Welcome Dear Reader,

When we last met the world was younger and we were less grey. I want to take you back to a golden age, when Dark Angels wore black and Genestealer Cults rode in stretched limousines. When Zoats and Ambulls roamed the land and beastmen and human bombs were pressed into Imperial service. When Slaan formed units instead of lazing in chairs and Squats roared to battle on custom trikes.

What I am talking about is the nascent scene for archeogaming, Warhammer for Adults or most commonly agreed upon – Oldhammer.

What is Oldhammer I hear you ask?  On a forum I frequent it was recently described as: “The time period between your 11th birthday and when sex became more important than your toy soldiers”

In truth, Oldhammer can mean many things and it is important that before we go any further I explain what it is in spirit and what it is to me. Saying that you are about to explain what Oldhammer is, in fact, a contradiction in itself because Oldhammer is what YOU make it. The point is to collect, use and play with miniatures and rulesets that make you and those around you happy.

At the core of Oldhammer is the concept of 'Social Contract' wargaming. All gamers can, in isolation, dream up all sorts of crazy ideas, but when Oldhammerers meet they are mature enough to collaborate on making a game fun for all parties. - Warlord Paul

I think most Oldhammerers would agree that we are talking about a totally non-competitive environment. No tournaments, no power lists, no stress.  A game with as much in common with a roleplay game as a wargame.  Did you know for example that both Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40k were both designed to be played with a GM?  Not to mention the fact that by today’s standards a lot of the rule sets I love can’t be played competitively as they are full of contradictions, imbalances and clunky wording, so there needs to be a mutual understanding that you are playing for the fun of it.

For me personally, Oldhammer also means something else. It represents my opportunity to develop fantastical ideas that I have had since I was 8 years old into reality. Now I am in my late 30s I have the time, resources and maturity to bring projects to life in a way I could never have achieved in the late 80s.

My Oldhammer journey starts with a very important year; 1987.

What’s so important about 1987?  I could mention the Iran-Contra affair, The Max Headroom broadcast intrusion, the Great Storm or the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Arguably more important was the release of Predator, the film that famously has won every film award in every category every year since its release.

All of these are minor incidents compared to the 1987 release of the book which will become the focus of my future posts, Warhammer 40000, Rogue Trader.  The subtitle “Warhammer 40000” was only really applied at the time of release to disambiguate it from the equally awesome Rogue Trooper, the 2000AD comic strip. 

We may think GW has its problems now, but in the late 80's it was not plain sailing either.  Warhammer Fantasy and Rogue Trader were written by Rick Priestly but a lot of responsibility also rested with Citadel founder Bryan Ansell, who famously was told to "SOD OFF" in the contents page of White Dwarf #77

Despite these mixed feelings, the Priestly/Ansell days bring back wonderful memories. This period is full of treasures, ireverence and adult humour that is a far cry from the world of Warhammer today. What was acceptable in the 80s is in many cases not even verging on acceptable now. Arguably our gaming tables are better off without racially insensitive pygmy warriors and Imperial Guard units with both explosive vests and explosive collars. For me, however, this is the Golden Age of gaming and one that I hope to share with you in this series of articles. 

So I invite you to join me while I hit my Rogue Trader bucket list and build no less than three RT era armies and turn old lead into what I dreamed it could be when I was younger.

The forces I am going to build are;

1. Imperial Guard with Beastmen, Human Bombs and Sentinels shaped like Cadbury's Cream Eggs

2. Blood Axe Orks with Human Adventurer units and Ogryns 

3. A Genestealer Chaos cult, complete with a pimped out Limousine


Now of course, the miniatures I will need to build these armies are primarily from 1988-1991 which means that I can't just pop down to the Dice Saloon and buy them sadly. This means looking on ebay everyday for bargains and trading and buying from various Facebooks groups catering Wargames.

It is possible to find Miniatures from the late 1980s still in blister packs but this is a rare occurence and you pay a premium for it. In the main, the minis I will use come pre-loved and pre-painted. If you cast your own mind back to the very first miniatures that you painted you will no doubt remember that they were lacking a certain finesse. Paint slapped on an inch thick, enamels instead of acrylics and an ill-prepped, heavily glued minis were the order of the day.  Here are some recent arrivals found on Facebook:

To refurbish them to a point where they can be painted to my standards they will need to be stripped so without further ado here is my quick step by step guide to stripping minis.

Paint Stripping Checklist

You will need the following items.

  • Dettol/Fairy Power Spray
  • Glass Jar
  • Tooth Brush
  • Tooth Pick
  • Plastic/Tupperware Box
  • Rubber Gloves and Plastic Goggles

As a first step I recommend breaking the minis down, removing bases, arms and weapons etc as this helps the fluid get into all the little nooks and allows you clean the model thoroughly.

When the minis are ready to visit the strip club, it is time to choose your weapon. There are many different fluids that will do the trick here, and the choice is down to you. Fluids that work include brake fluid and actual paint stripper, but personally I find these rather harsh and you can end up damaging the mini and melting the details (let alone what it does to your carpet or table). In the USA a product called Simple Green is commonly used andd apparently works very well. Here in the UK, the best choices are either Dettol or Fairy Power Spray. Dettol is a disinfectant and Fairy Power Spray is an oven and surface cleaner both very easy to find in your local supermarket. For the purposes of this article I am going to use both and then choose the best one going forward.

The next step is to fill your jar with the Dettol or Fairy and place the minis inside. I usually do around 5 or 6 at a time, leaving me room to shake the jar and loosen the paint. It is important that you have a tightly fitting lid on your jar to protect you from the fumes, which, whilst not harmful to you are quite unpleasant. You can leave the minis to soak for anything from 4-5 hours to a day, I usually leave mine overnight. 

I noticed the jar containg the Dettol going to work alomost straight away, with paint flakes starting to lift and float off. The Fairy Power Spray was also visibly taking effect after a couple of hours but not to the same extent.

The next step is to scrub your minis. In order to do this decant the entire contents of your jar into a tupperware container to form a fluid bath. Then take a cheap toothbrush and scrub the minis gently whilst still immersed in the fluid. It is possible to cause damage to soft lead minis (not a problem if you are using the same technique with modern minis) at this stage so try to be as gentle as possible. You may also want to consider wearing safety goggles at this point as the fluid can flick up into your eyes if you are not careful. I used a toothpick to loosen the paint in certain areas where the brush can't reach. The Dettol smells a lot more unpleasant than the Fairy but was much easier to work with as the Fariy began foaming up when scrubbed obscuring the miniatures and making it hard to see progress.


After the minis have been scrubbed, you simply need to wash them in warm soapy water and then place them on some newspaper or a kitchen towel to dry. The minis stripped using Dettol came out bright and shiny as the day they came out of the mold.

The minis done in Fairy Power spray needed significantly more work and the results were not as good as with Dettol, so much so that I ended up soaking them in Dettol afterwards anyway.

After a couple of hours in the strip club I was left with some fully stripped Imperial Guard ready to sign up and serve the Emperor on the Rogue Trader Battlefield! I have quite a few more to go before the next article in which I will share how I prep and undercoat miniatures, this time using products that you CAN buy from the Dice Saloon.

 If you want learn more about Oldhammer while I am stripping old lead, I'd like to suggest the following amazing blogs to keep you going. 




Special thanks also to Paul and James at the Oldhammer Trading Company for letting me use the banner.

All that remains now is choose where to start...if you need me, I'll be lurking on Ebay.