Warhammer RETRO: The First Greater Daemons

We are turning the clock back 30 years to see the original Greater Daemons of Chaos.

Today we’re going all the way back to the late 1980s, to the original Realm of Chaos books to look at the original Greater Daemons of the 4 ruinous powers.

Slaves to Darkness (1988)

This is the tome that gave us Khorne and Slaanesh. Let’s take a look at their daemons:

Just look at those big daemons in the back row of the three spreads.

A LOT of different head options was standard in the early days.

 

All bull heads all the time.

The Lost and the Damned (1990)

Two years later in 1990, we got Tzeentch and Nurgle.

Early Tzeentch was perhaps more colorful than even today.

Note the early “proto Fateweaver” dual-head bit up there.

Nurgle however has gotten a bit browner over time.

Not just heads but plenty of gross belly options. This guy weighed a TON in metal.

 

We’ve come a LONG way in 30 years. We have new giant Bloodthirsters and Lords of Change, but the Great Unclean One and Keeper of Secrets still soldier on with ancient metal/finecast minis.

~Which one’s do you still have hitting the tabletop or sitting on dusty shelves to this day?

  • Seienchin

    Those models really dont live up to modern standards but they were awesome for the time. I really have to say though… I really like 3rd, 4th and 5ths artwork so much. I cant understand so many people preferring modern fantasy art style over this.

  • Wtyn

    I still have quite a few of those models, the greater demons used to cost 4.99gbp, and they competed with the elementals which had each stat as 10 but lost 1 point in each for every wound they took.

  • AircoolUK

    I still prefer the original design of the ‘Horrors’ with their big hands and grinning/grumpy faces. That was also the time when Beastmen had a lot of variety and were strong on the battlefield.

  • luke-vdv

    Why does no one use that cool 80s/90s fantasy art style anymore? I think it looks brilliant.

    • CloakingDonkey

      because it requires hand drawing. Practically no one draws by hand anymore.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah. Which is a shame. I’ve seen it done with digital as well but it takes significantly more work (still probably less than hand drawing).

        • CloakingDonkey

          You just can’t get it to look quite right when using a tablet. That specific style relies too heavily on the uneven nature of soft pencils, charcoal and the grain of the paper. Without that it will always look like a child’s squiggling. Tablet is better for colours and more modern, clean fantasy art.

          • benn grimm

            I’m sorry but that’s just nonsense. People have recreated works from the Renaissance on Microsoft paint, and we have far better programs/tools available now. Recreating a gw commissioned piece from the 80s with the tech we have now would not be particularly difficult, though not really sure why you would want to.

          • CloakingDonkey

            I’m sure with enough time and effort you could recreate anything that has already been done… But that was not the bloody topic, was it? luke asked “Why does no one use that cool 80s/90s artstyle anymore?” and the answer is because people don’t draw analog (happy? 😉 ) anymore. Recreating these styles with digital means takes way too much time and effort to be economically viable. Art has never been as competitive a job market as it is today. Anything that is too time consuming gets dropped by the way side because no one wants to pay you for effort that you didn’t have to make and no marketing team will ever say “oh I know! Let’s find an expensive artist who can make us 80s/90s style pencil drawings because there’s always a chance it will become an instant classic sleeper hit!” 😛

          • benn grimm

            I’m glad you’ve decided to widen your narrow definition of what constitutes hand drawn. The idea that the reason they don’t draw like they did thirty years ago is because of the limitation of either time or because of the medium is frankly laughable. The really simple, straightforward reason they don’t commission work like that anymore is because it isn’t the 80s any more and they have moved on.

          • CloakingDonkey

            So now that we’ve moved past your strawmen, your arguments from false authority and your sophistry, we finally get to “times change”? I mean, yeah… they do… it’s kind of part of my original point. You could have saved quite a lot of time and comment section space if you had just replied “that and art evolves”. 😛

          • benn grimm

            You stated the reason why they don’t produce work in ‘that cool 80s/90s fantasy art style’ (which is in of itself a bit of nonsense proposition/premise to start with as it suggests that there was one style which spanned twenty years and dominated the genre; which of course there wasn’t), was because it ‘requires hand drawing’. I’m merely suggesting that this isn’t the case; it’s a stylistic choice, influenced by so many things other than medium. Most importantly of course being; the wishes of the client and the context within which it will be used. And it actually does involve plenty of hand drawing; analog, digital, however you want to define it.

          • Brettila

            I can’t believe this argument is happening. There was a nice black and white style of art back in the day. I think he was correct in that the hand drawn stuff is too time consuming. Also, you have new technology which allows for a variety of art sryles with color now.

          • benn grimm

            It definitely went on a bit, I probably should have let it be a bit earlier, but there we go; value of hindsight.

          • ZeeLobby

            Eh. That’s just not true. I’ve seen some pretty detailed brush engines these days that will create all those “uneven inconsistencies” you brought up. You can definitely create very gritty fantasy art digitally. It’s just a difference in style, not medium. Some of the best fantasy artists these days are full digital, and you’d be hard pressed to tell (heck, League of Legends is a pretty cartoonish game and some of their character artwork is pretty gritty). GW just chose this new cartoonish direction. Probably for the chitlins.

          • CloakingDonkey

            No everyone chose this new direction because it’s cool and hip. And even with those brush engines you still can’t get it to look quite right… also it takes forever to digitally draw in a way that makes it look hand drawn. Which, for professional artists, is a colossal waste of time.

          • ZeeLobby

            It’s cool and hip to have the color depth of a coloring book? I guess it’s the simple life. And the point was you can do it digitally, and yes it takes effort. Which is what I said.

      • benn grimm

        Plenty of people still draw by hand. They have invented these wonderful things called digital stylus/pens which allow you to hand draw images on a computer screen. And some (all of the good ones) even practice on paper first…

        • Seienchin

          My wife does this but in the end with computer post effects and coloring it still looks very different from back then. There are so many factors coming together. Colored printing ink that isnt availlable anymore, different paper structure, traditional printing and not digital printing and simply the influence of the time. It simply isnt easy to paint something like in the 80s and 90s when all fantasy inspiration around you is high gloss stuff inspired by WoW, Anime and Avatar. In the 80s everything was influenced by Conan, D&D and paintings for tolkien stuff.

          • benn grimm

            Tastes change, required techniques/resources change and most importantly of all (if we’re talking commercial, which I assume we are) what the client expects changes, as you’ve alluded to, mostly because of the influence of the dominant style for a given era. I think a lot of what is produced for Fantasy stuff nowadays would have been an anathema to the older crew working in the 70s and 80s because of its tone and style and that has very little to do with whether or not it’s been hand drawn or computer generated.

            That doesn’t mean you can’t do something in a more old fashioned way either, it just means it’s rare you’ll be asked to do it as part of your day job. You have to push your vision in people’s faces to get it taken seriously. There are some great hand drawn animated films still being produced by little indie studios all over the world, they just don’t get the promotion and therefore mainstream interest they probably deserve. I have a friend who’s just directed her third film, outside of her very niche area of the industry nobody really knows about it. There may be no massive commercial market for it, but it pays the bills and they love doing it.

            I would add as an addendum that the amazing technology we have now saves a lot of time and makes life a lot easier, adds a lot of polish which is easily quantifiable and controllable, but is no substitute for good drawing ability, something best learned through the old ways; charcoal, pencil, pen and ink, life drawing. All the best artists I know, whether they work in animation, visual effects, graphic design or 3D model making, most studied anatomy, all studied life drawing, all worked with pen and pencil for many years and most still do. They also like to push the envelope, like all good artists, so they use all the tools available to help do so.

          • Frank Krifka

            Being a professional painter (who still does mostly everything by hand) I totally agree with you.

            Drawing is drawing. The medium make virtually no difference at higher levels.

          • benn grimm

            Thanks dude, I’m jealous, must be a very satisfying way to work 🙂

          • Frank Krifka

            Actually, It’s as frustrating as anything else is. The struggle is real.

        • CloakingDonkey

          That’s not hand drawing though… that’s tablet drawing. It’s very different and you will never get the grungy pencil/coal style of the 80s 90s Fantasy art to look right on a tablet. When I wrote HAND DRAWING, I meant HAND DRAWING. with paper and pencils and coal. Nobody does that anymore because going digital is easier and pays more.

          • benn grimm

            Yeah, again you are talking nonsense, see my other replies.

            And what do you think people use to manipulate these touch screen pens…. oh yeah, their HANDS….

          • CloakingDonkey

            I have an Adesso Z12 sitting here and use it quite often. Digital drawing is not the same as drawing with real materials. Period. Different things work in different mediums, that’s always been the case. That’s why you do some things with pencils, some with coal, some with water colours or oil, sometimes different paper or canvas can get you a desired effect. Tablet drawing is no different. It does clean, modern art and comicy styles very well. And if not hand drawing, call it analog drawing, if the semantics turn you on too much.

          • benn grimm

            Lol. Open mindedness isn’t your strong suit is it? And when did I say it was the same? Just because that’s what you find works with your set up, don’t assume it is the same for all. Maybe 5 years ago it was the case, but certainly not now.

          • CloakingDonkey

            ok then show me a professional artist that digitally draws those 80s/90s styles. Has nothing to do with open mindedness. People can draw what they want but that wasn’t the topic of this thread.

  • Sonic tooth

    I liked chaos back then, how times change

    • euansmith

      Yeah, back before Chaos went mainstream, man buns contained real man; not like these hair balls you get these days.

      • Sonic tooth

        It was a time of men! A time when summers were sunny, beef was beef and cheese was cheese! It was a time when a man could eat a ham shank in his underpants in the back garden with his hair blowing in the wind!!

        • Hagwert

          Well you’ve sold it to me …..” Marty…to the De Lorean ! “

          • Sonic tooth

            A palace of pepperoni and a string vest awaits you my friend

  • Fergie0044

    fingers crossed for a big nurgle release alongside death guard in september… (an educated guess btw)

  • benn grimm

    Considering we’re still waiting on plastic GUO and KoS after 4 editions and nearly twenty years, they haven’t come that far…

    • wibbling

      Would you rather have had finecast new models that aren’t really the masterpieces the plastics are earlier, or wait ?

      Personally I’m holding out for Slaaneshi fiends, Beasts of Nurgle and Flesh hounds.

      • benn grimm

        Well, tbh I’m not the most patient person in the world, which is why I bit the bullet and bought the FW GUO. I expect I’ll still grab a plastic one if it ever turns up.

        But yeah, you make a good point, fiends and beasts are probably due an update first. Flesh hounds possibly not so much; the resin ones are not too bad and there are lots of more than useable counts as alternatives.

  • Bakvrad

    This reminds of that one time, my 11 year old self walking into my not-very-special toy store in Austria. I saw this cool gargoyle miniature for heroquest and said no, because I already had 2 from the mainbox. Same me said no to a elven heroquest expansion just because it was English… man I hate my past-self…

    • Seienchin

      Your 11 year old self had a lot of self control! Glückwunsch!

  • Brian Carraway

    I still use the Slaanesh champion on the far left (sword and claw), but he has been upgraded to a Herald. Until today, I used the old Keeper of Secrets as the greater daemon, but alas, my creature caster spider demon came in and is my new KoS. I will still use him as a daemon prince.

    • wibbling

      Do you have any photos of the spider daemon? What’s it like to build?

      • Sonic tooth

        Those dragons look nice on the site. Maybe a decent mount for my lonely malekith

      • Brian Carraway
      • Brian Carraway

        Very easy to build. No pinning required

        • crumbreaper

          nice to see one of the CC kits getting built and underway with paint, I didn’t have the cash to back and was relieved when I saw the chaos going on with the KS but pleased folk are getting sorted and that does look like a mighty fine kit 🙂

          • Brian Carraway

            I didn’t back the KS either, but you can order straight from CC now. They were two weeks late shipping my order and threw in the “vulture demon” for free, so I can’t complain at all.

          • crumbreaper

            no you can’t go wrong with that! I’m loving the Maggot demon and may have to succumb to an order, thanks for taking the time to reply

        • Sayl Vittoria (SKULLTHRONE)

          @Brian, if I may ask, what size base did you use for your CC KoS? After looking at the LoC ,BT and Vermin lords, they use diff size bases. Oval vs Round. yours looks perfect

          • Brian Carraway

            I don’t know the exact size, but they are wood discs from Michael’s craft store. They are about an inch bigger than the 60mm GW bases.

  • BigGrim

    Man, still have a Bloodthirster, Keeper of Secrets and Lord of Change from that era. Really gotta try and get a Great Unclean One one of these days!

  • rtheom

    These old greater demons show us just what GW always did better than any of their competitors that helped them rise to the top: their minis were and are the most modular modeling options out there, letting you customize and convert them super easily and allowing you to have a very unique and personal force. I love just how many options you have for those Great Unclean Ones!

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    Aaaaw ☺

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    I’m really glad we’re back to the days of colourful chaos. It got so drab towards the end of fantasy.