I have a confession to make.
I actually quite like Games Workshop models.
Most people in the UK will be aware of the Games Workshop stores, with models of strange monsters in the windows. But most people don’t realise that the company’s been going since the early 80’s.
It was founded by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the men who created the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks that were incredibly popular when I was at school.
At the start, the company reprinted American games like Dungeons and Dragons for the UK market. But they also started to make and sell little lead figures to represent the heroes and monsters from the games. Then they started making and selling wargames for the lead minatures.
The first of the games was Warhammer, which featured armies of the usual fantasy suspects – elves, dwarves and orcs.
This was followed by a sci-fi equivalent, Warhammer 40,000 (or 40K amongst fans).
The 40K universe was an odd combination of its fantasy forebear and 80’s sci-fi films. On the fantasy side, there were space elves (called Eldar), space dwarves (called Squats) and orcs (called, well, orks).
The 80’s sci-fi influences included Aliens, with Space Marines and “Genestealers” who looked suspiciously like the Aliens.
The Necrons looked an awful lot like the Terminator.
And the 80’s vibe was only enhanced by everyone having enormous shoulder pads.
I never really got into 40K when I was a teenager – my younger brother did but the models of the time never appealed to me. A lot of them seemed to involve supergluing metal to plastic, and I generally ended up supergluing my fingers together.
But once I started getting into models in my late 20s, I found that the easiest models to get hold of were Games Workshop models – they’ve got a store in most middle sized towns.
And the models are now really nice. It’s common in some parts of the internet to criticise 40K models (mostly because they’re popular and dominate the market), but I’ve found that they’re interesting designs and easy to build and customise.
I don’t play the 40K game – I build the models for the enjoyment of building and painting them. This means I don’t feel that I have to follow any prescribed markings or colour schemes. (The first model I built had a camouflage pattern based on the Vulcan bomber…)
I’ve built quite a few of the models now, varying from giant robots:
to Judge Dredd pastiches:
My latest project is
Space Elves, sorry, Eldar.
They’re nice models and I wanted them to give them a really old-fashioned sci-fi feel.
I used a lot of metal paint for their armour, recalling early space suits and costumes from 50’s B-movies.
I also wanted to reflect the figures’ 80’s sci-fi roots. As well as the metallic colours and inevitable shoulderpads, I used a centrepiece figure with bright blue hair and red lips, bringing to mind Blade Runner and other cyberpunk films. (She’s also somehow ended up with a Chrissy Hynde fringe…)
I’m rather pleased with how they’ve turned out. Needless to say, I’ve got loads more models still to do, but I’m happy with how it’s looking.
(The title is a Muppet Show reference that anyone under the age of 30 probably won’t get…)