|Sculpted as a companion piece to the Citadel Eldar Trader
Bob kindly subjected himself to questioning about his career and work with Citadel in the 1980s:
axiom: It's probably fair to say that you’ve had a fairly decent innings in the sculpting game! How did you start off sculpting figures and begin in the industry?
BN: Well I did conversions and painted figs (airfix etc) as a teenager (who didn’t?) and started painting wargames figs when I was about 17. This was through an outfit in
axiom: It is your work for Citadel in the 1980s that probably most people are aware of. Could you tell us how you came to work for Citadel?
BN: So I made figures for WPS for a very short period then disappeared off to art school. When I finished I started a company (Naismith Design) with a couple of friends from WPS – we made quite a lot of 28 and 15mm historical ranges and I also made hundreds of naval models for Navwar – who were also in on the Naismith Design enterprise. After I think about three or four years I ended up chatting to Bryan Ansell and the result was that I started work for Citadel in 1981 I think.
|Naismith Designs Elf Adventurer (courtesy of the Lost Minis Wiki)
|Naismith Designs 4-armed Mutant (courtesy of the Lost Minis Wiki)
axiom: You contributed to a significant number of Citadel fantasy ranges; Fighter, the licensed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons range (I counted over 50 figures in that range alone) and the iconic Fantasy Dark Elves. Could you tell us a little bit about your contributions to these ranges and how you got a reputation for sculpting evil Elves?
BN: Well in those days making model soldiers was a very fast and furious game. Citadel would publish several codes of miniatures per month – sometimes 150+ masters. Even with a team of sculptors that was quite hard to achieve. The main codes like fighters, wizards etc was a staple and we would usually end up specialising. I had a dabble at most of them. Every now and then one sculptors style would ‘fit’ with a specific code – the dark elves seemed to do that for me and I made quite a few. I still have an army of them if anyone wants to make me an offer!
|Bob's C09 Citadel Dark Elves
On the other ranges – I was for a time in charge of the other sculptors (apologies guys!) and during this time I was responsible for making sure that Bryan Ansell had as many of the codes that he needed each month to satisfy the sales teams. The upshot of this was that I had to generate extra models from existing used masters (conversions) and the codes show that – ie same body/different head etc etc.
axiom: I think many people will consider your sculpting on the early Warhammer 40,000 ranges as being heavily influential in establishing the look and feel of the universe. Which of those first 15 figures did you sculpt?
|Bob kindly annotated the catalogue page; the shaded figures are his!
axiom: Way back in 1987 you had a hand in sculpting some of the earliest Space Marines. Did you have any inkling then of the juggernaught you were launching onto the world?
|LE2 Imperial Space Marine (courtesy of Stuff of Legends)
axiom: You also sculpted many of the ever popular Warhammer 40,000 Mercenaries, Adventurers and Pirates. These have become iconic for their individual and characterful sculpts - can you tell us about the design process for these ranges?
BN: The idea here was that we knew the general direction of the Rogue Trader universe and this new universe had to be populated. At the time there were precious few sci fi miniatures ranges that had the breadth and deptrh that we were aiming for – so for all of us it was artistically very rewarding. We had design freedoms that a larger company might have struggled with.
|Again Bob shows his sculpts from the range
|And this time with the Rogue Trader Mercenaries
|Which do you prefer? The Bob Naismith original (L) or Jes Goodwin's later incarnation (R)?
axiom: Some of the best sculptors in the business (the likes of Jes Goodwin, the Perrys, Kev Adams, Bob Olley and Nick Bibby) were also sculpting for Citadel at the time. How was it working in that environment Citadel created?
BN: Fantastic! (although Bob Olley didn’t work in the studio itself while I was there at any rate – he worked from home). We had a lot of fun there in Low Pavement. I remember Jes getting upset with me because I wouldn’t stop singing (I still sing…) and how poor Nick Bibby had developed terrible allergies to milliput and greenstuff which thankfully for us all pushed him into using Fimo – those creatures that he made were just stunning even then! The twins also worked away from the studio but were always happy to come in and work on joint projects – good times.
axiom: You were responsible for the development of Citadel’s early plastic sets, including the Warhammer Regiments, Mighty Fortress and Epic scale sets (in fact there was even an article in an ancient White Dwarf showing a prototype plastic Space Elf). How were those early trials of plastics and what happened to that Space Elf prototype?
BN: Well the early plastic work was a steep learning curve. We were helped in this by the inestimable Mr John Thornthwaite who calmly would lead us through the ins and outs of this demanding production method. Plastic work had begun before I came along (Psychostyrene dwarves and the Fighting Fantasy ranges) but I showed quite a bit of interest in the process and ended up working closely on all the plastic work for GW until about 1989.
|Prototype plastic Space Elf shown in White Dwarf
axiom: You left Citadel in 1990(?) and developed your own sci-fi range (Cobalt), as well as freelancing for range of other companies since. Could you tell us a little bit about that decision and work post-Citadel?
BN: Well I had been committed to GW for a few years and was pleased to see it grow. As it grew I could see that my opportunities to be involved across the board were becoming fewer. I have always considered myself as a starter and not a finisher. I am in awe of GW and all it has done since I left.
Work post Citadel has been rich and varied. As a freelance designer I am always being approached by customers old and new with exciting new projects. I enjoy hugely working like this – although its not the most secure form of employment I am happy working this way – for the future who knows?
One thing is that because of commercial confidentiality and working for several different clients at once I have to keep my mouth closed regarding recent or current work so I cant say anything about that – shame really but that’s the way it is!
axiom: Finally, from your time with Citadel, do you have one favourite sculpt which really stands out from the rest?
BN: My favourite? Hmm don’t really have a favourite as such – I thought that some of the epic stuff was good and the Thrud fig was fun – heck it was all my favourite!
|The inimitable Thrud (courtesy of Stuff of Legends)
Thanks very much to Bob for taking the time to write down his thoughts. And if anyone fancies getting Bob to sculpt them a figure, you can reach him through his website: bobnaismith.com