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  • Writer's pictureAlex Payne

My first miniature - Legolas v Star Wars

Updated: Aug 20, 2023


Shoppers outside the first games workshop, 1970s and 1980s
Painting as a kid, Airfix and Stormtroopers v Wood Elves


I can’t quite remember what miniature was my very first - but It’s between two.

At some point in the 1990s, like so many others, I was drawn to the garish branding of an old-school Games Workshop. Inside there were…. I don’t think I ever went inside, though. Not when I was that little.


Instead, my very first models were purchased from a shop named Lorimers in Oxted, near where I grew up. We went there a lot, usually as a bit of a treat when traipsing along with my sisters behind my mum when she was out running errands in the school holidays. Lorimers was an art supply and stationery shop, really - and a good one - full of passably interesting easels, watercolours, pallets and notebooks. But if you ducked through a doorway on one side, there was another, smaller, almost secret aisle. That’s where the really exciting stuff was: Lego, Airfix kits - which I dabbled with quite a bit already by this point - and also a single, freestanding display stand decked out in bold black, yellow and red livery.


My little eyes were certainly drawn to it, and then exciting green and red boxes depicting some beautifully mono-pose modes glorious, GLORIOUS goblin green bases. After a bit of persuasion, I was allowed by my mum to use some of my pocket money to procure one of the boxes from the magical stand, to take home and build.


And it was there that I got one of the two boxes below. I just can’t remember which.


Option A: Imperial Storm Troopers

Imperial guard stormtroopers 1990s games workshop

Not the Star Wars kind, but the angry, bald, beret-ed kind. I loved their big bulky backpacks and their berets, making them look like a proper special operations team. I imagine I was also a teeny bit drawn to them because of the name, having seen Star Wars a short time before and being obsessed with everything associated with the galaxy far, far away. And also quite possibly as the cabling and backpacks of their weaponry is more than a little bit Ghostbusters-esque.


"Not the Star Wars kind, but the angry, bald, beret-ed kind."

I think these models legitimately hold up, and honestly might have a dig on ebay sometime to see if I can find a box to paint, purely for the nostalgia.


Option B: Wood Elf Archers

1990s warhammer fantasy wood elves archers

Option B is some wood elf archers: off-brand Legolas and his mono-pose pals. These models are wonderful. I recall really clearly loving the variety of colours on the box, being captivated by the detail on the cloaks and the quivers.


Whichever was first, I do remember quite clearly my initial attempt at building and painting both of them. Having already done a little airfix, I had some paints and a brush or two, and even some citadel paints procured at the same time as the models - the lovely 1990s kind, so beloved of YouTube channels, so difficult to open when you’re under ten years old. I had no idea what I was doing when it came to actually painting the little guys. There was no primer. There was no thinning of paints. I slapped some airfix paints straight onto the grey, doing my best to follow the illustration on the box, quickly becoming frustrated as my clumsy efforts failed to replicate the ‘eavy metal standard.

"There was no primer. There was no thinning of paints. I slapped some airfix paints straight onto the grey, doing my best to follow the illustration on the box, quickly becoming frustrated as my clumsy efforts failed to replicate the ‘eavy metal standard."

One quirk I remember very clearly was not having a clue what washes were, and trying to use flesh wash to paint the faces of my storm troopers. This, of course, did not go well. The wash glistened slickly on the faces and bled off onto everything else, staining the troopers shirts like so much grimdark fake tan.


My dad tried to help, but didn’t have much of a clue either, and quickly lost interest after the flesh wash debacle. And that, unfortunately, was that. The storm troopers sat on a shelf for a little while, the flesh wash gleaming off their grey faces beneath. Maybe the wood elves joined them, all jaunty in their mottled green and yellow, maybe they went straight into a drawer and were hidden away. Either way, neither would last. Within a few months, they’d disappeared, sold off for some pennies at a good old fashioned boot sale. I’d love to have the first models I ever painted, but alas; I’m not sure my parents were so fussed about potential future reminiscing and more so about clearing the clutter out of my bedroom.


It would be a little while before I picked up a brush again, with the advent of the amazing Hordes of Chaos book when I was in secondary school. That, along with finding a group of friends as obsessed with grey plastic as I was, really kickstarted my hobby obsession for much of my teenage years.


 

But maybe that’s for another time. Until then, may your paints flow smooth and your 1s be re-rollable.


Thanks for reading!


Alex

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