Nate Vs The Living Dead Part 2: Inhale The Horror

The Nightmare Legion blew into my life like a sepulchral wind. I could not peel my eyes away from that glorious box. This was everything my pre-pubesecent self had dreamed of. I had no idea what a Regiment Of Renown, a Warhammer or a Games Workshop was. All I knew is that the image on the box of an army of grinning skeletons, marching forth from their tombs clad in rotting armour beneath a ragged banner. It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. This was better than having Findus Crispy Pancakes for tea or being allowed to stay up and watch The Equalizer or catching a glimpse of Linda Lusardi’s knockers whilst out on my paper round.

I cycled back to the head shop the very next day. Bombing it all the way. Grifter gears cranked way up to red. Parka blowing in my wake. That’s how serious this was. I was full of courage and excitement.  Upon arriving at the store I nervously peered into the murky entrance. I don’t know what I expected to find in there? A coven of witches gathered round a boiling cauldron cooking up Liquid Gold? Maybe a drug dealer, like the ones that hung around in abandoned precincts off Double Dragon, waiting to smash my head in and stick hypodermic needles into me and get me addicted to heroin. These were genuine concerns for Yung Nate. I dug deep though, found some of that ‘Intestinal fortitude’ that Gorilla Monsoon used to talk about and crept inside. 

At this juncture let me give a quick shout out to Richard over at Stuff Of Legends for permitting me to plunder the image vault for this article. His website is an absolute visual goldmine documenting the great and the good of Citadel’s golden years. Word of advice though, don’t visit his site at work because it’s a rabbit hole that you’ll lose yourself in for hours at a time.

So lets take a closer look at the contents of that little box of evil.

Designed by Aly Morrison, the Nightmare Legion looked incredible to my adolescent eyes and reflecting upon them now with my ancient peepers, well they still look fucking marvelous. Aly’s sculpting succeeded in bringing the spark of character to a mouldering stack of skulls and bones. There was no two ways about it  I simply had to have them.

I asked the lady behind the counter to look at the box. They kept all the miniatures on pegs and shelves behind the counter. She passed it down and I turned it over in my hands. Hefting the weight. Absorbing the story information on the back. Feasting on the artwork. Glorious. The dream shattered when I discovered that the box set was £9.95. Not much in todays shilling but yo, back in 1986 that was three months pocket money or three weeks wages from my paper round. But I was a tenacious tyke and I saved every damn penny of that money up. It was a lean few months. No sweets. No Panini stickers. No comic books. No Fighting Fantasy. No nothing.But once the cash money was folded up in the back pocket of my stone wash Wranglers, better believe your boy was back on the Grifter and bolting for the seafront to claim his destiny.

Imagine my disappointment then when I returned a month later only to find that Nightmare Legion box set was sold out. Gone. Kaput. Finito.  See, the Head Shop wasn’t a hobby shop, selling miniatures was merely a sideline from their main gig, the business of bongs. So whilst they had a wonderful selection of Citadel and Ral Partha miniatures it wasn’t infinite.

With a heavy heart I resigned myself to making an alternative choice. I hadn’t  lived that Oliver Twist life all summer  just to come home with sweet FA. No mate. The old girl behind the counter could see I was disappointed and made some alternate suggestions. How about a Ral Partha Balrog? Or a blister pack of Night Horrors? Perhaps you’d like  a box of Bugman’s Rangers? Nah bruh, fuck a Bugman, I wanted tides of creeping death….. 

The Skeleton Horde was presented to me alongside a couple of blister packs of Lead Armoured Skeletons. I considered this a fair compromise and handed over my cash. One of the small joys of having grown up in a pre internet era was that unless you had access to Citadel mail order catalogues, the full range of models was never revealed to mortal eyes and so part of the fun was squinting into the blister packs and shaking the contents around in order to try and get a proper look at what you were getting.

I cycled home and immediately went about the grim business of assembling my skeleton horde. I spent the next couple of days happily clipping the plastic skeletons off the sprue and clumsily gluing them together in poses that I thought looked cool. Not practical. I wasn’t thinking long term, at how these guys might rank up together because I didn’t even know there was a game that accompanied them. They were simply something wonderful for me to play with, look at and arrange for my own pleasure. I pretended that the metal skeletons were their captains, by virtue of their better armour and weapons.

It wasn’t quite the rank and file military precision of the Nightmare Legion that I had longed for, but somehow this was better. I like ragged things that don’t match. I like to make up stories that tie things together. I like to create things for myself and the Skeleton Horde, although initially a consolation prize, did just that. And for ten year old me, playing alone in his room during the dying embers of Summer Holidays 1987, well, it was more than enough. It was  perfect.

3 thoughts on “Nate Vs The Living Dead Part 2: Inhale The Horror

  1. 2 weeks on the trot dude!
    Saw the title in the (a)rss feed thought that rings a bell, thats from a song i cant put my finger on, go through my archives (thanks to winamp and early MP3 adoption, i have some interesting genres finding integrity filed under “obituaries and soia bastard love spawn”) find rise, then read the article and find i could have avoided a morning spent down teenage memory lane as well as finding some truly disturbing shite i havnt deleted yet (fucking dislocated styles how thats ended up on a harddrive i have no idea) i also found some of my traded bootleg tapes i had ripped which i thought id lost forever after they got wet by me getting overexcited on my bike and deciding i needed to back flip into a lake!, now i just have to work out if i have found gold or not, hopefully they are not just korn and other nu metal tapes i had a fixation with back in the day, and its the amazing green jelly live set i had…. 😀

  2. Dislocated Styles!! Good grief dude.
    Green Jelly was a weird one. I actually loved that album when it came out but i was young as hell and loved novelty metal songs! Had no idea they’d been around since 1981. Does that make them pre – Gwar?

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