Miniatures - Oldhammer miniatures

Article updated: 2020.06.18

You might have heard the word 'Oldhammer', referring to earlier Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 sculpts from Games Workshop. You might even prefer this oldschool style to the newer miniatures on the market - but you might not be able to tell, why is that. I've gathered my thoughts about the Oldhammer figures, and about the differences between Oldhammer sculpts and more recent ones.

What makes a model Oldhammer? There are several opinions, listed in the order of restictiveness:

  1. Being produced before 2010 / 2000 / 1990 / 1980
  2. Being sculpted by the same people who created miniatures before 2010 / 2000 / 1990 / 1980
  3. Sculpted in a style similar to the miniatures produced before 2010 / 2000 / 1990 / 1980

While the easy approach would be to choose 1. or 2., I try to find what would be considered a "similar style" to the old sculpts.


The people who sculpt the Oldhammer miniatures are also hobby enthusiasts. They love their minis, they assemble and paint them. They create new sculpts to fill in gaps in their preferred range.

Many of the new 3D sculpt creators might be awesome in 3D design, but they have never ever assembled and painted a single miniature in their life, and it often shows.

Heroic proportions

Most of the Oldhammer figures are more chunky than regular minis with realistic proportions. This is often called Heroic scale. They have big heads, big hands, big feet, everything is about twice as wide as normal, and their faces take up a large proportion of their heads. All of this is to make them easier to paint, and from across the table it's easier to recognise Heroic minis than realistic ones. Also, having chunky proportions made metal casts easier to make.

Now that it's easy to make very thin figures with realistic proportions, many companies go that way.

Hard details

Most of the Oldhammer minis have hard details, that are easy to pick out an paint. This is partly due to the Heroic proportions, but also due to the sculptors knowing how to create minis that will be easy to paint, and easy to cast. Soft details can be lost during production, and it's harder to paint them right.

As reproducing soft detail is easy nowadays, it's more common to see them on recent miniatures.

Focus of details

The sculptors knew what is important on the miniature, and focused on that. This meant that a character with a strange face might have a plain coat to draw the eye of the viewer to the face, and not filling the coat with additional detail just because there is space for that. If the figure was stuffed with equipment, it was for a reason - for example, it was a trader, or a depiction of an average D&D character.

I've noticed, especially on recent GW miniatures (I look at you, Death Guard!), that they have lots of unnecessary detail, thus losing the focus of the mini.

Individual characters

Most Oldhammer figures feature specific characters, instead of a generic member of an army. In the old times they were even named to differentiate them. If you had more copies of the same sculpt, you either used several colour schemes, or converted them to make them unique.

Nowadays most companies try to create generic minis, with optional add-ons to make them individuals.

Being unusual

Many Oldhammer figures look unusual. They can look funny, goofy, as if the sculptors didn't take themselves seriously. They might look obscene, show rude gestures. They could be horrifying.

Most recent miniatures try to feature grim and realistic characters, while maintain an imagery that can be sold to 10 year olds.

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Resources - Oldhammer miniatures

Oldhammer definitions

Nergling: What is Oldhammer?: Humorous video.

Sean Squires (from Broken Paintbrush): Oldhammer – What it is and how to get involved: Article.

Whiskey Priest (from The Lead Pile): When is oldhammer not oldhammer and does it matter? or How i stopped worrying and learned to love my miniatures: Article.

Oldhammer miniature recommendations

Asslessman (for Oldhammer Blog): Oldhammer models: Article.

In-production Rogue Trader alternatives: Forum.

Oldhammer forums Forum

OldHammer Miniatures and Wargaming (Facebook group)

The Oldhammer Community (Facebook group)

Oldhammer websites

Lead Plague

Oldenhammer in Toronto

Oldhammer In The New World

Oldhammer Melbourne

Oldhammer on a Budget

Old School Workshop

Port Imperiale

Realm of Chaos 80s: The Oldhammer website of Orlygg Jafnakol, with lots of interviews with Oldhammer designers and sculptors.

Realm of Zhu

The infrequent ramblings of a casual wargamer and hobbyist

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Buying the product - Oldhammer miniatures

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Do you like Oldhammer miniatures? What do you think of them? How would you differentiate them from new sculpts? Tell your opinion in the comments!


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