I’m not very sure when my obsession with orks started. My first White Dwarf was the one with the Eldar Craftworlds and later on I bought the previous one with some of the Waaargh booklet stuff. It’s about twenty-five years ago but I think it was the ork building article that triggered it. The small photograph shown below (high res scan for those of us who are getting blind) is what Rogue Trader was about for me. Then I got ‘Ere We Go and later Freebooterz and there was no return from 40K for years.
The article made me go out and find this ‘foam board’ and I built two of these ork buildings and I learned to build scenery.
Recently I dug up all my orks and I realised there were much less than I remembered. Probably because some of the best painted ones were for my mate. I didn’t have much to spend at the time and most of my hobby consisted of drooling and frothing over catalogue pages and ‘armylisting’: endlessly planning armies and drawing mobs of orks.
Now one of the odd things about the whole ork obsession was that there were a few thing things that never really convinced me. First, the amazing pencil drawings by Paul Bonner didn’t quite look like the increasingly cartoony Kev Adams’ Orks and their plastic arms. The other thing was this forced division into clans, each with every thinkable kind of squad, with their backplates, banners and glyphs. Pretty damn restrictive for a notoriously anarchic race. Literally every bloody detail was already decided in the book limiting my own creativity without me noticing it.
Reading older White Dwarf PDF’s now from a year earlier I found out it wasn’t always like this. Just look at the style of the first full metal orks. They all looked crazy, with silly hats, ridiculous armour and german coal scuttle helmets or kettles with spikes. And the early artwork looked just like them. I’m particularly fond these days of David Callagher’s paintings of that time.
And specialist orks weren’t decided yet, when you read the Book of the Astronomican. No Mekboys in sight! Only champions with special functions depending on the scenario.
Or how about this old 40K –Paranoia crossover. Every character with a silly name. I could call my ork warlord Lesley if I wanted too.
But somehow with the introduction of the Space Marine game in Epic scale, things started to get neatly categorized. Clearly existing ork models with common traits were put together and differentiated one from another in special squads and eventually clans.
By the time ‘Ere We Go! came out most orks on the cover were painted as average bald guys with hardly any eccentricity or individuality left compared to the early orks.
True that. And I'm not at all sure I even much thought about it at the time. 'Ere We Go! looks like it's already sort of red period. First and a half edition, maybe? That's when I started collecting them, so for the most part those are the orks I have. And I use the heraldry, but I have a cussid desire to keep my miniatures individual. Even simple Marine troopers. That may be why all the orks I've done lately are pirates. Nobody expects pirates to follow rules too closely.
Good article, thanks for the flashbacks! I have an almost reverent fondness for the early Orks, scale be damned I still use them too!
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