An army of skeleton warriors with a retro 80s Warhammer aesthetic is up on Kickstarter now. The figures in ‘The Battle For Black Mere! Undead Faction’ Kickstarter are sculpted by Tim Prow, a veteran whose career began as a figure painter for Games Workshop before leaving to sculpt for companies including Heartbreaker Minis, Reaper Miniatures, WizKids, and many others – he specialises in creating minis with a distinctive ‘Oldhammer’ style.
Photographs of painted models show that several units are ready to go: a special edition undead knight called ‘Sir Tristan of Black Mere’, a unit of foot skeletons with swords and shields, another with spears, one with bows, and a unit of gribbly undead familiars. Sir Tristan costs $15 USD / £12 GBP and a unit of five skeletal foot troops costs $22 USD / £18 GBP.
According to the Kickstarter campaign page, Prow wants to fund production for 25 new miniatures that will join the existing undead line from his company, Diehard Miniatures. This Kickstarter is apparently the first of a two-part project: the page promises “a follow up campaign later in the year with the Eru-Kin ‘frog men’”.
Prow was an ‘Eavy Metal painter at Games Workshop from 1989 to 1993, where he learnt to sculpt miniatures from GW legends Jez Goodwin and the Perry twins Michael and Alan. Prow’s first sculpting jobs was at Heartbreaker Miniatures, working for Bob Watts alongside fellow GW alumnus Phil Lewis.
The Oldhammer aesthetic is inspired by the fantasy and sci-fi miniatures of the 1980s and early 90s. At the time, sculptors had to work around the practical limits of casting miniatures in lead alloy, which contributed to a distinctive style of model. Models that could be cast as a single piece without any spindly parts were much easier to produce in spin-casting moulds.
The recently refreshed Soulblight Gravelords range for Warhammer Age of Sigmar, and the miniatures in Warhammer Quest: Cursed City were designed digitally, and it shows. They’re filled with spindly components, and their parts come together to make complex 3D designs in a way that simply wasn’t possible with older sculpting techniques. While Games Workshop is planning to bring back rules for Warhammer: The Old World, it’s unlikely they’ll ever return to the classic sculpting style
Nowadays, sculpting and painting miniatures in the Oldhammer style is a choice – a bit like how video game developers may choose to use pixel art despite having access to 3D graphics. Diehard Miniatures aren’t the only specialists: Knightmare Miniatures make Oldhammer Orc, Goblin, and Chaos models.
Prow says that the Oldhammer aesthetic is ingrained in his nature: “my internal Oldhammer clock stopped around the time I left GW in 93 so anything after that didn’t really appeal”. Nowadays he mainly sculpts using Procreate modelling putty, saying “it sets up faster than green stuff but holds its edges better when it dries”.
The undead are Prow’s favourite faction, and he says he’s particularly inspired by the solid-based undead that GW produced around 1984. “If you look at them now they look not so well sculpted, but they have so much character and presence”, he says.
The Battle for Black Mere! Undead Faction Kickstarter will run until 12 noon PT / 3pm EST / 8pm GMT on February 9.