The future is green!
…well, at least in part. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start with a small excurse (as I am wont to do). A word of warning, though: This will be a pretty wordy post, as we take another trip down memory lane…
Anyway, let us talk og Orcs, shall we? My sympathy for Orcs and Goblins even predates my knowledge of Tolkien and his books by a couple of years. Indeed, possibly my first exposure to the concept of the Orc per se were this guy and his kin:
While that approach may seem a little backwards, GW’s concept of what an Orc should look like (along with 80′s fantasy art of mostly British origin) had shaped my view of Orcs and Goblins long before I ever read the Hobbit for the first time. Consequently, when I did read the Hobbit, it was absolutely clear to me that the Orcs and Goblins appearing thoughout the story had to be very similar in appearance to the greenskinned creatures populating the labyrinths of HeroQuest.
Another huge influence in my relationship with the greenskins came when Warcraft and Warcraft II were released: Instead of going for a goofy, idiotic and mostly bumbling race of imbeciles, Blizzard’s Orcs where a proud and fierce warrior race, cunning and powerful, if a little lacking in subtlety. But still, Blizzard’s designers were obviously influenced by both Tolkien and GW, so the image of the greenskinned brute with tusk like teeth was further embellished. During all of this, my love of Orcs and Goblins made me get the 5th edition WFB army book for them, but back in those days, starting a greenskin army was prohibitively expensive, with most models only being available in metal. So I only ever got a few of the models, like these classic Brian Nelson Orcs:
When the 6th edition of WFB came around in 2000, the starter box contained lots of brand-new plastic Orcs, and I decided that this was the perfect time to finally start my own army of Orcs & Goblins. Having just finished school back then, I can remember myself during my compulsory term of community service, walking up and down the corridors of the hospital I was working at, with potential colour schemes for my new greenskin army constantly at the back of my head. I was in love with GW’s Orcs and Goblins, and how could I not have been? From a design perspective, the greenskins have been among GW’s finest offerings for a long time now. And they are one of the only factions always managing to blend the legitimately scary with the darkly humorous.
So I started building and painting, and my first models made me hungry for more. Take a look:
These were all painted during late 2000 and early 2001, when I was hellbent on starting a greenskin army. Alas, it amounted to nothing: The model count needed for a whole army was what defeated my ambitions in the end. So the models went to my cupboard of shame, there to moulder for eternity. I have loved the new greenskin releases over the years, and they always made me feel slightly nostalgic, but I never felt tempted to actually pick up and finish the army: I couldn’t do it when WFB was still much smaller in scope, so I doubt I’d be able to do it now. So it was always with feelings of guilt that I remembered the greenskins resting in my cupboard, and I always took the time to lovingly sift through the different sprues, whenever I had to nick a couple of Orc parts for some INQ28 project or other.
So why all of this preamble? Well, a short time ago, a colleague told me that she and her husband were quite strongly into playing Blood Bowl. And through her constant gentle niggling, I began to think about actually starting a small BB Orc Team myself, just for the heck of it — after all, I probably had enough plastic Orcs to spare.
And while browsing through my collection of plastic Orc and Goblin bitz, the idea for two pretty different hobby projects was born…
I. The Orkheim Ultraz
Like I said, I am going to build and paint an Orcish Blood Bowl team in order to be able to give the game a spin. I have absolutely zero experience playing either football, rugby or Blood Bowl, but I am reasonably sure my colleague will at least be able to help me out with the latter. As I quickly found out, the different Orc plastic kits lend themselves very well to converting Blood Bowl models, and so, after a relatively short while, I had a couple of players tacked together:
All of these were built from leftovers and parts from my bitzbox. I used my usual yellow putty to not only tack the models together but also to show how I wanted them to be placed on the finished base — crucial in most cases, as you can see. Looking at all the Orcs above, trying their darnedest to catch that stupid ball, I think you’ll agree that there’s quite a potential for humor in these models, and that’s what I am going for: I want these to be darkly humorous and slightly goofy.
I also repurposed the members of an old WFB Orc command group to serve as members of the team’s fan club:
And a Gnoblar from the Ogre kit was used to serve as the team’s kit man — or “Kit Git”, as it were
I even caved in and finally got the box of Black Orcs I had craved for such a long time. Some of these will be used as blockers in my Blood Bowl Team, and once again, the design of the models made sure that they are looking right at home on a football…erm pardon, Blood Bowl pitch, with only very little conversion work required:
The rest of the Black Orcs, however, will be used in the second hobby project I was talking about. Before we take a look at that, though, here’s the whole team so far:
II. Orcish Gang for Mordheim
Yet another specialist system, huh? Bring it on! While I hope to develop this gang of models back to back with the Blood Bowl team, the project could not be more different in nature. Where I want the BB team to be funny and goofy, these guys will be dark and brutal, imposing and very gothic: I want to channel not only the slightly demented aesthetic of Mordheim itself, but also the dark fantasy tropes present in Blanchian artwork from the late 80s and early 90s — effectively, Tolkien by way of Brueghel and Bosch. This will be quite a daunting task though, so even if I shouldn’t be able to live up to my mission statement, I will at least strive to create a really brutal looking band of Orcs (and, possibly, Goblins). They will have lots and lots of weapons, lots of kit and strange detail, and several models will be based on Black Orcs to begin with, to make them look even more formidable and ferocious. I will probably completely ignore the Mordheim equipment tables and just go with what looks awesome.
And, after all this time, this project will give me the chance of actually using some of the Orcs I built all these years ago for WFB. Rest assured, however, that only the most imposing models will make the cut:
And even those will probably end up looking like the runts of the litter. Anyway, I also built a first actual test model for the gang, using a mix of Orc and Black Orc parts:
This guy is still missing lots and lots of bitz and strange, gothic doodads, but I think you get the picture.
I cannot even be sure whether these guys will ever end up seeing the gaming table at all — after all, this is just a hobby project trying to express both my love for greenskins as well as my admiration for a certain flavour of dark fantasy artwork. Maybe my buddy Frankie will do me the favour of playing a game of Mordheim against me one of those days, though.
In any case, by choosing two hobby projects that are limited, if not in scope then at least in model count, I can finally build some great Orc and Goblin models: A goal that was somehow always lost while frantically trying to finish enough models to make up an army. I am really looking forward to this!
I don’t have a clear deadline for either of these projects: The BB team will probably be assembled and painted rather soon, seeing how I want to try my hand at the game. I can easily see the Mordheim gang taking quite a while to complete, since it’s by far the more ambitious project of the two. For now, I have a pile of bitz and Brian’s fantastic recipe for Orc skin. Let’s see where that will take me…
Oh, and for those of you visiting this blog for my World Eaters, Custodes or INQ28 models — don’t fret! A part of the future may indeed be green, but equally sizeable chunks will remain red and bronze, golden or …shadowy and secretive — yes, I realise that those last two aren’t colours
Anyway, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!