Thursday 3 July 2014

Battle Games of Middle Earth: Hobby Magazine

I was always aware of their existence, but never owned any. Recently picked up a set of issues #1-#25 from a local secondhand shop for $12.


I'd call them "What White Dwarf Could Have Been."

Modelling guides show simple, achievable paint schemes with 4-5 colours, and introduce "advanced" techniques like drybrushing later.

What impressed me were the painting and hobby articles. The paint jobs shown were very simple, achievable paintjobs, not masterclass works by Golden Demon winners, that occasionally added in (and explained) "advanced" techniques such as shading paints, drybrushing and washes.   The simply painted miniatures were used in the battle reports as well.  

The hobby articles actually showed how to MAKE stuff cheaply out of household materials like cardboard and paddlepop sticks, not just how some studio artist painted the latest $100+ premade plastic gothic ruin.

Modelling guides show how to actually make things from simple stuff like tape and cardboard. Not simply how to paint the latest $100 GW terrain piece.

Why this enthusiasm over "average" worksmanship?  Well, I know we all need something to "aspire" to, and there are some incredibly talented painters and modellers out there.  Whilst these people are well-represented in online blogs, I'd estimate they actually make up less than 10% of gamers you actually meet and play against.   In fact, a far higher percentage (I'd estimate 30-50%) of local fantasy/sci fi players I've met think nothing of fielding units in black undercoat or bare metal.  A common excuse is "I can't paint well, so I don't bother."  I'd argue magazines like White Dwarf fuel this rather defeatist, lazy attitude by setting impossibly high standards the average gamer cannot hope to achieve.

Inspired by the "low standards" shown, I rebased some old, rather simply-painted goblins I had painted years ago, using simple techniques shown in "Battle Companies."

People often talk about the "price barrier" to games like 40K but I wonder if Games Workshop is also accidentally adding a perceived "skill barrier" through their own advertising catalogue ahem, hobby magazine.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I found the "Battle Games" articles with simple paintjobs and home-made terrain very inspiring, in the "I could do that" sense.

After reading half a dozen articles, I actually dug out my old LoTR models to repaint them. I then took more care in basing said models (usually I am very lackadaisical with basing), due to a simple article I saw in the magazine.

Not exactly Golden Demon material, but an improvement on what I had.  I mean, that's what a "hobby" magazine should do, right? Get you involved in the hobby and out there painting and building?

Furthermore, I went and bought some more LoTR miniatures (OK, they were eBay ones) - something White Dwarf (essentially a glossy ad for Games Workshop products) has failed to do for 5 years.  So if you see more LoTR content in this blog over the next few weeks, blame it on Battle Companies.  A hobby magazine that actually encouraged "the hobby" rather than "The Hobby"(tm)

PS: If anyone has issues #25-#75, I'd give them a happy home...


  1. Really enjoyed the magazine when it came out too, glad you found some on the cheap. I agree that the modelling section is excellent and cost effective.

  2. Looking at EBay it looks like they aren't too expensive if you want to buy them in multi-packs.

  3. I've now got all but about 6 issues in the run. They really are terrific. They advance the techniques and difficulty of both painting and terrain making as the series continues, building on what has gone before, so that you really do get better as you go along.

    I have a few duplicates of later issues, but as I'm in the UK, I don't know if it is really worth shipping them. Might be cheaper just to get them from ebay.

  4. I have some issues (but not too much) in spanish. If you're interested I can sell them for not too much money (mostly shipping and 1-2€ by volume).

  5. I assume you are aware that when published, each issue came with a metal figure or plastic sprue? (The latter were highly subject to breakage, as well as damaging the magazine's cover). This is how I obtained almost all of my LotR figures. I'm not one to boast, but I have the full set. It's a pity it ceased production after 100 + issues, for no discernible reason (the cynic in me suggests GW didn't feel it was 'on message').

    1. I do envy your full set!

      I have many of the special figures as I paid about $200 for a few "job lots" of LOTR minis on ebay when LOTR was on the decline (2008-2010) i.e. pre-Hobbit that resurrected the ebay prices. I'd easily have 1000+ LOTR troops, with many metal heroes, most of which languish unpainted.

      I'd have full armies of all, but annoyingly, my dwarf and Easterling armies will never be completed due to Australian pricing ($30 for a single metal hero)