IF YOU CAN'T SEE THE MENU ON THE LEFT, CLICK HERE!
Many questions are asked...many more remain unanswered. Who is Andy Foster? Why does he do that? What's he doing now? Where is he going? What is that terrible smell? These questions and ones very similar to them must now be answered...
Right. Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Andy Foster. I'm the guy who owns Heresy, I do the sculpting, the marketing, the moulding, casting and packing, the website, the whole lot.
Because I can't afford staff yet, but that's not what you meant. I started Heresy miniatures in December 2001, just after being made redundant from another wargames company. For the second christmas in a row, which really sucked.
Ah, so it's revenge is it? Out to show the world, are you?
(laughing) No, not at all! I was initially gutted, obviously, for about an hour and a half, but by the time I got home (my line to my wife was this: "Hiya. Well, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, I've managed to get christmas off work again...") I had a plan.
Tell us the plan.
Glad you asked! I've wanted to make my own figures since I was about 12 years old. I grew up on Star Wars (the original films), Flash Gordon, Conan, the awesome Jason and the Argonauts, and films of that ilk. Sci-fi and fantasy were practically in my blood. I made my first model dinosaur at the age of about 4, and broke it in about 3 days when I tried to make the arms and legs move!
Was that where you started in figure making?
I guess, yeah. Technically. I never forgave the people at Felton first school in Northumberland for taking me out of "modelling class" (read: play-time for the young'uns. Not exactly the inner-city hellholes of today) when I was about 7 and making me learn to play recorder. Dammit, I had plans for that toilet-roll-rocket-ship! When I was about 8 years old my family moved to an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere (well, we lived in a caravan for 5 years whilst it was renovated and the dead sheep removed) and my younger brother and I shared a room until we moved house again when I was about 17. We'd pass the isolated time away with various games that my parents had bought us for birthdays and things, among the first of which specifically to do with miniatures was the classic MB/GamesWorkshop game, Heroquest, which contained several plastic figures you had to paint yourself. I was hooked, as were many more like me. Over the years I bought several other games and found friends at school who had more, and some who did roleplay games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Cyberpunk 2020 and so forth.
The games I've particularly enjoyed over the years have always been the smaller skirmish or boardgame ones, such as Warhammer Quest or Advanced Heroquest, where you get together with friends, consume fatal amounts of crisps (potato chips) and fizzy drinks (beer these days) and took on the role of a hero fighting the hordes of monsters that your friends and you could assemble from your various individual collections. Like most teenagers, I wanted to have the best figures, the ones that looked like they could hurt you or were simply posed in some dramatic/cool way. The greatest of the army games I played was the old chaos warband rules from the early 1990's games workshop. Champions led bands of characters whose mutations could be modelled in various ways, often using blu-tac covered in superglue, or milliput. Tonnes of milliput, badly modelled but the pride and joy of my collection! (One of the things I've found is that plenty of articles will talk about sculpting as if you already know how to do it. There were certainly very few at the time that realised you might not know anything at all. I never found one that did. Thank god for the internet, eh? I hope to put up a how-to... as soon as I have spare time to write and photo it.)
Sadly, those same skirmish-level games started to disappear. The skirmish game seemed to be replaced by army-based games, which needed scores of warriors. For me, the joy of the army was always the character models - I loved to convert them and model new features. It was a running joke amongst my small gaming group thatmy armies always consisted of about ten cool characters with a lot of primed fill-in troops. My counter-argument was that I was too busy doing conversions and painting for other people to do the troops of my own army.
(Yawn)Yeah, we get the idea. Skip forward a couple of years will you? You know, to something interesting?
At university, I started to work for Games Workshop in the last year, then moved on to full time employment after graduation. I got a degree in writing and drama! I help set up and managed the Warhammer World store at the GW HQ site, and helped put together the museum and the huge displays (which sadly are no longer there) used at the various Games Days. During my 4 years based at GW HQ, I finally found out some of the basic tips and techniques of sculpting by meeting the many thousands of customers and staff who passed through the store. I originally wanted to be a sculptor for GW and thought in my arrogance I was good enough at the time - er, I wasn't! I had a couple of articles in the citadel journal a long time ago (and more recently with necromunda and inquisitor articles in the respective magazines from Fanatic) and two of my armies appeared in white dwarf magazine - my large undead army and my 40 chaos khorne berserkers and demons. I left GW in winter 2000, and spent a bit of time doing an awful job - knocking on peoples doors trying to get them to change their gas and electric to a new supplier. Needless to say, a bit different to the comparatively cosy life in the gw museum, making stuff, meeting people and generally enjoying myself if burning out a little from overwork. The stress of the constant abuse and threats of violence from this new job caused me to rethink my apparent financial aims in life, and I realised the Truth of Life.
(Sigh.) Go on then. What is it?
There is no True Happiness without Miniatures! Money is useful, it pays the bills, but you can earn lots of money and yet still not be truly happy unless you really do enjoy your job for its own sake.
Yes, that is very true. What did you do when you realised this?
I had always wanted to be able to sculpt and cast my own figures, like I said. Getting a terrible if well-paid job in the real world made me fully understand that this was what I had always wanted to do since I was 12. I even had a test piece cast up at GW by the lovely Gary Morley, a nice man who (amongst others such as Chris Fitzpatrick) told me several incredibly helpful things about sculpting and whom I probably annoyed a lot. (I certainly annoyed Chris Fitzpatrick by putting an enormous set of knockers on one of his figures I used in my undead army! Sorry, Chris! ;) )
Yeah, I can imagine. Get on with it!
I had also realised that the kind of figures that I wanted as someone who mainly converted and painted were not in fact being made by anyone that I knew of. I wanted figures that looked like comic book charcters, all dynamism and flowing cloaks. I wanted massively built barbarians, evil demons, towering giants and enormous dragons. What I saw was the so-called 'gaming-scale' monsters, that didn't live up to their descriptions of incarnate fury. I saw weedy figures or ones whose arms were too long. I saw cool heads that you could never separate from the body without destroying the cool torso. I'd get a character who owned a plasma gun and a sword, and never be able to convert it to carry them because his gun was fused to his chest. "If only," I said to myself, "someone made models aimed at people like me. Ones with options, ones you can easily change to suit your needs." Wait a minute, I suddenly thought, why not do it myself? What I needed to do was learn how. Fortunately, I knew where there was a job going that might help. I worked at Foundry during the last half of 2001 and whilst there, I met some fantastically nice people who taught me bits and bobs of critical info about sculpting and casting (Thanks, Bryan, and Kev and Shane, and the guys on the factory and trade floor. Bryan Ansell told me how to do eyes. Gawd bless 'im. ) and also learnt a bit about the mechanics of ordering metal, getting stuff sourced, and so on. Sadly, I was made redundant before I could learn absolutely everything there was to know but carrying only my thermos of tea and the little knowledge about the technical side of things that I had gained, I staggered off into the cold winter's night and decided I would have to put my Ultimate Plan into action a little earlier than intended, or else I'd be selling kettles in Dixons. I feverishly sculpted some mannequins, found a contract mouldmaker and caster and blew my meagre savings and a hefty loan on the first few moulds and a website to call my own. Armed with six metal figures, Heresy burst upon the Wargames scene officially on the 4th April, with a headline page on www.theminiaturespage.com, an invaluable source of info on the wargaming world. The first orders came in overnight, and the rest as they say, is history. As I write this, in December 2002, I'm still in business, and things are going well, i.e. I'm still not quite bankrupt! I have a growing range of figures, I've improved in sculpting skills since the start and I've met a lot of nice people. The constructive feedback, suggestions and occasional compliments I get are wonderful, a real treat that cheers me up no end. We'll not mention the abusive email, apparently from email@example.com, other than to deny the allegation, point out that I might not actually burn in hell, and insist that you can't shove things down that particular hole, only up. And your credit card order didn't go through, Mr McCartney. If that is your real name....which I suspect it isn't! Aha!
Fascinating. So you grew up, you liked figures, you decided to make your own, and you're still doing it. That's the summary, is it?
Brilliant, you've just wasted the last ten minutes of everyone's lives. What are your plans for Heresy's future, genius?
Sarcasm isn't called for. Anyway, the plan for Heresy is clear - to make the figures that you can't get, or that aren't done particularly well elsewhere. To make those same figures suitable for the modellers and painters that like to alter their models, to give the buyer some choice but above all to inject some fun and value back into the commercialised areas of the market. Next year, I'll be doing some really cool figures indeed - the Hellbeasts and the dwarf, I've got wounded guys to do, demons by the bucket load, angels to fight them and monsters to fight for them. I've got rules to write, artwork to get hold of and staff to train. I'm doing my first shows like Salute and Fantizan, and I'm just so excited in particular because I'm going to be doing an official Thrud the Barbarian figure! (Hopefully a range of Thrud characters, from the excellent comic by Carl Critchlow, visit www.thrudthebarbarian.com for more details - Tell 'im I sent you!) All this and more besides!
Basically, I'm half dead from exhaustion, but you can't wipe the smile from my face. 2002 was such a great if knackering, year. 2003 is gonna be more of the same, except this time, I'm a better sculptor!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Heretics. You deserve it.
One final question. What is that smell?
Er, can we go now?
Yes. Bugger off.
If you want to follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, click these links!
All models and images © copyright Heresy 2002. Heresy, 5 Porthcawl Place, Oakwood, Derby, DE21 2RU. All models are hand cast in lead-free pewter and are unsuitable for children under 36 months. All models REQUIRE ASSEMBLY and are supplied UNPAINTED with plain, unmodelled bases. We recommend superglue accelerator, quite honestly. Oh, and don't eat the miniatures. Bad. Any resemblance between models, names and characters and those of real persons, living, dead or miscellaneous ispurely coincidental.