Here as little something for you. When I decided to start this blog I wanted to quickly publish a series of articles outlining key areas of interest for me to get some groundwork in for articles going forward. This one can be filed under the banner of “weird area of interest that I haven’t seen anyone else writing about”. Back in 2010 a company called Smart Max appeared at Salute in London showcasing a series of 52mm (!) resin models with a Victorian Fantasy Steampunk theme. I picked a bunch of them up and immediately set about painting them and waiting for the promised board game. Interestingly at the time people mentioned the high price for the miniatures which was about Â£18 per piece (what Games Workshop now charges for a single 32mm character model) however it was clear that they were collectors only pieces a ‘la Mike McVeigh miniatures. The board game came out around a year later with little fanfare and resembled a much lighter and quicker version of Malifaux. It was playable in about 20 minutes for a 4 model a side skirmish, which sadly turned it into a more expensive and less deep version of an already incredibly popular but niche game.
The number of models produced gradually decreased until the company launched a board game on Kickstarter using different sculpts in late 2014 raising lightly over $100k. In 2015 the entire range of Smog 1888 miniatures was sold off at half price and discontinued and their separate range of alternate history world war 2 miniatures going under the name of Mauser Earth was sold to another French company called Wonderlands Projects where they can now be purchased. If you want to get hold of any of these you can find someone currently selling them on Cool Mini or Not or eBay but be quick because unless he’s a garage recaster his or her stock will eventually dry up.
The Smog models were lovely characterful sculpts with loads of little details in places and presculpted bases. As they weren’t heroic scale a lot of the smaller details would sometimes break off which made them completely unsuitable for a miniature game but great in a cabinet. So if you think you can give them a paint job that does them justice and you like the Steampunk theme then its worth tracking them down. Unfortunately I think the guys at Smart Max found that the intersect in the Venn diagram of: “Good painter” / “Interested in Steampunk” / “Not interested in using this miniature in an existing game” was just too small to sustain them and found a larger audience using the pattern: “Interested in board games” / “Interested in steampunk”.
White Dwarf Vol 1. This is the unofficial name for the monthly magazine published by Games Workshop from 1977 until issue #409 in 2014 and I’m going to review it.
Well most of it.
Only the good parts until it gets depressingly bad.
Wait, what, that’s impossible and / or pointless I hear my singular reader crying and you may be right but hear me out first.
The plan is to start from around issue 90 which is when the first appearance of 1st edition 40k, also known as Rogue Trader. From this point I plan on disassembling the myth of Rogue Trader and smashing the rose tinted spectacles that you view it with. From then I plan on picking up those spectacles, apologising, repairing them and then placing them back on your face and explaining that it wasn’t the dawn of 40k during that time that kicked off the modern Games Workshop, it was actually Epic. Once you are left reeling by that major development I’m going to be drawing brackets round the exact issues that start and end “The First Golden Age of Miniature Gaming” which will probably also be referred to by me as “The Golden Age of Games Workshop” or just “The Golden Age”. This will open the doors to a review of the major hits and misses of the era.”Well that’s just your opinion, man”. Yes that’s correct Lebowski, however unlike most opinion pieces I am going to be referring to Marketing and Psychology books to try and explain why people feel so much happy nostalgia towards it, why GW made so much money, why they are unlikely to go away and why they burned white hot during this period. The last part is particularly important as the games and models that were produced during this time are exactly what the company is currently (as of 2016) raiding for inspiration, and they are a large part of the reason why there are so many other high quality miniature companies around who have based their releases on the games templates put under the banner of the specialist games range before being discontinued during the later “Silver Age”.
If there was a “Golden Age of Games Workshop” then that age had to come to an end at some point. I would call the end in late 2001 when the Lord of the Rings miniature game was released under the smothering licence of New Line Cinema and the Tolkien Estate. It’s possible that you liked this game, it’s even possible that this might be the time that many players entered the hobby and huge profits were made by the company, however “The Golden Age” ended then. The many small games produced were cut back and “The Big Three”; 40k, Fantasy and LotRs were promoted in their place. This you might have guessed was “The Silver Age”.
Next came “The Bronze Age”, the discontinuing of Warhammer Fantasy the end of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit licence and the eventual end of the monthly White Dwarf. My reviews will probably end before I reach this point because a) The Golden Age is the most interesting to write about and b) It is widely known that the quality of White Dwarf declined from “writing about a hobby that you love that you want to show to other people” to “writing copy about a company you work for” and then on to “taking pictures of things you want to sell”.
So there you have it, if you want to really see how things were back in 1987. Want to see what makes an interesting article. How to write a good battle report and what influence the band D-rok had on the 40k universe then let’s begin here.
Welcome to the people who have decided to start reading this blog from the very beginning. It’s interesting to begin writing this as I don’t know how this blog will turn out and in what fields, if any, it finds success. My original idea is to document my interests in the fields of board games, card games, retro games workshop publication reviews and miniature painting, but you will almost certainly also find posts about other interests such as watch modifications, megagames, books, every day carry and anything else that it takes my fancy and gives me enough space to write long form content for. The main questions I hope to answer are:
- Why everyone should learn to paint and how to do it?
- Can the experience of painting miniatures be transferred to watch modification?
- What gaming experiences everyone is missing out on?
- Why is the golden age of Games Workshop from 1990 – 2001 so highly thought of?
- If I could produce a game what would I make and why?
To be honest this blog could end up being a streaming platform for Thomas the Tank Engine electronic dance music in a couple of years time.