Welcome back to yesteryear. It’s 1985 again. It’s a weekend and winter has just kicked in. I have no plans to go fishing and it’s too cold to spend any time on my BMX. Instead I’ve knocked on to see a friend who lives around the corner. He’s two school years older and introduced me to RPGs, wargames and miniature painting.
This guy told fantastical tales of the AD&D campaign he played as a Halfling thief with lads his own age. He allowed me to paint some of his miniatures with Humbrol enamels when I first started gaming the year before – although I’d bought Citadel’s two acrylic paint sets when I got my own because enamel paints smelt terrible. He let me read his old issues of White Dwarf and also criticised the efforts of the local modelling club to try and exclude fantasy miniatures from their meetings on the grounds that they were too juvenile.
We played 1st Edition Warhammer in both roleplay and skirmish styles of play that captured my imagination in such a way that I’m still interested in gaming and miniatures today.
His older sister answered the door. He wasn’t in. He’d gone to a wargaming show with the modelling club.
Anyway, next time I saw him he told me about the show. I suspect this would have been ‘Northern Militare’, the biggest one in our area at the time. It sounded like a great event. WW2 featured heavily in his descriptions (we made a fair few ruined buildings from polystyrene ceiling tiles afterwards for our Warhammer ruined townscape skirmish games – Mordheim anyone?) and he also seemed overly fond of describing the painting detail some of the old guys had put into their Phoenix Miniature displays…
However I digress. He’d bought some 25mm items from traders. Crossbow men that looked great and apparently only cost about half what Citadel charged (Medieval, Essex Miniatures I think), a wheeled ballista (Roman, no recollection who made it), some metal standards (more Roman designs, possibly Essex Miniatures again), a resin ruined temple approximately 6″ x 4″ (fantasy, again no recollection who made it) and finally a rather marvelous winged demon (which again, you guessed it, I had no recollection of who made it). This last miniature I fell in love with and coveted.
Over the next couple of years we maintained our friendship, played games and traded miniatures. Through swaps I’d come to own the ballista, the resin ruined temple and some of the Roman standards but sadly not the demon. My friend loved him too much to trade.
Eventually we stopped hanging around together and drifted apart without actually falling out with each other, as kids often do. My friend left school two years before me but we still chatted if we bumped into each other in the street but by this point he’d moved across town to live with his Dad after his parents divorced, worked full-time and had given up gaming.
It sat in the back of my mind how great the demon figure was but I assumed it was by an obscure manufacturer that had long disappeared. Then, many years later and purely by chance, I found it again thanks to the internet. He is of course nothing particularly rare or usual but ‘Orcus’ by Grenadier Miniatures first made around 1984.
There appears to be two versions of this figure – the one I own with a smooth skinned belly and one where he has a hairy belly and a necklace/amulet.
The latter version is still in production and available from Mirliton Miniatures of Italy – now called ‘Baal’zhab, High Demon of Hell’ for about 9 Euros.
Due to their minimum order charge of 15 Euros plus postage and the fact I personally prefer the figure without a hairy belly I decided to try picking one up on eBay from the UK instead. A few weeks later I got one for about 7 quid.
This is one of my favourite demon sculpts. He’s not overly large, not particularly dynamic but still seems splendidly sinister to me. The photograph doesn’t really do the paint job any justice but hey ho, it just proves I need to buy a camera sooner rather than later instead of using my phone.
So to my old friend L, wherever you are now, thanks for showing me a great hobby. I’ve painted this one for you!