Monday 4 November 2013

Owning John Blanche Originals

It's taken me a couple of decades to take to the work of John Blanche. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I viewed his artwork as too loose, his figure proportions and perspective were off. His increasingly orange work jarred. In short, I didn't like it at all.

With that said, over recent times, I've grown to love John's work. I realise now that his vision has been an incredibly strong driver into the look and feel of Games Workshop's universes, and underpins much of what I enjoy about the background, artwork and miniatures.

In recent times I've taken to picking up odd sources of John Blanche's work where I can; books like Ratspike, White Dwarfs; you know the sort of thing. Even the odd local magazine! Gothic Punk is an excellent resource if you want to check out John's work.

Gothic Punk on tumblr; probably the best online resource for John Blanche artwork

One thing I assumed I'd never be able to achieve is to own an original piece of John Blanche artwork. His paintings sell for several hundreds of pounds and competition for the handful I've seen on sale is very fierce.

But then in June I spied a series of ebay auctions (over 100) with this title:

"John Blanche Original Painted Figure"

OK...sounds interesting. What do the auction descriptions say?

"John Blanche Original Painted Figure from the 1970's" 
OK, still not much to go on. What does the seller say?

"They came direct from a show in the 70s. John has been on and sent us a few comments."
And still not much to go on. The figures were a mixture of weird looking sci-fi and what appeared to be amazons in leopard skin outfits. In event I picked up a small selection on the off-chance they were something interesting. On receiving the figures I spoke to the Steve Casey aka The Citadel Collector, on the basis that he knows a thing or two about John Blanche's figures. Steve confirmed that he believed they are Blanche originals, and a few days later I had some correspondence with the man himself. Here's what John had to say about the figures:
"They were in the collection of John Hammond who ran skytrex and the Nottingham model soldier shop back in the 70's - the space types are mini figs and the amazons are garrison - painted in enamels and converted using milliput I think - it was really before the days of a great deal of minis you could buy and I regularly painted ancients but I got to know both companies and even did some concept work for garrison - I worked at the schools museum service at Gedling house at the time - never gamed tho just like meeting with toy soldiers - still do."
So there you go - classic wargaming figures from the 1970s, painted and modelled by the master!
This is what I picked up - primarily (it turns out) from the Minifigs science fiction range:

Herbicus Plantman decked out in Blanchian reds and polka dots
Vertos Roboman complete with an old school heavy gloss finish armour
Vertos Robot. Look at the cute little stars!
Valka Spacewoman. With a laser no less!

Valka Spacewoman with deathspray. Again note the use of red, black and grey.

Another Valka Spacewoman. With neon gun this time.
Cehan Pinhead with deathspray

Cehan Pinhead. Just look at the paintjob on the head - lovely
And finally, the jewels in the crown. Three figures converted by John:

A Commander figure with milliput head
Heavy laser; the operator has received a weird new alien head also
I believe this figure to be a full milliput sculpt. Set me right if I'm wrong!

So there you go - a small selection of John Blanche originals, beautifully and distinctively painted. OK, they're crude 1970s sculpts and the bases are nothing more than chunky flock glued to paper, but they're very much in pride of place in my collection!

If you want to see more John Blanche figures, you can do worse than checking out Steve Casey's excellent collection.


  1. Colour me jealous...
    Collecting painted models from masters has got to e the next step in the lead addiction, I must fight it by all means...
    That last blob-eyes thingee is really excellent, congrats

  2. I was very pleased to get them...even more surprised I was the only bidder. If I'd had another £200-300 spare, I could have had a full army of John Blanche originals. As it was, I just picked up some nice examples :)

  3. John Blanche original Illustrations depicting the scenes from The Hobbit;

    'The Battle of the Five Armies'
    'The Destruction of Numenor'

    Both are due to go on sale 9th December 2014, Sotherby's London.

    If this is of interest please feel free to contact me further

  4. great pieces these congrats !

  5. I have two Cehan Pinhead miniatures painted by John and will accept bids.