Blast from the Past: Praetorian Guard!

So followers of this blog know that I’m a big Guard fan. What may not be as immediately obvious is my love of 18th/19th century warfare. The smell of powder, the sound of musket fire, and bright flashy uniforms are my kryptonite. The Vostroyans fit this bill to a certain degree, but GW rather wisely made them quite distinct from any one historical source, the closest being WW1 era or earlier Cossack’s. This, and their gothic details place them firmly in the 41st Millennium. No one gets their feathers ruffled, and we get an awesome Guard regiment!

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Vostroyan Firstborn; When you need wear the most ornate uniform to battle!

This restraint wasn’t always the case however, and in the 90’s the Imperial Guard was full of models that more or less represented a stereotypical military force of yore. The Valhallan Ice Warriors are easily Soviets or Winter War Finnish in SPAAAACE. Likewise with the Tallarn Desert Raiders, an equal mix of Lawrence of Arabia’s troops and the WW2 north africa campaign. The Mordians looked like US Marine Corps recruitment ideals, but with their Dredd-Pattern frowns and martial demeanor echoing the Prussians. All of these regiments remained on the store page for a while, as their source material wasn’t immediately going to bother too many people, and their lore distanced themselves a little from their historical analogues.

However, there is always the exception to prove the rule. Enter the Praetorian Guard.

(c) National Army Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Like this, but with more lasers and Orks.

The Praetorian Guard were unabashedly Victorian era British Colonial Troops, more specifically from the Zulu War era. They came from a planet called Pretoria, which any student of geography should realize is a city in South Africa. They fought Orks, which were portrayed as something akin to the Zulus, an unflattering comparison if there ever was one. They remained on shelves for a relatively brief period of time, as if GW realized that, holy hell, this could really be taken the wrong way.

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Very little promotional materiel and official artwork exists for these chaps. This two page spread was all I could find!

Despite this, or, in a lot of cases, because of it, they became extremely popular. Many alternate Guard figures websites such as Victoria Miniatures and Curious Constructs got their start making Not-Praetorians for people who missed the boat the first time. Many prominent bloggers, such as Col.Gravis, Col.Ackland and Col.Winterborne made their names with their lovely Praetorian models. And in my case, I bought a few squads of Victoria Miniatures “Victorian Guard” just because the idea of pith-helmeted Guardsmen fighting the gribblies of the week was too cool an idea to ignore.

They do pop up on eBay from time to time, the original models. And they command quite the premium too. Most people used Mordians while they were still available, as body donors for a head-swap to make yet more Praetorians. But once that supply dried up, well, it is dark days for anyone wanting to play Praetorians. However, earlier this week, a huge amount of blisters arrived on one of the eBay stores I frequent.

I almost didn’t want to open them; The packaging was ancient, and it felt like defiling a relic of a bygone era. But eagerness outweighed that feeling pretty darn quick. Opening them up, and letting out almost 2 decades worth of stale air out, and I was left with enough bodies to make a command squad and one infantry squad.

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Looking sharp! I really look forward to painting them!

The models themselves are the Perry Brothers early GW handiwork. Great details, full of character. They are still, essentially, the Mordian models with a head-swap; trading the ever-present frown for 19th century facial hair and pith helmets.

Out of all of them, I believe the Bugler is the only completely original sculpt done for the Praetorian splash release. But they are all full of character, ready to defend Rorke’s…I mean Glazer’s Creek. They look several degrees easier to paint then my Vostroyans too, a nice change of pace. Not a break from the red though…(Why is almost every army I play red? Seriously, it isn’t even my favorite color!)

I do have another squad in the post, leaving me with 24 models total. While collecting a full Praetorian Guard army is almost impossible, I’m focusing on getting at least 32 models to be my “loyal 32”, to run in conjunction with my Imperial Knights I never seem to actually use. And as a collectors piece, these guys are pretty great. Not many people my way have seen these in the flesh, so it should be a treat!

Now almost deafening in its lack here is an officer to lead them. And there is a reason for this; I really don’t like the Praetorian Guard Captain model! I think it just doesn’t look right, too haphazard and not nearly uniform enough to really fit with his troops.

So, a while back I had taken a Cadian Company Commander from the old metal command box, and slapped a Victoria Miniatures Pith Helmet on it!

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Looking suitably aloof and like he payed for his commission, like a proper gentlemen soldier of Pretoria.

I think he looks pretty good, but I might do some more work on his shoulders, to remove the Cadian Gate insignia or to give him epaulets, a task that may be beyond me!

I got a lot of work to do, and I best get cracking! So, as always, Ave Imperator, and happy war-gaming!

3 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: Praetorian Guard!

  1. The officer looks good. I did several officers for my Stouthearted Praetorian Guard and enjoyed painting them the most. Well done on the collection. I think I’ll go have a look on eBay right now haha. Sorry wallet, you’re about to get abused again.

    Liked by 1 person

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