Thursday, 16 March 2017

Saruman, Snakemen, Spectre, and Savages!

A bit of a mix this week.

Recently I purchased the mounted Saruman miniature from Citadel's 1980's Lord of the Rings range. I bought him to go with the Uruk-Hai, which I blogged about last week. The miniature was part of a set, one dismounted version (which I don't own), and the mounted version. I like the mounted version, the details are great, although I am not a 100% convinced on the design of his staff. It looks a little too much like a 'fly swatter' of the White Hand!

Leaving aside the staff, he has a more unusual look than other versions of Saruman. To me, he looks similar to Gandalf, which makes sense given that they were fellow Istari. Also, he look less 'sharp' and evil, and almost more 'twee'. I like this look. For me, Saruman was'nt harsh and inherantly evil looking, as portrayed in the films or many pieces of artwork. In the books and background, Saruman was essentially a good wizard (the best in fact), who felt betrayed Cirdan for giving a Ring of Power to Gandalf, and who felt undermined by Gandalf and the Elves. So, he ended up introverted, distrustful and desirous of power for himself. This led him to be corrupted by the desire for the One Ring, and, for a time, by Sauron, although he broke free of Sauron. Saruman seemed to be to some extent a tragic figure.

Other than Saruman, I have painted more Snakemen, including a converted Snakeman with pistol. In addition I painted a Reaper Miniatures Ghost miniature for use as a Spectre for the Snakeman army. Finally, I have painted and based a couple of Savage Orcs. These are also for use with the Snakeman army. The idea is to have an Orc Ally Contingent, containing 20 Orc Archers and Contingent Commander, to add some much needed missile troops. They will be more on those next week, once I have painted them.

Enjoy :)
 ME 62 Saruman the White. 
I have, unsuprisingly, gone for a white colour scheme, and thought the pony might look good white as well.
As I mentioned above, he looks more twee than terrifying.
 He is mounted on a 40mm round lipped base.
 Right side with the fly swatter staff.
 Rear view.
 More Snakemen.
The painting of Snakemen never seems to end!
 A converted S'lararet Splintered Fang. 
I bought him from e-bay, but he had a hand missing, so I added a spare pistol hand from GW's Empire Milita set.
 Another S'lararet Splintered Fang. 
I converted him slightly by twisting the tail 90 degrees.
 Higgat Dwarf Slicer.
 A converted Higgat Dwarf Slicer. 
I twisted the left arm so it looks like he is more 'en garde'.
 Desert Spectre.
This a Reaper Miniatures Ghost or Wraith, or something. I bought it about 15 years ago, painted it rather badly, and so recently paint stripped and re-painted it. I have painted it to suggest a desert blanket, and to be used as a Spectre for a bound Etheral Host for the Snakemen.
 Rear view.
It is mounted on a 40mm Lippeed Round base to give you an idea of the size.
 Two of Citadel's 1980's ORC2 range Savage Orcs. 
On the left is 'Grobble', and on the right Slobl'. 
I have painted them up in an roughly Native American style, with a slight nod to the Apache. The idea is to have an Ally Contingent for the Snakemen that suggests the Snakemen have allied with a tribe or two of Orcs dwelling in the South of the New World. 
Incidentally, they will be normal Orcs, rather than actual Savage Orcs.
Rear view. 

Next week will hopefully be the completed Orc ally Contingent, and maybe a couple more Snakemen.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Jes Goodwin's 1980's Citadel Lord of the Rings Alternative range of Uruk-Hai.

As the overlong title suggests, this blog update is on the alternative range of Uruk-Hai miniatures which Jes Goodwin sculpted for Citadel's Lord of the Rings range of Uruk-Hai. Don't worry Snakeman fans, I am still painting my way through the army (and other things!). However, I managed to buy the last few Uruk-Hai miniatures from this range recently, and so I wanted to update about them.

From 1985 until 1987 Citadel Miniatures produced a range of figures based on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books. The miniatures were sculpted similar to Citadels style of their general fantasy miniatures of the time, and some of the Orcs later ended up being used as the basis for other sculpts in Citadel's Warhammer Orc ranges. The Lord of the Rings range as a whole was sculpted by several of the sculptors working for Citadel at the time. The range, with some exceptions, was slotta based.

Towards the end of their licence, Citadel produced an alternative range of Uruk-Hai miniatures, sculpted by Jes Goodwin (famous for his wonderful Elf and Eternal Champion ranges from the time). At the time their Lord of the Rings range only had three Uruk-Hai models, and so it seems that this range was sculpted to add variety.

Now, I can only assume that Citadel did'nt realise that they were going lose the licence, as why sculpt a new range? After they lost the licence, this range of Uruk-Hai ceased production, and so was only available for a few months in 1987. I think they may have been available as stock clearance via mail order for a month or two longer, but then were gone. I again can only assume that this was because of intellectual property, as the miniatures had been marketed as Uruk-Hai and then could'nt have been re-branded and sold as a different range. So whilst not breathtakingly rare, they are still quite rare.

Anyway, the range consisted of fifteen miniatures. There were three distinct types; the Archers, the Swordmen, and the Pole-arms. There were three base sculpts for the range which went on to form the basis for the sculpt of that type. There were five sculpts for each of the Archers, Swordsmen, and Pole-arms.

Aesthetically I think they are wonderful. They are excellently detailed, crisp, sculpts. The faces are amazing. They are full of life and character, with a nice sense of movement. The variations of sculpting from the base sculpt are great, offering fiffteen distinct and yet coherent miniatures. If you were to build units/an army from these miniatures, as was the intention, they would have formed a good basis. With a little bit of conversion, many of the miniatures would have provided even greater variation. Personally, I think it was a great loss to the miniatures world that this range disappeared so soon.

So what am I going to do with them?
My plan, at a later date but not yet, is to paint these Uruk-Hai and use them as the basis of a 1980's Lord of the Rings skirmish force. Despite a couple of the sculpts having the Eye of Sauron on their helms, I will use these as the core of Saruman's 'Army of the White Hand', and paint them with the symbol of the White hand on their shields. I will use the original Uruk-Hai sculpts, which are more overtly Mordor in design with the more prominent Eyes of Sauron on them, for the forces of the Dark Lord.

Enjoy :)
 The range, as appeared in White Dwarf #99.
I am not sure why they painted them green, but they look very in keeping with many of Citadel's Goblinoids of the time.
One of the interesting and cool things about this range is how very similar miniatures have been given a very different look and sense of movement by having the heads facing in differing directions. They also look similar to the way Tolkien described Uruk-Hai/Orcs, "crooked legged and long armed". 
 My full set of Uruk-Hai.  :)
Like all of my 1980's Lord of the Rings miniatures I am basing the infantry on 30mm round lipped bases.
Originally however the range would have been on 25mm square bases. The Swordsmen and the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai have a boss on the hand to allow the addition of the plastic Citadel shields. I have equipped mine with the largest of the round shields.
 The five pole-armed Uruk-Hai.
 The five Swordsmen Uruk-Hai.
 The five Archer Uruk-Hai.
The first of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai, armed with a pole-mace, and looking straight ahead.
The second of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai with a double-handed axe,and looking left. His mop of hair makes him look like a bit of a 'metal-head', or perhaps one of the Beatles from the late 1960's!
The third of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai, armed with a long bladed spear, looking right, and sporting a rather fetching mohawk haircut.
The fourth of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai, with another long bladed spear. He has the same look as the first Pole-armed Uruk-Hai, although the blade is slightly different.
The fifth and final of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai, with a type of hooked halberd.
Rear view of the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai. They are all the same in this respect.
The first of the Swordsmen Uruk-Hai. 
He has quite a fancy helmet, and it has an Eye of Sauron on it. If these miniatures were very commmon I would file this off as I am meaning to use them as Uruk-Hai of the White Hand. However, as they are not common, I have'nt the heart to, and so will just leave it metal coloured as the rest of the helmet.
The second of the Swordsmen Uruk-Hai with a spiked helmet.
The third of the Swordsmen Uruk-Hai, wearing a leather helment with metal discs on, and looking to the left like he is about to swing his sword.
The fourth of the Swordsmen Uruk-Hai, yelling, and wearing a plumed helmet.
The final of the Swordsmen Uruk-Hai. Compared to the other sculpts he is a little more sedate (if an Uruk-Hai could be described as such), but he is great none the less.
Rear view of the Swordsmen, again like the Pole-armed Uruk-Hai the are the same for each of the five. 
The first of the Archers.
He is wearing a hood emblazened with the Eye of Sauron on. 
Unlike the Pole-Arm and Sword wielding Uruk-Hai, all the archers are in the smae pose and facing the same way.
The second of the Archers, wearing a helmet.
The third Archer, this time bare-headed with a top knot.
The fourth Archer is wearing a wonderful ridged helmet.
The final Archer has a leather, with a few studs around the rim and ends.
Read and side views of the Archers. 

Next update will be back to the Snakemen.