Tékumel Miniatures: Summary and Guide to Identification

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Nine previous posts described in detail Tékumel miniatures from their beginning in late 1976 through the demise of PHD in mid-2002 to the current Tékumel Project, with stops along the way to discuss a few other topics. Here’s a summary:

The 25mm Miniatures

Timeline
December 1976 – April 1978                       The Old Guard
April 1978 – c. September 1980                   Ral Partha
c. September 1980 – October 1982             No Production
October 1982 – Mid-1983                            Tékumel Journal
Mid-1983 – late 1987 or early 1988              Tékumel Games
Late 1987 or early 1988 – March 1993         No Production
March 1993 – Mid-2002                               PHD Games

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 9: Proxies

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The six volumes of Tékumel army statistics list 345 separate military formations, each of which has several types of troopers, archers, and commanders. Despite the current heroic efforts of Howard Fielding and the stock of figures produced by previous companies, official figures will never model more than a small fraction of the military units of Tékumel. Indeed, some whole nations (e.g. Livyánu) have never been represented with an official figure. In light of this reality, most Tékumel collectors turn to stand-in or proxy figures, i.e. figures not produced as Tékumel figures but which resemble the drawings in the source material.

There’s no official guide to proxy figures and identifying proxies is art not science. Certain Tékumel figures are easy to substitute. Mrur, for example, are essentially skeleton warriors and many companies produce useable figures. Similarly, vorodlá are winged undead warriors and many companies make suitable figures as gremlins or under other names. And if I drop you beyond the pylons, you will not be able to tell the difference between a Dzor and a (three-eyed) troll.   On the other hand, many of the military formations are not as easy to substitute and require new shields, weapons, or other modifications as well as a certain intangible Tékumelani look..

What follows are some suggestions drawn from Tékumel literature and my own observations. Honestly speaking, not all the figures listed below impress me personally as good proxies. For example, some fans seem to think any half naked female figure (painted olive) is a potential Tékumel figure.  But it’s a matter of personal taste.  I welcome further discussion in the comments, but, to me, most proxies are very disappointing.

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 8: The Tékumel Club

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Lorún Princess Painted by Shadowkings

Howard Fielding in January 2010 announced the “Tékumel Club,” a scheme in which fans could buy memberships entitling them to discounts on new Tékumel figures. The bigger the initial investment in a membership, the greater the discount per figure. Initially, the Tékumel Club did not include the military figures then produced by Eureka Miniatures as “The Armies and Enemies of the Petal Throne” line. However, Fielding later incorporated the military figures into the club after he and Eureka parted ways in December 2010. For the new venture Fielding contracted casting in North America and engaged several sculptors to design new figures.

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 7: Eureka! New 28mm Miniatures

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By mid-2002, PHD had stopped production, despite a few protestations to the contrary, and the Tékumel miniatures world entered another “Time of Darkness.”  Luckily, Howard Fielding, a true “Hero of the Age” emerged to save the day. Fielding had long participated in Tékumel discussion fora and in early 2005 he posted a low-key message polling fans on what miniatures they would like to see.  Then, on November 5, 2005 he dropped the bombshell that he planned personally to commission an extensive line of 28mm figures with Eureka Miniatures in Melbourne, Australia.

Fielding negotiated Barker’s blessing and worked out the logistics and in January 2007, Eureka issued the first of four waves of figures under the title “Armies and Enemies of the Petal Throne.”  All four releases were sculpted by Alan Marsh.

Fielding was (and is) very clever in using variant poses, as well as different weapons and shields so as to model several legions with the same basic sculpts, which reduces the cost.   This will be discussed in more detail in a future post.

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 6: The Reign of PHD

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Introduction

On Mar 20, 1993, a fan noted on the Tékumel Digest that PHD Games in Anderson, Illinois was “apparently” selling Tékumel miniatures. Barker confidante Bob Alberti quickly confirmed that PHD was legitimate and had Barker’s permission. The five-year “Time of Darkness” was over. Wes Posthlewaite and Larry Hull had acquired the old molds and launched PHD to get Tékumel miniatures back on the market.  I have often wondered about the name “PHD.”  Presumably it was formed from the initials of the founders: Posthlewaite and Hull, but who was the “D”?  (Thanks to Felipe Morales for pointing out what in retrospect was the obvious answer to this in the comments below.)

PHD was a boon to Tékumel fans and would stay in business for nearly ten years, selling more figures than any previous company. Posthlewaite and Hull had ambitious plans to expand the line (e.g. a 1994 usenet post where Posthlewaite mentioned 13 new figures), but, in fact, the company would only ever introduce five new sculpts in addition to the 78 existing molds inherited from Tékumel Games and Tékumel Journal.

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 5: Side Trip to Salarvyá

I offer another brief detour before I revise Part 3 in light of new information and then move on to PHD Miniatures in the next installment.

Tékumel miniatures are a testament to impermanence, with various companies flickering briefly to life and then again leaving this plane. The short skein of Robert Richardson’s Salarvyáni figures is a good example. Carl Brodt in January 1998 first announced on the usenet that a new company had been producing 25mm miniatures of Salarvyáni armies for “less than a year.” In March 1999, Brodt announced that Tita’s House of Games would carry Richardson’s Salarvyáni line. But by July 2000 Brodt had announced the miniatures were no longer being produced and that he had sold the balance of the inventory

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 4: A Small-scale Detour

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Maybe the fourth installment of a “short” history is an oxymoron? Anyway, the upcoming chapter on the reign of PHD Games will be a good one, but I first want to make some significant revisions to the last post on the Time of No Kings in light of some new information I have found. Before I do that, let me catch my breath with a shorter post on shorter miniatures.

The Old Guard, Ral Partha, Tékumel Journal, Tékumel Games, and PHD all made 25mm miniatures. Hobbyists quibble over details, but at this scale the height of an average man should be, well, 25mm and other things sized proportionately.   Later, Eureka and the Tékumel Project bumped up the scale slightly to 28mm, which gives room for slightly more detail and takes mercy on Boomers’ fading eyesight.

However, two lines of smaller scale miniatures exist and are among the rarest Tékumel collectibles. I only know of two people who have them.

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Previously Unknown M.A.R. Barker Drawing Found

My powers of clairvoyance detect that some Tékumel fans are bored by detailed catalogues of old miniatures, so let’s take a break from that for a moment.  Let’s discuss instead an exciting new find I made several days ago.

You will find in various places references to Barker’s pre-Tekumel writing in sci-fi fanzines.  While Barker’s correspondence apparently contains a large corpus of creative writing (e.g. “The Petal Throne,” which was contained in a letter to Lin Carter), I have so far identified just five articles (not all stories) by the young Phil Barker that were published in fanzines.  Three of these articles appeared in the Portland, Oregon fanzine “Fanscient” published by Donald Day:

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 3: The Time of No Kings

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(I don’t have a lot of pictures of miniatures of this period.  I’d welcome any help from readers.  Please send your images and permission to post.  Thanks.)

Ral Partha stopped producing the Legions of the Petal Throne line sometime in the second half of 1980, shortly after Barker parted ways with TSR.  For about two years, no miniatures were produced, though retailers still sold existing stocks. Then a letter to readers dated October 22, 1982 in the Imperial Military Journal Volume II, #4 stated that the Tékumel Journal (then headed by Jeff Berry) had acquired the “molds, masters, and back stocks” for a $500.00 down payment and $2000.00 in installment payments.  Tékumel Journal originally contracted casting services from “TA-HR,” but in early 1983 took delivery of its own casting machine.  According to The Imperial Military Journal Volume II, #7, Mike Mornard then supervised production.

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These individual packs are quite rare; the figures were usually sold in bulk.

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Short History of Tékumel Miniatures 2: Ral Partha

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(Note: Thanks again to Chiríne ba Kal for his help with the below information.)

Bill Murray was more of an artistic figure sculptor and not as interested in wargame miniatures. He soon gave up the Petal Throne line. Ral Partha started advertising that it had taken over the Petal Throne figures in April 1978. At the time, Ral Partha was aggressively expanding its ranges of figures. Ral Partha continued all the figures previously produced by The Old Guard and produced and sold some figures that had been sculpted by Bill Murray but never sold by The Old Guard.

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