I've been asked by lots of people what has been my inspiration for designing games and I realised that the answer is quite broad, so here's a sprawling one in several parts.
As a title, sculpture sounds much more heavyweight than toy soldiers but this all started with me playing around with Airfix kits and soldiers. I'd sit in my bedroom hunched over plastic bits, glue and spirit based paints and wonder why I always seemed to have the sniffles. I was probably a bit spaced out most of the time too, but it would be difficult to differentiate this from youthful gormlessness.
Like many an an adolescent boy, I then became interested in the first release of Dungeons and Dragons spurred on by, yes, you've guessed it, reading Lord of the Rings, plus Michael Moorcock and other fantasy and SF.
Having drifted through school, I ended up managing the Games and Hobby part of the Toytub Shop in Stockbridge in Edinburgh, then moved on to be the general manager of Gamesmaster on Forrest Road, again in Edinburgh. The latter was a subsidiary of Games Workshop, replacing Games Gallery after it went bust. At both places I was involved in buying and selling miniature figures, board games, classic games, computer games and more.
Early Citadel Miniatures from my collection, with a drawing by the ever excellent Russ Nicholson (see his fantastic blog here):
|Early Castings of Citadel Fantasy Tribe Gnolls (FTG series), designed by Alan and Michael Perry, Painted by Aly Morrison|
I'm sure there's a relation between the two above images...now, if only I could work it out...
Just had a nice virtual chat with Russ, who remembers getting one blister pack of some figures at some point, but apparently that was it! Here are some more photos of the Fantasy Tribe Gnolls (as they were first called, they became Goblins to help improve sales to the literal of thought), collected together as set on Flickr:
Citadel Fantasy Tribe Gnolls - inspired by Russ Nicholson Illustrations, design by Alan and Michael Perry, a set on Flickr.Anyway, back to sculpture.
I was given encouragement by family, friends and also by Aly and Trish Morrison (then still based in Edinburgh, before joining Games Workshop) to try sculpting my own miniature figures. I shared a bit of workshop space with Aly, Trish and Yvonne (the silversmith) which I used once a week and tried to learn the craft.
My first attempt:
|Note the spindly legs - this is it, never cast.|
From there, I created my first design for sale through Gamesmaster, a gruesome hanging man (I was young and it's not anything like the Chaos guts that were to follow from GW and others).
|As sold in Gamesmaster, Edinburgh.|
I was then asked down to Games Workshop/Citadel by Bryan Ansell for a look around and what was effectively an informal job interview, though I was too naive to realise it. I was offered a job in the casting team, but didn't fancy the move down to the red bricks of Newark, where Citadel were based at the time. But I did meet a whole load of people including Rick Priestley, John Blanche, Tony Ackland and others and came away buzzing with ideas.
Gradually, I improved by sculpting and then took the plunge to go self-employed. I started Acropolis Design to do my own designs for casting and distribution by Bob Fergusson of Scotia Micromodels. I was joined by my pal Colin Hamilton, who was a model maker, and he did some figures too, whilst specialising in vehicles and droids.
Loads of of people contributed - Willie McNie, Justin Crozier, Jonaathan Aspey, Iain Holt and Rod Grant painted figures, Lorne Campbell (from the wilds of Inverness) and Jamie [secondname] did amazing drawings and my father found tiny ball bearings that were ideal for use as rivets, eyeballs and other small round things. Apparently, he counted them on the Rhom Legionary and reckoned there were about over 200 (give or take a few)!
Acropolis Design miniatures, a set on Flickr.
At this point, I was contacted by Games Workshop, who said they'd be happy to put out some of my Dwarves (8 in total) via their mail order service. I'm sure my old pal Donald Brotchie who was working down there (no longer with us unfortunately - here's to you Donald!) and Aly and Trish must have had an influence.
Sadly, I made only a grand total of £6.00 from sales, not much good when you're trying to earn a living. Thankfully, I retained the rights and they were absorbed into the Acropolis Maze City Range. These were the only designs that I ever did for Games Workshop. Ironically, they're now worth much more and I recently sold what I had of them to Kev at stunties.com.
I wanted to develop new ranges, so started up ZAP! miniatures to create figures complementary to the resin accessories and buildings created by a local company. This was an ill-fated partnership, from which I was unceremoniously dumped, though my original ideas for Kryomeks and other SF figures were then used without my involvement, ho-hum.
ZAP! Miniatures, a set on Flickr.
I continued with ZAP!, but my freelance work was not bringing in enough money. I could earn decent amounts from doing 6mm figures, whilst ruining my eyesight, but not from other freelance work. Without the Internet (uh-huh, this was the Eighties), I couldn't market and sell enough.
|6mm high (1/300 scale) World War One British Bomber with handgrenades (Master Sculpt) - he's small!|
Update 19 October 2013
Spoken to him and the Acropolis and Zap! Ranges were sold by Robbie to Stephen Oates of the Baggage Train, who has most of the moulds and currently sells castings. Also spoken to Stephen, to confirm that he can supply castings, should you want any.
|54mm high Charging Highlander|
More to follow on Game Design Inspirations...