Friday, February 12, 2016

A Perilous Light: 1980's Lord of the Rings Miniatures

Here are the rest of the classic 1980's Lord of the Rings miniatures from Citadel that I painted for The War of the Ring (and its expansion Lords of Middle Earth). I've included some of Tolkien's descriptions for each character, plus my own take.

Gothmog, Lieutenant of Morgul

ME-24 Gondor Citadel Knight, Citadel (1984) (converted)

Gothmog is one of the most lightly sketched characters in the trilogy. He appears only during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields after the Witch King was killed:  
" strength [of Mordor] came now streaming to the field out of Osgiliath. There they had been mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor, waiting on the call of their Captain. He now was destroyed; but Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray." (RotK, Chapter 6, Book V)

Tolkien doesn't even tell us what race Gothmog was. In Peter Jackson's movies, he's portrayed as an orc with a goiter problem. In The War of the Ring, he becomes a Black Numenorean who wears armor that echoes/perverts the armour of Gondor. This is how I've portrayed him myself, using a lightly converted ME-24 Gondor Citadel Knight (1985). The main changes are his shield bearing the Eye of Sauron, and his banner (which reads in the Black Tongue "One Ring to Rule them All").

ME-24 Gondor Citadel Knight, Citadel (1984) (converted)
Incidentally, my own opinion is that Gothmog is neither a man nor an orc, but one of the Ringwraiths. After all, the only hard fact that we have about him is that he is "the lieutenant of Morgul". And Tolkien provides us with a lot of information about Minas Morgul, courtesy of Faramir:

"As you know, that city was once a strong place, proud and fair, Minas Ithil... But it was taken by fell men whom the Enemy in his first strength had dominated, and who wandered homeless and masterless after his fall. It is said that their lords were men of Númenor who had fallen into dark wickedness; to them the Enemy had given rings of power, and he had devoured them: living ghosts they were become, terrible and evil. After his going they took Minas Ithil and dwelt there, and they filled it, and all the valley about, with decay: it seemed empty and was not so, for a shapeless fear lived within the ruined walls. Nine Lords there were, and after the return of their Master... they grew strong again." (TT, Chapter 6, Book IV)

So the leaders of Minas Morgul were the nine Black Riders, with the Witch King as their head. This fact suggests to me that the second in command of Minas Morgul would have also been a Ringwraith. This is also consistent with the only other named Ringwraith in Tolkien's writings: Khamul who was in charge of the fortress of Dol Guldur.

The Witch King

ME-62, Lord of the Nazgul, Citadel (1985)

We get our best glimpse of the Haggard King as he's leading Sauron's army out of Minas Morgul:

"Before them went a great cavalry of horsemen moving like ordered shadows, and at their head was one greater than all the rest: a Rider, all black, save that on his hooded head he had a helm like a crown that flickered with a perilous light. Now he was drawing near the bridge below, and Frodo's staring eyes followed him, unable to wink or to withdraw. Surely there was the Lord of the Nine Riders returned to earth to lead his ghastly host to battle? Here, yes here indeed was the haggard king whose cold hand had smitten down the Ring-bearer with his deadly knife." (TT, Chapter 8, Book IV)

Saruman the White

ME-62, Saruman the White, Citadel (1985)

Saruman is " old man, swathed in a great cloak, the colour of which was not easy to tell, for it changed if they moved their eyes or if he stirred. His face was long, with a high forehead, he had deep darkling eyes, hard to fathom, though the look that they now bore was grave and benevolent, and a little weary. His hair and beard were white, but strands of black still showed about his lips and ears." ((TT, Chapter 10, Book III)

I love this miniature, both for its simplicity and its artistry: a force seems to emanate from the Palantir that swirls Saruman's beard and robes. And his hands are covered in rings, which is an accurate touch ("For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-Maker, Saruman of Many Colours!")

In an effort to keep him from looking like Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat, I avoided a multi-coloured robe and instead painted Saruman off-white ("I am Saruman the Beige!"). However, I tried to add a little interest to the miniature by giving his Palantir a dim red glow.

The Mouth of Sauron

ME-55 Mouth of Sauron, Citadel (1985)

The Mouth of Sauron's most fascinating feature is his magical steed: "... there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’ But it is told that he was a renegade, who came of the race of those that are named the Black Númenóreans; for they established their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron’s domination, and they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge." (RotK, Chapter 10, Book V)


"Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature... as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face. He had a little boat, and he... paddled it with large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make. Not he. He was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking." (The Hobbit, Chapter 5)

Elrond Half-Elven

ME-22 Elrond Elf Lord, Citadel (1985)

"The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young... His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fullness of his strength." (FotR, Chapter 1, Book II)

The Citadel sculptors gave Elrond a saucy little mustache, which makes him look less like an elf lord and more like one of the Village People. I thought about shaving it off with my hobby knife, but decided instead to go where the lead led me... it certainly makes him unique. I further departed from canonicity by making him a red-head.


C08 High Elf Wizard, Citadel (1984)

"Very tall they were, and the Lady no less tall than the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory." (FotR, Chapter 7, Book II)

There is no 1980's Citadel miniature for Galadriel, so I improvised, using a solid-base Citadel C08 High Elf Wizard (1984). My version of Galadriel looks like a drag queen to me, but there you have it. Sometimes you try to paint a beautiful elf queen, and she comes out looking like Bianca del Rio.

Gandalf the White

ME-11 Gandalf Mounted, Citadel (1985)

There goes an old man in nice white duds. "His hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand." (TT, Chapter 5, Book III)

Aragorn son of Arathorn

ME-12 Strider the Ranger, Citadel (1985)

"And the cloaked man spoke and said: ‘He is come.’ And they saw as he stepped into the light of the lantern by the door that it was Aragorn, wrapped in the grey cloak of Lórien above his mail, and bearing no other token than the green stone of Galadriel." (RotK, Chapter 8, Book V)

Hands down this is one of my favourite miniature sculptures of all time. It's compact, dramatic and perfectly composed. I love the way Roheryn is rearing and how this is contrasted with Aragorn's steady gaze... for me, it perfectly captures the level-headed audacity of the leader of the Grey Company.


  1. Love the extra information I learn of the books when I read these types of posts. You've got some great figs there with matching paint jobs. The mouth of sauron is amazing, and gothmog is really well done, bot as a concept, as well as brush work.

    I'm quite impressed with your use of yellows and whites with Saruman. The Elrond sculpt is ummmmm, not my cup of tea. I have to agree with you on the drag queen designation for your Galadriel as well. Looks somewhat like she has some whiskers on her face as well.

    1. Yes -- I feel like I should make a little greenstuff adam's apple for Galadriel.

  2. Thank you for sharing these lovely figures with us. They have great charm.
    What do you think of the Vendel (Bloody Day) miniatures- they produce an excellent fellowship not to mention other fantasy figures?

    1. I had never heard of them until now -- but I just checked them out and they're lovely. They seem like detailed and compact miniatures which find the right balance between realism and that illustration-like quality that I really prize.
      If anyone else was similarly ignorant about these minis, they can be found here:

  3. Incredibly inspired stuff. I particularly like your reading over Gothmog and how you focused the character. Great!!

  4. I'm glad you liked the Gothmog bit. I like chewing on things like that.

  5. Lovely work again. I must admit I find the 80s era citadel line of LoTR figures to be really hit and miss. I've painted a few of the nicer figures over the years but haven't got the urge to collect the lot a some are a bit ordinary. And as you note it they missed certain figures (Galadriel being the most obvious)that one would have expected citadel to have done - odd when they did multiple versions of the hobbits, Gandalf and Aragorn.

  6. Beautiful minis, painting, and interesting text. Clearly a labour of love.

    I agree that Galadriel looks like a man though! ;)