Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Classic Mini Boxed Sets: RAFM's Shadows & Steel Box #3: The Iron Brotherhood (1985)

This will be the first in a series of posts highlighting some of the old school mini boxed sets which cast such a spell over me in my youth and which I still enjoy as a wizened old toad today.  Boxed sets produced by manufacturers in those heady early days of the hobby had a charm we don't see as much nowadays when we buy most of our stuff online and much of the sort of attractively illustrated packaging which used to be so necessary for retail success has vanished.  Many of these colorful little themed boxes, each seeming to offer a self contained fantasy world are stacked on my shelves now, and I thought I may as well share them.
The Iron Brotherhood was the third in the Shadows and Steel line of boxed sets, which appeared around 1985, sculpted for RAFM by a talented young artist named Bob Murch.  Bob is better known now for his work on RAFM's Call of Cthulhu line and his astonishing Pulp Figures series, but his early work on sword and sorcery subjects is no less enjoyable.  Each of the four Shadows and Steel sets contained a little warband of six or seven figures, with D&D compatible statistics for each character, a small tactical map and a roughly sketched campaign world in which you could unleash your little gangs of psychopaths upon each other.
Box contents as shown on the back label.  The campaign setting was a haunted vale reminiscent of Bram Stoker's Transylvania and inhabited by the Vampire Lord Tandaloor and his cronies.  You could play as the vampires or as one of the three bands of apparently equally evil and derangedT adventurers seeking to storm Tandaloor's castle and make off with his valuables.

The more of sets you bought, the more details of the background story and the gaming environment you got.

The evil Champion Zakasar, leader of the Brotherhood and his lion Tamurlane.  
Anybody named Tamurlane is just bound to be evil.

Bob obviously had fun cooking up the details of the characters and the campaign setting.
Two foot knights.  I based the warband on GW 25mm bases as I figure they were just barely big enough to be passed off as Warhammer chaos guys.
Trerok Toungefire, Zakasar's right hand man.  The shield on Trerok's hip seemed out of place at first...no way a guy could swing that sword and carry a shield. Later I decided Bob must have put the shield there as a counterweight to the giant sword which would otherwise have Trerok tipping over onto his face all the time.
Drakar Dubledeath the Warband's resident berserker, one of my favorite models in the set.

 The set came with a little cardboard double-sided tactical map showing the courtyard of Vlad Tandaloor's castle on one side and his tomb on the other.
The maps were about 7"x11" , not too big, but just big enough to fight two warbands on if you didn't have appropriate terrain.
Two important components of any warband...the standard bearer and the sorcerer.

The evil wizard U-Huri Simak...sounds like some kind of unpleasant tree....
and standard bearer Galgulum.  Really seems like he should be sitting on a horse behind Thulsa Doom in a snow-clad Spanish forest, but I guess I'll take him as he is.
 Probably the piece de resistance of the set, this extraordinary little devil is named Armadillicus...
I need a real Armadillicus of my own to walk past the neighbor's window of an evening, to sit on the stool next to me at the bar, to watch my stuff while I'm playing a game at Enfilade, etc.  Hey I can dream, can't I?

 "Kill, Armadillicus, KILL!!!  YAHHH HAAA HAAA HAAA!!" 
 Armadillicus' handler, named Beatrice by some sadistic parent.
The Iron Brotherhood assembled and ready to take on the Vampires of Tandaloor...or whomever!  Yarrr!!!!


  1. Nice post, showing off some classic lead, well painted. Well done sir

  2. I am so excited about this series, Mr. Mouse. I think RAFM doesn't get half the attention it deserves. I also love the age when producers (not just RAFM) produced sets like this: miniatures, maps and game rules all in one lovely set. My other favourite producer of similar sets (from the late 70's and early 80's) is Heritage Miniatures.
    Anyway, I loved this tour through Shadows and Steel. Thanks!

    1. Shadows and Steel was a great series and you're right, RAFM doesn't get enough credit. I've got a few more posts like this planned. Glad you enjoyed this one.

  3. Epic, wonderful figures and scenery!