Junk, empirical fantasy and junk again


I was photographing my latest painting progress this morning (a pile of junk!), and wanted to add a figure from my collection to add some human interest. The random figure I chose was from my old Games Workshop Warhammer ‘Empire’ army.

Pulling this old chap out of my display cabinet made me look again at my small Empire army, the first figures I painted when I returned to the wargaming hobby in my late 40s after a hiatus of a couple of decades or more.

Some years ago my young son became (temporarily) interested in wargaming.  Now while his futuristic Wahammer 40K Space Marines didn’t really do it for me, accompanying him to the Games Workshop store I spotted the Warhammer Fantasy Battles figures.  The Empire figures in particular struck my eye, what with their flamboyant renaissance landsknecht look.   So I splashed out on my first figures for many a year, and took them home to paint.


The picture above shows the first unit that I painted.  This was also the first ever time I used ink, something that didn’t exist when I had last painted model soldiers in my 20s.   The ink gave them depth, especially the faces and the yellow parts of the uniforms.


The figures in the above picture are called ‘great swords’ (no doubt on account of their blooming great swords). I recall I was relatively new to the internet at this time, and so searching for the flags and uniform colours for the various state armies of the Empire was my first experience of online research. Yes, fantasy can involve as much research as anything historical!


The figures in the above crossbow unit were an absolute  pain to assemble. Whilst all the other figures up till now had been plastic, these had metal arms and weapons that you had to glue to the plastic bodies. And would those very heavy metal arms stay stuck? No way! Even now, I occasionally have to re-attach the odd arm that has fallen off. Nowadays I know all about drilling in pins to secure such fragile joints, but back then I only knew how to assemble straight out of the box.


I love the Warhammer artillery. The huge ornate cannon, and the intricately diabolical organ gun are terrific.  They look as though they have just stepped out of a Leonardo da Vinci sketchbook.  And that cannon ball sure looks heavy.


A few years ago my artillery featured in an article on the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website, for which the above picture was taken.  Note how my reference to Leonardo da Vinci in the previous photo caption also applies to the look of the master gunner in this picture. He was also the figure I chose to accompany my header picture of the pile of junk that set me off on this posting today.


Here are a couple of the knights who form the only cavalry unit in my small army. These renaissance type figures open up the possibilities for all sorts of decoration, especially the embroidery of the horses’ barding. My efforts were pretty crude, but I think still give a good overall effect.


Games Workshop do hugely character-filled figures for their generals, as can be seen here in my two-person command unit. In fact, the detail is so intense, sometimes it is hard to see the human beneath it all! The flag was a printout from some website or another.


The above picture also hails from the old Kapiti Fusiliers article.  The stone wall and raggedy wooden fence are also a Games Workshop plastic kit.


So, that’s it … my Empire army. Painted last century, and only ever been on a tabletop once so far as I can recall.

Oh, but I forgot. The original reason for this whole posting was to show my painting progress for the last few weeks. Which has not been much – just a pile of junk (a few plastic Renadra barrels, gravestones, ladders, and a wagon wheel) and some picket fences.


8 thoughts on “Junk, empirical fantasy and junk again

    1. Maybe I will one day. But it is such a small force that it is probably insufficient for a game.

      I also have a small WFB Orc army my son started collecting.

  1. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Roly.

    I too have an Empire Army sitting in boxes (since we moved to Canada about 7 years ago). So your post brought back a lot of memories . . . and, yes, a lot of GW’s Empire figures do have a great deal of “personality” to them . . . and are certainly among their closest to being historical.

    Thanks again.

    — Jeff

    1. Yes, it was that likeness to historical figures, but with an added flair of exaggerated imaginary gaudiness, that I liked about this range of figures.

  2. Must confess I’ve occasionally been tempted to get Warhammer figures myself – have to walk firmly past that shop in the Reading complex – but they do look rather good en-masse. (Alas, I have no time these days for any kind of modelling.)

    1. Those GW shop window displays at the Reading are always interesting to stare at (though a bot hard to look at, due to shelf height, poor lighting and glass reflection).

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