Thursday 12 February 2015

An old style Lord of the Rings Orc army project.

   A long time ago in an ancient age (well 1995) as dark power gathered it's forces...

At that time I was bored with 2nd Edition 40k, unimpressed with 4th Edition Warhammer fantasy, and unhappy with the direction of design of Citadels miniatures ranges, and many of the copy-cat companies. I had always collected other companies miniatures, some of my first purchases were Grenadier Undead, but I had always based my armies in the Warhammer setting.

Now strange as it seems I had never read the Lord of the Rings until my early 20's (in the mid 1990's) although I had seen the film, the 1978 Ralph Bakshi film that is, and had had a copy of MERP for years. After finally reading the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion I was inspired to build an Orc army. A big Orc army, big enough to Wreck Lake Town or smash Gondor or besiege and ruin Gondolin.

So over the course of a few years in the latter 1990's I collected several hundred Orcs, as well as many Trolls, Hobgoblins, Giant Orcs, and generally other useful things, from a variety of companies such as Harlequin, Grenadier, Alternative Armies, Ral Partha, and of course the old 1980's Citadel ranges. Anyway, I had abadoned the idea by 2000 as I had other projects on my mind and had also collected a Mithril Miniatures Orc army to represent Mordor. By 2001 the Peter Jackson films were released and I was gaming that for a lttie while, and also back into playing lots and lots of 40k.

Recently, after finishing my Space Slann and wanting a change from sorting out the Squat army and was idly looking on Google and chanced across people who had done exactly what I had planned 20 odd years, ago!!
 This fired my imagination to revisit my old project, and so I have, and painted the following over the last week to ten days. I have'nt painted the emblems on the shields as of yet as I am unsure how to proceed. I am not sure whether to keep them blank so they can represent Orcs from the earlier Ages of Middle Earth, or go for the classic Orcs of the Red Eye for the Third Age of Sunlight. If I go for Third Age, some of the Orcs will have the White Hand of Saruman on the shields, and so I will have to wait until the army is sorted out in to regiments before painting the shields. I would have liked to have done the whole army as Saruman's army of the White Hand, but it limits them to killing Rohan and kidnapping Hobbits!

Enjoy :) 
The start of my attempt to cover the the whole of Middle Earth in second Darkness.
I have mixed different manufacters together to create that rag-bag gentic mix that are Orcs. 
I had orginally intended have the Grenadier miniatures in a seperate army, but they mix well with each other .
Close up of the 1980s Citadel Lord of the Rings range of Orcs. 
I have gone for a dark and limited palette for all of the Orcs, using Vallejo Field Grey for the flesh tone, and mainly browns or the occasional dull red for cloth.
Citadel solid based C-Series/Fantasy Tribes Orc range.
I love these old ranges as the Orcs are really characterful and fit well with my mental image of Tolkien's  Orcs.
Some of Nick Lunds excellent Grenadier miniatures Orcs.
A mix of late 1980's Citadel Orcs.
Iron Claw Black Orcs. 
I am going to use these as Uruk Hai. 
I love the detailing on the shields which always remind me of Ian Miller's illustrations. In that vein, I painted them green with red eyes, similar to some of his illustrations.
Like the Orcs, I have avoided the Peter Jackson paint flesh tones, and gone for one more based on the books.
More Uruk Hai, courtesy of Iron Claw.
A few more Uruks, this time a Maruader Miniautres one on the left, and a shieldless Iron Claw one on the right.
WIP Uruk Hai.
Left a Grenadier Giant Orc, and right an old Harlequin Giant Great Orc.
The Orc breeding pit WIP/sorting shelf.
I have at least three times as many Orcs as this to add to the army. I did'nt get time to sort out a proper photograph, but will for next time.

 A couple of the Orcs with the old 1995 paint scheme. Same principles of dark palette and greyish skin, but I hope to make a better job of it this time. .

Next update I will hopefully have the time to do a proper in depth look at the miniatures, and do a step by step painting guide.


  1. Well I'm glad I checked this again today after I couldn't get any joy yesterday (some kind of error from one end the other). Was really looking forward to seeing more of these after the Facebook teaser the other day, Lee. As I said then, you have captivated the Bakshi Orc feel perfectly! Nice to see some more of those Bob Olley Orcs with those wonderful shield designs. I gotta get me some of those! Really inspires me to dig out what old Perry era Orcs I have!

    1. Thank you, glad you persevered. It might have been my end as I was having problems posting the blog and it did at one point post by accident whilst half done!

      Glad you like the look of the Orcs. It's an old project which where I wanted to capture that mix of Tolkein's books and Bakshi's film. I have a lovely old Waraith on a horse I am planning to paint up in the mix of black and grey/browns from the film. As for the Orcs, I have many different ranges and styles to give them that mixed look from the Bakshi's film.

      I have had the Bob Olley Black Orcs for over 20 years and never painted them before. Like his Iron Claw Squats, I was unimpressed with them, but after painting his Goblins and the Squats I appreciate them a lot more. They paint up a lot better than I thought.

      All I can say to you is go for it! Pick up some Black Orcs, and dig out your Perry Orcs. Even if you don't commit to a whole project, it might be a nice distraction.