Guy Haley’s First Model
Author Guy Haley has been a hobbyists and Warhammer fan for years. Newer fans out these will of course recognise him as the author of many Black Library tales, including the Eldar novel ‘Valedor‘*. For those of you who have been with us for a while, you may remember some of his contributions to White Dwarfs of yesteryear.
*which has some early hints at some of the events of the ‘Gathering Storm II: Fracture of Biel-Tan‘ for those of you who are interested.
Today he shares with us his first ever painted model:
Guy: I don’t think I’m a bad painter. I’m not brilliant, and I’m certainly never, ever going to win Golden Demon – I don’t have the patience for it, even if I did have the skill, which I don’t. But when I get out my armies to play a game, the comments on my painting are usually positive.
It was not always so. Cue wibbly-wobbly flashback effect.
I started playing Warhammer a very, very long time ago. 1983 was my very first game, I think, when I was ten. It was my father who got me into this wargaming lark, you see. In his younger days, he was an antique toy soldier dealer, and he still does a bit on eBay now. He’s a world expert on Britain’s toy soldiers (ask your granddad). He put out his own catalogues every year and he travelled around the world buying and selling bits of people’s childhoods.
At one point, he published a reprint of HG Well’s seminal work ‘Little Wars’. He even had his own range of model soldiers that he sculpted himself. He worked from home, hence my lifelong aspiration to do so, and I used to go up to his office and speak with him for hours. It was great up there, full of weird old toys like actual steam powered trains that you lit a real fire in and boxes full of plastic cowboys. One favourite game of mine was to build big mansions out of Victorian building blocks (carved out of actual stone) and drive wind up tanks through them. Happy days.
Anyway, I’m getting all Werther’s Original on you in my middle-aged ramblings. I’ll cut to the chase. My dad got me and my brother Dungeons & Dragons to play. He ran it for us, and bought us some early Citadel miniatures so we could more easily visualise what was going on. If you’ve seen kids playing D&D in the basement on TV or in movies, it was not far off that. One day, my dad’s regular wargaming partner picked up Warhammer (so primitively printed it looked like my dad’s home made catalogues) and invited us to play. The rest is history.
Like any boy, I wanted to impress my dad. That’s part of the reason I started painting models. This quest for approval led me to drop my brother’s figures into the turps one day, because they were better than mine, but that’s another story which we’ll skate over because it makes me look like a git. Soon, I was just hooked on those little lumps of lead. Yes, lead. Back then they were made of a lead alloy, and the further back you go, the more lead there was in the mix. Mmm, lead.
Citadel miniatures were a world away from what they are today. They were much smaller, for a start. You bought them in bags, I mean literally in plastic bags with little cardboard strips stapled to the top. A skeleton would set you back about ten pence. If that sounds like a bargain, bear in mind your average skelly was the size of a thumbnail, limited in pose by the moulding process, and nowhere near as detailed as they are now. There was no Citadel Paint System, no slottabases and White Dwarf was a roleplaying game magazine. It was that long ago.
This first model of mine came from a set called ‘Dungeon Monsters’ or somesuch, a random grab bag of orcs, undead and whatnot. I still have most of the rest of them. This is an orc, but I thought it was a hobgoblin, and used it as such for years.
My first attempt at painting was undertaken enthusiastically but poorly. Acrylics weren’t used often to paint models. My dad employed oil paint mixed with yacht varnish in his work (really), and I borrowed some of his stuff, along with a couple of tins of Airfix paints I had to paint some plastic dinosaurs. All this toxic paint required toxic thinner to go with my toxic lead. I still yearn for the heady fumes.
’Eavy Metal painting guides always stress that to get the best finish, one must use thin, opaque coats of paint. ‘Eavy Metal didn’t exist then, so maybe that explains why I applied the paint so thickly I had to literally drill holes with a modelling knife so the orc had eyes again.
I painted it green, because orcs were green in Dungeons & Dragons. Early Warhammer had yet to settle on a preferred colour. My later efforts were brown and black like JRR Tolkien’s creatures, until greenskins became firmly greenskins, and so this chap is presciently green. Thick, impenetrable, green. It is rubbish.
But I still have it.
Check out some of the word-smithing Guy has done over at Black Library.
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