Sunday 26 November 2017

The Fighting Uruk Hai

I like my fantasy Dark Ages. No plate armour, halberds or gunpowder. Not even crossbows. Like the Lord of the Rings, which was inspired by Nordic sagas. Most of those in turn were inspired by real events from the Migration Period, the Fall of the West. In short, I imagine my armies of men, dwarves and orcs like this:

More advanced weapons and armour should not go beyond Hastings or 1st Crusade Norman technology and even those would be mostly reserved to elves, dwarves and some elite orcs.

One of my favorite ranges of fantasy miniatures is still the old Grenadier 'Fantasy Warriors' line. These were sculpts by Nick Lund, Mark Copplestone and Bob Naismith.
Coppelstone did three packs of 'Half-Orc mercenaries'. With their dark ages gear and style they had something decidedly Tolkien-esque.
These became available again about 15 years ago.

To me half orcs and Uruk Hai are basically the same thing. Orc and human crossbreed. With the only differnce that Uruk Hai are bred on purpose, like pitbulls, while half orcs are more like bastard dogs. 
When Peter Jackson's LotR film came out, the movie's uruk hai reminded me a lot of these miniatures. I suspect people from Weta workshop also collect miniatures and were heavily inspired by these.

In fact, from the Copplestone Castings Newsletter in 2002:
"[...] I thought the film Uruk-Hai were not unlike my old half-orcs so they could be next up in the 2002 make-over line. There are a few things I'd like to make from scratch, but they'll just have to wait."
And so I waited. And waited and waited. But new half-orcs were never released.
A few years ago I started to convert them myself to get some variation. I used Westwind Arthurian seperate headsets and some Dixon Miniatures Samurai heads (I first thought those were Copplestone's but they are by Trevor Dixon).

Berserkers made from barbarians. And trolls.

Command group with a squinty eyed half-orc tracker from the Frostgrave range.
 A unit of warriors.
My renewed interest in my orc army was sparked by the upcoming Oathmark orcs from Northstar. The six metal orcs are sculpted by,  you guessed it, Mark Copplestone. In fact in style they fit perfectly with my Uruk Hai.
 They remind me also of the old Fantasy Warriors plastics.
Doug Cowie, at the time manager of Grenadier UK, wrote a while ago on Lead Adventure forum:
"These were not sculpted by Nick [Lund]. When we at Grenadier UK were planning the contents of the FW boxed set, the inclusion of plastic miniatures was a priority. We decided on orcs and dwarves. Nick was the master of both races. However, he was fully involved in writing the game and, furthermore, had no experience in sculpting for plastic. So we got one of our other sculptors to make them in the style of Nick. I guess it worked pretty well."
"[...] someone asked who the sculptor was. It was Mark Copplestone."
So I guess I'll have to put these also in my army now!

 An army of Uruk Hai of course also includes human Dunlendings and I'll use these Frostgrave and grenadier barbarians as a command group. 
Rank and file are Crusade Miniatures byzantine Varangians and Irish axemen as skirmishers. I may add the recent Saxons/Franks.

Also the trolls will get reinforcements.


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