|Psychostyrene Dwarf Artwork used as the backing art for the blister they were sold in.|
As miniature collectors and painters we ask each other all kinds of questions. How much did you pay for that miniature? How did you achieve that effect with paint? What are the rules for using chariots? I could continue in this way for most of the day, easily, as I suspect could any other grognard.
One question that we don't seem to ask very much concerns that moment in time, long past, when we bought our very first miniature. For the first time, we peeled open one of those blister packs and held a miniature in our grubby hands, or perhaps tore away the cellophane wrapping around a Big Box Game, like the immortal Heroquest, and sat gaping at the mass of plastic sprues that lay before us.
So to ask my question: What was your first ever miniature and in what year did you buy it in?
Casting my mind back, it is actually pretty difficult to be sure what my first miniature (or miniatures) actually were. I know when I bought them, in late '88 in Wonderworld near Bournemouth. Surprisingly, the shop is still there, though not quite in the original location, and it concentrates on the comics trade these days, so I doubt that there will be a copy of Rogue Trader left on the shelves after all this time. I am 90% sure that the first pack of models I bought were these:
Oxy O'Cetylene and the Tinman. But I have vague memories of having a Paranoia robot or two way back then, so it may have been one of those, though it is more likely that I bought both at the same time. I can recall spotting the advert for Wonderworld in White Dwarf and badgering my dad to take me. The shop wasn't far from a Model Railway Shop and dad was a keen enthusiast of steam trains, so was happy enough to take me after I had spent what felt like forever wandering around looking at tracks and signal boxes.
I can still feel that excitement upon entering Wonderworld that day. It was dark, dingy but crammed from floor to ceiling with gaming kit. Car Wars, Dr Who soundtracks (illegal copies on tape), roleplaying books and rows of movie tat. Then there was the enormous Blister Wall and the boxes and boxes of Games Workshop products. I expect that Oxy and friend were part of a bargain bin lot, as I can faintly recall grubbing around in a pile of battered blisters. Being a parent now, I know that you don't really want to spend much when your offspring get interested in something new, you must purchase something cheap first to check that the interest level maintains itself before spending the serious money. So I guess that is what dad did.
When I got home, I used pots of Humbrol enamel to paint the Tinman but considered Oxy too fiddly to attempt in that first session. Though later, I did use the paints I had for my plastic Airfix Napoleonics to blob colours on Oxy. He didn't look a pretty sight and my dad put him in turps so I could have another go. Which I did a few years later, when I painted him up as a leaving gift for my Teacher, Mr Cooper. Sadly, in my teaching career, none of my pupils have presented me with an unusual Citadel miniature at the end of the year!
And so Oxy left me. The Tinman lived on for a while, taking part in many a battle on the bedroom floor. In my games, he was elevated to a more powerful central character, and fought a long war against the ogre, Vomitbreath, until suffering that most serious injury of the snapped ankle. In the days before I knew about pinning, this meant retirement for any of my models. But this disaster had a positive outcome in future years, as because he was broken, my Tinman model survived the two periods of 'selling off the collection' that I carried out in the early 2000s. Hence, I was able to find him in my garage the other day when I was thinking about our question at hand.
After a spell in the Dettol, I attempted to clean the Tinman up, and in doing so nearly lost his other foot! At some time in the past I must have repaired both feet, but I had clearly forgotten that and risked losing a vital piece of him down the plug hole. Once clean, I did a really decent job of pinning him back together with decent wire. I left a long piece of wire sticking out of each foot and used them to attach him very securely onto a large, square base. Luckily, some time ago I picked up a second Oxy from eBay as I knew that I had the Tinman lying around somewhere. Scrabbling around in the collection for a while, I spotted him in the odds and sods bag in the Welsh Dresser and the two were re-united once again (even if Oxy is an imposter!)
If you didn't know, the Tinman and Oxy were a limited edition release and were part of a scenario published in White Dwarf called the Crude, the Mad and the Rusty. There are only 6 models in this little collection and the scenario includes the original, and highly sought after, Skrag the Slaughterer. I may have a go at tracking down the rest of the models one day, to make Oxy and Tinman feel even more at home.
If you are interested in finding out a little more about the scenario (including it's brain-meltingly bad full colour game board) then I have embedded a link to issue 83 of White Dwarf via Scribd. The scenario details begin on page 30 so it is pretty easy to just scroll through the other pages to find it.
I suppose that simply sharing the story of your first miniature is not going to be challenge enough for some folk, me included. So I took things a step further forwards and set about actually painting my 'first ever miniature/s' in glorious technicolour.
And here they are! Apologies for the unsightly blond hair, but my three year old daughter was playing with my scenery just before I took this little shot and left one of her little markers for us all to enjoy. Perhaps it is chaos tape worm? As you can see, Oxy is an interesting little dwarf wearing grubby working clothes, so I chose a suitably oily blue for his overalls and a dirty brown for the apron. Both painted up very easily. It was very easy to just basecoat the metal parts silver, give them a black and chestnut ink wash and highlight with two lighter shades of the colour. I added a few little spot colours to the other tools in the apron, which you can just about make out in my photograph, as well as using silver once again ti pick out files, hammers and screwdrivers.
The flesh tone was my usual method, with an added layer of red to make Oxy seem a little more ruddy than normal. I used a red ink wash to draw attention to the spots that cover his face (though they might also be warts, I suppose?) and dotted their heads with a little yellow. His blond beard was easy enough to paint on, again with layering but I chose to fiddle around a bit more with his welding mask and blow-torch.
The mask was a case of basecoating in a sliver/black mix and washing over in black ink and wiping away the excess on the flat surfaces with a damp brush. I then drybrushed over the top in silver to bring out the detail. Blue ink was dribbled into the eyeholes to give them a slightly different glassy sheen. The blowtorch started out much the same, only I watered down the blue ink wash and used it to glaze over the silver paint, giving the torch a blue tint. Once dry, I just drybrushed over with silver and used straight ink (black and brown) to make the end of the torch look used. Then, all I had to do was base him and old Oxy was complete.
Tinman was a little different. A nice black/silver mix created my basecoat and I washed over the lot with black ink. A brown ink wash followed up to create rusty patches here and there. Once dry, I blocked in a mid silver all over the body, leaving plenty of black lining to create depth, and highlighted in pure silver. Here and there I painted a few brass sections and a red wheel on a gas tap for interest. Then it was just a case of basing him in a similar way to Oxy and he too was done, though I may come back to him later and tart him up a bit more when I buy a brighter silver paint.
So, to conclude. There is my story of the first miniature I ever bought: The LE14 Oxy O'Cetylene and Tinman blister. For bonus points I have tracked down the actual models and given them a sparkling new paintjob. Now, dear reader, you can do something for me! Kindly share with me the details of what YOUR first miniature was and the year you bought it. I'd love to know!
Oh, and if you fancy a challenge, why not have a go at tracking down those models once again and repainting them with all the flair you can muster today. Just let me know somehow because I would love to see what you come up with.
Looking forwards to hearing your stories!