Thursday, June 3, 2021

Dragged into Turbolasers Episode 85: The evolution of orcs/orks/orruks: from Paul Bonner to Brian Nelson to the Kruleboyz

There are new Orruks in Age of Sigmar!

In this episode, we are joined by our long time friend and ork supporter, Brad Smith. With the recent reveal of the new Age of Sigmar edition (3rd), and the visual redesign of the included orruks, the Kruleboyz, we decided to talk about how Games Workshop’s orcs have changed over the years. We talk about the goofy looking Paul Bonner-style of orcs/orks that filled early editions of Warhammer and 40k, before talking about how Brian Nelson completely redesigned their look for GorkaMorka and 3rd edition 40k. Although Nelson’s designs have defined the orc look for over 20 years, their look has changed slightly, as designers struggle to capture the simple ferocity of his designs. Finally, we talk about how orcs changed for Age of Sigmar, becoming Orruks, and how divergent the Kruleboyz are from the previous Ironjawz models.

Some ork artwork by Paul Bonner

Read more about the early creations of Brian Nelson

Watch the entire stream on YouTube:

Or listen to the recording:

- Eric Wier


  1. Great episode as usual, gentlemen. I finally got around to listening to this one!

    I agree with basically all of your comments about the new models, though I share the surprise of your guest that you like them as much as you do given the obvious issues that they have. Overall though I agree it's an interesting release, though not one I'm personally interested in purchasing or owning.

    I cannot, however, endorse your comments about the older ork models. 😉 The old Kev Adams ork models are some of the finest ones in my view. They're pretty well proportioned, they have great expressive faces, and have weapons and technology that whilst crude, appears to be functional. Even the models that were in the second edition box set are pretty good, when You consider the limitations off plastics at the time. In my view they will stand the test of time a lot better than the Seb Perbet travesties.

    At the time everyone, including me, liked the multipart Brian Nelson orks that were released in 3rd edition. What's the faces are excellent, overall the kit has not stood the test of time and the weird hairless-gorilla look is one best consigned to the dustbin of history, in my personal view.

    Gorkamorka is really interesting. That marks when the ork aesthetic completely changed from the old Paul Bonner / Kev Adams look to the more modern aesthetic they have of Mad Max / junkyard warriors. It's interesting because Gorkamorka itself was not in any way a real success, however its look and feel has come to define the ork race [at least as far as Warhammer 40,000 is concerned] ever since.

    I also enjoyed the podcast itself, it definitely was a throwback to what the podcast used to be when it first started out, and I liked it!

    1. Yeah, orks sure have changed a lot over the years. The original Bonner Adams look has a lot of charm and was better in certain respects. I really love the Nelson faces, and agree that they probably helped me overlook the odd elements.

      It is pretty interesting that GorkaMorka did seem to define the Ork look, despite it not doing well. I wonder what caused that? I suppose the company was still rather small at the time and the decisions were likely made by a smaller group of people and what they thought was cool, irrespective of other input?

    2. I'm not sure why the Gorkamorka look took off - I guess at the time the Gorkamorka plastics and metal nobs were really popular (and the nobs still stand up today as some of the best ork models of all time). Adrian Wood also did a massive and iconic ork army made entirely from Gorkamorka models which was featured in White Dwarf 222 and this came to define the era as Fred Reed's Howling Griffons had done for Space Marines some years earlier. Brian Nelson carried this look over into the 3rd edition ork models, and David Gallagher and John Wigley carried the look over in the new art for the 3rd edition codex. I guess it has stuck ever since...and I have to admit I find it hard to imagine orks as anything other than having desert bases to this day.

      Looking forward to your views , especially given the new Killteam release which is interesting again as it riffs on some of the older ork design features, though with a lot less subtlety and finesse in my view.