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Author Topic: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?  (Read 25481 times)

Offline Paboook

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #60 on: September 07, 2015, 11:12:18 PM »
Thank you so much for this most interesting & excellent topic. I am excited to learn a few new things about Middle-Earth!

1) As to the issue of appropriate miniatures, I really love metal Mordor orcs sculpted by the Perry twins in the early stage of GW's LOTR. They are short to 28 mm men, most of them have slightly crooked legs. The minies are full of detail and character. The weapons include crude sabres, axes etc. (there are also 4 bowmen not included in the picture)



The later plastic GW Mordor orcs are man-sized and upstanding. They fit better to the concept of uruks than common orcs/goblins in my opinion.



This random picture from the web serves as a nice comparison: the metal orc is second from the right, the rest are plastics.



2) As to the issue of Tolkien's books mirroring the 1930s... I think that people often forget he intended to create new mythology based on the models represented in historical material (sagas etc.). Therefore, the word of Middle-Earth is not a piece of fictional realism (as the Word of Ice and Fire for example) and Tolkien was not trying to lead modern society to the Dark Ages. Every author is somehow influenced by his life and times, but that isn't enough to explain and understand his work. Just my two cents :)

Offline orc

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #61 on: September 08, 2015, 01:40:50 AM »
I'm agree Perry twins GW's LOTR are the best miniatures from GW....but in my oppinion Mithril has the most real orcs, miniatures with a lot of character and hundreds of different orcish miniatures...sanagas,uruks,great uruks,half orcs,trolls,hallf trolls, Olog hai....

This are from my army: MUHAAHAHAAAAAA!!!






Offline Cubs

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #62 on: September 09, 2015, 10:20:42 AM »
Just to further confuse matters, I was flicking through my 'Characters from Tolkein' book by David Day - basically a bestiary drawing on all the Tolkein books. It specifically says that Orcs and Uruk-Hai are black or dark skinned 'like burned wood'.

He suggests that although the terms Orcs, Goblins and Uruks are pretty much interchangeable, Orcs/Uruks are the original name of the creatures first created by Morgoth from kidnapped Elves, with them acquiring the term goblins as their bloodlines become weaker following their great defeats by the Elves and the scattering of their tribes. They have long arms and walk stooped. He also says that Uruk-Hai (Greater Goblins, Hobgolblins) are first created by Sauron in Mordor (not by Saruman, although Saruman also uses them) and are like Orcs but greater in stature, straighter of limb and able to walk unafraid in sunlight. They also use straighter swords and weapons more like the men of the west, whereas Orcs/Goblins use weapons more like men of the east. They are the elite troops and first to fight.

He also mentions that Half-Orcs are the product of interbreeding Dunlending men and Orcs and are also dark of skin. This explains why Dunlendings, Half-Orcs, Orcs and Uruk-Hai are happy to fight alongside each other at Helm's Deep.
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Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #63 on: September 09, 2015, 11:40:47 AM »
Just to further confuse matters, I was flicking through my 'Characters from Tolkein' book by David Day - basically a bestiary drawing on all the Tolkein books. It specifically says that Orcs and Uruk-Hai are black or dark skinned 'like burned wood'.

I mentioned the Tolkien Bestiary a page or two back, I think - and specifically that "wood" quote. Although the illustrations are marvellous, the text is notoriously bad. Basically, Day just made load of stuff up. But because people assumed that he must have done his work, a lot of his assumptions and inventions have had wide circulation.

He suggests that although the terms Orcs, Goblins and Uruks are pretty much interchangeable, Orcs/Uruks are the original name of the creatures first created by Morgoth from kidnapped Elves, with them acquiring the term goblins as their bloodlines become weaker following their great defeats by the Elves and the scattering of their tribes.

Now that's pure Day invention. Tolkien says (in the introduction to The Hobbit) that "Orc" is "usually translated" as "goblin" - i.e. they're synonyms. Hence, "Orcrist" = "goblin-cleaver". And in The Lord of the Rings, he uses "goblin" to describe the biggest ones (the Uruk-hai).

There is one line, in The Lost Road (not published when Day was writing), that vaguely supports this line of thought: "Goblins they may be called, but in ancient days they were strong and fell". But note that this comes from a pre-LotR text that Tolkien abandoned. We know that he changed his concept of Orcs repeatedly. At one point, before LotR, Orcs, goblins and "Gongs" were different creatures. But by the time of The Hobbit and LotR, Gongs had gone and Orcs and goblins were two names for the same thing.

They have long arms and walk stooped. He also says that Uruk-Hai (Greater Goblins, Hobgolblins) are first created by Sauron in Mordor (not by Saruman, although Saruman also uses them) and are like Orcs but greater in stature, straighter of limb and able to walk unafraid in sunlight. They also use straighter swords and weapons more like the men of the west, whereas Orcs/Goblins use weapons more like men of the east. They are the elite troops and first to fight.

The Uruks of Isengard use weapons like those of Men, which Aragorn (who knows all about Orcs) remarks on. But the Uruks of Mordor seem to use characteristically Orcish weapons (the huge Uruk in Moria uses a spear and a scimitar). So it seems to be down to what the armouries of Isengard are churning out. Also, the Uruks of Isengard have long arms too. And they're not like Orcs; they are Orcs! The narrative voice in LotR almost always describes Uruks simply as "Orcs" (it's mainly the Orcs themselves that talk about Uruks and Uruk-hai).

Also, the Uruks (which, if we follow Christopher Tolkien and a couple of indications in the LotR text and appendices, are probably the sam as the Uruk-hai) were created by Sauron, but there is also a strong suggestion that Saruman's Uruks are slightly different - most probably through an admixture of Man-blood; it's not clear whether the half-orcs were a side-product of this or its main aim. After all, it's the half-orcs that seem to have been the main shock troops and the fiercest fighters of Saruman's army (they kill Theodred).

On "hobgoblin": Tolkien uses this twice in The Hobbit (in the introduction and when Gandalf talks about the Grey Mountains). But while he had originally used it to denote large orcs, he abandoned it later because, etymologically and in folklore, hobgoblins (=Robin goblins) were smaller, friendlier spirits.

He also mentions that Half-Orcs are the product of interbreeding Dunlending men and Orcs and are also dark of skin. This explains why Dunlendings, Half-Orcs, Orcs and Uruk-Hai are happy to fight alongside each other at Helm's Deep.

The half-orcs are described as "sallow", not dark-skinned:

"In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes; but it vanished at once. ‘So that’s where that southerner is hiding!’ he thought. ‘He looks more than half like a goblin.’"

and:

"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."

Another point (of purest pedantry!  :D): I don't think it's right to say that Dunlendings, Half-Orcs, Orcs and Uruk-hai fought at Helm's Deep. From a reading of LotR, it seems that all the Orcs at Helm's Deep were Uruk-hai. The book tells us that Saruman's Orcs are big and equipped like Men, but it doesn't mention any smaller breeds in the armies of Orthanc. "Orcs and Uruk-hai" isn't a formulation that Tolkien uses, because all Uruk-hai are Orcs (and goblins too).

One more thing: Day takes the Silmarillion story about Orcs being created from "twisted" Elves as given. But it's by no means clear that this was Tolkien's conception when he wrote LotR. There are at least a dozen possible orc origins ("upgraded" beasts, animated stone, corrupted Maiar, robots of a sort, etc., etc.) that Tolkien mulled over. I don't think he ever finally decided - and he agonised over the issue for theological reasons: do Orcs have souls?

So, basically, David Day isn't to be trusted at all. Real Tolkien experts have huge lists of all that's wrong with his writings. But the Tolkien Bestiary's illustrations are marvellous - especially those by John Blanche and Ian Miller!

Offline area23

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #64 on: September 09, 2015, 12:54:40 PM »
"man-high, but with goblin-faces" If you like the old Citadel orcs and goblins by Kevin Adams, I suggest his Saxons or Chinese he did for Renegade for half orcs (and dunlendings).
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Offline Vermis

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #65 on: September 09, 2015, 01:00:42 PM »
1) As to the issue of appropriate miniatures, I really love metal Mordor orcs sculpted by the Perry twins in the early stage of GW's LOTR. They are short to 28 mm men, most of them have slightly crooked legs. The minies are full of detail and character. The weapons include crude sabres, axes etc. (there are also 4 bowmen not included in the picture)

The later plastic GW Mordor orcs are man-sized and upstanding. They fit better to the concept of uruks than common orcs/goblins in my opinion.

I'm agree Perry twins GW's LOTR are the best miniatures from GW....but in my oppinion Mithril has the most real orcs, miniatures with a lot of character and hundreds of different orcish miniatures...

Hmm. I've a few GW uruk-hai scraped off ebay, because I thought the designs weren't bad. I quite like the berzerkers too, as non-canon as they might be. But the more I hear and read about the imagery in the books, the more I want to go that route instead! I guess I can adapt the plastics for Isengard uruks (plenty of iron helms already; need a few mannish weapon swaps and things), but while the early Perry and Mithril sculpts look good, the latter prices ain't conducive to army building, and I know the kind of asking prices for GW LotR metals on ebay... This is one of the times I kick myself for ignoring the game way back when.

I was thinking of keeping some plastic uruk-hai as half-orcs or orc-men, maybe dremelling out some of all that plate and sculpting mail over the area. Might be easier and more book-appropriate to resculpt faces or heads on some saxons or vikings (= dunlendings?) though. This is where those Gripping Beast crab-scuttle poses might come in handy... ;)

Offline Vermis

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #66 on: September 09, 2015, 01:17:31 PM »
Another point (of purest pedantry!  :D)

That's the best kind. 8)

Quote
but the Tolkien Bestiary's illustrations are marvellous - especially those by John Blanche and Ian Miller!

And Victor Ambrus, IMO. :)

"man-high, but with goblin-faces" If you like the old Citadel orcs and goblins by Kevin Adams

No, TBH.

I'm part of the International Don't Like Kevs Orcs and Goblins Society. (IDLe KOGS) I'm the secretary, and I attend all the AGMs. We stand around in a big hall for an afternoon and say "nope, still don't".

I was considering Renegade saxons as, well, saxons. Didn't know they had chinese though (not on the site, any pics?), and hadn't a clue they were by Kev.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 01:23:02 PM by Vermis »

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #67 on: September 09, 2015, 03:28:04 PM »
Yes, this is the problem with fantasy stuff... David Day says something and people assume it is based on research from the original text. In fact, it's just supposition / opinion on his part. Then it gets recycled into irrefutable fact!  o_o

I always thought the best miniature orcs (in terms of accuracy at least, but not figure quality) were the original 1970s Minifigs 'Mythical Earth' range... They had simple chainmal shirts, simple pointy helms, simple round shields, long swords, slightly pointy ears, slightly bandy legs, slightly slanty faces... Which I think is pretty much all the description of their arms, armour and physicality that you can actually find in the books.

Everything else - this entire, vast sprawling cornucopia of orc design with all the weird and wonderful physical and physiognomical shapes, and fantastical array of gothic / baroque arms and armour - is entirely the invention of the stable of latter-day illustrators from David Day through Alan Lee, John Howe, and their whole, numberless host of imitators... All gradually taking their art off to more and more extreme visions of 'orcdom' - and further and further from the essentially simple thing Tolkien describes in his books  ::)

Ah well... That's the creative process for you  ;)

Offline Cubs

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #68 on: September 09, 2015, 03:33:57 PM »

So, basically, David Day isn't to be trusted at all. Real Tolkien experts have huge lists of all that's wrong with his writings. But the Tolkien Bestiary's illustrations are marvellous - especially those by John Blanche and Ian Miller!

Ay carumba! That's that one put to bed then.

Offline Emir of Askaristan

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #69 on: September 09, 2015, 03:55:16 PM »
Loving this discussion.

My own purely personal take on the best figs to use would be the (very) old pre-slot citadel Half Orc range including those that made up their regiment of reknown.  These are human-like but with slant eyes and other features which are non human but are not the exaggerated bulldog jawed fanged meat cleaver types of later citadel/GW designs. The Asgard range of Wolf-Riders were also nice I seem to recall.

The best looking creatures in the films were the hobbits themselves and the Three Trolls. Almost everything else was over fantasised and exaggerated. There...now I've put myself in a bad mood and am going to go off and grump for a bit.......  >:(lol

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #70 on: September 09, 2015, 03:57:50 PM »
Ay carumba! That's that one put to bed then.

Sorry if that was a bit heavy-handed!  :)

There are good examples of the kind of thing David Day got up to here:

http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/DayBooks.html

Another myth that he planted, I think, is that the Uruk-hai were "man-high". This is nowhere in Tolkien. A "huge" Uruk chieftain in Moria was "almost man-high", but he seems to have been enormous for his kind. By contrast, Ugluk was just "a large black orc". And Gollum says that the Haradrim were "almost as bad as Orcs, but much bigger"; Gollum, of course, had lived for centuries in the Misty Mountains (where there had been Uruks for centuries) and had been held captive in Mordor, so he would know how big orcs could be.


Offline Paboook

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #71 on: September 09, 2015, 04:18:32 PM »
Hobgoblin, thank you so much for another great post!

Vermis, the GW uruk-hai don't seem to be "true" uruks unfortunately. But I think they can serve as nice starting point for authentic representation of Isengard "orc-men". Just switch the odd quasi-Roman shields for round ones and the weapons for standard swords and spears.

As to the Perry Lotr range, I forgot about quite "Tolkienish" trackers based on the description of the scout in chapter  "The Land of Shadow".

"One was clad in ragged brown and was armed with a bow of horn; it was of a small breed, black-skinned, with wide and snuffling nostrils: evidently a tracker of some kind. The other was a big fighting-orc, like those of Shagrat's company, bearing the token of the Eye. He also had a bow at his back and carried a short broad-headed spear. As usual they were quarrelling, and being of different breeds they used the Common Speech after their fashion."

Metal Mordor bows



Trackers


Offline Admiral Benbow

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #72 on: September 09, 2015, 05:25:04 PM »
I'm agree Perry twins GW's LOTR are the best miniatures from GW....but in my oppinion Mithril has the most real orcs, miniatures with a lot of character and hundreds of different orcish miniatures...sanagas,uruks,great uruks,half orcs,trolls,hallf trolls, Olog hai....

This are from my army: MUHAAHAHAAAAAA!!!

Wonderfully painted miniatures, orc! Could you show some more pics?

Very interesting discussion and suggestions here, think about re-reading the books again ...  :)

Offline Gibby

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #73 on: September 09, 2015, 07:56:13 PM »
I'm reminded of this quote.

There's no doubt Tolkien was influenced by childhood stays in industrial Birmingham and rural Sarehole (IIRC the name Samwise Gamgee was adapted from a RL occupant of the latter) but I think it's a little unfair to assume it's all about school-tie old boys vs. uppity oiks and johnny foreigners. The whole thing of (his interpretation of ) Middle-Earth began as a mythology for England and a setting for his invented languages, following his professional and personal interest in old languages, legends and sagas, was more about elves than anything else, and that bucolic hobbits only started accidentally intruding on in the early '30's.

I could bang on with a load of quotes pilfered from Letters, but I'll just add...

Letter to Christopher Tolkien, May 1945. :) Not to make out that he was surrounded by a golden halo at all times, but I feel there are a lot of assumptions about Tolkien as a stereotypical colonial-era toff, clinging to the status quo, when his own writings and correspondence contain evidence that mitigates those, if not outright refute them. (Not singling CB or Steve out! I'm sure we all know there's an internetful of Tolkien criticisms out there.)

Well put.

I think it's a shame that people have begun to see his work as allegorical. I'm not accusing anyone here of that, but I know people who casually call Tolkien a racist due to some of the things discussed here. I think it's more indicative of the modern mindset to fall too easily into looking for racial/politically incorrect motivations in nearly all media.

I am reminded of Faramir speaking of a young, slain Haradrim:

"His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is... where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there... in peace. War will make corpses of us all."

Didn't Tolkien say "We were all orcs, in the Great War" or something to that effect?

Also I won't open the hornet's nest of the Silmarillion's very very vague implication that orcs *MAY* have fought on both sides in the war of the Last Alliance.  ;)

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Book-faithful Uruk-hai and half-orc miniatures?
« Reply #74 on: September 09, 2015, 08:37:58 PM »
Well put.

I think it's a shame that people have begun to see his work as allegorical. I'm not accusing anyone here of that, but I know people who casually call Tolkien a racist due to some of the things discussed here. I think it's more indicative of the modern mindset to fall too easily into looking for racial/politically incorrect motivations in nearly all media.

I am reminded of Faramir speaking of a young, slain Haradrim:

"His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is... where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there... in peace. War will make corpses of us all."

Didn't Tolkien say "We were all orcs, in the Great War" or something to that effect?

Also I won't open the hornet's nest of the Silmarillion's very very vague implication that orcs *MAY* have fought on both sides in the war of the Last Alliance.  ;)

Couldn't agree more. Is that quote from the film? I think the book one is even more pertinent:

It was Sam's first view of a battle of Men against Men and he did not like it much. He was glad he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies and threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would no rather have stayed there in peace -”

Emphasis mine. The point here is that Tolkien takes great care to distinguish between fighting between Men and Men (of different skin colours, but Men nonetheless - and remember that there are dark-skinned Men fighting for Gondor and pale-skinned Men fighting for Mordor as well as the other way around) and fighting between Men and Orcs (beasts, automata, evil spirits - whatever they are). And even then, he agonised over the possible salvation of Orcs.

 

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