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
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.
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.
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)
T4 Legion of Red Devastation (i.e. 18th Imperial Medium Infantry)
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)
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)
Y2 Heavy Infantry Pikeman (aka Yan Koryáni Heavy Infantry A)
Y3 Heavy Infantry Archer (aka Yan Koryáni Heavy Infantry B)
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))
Y8 Hlikku Desert Warriors (i.e. the Gurék of the Exalted of Hlíkku)
P1 Priest of Hry’y (i.e. Hrü’ü)
NH1 Shen Warrior (unarmored)
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)
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.