Monday, 8 April 2013

Miniatures Flashback: Valley of the Four Winds I

Miniatures shopping in the early 80's was a strange and fascinating time. The relatively lumpish sculpts of Heritage, Grenadier and smaller companies were giving way to crisper lines like Ral Partha. But there was plenty of creativity and raw vigor to go around. I ogled more miniatures in the shops than I actually could buy or paint. A few lines, though, stand out as legendary, impressive, and still traded on Ebay. In this irregular series I go back over a few of them.

Valley of the Four Winds was a short-lived world in the Games Workshop line, with an epic board wargame created by Lewis Pulsipher, serial fiction in White Dwarf by one Rowland Flynn, and figures (but as far as I know no miniatures rules for them) created by Minifigs and attributed here to sculptor Dick Higgs. While the world contained orcs, pixies and dwarves, much of the feel was Renaissance rather than Medieval, with obvious nods to imaginative painting of the Flemish school - Bosch, Breughel.

Courtesy of the Lost Minis Wiki we can relive some of the stranger and more impressive pieces over the next few posts.

One thing the series excelled at were elaborate multi-piece command sets. The skeletons had their Great Bell:

The Wind Demon got hauled around in a chariot - you'd think he could

While the Lord of the Swamps got carried:

Another feature of the series were the kind of grisly, unique scenery pieces that begged to have dungeon features designed around them. Take, for instance...

The man trapped in a coffin with rats. I think he can be rescued, but will die without serious healing and Cure Disease. It turns out he is a wealthy merchant whose family disowned him for snitching on his brother, the competition, to the revenue authorities, and who put him in this situation as a terribly appropriate revenge. He will hand out a 5000$ reward to the group that can save his life.

The giant fire wheel. 1d6 fire damage if you don't jump out of the way in time (Speed/breath weapon/DEX save.) 50$ for the wheels and alchemical compounds that make it burn sustainedly.

Did I say Breughel? Goya makes an appearance in this "Body speared on tree."

And few miniatures lines would dare to come out with a giant ... woodlouse. HD 4, AC 3 [16], MV 6, attack 1d4, can curl up and roll at 12" rate (no attack possible) for AC 0 [19].

Next: The factions of the Valley.


  1. Roll attack

    I love that bell. What does it do? Summon something? Shake the walls down? Provoke uncontrollable wailing and a headache right over the left eye?

    Initially I thought it was a trebuchet that used a giant bell for a counterweight, which would also be strange and intriguing. And now I'm imagining a trebuchet that uses a cannon for a counterweight... 18th century post apoc or cargo cult setting.

  2. Wow, I owned the Hex & Chit wargame, but never knew there were minis. Cool.

  3. Richard, I thought it was a trebuchet at first as well. Imagine if the bell was magical *and* a counterweight for a trebuchet. The bell drops and its toll shakes the walls enough that the missile can shatter them like crockery.

    I like the idea of a cannon as a trebuchet counterweight - rigged specifically so that when the cannon is fired, its backblast is the force which fires the trebuchet. It's like combining two independent artillery pieces; with pulleys, it doesn't matter if you're aiming the cannon and trebuchet at different targets. It's too impossibly and comically impractical, so I'm imagining goblin and kobold engineers crawling over the mess and cackling as they winch and reload.

    Oh, and Roger, the minis are cool, too. :P

  4. Brilliant line of miniatures that changed my thoughts of Minifigs at the time. They went from the old Mythical Earth and Sword & Sorcery sculpting style to this almost 'overnight'. Loads of my pics here (no probs using!) - loads of this (miniature related) stuff on my own blog

  5. Awesome things...

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