It is said that many dark and evil things dwell under the ancient mountains of the world, hiding from the bright white light of the sun. Gigantic spiders spin their webs in vast, echoing caverns which could swallow many a city of men, while troglodytes live out their short and squalid lives by the shores of deep underground lakes. And there are darker and more fell creatures too. Beings so terrible that their names have been forgotten with time, for none have the courage to speak of them.
But throughout these ancient underground realms run endless networks of dank, roughly-mined tunnels, lit day and night by the dim glow of smoky, guttering torches, for there is no day or night under the mountains. And constantly the sound of hobnailed boots on stone echoes through these tunnels, mingling with the ring of hammer upon chisel, punctuated by the cracks of goblin whips, and the screams of their slaves. Sometimes, under the dim half-light of the new moon, men claim that they leave their caves, often riding upon the savage wolves and wargs of the forest, to steal human women and children to work in their deep mines under the earth. Others spin tales of human babies taken from their cribs, and replaced by vile changelings.
The goblin is short of stature, and slight of build. They live their lives in constant fear, both of the creatures that lurk in the dark below, and of the bright light of the sun above. Yet this fear is equalled only by a malicious love of inflicting pain and suffering on others, and by a jealous hatred for the world of men. Cowardly, yet cunning and cruel in equal measure, they are easily dominated by those in a position of power, whether evil wizards, or mighty orcish chieftains, who drive them down from their mountains to serve their own ends.
As such, as numerous as they are weak, they are, with their orcish cousins, the staple cannon-fodder of many a dark lord. In this document shall be examined some of the countless breeds of goblin which dwell in the world today, and the many and varied places in which they can be found.
Very much on the comical side, the Rackham goblin range is as varied as it is large. From the wonderful steampunk-style warlord and the insane pirates of 'clan gobelin', to a fearsome array of heavily-armoured rat-riding knights and twisted mutants, Rackham's goblins are characterised by an exceptional standard of sculpting (although there are a few exceptions), and a price to match. Possibly better for painters and collectors than for wargamers, mainly due to the price, this is still a great place to look for that special character-figure. Hilarious, yet still fantastic, the only real flaw with Rackham's gobbos is the dreaded "giant weapon" syndrome.
"Here are some pirate gobbos who oooze character….they are brilliant." - Col. M
"I just don't like Rackham gobbos for some reason." - Doc
"The Goblin pirates are ace. Top-notch. Jolly fine. Splendid." - UnclEvl
"Those goblins are really getting too weird for my taste." - White Knight
A more traditional view of goblins, designed primarily for the wargamer, rather than for the painter or collector, from former Gripping Beast sculptor Colin Patten. His stated aim "is to provide the wargamer with believable figures that bridge the historical/fantasy gap." The figures have crisp, minimalist detail, making them wonderfully quick and easy to paint (which is something that I'm sure many goblin collectors will appreciate, given just how many one needs to make an army!). As with Gripping Beast's historicals, the range is designed to make the figures look at their best in a deep shieldwall. Thus, in a given pack, all the miniatures have the same body, but different heads. The wolf-riders are possibly the best of their kind out there at the moment. Oh - and the whole range is cheap. Very cheap, in fact. A must-have range for all the fans of The Hobbit out there. They also blend in rather well with the EE's LoTR line.
"Pretty disappointed really - not very dynamic, too human." - Col. M
"Well they're quite nice as figures, but as Goblins? Hoo deary me no. Major marketing blunder I'd say. Shame new fig manufacturers can't seem to get it into their heads that people aren't going to buy only their figures, so if they make figures that don't fit in with other manufacturer's for army creation then they aren't going to sell. "Shame, cos I was expecting big things after the Dwarves. Nice but no good for me - half-goblins maybe." - UnclEvl
"Yeah a strange pasty look to them." - frotherBaz
"The wolf riders look passable too, and a bit more cavalry is always welcome. Especially like the wolves, very nice, but maybe its just cos they've had a good paint job." - UnclEvl
"The wolves are *really* nice I think." - Doc
Ilyad's goblins, while still bringing a smile to the face with their fabulously sneaky grins, and sly, comical features, are nonetheless substantially more restrained than Rackham's insane lunatics - and they have normal-sized weapons! Not the cheapest of ranges, the high quality of the figures warrants the price. Just a shame that the range isn't a little big larger. Also, be warned that they're made of resin rather than lead or pewter.
"Those Gobbo's look serviceable enough." - UnclEvl
One of the largest ranges out there, Black Tree does not one, but two whole lines of goblins, and features both Night and Forest goblins alongside their more common cousins. The Fantasy Armies range is solid, but unexceptional - useful for bulking out your army, but nothing to get excited about. The Harlequin Fantasy range, sculpted mainly by Kev 'Goblin Master' Adams, on the other hand, although it has more than a couple of duds, also contains some truly wonderful figures, including some top-notch 'Nightlings'. Both ranges will mix extremely well with EE figures from the early 90's. Their prices have been going up and down like a yo-yo of late, but at the time of writing have settled back at a perfectly reasonable £1/figure.
This large, and growing range is completely different from any other. Instead of the sly, sharp-nosed, pointy-eared creatures we're used to, West Wind's goblins are fierce, warty monsters, and so are unlikely to mix well with other ranges. Fortunately, the range is large and diverse enough for a whole army to be constructed without difficulty. The sculpting seems good, and the new 'Dog Soldiers' are superb. The prices are low, although this partly due to the fact that one cannot buy most of the range in packs of less than twenty-four, although the extremely good level of variation in each pack makes this less of problem!
Dragonrune's small goblin range is very much in the style of the current EE line, although they tend to be much more animated as regards posing - a property which possibly makes them more suited to roleplaying games than to wargaming, where ranking-up is a concern. The wolfrider drummer and standard-bearer are exceptional. They aren't cheap though.
"I like their figures, but they only make a new one every 6 months or so it seems !" - Col. M
"Their Gobbo's are way too cartoonish for me. The pose of the wolves is always interesting though." - White Knight
"I like the goblins, but I'm not too keen on the wolves - far too mental. The musician's ride looks like it should be from an American Werewolf in London range..." - Rob
"Them gobbos are mighty odd shapes, big 'eds, no bodies, too many arms?!" - UnclEvl
"They are a fair bit cheaper than EE and imo even better quality." - Artemis Black
"I like them, they look far more fun to paint than GW wolf riders (maybe i'm jaded of GW wolf riders)." - Rob
"Sure, I'm not the person to have goofy looking Orcs and Goblins in my armies, but those are perfect for that kind of army!" - Jakar Nilson
Brand spankin' new and oh-so-pretty, Tom Meier's tiny goblin range is another attempt to make 'realistic goblins', if that makes any sense. The faces on the archers are just gorgeous (a 'gorgeous goblin' a contradiction in terms? Poppycock!), while their squat, heavily-built armoured kinsmen give off a feeling of power and menace normally associated more with orcs (which they could probably serve rather well as).
The truly gigantic shields may not be to all tastes, but these are undeniably very fine figures. The rather steep individual prices drop dramatically if you choose to buy in bulk, but due to the small size of the range (only 8 variants in total), this would entail purchasing many, many duplicates.
Yet another mixed bag from yet another fine French manufacturer. Ranging from pure comic genius to the distinctly second-rate, this smallish goblin line is cast from resin rather than the more usual lead or pewter, meaning that while the detail is extremely fine, they lack the comforting weight in the hand possessed by metal miniatures. They aren't cheap either. They do sell a rather nice chariot.
Fans of the ancient Grenadier goblin line will be happy to know that they've just been re-released en-masse by Italian firm Mirliton. This substantial range has dated rather well, although the style is completely different from that favoured by most current sculptors, since the goblins appear more like extremely short, ugly humans than the cartoon-monsters to be seen in most other ranges. As such, they're ideal for anyone wanting more 'realistic' goblins, as well as for Tolkien fans. While the sculpting may not be quite as crisp as more recent releases (possibly due to the aged moulds), they're also one of the best value ranges around. Oh, and the 'goblin war-giant' is just stunning.
Reaper specialises in miniatures for the roleplayer and the collector, rather then for the gamer, and as such only has a very small range of goblins. As with all Reaper's figures, they're well crafted pieces, but equally they're nothing to shout about, lacking the character of some other ranges, and are fairly pricey.
"Personally I like the Gobbo sergeant- bags of ugly menace." - UnclEvl
"I like the goblin sergeant too. Ugly, but great." - Doc
Ral Partha's is another elderly goblin line which, like the Grenadier range, has dated pretty well. The small range varies a bit in quality, but in amongst the lesser pieces includes some wonderfully characterful examples of goblinkind. As with Grenadier, many of the goblins bear a closer resemblance to ugly humans than to the twisted sprites which infest the modern industry. The wolf-riders and chariot are particularly nice. Good value, too.
Ral Partha also stock the tiny old Heartbreaker goblin range, which includes a few gems from the Goblinmaster, in addition to a couple of offerings from Tim Prow.
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