These are quite possibly the most important images in the history of my relationship with this hobby. As things continue to be a little slow around here at the moment, I want to start kicking it into gear and revisiting these pics has been a treat. I’ve been searching for inspiration, and in returning to my 2nd Ed roots to find the images that first inspired me to spend my pocket money on little lead toy soldiers, I’ve had a few epiphanies. These were the images that appeared in white dwarf and often on its back cover during those days, or in the rule books around the mid 1990s.
I’ve been trawling the net for these images and been studying them avidly, just as I used to do when I was but a slip of a lad (the lad in question being my father, and the slip being I). I’ve even put together a little folder of these that I’ve been enjoying and so I thought I’d stick ten of them up here. These are both my favourites, and also the ones that have helped me draw a few conclusions and ask a few questions. All credit goes to the old Eavy Metal team for these great shots.
I really do, and that’s weird. I think it’s weird anyway. It’s not like you could get a huge amount of detail on any of the models, and the models themselves (particularly the infantry) were pretty dorky and static. But that’s not what Epic was about. It was about large scale battles with the player being far more of a General, instead of just a commander. This is what we’re supposed to aspire to in 40k now and sculpting and moulding has progressed so far that we can have a lot of the minis once thought confined to the Epic tabletop in our 28mm games, but a full size apocalypse battle tends to take days rather than hours. Epic could be shorter, relied on very different tactics and ideas and helped you to imagine sweeping planetary vistas rather than a tiny chunk of a city. What’s more, owning a Titan was the price of a beer or two, not a mortgage payment. Anyway, I do miss those little guys.
2. Battle Reports Were Awesome
I remember this one fondly. It was a huge tank battle between the Space Marines and Imperial Guard and it looked immense. You know how you go to an Apocalypse game and half the models are badly painted and some weird, strained allegiance explains why Chaos and ELdar are on the same side and it’s all a bit naff? Well, there were a couple of these huge 4 vs 4 battle reports over the years and they just made these big games look so awesome because everything was painted by the Eavy Metal team. And they used to take up a huge chunk of White Dwarf too, but they were so interesting; reading tactics, reactions and all the rest. I miss those.
3. I Still Aspire To Be Fred Reed
Fred Reed was a hero. A legend within the Howling Griffons chapter, even. All who have come since that have painted this army, owe a little to this dude’s amazing force. When I was a kid, this resembled an almost unachievable dream. All those models! All those faultless splits between red and yellow! That army was, and remains, a great big slice of awesome pie, covered in sprinkles and cream. All hail Fred Reed.
4. The Grimdark Used To Be Very Green
It was only when I started looking through these snaps that I realised just how verdant and lush the 41st Millennium used to look. It wasn’t all cracked concrete, blood n mud, or space hulky back then. It was a veritable Eden (though with giant war machines stomping around it) and it was good. It just goes to show that the Grimdark doesn’t have to be grim and/or dark all the time.
5. I Miss Not Being Able To Get Stuff
Right. When I was a lad, I saw this picture and of all the awesomeness going on here, I wanted those Gretchin. Not the Razorback or the rockets or the cyboars (I miss those – they were delightfully silly). I wanted those Gretchin. I had the plastic ones from the 2nd Ed box and, as discussed on this blog before, they were a little dull. The ones in this picture were dynamic and interesting and they looked so much better. I used to go into the old Reading GW and walk along the rows of blister packs and boxes and they were never there. Ever. I asked and was always told ‘nah, we never get those – dunno why’ and that was it. I had no access to those models but that made them even more special and I know it’s weird to miss something that was kind of a downer, but it was genuinely a simpler time and there was more mystery to those models. Still never got those Gretchin though.
6. I Miss Squats
Yeah, I know. Big cliche. Everyone misses Squats and then you actually see some of the old models and you think ‘Ewww… why?’. But I’d love to see these guys make a return. There are some very talented people out there doing homebrew armies (one of my favourites is the hugely talented Mikko Luoma whose work is well worth a look) but I’d love GW to support this army again and really make a go of it. Alas, it’ll almost certainly never happen, but we can dream.
7. 2nd Ed Scenery Was The Best
It just was. Yes, technically the modern stuff that GW creates is more accessible and yes, people have made amazing stuff of their own, but these ruins were the best. In an era where plenty of us were smashing up polystyrene to try and do something similar, the stuff the Eavy Metal team were creating was at the cutting edge and it was just beautiful. It set the scene and captured the imagination and it just looked amazing. Big Respect for that.
8. But the Best Scenery of 2nd Ed Was Orky
Remember when Orks actually used to live in buildings? They were kind of ancient central American-inspired little houses covered in colourful glyphs and they just looked great. I always wanted to build one of these for myself, and maybe one day I will because they just look so cool to me. I miss house-trained Orks.
9. Eldar Used To Be A Bit Derpy
Far from the sleek, fast and thin looking Eldar of today, these guys looked a bit less graceful and a bit more derpy. Look at the teeny avatar! And that lumpy old Eldar Dreadnought! And those fat helmets! Love it. Takes ’em down a peg by reminding them of these ‘classic looks’.
10. My Favourite Image Was…
So, having just called them Derpy, the Eldar eventually improved and made it into my favourite picture from those old days. This was included in one of the old 2nd Ed books from the starter set and it was kind of everything I aspired to. That great terrain with two beautifully painted armies going to war on it. There were unusual miniatures that I’d never seen before, painting that I just thought was out of this world and I instantly fell in love with the Blood Angels too. This image, to me, represents 2nd Edition like nothing else. And I miss it.
So there you go. I trust that that was a pleasant stroll down memory lane? Thanks to the folks at Eavy Metal for dragging my wide-eyed young self into this hobby. Thanks for all those images that made me love this hobby. I’m feeling a little more like working on my armies having just written this post, and I hope you’re in a similar mood. Onwards!