Artists from around the world gathered at the Adapticon wargaming convention last month for the 2023 Golden Demon, the world’s largest Warhammer painting competition. It was the second such competition to be held in the United States in over a decade, and featured the work of some of the best miniature painters around.
The top prize at the end of the weekend – the legendary Slayer Sword – was awarded to Neil Hollis for his work on Dark Angel’s Space Marine Master Lazarus. In its official announcement, publisher Games Workshop said that Hollis’ work used some of the most difficult and time-consuming painting techniques ever created, including nonferrous metal and freehand work. After spending hundreds of hours on a figure roughly 1 inch tall, the results are absolutely stunning.
Dozens of other models filled cases in Schaumburg, Illinois. sent photographer and Warhammer fan Jim Wondruska to capture the scene. You can click on individual photos below to see even larger versions of their work, all captured with a medium-format Fujifilm GFX 50R.
The first day of Adaptcon, Wednesday, is usually the slowest and lightest. As guests begin pouring into the venue, Games Workshop representatives are already setting up the illuminated glass display cases. The smell of window cleaner fills the air.
The Golden Demon has several categories, including smaller scale models and dioramas. There is even a category for young painters, the so-called “Young Guns” who will further the hobby into a new generation. Performers patiently line up for their turn before submitting their work to a judge.
The models are displayed without their artist names. The purpose of anonymity is even a somewhat level playing field among hobby painters, professional artists, and popular YouTube presenters. Everyone is invited to participate in Golden Demon regardless of their skill level, and no fee is required to enter the competition.
Over the next few days, Games Workshop staff carefully evaluate and photograph each winning entry. All the while, the many thousands of AdeptiCon attendees make their way around the cases. Cell phones and SLR cameras are kept upstairs, there’s really only one rule – please, don’t touch the cases.
While the shelves are filled with models from the Warhammer 40,000 science fiction universe, many other Games Workshop properties are represented as well. These include fantasy-themed Warhammer Age of SigmarOf course, but a fictional version of American football is also called bowl of blood And this middle-earth strategy war game Based on the works of author JRR Tolkien.
Different scales of miniatures are depicted in the Golden Demon. The most common is the 28 mm scale, where individual soldiers stand about 1 inch tall on their circular base. statistics for games such as adeptus titanicus And aeronautica imperialis are very small with single-seat space fighters that can practically fit in the palm of your hand.
The most impressive miniatures on display are called Knights. They represent ancient and enigmatic robots operated by small, highly skilled crews. Some stand as tall as 1 foot, and their many armored panels leave plenty of room for artists to show off their freehand painting and weathering skills.
The Golden Demon is held several times each year, and often serves as a showcase for the most beloved new miniatures from the previous year. There were several mega-gargants on display this year, possibly inspired by Chris Clayton’s award-winning piece presented in England late last year.
Other popular subjects included the League of Wotan, known as space dwarves or “squats”, who had been reintroduced into the 40K pantheon only a year earlier.
Ironically, the Golden Demon Awards are not actually made of gold. The resin sculptures are spray-painted using Games Workshop’s own line of Citadel paint and lightly weathered ahead of time. We saw judges touching hands after a long journey from abroad on Thursday afternoon.
While we weren’t able to capture images of all the winners, you can find a full list on the Games Workshop community website.
The next Golden Demon will be held on April 29 at Warhammer Fest in the United Kingdom.