Thursday, February 22, 2018

Consider the Solid Base Miniature... aka Chaos Goblin Mutants part II


Here are the final five C27 Chaos Goblin Mutants produced by Citadel and sculpted by the Perry Twins in 1984 (I profiled the first five miniatures in my last post).




One of the reasons these are such engaging sculpts is because they are made in the old style, with solid bases that are part of the miniature and sit flat on the table. These are sometimes called integral bases or broccoli bases. But whatever you call them, they are the mark of a truly vintage Citadel miniature. It was in 1985 that Citadel permanently transitioned away from solid base miniatures in favour of slotta-base miniatures (which, of course, have a tab on the bottom that slots into a separate plastic base).

I suppose you wouldn't know on first glance that my Chaos Goblin Mutants are solid base, since I've mounted mine on 20mm bases so that they'll blend in with the rest of my collection. But to my eye, they have an unmistakably solid-base feel: a rounded, three-dimensional quality that stands in distinction to the flat style of sculpting that accompanies many slotta base miniatures. This flatness arises from the fact that the sculptor has to work within the constraints of the mold. Since the mold is chiefly occupied by the long, lateral span of the miniature's slot, the rest of the model has to follow that line.

Now before you reach for your pitchforks and torches in order to run the slotta base out of the village, remember all the good things it has done for us. In fact, the case for the slotta base was first made in the pages of The Citadel Journal Spring 85, where Citadel introduced the change. The Journal points out that there are several advantages to slotta bases. First, they save a lot of metal, which should make the miniatures cheaper. Well, perhaps, but the consumer never noticed these savings. For example, the costs of a single solid-base Citadel wizard in 1984 was 40p, whereas in 1985 a slotta-base wizard would run you 60p. But, money aside, there are technical advantages to slotta sculpting. As The Journal said:
...freeing the model from the base allows are sculptors to use a whole new range of positions and other features. Having an integral base on the miniature has always imposed certain restrictions about the way the arms could be positioned, for example, whilst cloaks had always to be modelled so that they reached the ground.
You can see some of the drawbacks of solid-base miniatures in my own Goblin Mutants. For example, the wings of the Winged Goblin are joined to the ground in a single mass. So I accept that slotta bases freed us from the compact, trunk-like designs of the solid base. But slottas also imposed a new tyranny: laterally designed miniatures where all the limbs spread along the axis of the underlying slot. The best miniature designs transcended the limitations of slotta-sculpting, but many mediocre designs did not (ahem, cough, cough, Marauder Miniatures).

So what do you think: Slotta or solid? CDs or vinyl? Scotch or bourbon? Well, as you're mulling that over, here are the Chaos Goblin Mutants...

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


Above is C27 Chaos Goblin Mutant "Wings" or "Wingback" (depending on the advert). I love the devilish details: the cloven hooves, the horns and the evil expression.


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


Here is "Hopper". Not to be confused with the sheriff of Hawkins, Indiana.


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


Here is "Beast", not to be confused with the X-man, the lover of "Beauty", the trojan horse, the novel by Peter Benchley, the novel by John Crowley, the novel by Ally Kennen, the South Korean boy band, the British sit-com or the villain from He-Man, Master of the Universe.


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


Above we have the mutant "Long Neck". I'll give you three guesses what his mutation is.


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


And finally, my very favourite, the runt of the litter... here is "Plague". I always relish an opportunity to paint eczema


Thanks for looking!


34 comments:

  1. OK, that last guy is pretty vile; nice boils or pustules on him. This is a pretty entertaining gang of weirdos, and an interesting read too. Far too many slotta figures ended up being what I'd call "generic chaos warrior poses", which I'd ascribe to designer apathy rather than purely technical constraints. And I recall all too well some of the truly dire product that was available back in the day... not all sculptors were Bob Murch or Julie Guthrie, not by a long shot. A statically-posed figure whose ass could be discerned from its elbow was an improvement over a vaguely humanoid blob labeled "Half-elf warrior" or whatever...

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    1. Yes, some of those early miniatures really are just blobs. It always amazes me how quickly the art of sculpting and casting miniatures progressed in a just a few years.
      But to your point about "generic chaos warrior poses"... I just couldn't agree more. To my eye, and awful lot of Citadel's work in the 1990's falls right into that dreary category.

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  2. Matthew strike back! Love your painting style as always!

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  3. Supurb painting htere. Really like the stripes on Beast, probably quite accidental but reminds me of Sendaks [i]Where The Wild Things Are[/i] and I'd always wanted to paint my Otherworld Bugbears in that theme. The Moorcockian motif ties them in nicely with the mythos of chaos.

    Sculpting wise, I do prefer this period from Citadel, the late solid-base figures seem to be on that creative cusp before things got into too much dolly work and the craftsmanship a bit too slick.

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    1. A bunch of paint jobs in the desaturated greenish/greyish pallette of WTWTA would be amazing.

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    2. That's a great idea. I utterly lack that talent, but for something similar, check out the latest work from Curt C.

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    3. And as to Zhu's point about the stripes from WTWTA. I wasn't thinking about Sendak consciously, but he must have been rattling around somewhere in my attic.

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    1. Someday I'd love to see what you do with these minis, JB!

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  5. Beautiful painting - love the beast. Although I started collecting models in 1984, I had an instinctive aversion to models with integral bases - don’t know why. Also, cds and scotch :)

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    1. I think your aversion makes sense... I think I had it too back in the day. Slotta came just as Citadel was really pulling ahead of other manufacturers in terms of game design and miniature quality. As Zhu said above, it's arguable that the Citadel solid base minis of 1984-5 were in the true sweet spot, but I certainly didn't appreciate it at the time.

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  6. I realize with your two posts that the Mutant Goblins released by Rackham in the late 90s (early 2000s?) were probably inspired by this range.

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    1. PS. Do not criticize Marauder Miniatures. Never again.

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    2. I think you must be right about the Rackhams, Jaeckel. Those are some pretty extravagant models!

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  7. Can't let me have a few days off glory, can you? Have to show me up as soon as possible! 😋

    All joking aside, these look amazing!

    But don't you dare besmirch Marauder Miniatures or we shall fight!

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    1. I don't think any minis I paint could ever upstage your work, Andrew. Seriously - your Nurgle Marines are just superb.

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  8. I'm discovering new wonders I had never heard of. Wonderful work!

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  9. In the middle of the great nase transfer right now and I'm having a heck of a time with all of these broccoli bases! Now I'm going to have to cover all the damaged feet with flock.

    Great addition to the gang. This has got me excited to play some dragon rampant! I'm sure your collection could sport a huge ragtag fantasy army. But who would lead? Krapfang or the Liche Master?

    I disicovered another blog by the name of Ninjabread whos photography looks incredibly similar to yours; same minis too! I wonder if you know of it?

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    1. I'd love to try Dragon Rampant with you. I'll give some thought to what kind of an army to field. Can you field a miscellaneous gang of adventurers.

      Ninjabread is impressive. I had never heard of it before - thanks for the heads up.

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  10. Very beautyfull mini and work!

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  11. Awesome! I love 'Wingback' - a great evil face.

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    1. I like his face too!
      By the way, I mentioned your recent work on the "Butcher" when replying to Zhu and Allison, above. I'd love to see you tackle a monochromatic palate based on Where the Wild Things Are.

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    2. The Butcher looks great! Not an easy look to pull off so well!

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  12. Look out! His neck is a little bit longer!

    I really like your shields.

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    1. That is one of the hilarious/frustrating things about chaos mutations in 3rd edition WHFB... sometimes they are odd and cosmetic, and sometimes they are game-breakingly powerful.

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  13. Yet more of these smashing sculpts and again, your painting style just brings out their sweet details. Hopper is my fav of the bunch, that tail/tentacle looks rubbed raw from regular contact with the ground.

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    1. Yes - I tried to make his tail look all nasty and veiney (veiny?).

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  14. Good looking stuff, as always. You really bring these old figures to life.

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  15. I tend to prefer the integral base. I like it when the raw figure can actually stand on its own. Although some of the plastics, with the flat feet meant to be glued to a plastic base can literally stand on their own two feet.

    I think the term broccoli base specifically refers to Reaper's Dark Heaven line whose bases had a texture that resembled the vegetable in question.

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