Short History of Tékumel Miniatures: Preface and Chapter 1

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In the last post, I discussed the first set of miniatures rules for Tékumel., which prompted me to think about miniatures figures.  Miniature figures are the most complicated and difficult items for a Tékumel collector to track and identify. With the generous help of Chiríne hi Ba Kal, I’d like to try to chart the tortuous history of Tekumel miniatures. This is the preface and first chapter of that story.  In future posts, I’ll continue.

Preface: Barker’s Carved Miniatures

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The first person to make Tékumel miniatures was Barker himself . Gary Gygax in his foreword to Empire of the Petal Throne alluded to the rumors of Barker’s army of hand-carved figures. Barker carved many of these as a child and some in college.

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Not all the miniatures can be clearly linked to Tékumel and, in any case, these are only hypothetically a collectible item as I do not believe they are, or have ever been, available for sale. I do not know if the figures are systematically catalogued somewhere. There may be strays that Barker shared with someone but provenance and authentication would be issues.

Chapter 1: The Old Guard

Bill Murray’s The Old Guard obtained from TSR the rights to produce and sell Tékumel miniatures and began advertising a 25mm Tékumel line in December 1976. Barker and artist Dave Sutherland provided Murray with drawings and descriptions to guide his sculpts.

OldGuardAdv

Murray, who was known for his artistic 54mm miniatures, sculpted all of The Old Guard’s Tékumel line himself. The figures were cast in a very soft lead alloy, with dark grey castings, very crisp detail, and no flash. The Old Guard figures were all cast from the same molds by later companies. A future post will discuss how to tell the versions from the various companies apart.  The names below are what appeared in The Old Guard’s advertisements, with my elaboration in parentheses.

T1 Tsolyánu Command (General, Standard-bearer, Trumpeter)
T2 Heavy Infantry Pikeman (aka Tsolyáni Heavy Infantry A)
T3 Heavy Infantry Archer (aka Tsolyáni Heavy Infantry B)

RedDev

Old Guard T4 (note incorrect flesh tone)

T4 Legion of Red Devastation (i.e. 18th Imperial Medium Infantry)

Viimuhla

Old Guard T5

T5 Warrior Priest of Fire (Vimúhla priest)
T6 Sokátis Medium Infantry (this was mislabeled and follows a drawing for Sérqu Sword of the Empire — 14th Imperial Heavy Infantry)
T7 Aridáni light infantry girl (generic)

VraOldGuard

Old Guard T8

T8 Vra Light Infantry Slingers (i.e. Legion of the Joyful Clan of the Noble Vrayáni — 3rd Imperial Slingers)

Y1 Yan Kor Command (General, Standard Bearer, Gong and Gong beater)

YanKorpikeOldGuard

Old Guard Y2 (Sold without Pikes)

Y2 Heavy Infantry Pikeman (aka Yan Koryáni Heavy Infantry A)
Y3 Heavy Infantry Archer (aka Yan Koryáni Heavy Infantry B)

Old Guard Y

Old Guard Y4

Y4 Dharu Medium Infantry (i.e. the Gurék of the Red and Green Banner of Dháru))
Y5 Medium Infantry (generic)
Y6 Light Infantry Skirmisher (generic)
Y7 Makhis Light Infantry Archer (i.e. the Gurék of Mákhis))

HlikkuOldGuard

Old Guard Y8

Y8 Hlikku Desert Warriors (i.e. the Gurék of the Exalted of Hlíkku)

HruuOldGuard

Old Guard P1

P1 Priest of Hry’y (i.e. Hrü’ü)

UnarmoredShenOldGuard

Old Guard NH1

NH1 Shen Warrior (unarmored)

GreySsuOldGuard

Old Guard NH2 Ssu

NH2 Ssu

HlakaOldGuard

Old Guard NH3

NH3 Hláka (a “flying hlaka” with no integrated base and a hole for a wire to be inserted in the stomach)
NH4 Ahoggyá (Murray cast the Ahoggyá out of scale and it is too tall relative to the human figures.)
NH5 Great Sro (this massive version came with wings)

ArmoredShenOldGuard

Old Guard NH6 — Missing Tail

NH6 Shen Warrior (full armor)
The Old Guard left some figure bottoms blank but others are stamped “Murray 1977” or “The Old Guard”
FigBottom2 figbottom1

The Old Guard did not stay in the Tékumel business long and in Spring 1978 turned over the rights and the molds to Ral Partha, a new company that was expanding aggressively. More on that in my next post.

3 thoughts on “Short History of Tékumel Miniatures: Preface and Chapter 1

  1. Impressive detail. I was always confused by pretty much everything regarding all those Tékumel miniatures out there: their origin, the people behind them, their various incarnations, etc. It looks like your blog is going to go a long way towards clarifying that long, confused, and confusing history! Thank you. Looking forward to your next posts.

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