A personal love letter to Talisman minis


With this post I want to give thanks to Aly Morrison for creating one of the most varied, rich, funny and scary ranges: the Citadel Metal Talisman miniatures designed for 2nd edition of the boardgames. I have been working on collecting and painting the range, which consists  of 70 metal miniatures. With help from Trish Carden (and Bob Naismith for some toad conversions), Morrison created a masterpiece of a range, in my (humble and biased) opinion the greatest set of minis Citadel ever created. 


The original Talisman game didn't have any minis and instead players used little paper cards to play the game. But when second edition came out in 1985, Citadel decided to add minis to the mix. Based on the illustrations by Gary Chalk, Morrison set out creating an initial set of 14. Over the next few years he sculpted all the other minis, except the 8 Timescape ones, done by Trish Carden, and the 4 toad conversions, which were done by Bob Naismith. 

  Paper character card


All the toads

For me personally, painting a mini is just as important as owning it. If a model paints up poorly, or you have to paint 40 of them in the same way, my hobby becomes a slog. The Talisman range avoids that. Even if you paint the mini just like it shows on the paper card (I don't anymore), you still feel like each of the miniatures is its own range. There's no need for repetitiveness and that's how it was designed. 

 Orc from the Adventure Expansion


Sorceress from the original set

Another wonderful thing to love about the Talisman range, is the variety of characters within it. I really think it must have been fun coming up with a group of characters, so different from each other, that still walk in the same world - it's the ultimate fantasy game. There are mythical designs, like the Satyr, there are eastern inspired minis like the Samurai and the Ninja, there are medieval looking models like the Knight and the Druid. 
Satyr from the first expansion

Druid from the original set

There is also a host of non fighting minis in the range, quite unusual actually for a game where you will have to battle your way to the center of the board: we have a Merchant, loving his coin, a Minstrel playing a tune and a Gypsy harvesting food. 

Merchant from the first expansion

There is also a lot of humor in the designs: the fan favorites (drunk) Pirate and the Monk (who is preaching peace with a mace behind his back), the hilarious toads and the confused Philosopher. 

Monk from the original set

Pirate from the Adventure

Pirate Toad

Philosopher from the first expansion

And there are some truly scary miniatures, the ones when you imagine having to face them, it will end badly.... painting up the Troll, I realized how menacing that model really is. And the ghoul is wonderfully creepy, with a great degree of menace. And lastly, the Rogue has always bothered me, just a deranged and violent looking sculpt, you definitely want to avoid that guy in the street. 

Troll from the original set

Ghoul from the original set

Rogue from the first expansion

And if that variety wasn't enough, here comes the Timescape expansion from 1988. Eight Science Fiction miniatures, sculpted by Trish Carden and pretty hard to find nowadays for reasonable prices. What other game can field a Spacepirate and the Knight on the same board? What is not to like - it's just a wonderful diversion from painting fantasy minis - suddenly you get to paint a rogue trader Space Marine for the same game, set in a classic fantasy world. 

Space Pirate from Timescape

Chainsaw from Timescape

Astronaut from Timescape

Some of the minis are true 80's classics in my book, models that just haven't been surpassed in years since (mind you, Talisman minis are a mix of humor and malice). Two of my favorites are the Necromancer and the Dwarf, just splendid minis!

Necromancer from the first expansion

Dwarf from the original set

Are all of them perfect? No. In my opinion, there are few weaker sculpts, like the Highlander (too small) and the Thief (awkward pose).

Highlander from the adventure

You can paint your Talisman collection in a few ways: follow the traditional color scheme from the character cards, completely abolish that and paint them all however you want to or do a hybrid version with a mix between the first and second. I started out following the colors of the cards and I enjoyed trying to match them as close as possible. But earlier last year I decided to just do something I liked and give up on the card color schemes. It has given me a great deal of freedom, and I really enjoy that part, pondering over color schemes and choosing some colors I normally would not use. Sometimes I still paint something really close to the original card design, without ever looking...

Dark Elf from Dungeon (traditional colors)

Amazon from the first expansion (hybrid color scheme)

Pilgrim from the original set (traditional colors)

Knight from the first expansion (own color scheme)

Ranger from the first expansion (hybrid color scheme)

These paint jobs are certainly not top notch and I know there are many, many hobbyists out there doing amazing paintwork. I am also hugely inspired by Stuff of Legends and Oldenhammer in Toronto, the Talisman minis on that blog look astounding.  But the Talisman project has given me tremendous personal joy during my battle with cancer this past year and a half and although I have not collected all of them yet, I am determined to see it all through. I have always loved the 2nd edition game (yes it's a long game) and working for a few years on these amazing minis feels like honoring this illustious game and set.  I have been keeping Aly Morrison in the loop once in a while and he has been kind enough to peek at the gallery a couple of times for that I am grateful. I paint about 25-30 minis a year and I still need to find a bunch, so, health permitting,  you will see me busy with this for a bit!

The catalog images were kindly borrowed from Stuff of Legends, the greatest resource that is out there for people like me
SC Mike


  1. What a heartfelt letter! Your passion for the Talisman miniatures really shines through. It's wonderful to hear how much joy this hobby has brought you, especially during such a challenging time. Your dedication to collecting and painting them is truly inspiring. Do you have a favorite miniature from the range?

  2. Mike! Thanks so much for the shout-out to Oldenhammer-in-Toronto. I'm thrilled to find another hobbyist for the same passion for those original Talisman sculpts. I love the fact that you've contacted Aly Morrison. I hope he knows how much joy he's brought into the world with his completely unique scuplting style. And speaking of completely unique, I LOVE the alternate color schemes you've devised: the druid, the ranger and especially the necromancer all look splendid. Can't wait to see more!

    1. Hi Matthew, so honored to hear from you - you are truly one of the prime examples for me painting up the Talisman collection! Thanks for the shout out! - Mike , Santa Cruz Warhammer


Post a Comment