The Compleat Orc’s Lair

At long last, I’ve finished painting my collection of Grenadier AD&D orcs! I got the original “Orc’s Lair” way back in the 1980s when it first came out, and as I recall the shaman was broken, but it had an extra axeman in the box, so no complaints. An “Action Art” set acquired some time later had another orc captain (which for some reason I remember having a more ostentatious name in the painting guide). Since then, I acquired a few more of each pose secondhand in game shops, in large “job lots” I bought online, in trades, and a few outright gifts from people who didn’t want them any more.  My original crew were painted back in the 80s, and mostly in the bright green used in the box art. For the rest, I decided to paint them in a more muted olive tone, but kept the dominant black and reds used for the originals so they look more uniform.

These orcs are all more ape-like (as drawn by Jeff Dee in modules at the time) than pig-faced (like the Monster Manual illustration), which is also more in line with Tolkien style orcs. They are also considerably less bulky than most orc miniatures. I like the mish-mash of weapon and armor styles, suggesting it is all looted gear.

The crouching short swords men were never my favorite pose. These came in both the boxed Orc’s Lair and separate blister pack of five figures, which may explain why I have so many. They are simply more common than some of the others.

The archers only appeared in the boxed set. I actually have one more who will serve as a crewman on an even older Grenadier war mammoth. 

The two axemen broke fairly quickly after I got them — the axe handle was somewhat thin. The thirc I acquired later was already broken. So all have new weapons grafted on: a plastic axe head, a plastic sword blade, and a broken bit from a later Grenadier goblin figure. The axeman, like the short sword, was both in the box and the blister, so they should be fairly common as well. I have a fourth (also broken, of course) who is also serving as a mammoth crew with a pike.

The swordsmen were in both boxes and blisters, so they ought to be common. It’s a decent pose and would good for wargame stands.

The “captain” should be the most common by far, as he was in the box, the blister, and a large “Action Art” box set of monsters. The one in the center had his axe replaced but the rest are intact. I always liked this pose, and the crested helmet.

The war-club orcs were only in the small box, so it’s surprising that I have four of them. I like the vaguely Aztec theme. One had a broken club and I replaced with a plain, rather than obsidian-studded, club.

The last trooper with a mace appeared only in the blister pack, and is the only one I have just one of. Presumably he’s the rarest of the AD&D orcs. 

The “Command” types are all pretty nice too. The shaman has a skull and some kind of spike club or rattle made from a bone. This club was also break-prone so one has a replacement (on the left) and for the other (on the right), I carved the back of the handle into a a curved knife which you can’t see from this angle. The center shaman is intact.

The standard bearers are both lightly converted. (I was very confused, as a kid, that this fellow was labelled “standard” on the box, since I thought they were saying this what a “standard/tpyical” orc would look. Only a bit later did I learn that a standard was a banner or unit insignia. On the left, I converted the club to a sword for reasons I no longer remember. The club certainly didn’t break off on its own. The other has a standard from a Heritage kit (the Middle Earth orcs with a drum on a cart). I was missing his standard, and this one was superfluous so it was a luck meeting.

Lastly the “leader” types (or in some boxes, he’s labeled the “captain” and the captain above is an “axeman,” and the axeman is a “w/waraxe”). His axe broke on both models as well, so one got a replacement from a Prince August mold and the other has a warhammer from a Ral Partha dwarf (who in turn was converted to hold an axe to match a player’s character in some long ago game). Another very menacing pose despite the relatively small stature of these orcs.

And here’s how they all go into storage in a small bead organizer.

 

 

 

Published in: on August 4, 2021 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Those turned out great! I think I prefer the ape-faced orcs.


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