Thursday, 28 August 2014

Oldhammer: Treeman

This is a very special miniature in my collection. It is a Treeman, but you will not find it in any of the Citadel catalogues. It is completely scratch-built from real twigs, all cut-to-size and made-to-fit, glued together, embellished with plasticene for the eyes, mouth and nose, painted and drybrushed, and mounted on a proper 40x40mm base.

Scratch-built Treeman
 The backstory is as follows:

During the late eighties, early nineties, our gaming group was heavily involved in Warhammer 3rd edition. We mostly played standard 3000pts battles, on the ping-pong table in the verandah of my parent’s house. As befitted a group of young gamers, we each had our own army. Mine was Skaven, but High Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs, Undead and Wood Elves were also part of the mix.

The standing agreement was that you could field anything, as long as you had miniatures that more or less resembled whatever it was you wanted to include in your army. And although we were quite liberal in our thinking, we were not that liberal that a goblin could stand in for a dragon. At least for the bigger and special monsters, some faithful depiction was expected.

Now, getting Citadel miniatures in Belgium during that period was not that easy. They were only sold in a few selected shops, and quite expensive. Infrequent shopping trips to London supplied us with the occasional Regiment of Renown, and direct mail order was considered a somewhat risky business transaction (students on a budget and all that …). As a result, each of us had a pretty good idea what sort of “special troops” we all could field, and this was taken into account when designing our army prior to battle.

So it came that one summer afternoon, we had agreed to fight a battle between my Skaven and the Wood Elves of my long-time gaming buddies Dirk and David. Since I know that they didn’t have too many Wood Elf miniatures between them, I was pretty confident I could predict what sort of army they would field. Sure, the Wood Elf army lists in Warhammer Armies allowed Treeman in the army, but this was a hypothetical choice, since no-one in our group had a proper Treeman figure, let alone we had ever seen one in a store. The closest we came to a Treeman was a picture in White Dwarf or in one of the Citadel flyers.

The Treeman entry in the Wood Elves army list in Warhammer Armies
It was therefore a huge shock to me that, when the armies were deployed, a couple of Treemen were suddenly put on the table. Not less than four Treemen were pulled out of a box, 3 as part of the army, and one spare to be used as part of an illusion spell to create mirror images of units under your command. I gazed in awe at these figures. Did David buy them? I had never seen them in any of the Citadel catalogues or in White Dwarf? Were they from some other brand, Ral Partha maybe … ?

It turned out that a few weeks before the battle, David had started to scratch-built these four Treemen. It was meant as a surprise, and what a surprise it was! He had collected various branches and twigs from his garden, spent a few nights cutting and fitting them together, and painted them up. A spectacular sight!

The Treeman next to two old Citadel miniatures, one fighter, and one old wizard carrying too much adventuring gear.
If I remember correctly, the Treemen only participated in that single battle. David gave them away to gaming friends, including me. I don’t know what happened to the other three, but mine is still in my collection, and is one of the most original figures I own.

Is this Treeman a proper Citadel miniature? No, of course not. However, for me, it reminds me strongly of the spirit in which we played Warhammer 3rd edition during the late eighties- early nineties. And in that sense, it embodies the Oldhammer spirit very well …

Addendum 1 (May 2017)

When cleaning up some archive boxes, I found old pictures from the particular game involving the treeman. The pictures below show 2 different treeman, one of them is the copy now in my collection.

Addendum 2 (January 2018) 

Another scratch-built treeman joined the ranks -- see this blogpost.


  1. That whole post is nothing but awesome! Thanks for the tale, and the pics. It is so cool that you kept that figure for so long since it seems it was a one time type of thing. I can just imagine your surprise ;)

  2. Gorgeous model. At least to me the "oldhammer" spirit clearly allows for that sort of creativity, since it was at one time an encouraged part of the game. (And should be a part of any modeling hobby.) I shall have to keep that particularly splendid model in mind. Maybe the far future needs some ents . . .

  3. A very creative friend you had there in your youth. All these years later it still looks like something you could be proud to field in battle now.

    Well done :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this story! It certainly brings back memories. And what a great, evocative mini!