Monday, 4 January 2016

Aly Morrison's Marauder Miniatures sketchbook

Happy New Year Oldhammer devotees! I've got a cracking first post of the New Year for you. Last Saturday I attended Games Workshop's 40th birthday bash at their HQ in Nottingham, partly in the hope of seeing some old miniatures on display. In truth there wasn't much to be seen, but I did hit upon an absolute nugget of gold that made the trip more than worth the effort. Aly Morrison was manning one of the display tables and he had brought along his old miniatures sketchbook from his days at Marauder Miniatures!

It was great to chat with Aly, and he was more than happy to share his memories about his early years at GW/Marauder. His sketchbook was absolutely fascinating, and Aly very kindly gave his permission for me to photograph it and share the images with my fellow Oldhammerers. I was so excited I decided to photograph every page! There's somewhere in the region of 73 pages here, so you may well want to grab a cuppa and a biscuit and settle down to enjoy the view...These pages are roughly in the order in which they appear in the sketchbook, but some of them will be out of order because I've grouped some similar pages together.

I've always been a big fan of Aly's figures, but one thing I have to confess is that I had no idea how good an illustrator he is. In addition to his scrapbook he also brought along some very early illustrations he did at GW. Jon Boyce has already published some of these on the Oldhammer Facebook group, and I'll upload some more in a future blogpost; in my opinion they really are the epitome of Oldhammer.

Another characteristic of Aly's that is evident in many of the illustrations is his sense of humour. It's well worth taking a closer look at some of his notes to see what I mean!

Finally, before I let you loose on the images, I wanted to point out that I have included links to various Marauder Miniatures pages on the Stuff of Legends website throughout my accompanying notes. I have done this simply because the similarity between Aly's concept sketches and the finished product is quite uncanny, which I think is testimony to his ability as a sculptor.

If you want to see any of the images in closer detail, simply right click on a an image and choose open in another tab.


First up are some MM20 Orcs. A number of these weren't illustrated in the catalogue pages but can be seen in a mail order flyer from the time:

Here we have an idea (presumably abandoned?) for lobotomised dwarf slaves? Also, what I assume is a concept for a Dark Elf (I'm guessing that's what "Dick EFL" means?!) x-bow. As far as I know Marauder didn't produce one of these. Sadly I've only been able to look through these pages in a any detail since Saturday, and I didn't get a chance to speak with Aly about these points on the day.

Some very nice concepts for the Marauder logo, which didn't get used (to my knowledge): the eventual logo can be seen further down the pages. Also check out the tagline at the bottom of this page:

Next we have some MM10 Dwarfs and some more MM20 Orcs, plus a couple of concepts for some "conquistodwarfs" which sadly didn't make it through to production:

There's an interesting dwarf here in more contemporary gear, some sort of 20th Century adventurer type?:

Next we have a MM30 Goblin plus an iconic Marauder Dwarf Wizard:

Some more goblins, which I don't think made production:

A "gobo wheel of DEAF" which very sadly didn't make production!:

Some more goblins...with accompanying war cry:

Moving on to undead, with notes on how they should be armed/armoured, plus one of the iconic Marauder skeleton sculpts, the Undead Hero:

Next we seem to have some concept sketches for Gnomes. Marauder never produced Gnome figures, but judging from these sketches Aly certainly would have done the race justice had they done so:

Interestingly several of the figures above (one of which also appears below in a  more "advanced" sketch) seems to have evolved into a Dwarf command group that did make it into production (see the bottom of this page).

Dwarf Officer plus Goblin command:

I love the detailed notes on the Dwarf Organ Gun crew on this next page. I'm not sure what the figure is bottom right:

Some more detailed notes on a MM60 Empire fighter, including a decision to change a pointing hand (posed as if blessing?) to a defiant closed fist (the eventual miniature did indeed have a closed fist):

Above and below, some of Marauder's wonderful designs for MM70 Dark Elves:

An orc of some description?:

The Dwarf Siege Gun. Sadly the finished product did not end up with that mouthpiece at the end of the barrel:

I'm not familiar with the orc above, but it would have made for a great miniature.

Here we have the iconic Marauder logo:

Also the iconic Marauder skeleton, which received a shield rather than a dagger in its left hand in the finished miniature:

Some ideas for shield designs:

An illustration pasted into the scrapbook for inspiration, which eventually became the Dwarf Siege Gun:

...followed by illustrations of its crew:

Some more inspiration for a swivel gun, together with some sketches for its crew, which Marauder went on to produce:

Note also the flame cannon sketch above. Marauder did not produce one of these, but Alan Perry sculpted one for GW that looked very much like this sketch.

Some more MM70 Dark Elves:

Some preliminary sketches for Wood, Sea and High Elves, with some notes to indicate that Aly was unsure of what helmet designs to use at this point:

Some sketches for what became the MM61 Fighter Command, plus a note of a "LANSKNECT (sic) OGRE": Marauder went on to produce these, and take a look at the sketches further along of the Ogre Hero.

Some concepts for Dwarf Assault Grenadiers, plus the tantalising note "do a chaos dwarf machine", which sadly Marauder never did:

Rough sketch for the Dwarf Organ Gun:

More concepts:

Initial ideas for the Dwarf Regiment:

Some ideas that eventually became the MM66 Mounted Reiksguard Knights:

Some more Orcs, this time they became the MB2 Orc Regiment:

A couple of interesting bits on the next page. First a sketch for a renegade that looks very much - but not exactly - like the top left one on this page. This catalogue page credits the miniatures to Michael Perry and Kev Adams, so it's not clear if the concept below is uncredited to Aly, or if it's actually a different sculpt.

Also check out the dwarf tea party! Sadly, once again, it was never produced.

Initial sketches for a chaos dwarf (lots more of these to come below) and a chaos warrior (which did not become a miniature):

Some more orcs and dwarfs:

An orc (?) mortar that never saw production:

Next is an early sketch for a Dwarf Mounted Officer. Marauder did go on to sculpt a mounted dwarf which was never officially released. This could be an earlier concept sketch because a later sketch (see below) looks much more like the finished figure.

Also note above "Wayne as a Dwarf general". Which Wayne is unclear - Wayne England perhaps? I love the "box of stick on beards"! The note on the right of the page above leads on to the next section...

I personally find the next section fascinating because it documents the creation of the Marauder MM90 Chaos Dwarfs, which are essentially "mini-me" versions of some of the Citadel Chaos Warriors available at the time. From memory, a number of these pages were scattered throughout the sketchbook, but I've brought them together for the sake of an easier read.

The first page is an amalgamation of Chaos Warrior images that Aly has cut out and stuck in his sketchbook. He seems to have marked the ones that he would use for Chaos Dwarfs. Presumably the unmarked ones were initially considered as candidates but then dropped.

And here are some, but not all, of the MM90 Chaos Dwarfs:

Above: note how the weapon of No. 1 got inverted in the sketches and in the finished miniature.

Below: lots of humour in this one...The Chaos Dwarf Sorceror (No. 8 below) looks more like his Chaos Sorceror donor in this image, but was eventually modified in the final miniature. Aly notes "do 10 to 15 similar" for these figures - the MM90 range eventually totaled 24. Also note the list of "beastmen range" - Marauder didn't produce the "dog", "lizard" and "plague" types (as far as I know).

Below: yet more humour...Aly tells me he greatly values humour in his ideas!

Below: more notes for a chaos dwarf war machine. Could that image on the lower right be a preliminary idea for such a machine?

On to some more Dark Elf and Orc ideas:

 Next are some ideas for Emire fighters with separate weapons. Aly seems to be pitching this to someone - to Bryan Ansell perhaps? GW did go on to produce such figures, which it appears were sculpted by the Perry twins. Aly and Colin Dixon also sculpted Dwarfs in this manner, so I guess his pitch must have been successful!

More of the same, but with plastic flags included:

Some more teasing us with Chaos Dwarf machinery - some sort of gattling-gun type of weapon?!:

Next are some concepts for Chaos Warriors that sadly did not make production:

I don't know what the numbers denote, and I don't know who wrote the "better animation" comments - Aly, or Bryan perhaps?

Above: "Dwarfs on Pigs"!

Next is another concept for a mounted dwarf, plus concepts for a dwarf steam engine/steam boat:

Above: Nordic crew would have been great! Plus a chaos version...?

Some Minotaurs next, with only the first page seeming to be the source for production figures:

Below: is it just me or does the bottom text read "viking minotaur"? Also, dwarf Space Marine!

Some more Minotaur ideas, leading on to..

..the iconic MS4 Ogre Hero (which seemed to have started life as a mercenary):

 Some more Dwarfs, plus more Chaos figures that didn't see production (other than an initial idea for the MB10 Chaos Thugs):

Finally the sketch that became the unreleased Dwarf Cavalryman - because as Aly was told, Dwarfs don't get to be cavalry!


  1. What a fantastic artist he is ! Thanks you so much for those wonderful pictures, the renegade one had me all funny !

  2. Fantastic to get a look at the sketches, thanks for taking the time to post them all!

  3. What a fantastic piece if research. It was very rewarding to see the original Deathcap dark elf in the original concept.

  4. Excellent. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  5. Lovely sketches. I have the marauder skeleton whose head became its logo - I had no idea this figure had this status until now!

  6. Great way to start the new year! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Many thanks to you and Aly for sharing!

  8. Amazing!! Thank you for this! I wonder if there would be a way to possibly crowdfund some of the great ideas that never made it into production, such as that wonderful Dwarf Tea Party!

  9. Wonderfull!! Amazing post!Thanks for sharing.

  10. This is such a treasure....I just keep coming back to this over and over again...all wonderful stuff.