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.

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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!

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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!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Adeptus Mechanicus Servitors by Bob Olley

I'm high on Bob Olley. My latest foray into his world are two of the 4011 Adeptus Mechanicus Servitors he sculpted in 1989.

Painting Olley miniatures is often challenging, but these two were a joy. The facial expressions -- by turns crude, servile and sedated -- emerged from the brush without any specific intention on my part. The wonderful details (like the wires, implants and bionics) were crisply carved and easy for me to delineate. The two miniatures seemed to paint themselves.

It's a reminder that part of the miniature sculptor's art is to help the painter. After all, it is the painter who will have the most intimate, the most delicate experience with the sculptor's efforts. Indeed, few other visual artists can console themselves with the notion that there is someone out there who will spend hours and hours contemplating the most minute details of their work. (I just spent some time in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence where I was confronted with some of the greatest sculpture in human history. But with the crowds seething around me, I couldn't spend more than a few moments looking at each individual piece).

I wonder whether miniature sculptors often get feedback from their customers on the experience of painting their models. I hope so! 

*    *    *    *    *

Here is the first of Mr. Olley's magnificent miniatures. This is "Servitor" 4011-06.

And below is "Servitor" 4011-07. I love the drool tube going into his mouth. Olley is a genius.

The only other miniature I know who was as easy to paint was the "Mad Punk" (below) from the RT601 Adventurers. Are there any sculptors whom you think are particularly good at making life easy on a miniature painter? I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

The War Monster


War Monster for Saga Age of Magic painted miniature

I've always wanted to model a War Monster and last January I finally did it.

The incitement for this project was reading Saga: Age of Magic (2019) by Alex Buchel and Fred Machu. Saga has been one of my favourite rule-sets since the first edition sprung on our hobby in 2011. Age of Magic adapts the second edition for fantasy skirmish games. One of the strengths of the book is that the authors give their imagination free reign when it comes to units: besides great dragons and giants, there are rules for fielding the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse or Hern's Wild Hunt. But most intriguing for me were the rules for one gigantic beast who swarms with drivers, archers, and crew. I was hooked by the requisite dimensions for the model: a base between 8 and 12 inches long. Since Saga games usually occur on a 3x4 foot board, this single miniature would occupy a huge part of the available real-estate. A real monster!

Rules from Saga: The Age of Magic (2019)

Of course, it wasn't Saga that first gave me the idea for the great beast. One of my favourite books when I was a small child was Steven Kellogg's The Wicked Kings of Bloon (1970). This priceless gem of a book features two obnoxious brothers who go to war with each other by arming and armoring great dinosaur-like monsters. The brothers' struggle for domination is brought to an abrupt end when their dinosaurs decide that they'd rather cuddle than fight:

Illustration by Steven Kellogg from The Wicked Kings of Bloon (1970)

And then, of course, there's White Dwarf #100 (April 1988). This special anniversary edition featured the work of the German modeler Michael Immig, whose incredible dioramas captured the attention of John Blanche when they met in Hamburg. Michael's "Fighting Dinosaur" is more than a model - more than even a work of art. It is a shamanistic fetish constructed out of chestnut shells, mouse bones, old buttons and fir cones (not to mention an Airfix Brontosaurus and innumerable Citadel miniatures).

White Dwarf #100
I could never emulate the complexity and beauty of the "Fighting Dinosaur". But I did take from it the idea that a great beast's howdah should be a ship-like construction, complete with look-out tower and different decks.

Ultimately, I decided to do something simple. I wanted a model that could be used for different settings: an orcish beast for Saga, a piece of moving scenery in Warhammer 40K, an exotic adversary for Star Wars skirmish games.

To ensure a variety of different miniatures could stand (or even fight) on the howdah, I tried to make it broad and easily accessible, without many railings, walls and other accessories that might get in the way. I didn't want a diorama so much as a functional model.

The beast itself in a plastic dinosaur from Amazon. I added a few choice details with greenstuff and brass chain, and then primed him black. The painting was dead simple: I brought out the colour with successive layers of drybrushing over his rough scales. 

The howdah is an amalgamation of balsa wood and popsicle sticks welded together with industrial quantities of superglue and greenstuff. I think I could sit on it and it wouldn't snap.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results, especially when it's loaded down with Krapfang's Orcs.

Painted miniature War Monster for Saga Age of Magic

Now I just need to see how it plays in a game of Saga...

Wednesday, August 3, 2022


For those of you who might be interested in my other writings, I recently had a couple articles published in Watkins Mind, Spirit, Body Magazine

My print article on Zen koans is available in the Summer 2022 issue (pictured above). Who would have guessed I'd ever share a table of contents with Lady Gaga?

And there is another article (with no paywall) on the Watkins website about my dad's death last summer.

It's a real honour to be published in Watkins. The magazine grew out of Watkins Books, which is the oldest esoteric bookstore in London (and one of the oldest in the world) - being founded in 1897 by a friend of the theosophist Madam Blavatsky.

If you're curious about my writings about meditation and Buddhism, my author's website is