Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Special Smell of Oldhammer

My recent adventures with Dettol have yielded interesting results. Not only do I now smell like a hospital,  but I have managed to strip the paint from a range of lead models, including several marines, two genestealer patriarchs, most of a weird little dragon, two orks and a Keeper of Secrets, a hideous "pleasure" demon that looks as if it has the same relationship with sex as Picasso had with drawing people's eyes on different sides of their faces. So far so good.

I've found myself looking at a lot of metal models of the sort beloved by Oldhammer fans and thinking "What is it about these that's good?" Because, let's be honest, the sculpting is often crude and imprecise, the posing awkward and confined to one axis of movement, the options for customisation very limited. And yet... They do have a certain something. Old Warhammer figures remind me of old D&D pictures, like this:

For one thing, there's the pure nostalgia of being young again. For another, there's the memory of exploring this stuff for the first time, of not quite understanding what the settings were all about, and having the option to buy whatever figures you liked and stick them into some rough approximation of an army ("Space pirates" is always a safe bet if you want to include absolutely anything).

Back then, the rules weren't so hard and fast. White Dwarf contained pictures of orks at the market, and articles about how to depict Belgium in Warhammer Fantasy Battle. When you went to the model shop (often not GW at all) you had the excitement of looking through endless blister packs and sometimes buying something you didn't recognise from anywhere because it looked cool.

While my first instinct was, and is, to jeer at Age of Sigmar and it's lack of rules, perhaps the sheer openness of it could be a good thing. What I would like is a game system with the creativity of Oldhammer and the simplicity of - well, me.

Anyhow, here is an ork of the Snakebite clan that I stripped and repainted. He is a lump of lead, and his head is remarkably free from detail, compared to modern sculpts. But just look at his jolly little face! He's not even grinning evilly. He's just happy. I didn't give him a weapon because he looks too cheerful to be packing a gat. Unfortunately, the matt varnish decided to try out being gloss for no good reason, but it adds to the antiquated feel of it all.

Less cheerful, yet still oddly endearing, are these nasty little genestealer familiars. You used to get a couple with each magus you bought. I expect they run around the cult's HQ, tripping the minions up. The patriarch probably strokes one when he announces his plans to destroy the world.

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