Tuesday, 19 April 2016

I was Oldhammer before it was a thing!

As is my wont during a lovely long Easter holiday, I took my knackered old car and drove off, in a Northerly direction, to visit my oldest and dearest friends. After a stop off in Nottingham where I spent the night ruminating on many things Warhammery, planning a heroic escalation campaign between two Empire armies, raking through boxes of figures and hinting heavily about how I didn't have them, volunteering to paint his Tilean gang and forcing him to watch the 2000ad documentary (he enjoyed it immensely and as he is a big fan or Vertigo comics was surprised by the discussion of it's existence being a direct result of the US pinching 2000ad talent) I jumped back in my car and headed up to Edina. The main purpose was to go out on the Lash with another dear friend who also had the pleasure of turning 40 (which we duly did on Saturday) but I also had the chance to chat to his lovely wife and quiz her on her pregnancy (me being an expert and everything). What I also got to do was rake through his collection of old publications and borrow a couple. These were all books that he inherited from his aunt way back when we were but ickle gamers in the 80's. Probably around '88 I reckon. These magazines were, however, even older than that.

The first Citadel Journal came out in spring '85 (I would have just turned 9) and was the first of a run of magazines that would appear every 6 months or so. They appear to be an attempt to create a publication that entirely focussed on citadel and it's output rather than have to share space with all the other content that had to be squeezed into white dwarf. It was that place where you see the cult of personality that the so called 'golden age' created begin to take shape with individuals photographed and amusing captions slotted in underneath.

Even then we knew we had some old stuff on our hands but the difference those 3 years make in the presentation of  citadels wares is astounding. If you read my recent post about citadel adverts then you'll know how much I love the classic presentations of painted ranges. In the Journal all the figures are represented by sketches. While this gives you an idea of what the figures look like I'm still often surprised by the quality in the sculpting that these old figures have. I've got the cyborg warrior from the Fighters range below and it fits perfectly with figures from ranges 5 to 20 years younger.

I don't just want to write a review of this issue though as I'm sure that's been done plenty of times before. 

What struck me when I was flicking through this and the 2nd Journal was how out of date they were when we encountered them back in the day. We came into the hobby after the release of Rogue Trader, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Runequest 3rd Edition and Warhammer 3rd edition,  so anything before this was a foreign country. It didn't occur to us that the Older editions were worth hunting out (and doing so would have been practically impossible in the pre-internet days). Instead, our experience was a mish-mash of the latest editions of Dragon and White Dwarf and whatever magazines we were able to cadge from this wonderfully helpful aunt and her friends. We treated these things as holy relics even then. The figures illustrated in the pages weren't available to us, they weren't on the shelves of Mac's Models (or the other miniatures shop on Dalkieth Road who's name I have tried for years to discern).

All you need to do to get an idea of the gulf between our 88/89 selves and the dim and distant past of early 85 is look at the introductory page. In it the Journal lays out some of the important plans that Citadel /GW have for the future. In above pic you can see that the new version (2nd) of Warhammer had just been released and was proving popular and you can also see that WFRP is development although they missed their summer 85 deadline by some margin.

What is more surprising is how early Rogue Trader and Realms of Chaos were in development. Remember that RT came out in 87 and the set described above looks as if it was very much being developed as a Role playing game. The mind boggles at the thought of the rules for interplanetary travel and trade but the though of ship-to-ship combat really gets the antennae twitching. 
Even further in the future would be the release of Realms of chaos. The first of the two books didn't turn up until 88 and the second till 90. When you have those books in hand it's hardly surprising that they took 5 years to develop and produce.

John Blanche is all over the Journal form having a couple of glorious illustrations on full pages to having a 6 page article about the art of converting and painting your figures. To fair this article contains a whole wealth of ideas about making the most of your miniatures and giving yourself unique and inspiring figures. Now I think of it the article probably deserves a post all of it's own as it's pretty exhaustive and it's a treat to see the little illustrations for their own sake, so that's what I'll do at some point in the future.

The Journal is full of the original fluff and stats for the regiments of renown which you'll be familiar with if you've ever visited the Stuff of Legends site but it also has a fantastic cut out and model wooden tower on the back page. How you were supposed to create this is anybody's guess as the two sides were printed back to back and colour photocopiers were not the common place item they are today (guess where I might be visiting?)  

It wasn't a big magazine. It wasn't particularly flashy and it certainly wasn't new or up to date but it was part of our formative days as wargamers. We didn't quite get it all, we looked at the illustrations and thought the pictures of the figures were old fashioned. But there was stuff in there that caught our eye, that stuck with us, that lodged in our Psyche and still makes us sigh in and old man kind of way at the time when we were astounded, imaginative and excited young gamers. We were Oldhammer and we didn't even know it.


  1. I now regret cutting up the covers of mine to make the buildings (and wagons for Dolgan Raiders). Although I was pleased with the monastery when I built it, it was sadly lost long ago. Still have the coverless journal though...

  2. Coming from Australia, I never even knew that the Journal existed. I'm pretty sure it never made it to our shores. Only coming across it on the net years later.

    That "in-depth" ship to ship combat & interstellar travel rules description piqued my interest too when I just read it. Mind boggling indeed :)

    I kinda get the impression that I got indoctrinated into the Warhammer world a bit like you did, makes sense considering that were a very similar age. I never even knew about 1st or 2nd WFB. I started with WFB 3rd & W40k through RT.

    Thanks for the great post Whiskey :)

  3. Where I was in the U.S. the Journal was just something I read about elsewhere and coveted... but never saw a copy on the racks anywhere. It wasn't till years later that the picture stared to come together on just how much we'd missed.

  4. Sooo...What's the name of that 2000AD documentary of which you spike? :D

    1. Future Shock - The story of 2000Ad, if you are in the Uk you should be able to watch it on 4oD at the moment but it is available on DVD.

    2. Thanks, I'm in the USA so I'll be having to hunt down a copy on dvd.

    3. Nice post, I have several of these classic's, the buildings looked great for the time.

      Oh and thanks for the mention for the 2000ad program, watching it now (ad break as of writing this!)

  5. Cracking read old son, I'm sighing with contentment at the thought of all the enthusiasm and irreverence of the early days. I'm still hunting a few of the Compendiums and Journals, magical time capsules of pure joyous nostalgia they are.

  6. The journals were around for a long time, i remember buying number 2 when it came out but it was around 2nd realm of Chaos book time when i picked up number 1 at Nottingham GW.

  7. great read.. lots of stuff chiming with own early experiences of the hobby..


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