significant technical advances pioneered by Naismith (as detailed in the introduction to the C21 range).

Here's my slightly converted version of "Doomsmile" (C21 Undead Cavalry, Citadel, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986) riding on the steed "Lizardskin". For those of you who care about these things, he's bearing a standard that reads "Out of the Tomb".

Above is "Death Dart" (C21 Undead Cavalry, Citadel, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986). I love the sense of movement in his horse. He really does seem to be darting forward.

And finally, my favourite is "Deathheart" (C21 Undead Cavalry, Citadel, sculpted by Bob Naismith, 1986). For me this miniature really captures the essential creepiness of this range: the slouching, plodding determination of both horse and rider. I'm happy with the way that the horse's many wounds turned out - I feel like he was well picked over by the ravens before being raised up to bear Deathheart. 

Thanks for looking. Next week we'll finish off Vengeance of the Lichemaster by looking at the last four skeleton cavalry in Kemler's force.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: the Skaven Warband

Behold the Skaven warband of the Grey Seer Gnawdoom, one of the principle antagonists in the classic Warhammer scenario Vengeance of the Lichemaster. Regular readers will know that I'm methodically (i.e. slowly) profiling all the Citadel miniatures needed to recreate this wonderful battle.

I painted most of these Skaven models years ago in order to populate my copy of Advanced Heroquest. As a result, I'm not sure I love all my work. Even now I'm niggled by the suspicion that I've never really "gotten" how to paint the chaos ratmen. I've bought used Skaven on eBay that were clearly painted in speed mode, with rapid and dramatic drybrushing -- and yet these fast and dirty versions seemed to capture more of the old-timey Skaven essence than my time-consuming and painstaking style. Oh well - sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.

Well, without further ado, here they are:

"Skreth the Ironclad" (Citadel C47 Skaven, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1987)

Above is "Skreth the Ironclad" (C47 Skaven, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1987). This is one of my all time favourite Skaven sculpts. I love his chainmail face-mask, and long, jezzail-style rifle.

"Goar Headwrecker" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Here we have "Goar Headwrecker" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986). Even though this is only a rank-and-file model, you can see all of Goodwin's talents on full display: a dynamic and almost geometrical pose, fascinating details and a general sense of ratty menace.

"Goar Headwrecker" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986) conversion

This is my simple conversion of "Goar Headwrecker" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986), substituting a cleaver for the original's spiked mace.

"Ashish the Black" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Above is one of the original gutter-runners, "Ashish the Black" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986). His name is a not-so-veiled reference to the hashishi, the Islamic cult that gave us the word assassin. 

"Carver" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Here is "Carver" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986).

"Nightrunner" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Another classic assassin is "Nightrunner" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986). Again, I love how Goodwin composed these models. Their geometry seems to evoke a swastika or throwing star -- either way, it reflects the nasty and deadly nature of the Skaven.

"Spyker" (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1987)

This is "Spyker" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1987).

"Spyne Blightmaster" Plague Monk (Citadel C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Finally, we have the original Plague Monk, "Spyne Blightmaster" (C47 Skaven, Jes Goodwin, 1986). This model is a superb distillation of Goodwin's creative powers. I just love the way the cowl covers his eyes (does he have eyes?), not to mention the strange spines growing from his back. Well, we already know the Skaven have some pretty unsavoury religious practices.

Here's another shot of the whole lot marching out for battle with the Warlord Throt the Unclean at their head. 

Thanks for looking! Next week we'll be turning to the undead cavalry of the Lichemaster Heinrich Kemmler.

Friday, December 29, 2017

How many miniatures did you paint this year?

I tried to be disciplined this year and keep track of how many miniatures I painted over the course of 2017. After just completing the reckoning, I find the grand total is 220 miniatures. This result astounded me because I thought my powers were ebbing. My eyes are not as strong as they were (I think I've mentioned before that I'm now using reading glasses when I paint), and my ability to concentrate on painting for long, unbroken periods is much decreased. I used to be able to do a three hour session standing on my head, but now if I do a solid 75 minutes at a time I'm happy with myself.

I'm also in a perpetual feud with my brushes, with 2017 being an especially acrimonious year. Do any of you other painters out there have a love/hate relationship with your brushes? I use Winsor & Newton's Miniature Series 7, which are not cheap and can only be found in one nearby store (and even then they are only in stock about 1/3 of the time). When I break out a new brush, there's at least a 50% chance that within a couple hours I'll find that it's just got the wrong personality for me, and I will unceremoniously dump it. I'm neurotically fussy about the tip -- it has to have the breadth to hold a large quantity of paint, a fine point to execute detail, and a plump midsection so that it can deliver a solid line when I exert an added lick of pressure. 

And even if I do find the right brush, I start to abuse it. For instance, I often mix paint with the brush, smooshing the bristles. Any experienced painter will say this is a big no-no. But I do it anyway. Who has time to fiddle around with toothpicks every time your need to blend colours on the fly? And so as my brushes wear and age, their ability to apply paint gets more and more eccentric. And I grow resentful. This all got especially bad in 2017, when I clung for much too long to my old, mistreated brushes rather than going through the rigmarole of breaking in new ones. I despised those scraggly wrecks, but wouldn't let them go. It's like the old poem by Catullus: I love and I hate. Why do I bother, you ask? I'm not sure. But I feel it and I'm tortured. 

Well, in the autumn I finally got new brushes, threw most of them away after a couple hours and kept the best of a bad lot. And I still hate 'em, the limp bastards. It's all pathetic and dysfunctional. And yet, together, my brushes and I still managed to pump out 220 miniatures.

So what did I paint in 2017? Here's the detailed breakdown:

31 Star Wars Imperial Assault miniatures from Jabba's Realm (Fantasy Flight Games)

2 Desert Skiffs for Star Wars Imperial Assault

1 Cthulhu investigator (Copplestone Castings)

42 Zombies (Gripping Beast, sculpted by Bob Naismith)

16 Zombies for Black Plague (Cool Mini or Not)

20 Zombie Wolves for Black Plague Wulfsburg (Cool Mini or Not)

4 Zombie Abominations for Black Plague (Cool Mini or Not)

18 Oldhammer Monks/Clerics for Vengeance of the Lichemaster (Citadel)

5 Oldhammer Villagers (Citadel)

4 Oldhammer Orc Warriors (Citadel)

10 Oldhammer Mutant Goblins (Citadel)

8 Oldhammer Citadel Goblins (Citadel)

10 Oldhammer Undead Cavalry 

3 Oldhammer Skaven heroes 

1 Oldhammer Wyvern with Rider 

1 Oldhammer Giant 

1 Oldhammer Ringwraith on Foot 

10 Oldhammer Hobhounds (Citadel)

5 Characters models for Fallout (Fantasy Flight Games)

3 Cthuloid Horrors for Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games)

25 Orcs from Harboth's Black Mountain Boys (Citadel)

Although this may sound like a lot, my tally involves a lot of quick line-painting, like the zombies, the Black Mountain Boys and the hobounds. The figures I'm most proud of, I think, are the character models for Vengeance of the Lichemaster. I am also extremely happy that I finally got around to painting the Chaos Mutant Goblins from the 1980's. I've had them primed for years and could never find the right time to paint them. Now their spirits can no longer accuse me of neglect. 

So what about your? How many miniatures did you paint in 2017? Are you happy with your output? Do you loathe your brushes? 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: Gnawdoom and his Skaven

Gnawdoom the Grey Seer and Throt the Unclean are the two heroes who lead the Skaven forces in the scenario Vengeance of the Lichemaster (1986). They're assisted by two champions, Flench Packlord and Iron Wielder, plus a Skaven Flamerthrower Crew. Today I've got painted versions of all these miniatures.

The brief for the Skaven player in Vengeance of the Lichemaster tells the story from the ratmen's perspective. This background is worth quoting at length because it reveals some very special about the religious practices of the Skaven:
Last month, during the annual Great Feast of the Horned Rat, an enemy entered the city of Skavenblight, wormed his way into the ceremony itself and, during the sacred dedication to the Horned Rat, stole the Awesome Black Ark. Bounding onto the dais before the shimmering apparition of the Chaos God, a magically disguised figure was seen to leap towards the casket containing the Ark, at which moment the intruder and the Ark both vanished into thin air. The Skaven were momentarily frozen with astonishment as well as suffering the indignity of being caught looking the other way whilst bent double and baring their hairy buttocks (the traditional salutation to the Horned Rat at this time)...  
[Rick Priestly, Citadel Spring Journal 86, page 61]
The Skaven's anal salute carries an echo of the osculum infame or "shameful kiss" that witches were supposed to bestow on the Devil's fundament during their Black Masses. As one accused witch, Isobel Gowdie of Auldearne said in 1662, "Sometym he [the devil] vold be lyk...a dowg, and he vold hold wp his taill wntill we wold kiss his arce." For the Skaven, however, the situation is reversed, and they bare their buttocks to the apparition of their Lord. Unclear whether, in return, the Horned Rat gives them each a smootch.

 Woodcut from Guazzo's Compendium Maleficarum (1608)

In any case, the thief who caught the Skaven with their pants down is, of course, the wizard Bagrian. The brief goes on to describe how the Skaven player controls one of the many search parties sent out to recover the Black Ark. Gnawdoom has used his magical orb, the Seerstone, to track Bagrian to the monastery of La Maisontaal. The table is set for a grand battle...

Gnawdoom, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Above is Gnawdoom the Grey Seer from Citadel's C47 Skaven range, sculpted by Jes Goodwin in 1986. I painted him to resemble the illustration by John Blanche on the cover of The Citadel Journal Spring 86.

 I particularly enjoyed painting his grotty robe...

I love Goodwin's notion that white Skaven have a special place of prominence. As he wrote in his article introducing the Skaven: "The Grey Seers are extremely important and influential Skaven and would only rarely involve themselves in anything other than the most important conflict." Gnawdoom is distinguished by the fact that he carries the glowing Seerstone, which glows brighter as it approaches the Black Ark of the Covenant. He also carries a small triangular "key" of warpstone, which is the only way to open the Ark and activate it's awesome powers.

Throt the Unclean, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Above is the second in command of the Skaven war-party: Throt the Unclean (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). Throt is a mutant with three arms and "a warpstone charm replacing one of his beady red eyes... this glows bright scarlet in the dark and whilst Throt is amongst the bloodlust of combat." I love his man catcher -- I can just imagine Throt snaring an opponent with this pole-arm and than using the knife in his third hand to finish the unfortunate victim.

Flench Packlord, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Here is Flench Packlord (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). Flench is the first of the two Skaven champions.

Malis Manwrack, Skaven C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

And above is the Skaven champion called Iron Wielder in Vengeance, or Malis Manwrack in the Citadel catalogues (C47 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). He's one of the classic Skaven leaders and is a staple in nearly every Skaven army from the 1980's.

Skaven Warpfire Thrower, Skaven C22 C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Finally, we have the Skaven Warpfire Thrower Team that accompanies Gnawdoom on his mission. The Citadel Journal gives the name of these two incendiaries as Scathe the Tainted and Flem (C22 and C27 sculpted by Jes Goodwin, 1986). There's a lot of detail packed into these two miniatures.

Skaven Warpfire Team, Skaven C22 C47 (Citadel, Jes Goodwin, 1986)

Thanks for dropping by! Next week we'll look at the rank-and-file in Gnawdoom's Skaven warband.