The Origin of an Obsession

17 02 2007

When I purchased my first box of Grenadier AD&D figures over 25 years ago, I had no idea how these lead miniatures were created. As I gleefully slopped paint onto my orcs, knights, and skeleton warriors, it never occured to me that an artist actually sculpted prototype models of them at actual size. During the D&D years, I just continued buying more figures from now-defunct manufacturers such as Hertitage, Grenadier, Ral Partha, Dragontooth, Broadsword, and Superior.

In 1987, I saw an ad in Dragon Magazine for new sci-fi figures. Photos of beak-headed humans in dark blue power armor and bilious green orcs with machine guns captured my imagination. I had always loved miniatures, but considered myself to be a roleplayer. However, my gaming group had disbanded, but my passion for miniatures persisted. When I saw the Warhammer 40k ad, I knew I had been hooked into a new hobby–miniature wargaming. I began to collect both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K figures. I loved reading White Dwarf and was fascinated by the painting and modelling articles. When I finally saw photos of upcoming “greens”, it finally occurred to me that artists were responsible for sculpting them and I wanted to learn how to do it too.

Years later at Gen Con in the mid 90’s, I met many of the artists who had sculpted the same miniatures I had been painting. These sculptors were all eager to share their techniques with me and I began to sculpt my own miniatures. At first, my pieces were pretty crude, but my skills improved.

In 2001, I was hooked on a new wargame called Slaughterloo from Alternative Armies. I decided to sculpt some troops that were not yet produced. Although the troops were initially intended for personal use, I realized that AA might actually be interested in producing them. I sent AA an e-mail with some photos of my figs and I went on to sculpt nearly 50 figures for their Flintloque/Slaughterloo range. After freelancing for AA, I eventually sculpted figures for two of my other favorite games–Warzone and Chronopia.

However, I’ve always wanted to sculpt my own unique designs instead of creating figs based on other people’s images and concepts. I’ve been working on and off for the past few years on my own pieces, and feel now is the time to finally launch my own company–Hydra Miniatures.

Why did I choose the name Hydra Miniatures?

The name Hydra is easy to spell, easy to remember, and is very evocative. It easily conjures images of a serpentine mythical beast or a species of multi-headed alien invaders. However, the name also has another connotation. Just as the mythical Hydra has many heads, my mind is filled with many different ideas for miniature ranges—fantasy, sci-fi, and even historical. However, I made a pledge to myself that I would only create figure ranges that interested me. If I wanted to make a quick buck, I could always sculpt another Geiger alien knockoff, another rampaging orc, or another Roman legionnaire, but what’s the point? These subjects are overdone, played-out, and cliche’. We are living in the Golden Age of miniatures, and it’s my time to make my own unique contribution to it.

This blog will document the creative process for designing, sculpting and manufacturing metal wargaming miniatures. I will also give a insiders view into the business of running a miniature company and will share my successes and my failures with you as they occur. Finally, I will share my views on art, culture and politics as they relate to miniature gaming.

It’s going to be an exciting ride as I approach the launch date of Hydra Miniatures and I hope you’ll find it interesting as well.

Welcome to the Hydra’s Lair!



One response

2 03 2007
Phil Beauchamp

I was there! It’s all true!

I can’t wait to see what creations are locked up in that head of yours as your skill continues to develop to the point where you will be able to make what you see.

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