Once upon a time, everybody who was anybody had Castle Greyskull. If you didn’t, then you knew a mate who had it (or you had She-Ra’s Crystal Castle instead, which may not have had the following problems). Greyskull was inarguably awesome, but suffered from three glaring flaws. The first one is that the door was actually shorter in height than any of the MOTU action figures, which demonstrates exactly what happens when different people work on different aspects of a toy line. The second was that, when closed, the front aspect and the back aspect didn’t actually match up. The third issue (pertinent to our story) was that in the cartoon, Greyskull stands on a great gribbly plateau-thing, and the drawbridge spans a deep crevasse. The problem was to replicate the crevasse, so that Beastman could fall down it.
The cartoon castle…
Picture the scene: a freshfaced young archivist and his playmates, carefully balancing the asymetrical fortress atop a side-table, dragging a second sidetable across the room to stand opposite it, carefully judging the distance needed to let the ‘jawbridge’ fall so it met the opposite edge of our doom-laden chasm, and discovering that the two tables were in fact of different heights.
The toy. Note the tiny door and lack of height.
‘Childhood companion, you boob!’ We paraphrased ‘Your parents’ furnishings are inadequate for our requirements! Get ye hence that we might search for some gewgaw or bric-a-brac by which we might raise this impact-moulded citadel to the correct level!’
Hence was gotten. So thorough were the search parameters that they inevitably encompass rooms usually outside our purview, specifically that of Older Brother-Man (with Punching Fist Action). Usually sealed against the probing of determined Inquisitors in short trousers, on this fateful day the door was ajar.
Wiping away the glutinous remnants of fruit-based preserve (think about it) we were presented something that would be the cause of so many years of brush-pushing, sweaty-fingered blister-pack shuffling, at least one failed marriage, two break-ups and three fist-fights (no, really): a wardrobe.
Not just any old wardrobe though, but a teetering obelisk of white-mdf plastered with posters for dubious hair-metal bands of yore, atop which were arrayed (specifically to keep them out of reach of grubby child-paws) tiny painted people. The Titular ‘Little War People’. A veritable horde of them, perhaps as many as thirty (seemed like a horde at the time anyway), and standing over them : PBS3 Warhammer Fantasy Regiments: the Box.
We argue that it is impossible to resist the call to arms of this image, even though it is barely representative of the contents. Such dynamism would not enter plastic models for decades yet
At the time, it did not occur that the box contents might not actually be what was arrayed upon the wardrobe top. (It wasn’t, it was a load of Orc Boarboys and some Fighters.) But deep inside this scriveners mind, something clicked (or perhaps just broke.) Two otherwise unconnected synapses brushed together, and a Wargamer was born. (Yes, you have been reading an Origin Story.)
PBS3 was ground-breaking in the field of plastic toy soldiers. Plastic miniatures at Citadel are now de rigeur, but passing back through the mists of time, we come across an article in WD97, discussing the potential future impact of plastics on the metal miniatures market.
White Dwarf 97, with Dungeonquest, by Peter Jones gracing the cover
‘We expect the bulk of things to be produced in plastic. But we don’t think metal miniatures are ever going to go away’Bryan Ansell
In some regards Bryan was correct, for whilst GW have moved over almost entirely to plastics, other companies still use the heavy stuff, including Bryan’s subsequent endeavor, Wargames Foundry.
The article points out that each miniature was sculpted by the designer responsible for the metal ranges (‘Kevin Adams made the plastic master for the orc and Jes Goodwin…the elf’ and as the Dwarf range was predominantly a Perry enterprise, it can be assumed that they were also responsible for the dwarf plastic.) Much was made of the attempt to create a ‘generic’ version of each race, and indeed the miniatures are very good representations of the ‘generic’ standard for Dwarf, Elf (Wood or Dark), Orc and Goblin. (Skaven receive a pass here, being for the most part an in-house invention.) The dwarf miniatures, when equipped with the bowl helmet, bears more than a passing resemblance to the White Dwarf himself, as pictured on the cover in those times, before he became an exaggerated caricature, and depicted in miniature in SS6 ‘White Dwarf Personalities’.
SS6 ‘White Dwarf Personalities. Top centre, our ‘generic’ dwarf.
Note some chequered detail spotted around the unit, marrying up with some of the elements in the banner.
The very first time this scrivener stepped forth as a general was using this very box set, taking command of Dwarf and Elf, greatly outnumbered by the evil factions. Memory suggests it was a heroic victory to the forces of good, but then it would, wouldn’t it? So, with such momentum of nostalgia forcing us forwards, it was inevitable that PBS3 would infest the Lead Mountain somewhere, somewhen.
Baneful Banner, taken from the archive and recoloured slightly
The goal in painting was to combine some elements of classical heraldry (the quartering) with some less than text-book colour combinations, in order to evoke themes of water. A banner was taken from the Baneful Banners range and slightly adapted to fit the same scheme, which diverges somewhat from the vaguely Nordic stylings commonly adopted with more modern dwarves. In the fullness of time, the Ironbreaker models will rotate out into a full unit of their own, replaced with suitable command miniatures from the Imperial Dwarf range. The leader model is BC3 Dwarf Lords of Legend – Borax Bloodaxe, with a suitably gory blade…
PBS3 Dwarves, some Ironbreakers, and Borax.
Although here we have concentrated on the Dwarf models, rest assured that the rest of PBS3 will have their day in the limelight. The Dark Elves await addition to our Marauder Elf forces, the Skaven have already been absorbed into the ranks of that chittering horde & we are of a mind to accumulate a small force of Orcs and Goblins to ally with our budding Fimir (the first of which can be seen here) in tribute to the Paul Bonner artwork, there to receive the bright green skin they deserve. Curiously, no Wood Elves have made their way into our grasping hands, but that is perhaps for the better, as we can think of no use for them.
Fimir with Orc Scouts, by Paul Bonner.
The River Dwarf Throng
A further article awaits on the Gryocopter & the Baron , & one about the Slayers appears here.
As for He-Man and his fortress? In more recent years, the youngest Spiderling has shown some passing interest in the barbaric heroism of the Masters of the Universe, so a time may yet come to pass when Greyskull looms large under the Mountain (preferably on a plateau.)
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