Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, the Take Hart of miniature wargaming.
Today I must ask you to indulge me. Ever since I returned to wargaming after a failed experiment with being a grown-up, I have grown to appreciate the skill and artistry of miniature sculptors. Their vision, dexterity and patience continues to both astound and confound in equal measure, and I salute them.
For me, however, some rise above even this pantheon of incredible talents, and Lucid Eye’s Steve Saleh is one such man. As Lucid Eye’s sculptor, we have him to thank for the company’s beautiful line of miniatures such as Savage Core, The Plot Device, and their latest game, the Red Book of the Elf King. I’m thrilled, therefore, to present this interview which I recently conducted with Steve. And yes, I was a little starstruck; sue me.
Paul: Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, could you please take a moment to introduce yourself?
Steve: Hello, I’m Steve and I’ve been involved with gaming since I was knee high, a time when there was a yard is on every street corner and every family owned a set 0f encyclopaedias. I’m currently the chief sculptor at Lucid Eye, a company I set up with my son, Joe. I also freelance for other companies, including War Banner.
Paul: And how did you become involved in the industry?
Steve: I was assistant manager / buyer at Virgin Games on Oxford Street, London, a role I was well-suited for due to my being involved in gaming from a young age.
Paul: And how did you progress from selling miniatures to creating them?
Steve: Before working at Virgin I’d studied a pure fine art course in sculpting/ painting. Whilst I was working at Virgin Games I began wondering how to turn my art education into a career. The combination of that and working in a game shop saw two worlds collide, so to speak, when I decided to sculpt some 15mm ancients.
Paul: And how did the 15mm ancients turn out?
Steve: At the time I thought they were great, so I decided to sell some at Salute. The guy who organised Salute at that time was a store regular, so I had a word with him and he sorted me out with a nice 6′ spot.
Paul: And how did you do at Salute?
Steve: It went well. After that I got into the routine of selling 15mm miniatures, but it was intense. Plus the glamour of 28mm called, so I decided to get out of 15mm and sent a letter and some samples to Bryan Ansell at Wargames Foundry and asked for a job.
Paul: How did that go?
Steve: He said no. Seven times.
Paul: So how did you make your break into the industry?
Steve: It’s an odd story. I loved Ian Millar’s art at the time, and Bryan had used Ian as an illustrator for Foundry. It just so happened that my college tutor was also Ian Millar’s ex-girlfriend…
Paul: Whoa! Really?
Steve: Yep. Small world.
So Bryan eventually relented and finally gave me a job.
Paul: And what it like to make your 28mm debut working for Bryan Ansell of all people?
Steve: A meant a lot. Bryan has much mythology attached to him, but he really knows miniatures. He became an excellent mentor, and I learned a great deal from him.
Paul: And how did things progress from there?
Steve: Yes, well, I guess the tale is a long and winding one; suffice to say I found myself at working at Games Workshop.
Paul: And what did you work on for Citadel?
Steve: Ogre Kingdoms, Empire and Elves, amongst others, but after a few years, I became ill. My conditioned wasn’t diagnosed until I was hospitalised. At that point a doctor told me I had a few hours to live. I was a little alarmed
Paul: What happened? Did Games Workshop support you in any way?
Steve: Games Workshop weren’t really aware of how ill I was, to be fair. Thankfully the conditioned wasn’t as bad as the doctor feared, but I was still very ill for a period. When I was fit to return to work I didn’t have a job with GW anymore, so I had to take time out to rebuild. That process started when I got some casting work at Northstar.
At that point Northstar were getting involved with Osprey, so I ended up doing the first batch of Osprey tie-ins for Northstar founder, Nick Eyre.
Paul: Which books did you work on?
Steve: In Her Majesty’s Name. Ronin. A Fistful of Kung-Fu. Gods and Mortals.
Paul: So how was your health during that time?
Steve: Recuperating. It took a little while but all is cool now.
Paul: That’s good to hear.
Steve: After Northstar there came Warlord.
Paul: And how did that go?
Steve: Yes, I sculpted a fair amount of gun crews for them, and then I was seduced away from them by the thought of setting up a studio with my son.
Paul: And that lead to the creation of Lucid Eye?
Steve: Yes. I’d already sculpted some Savage Core miniatures even before I left Warlord. My son Joe had written the rules by then, so we thought we’d go for it, publish the rules and produce a full set of miniatures.
Paul: One thing has always fascinated me about Lucid Eye; the name. Why Lucid Eye?
Steve: When I was eleven, I saw Bob Calvert, Michael Moorcock and Hawkwind in concert; it makes sense after that.
Paul: Oh my stars! Hawkwind and Moorcock! I love Moorcock’s work!
Steve: Me too.
Paul: Which is your favourite of Moorcock’s Eternal Champions?
Steve: Corum or Hawkmoon. Or maybe Elric.
Paul: All good choices.
So what lessons did yourself and Joe learn from publishing Savage Core?
Steve: It’s been a tremendous ride. We still haven’t had time to really take stock and reflect on it all. and it’s become even more exciting now we’ve press-ganged Rick Priestley.
Paul: Good work; Rick’s wargaming royalty.
Steve: He’s also one of Bryan Ansell’s oldest friends. Small world, again.
Paul: And what’s it like working with Rick?
Steve: It’s been great, to be honest. Rick is a real pro with an incredible work ethic. He’s currently working on the sequel to Red Book of the Elf King.
Steve: Yes. I think he enjoys hammering crazy ideas into shape. I come up with some madness and ask him how easy it is to make a rule mechanic for it, and he always says, ‘Easy’. We like him a lot.
Paul: I’m not surprised.
So tell me about Elf King and its background.
Steve: It’s set in a world of pre-history where time is mutable. The elves are immortals, but they’re subject to all off the emotions of imperfect beings. Hence they war amongst themselves, and this makes them weak and susceptible to outside invasions from both trolls and men.
Paul: I can see the Moorcock influences.
Steve: Getting all of this into a game was a task, but Rick managed to get his head around it, mostly because we’d read the same books. He also loves Hawkwind!
Paul: Any other influences in there?
Steve: Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, the Sagas, Moorcock, Poul Anderson, Shelley’s Hymn of Apollo, von Goethe Erlkonig; literary stuff
Paul: A heady mixture for a tabletop game!
Steve: Yes, but you can keep it to one side because Elf King is a great, fast game.
Paul: And do you think the singular nature of the influences are evident in the miniatures’ distinctive style?
Steve: Yes, certain shapes reoccur, the style of the book for instance; it’s mostly intentional.
Paul: Thank you for your time, Steve. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you,
Steve: And thank you for listening to me ramble!
‘The Elf King suffered a sickness of the soul. A twilight of melancholy fell upon this King and he passed into the Outworlds, never to be seen again… The power of his circle was diminished by his passing, leaving his offspring in a perilous state.
War came to these islands in the form of the Fae Revanche. A reign of terror swept the land, decimating the already dwindling Fae of Ȇas. The war is one borne from panic without reason, is self defeating and will eventually lead to the devastation of all.
Welcome to the Fae Revanche, welcome to the Fall of All.’
A fantasy skirmish game, The Red Book of the Elf King and its superb line of miniatures are available now from Lucid Eye Publications.
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