Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Rogue Trader Adventurers: Part 5... Stargrave

I've always loved Rogue Trader, but the impetus for my recent push to paint all of Citadel's RT601 Adventurers was the publication of Joseph McCullogh's 
Stargrave (Osprey, 2021).

I see Stargrave as the true heir to Rogue TraderIn some ways, the two games couldn't be more different. Rick Priestly's masterpiece from the '80's is dense as a Bible, with hundreds of illustrations, a sprawling backstory, and detailed rules governing everything from orbital lasers to cavalry charges. Stargrave is smaller, devoid of flavor text, and much more targeted: it provides rules for running a crew of 10 interstellar freebooters, and that's it.

A game of Stargrave
Beyond the cosmetic differences, the similarities run deep. Both are attempts to re-implement fantasy rules into a sci-fi setting: Rogue Trader from Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and Stargrave from Frostgrave. The common origin in fantasy gives the games an aura of whimsical space opera, even though both introduce dark doses of apocalypticism to create a complex mix (Stargrave's tagline is "Science Fiction Wargames in the Ravaged Galaxy" while 40K's is "There is only WAR"). 

Most importantly, Stargrave and Rogue Trader incorporate elements of roleplaying. In Rogue Trader, it comes through the game master, who runs a scenario with hidden information, elaborate subplots, and campaign continuity. In Stargrave, the captain of your crew becomes your player character and develops better abilities from session to session. In both games, the feeling of roleplaying puts a special emphasis on character -- especially characterful miniatures. In that sense, it's no surprise that the same sculptor, Mark Copplestone, provided miniatures both for Stargrave and for the RT601 Adventurers.

Well, let's see the last seven miniatures in the RT601 range!

*    *    *    *    *

First is RT601 "Pilot Rav". If I had to guess, I'd say this was a Copplestone design, because of the clean lines, open face, and aroma of pulp adventure.

Second is the RT601 "Space Pirate", later renamed "Lan Duval". 

The curious thing about the above miniature is his startling resemblance to a design from the same period by Trish Morrison, the Talisman Timescape "Space Pirate" (pictured below on the left). Citadel is well-known for basing two or more sibling miniatures on one prototype (i.e. Kylla Condotti and No Face Fargo) where the basic pose is the same but identifying traits are switched out (usually the face and the weapon). However, in this situation, the Space Pirates share a similar face, a similar weapon, and similar outfits, although all the minor details are different. Maybe Aly Morrison and Trish Morrison decided to each sculpt the same fellow in an excess of marital bliss.

Next we have the RT601 "Cyborg".

The above miniature also bears a striking resemblance to the Talisman Timescape "Cyborg" by Trish Morrison (below on the left). Once again, the identifying traits are all quite similar, but the details and the poses differ. It just goes to show that when Rogue Trader first came out, it was not so different from a zany game like Talisman Timescape to prevent the miniatures from being mutually compatible.

Below is the RT601 "Bandit". Methinks he bears some relationship to the Talisman Timescape "Archaeologist".

This is the RT601 "Ship's Officer". On his slotta-tab is carved the alternative name "Astronaut". It will no longer surprise you to learn that he shares many traits with the Talisman Timescape "Astronaut" by Trish Morrison.

Behold the RT601 "Imperial Assassin". She was the last of this range to come into my collection. I thought she'd never arrive. All Praise to the Emperor - the Emperor Provides!

And finally, the last miniature in the RT601 range is the "Mad Punk". I saved her for last because I think she's my favourite paintjob of the lot: a nice, clean lick of paint.

Many thanks for staying with me over this long series of posts!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Rogue Trader Adventurers: Part 4... The Art of Bob Naismith


Scum Space Eunuch RT601 Adventurers Bob Naismith painted miniature

The 32 miniatures in the RT601 Adventurers range for Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader were sculpted by four top-notch artists: Aly Morrison, Mark Copplestone, Jes Goodwin, and Bob Naismith. We have those names only because they were all included in the page devoted for this range in the 1988 Catalogue (where the range was re-designated as 4004 Adventurers).

Artist Bob Naismith
Bob Naismith was the old-hand of the bunch, having started working at Citadel in 1981 and having hundreds of sculpts under his belt. We know (thanks to an interview done by Axiom at Magpie and Old Lead) which six models in the RT601 range that Naismith carved: the Imperial Scout, the Ex-Tech, the Scum (aka Space Eunuch), Astropath Koth, the Hero, and the Hive Worlder. After that, it becomes foggy on who sculpted whom. I'd bet good money that Aly Morrison sculpted the Pirate Captain because he's so damn ugly. But my powers of guesswork fade after that.

If any of you have any information or insight into which sculptor is responsible for a given miniature in the RT601 range, please let me know in the comments.

It strikes me as a true shame when we can't assign a model to the responsible artist. If you take miniature sculpting seriously as an art form (and I do), proper attribution is essential. How else can we discuss a particular sculptor's style, evolution, and influences?

In any case, for today's post, let's look at Naismith's six models in the range. As a group, they showcase his talent for varied poses and his imaginative use of details to tell a story about the miniature.

*    *    *    *    *

First comes my personal favourite, the RT601 "Scum". This miniature is also known as the "Space Eunuch" because that is the name carved on his slotta-base tab. And a Space Eunuch he is, what with his bare bum cheeks, bald head, and leather boots. I tried to enhance the effect by giving him Marie Antoinette facepaint, including heart-shaped lipstick and a beauty-spot.

Scum Space Eunuch RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Second is "Astropath Korm". Like every member of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, Korm was led before the Emperor so his mind could be fortified in the hideous rigour of the soul-binding ritual. Did you know that, according to the WH40K: Rogue Trader rulebook, this doesn't merely make all Astropaths blind -- it also deprives many of smell, touch, or hearing? In Koth's case, I tried to illustrate his wretched state by showing his eyelids sewn-up like a shrunken head.

Astropath Korm RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Third is the RT601 "Ex-Tech". I'm not sure what his name means. I suspect he used to be a ship's technician before an encounter with hostile aliens forced him to abandon his toolbox and take up flame-throwing for a living. In any case, this is a great sculpt: lots of emotion and activity!

Ex-Tech RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Fourth is the RT601 "Hero" (or, according to his slott-base tab, "Feral Hero").  Look at that leopard-skin loincloth! What a beefcake!

Hero RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Next is the RT601 "Hive Worlder". The equipment in this model tells a story. He's wearing a knight's plate armour from the hips down, a biker's leather jacket, and carries a hand-crossbow that's jury-rigged with something that looks suspiciously like a micro-missile launcher. But the main attraction is his hair. No matter how bad things get on this fellow's homeworld, he always takes time to wash and condition.

Hive Worlder RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Finally, we have the RT601 "Imperial Scout". His exotic equipment and world-weary expression shows that this fellow is a seasoned traveler. To my eye, he seems to be wearing a still-suit out of Dune, complete with tubular breathing apparatus and skin-tight membrane. Another great sculpt from Bob Naismith!

Imperial Scout RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Thanks for coming by!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Rogue Trader Adventurers: Part 3... Forerunners

RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader Warhammer 40K painted

I am not the first painter to tackle the miniatures in Citadel's RT601 Adventurers range from 1988. Indeed, it's hard to love Rogue Trader and not want to paint some of these incredible models.

However, the only other person (that I know of) who has tried to collect and paint all 32 miniatures is Jason Fulford at Rogue Heresy. His painstaking work in analyzing the range (and recording the names carved on the slotta-tabs, which often differ from the catalogue names) is a service to the hobby. Following his progress in completing the "Adventurers Project" was a source of inspiration and encouragement for me. I'm particularly fond of his colourful "Hive Worlder" and the fierce expression he coaxed out of the "Pirate Captain".

There are many other painters whose work on this range are worth a good look:

  • Axion at Magpie and Old Lead has done some wonderful things. I particularly love the matching assembly of the "Cyborg" and "Test-bed Slave" (plus other Rogue Trader figures).
  • Ninjabread created a wonderful series of dioramas using "Tech-Priest Schlan". Remember: only the strong will survey.
  • Warburton at Classic 40K zeroed in on the best sculpted miniatures in the range: the unobtrusively named "Official". Under his brush, the beautifully carved face and subtle details in costume all come to life. Brilliant!
  • At the Lead Plague, Asslessman has conscripted several members of the Adventurers range into his fantastic sensei warband.
  • Sho3box's "Squat Miner" shows some real mojo.
  • Every once in a while, when I want to remind myself what extraordinary painting looks like, I check out the work of Dr. Mathias at his Miniature Extravaganza.  His version of the "Navigator" is simply gorgeous -- and even more gorgeous when you see him arrayed with all his mutant colleagues.
If you know of any other painters who have dabbled in this range, please let me know in the comments.

*    *    *    *    *

First is RT601 "Pilot Lorgar". His outfit shows the levity that you could still find in Rogue Trader miniatures: the gold epaulettes, the handlebar moustache, the expression of panic.

Pilot Lorgar RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Second we have RT601 "Punk", renamed in 1988 as "Xaif".

Punk Xaif RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Below is the RT601 "Astropath Yerl". He was first released in March 1987 as the "Imperial Psycher" in the RT1 range. He's a disproportionately tall miniature, verging on a different scale.

Astropath Yerl RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Fourth is the RT601 "Tech-Priest Zon". He also appeared first in the RT1 range as a "Telepath" and later an "Astropath", as I've detailed in my posts on the first Rogue Trader miniatures.

Tech-Priest Zon RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Behold the RT601 "Pirate Captain". I love this miniature, with his malicious leer and his Buck-Rogers garb. I tried to make his teeth nice and yellow, because I don't think space pirates floss.

Pirate Captain RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

The RT601 "Psyker" is another of my all-time favourites. Her simple pose gives us an excellent sense of the painful energy coursing through her. In a tribute to Stranger Things, I gave her a nosebleed, as you can see. Oddly, on this miniature's tab is written "Citizen".

Psyker RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Last but not least is the "Official". As I mentioned above, I think he's the best-crafted miniature in the range. He has lots of elegant details, an intriguing pose, and a memorable facial expression that's a joy to paint. I wish I knew who the sculptor was!

Official RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Thanks for taking a look!

Painted rt601 Rogue Trader Official

Friday, October 7, 2022

Rogue Trader Adventurers: Part 2... Geriatricus Speaks!

Tech-Priest Schlan painted miniature Rogue Trader

You bastards. You have no idea how good you have it today. When I was young in the early '80's, we didn’t have nice rulebooks with full-colour illustrations. Holy Jumping Christ, we barely had rules. And we certainly didn’t have Warhammer 40K. If we wanted to play a knock-off Star Wars skirmish game, we couldn’t just reach for the latest British import, like some silk-slippered princeling. Oh no. If we wanted to roll dice, we had only one option: we played Galacta: Star Commandos.

Have you heard of Galacta: Star Commandos? Of course you haven’t. You belong to a generation that has never known privation. You couldn’t find Galacta at a gaming store. We had no gaming stores! Gaming stores were a far-off dream, like universal peace or a cure for mange. If you wanted Galacta, you took a bus to the mall and went to the "hobby store". The same store that sold your mom yarn. They kept Galacta behind the counter, like porn. And if you asked to buy it, the old lady at the cash would say, “This isn’t a toy, you know. You can’t eat the lead.” 

Those old ladies are gone now. So are the hobby stores. And so are the malls. They have been plowed into the earth so that you and your friends can sip bubble tea on a patio. What is bubble tea, anyway? My only prayer is that it's something that will give you gas.

Unboxing Galacta was a painful experience, but we grew up fast in those days. Inside we found: (1) ten solid-based miniatures so lumpy they looked like Hershey’s Kisses; (2) a photocopied pamphlet with two pages of rules; (3); a dozen pots of paint dried into hard putty; and (4) a paint brush so splayed that it couldn’t be used to apply makeup on a Bonobo.

They called it a “paint-and-play” game, the cruel jerks. But did we make a Reddit about it? Of course not. Because that’s what wargaming was all about in my day: disappointment.

And then Rogue Trade showed up and ruined everything.



This is the last time I let someone write guest post. What a downer. Anyway, let's continue the tour through Citadel's RT601 range of Adventurers for 40K Rogue Trader. 

First up is "Female Warrior Gabs". Her slotta tab gives her the alternative name "Sister", which seems to a reference to page 268 of the Rogue Trader rulebook (1987), where we find an enigmatic passage mentioning the Adepta Sororitas or Sisterhood: "an order of devotional warrior women." The accompanying illustration by Stephen Tappin shows "Sister Sin" in full power armor. Sadly, the Sisterhood was an idea that languished for a few years, but was rekindled in the 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 rulebook (1993).

Female Warrior Gabs RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Next we have the only other Sister from the Rogue Trader era, "Female Warrior Jayne". This is another beautiful sculpt, with female characters that are dynamic and interesting without being sexualized or caricatured. I only wish they had chosen better names than "Gabs" and "Jayne". It makes them sound like they play bingo.

Female Warrior Jayne RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Nothing is more evocative of Rogue Trader than the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus -- mainly due to the mind-wrenching illustrations of Will Rees. Here we have "Tech-Priest Schlan". He's a wonderful miniature that really captures the strange blend of technology, religion and body-modification. I tried to paint his face in such a way that the tubes and plates are hard to distinguish from his flesh.

Tech-Priest Schlan RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

And speaking of bionics, here is the "Test Bed Slave". This is another miniature (loosely) based on an illustration from the Rogue Trader rulebook. I do wish that not every cyborg was waving his arms around like he's Frankenstein's Monster.

Test Bed Slave RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Fifth is the "Old Pirate". I find him fairly ho-hum -- but he's one of the few Rogue Trader miniatures portrayed with a needle pistol.

Old Pirate RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

And finally, here is the "Space Amazon". This is another iconic miniature that seems to be in high demand (if eBay prices are anything to go on). As Jason Fulford has pointed out, this sculpt is almost certainly based on John Blanche's "Amazon" illustration. I enjoyed painting this miniature, but it is the opposite of Gabs or Jayne. With her garter belt and bodice, the Space Amazon is a female warrior whose essence is confined within the stereotype of the sexy femme fatale.

Space Amazon RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Thanks for coming by!

Illustration by Stephen Tappin (1987)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Rogue Trader Adventurers from 1988

The RT601 range of Rogue Trader adventurers came out in the Spring of 1988, just months after the 1st edition of Warhammer 40,000 hit the shelves. In my eyes, the range was a crowing achievement: 32 miniatures showing the wild diversity and imagination of Games Workshop's new sci-fi universe. Each figure pops with character and story-telling potential.

From White Dwarf #99
Originally, Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader was a hybrid between a roleplaying game and skirmish wargame. For instance, it required a Game Master to guide the players through scenarios and campaigns. The rulebook is crowded with charts that randomize the equipment carried by soldiers and heroes, a feature that only makes sense in a roleplaying game (like the random encounter charts in AD&D). And finally, there was the justly famous "Plot Generator" at the back of the rulebook, which threw players into contact with new worlds, alien civilizations, planetary governors, imperial assassins, and dastardly pirates.

But to run these scenarios, you need miniatures to play the dramatis personae: the politicians, rebels, engineers, navigators and rogue psykers. And that's where the RT601 range of adventurers came in! 

And yet for all the splendor of this range, it was an evolutionary dead end. As we all know, WH40K grew into a tournament games of army lists, not a plot-driven adventure game. And so the RT601 range was the first and last great spurt of character-miniatures.

I'm pleased to report that I finished collecting and painting all 32 miniatures in the RT601 range. Let's take a look at the first six miniatures!

*    *    *    *    *

First is the RT601 "Eldar Trader". In Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987), Rick Priestly writes that the Eldar are "clever traders" who eschew conventional space travel. Rather, they use small warp-gate networks centered in their craftworlds to move their goods between planets. The haughty expression of this model is priceless. I can almost hear him saying, "You don't want carpet. You want area rug!"

Eldar Trader RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Let's continue looking at some of the non-humans. Second comes the RT601 "Squat Miner". Once again, we are treated to a great facial expression and an insouciant pose. How sweet it is to get some Warhammer miniatures who are not sporting weapons! All this fellow has is a drill, bad teeth, and a cheap cigar. For you collectors out there, this seems to be one of the rarer sculpts in the range.

Squat Miner RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Third is the RT601 "Squat Engineer". There are lovely details on his hazard suit. I'm particularly fond of his eager expression. He looks like "stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes, he something something something upon a peak at Darien."

Squat Engineer RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Next is the RT601 "Halfling Cook". In Rogue Trader, Priestly gives a description of Halflings that would make Tolkien moan in his grave: "They are idle, hedonistic, gregarious, over-friendly, and sexually promiscuous... Their lives are spent eating until sick, drinking copious amounts of intoxicating liquid, and procreating uncontrollably. These small, loud, hungry and lecherous creatures call themselves Halflings, but other humans know them as Runtlings, Stunties and Ratlings... They have earned themselves a role amongst the stars working as cabin crew and runarounds...".

I tried my best to make this fellow look loud, hungry and lecherous.

Halfling Cook RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Fifth we have the RT601 "Navigator". Navigators aren't quite aliens: they are mutants with a tendency to be "tall and spindly, and their flesh may have a peculiar transparent quality... Hands and feet can be ridiculously large and are frequently webbed." This is indeed a tall, gangly miniature with over-sized appendages. I went the extra step and gave my Navigator a third eye.

Navigator RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Last we have the RT601 "Ventolin Pirate". Ventolin, of course, is an asthma medication administered through an inhaler. I like Curis' suggestion at Ninja Bread that the Ventolin Pirate is a conhead alien who requires Ventolin gas to survive. In any case, he's a great miniature, with fine details and a striking design.

Ventolin Pirate RT601 Adventurers Citadel Rogue Trader 40K

Thanks for coming by! And remember: stay loud, hungry and lecherous!

Halfling Cook RT601 Adventurers Citadel Warhammer 40K

Monday, September 5, 2022

Eldar Command Group for 40K Rogue Trader

If there is anything that's cooler than the original RT401 Space Elves released in 1987, it was the RT402 Eldar Command Group released in 1988. With these figures, we see sculptor Jes Goodwin starting with the basic theme of the Eldar warrior, and embellishing it with free-jazz experimentation. The peaked helmets morph into masks or burst into tentacle-like tubing, the weapons grow teeth or elongate, and the armor mimics the shapes of Space Marines. It is a tour-de-force.

It's amusing to look back on these miniatures and to remember that, back in the 1980's, the whole "Space Elf" business was seen as a bit of a boondoggle. As Jes Goodwin recounted in a fascinating interview with Gav Thorpe in 2017:

"...I had been allocated to the space elf range because I was ‘new boy’ and nobody thought they would sell as well as space soldiers or space dwarves. As the resident elf nut I jumped at the chance to prove we could do something cool with them."

Well, I think we can safely say that the story ends well for the sculptor and his work. Over 30 years later, the Eldar continue to be one of the most aesthetically and mythologically interesting aspects of the 40K universe, (notwithstanding what some crusty grognards might say). And Jes Goodwin is the Lead Miniature Designer at Games Workshop, one of the few personnel remaining from the glory days of the 1980's.

I curbed my customary inclination to collect every miniature in this range because -- well, how many standard bearers and musicians does one squad of Space Elves really need? I painted them in the classic scheme of blue and yellow. Their insignia marks them as members of the Scarlett Command, a small band of Eldar Corsairs.

*    *    *    *    *

First up is the leader of my force "Cdr. Avele Swifteye". He (or she?) is wearing a helmet overlaid with scowling visage, an apparent homage to the mask (or men-yoroi) that samurai wore in order to protect their face and scare their enemies. Avele's mask and crest seems to mark him (or her?) out as an aristocratic warrior.

Next we have the champion, "Kaevii Firehand". I find this miniature interesting because it seems to betray influences from Space Marine armour, specifically in the exaggerated shoulder pauldrons and the flaring greaves with deep wells for the feet. The haircut is deep 1980's.

Third is the musician, "Kaele Lightprow". Nothing marks a Rogue Trader era unit out like having a musician. He is playing keyboards which are integrated into his thigh-armour and which activate the organ pipes on his backpack. Shine on, you crazy diamond!

Last and certainly not least is the standard bearer, "Menhe Worldsong". This is probably my favourite miniature in the Space Elf range, and one of my top picks of all time. He looks to me like the meanest Eldar who ever donned a big pointy helmet. 

WAIT! That should be the end, but I painted two bonus command figures: a spotter and a special weapon trooper. 

The spotter is from the RT404 Eldar Field Artillery range released in April 1988.

And finally, my special weapon trooper is "Velasinn Doomdrifter" from the RT402 Command Group. 

Well, that's it for my Eldar project. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed sharing it. Take care!