Please consider this post a cautionary tale.
As I continue to work on my Gloomspite Gitz Army, my attention was drawn this weekend to an old box that’s been sitting in my hobby room since I moved into my house a few years ago. In fact, I’ve lugged it around for more than a decade before that. It is, or rather was, a big box of old Orcs and Goblins from 6th edition Warhammer.
For context, some of these miniatures were purchased at the time they were out, as I did pick up the 6th edition starter set with the intention of building an Orcs and Goblins army. I certainly built such an army. Painted, though? Not so much. The bulk of this lot actually came a little later, between 2008 and 2010 as a series of very cheap eBay purchases.
The first thing that came out of the box were a couple of bags of old Goblins. By old goblins, I mean old. I believe these are from 4th edition:
There are probably 40 to 60 of them in the bags. Now, although I am most definitely a Goblin fan, I’m not that interested in these specific miniatures. So, off the image went to our club Discord where friend immediately pounced on them, wanting to show them some love and expressing a mild level of disgust with me for considering throwing away some history.
Next was this this box. I’ve not applied a filter or anything to the image, it just really is that faded. If I remember, it had sat in the window of a shop for some years, growing more and more sun-damaged over time. Still, opening it up, it was fully intact:
The Rock Lobba is a great miniature and I’m swithering over getting rid of it or keeping it. I did cringe a little bit as I pulled the tight-fitting polystyrene insert from the box. It made that sound. You know the one. The mini is beautiful and it actually one of several war machines I would go on to find, with several Goblin Spear Chukkas also joining the party. I definitely have ideas on how to use the Spear Chukkas…
The next big item pulled from the box was a bag of Dwarfs. They did not belong in that box, but it quickly became evident why they were in there. The bag contained a couple of sets of Skull Pass Dwarfs. Ah, ok, so they were bought with some Goblins!
I’ve put this bag in the keep pile for now, as I’d like to maybe do a little skirmishy thing or a Mordheim warband at some point. We’ll see. Maybe I’m just not being ruthless enough.
Along with the Skull Pass Dwarfs, there were also a few Skull Pass Trolls. There are five pictured below, but I believe I found 6 by the end:
It’s a nice model, but it’s bloody repetitive to have an entire unit of the same sculpt. So, I don’t think these guys will be appearing alongside my Gloomspite Troggoths. I suppose one could say the same about the 300-odd Skull Pass Night Goblins that I found in the box, but it’s different. There are a handful of sculpts in those units, and they all so small. You don’t really focus on the individual miniature in the same way that you do with the larger, more imposing trolls. I also found an old metal Stone Troll. I’m keeping him!
There were also a lot of characters in the box. This is good, because, along with the Night Goblins that I mentioned above, these were one of the things I was looking for:
It’s odd to think that these were £6 for two back in the day whilst the current equivalent model, with only one in the box, will set you back a princely £17.50. But yeah, in addition to two Bosses above, I found the Skull Pass characters, four different metal Shamans plus some duplicates, and a couple of Avatars of War characters. There were also some metal squigs, hoppers, and other bits and bobs. All of these went in the keep pile, as I don’t have any Loonbosses on foot or Madcap Shamans for my Gloomspite army. I’m told that going magic-heavy is a strong choice for this army.
So, then we come to the bulk of the box. There were a lot of Orcs. Like, a lot.
The Vast majority of these were dual-choppa Boys and Arrer Boyz from the 6th edition starter set. I did start off counting them, but I quickly lost track. There’s at least 60 Boys and 40 Arrer Boyz there, though. At least. To cut to the chase, I don’t want them. At some point, when I was looking to build an Orcs and Goblins army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, I wanted them, but that time has passed. I’ve got a friend who is interested in taking them off my hands, so they have been bagged up by type and will find themselves to him at some point soon. There’s also some nice metal Black Orcs in there, along with a couple of chariots and some other characters. If I come to do Orcs at some point, I love the aesthetic of the newer miniatures and it’s those that I’d be going for.
One of the main things I was looking for was actually the Spider Riders that came in the Skull Pass set. I mentioned before that I’d like to do 2,000 points of spiders to add to my Gloomspite as I go along. I was expecting to find 20, maybe 30 of these to give me a good start to the army:
I found 50. Well, 52. I think that I may have had 60 at some point, but I used 8 of them to make some converted Fiends of Slaanesh back in the day. I’m delighted to find 50. The list I’m building uses 35 of them, so I have more than enough. There’s a few lists I’ve seen that use 60 to 70 (like this one at Plastic Craic), but I can always build out later if I decide to go heavier on the spider riders and dump an Arachnarok or two.
Finally, I found this chap near the bottom of the box, and that made me happy:
I actually found 2 of him, which is even better. It means that I can keep this one, which is well build and pinned, for myself, but I also have one to give to the friend who is taking the orcs off my hands (for free, of course, he’s doing me a favour here!). For those not in the know, this is Grimgor Ironhide, the Orciest Orc who’se ever Orced, and a favourite character of mine. I’m definitely keeping him.
So, then, what do I take away from all of this? Well, in a literal sense, I take a few hundred Night Goblins (more than I expect to actually need), a dozen or so characters, some cool odds and ends and about 50 Spider Riders. I also take away a sense of perspective and a little bit of shame.
I think this whole thing is pretty indicative of the off-again, on-again relationship that I’ve had with this hobby over the years. An army may be acquired, but then I take a step back for a few years and it gets packed away in storage and not touched. I then get drawn back in, but what draws me back is not necessarily what came before, and I’m left with decades of unfinished projects in my wake. It’s actually quite sad, in a way.
I’d like to think I’m a bit better now. I probably still buy too much, but I’m trying. I’m setting myself targets and even if I miss them, I’m still making progress, and that feels good. What worries me a little is how I go on from here. I have more boxes like this that I need to sort through and I do need to be more ruthless. What, for example, do I do with a bunch of the older, hunched Chaos Warriors? What about the hordes of old monkey-esque Skaven Clanrats or the even older style one-piece ones?
I want to return to Skaven next year, once my current slate of projects is done, so that will be a problem for future-me. But I do think I’m going to have to be ruthless and get rid of models that I’m never going to paint in favour of those that I do. The Island of Blood Clanrats would stay, for example, as I love those miniatures and I’d be much happier painting a force of those. Daemons, too! Oh God, there are so many of those in this house. Oh, and Bretonnians…
There was value in this clearance, and it’s something I intend to do again, but not immediately. I think this will be something that I try to do a couple of times a year, chipping away a collection that, for a while between 2004 and 2013 went a bit out of control and needs to be culled. At these times, I could pick one force and just lay everything out, like I did with the orcs & Goblins, and decide what stays and what goes, and the purpose of those items that are staying. That word, ‘purpose’, is really important to the whole process.
I had a lot of fun back in the day, playing with my sprue-grey armies, but I think I’m happier with my current attitude to the hobby and to my purchases being more planned.