Miniature Games, Tabletop Games

Blood Bowl Alt Minis Part 1: Orcs and Human

Blood Bowl is a great game that has been around for a long time. The first edition came out in 1986. Although the game would become known in later editions for its zany fantasy football miniatures, this first edition did not contain any metal or plastic miniatures whatsoever. It instead used cardboard standees, as shown in this picture of the French edition of the game:

blood bowl 86.PNG

The second edition of Blood Bowl came out in 1988 and brought with it a selection of plastic and metal miniatures. With each subsequent edition, in 1994 and 2016, the quality of these miniatures has only gotten better and better.

The thing is, in the early 2000s Games Workshop stopped supporting the third edition of Blood Bowl. Miniature releases stopped and the existing sculpt slid out of production.

Enter the third party market.

In the long drought that lasted until the eventual release of the 2016 edition of Blood Bowl, a number of independent miniatures companies started putting out their own fantasy football minis. Among these are some really nice miniatures which I intend to share with you in this series. We’re not going to look at the rules, as that’s just not the focus here. The point is to take a look at all of the fantastic miniatures that are available for the dedicated Fantasy Football fan.

Being part 1, it makes sense to focus first and foremost on the two ‘core’ teams that have featured heavily in every edition of Blood Bowl. Today we will look at Human and Orc Teams. I should also say that I’m not going to be able to cover all of the available teams. There are just so many available. I’m going to instead aim to share some highlights.

Human Teams

The human team has long been a staple of Blood Bowl, being part of each core set since second edition. The latest incarnation of the miniatures are beautiful, incorporating American Football-style armour whilst still staying firmly rooted in the Old World:

human gw team.PNG

In addition to the core team, human coaches will get the chance to add a big guy to their team in the form of an Ogre. The Ogre takes design cues from the Ogre Kingdom miniatures with the inclusion of a gut plate, but has much less of an Asian feel to him and some really cool armour:

gw ogre.PNG

The standard GW team sets a high bar for any potential competitor, and the fact that the miniatures are plastic is a big plus. So, with the standard miniatures out of the way, let’s take a look at what other minis are available.

Black Scorpion

bs human team.jpg

I own some Black Scorpion miniatures. I have their Skaven team. The miniatures are good, detailed resin sculpts that are full of character. Their human team is also pretty cool. They feel a bit ‘clean’ for Blood Bowl, with quite resplendent armour and tall helms that remind of Hoplites in our own world and of High Elves in Warhammer’s Old World. In this brave new Age of Sigmar, these miniatures actually look more at home than they would have, previously. I know Blood Bowl is set firmly in the Old World, but still…

Black Scorpion also produce some Ogres, but they don’t really match the rest of the team, so I’m leaving them be for now. I may return to it when I start looking at Ogres or Star Players.

Willy Miniatures

willy minis Human Team

Willy Miniatures have put out a more typical Human team, and one packed with personality. The armour is more fitting for the humans of the setting, and there are few nice touches. I like that the players are clearly wearing shorts under their armour, bringing the sports theme firmly into play. I also like the boots that the players wear, which are clearly sports boots with steel reinforcement for when one wants to properly put the boot in. The Ogre fits in really well with the rest of the team. He’s wearing the same shorts and boots, and his armour follows a similar design, even if he does like showing a bit more flesh. This team is similar in theming to the Games Workshop miniatures, but they have these little sports-themed tweaks that might actually make them a lot more fun, visually.

Gaspez-Arts

lion duchy

Gaspez Arts has put out a human team that, like the Black Scorpion miniatures, is quite heavily armoured. The biggest different between these and other miniatures is the inclusion of lion breastplates on all of the players and mail coifs on some.

The Ogre, as with the Willy Miniatures one, fits in well with the theming of the team. He has the same breast plate, is similarly armoured and is also a nice miniature.

Overall, the team is a little too armoured for my liking and the lion breastplates aren’t really my cup of team, but they do have a unique look. It would give you a unique team that comes with a clear theme already built in.

Impact Miniatures (Middle Kingdoms)

impact middle kingdoms

Impact take terrible photographs of their miniatures, which is a pity. Their stuff is alright in person, so they should be keen to show it off a bit better. Come on guys, shape up and hire a photographer for a few hours!

This team is quite cool, with a gladiatorial feel to it. Some of the helmets remind me of the Black Scorpion miniatures, but these guys feel more like sportsmen than the players from that team. The miniatures might come across as a bit bland, but the more traditional sporting uniforms might appeal to some coaches and they would give keen hobbyists the opportunity to do more of a ‘football strip’ design on them if they so wished.

Shadowforge Miniatures

The Shadowforge miniatures are a bit cheesecakey. That’s kind of their MO. I’ve been aware of Shadowforge for a while and have some of their miniatures, including an Elf team that I’ve painted up reasonably well.

This is their standard human team and they look pretty good. The miniatures are a lot slender than GW’s miniatures and, although there’s not a huge amount of detail, the sculpts are nice and clean. They look sporty, with very American football-esque armour and good boots. I can also definitely attest to the quality of Shadowforge’s minis.

Orc Teams

The Orc team has been as much a fixture in Blood Bowl as the Human team, appearing with them in each starter set.  Each edition saw an improved revision of the miniatures as they became more and more dynamic over time.  The latest version of the team is no exception to this rule:

orc gw team.PNG

The team has a heft and presence to it.  The lower poses make them feel heavier than the human team, which is as it should be.  The armour is sturdy, though scrappy.  I like that the team manages to keep personality whilst moving away from the cartoony look they had in previous editions.

As with the human team, the orcs have their own big guy.  For the greenskins, this takes the form of a troll.    The miniature, like most of the 2016 edition miniatures, is more dynamic than previous miniatures:

gw troll.PNG

He’s big, he’s got some scrappy armour, like the rest of his team, and he’s in the middle of throwing a goblin, which is one of his signature moves.  Do I like him?  Yeah, I suppose so.  He’s pretty cool.  He does not meet the high bar set by the Ogre.  That miniature is just better.

The standard GW team sets a high bar for any potential competitor, and the fact that the miniatures are plastic is a big plus. So, with the standard miniatures out of the way, let’s take a look at what other minis are available.

RN Estudio

en estudio orcs

There’s a lot of movement in these miniatures – lots of dashing, lunges and kicks.  They have some pretty serious armour and seem much more protected than their GW counterparts.  They also seem to have a lot more amour than is account for in their in-game stats.  That shouldn’t count against these minis, though.  They’re gorgeous!

Design-wise, these Orcs remind me less or Blood Bowl and Warhammer, and more of the Orcs from Blizzard’s Warcraft series – particularly Warcraft III and World of Warcraft.  It’s the pauldrons, I think.  Those shoulder pads just scream WoW.  If I picked these up, I’d just have to do them in red and silver, just to replicate that Orgrimmar guard feel!

Shadowforge

shadowforge orcs

Earlier in the article, I mentioned that Shadowforge could rely a bit heavily on the cheesecake-factor.  This team shows that concept taken in an… interesting direction.  As with all of their fantasy football teams, Shadowforge’s Orc team is entirely female.  They are also very silly and cartoony – which is a style that was very much a big part of earlier editions of Blood Bowl.

The team itself looks fine.  The miniatures aren’t really my cup of tea, managing to be too silly, and a bit off-looking.  Painted up well, they can be cool, and you’d certainly have a pretty unique-looking team with a lot of personality.

Black Scorpion

black scorpion orc team

As I mentioned above, I own some Black Scorpion miniatures – namely their Skaven team.  I like the Skaven team because they have a quite unique look and a bit of personality.  My problem with their Orc Team is the same as my problem with their human team, in that they are just a bit on the bland side.  Technically, they are nice miniatures.  They look good!  They just don’t really speak to me or capture the feel I want from a Blood Bowl team.

The minis are nice but uninspiring.  The armour is pretty uniform across the team, but almost too-much-so.  They lack that scrappy quality I want from Orcs.  They go in the same direction as RN Estudio with the pauldrons, but these chaps have clearly skipped leg day and look very top-heavy.  One major point in their favour is price.  RN Studio’s miniature look better, but these miniatures – which are, again, nice minis – are much cheaper and actually represent really good value for money.

Gaspez-Arts

344_A

Another team for which I could not find a good picture, the Gaspez-Arts team follows the same design cues as the Black Scorpion and RN Estudio teams.    They seem to be pretty heavily armoured and have a mix of static and running poses.

I’m having to go by a pretty poor image here, but I’m not sure that I entirely like the sculpts of the faces on some of these miniatures.  The armour is pretty cool, but it’s another example of the sort used in the RN Estudio and Black Scorpion teams.  I think this team looks pretty good, but it does suffer from being neither as impressive as the RN team nor as cheap as the Black Scorpion one.

Greebo

greebo orcs.jpg

This team is a bit different.  The biggest change is the lack of armour on the players.  These Orcs are proportioned much more like humans and are not wearing the bulky, heavy armour that is typical of other Orc teams.  Instead, they are dressed much like real-world American football teams with jerseys, pads, cups, and helmets.

The sculpts are good and there are some nice poses.  I especially like the blockers with their huge shoulder pads.  There are a couple of faces that I’m not keen on, especially one which seems to be trying to smile.  It doesn’t work.  Stop that.  All in all, it’s different and interesting, but does it really say Blood Bowl.  I’m not sure…

My Verdict

There are a lot of different teams, each with their own pros and cons.  There are really unique-looking teams, like those from Shadowforge and the Greebo Orc team, and there are others, like the Willy Miniature Human team that take the style of the GW miniatures and adapts and enhances it to create something new.  With that said, I’m able to pick out one team from each faction that really stood out for me in terms of theme and quality:

The Willy Miniatures Human team is similar enough to the GW concept that it feels like a human Blood Bowl team but is just a more visually impressive product.  The RN Estudio Orc team, meanwhile, takes a different approach.  It feels less ragtag than GW’s Orc team, but still appears dangerous and dynamic.  The WoW feel is also something that appeals to me, as I’m something of a Blizzard fanboy.

Next time I do one of these roundups I’ll take a look at… well… I don’t know.  Elves?  Dwarfs?  Undead?  I’m open to requests!

3 thoughts on “Blood Bowl Alt Minis Part 1: Orcs and Human”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.