The co-founder of Ral Partha, Charles Crain, died on August 23rd. It's not breaking news, but I wanted to say what an impact this guy (aka Ral Partha) had on my imagination as a child. I played AD&D in junior high school and we had the "core" books back then, but only one guy I knew had those beautiful AD&D Ral Partha miniatures. They came in a stunning cardboard box with beautiful artwork. Within each box was a tray of cut blue foam with a dozen or so miniatures lovingly placed in their spots.
Back then, miniatures were nice, but not necessary to play the game, so it was kind of gamer luxury item, reserved for adults and only-child's everywhere. We rarely opened the boxes, but I recall the lead envy I had as a child. I remember years later that my friends box sets were just as pristine as when he first got them. I knew that my siblings would have destroyed and lost them if I had owned such beautiful treasures; that was the cost of being the oldest among four children.
On the few occasions when miniatures were painted, we had no idea what we were doing. I didn't actually paint one until years later, and it was a fiasco. We knew nothing of primer, so many paint jobs were temporary until the paint flaked off. The only paints available were horrible Testors acrylics. They smelled like hell and they left a shiny finish. They looked even worse without primer to keep the paint adhered to the mini. The Ral Partha figures themselves are pale shadows of what can be produced today, but the nostalgia is a lot like what you might feel for Pong or Donkey Kong. It was what we had, it was state of the art for its time, and it fueled our imaginations to new heights.