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Author Topic: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?  (Read 25479 times)

Offline Spooktalker

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2015, 03:31:44 AM »
I have been considering Wargames Factory orcs to be half-orcs. They are very straight and the fit of the head on the shoulders especially says "man" and not "orc." I doubt you'll find any orc faces on less-orc-like miniatures, but if these don't suit for whatever reason maybe you could put these heads on human figures.



Do they suit you?

I also like the suggestion of Thunderbolt Mountain for your uruk-hai. They seem to fit your description rather aptly.

You might also check out Sgt. Major's (not) LOTR line (formerly Vendel). The "orcs" are bigger than the "goblins" and are faithful in terms of round shield and mail, but maybe the heads aren't large or fierce enough for you.

http://www.sgmm.biz/Orcs_c_69.html
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 03:39:19 AM by Spooktalker »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2015, 10:10:17 PM »
Arthadan/Spooktalker: The Thunderbolt goblins look extremely good. I love the old Tom Meier giant goblins, and was thinking of using them as Mordor Uruks or Uruks living in the Misty Mountains. I'd read somewhere that the Thunderbolt ones were of a larger scale and thought they might be too tall. But if not, they're very much in the running.

Spooktalker: The Sgt Major/Vendel orcs look pretty much perfect. I'd seen pictures of these before I got back into miniatures, but had forgotten about them. I think they're probably the most ready-to-go book-faithful Isengarders around (I even see some straight short swords!). The heads look good too. It'd be easy enough to add bows and quivers. I shall set about acquiring some forthwith. Does anyone sell them in the UK?

I've got some of the Wargames Factory orcs; how upright they are depends on how you use the reversible torso. The heads would be perfect on other bodies (either for uruks or half-orcs). Any ideas on which manufacturers' human bodies would work? I'd tried them before on Perry bodies, but they're a bit large.

Ganglerl: that looks really good! I think you're dead right that there are basically just two sorts of Orcs in Tolkien: small ones (sang) and big ones (uruks), rather than the small, medium and large notion promulgated by MERP/ICE et al. As you say, though, there are clearly all sorts of variants, like the tracker orcs with the wide nostrils, but they broadly seem to fall into the categories of big and small. One very minor quibble: I don't think the Moria orcs are ever suggested to be physically distinct from other orcs; they're the same as those that live elsewhere in the Misty Mountains (e.g. those that waylaid the dwarves in The Hobbit and those that fought at the Battle of the Five Armies), and include uruks among their ranks.

Skrapwelder: The Copplestone half-orcs are nice (perhaps a bit steroidal, but that's a minor objection). I wonder how they'd go with the Vendel orcs. I'd need to convert some axemen, but that's easily done.
 
Many thanks all!

Offline Spooktalker

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2015, 02:23:13 AM »
I know you mentioned Asgard/Viking Forge (and those are my pics of them you linked to BTW  :D ) so you may have seen these already but Asgard also did half-orcs, or goblin-faced men. Just two sculpts, one with sword and one with spear. The spear pic seems to have gone missing on the site, but here's the sword one:




http://www.thevikingforge.net/25mm-fantasy-goblins.html


Offline Spooktalker

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2015, 02:42:35 AM »
Arthadan/Spooktalker: The Thunderbolt goblins look extremely good. I love the old Tom Meier giant goblins, and was thinking of using them as Mordor Uruks or Uruks living in the Misty Mountains. I'd read somewhere that the Thunderbolt ones were of a larger scale and thought they might be too tall. But if not, they're very much in the running.

The elves are stated 30mm, but that's "true" 30mm, and actually look much, much smaller than 28mm figures even though they are of the same height or taller.  I would say the heads of the elves are literally 1/2 the mass of a 28 figure or less. Here's a pic I found of the goblins:
Orcs & Goblins 001 by Cacique Caribe, on Flickr

You can see the goblins don't have tiny heads, likely as Meier paid attention in Tolkien class.

The thing to keep in mind is the (separate) weapons are extremely, extremely, oh so slender you would not believe it. I bought a bunch to use for 70/early 80s 25mm figures and while the maces and axes are fine as long as you are careful, the scimitars and elf swords are so slender I'm not sure whether it's possible to game with them, however dextrous you are. Even if you are dextrous enough consider replacing the weapons with thicker ones and I think it will go a long way toward having the goblins fit in with other figures.

I've got some of the Wargames Factory orcs; how upright they are depends on how you use the reversible torso. The heads would be perfect on other bodies (either for uruks or half-orcs). Any ideas on which manufacturers' human bodies would work? I'd tried them before on Perry bodies, but they're a bit large.
 

Reversible torso, interesting. I thought of Fireforge "sergeants" but looking at them the scale armored ones might be good (especially if you can get a few from a friend) but the padded cloth ones not so much. What about plastic gripping beast vikings?




btw this thread is just as interesting to me as my saner half has been losing ground in recent months toward the half that is assured another big fantasy project like LOTR is a great idea. I was going to say the thread is "helpful" rather than "interesting" but helpful may be the opposite of what it is. ;)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2015, 02:57:35 AM by Spooktalker »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2015, 07:34:19 AM »
Thanks, Spooktalker (and for the earlier photo link! ;) I've never been much of a fan of green orcs, but those on your blog are absolutely superb - enough to shake my anti-green fundamentalism considerably!).

That Asgard half-orc is very interesting indeed. I'd never seen a close-up of those before and had previously dismissed them as not as good as the others in the range (were they also sculpted by Jez Goodwin, I wonder?). But looking at that picture, I think those may actually have been intended as Uruk-hai. They certainly match the description very closely:

  • straight short sword
  • longish bow on back
  • round shield
  • large hands
  • thick legs
  • metal-shod boots (mentioned at some point during the chase/captivity of Merry & Pippin)
  • long arms (these are mentioned in the "Helm's Deep" chapter)
  • And - here's the clincher - the "S" rune on the helmet (it looks like a primitive C made with two lines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirth)!

Here's the first detailed description of the Uruk-hai (from "The Departure of Boromir" in The Two Towers):

"There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs; and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men. Upon their shields they bore a strange device: a small white hand in the centre of a black field; on the front of their iron helms was set an S-rune, wrought of some white metal."

Bingo! Many thanks indeed!

As an aside, while this miniature matches the description of the Uruk-hai rather than the half-orcs, there is one point in LotR where the Uruk-hai are described as half-orcs: at Helm's Deep, when Gamling says "But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun".

At that point in the text, the half-orcs (goblin-faced men) haven't been described, though we later learn that there were "many" of them there. Anyone reading the text will assume that "half-orcs", at least, refers to the Uruk-hai. And while the inconsistency may pain many a nerd, I think it's actually very good "world-building" on Tolkien's part. There aren't set term for Saruman's creatures: the somewhat Mannish Orcs are generally just described as "Orcs" (they call themselves the "fighting Uruk-hai" and the "Uruk-hai of Isengard"), and the Orcish Men are generally just described as "Men" (though also as men-orcs, orc-men and half-orcs). Here, Gamling seems to be making a distinction between "Mannish Orcs" and "Orcish Men" - which is exactly the distinction Tolkien makes in an unpublished text (I forget which) in which he described "both Man-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-Men treacherous and vile." That - and copyright! - may explain why the astonishingly text-faithful Isengard Uruk is called a "half-orc": whoever designed it had obviously read Tolkien pretty closely.

Those Gripping Beast vikings look ideal as goblin-men bodies. The heads look pretty savage too: some very minor green-stuffing or even a suitably sallow and squint-eyed paint-job might get them there. I'll investigate (and invest).

The Meier goblins look fantastic. I'll probably get some of those as well ...

Offline area23

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2015, 05:15:02 PM »
My favorite Uruk Hai are the old half-orcs by Grenadier. They look like monstrous early-saxons.


I always imagine uruk hai as purpose bred pedigree battle orcs, while half orcs and goblin-men would be a bastard crossbreed.
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Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2015, 06:46:21 PM »
I like those half-orcs, but I suspect that they're too tall to be Uruk-hai. They're the size of largish Men, right? I've never seen one in the "flesh".

From the description of the Battle of the Fords of the Isen in Unfinished Tales, it appears that the "Orc-men" are the real shock troops:

"As soon as the enemy had gained possession of the eastern end of the Fords there appeared a company of men or Orc-men (evidently dispatched for the purpose), ferocious, mail-clad, and armed with axes. They hastened to the eyot and assailed it from both sides. At the same time Grimbold on the west bank was attacked by Saruman's forces on that side of the Isen. As he looked eastward, dismayed by the sounds of battle and the hideous Orc-cries of victory, he saw the axe-men driving Théodred's men from the shores of the eyot towards the low knoll in its centre, and he heard Théodred's great voice crying To me, Eorlingas! At once Grimbold, taking a few men that stood near him, ran back to the eyot. So fierce was his onset from the rear of the attackers that Grimbold, a man of great strength and stature, clove his way through, till with two others he reached Théodred standing at bay on the knoll. Too late. As he came to his side Théodred fell, hewn down by a great Orc-man. Grimbold slew him and stood over the body of Théodred, thinking him dead; and there he would himself soon have died, but for the coming of Elfhelm."

The Orc-men are sent in against a shieldwall that the Isengard Orcs have struggled to dent. While the Orc-men are the real heavy hitters (being tall enough to cope with the Rohirric shieldwall), the Uruk-hai appear to have different strengths: "the fierce Uruks, heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles". And of course we see that training in action when the Isengarders capture Merry and Pippin.


Offline Gangleri

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2015, 11:03:37 PM »
Here, Gamling seems to be making a distinction between "Mannish Orcs" and "Orcish Men" - which is exactly the distinction Tolkien makes in an unpublished text (I forget which) in which he described "both Man-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-Men treacherous and vile."

I think that's in Morgoth's Ring.  Do you imagine that we see in this quote the distinction between the queer-looking Men in Bree (the Orc-Men) and Saruman's soldiers (the Man-orcs)? By the brief description it seems that the Man-orcs are better-suited for fighting and the Orc-men for spying and mischief-making, which matches Merry's remark that the half-orcs he saw leaving Isengard were similar to those he saw in Bree but uglier and more threatening. 
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Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2015, 02:58:14 PM »
A quote from The Hobbit about goblin/orc size:

Quote
Out jumped the goblins, big goblins, great ugly-looking goblins, lots of goblins, before you could say rocks and blocks.

Please note they weren't big compared to a hobbit, the book specify that sort of comparisson:
Quote
If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realise that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's greatgranduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club.

Quote
Then he saw that it would have been no good even if he had managed to get astride his barrel, for there was no room to spare, not even for a hobbit, between its top and the suddenly stooping roof where the gate was.

They were big from the author's point of view, which is not a hobbit. One more quote:

Quote
The passage was low and roughly made. It was not too difficult for the hobbit, except when, in spite of all care, he stubbed his poor toes again, several times, on nasty jagged stones in the floor. "A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the ores of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.

The passage was low, but again not for a hobbit. So the passage, which was of greater height than Bilbo, was shorter than the big goblins.

So not only uruks can be "about man size".   


Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2015, 06:12:08 PM »
Hi Arthadan,

I don't think that's quite right: the goblins are big, but they're big for goblins (however big goblins are) - just as big men are big compared with other men, and big dogs are implicitly compared with other dogs.

Two things about the point about stooping goblins: first, uruks aren't described as "about man size". Rather, one "huge orc-chieftain" (doubtless an uruk from the earlier mention of them) is described as "almost man-high". It's a small description, but an important one.

Second, these big goblins are almost certainly uruks (along with the bodyguard of Bolg and the Great Goblin). LotR tells us explicitly that there were uruks in the Misty Mountains:

"Orcs begin to make secret strongholds in the Misty Mountains so as to bar all the passes into Eriador. Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures."

Hence the "black uruks of Mordor" that the Fellowship encounter in Moria.

And:

"Orcs began to raid in the eastern regions and slay or steal horses. Others also came down from the Misty Mountains, many being great uruks in the services of Saruman, though it was long before that was suspected."

So there are uruks in the Misty Mountains (which explains Agog, Bolg and their bodyguards, and presumably the "big ones" that Bilbo is thinking of). By the time of the events of The Hobbit, there have been uruks in the region for more than 400 years.



Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2015, 07:41:55 PM »
I think that's in Morgoth's Ring.  Do you imagine that we see in this quote the distinction between the queer-looking Men in Bree (the Orc-Men) and Saruman's soldiers (the Man-orcs)? By the brief description it seems that the Man-orcs are better-suited for fighting and the Orc-men for spying and mischief-making, which matches Merry's remark that the half-orcs he saw leaving Isengard were similar to those he saw in Bree but uglier and more threatening. 

Hi Gangleri

I think the distinction is probably between Saruman's Uruk-hai and his half-orcs. The ferocious soldiers at the Isen are called "men or orc-men", not "orcs or man-orcs". I imagine that "man-orcs" are "orcs", and "orc-men" are "men". "Half-orcs," of course, could be used for both types - and I would argue that it is in LotR: for "orcs" by Gamling at Helm's Deep, and for "men" by Aragorn in "Flotsam and Jetsam".

Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2015, 01:45:18 PM »
I wasn't aware there were uruks all over the Misty Mountains, I'm learning much here.
 :)
By the way, since you are at it, I'm sure you have also researched the right colour for orc skin. I know it varies from dark/black to lighter colours..same as human flesh and dark as in African black? And what about the eyes?

By the way here you are the scale comparison:


subir fotos a internet

From left to right:
-GW Sam
- Ral Partha orc
- Fantasy Warriors (Mirliton Miniatures) Dwarf
- Fantasy Warriors (Mirliton Miniatures) Orc
- Thunderbolt Mountain goblin
- Black Tree (Scotia Grendel) Orc
- Wargames factory viking (32 mm to the top of his head)

Fantasy Warriors Half-orcs would be between Black tree orc and Wargames Factory viking. Hope it helps.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 02:09:21 PM by Arthadan »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2015, 04:29:53 PM »
I was just about to post something on that! But as a question rather than an answer!

In a letter, Tolkien says explicitly that orcs were "sallow" (sickly yellow or brownish yellow). I don't think any orcs are actually described as such in the published books, but the half-orcs are, which suggests that sallowness was an orcish trait.

We get a close-up of the Moria orc-chieftain:

"His broad flat face was swart, his eyes were like coals, and his tongue was red"

He can be presumed to be one of the "black Uruks of Mordor" that Gandalf has just mentioned. "Swart" means "black" or "dark", and is widely used in Old English (sweart), including in Beowulf. It's often used to describe "white" people, though, including servants or Welshmen, and it can be used to describe blood. So it doesn't necessarily mean "black-skinned".

Ugluk is a "large black orc" and his troop are "swart".

The tracker-orc that Sam and Frodo encounter in "The Land of Shadow" is explicitly described as "black-skinned", but that somewhat implies that the uruk ("a big fighting-orc, like those of Shagrat's company") accompanying him is not.

So, there's something of a puzzle here. The uruks are "black" and "swart", but not necessarily "black-skinned" in the way that the small tracker is.

One possible answer is that they are black of hair and beard, with dark complexions. One sense of "black" (now rare, according to the OED) is "Having black hair or eyes; dark-complexioned". This was used in phrases such as "black Irish: and "black Dutch", in the same way that Anglo-Saxons described the dark-haired Welsh as "black". In quite a bit of medieval literature (in which, of course, Tolkien was an expert), a "black man" means a dark-haired "white" man. In the letter in which Tolkien says the orcs are sallow, he also says that they resemble "degraded" and "repulsive" versions of "the least lovely Mongol types", which would also imply black hair. Here's the quote:

" ... squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types."

It's also interesting that the dwarfs of Norse mythology appear to be identical to the svartalfar (swart or black elves) and the dokkalfar (dark elves). They are "black" but are also describe as "pale" or "pallid". In the Alvissmal, the Eddic poem in which Thor confronts the dwarf Alvis, he describes him as "pale about the nose" as if he has been sleeping with corpses. The names of Tolkien's Dain and Nain, in their original Norse forms Dainn and Nainn, mean, respectively, "The Dead One" and "The Corpse". So, in the Germanic mythological tradition, it's possible for creatures to be both "black" (of beard, hair and eyes) and "pale" of skin. Given Tolkien's love of archaic forms, the Uruks could be "black" in the same sense (hair, beards, eyes) and just generally dark-complexioned or sallow otherwise.

Another possibility (again, common in medieval literature) is that "black" refers to the Uruks' clothing or uniforms. Their liveries certainly seem to be black for both the Mordor and Isengard varieties.

As to their eyes, we don't get any specific description about the colour apart from the Moria chieftain's eyes, "which are "like coals". That could mean that they are black; equally it could mean that they look as if they are burning.

I'll probably paint my Tolkien orcs in a mix of colours ranging from a pale sallow colour to black. But I'll be sure to give the Uruks a "black" look overall, whether through hair and beards, clothing or skin colour. In the last case, I wouldn't aim to replicate "black" human skin, though, but go for a non-human hue.

Offline Arthadan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2015, 07:10:13 PM »
The new RPG line, The One Ring by Cubicle,  has some gorgeous art true to the book. Here you are some swart orcs:





And here a swarty and a dark one:


The yellow eyes work well, but I'm not sure how correct they can be.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 07:12:17 PM by Arthadan »

Offline Vermis

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2015, 07:48:19 PM »
A great topic that's shaken some of my assumptions about uruk-hai. :) The line up drawing on the previous page also makes me wonder if GW's gorilla orcs are so far off the mark...

 

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