I’ll never die!
… Proclaims Giant in the Playground’s optimisation guide for the barbarian in fifth edition D&D. Maybe it’s true. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian made his first appearance on 6th December 1932 (the day before my own birthday, albeit some time prior). 84 years after Howard defined the genre, I painted Knightmare Games’ Joe, the Man o’War.
This is a classic barbarian with bronzed flesh and rippling muscles, taking design cues from Frank Frazetta paintings and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1982 portrayal of Conan. It’s also more than a little reminiscent of the cover art of some classic games: Hero Quest and Golden Axe (and its less popular little brother, the Zelda-clone Golden Axe Warrior on the Sega Master System). Or this guy (or indeed, this guy). The influence of the barbarian was ubiquitous in the fantasy genre during my childhood, so it’s no surprise that some of the earliest Citadel Miniatures I bought were from their old Norse range. Some of these have recently been re-released by Foundry via Warmonger Miniatures, and there were fantastic painted examples on Orlygg Jafnakkol’s Realm of Chaos 80s blog just a couple of weeks ago.
I painted him in three or four sessions. Thanks to the exaggerated sculpting on the muscles the flesh tones were really simple to paint, and the spot colours on the dagger, severed head, and gold boss made for a well-balanced colour scheme. By contrast the studded leather armour was fiddly and the broad, flat sword took several attempts. Even so, it was a welcome respite from bleached-bone skulls, bronze spikes, and red armour. These are of course the colours of choice for the contemporary barbarian – including my own Barbarians of the Wasteland from the Russian Alternative (though these are excellent miniatures in their own right, and I’ll upload some photos when I eventually finish painting them).
Despite all this love for classic barbarians, I’ve never successfully played one in D&D. But every Wednesday for most of the last couple of years, I have played the science fiction equivalent in Star Wars RPG Edge of Empire. Our group has a very infrequently updated blog, Spacemelons, and if my luck holds then…
Xyphot Musch will never die!