Thursday, October 2, 2014

Orktober is HERE! Or what is an Orc to me.....?

Its back - Orctober time! Thanks to Erny, at Erny's Place we are again going to hear all sorts of stuff about one of the most iconic bad guys in Fantasy history! There have already been some great posts about the evolution of orcs, by Matthew at, and some are adding guns to theirs, like Leadplague. Great start to this Orctober (or is that Orktober for Leadplague)!

Not to cover lots of covered ground, I'm just going to concentrate on two things. First, as you all know, Kev Adams and Bryan Ansell created most of the iconic "look" we tend to associate with Orcs today - from the pointed ears, big jaws, fighting and humorous spirit. Even the Green tide we all know and love. In fact the last Kev Adams releases to me (around 1992-93) of goblins marks the end of the second age of Games Workshop. You can see the progression here:

Andy Craig's Favorite Fraser Grey - Orc

Thantsants wonderful model, picture from Kev Adams Challenge blog.
Some of the most classic late 80's sculpts  - Ruglud's unit of crazies!

The Stylized "New" Rugluds......
Larry Vela's Savage Orc Boss (Golden Demon winner Chicago 2012)
Those last two images show the stylized "violent and big" version that the Orcs have become. The humor and panache of the Kev Adams sculpts is gone. Is there any wonder why we love his stuff so much (And once again are so happy about Boyldrick - Thanks Kev, hope you are healing quickly!)

It is almost like it was too much of a good thing and they had to "un"-Kev them. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of things that Mr. Nelson and others have done...but they are different. A new breed of Orc, and not the ones I fell in love with.

I was recently watching Labyrinth, the movie with David Bowie, with the kids, and they could not stop laughing over the little goblins - both my 2 and 4 year old and straight through to the 17 year old! That humor is incredible, and captured in the sculpts of the 80s and 90s! I was struck while watching it, just how much was Brian Froud influenced by Games Workshop artists....or were his influences just shared by Mr.s' Miller, Blanche, et. all....That would be a curious thing, but it must have been something to do with the time and their influences.

The other Gobbos I was in love with as a kid was the Hobbit and Return of the King Orcs. I know, not high art, and a bit cat like, but they just always appealed to me in 1977. In fact they led me to pick up my first miniatures, some Heritage and Citadel Orcs. So in some ways, I have these guys to blame for my metal condition.

Thanks Mr. Rankin and Mr. Bass!

One note - this was supposed to be a bit about my latest hobby rescue where I tried to fix fits in, and someone can probably tell what it is, but I'll be back tomorrow with a bit on this guy and how to fix it. (I would have had more but I currently have a 2 year old teething with molars. trust me, it stops your life from time to time!)


  1. Nice run down and thanks for the mention!

    I've got a bit of a soft spot for those Rankin Bass Goblins too - not sure whether they have two throats or just really big tonsils though?!

    I assume you're familiar with their Mordor Orcs too - I confess to finding Where there's a Whip, There's a Way infuriatingly catchy!

    I have the same mini in need of some serious TLC as well - I'll be interested to see if your's broke in the same places.

    1. Mention is well deserved - absolutely love your photos! Hoping to do a lot more "real" stuff like battle reports, scenarios and hobby after Oldhammer Day USA. But if I can ever get to taking pictures like on your blog, it will be incredible! And yes, even the little ones sing "where there's a whip"! Well, as you can see, the ankle was a complete break. But hopefully people like it!

  2. I have a couple of these guys and they all broke in the same place. Makes sense given the weight and leverage put on the piece, look forward to seeing your solution.

    1. Hopefully up later tonight (have to take pics) if not, then definitely tomorrow!

  3. It all comes back to Froud and Henson eventually ;-)

    1. Well, Froud, Henson, Tolkein, Eddison, surely ;)! But I was just struck with some of the similarities, and wonder if it was self-influenced among themselves, or if they had certain shared background influences. Basically late 70s early 80s seemed to create a certain gestalt "look". From Rodney Mathews, Achielos, Froud. Yes, they are all different and great artists, but their are certain similarities and a creative vibe that seems far different in more modern artists. Not bashing current art, as there is just some incredible stuff out there. But the vibe is far different, almost more picture quality, and less artistic, if that makes sense?

    2. ...and Greg Stafford. Yeah, there's a much stronger focus on a (digital) painterly naturalism in modern gaming, it's alltogether twee and epic at the same time, very conservative. I think the rot really set in with 2nd Eition AD&D. Massive fan of Erol Otus who did some fantastic work on D&D, and continues to produce mind-bending stuff today. But I'm rambling!

      Noticed that Thantants posted John Blanches cover for Chaos Marauders which always stuck me as being more than similar to Brian Frouds painting of Toby and the Goblins.

      Here's to multi-blog cross-posting!

  4. Just ran across your site. You have really hit the nail on the head between the old and new GW -- "The humor and panache is gone."