Friday, February 11, 2011

Oaken's Twelve

In 2007 Games Workshop began to reach the logical end to its highly-lucrative Lord of the Rings license. Or so it seemed - the movies were well in the past, and the game itself was losing players as those kids introduced to GW through the trilogy connection were either consumed by GW's greater product range, or simply moved on the the next big thing. Those who stuck by the game (and there was a lot going for it) saw some radical redesigns - 'battle companies', allowing true mass army play rather than the skirmish-based scenarios offered to date, and even more obscure models - characters from the novels but not the movies (allowed, under the license), characters based solely on mentions in the book's appendices (also allowed, apparently), and a model for this dude:

But still there was more. Plastic figures to supplement the already classy metal sculpts, armies of 'Wood Elves', 'wandering' Uruk-Hai and a new Ent model. And there were Dwarves - more of them than you could shake a stick at, and certainly more than were ever depicted living or dead in the movie trilogy and book.

Namely these guys:

Oh sure, GW couched their description in carefully-worded snippets, such as "Dwarf Rangers patrol the lands around every Dwarf Hold, ensuring the safety of their homes from the Dark Lord's servants and wandering monsters..." and " help them track their foes and blend in with their surroundings, Dwarf Rangers are more likely to wear natural colors than their kin." In White Dwarf game designer Adam Troke claimed:"We know that Dwarves travel around a lot and don't do so in full armour...", but most fans seemed to know what was more likely to be going on. GW had a license for Lord of the Rings and its appendices, but crucially at that time not The Hobbit and not The Silmarillion. And these guys - a set of 24 plastic Dwarves in hoods and simply armed for 'travelling', looked for all the world like a way to include the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, of whom we'll be hearing a lot about now that The Hobbit has been kicked off and those same travelling Dwarves fully cast.

As it happens I picked up the set - not because I was playing the game, but because I could see how these plastic figures could easily be turned into something approximating Thorin's Company - they were halfway there already, right? And so I did - mostly. But not entirely. And so, with the film Company announced and not yet revealed in their screen attire, I thought I might as well finish the job I started, before the Hobbit movies reduce my versions to being either hopelessly naive or just waaay off the mark.


  1. I look forward to your expert rendering of James Nesbitt's leering grin and Mark Hadlow's comedy ears.

  2. Hah! Yeah they might prove somehing of a challenge. Should I try to go for actor likenesses, or at least beard colours and hair coverage (which old Tollers did vaguely describe)? I will, to the extent of te book descriptions - and I've made one guy balding because the definition in the plastic moulding isn't so hot there.

    Interesting point about the actors though - I realised only yesterday that tall, dark and broody (and beardy) Aiden Turner's dwarf is supposed to be blonde...

  3. Point of reference - the soon-to-be baldy is the third chap from the left in the top row: that's a very 'flat' pose, and like some of them, only looks good from one or two angles. I got better at spotting this stuff in photos, which is why some sets stayed on the shop shelves after that.