Back when I was still too young to own any myself, I whittled away many, many hours staring at my older brothers’ album covers. I wasted a few more clumsily breaking off the fragile pieces of their miscellaneous collection of D&D miniatures –a source of much consternation, to be sure. Both of these pre-adolescent activities fueled my interest in this fine hobby, and continue to reverberate in peculiar ways today.
Now. I know that people do not gather round and simply “listen” to an album any more. What's more, I am dimly aware that they are rarely referred to as “albums” to boot. And I know that the accompanying album art is very much a thing of the past, full stop. More’s the pity. This album cover comes from a band called Molly Hatchett, but you are more likely to recognize the work of Frank Frazetta –fantasy art legend. What a stupefyingly odd combination.
One of my older brothers owned this album, which I believe dates from somewhere near 1978; from the first glance I was sucked wholly into the artwork. So much so, and perhaps quite tellingly, I remember absolutely nothing about the band itself, excepting the peculiar name.
Memory is a funny thing. About twenty-plus years ago, I saw this model and purchased him immediately precisely because I “recognized” everything about him from the old Molly Hatchett album cover. I was certain, and remained certain, that this model was an exact replica of the Frazetta artwork that I admired from the late 70’s early 80’s. Then, about eight years ago, I re-found this model in my collection, stripped him, and gave him a new treatment –still convinced that I was recreating that bit of Frazetta/Hatchett gloriousness.
Only in these last few days, having plumbed the depths of my ability with internet searches in an attempt to trace the actual artwork, have I discovered that he is not a direct replica of the old album cover, but rather a piece that appears (undeniably) to be “inspired by” the work of Frazetta via Molly Hatchett. I had been convinced for so very long. Funny that.
Well. I am uncertain where under the umbrella of Citadel or Games Workshop or whomever this figure was created (any help? again, I have exhausted my ability with internet searches). In those days, I remember that Citadel et al (I think there was another sister company called Crusader, though I may be confusing this with Marauder –the shield is certainly Marauder) played quite free and easy with their model production (a very, very old Lord of the Rings example leaps to mind). I cannot find him these days, though the slotta base among other details assure me that he belongs under that umbrella.
In addition to the confused nostalgia above, this model merits mention on my humble list for at least one more very significant reason. Invariably, when I have this model on the table or in my hands, I find myself turning it round and round and round as the sequence of details and the posture pull me across the model in three dimensions.
Granted, the legs are not dynamically posed, but the sheathed sword and dagger compensate capably for what might otherwise be a visually stagnant part of the model.
In sum, the twist gets me every time. I am simply compelled to follow as that right arm reaches across the body, covers mysteriously part of the face, and pulls the eye around the model to the shield, which also rewards attention, and which is then redirected either by the sword or the dagger up, down, and/or back around the model –again and again and again.
In this sense, this model very nearly exemplifies a combination of the ideas that I discussed with entries for the Ghoul and the Haemonculus: he is mostly stripped down to the basic simple form, and the visually complexity of the model pulls the eye around that form. Unlike the Haemonculus, however, the design complexity does not merely rotate the eye up and down one side or another of the one-piece model, but in that curiously rare third dimension. This, in my opinion, breathes a really compelling bit of life into the model itself, making him both simple and complex in the same gesture.
It is a matter of pure coincidence, by the way, that the palette I chose eight or so years ago during the retreatment of the model matches quite closely the palette of the original artwork… or perhaps my subconscious made the connection? I do not know.
++ update: I have found what certainly must be a sibling to this mini from the Citadel Barbarian range, circa 1987. Scroll down to the miniature titled Jochi and behold the resemblance. Thank you, Stuff of Legends. We are getting closer.++