For the past several decades the above piece of art has sort of been burned into my memory, in fact it was almost the banner image of this blog. Growing up in the 80’s I spent a lot of time in RPG books having not really gotten into minis wargaming yet. With the RPGs came painting minis for characters, npc, monsters etc. Seeing me into this, my parents bought me a book about the miniature hobby filled with beautiful examples and gaming history. For the longest time, and up until a few weeks ago, I thought the above illustration was the cover of the book. Several months ago I went to go find this book having gotten rid of my copy long ago. Well, I thought the book I had in my youth may have been the one on top here.
Looks right. However, finding a few copies to preview, the pictures and layout of these titles is much different than what I thought I was remembering. My book had plenty of text. The above series are basically showcases for the Golden Demon winners in ’88, ’89’ and ’90. Also, there’s pictures of Blood Bowl and Dark Future minis in those books…games that came out after I had received my miniatures painting tome.
Well, I was able to track my old book down and find a great copy for a sawbuck. That art piece that had been lodged in my head for a few decades wasn’t the front cover of the book…it was the back
I’ve been reading through the book the past few nights and it’s amazing how so many of the incredible pieces of art I’m still recalling. I must have spent hours pouring over this thing as a kid because looking at it now it’s as familiar as if I read it last week. Before we look at a few items inside, that cover still causes me a bit of confusion…Is that warrior riding something or just has an ornate shield? Is that a proto-genestealer in the foreground? Is this a book for Role Playing Games or Wargames?
Heroes for Wargames was published by Paper Tiger in 1986, again, before I got into miniature gaming (which began a few years later with Blood Bowl 2nd Ed and Dark Future) and is basically a Games Workshop house title in all but name and publisher. The inside is filled with pictures of GW board games (like Warrior Knights and Judge Dredd), early Warhammer campaigns (The Tragedy of McDeath and Battle at Orks Rift), history of gaming, painting and diorama tips, and all sorts of early miniatures and concept art. It’s more ambitious in nature than the above three Golden Demon books which seem to only focus on painted minis. Check out this acknowledgement list:
Also included is a forward by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson (founders of GW) and many of the models I believe are from the collection of Bryan Ansell. This book was compiled with a who’s who of the Oldhammer Guard. There is even a feature on the Games Workshop studio with many of the artists, sculptors, and painters working their craft.
I can’t run down every page and article, but I want to mention just a few things. First, during the time I originally had this title, like I said…I was into RPGs. At the time Ral Partha was the line I followed and collected knowing little of GW. Well, when Blood Bowl 2nd Edition hit my eye drifted to Games Workshop and their Citadel supported games. I wanted a skaven team but before I had enough cash for a full team, I bought some miniatures to use as coaching staff…my first ever official Citadel miniatures. It happened to be the two skaven in the following concept page.That horned skaven wizard became the coach of my team and my favorite non-BB skaven miniature to date. The three armed skaven mutant worked his way into my Advanced Heroquest game as a main antagonist. Incredible to see these sketches 30+ years later.
One other thing I want to mention is the character a lot of the minis in the book have. Character and whimsy that clearly draw many players into the Oldhammer scene. Check out the minotaur below. He’s not your modern bad@$$, highly armed and angry minotaur. He’s more like Joe Sixpack…your average Monday Night Watching, beer guzzling minotaur. Just looking at that model his background and character leap out at you. This beer bellied fella is not the antagonist in some maze…he’s out and about because his nagging wife yelled at him to get off his stump and go get some eats for the kids. What a great model.
And the dragon…it may be hard to tell, but he has a fairly surprised look on his face. A face that’s more muppet gargoyle, than fierce Smaug. I’d love to get my hands on that guy as well. I don’t feel like I see dragons with unique character like that anymore. Much like current minotaurs…they’re mostly bog standard fierce creatures. Oh, how many mounted Citadel miniatures are posed like that Adventurer above…nearly every one of them in the 90s near as I recall. Classic Citadel mounted with raised weapon pose.
This book really is great, and perhaps the best coffee table book on the hobby that’s out there. Sure, the models and techniques within are many decades removed from being current, but the history is rich here and it’s well worth a read. Oddly enough, I may still end up tracking down those Golden Demon books simply because they do feature some Blood Bowl and Dark Future work…the two Games Workshop titles that got me into this mad hobby.
I’m going to close this post with an image from this book that is a piece of concept art from John Blanche. The Slann. Gaming Games Workshop worlds for close to 30 years now and I’ve never owned or played anything slann related. Later this year, I’m going to rectify that with a project that I hope can be a nod to the characterful style of these 80s masters.