Monday 20 January 2014

Heavy Resin: Eldar Tempest Super Heavies from the 1980s and 1990s!

Let's imagine we're back in the late 1980s & early 1990s. For most people, the largest thing they'll ever see in a game of Rogue Trader is probably a metal Land Speeder or plastic Space Marine Rhino or perhaps a Land Raider tank. Some ambitious folks might build a Baneblade using Tony Cotterell's templates in White Dwarf 132, but that's probably your lot.

Enter then, Mike Biasi from the USA. After upscaling an Epic Titan to 28mm, Mike secured a licence from Games Workshop to produce a range of 40k vehicles based on the Epic designs under the trading name Mike Biasi Studios. Soon, other companies were in on the act, with Epicast, Armorcast and Forgeworld USA holding licences for various vehicles until Games Workshop set up its own in-house, large scale resin casting unit (Forgeworld).

The Eldar Tempest is unusual in that not only was it one of the largest non-titan kits produced, but that Mike Biasi's original sculpt was reworked and put into production no less than three times (Mike Biasi Studios, Forgeworld USA, Armorcast), over a period spanning at least 6 years!

Eldar Tempest

Although all three kits are clearly based on the original Biasi sculpt, there are numerous little differences between the kits in terms of detailing and refinement. The original Biasi kit is easily the roughest in terms of finish, whereas the middle Armorcast kit is most polished. As I own all three kits, here's a little overview of those tiny little differences!
For reference:
Mike Biasi Studios - Blue
Armorcast - Unpainted
Forgeworld USA - Red (black underside)
All three hulls have little tweaks and changes to minor detailing, although the overal structure is identical. The underside shows off the biggest difference; the production information, although detailing is minimal as you were never going to see this during a battle:
Mike Biasi original (unsure of year of production, I guess 1989)
Armorcast, 1989

Forgeworld USA, 1995
 Across the top of the hulls, there are numerous minor alterations between the kits:

Hull shuriken catapults, clearly with longer muzzles on the Forgeworld USA version

Look at the hull details - two indentations on the Biasi original, only one on the later Armorcast & Forgeworld USA versions
Engine pods, rather crude on the Mike Biasi version

And more minor hull variation on the other side

The engine grill also has a slight change; the cruder Biasi version is refined for both later incarnations 

Turrets & Guns
It's not just the hull that has these differences; the turret also has one or two:

Only the Armorcast turret has copyright information on the underside

Check out the differences in the muzzles; the Biasi versions (right) are noticably greater diamater than the later versions, while the Armorcast (centre) are longer and tapered

On the tiny little turrets, the Biasi version last the locking nubs to keep the turret in place

Finally, check out the detailing here - the Biasi muzzles are flat ended, while the later versions are slanted and have some bored details

Only last week I was talking to a friend of mine who recalled the rather inaccessible nature of these kits here in the UK back in the early 1990s. You could only get hold of them with suitable funds, international money orders or credit cards; wholly out of reach for gamers in their early teens. When you combined that exclusivity with the incredible nature of the kits - bigger and more exciting than anything you'd seen on a table before - they really did represent the pinnacle of a 40k gamer.

The internet and Forgeworld have moved things on - big kits are now widely available, frequently seen and perhaps not as exciting as they were in 1992. Or perhaps its just because I'm wearing my rose-tinted glasses again!


  1. Gosh, I didn't even know these existed before you mentionned them in the earlier post.
    I can imagine how big an impression it must have made back in the day. Eldar engines were something really hard to scratch build unlike imperial tanks and Ork engines.

  2. Yes, Eldar are really tricky by comparison; there's a whole bunch more pics on the Collecting Citadel Wiki:


  3. Oooh, I wanted one of these (and an old triangular Falcon) very badly back in the day. Being situated in Ireland made them about as accessible as the sea monkeys and x-ray specs advertised for sale in the back of Amazing Spider-Man however :(

    I have a lot of the old Epic miniatures and while the revamped and updated version of those designs that came out in both 6mm and 28mm since (like the Scorpion) are sometimes better than the original, none of them are nicer than this Tempest design. Its classic RT and yet has managed to age well I think.

    I would love to own one of those bad boys. Colour me envious... but thanks for sharing :)

  4. I may well feature Falcons in a future installment!

    In order to get all 3 Tempest incarnations I was picking them up regularly at one point. I think the most I had at once was 6! But they weren't sought after; Forgeworld were putting out great modern-styled kits weekly, and the old school Armorcast/Biasi stuff was going unloved (and cheap). Now, you just don't see them any more!

  5. Never heard of these in this scale either - I'd be happy to get hold of some of the epic minis but now I want a big one!

  6. I remember that the rumor here in the USA was that their licenses forbid sales outside of the USA for some reason. But they were still expensive here too. I never bought any fir that reason. They were the domain of older gamers with jobs, not us college students!

    1. Interesting. I seem to recall it was possible to order internationally, but I wouldn't like to stake my house on it.

      Does anyone know of any individuals who actually ordered internationally?

    2. All of the US licenses were North American sales only.

  7. I love the Tempest, and have since I first saw one back in college (online, not on the tabletop)

    Thanks for showing the difference in the various molds.

    1. You're welcome! Maybe I'll do the Elder Towering Destroyer next :-)

  8. Cool models. They make a nice squadron. They just all need the same paint scheme ;-)

  9. Stop taunting me! That's about 2-years worth of painting ;-)

  10. The Armorcast resculpt of the Tempest was done by Mike Biasi. Both of our licenses with GW specified North American sales only, so people outside North America had to get creative: friends in NA, vacation visits to the Armorcast shop, etc. I see you have one of my Tempests. The blue flip flop pearl and gold was my Eldar color scheme.

    1. Thanks for the intel Tim! I wasn't aware that the licensing conditions prevented worldwide sales. It's a miracle any made it over here! Great to hear one of mine was originally yours!