Grenadier AD&D Wizards Project: part 1

 With the rising costs of old Citadel miniatures a lot of us have looked around at other companies' miniatures like Grenadier, Ral Partha, Heritage and many more. There are so many great minis to be found from the early 80's for way less money that are equally enjoyable to paint up. One of the old sets I am really excited about is the Grenadier AD&D 2001 Wizards small box set from 1980, sculpted by Andrew Chernak. It was the first set of a group of small box sets of 10 miniatures that were cheap and gave kids a great starter to the hobby. 

I have been posting about this set already on Facebook and Instagram, and one of the reasons I felt compelled to do something with it, is that I could not find many well painted versions of it anywhere. Everyone seems to have this set, or had it at one point, but till now not many hobbyists considered it worth  painting nicely and posting about it. I wanted to change that.

As usual, when I start a project, I go down a black hole and try to find out as much as possible about the set and I located Andrew, the sculptor and asked him a bunch of questions, which I will post about soon. 

But let's start with the basics: below is the box cover. I restored it in Photoshop from a box from my friend SC John - the colors are pretty true I think, and the art, created by Ray Rubin, is splendid. A lot of Grenadier large and small box sets have art by Rubin, and it's very iconic for that era and the subject.

The insert shows the minis and their names, and those have changed with different editions, due to legal wrangling in the 80's between TSR and Grenadier, but the original box insert is this one:

image courtesy of Lost Minis Wiki

In later editions the necromancer and some others were renamed:

Image courtesy of dndlead

In this article from the magazine Different Worlds from 1980, you can read the review of the miniatures upon release that year. It's fun to read the different descriptions of the wizards (apologies for the resolution, it's issue 10).
image courtesy of Dylan Martin

The miniatures are true 25mm, so not heroic, where the head would be larger. That means that painting eyes on these guys is very tough and takes (me) many tries to get it right. Here are a few of them that I painted up:

The Magic User with snap in spells:

This is the most impressive mini of the bunch and it comes with two spell inserts, as you can see in the picture. This miniature looks great, even by today's standards. It's a very dynamic pose and the casting of it must have been a nightmare, with all the swirls around the torso. My mini had a lot of flash still around the swirls and it took a bit to clean it all up. 
The skull looks great and even has some cracks in the top. The face is excellent and my version was pretty clean. The miniature is impressive when finished and very tall. I do think that on the original preslotta 'base', this miniature would be pretty unstable, especially with the inserted spell, so adding the round base really helped its stability.

The Druid:

The Druid is the only (conventional) fighting Wizard of the set and he is engaged to do battle. The sculpt is great and the detail is totally adequate. You can see that Chernak loved his cloth folds, they are all over, but that also makes it easier for us to paint it nicely. The back of the shield is a mess, and my version had all kinds of casting issues, and it make sense that companies later would separate shield and warrior, like Citadel did in the mid eighties. The Druid is a good example of the sparseness of the designs; none of the miniatures have a lot of extra detail, like pouches, bottles, extra knives, belt buckles etc. 

There are definitely casting issues in the set. The Magic user with imp or dragon on his shoulder is a great example. I still don't know what the creature really is and after posting in the community, it is still unclear - it's because the face is just mangled up and basically non existent. As you can see below, I had to invent the spot to paint the left eye and roll with it. 

Below is the Magic User with Dart. The pose is excellent and I love this sculpt for its choice of outfit and weapons. Again Chernak did a great job with the cloth folds, all very natural and flowing and really fun to paint up. My version was missing the left side of his face, definitely a casting error. You can see that in the image below, so I added an eyebrow with greenstuff and painted in an eye. This would be an awesome mini to use in D&D or Mordheim, the dart is just the best. 

Below are a couple of other one I painted - they are truly a joy to work on and it gave me opportunities to use all the paint colors I have instead of coming up with a homogenous 'squad color'.

I know this set is a classic, historic set. Despite that, not many hobbyists have put their teeth in them lately, at least not posted. If you google them, hardly any well painted versions show up - mostly they look like this: 

But I am here to convince you that it's totally worth it to spend some good panting time on these classic miniatures - true legends of the 80's! Amazingly, after 42 years, you can still buy a brand new set of these minis here, but on Ebay plenty of original sets are available for reasonable prices. 

I created a link to the gallery of this range here (and it's also available on the right top of the homepage or under menu on mobile.) I am in the middle of finishing the group, so expect more painted models soon.
Next up will be an interview with Andrew Chernak, founder of Grenadier and sculptor of these minis where he chats a bit about how these guys came to be and what he was inspired by.

                                                                              SC Mike