Saturday 19 July 2014

John Carter, Warlord of Mars

Back in 2012 I was contributing to a self publishing group 'Old School Fantasy Miniatures Amateur Press Alliance' or (thankfully) OSFMapa for short. We published 2 journals and a 3rd died in its tracks with the articles unpublished. I have added a few pics to my article from the 2nd Journal to fill it out...some of course being my half painted stuff........however have left the text as it was published....and, without further ado, I present;

Legendary Characters of the Lead….John Carter, Fighting Man of Mars

Penned by David Wood, commonly known as ‘The Dozing Dragon’ across the net.

I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which constitutes heroes, because, in all of the hundreds of instances that my voluntary acts have placed me face to face with death, I cannot recall a single one where any alternative step to that I took occurred to me until many hours later

So spoke the man who would shortly be catapulted across space and time in one of pulp literature’s arguably most fantastic adventures……John Carter of Mars

A Princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian adventure first saw pen and paper back in 1911 and was eventually serialised with the title of ‘Under the Moons of Mars’. The first part appeared in the February 1912 edition of ‘The All-Story’ magazine under a pseudonym of Norman Bean. The full series then appeared in novel format as ‘A Princess of Mars’ in October 1917. Burroughs set his story on a Mars dying of thirst in the slow seemingly final eclipse of once mighty civilizations. John Carter was the wandering Civil War Confederate Captain who, whilst prospecting for gold in Apache Indian territory, ends up being transported to an ancient Mars populated by weird and wonderful flora and fauna and, of course, the incomparable Dejah Thoris……

The original cover by Frank E. Schoonover from A Princess of Mars, McClurg, 1917, a Chicago based publisher made famous by the original publishing of ERB’s works.

Warriors of Mars
Six decades later, TSR took up the gaming gauntlet and in 1974 produced an A5 rulebook. ‘The Warfare of Barsoom in Miniature, Rules for individual and large-scale land and aerial conflict’.  These days it can be purchased off Ebay for some serious $ but it can also be downloaded from a number of sources…….the original is a nice piece of gaming history to have in your collection though!
Written by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume, TSR never got permission for this - another example of early licences and the casual infant hobby approach.


Various companies attempted ranges however only Heritage Models Inc ever really pursued it with any real gusto – and licence! I have generally only concentrated on John Carter and Dejah Thoris where possible.  Perhaps another journal will see more……

Grenadier Models Inc
Towards the end of 1976 Grenadier released a short-lived ‘John Carter Warlord Of Mars’ series – this was quickly discontinued after failing to get the licence or possibly realising there was a licence fee to pay! The figures were repackaged into the Gamma World line. It would be a joy to find the original card artwork if there was any!

Heritage Models Inc.
In the later 70’s Heritage Miniatures Inc. took the bull by the horns and released rules and a licensed range sculpted by Max Carr and David Helber.

Adventure Gaming Handbook
The ‘John Carter, Warlord of Mars’ adventure gaming handbook was published by Heritage in 1978 and penned by Matthew S. Matheny.

Barsoomian Battle Manual
A wargaming rulebook which included separate rules for air to air action between the various navies of Barsoom.

75mm Collector Figures

1500 John Carter, Warlord of Mars (unreleased)

1501 Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars (unreleased)

1502 Tars Tarkus, Jeddak of Thark

25mm Gaming Diorama Sets
There were some earlier versions of some creatures that did not pass the licence checks.

1503 John Carter, Warlord of Mars
John Carter, the incomparable Dejah Thoris, Kantos Kan and a diorama nameplate.

1504 John Carter
John Carter riding a Thoat with Dejah Thoris and Woola.

1505 Tars Tarkus, Jeddak of Thark

1506 Cathoris of Helium and Thuvia, Maid of Mars with Gahan and Llana of Gathol

1507 Issus, Goddess of Death upon her throne and Matai Shang, Father of Therns with the Holy Altar of Doom

1508 Ras Thavas, Mastermind of Mars and Princess Tara of Helium with Ulysses Paxton and Valla Dia

1509 Solon of Okar & Dator Thurid of the Black Pirates w Than Kosis, Jeddak of Zodanga & Tul Axtar of Jahar

1510 Phor Tak, Mad Jaharian Scientist Inventor of the Flying Death & Ur Jan, Assassin of Mars w 2 Mercenary Panthans

1511 Red Martian Swordsmen of Mars (3 each of 2 types)

1512 Martians with Radium weapons (3 each of 2 types)

1513 Martian Command Group

1514 Green Martian Thark Swordsman

1515 Green Martian Warhoon Warrior

 1516 Green Martian with Radium Rifle

1517 Black Pirates of Barsoom - the Firstborn (3 each of 2 types)

1518 Yellow Martians - the Men of Okar (3 each of 2 types)

1519 White Martians - The Holy Therns (3 each of 2 types)

1520 Kaldanes of Barsoom - individual and upon Rykors

1521 Sythetic Men of Mars (3 each of 2 types)

1522 Orovars - Horz and Lotharians with Bowmen

1523 The Masena (Catmen) of the Thurian Moon

1524 Morgors (Skeleton Men) of Jupiter

1525 Red Martians mounted on Domestic Thoats (unreleased)

1526 Green Martian Thoat Rider (unreleased)

1527 Green Martian (Giant) Thoat (unreleased)

1528 Plantmen of the Valley Dor

1529 Banth and Apt

1530 Malagor with Synthetic Man Rider (unreleased)

1531 White Ape of Barsoom

1532 Zitadar with Red Martian Mahout (unreleased)

(I believe this is the sculpt..............)

1533 Green Martian Chariot (Cart) for Zitidar (unreleased)

1534 Giant Martian Lizard

1535 Great Barsoomian Sader (unreleased)

1536 Rapid-Fire Radium Cannon w Operator and Radium Cannon w Crew (2)

1537 Ten-Man Scout Flyer (unreleased)

Martian Airships (all unreleased)

1538 Scout Flyers (various sizes)

1539 Cruisers (light and heavy)

1540 Battleships & Battlecruisers

1541 Dreadnaughts & Transports

I spoke to Howard Barasch, Head of Operations and the President of Heritage Models Inc in its heyday.

Honestly my memory is kind of cloudy on the specifics but most of our licensing contracts asked for a guaranteed $5k against royalties. I think this was the case with John Carter. Heritage basically didn't sell enough figures to justify the contract renewal. So Heritage let it lapse. As a footnote, I also negotiated the SPI John Carter contract with the Burroughs estate. I remember meeting Marion Burroughs at the Park Plaza Hotel in NY to get her approval on the cover art for the game.”

SPI (Simulation Publications Inc.) released the boardgame in 1979. Designed by Eric Goldberg and Mark Herman, the box artwork was by Don Maitz.

‘John Carter, Warlord of Mars relentlessly searches for his mate, the incomparable Dejah Thoris, across the hostile Martian surface, pursuing the dastardly villain who has abducted her and fled to a distant city. John Carter must fight his way through monsters and men to rescue Dejah Thoris from the evil designs of her capture. The city contains numerous hiding places and secret passages from which our hero must ferret out his prize……….’

Hinchliffe Martian Science Fiction

A range sculpted by the late Peter Gilder - has anyone else noted how many of the old school sculptors are now ‘the late’…? Sculpting style had some similarities with that of the Heritage line but I always felt that his heart was not in it – Peter Gilder was a historical man from head to toe. There were apparently different versions of some of the figures – I have yet to pick any up but live in the belief that I will at some point. The descriptions below are mine as I have not found an ‘official’ listing…....the Hinchliffe Handbook of 1976 only gives the SF numbers in the painting guide – and only up to SF14. Strangely enough it then gives the ‘Thoats’ colour scheme (a ‘subtle’ hint as to what the range was actually designed for) and does not list any further numbers. See the scan below – line drawings by Norman Swales.

SF1 Red Martian officer

SF2 Red Martian trooper, radium rifle

SF3 Red Martian trooper, long and short sword

SF4 Red Martian Female, radium pistol

SF5 Black Martian trooper, radium rifle

SF6 White Martian, sword, attacking

SF7 White Martian, sword, defending

SF8 Green Martian, swords

SF9 Green Martian, sword and axe

SF10 Hero, possibly John Carter himself!

SF11 Red Martian Princess

SF12  Giant Martian Ape

SF13  Plantman

SF14 Martian Lion

SF15 Martian Dog - never seen so please send me a pic if you have one!

SF16 Red Martian trooper, mounted on Thoat.

SF17 Green Martian mounted on Thoat

Superior Miniatures

Two larger scale (90mm) sculpts by the late Ray Lamb representing John Carter and Dejah Thoris, subtly titled Warrior of the Red Planet (FA04) and Mistress of the Red Planet (FA05).

I am still looking for these…. I have spent the last few years believing I had them in my collection and have just found out the ones I have are Greek God types. Most unfair and shows what age does to  memory…..

As a side point though, John Carter was the name of a New York model maker hired by Comet Metal Products in 1962. Comet later became Superior Models Inc.

These may come back into production via Perth Pewter who started as a division of Superior in the mid 70s and still produce many classic figures from the 70s and 80s.

Check for more details on Superior’s history.

Stan Johansen Miniatures

Stan Johansen sculpted a small range in the 70s. Apparently his wife was reading the books and said they would make a great range of figures. The sculpts consisted of 5 Red Martians, one mounted as shown, 3 male and one ‘Princess’ Also 2 Green Martians, one mounted on large Thoat and one on foot. They were true 25mm with the Green Martians being a scale 15’ as per the books. Stan told me he was doing them for his own amusement but at gaming conventions no one had any idea of who John Carter of Mars was although they were recognised at some Sci-Fi conventions. He did have plans to sculpt all the peoples and creatures of Barsoom but with the lack of interest and the fact that Heritage got the licence he abandoned the project completely.

Stan is still going strong;

Peter Pig

Martin Goddard designed a small (well….15mm and no pun intended) range in the 1990s……not quite old school (although Peter Pig has been going for 25 years….) but deserved of a mention as they are rather nice…….from his Range 19 “War in the Age of Magic”. The ‘Large Green Aliens’ were sculpted first in 1997 followed by the ‘Red Aliens’ in 1999.

26. Red Alien flyers

27. Red Alien airboat


28 / 29 Red Alien swords and pistols

30. Red Alien Hero + Princess

31. Large Green Aliens

32. Large Green Alien ray gun

33. Large Green Aliens

34. Large Green Alien general

Drop in at and mention where you found out about them!

Since the days of the ‘old school’ there have been numerous companies producing miniatures suitable for John Carter.

Bronze Age

Sculptor David Sonderquist’s miniature company – a wide and growing range of excellent sculpts.


A small range of exquisite minis sculpted by John Winter, available in both normal and ‘R’ rated version!

A quite varied range sculpted by the legendary Bob Charette, look to the ‘Extraordinary Personages’. Currently distributed by Brigade Games.

A different type of Martian range, sculpted years ago by Bob Murch for the GDW game Space 1889. Sculpts have stood the test of time although again no JC.

Space Vixens From

Just 2 sculpts of JC and DT sculpted by Rob Baker in a wide and varied Science Fiction / Pulp range

Black Hat Miniatures  –

18mm Martian series – no JC but some nifty pieces in there.

Collecting lead is my passion……or one of them as I am married with 4 children….I run a blog, non-political despite its name, which I update quite regularly these days.

Please come along and visit. Any queries, lead off-loading or whatever please contact me on; 

I don’t bite and do love to correspond about miniatures.


tradgardmastare said...

I really enjoyed this post. I had quite a few of the Hinchcliffe figs way back then but still have the TSR rules shown.

tradgardmastare said...

Are the OSFMapa magazines still available perchance?

Springinsfeld said...

Great post. I never really got into the books, but did enjoy the film (is that blasphemy to JC fans@). I did pick up a copy of the TSR rules and a load of Hinchliffe figures at Colours last year (for £40 tee hee).Long since sold on ebay.

David Wood said...

The magazine has died for now unfortunately.....we believe the organiser was having personal issues and lost contact. Hopefully one day etc..... I loved the film myself....although Woola and the baby Tharks did put a downer on made it's money back in the end but I don't think we'll see more which is a real shame.

Sun of York said...

Great post. I read the books in the 1970s and then again a few years back and still love them. I've got a few of the figures you mentioned (Hinchcliffe) and plan to build either a HotT set of armies or some individuals for a Songs of Blades and Heroes type game. Time will tell.

shadowking said...

fantastic buddy i believe hinchcliffe made some 54mms also

David Wood said...

Never heard of the Hinchliffe larger ones....any details?

David Wood said...

Tony just emailed me
'many years ago like 1973-4 we went Hinchliffe when it was in the middle of the moors and talked to them. I bought like £30 worth of Mars stuff and he showed me some masters of 54mmm to be sold in the USA. Carter and a green man'
If anyone knows more please tell!!

Kaptain Kobold said...

"Black Hat Miniatures –

18mm Martian series – no JC but some nifty pieces in there."

Very nice figures. And there is both a JC and DT figure - EMP602 includes an Earthman Gone Native and a Martian Princess :)

Bayushiseni said...

I loved this post. Thanks!

Steve Hazelbaker said...

I have the John Carter of Mars 90mm lead figure Ray Lamb Superior Models. I have painted it partially but never finished. Getting ready to post it on eBay. Wish someone had done a good 25-28mm line of figures.

David Wood said...

Send me an email when you get it on Steve - can I borrow the pictures for the blog (my funds are limited so may not win it)....

Stephen Gilbert said...

Excellent blog, sir.... I shall certainly mention it and add a link in my own website as soon as I get round to my next site write up.

I am a life long gamer, going back to 1974, and earlier... but have literally only now this year discovered the joys of Barsoom gaming. I found your blog by browsing and a delighted I did so.

David Wood said...

Many thanks Stephen. More to come soon as I have just got out of divorce and enforced house move......