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Author Topic: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?  (Read 25492 times)

Offline Hobgoblin

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Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« on: April 12, 2015, 09:11:58 AM »
I'm thinking about amassing and painting up a set of LotR orc warbands: Misty Mountains, Mordor, Isengard, etc.

But there's a particular problem with the Isengard Uruk-hai. As far as I can see, almost no one has ever made miniatures that match (even roughly) the descriptions from the book of these "goblin-soldiers of greater stature [than the Misty Mountain orcs]". The exception are the Asgard Soldier Orcs that Jes Goodwin did. They seem to me a pretty good match, but there are only four of them:

http://www.miniatures-workshop.com/lostminiswiki/index.php?title=Orcs_(Asgard)


To fit Tolkien's descriptions of the Isengard Uruk-hai, the models have to be as follows (or readily convertible to such):

    Significantly shorter than Men - enough to make a real difference in combat and to be immediately distinguished from Man-height creatures;
    Yet also larger than most (not necessarily all) other orcs;
    Squat and broad;
    Thick-legged, long-armed and large-handed;
    Armed with Man-like, rather than Orcish, equipment: specifically straight, short, broad-bladed swords, long yew bows and large round shields;
    Armoured in mail with badged helmets (to show the S rune for Saruman).

Aside from the Asgard/Viking Forge soldier orcs, other possible candidates I can think of are the troopers from Throgg's Hobgoblin Despoilers of the Dark Land, with some straightening of the sword, although they're probably too tall, and D'glish Sharpcut (the moustachioed one with the short, straight sword) from the old Citadel Goblin Raiding Party (he'd need a change of shield and a badge on the helmet, but has the appropriate sword and stature):

Throgg's despoilers:
http://www.solegends.com/citrr/rr15throghobgoblins.htm

D'glish Sharpcut:
http://www.solegends.com/citboxes/c2s4gob.htm

Ideally, I'd want to have a SBH warband of 10-20 figures, all of which are different. Another consideration is getting some Isengarders on wolves.

And then there's the problem of half-orcs. The ones described in "The Battle of the Fords of the Isen" are mail-clad and armed with axes. They'd have to be Man-height and Man-like apart from their "horrible" goblin faces. It might be a case of facial conversions or head transplants for vikings, as I can't think of any miniatures that fit the description.

Any suggestions much appreciated!

Offline dadlamassu

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2015, 12:26:02 PM »
Minifigs old Middle Earth series an Orcs might do if you can get them






there are more here if you scroll down

https://boardanddorkery.wordpress.com/
'He could have lived a risk-free, moneyed life, but he preferred to whittle away his fortune on warfare.'
-- Xenophon, The Anabasis

Offline Gangleri

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2015, 01:44:28 PM »

They'd have to be Man-height and Man-like apart from their "horrible" goblin faces. It might be a case of facial conversions or head transplants for vikings, as I can't think of any miniatures that fit the description.

The Hobbit warg-riders set (and I presume the hunter orcs set as well) comes with quite a few loose orc-heads that would be easy to mount onto other bodies.  I've been using them with Perry WotR bodies to make goblin-men.  The scales fit quite well; they need only a little bit of trimming and GS to make them look quite natural.  Perhaps you could try them on the Gripping Beast vikings?
Now what is this whole life of mortals but a sort of comedy, in which the various actors, disguised by various costumes and masks, walk on and play each one his part, until the manager waves them off the stage?

http://stokefield.blogspot.com/

http://wellrallyonceagain.blogspot.com/

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2015, 04:11:11 PM »
Ganglerl,

Ha - we've been thinking alike! See attached blurry photos for one of my half-orcs with a warg-rider head and Perry body. I'll have a look for some earlier-period mailed bodies (though I think I may have used up all of my heads on these plate-armoured chaps ...).

Dadlamassu - thanks! There's a real charm about those Minifigs miniatures. I really like your site. The only bit I'd (pedantically!) disagree with is the statement that the Uruk-hai were 'bigger and stronger than “goblins”'. They're actually described as 'goblins' more than once in the text. Tolkien uses the term 'goblin' quite a bit in LotR - more than people tend to remember. And in both books, both big and small orcs are 'goblins'. Anyway, I'm intrigued by the photo of the Grenadier Orcs of the Severed Hand on your site. The running orc (last in the set) looks a really good fit: round shield, straight short sword and all. The oversized head is a very Tolkien-esque feature too: cf. the descriptions of Azog and the Great Goblin. I'll keep an eye out for those - and have a double-check of some ancient and long-undisturbed piles of lead in the attic that (I'm pretty sure) did contain Grenadier orcs at some point ...

Many thanks, both!

Offline The Gray Ghost

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2015, 08:09:51 PM »
I was always told that Mithril Miniatures were closest to the book
I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it anymore and what is it seems weird and scary.

Offline emosbur

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2015, 08:19:52 PM »
I was always told that Mithril Miniatures were closest to the book

I agree. Their first series orcs are great.


Emilio.

Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2015, 09:44:53 PM »
I did some research on the topic, we agree they're taller than normal orcs but are you sure they are shorter than Men?

My personal favourites are these, but they are about man-height (I can take a scale comparisson pic if you want). Currently they're carried by Scotia Grendel.


Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2015, 12:15:32 AM »
Hi Arthadan,

Yes, they're definitely shorter than Men. There's ample evidence for this, but it's scattered throughout the books. Also, it's obscured by people like David Day (of the marvellously illustrated yet atrociously researched Tolkien Bestiary); his encyclopaedia entries have all sorts of stuff that doesn't have any foundation in Tolkien's texts. And because the Bestiary (in its various forms) has been around for 30-odd years, a lot of its descriptions have seeped into the general consciousness. Anyway, here's some of the evidence:

1) When Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli meet up with Pippin and Merry at Isengard in "Flotsam and Jetsam", they discuss their respective recent adventures (capture by the Isengard Uruk-hai/pursuit of the Isengarders, Helm's Deep, etc.). In this conversation, they refer to Ugluk, etc. as "Orcs'": Merry says "Things began to go all wrong for him [Saruman] from the moment his Orcs set foot in Rohan"; this is in reference to Grishnakh reporting Ugluk's non-cooperation back to Mordor. So, the Isengard Uruk-hai are "Orcs" - as they are throughout the narrative; it's only the Orcs themselves that commonly use "Uruk-hai" (as in the "Helm's Deep" chapter, for example).

Not long after this, in the same conversation, Merry describes Saruman's army marching out:

"He emptied Isengard. I saw the enemy go: endless lines of marching Orcs; and troops of them mounted on great wolves. And there were battalions of Men, too. Many of them carried torches, and in the flare I could see their faces. Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking. But there were some others that were horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree; only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were."

Aragorn confirms that "We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep".

Now, these creatures are clearly distinct from the Uruk-hai, with whom Merry and Aragorn are entirely familiar and which they've just been discussing (as "Orcs"). And what distinguishes these horrible "Men" from "Orcs" is their height - they are "man-high" but have "goblin-faces". As the Isengard Uruk-hai are "goblin-soldiers" ("The Departure of Boromir") with "great goblin head{s}"  (The Riders of Rohan), they obviously have "goblin-faces" too. So they can't be "man-high", or they would be indistinguishable from the half-orcs.

Also, when Merry discusses the Ent attack on Isengard, he says that he doesn't think many "orc-folk, of whatever size, escaped". Given that the only discussion of orc-like creatures of differing sizes has been in the context of the half-orcs, this is clearly a reference to the "true" Orcs (Saruman's uruks) and the "half-orcs" (the goblin-faced Men): i.e. the Ents let the Dunlendings go, but not any of the Orcish creatures.

2) At Helm's Deep, when Eomer and Aragorn sally through the postern-gate to attack the rammers of the Hornburg gate, they are fighting at the point where "the hugest Orcs were mustered, and the wild men of the Dunland fells". It's the Men who are ramming the gate. After Aragorn and Eomer have routed the rammers, they are attacked by Orcs who have been playing dead. They are rescued by Gimli who has followed them unseen. They ask him how he came to be out there. And he says "I looked on the hillmen and they seemed over large for me, so I sat beside a stone to see your sword-play."

So, Men are uncomfortably large opponents for a dwarf, but even the "hugest" of Saruman's notably large orcs are not. The only reasonable conclusion is that Men are much bigger than the biggest of Saruman's Uruk-hai. And indeed, just two pages before, Tolkien describes the shapes of Saruman's soldiers:

"[The Dike] was boiling and crawling with shapes, some squat and broad, some tall and grim, with high helms and sable shields."

In light of the other evidence, it seems reasonable to assume that the Orcs are "squat and broad" and the Men (including the later-described "horrible" goblin-faced ones) are tall and grim.

3) The biggest single Orc described in the book is the "huge" chieftain in Moria, who is "almost Man-high". He seems to be an unusually mighty fighter - he knocks Boromir over, gets past Aragorn and would have killed Frodo if not for his Mithril shirt: "That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar". He's clearly an uruk - indeed, he bursts in just after Gandalf says that "black Uruks of Mordor" are outside, and he's just as clearly a remarkably big one and bigger than Ugluk (who is described simply as "a large black orc" on his first appearance"). So it's safe to assume that the great bulk of the Isengard Uruk-hai aren't as big as the Moria chieftain. And even he isn't as tall as a Man.

4) It's unclear whether the Isengard Uruk-hai are a different species from the black uruks of Mordor. The appendices say that "great uruks" in the service of Saruman came down from the Misty Mountains, "though it was long before this was suspected", which suggests that they were much like other uruks; they had first emerged from Mordor to sack Osgiliath some time before Sauron peopled the Misty Moutains with his creatures. The appendices also make the uruks of both Saruman and Sauron sound similar, in the passage describing how the term uruk was applied to "the great soldier-orcs" that issued from Isengard and Mordor. When we see big Isengard and Mordor orcs together in "The Uruk-hai", we can infer that the "large" Ugluk is taller than the "short, crook-legged" Grishnakh, but the latter is also "very broad". Both are larger than the Northern orcs; indeed the text implicitly pairs them as larger goblins in contrast to the "many smaller goblins" from the North.

What's the point of all this? Well, Gollum is familiar with Mordor uruks, from having been imprisoned in Mordor, from having interacted with Shagrat's uruks while serving as Shelob's "sneak", and from having lived in the Misty Mountains (where Saruman's uruks originally came from). Yet when he sees the Men of Harad marching to Sauron's command in "The Black Gate is Closed", he says they are "Almost as bad as Orcs, and much bigger". So again, we get Men distinguished from Orcs by size - and it's a significant difference: Men are much bigger.

5) In the description of the Battle of the Fords of the Isen in Unfinished Tales, Saruman's "Men or Men-orcs" are clearly distinguished from his orcs. Again, size is the key factor - enough to make a tactical difference. The orcs are withdrawn from fighting against the Rohirric shield-wall and the axe-armed Men-orcs are sent in because the former's smaller stature makes them less effective. And these Men-orcs are not Saruman's uruks, who are described in detail elsewhere in the same passage. As a side note, it's not clear whether all of Saruman's Orcs are Uruk-hai; a reading of LotR suggests that they are (or mostly are); the UT passage is more ambiguous yet inconclusive. In the Isengard context, the Uruk-hai are generally described as simply "Orcs" for the most part.

That's all I can think of for now! Sorry for the long post, but you did ask!  ;)
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 12:17:07 AM by Hobgoblin »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2015, 12:26:15 AM »
Those Scotia Grendel orcs are nice. I'd love to see a size comparison pic if you don't mind. I've seen the "not-Isengard" ones on the Scotia Grendel site, which again look nice but have very long swords, but these "not-Mordor" ones look better.

Gray Ghost and Emilio, I have some of the Mithril orcs, but I don't think they are terribly faithful to the books - especially the Isengard ones. They generally have very small heads (when big orcs seem to have had disproportionately big heads), and their equipment isn't right, IRRC: the Isengarders have Orcish-looking equipment and scimitars, rather than Mannish gear including straight swords. They're also generally barefoot, rather than heavily shod.

That's another point connected to the size argument, actually. When Aragorn and co. are surveying the dead bodies at Amon Hen, Aragorn's first observation is about the Isengarders' equipment rather than their size:

"Here are others that are strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all."

That, along with the other evidence, indicates that the Isengard Uruk-hai aren't off the Orcish scale when it comes to size, but are just big Orcs. It's their uniforms and weaponry that are unusual.

Offline blackstone

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2015, 07:42:48 AM »
Another indication of the size of orcs is when Frodo and Sam disguised themselves in orc armour in Mordor. The armour clearly fitted and they didn't stand out as being too short.  :)

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2015, 07:52:33 AM »
Yes, that's dead right. Of course, Frodo and Sam aren't disguised as uruks - their column of smaller orcs is being driven by two uruk taskmasters, and later on a column of uruks charges into them - but it does suggest a continuum. Smaller orcs must be hobbit-sized, which suggests that uruks might be roughly the size of dwarfs.

Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2015, 10:20:45 AM »
Thanks both! I'm writting a serie of articles regarding miniatures for Middle-earth for the Other Minds magazine and this debate is very interesting for me.

Another indication of the size of orcs is when Frodo and Sam disguised themselves in orc armour in Mordor. The armour clearly fitted and they didn't stand out as being too short.  :)

Let's see what the book says:
Quote
Over the tunic went a coat of stout ring-mail, short for a fullsized orc, too long for Frodo and heavy. About it he clasped a belt, at which there hung a short sheath holding a broadbladed stabbing-sword. Sam had brought several orc-helmets. One of them fitted Frodo well enough, a black cap with iron rim, and iron hoops covered with leather upon which the evil Eye was painted in red above the beaklike nose-guard.

`The Morgul-stuff, Gorbag's gear, was a better fit and better made,' said Sam; `but it wouldn't do, I guess, to go carrying his tokens into Mordor, not after this business here. Well, there you are, Mr. Frodo. A perfect little orc, if I may make so bold-at least
you would be, if we could cover your face with a mask, give you longer arms, and make you bow-legged. [...]

So, a short ring-mail for a full-sized orc turns out to be too long for a Hobbit. He can only pass out as a little Orc, thus we can only conclude that the smallest Orcs are Hobbit-sized (but are bow-legged and have longer arms).

@Hobgoblin
Quote
Those Scotia Grendel orcs are nice. I'd love to see a size comparison pic if you don't mind.

Sure, what would you like to compare it with? what's the average man-height in your collection?

Another suggestion would be good old Nick Lund Orcs:


More later!

Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2015, 01:47:42 PM »
And one more, Thunderbolt Mountain goblins:



If you like your Uruks short, these would do fine. I'll include them in the comparisson pic.

By the way, can anybody recommend me a free hosting image site?


Offline Gangleri

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2015, 11:11:49 PM »
I knocked together this comparison scale at work yesterday.  Rather crude but it might be useful. 



I've avoided generic terms like orc and goblin because they tend to confuse the issue.

Man: I think it's fair to estimate the average height of the typical man of Gondor or the North (and Rohan) as about six feet, though some were noticeably taller (Aragorn at no less than 6'6").  The Dunlendings themselves would be roughly this height as well, though their cousins the Bree-men, as well as manly of those in West Gondor, were somewhat shorter.

Snaga: I've used this term to refer to the 'standard' orc.  As discussed before, hobbits, at roughly three feet, could pass for small orcs, but even the larger 'standard' orcs would probably have been shorter than dwarves (at about five feet). So would roughly four feet (plus or minus six-eight inches) be a fair guess?  We can presume certain regional variations in size, build, and feature (larger eyes for the orcs of Moria, for example) as well, but the basic build should be the same: large heads, fairly long arms, somewhat bow-legged.  Whether the tracker-orcs were just drafted from the smaller members of this breed or a 'sub-species' is unclear.

Black Uruk: these are the soldier-orcs of Mordor, like Grishnakh.  Note the long arms, the crooked legs, and the broad shoulders.  I've shown them a bit shorter than the Isen-uruks, as noted in previous posts - could this perhaps a matter of posture more than actual height?

Isen-Uruk: Saruman's soldiery.  These are the stocky, straight-limbed orcs at Helm's Deep and Parth Galen. Both types of Uruks are about dwarven-height, so around five feet.

Hero:  These are the truly enormous orcs, like the Moria Chieftain, Azog, perhaps the Great Goblin, and I imagine the orc-leaders from Silmarillion and BoLT.  They're almost man-high, let's say around 5'6" or 5'8".

Goblin-men: basically indistinguishable from men apart from their faces, which vary from simply ugly, squint-eyed and leering to quite horrible and orcish.

In all cases, I imagine that orcs are deceptively strong, and that even the smaller, wirier ones are able to 'punch above their weight.'

I welcome your opinions and input.

 

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