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!

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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.

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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.

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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