Games Workshop’s cavalcade of miniatures are meant to be thrown against each other on the dice-driven fields of tabletop warfare, but for some of the company’s most ardent fans, it’s making those miniatures look as gorgeous as possible that is the real heart of the hobby—and there’s no better reminder of that than the Golden Demon painting competition.
This year’s Warhammer Fest recently played host to the second Golden Demon competition of 2023, giving UK and European-based miniatures artists a chance to compete for glory—and, because it’s Warhammer, a literal giant sword called the Slayer Sword given to the overall best-painted model. Across categories that encompass all of Games Workshop’s tabletop games, from the far future of Warhammer 40K to the fantasy of Age of Sigmar, from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to the starfighters of Aeronautica Imperialis, this year’s competition is teaming with miniaturized excellence. Golden Demon’s categories are broken down into the following:
- Single Miniature (Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar) – As the name implies, these categories split across the two primary Warhammer games is for individual models, whether a solo infantry unit or creature, or a major hero.
- Large Model (Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar) – From towering daemon princes to hulking aelven avatars of fire and doom, this is for the big boys and girls on the tabletop.
- Squad (Warhammer 40,000) and Unit (Age of Sigmar) – Different names depending on the game, but essentially the same thing: an entire unit of miniatures together.
- Vehicle (Warhammer 40,000) – There’s not so many vehicles in the fantasy world of AoS, so this category is just for the walkers, tanks, and other mechanized powerhouses of the 41st Millennium.
- Diorama/Battle Scene (Any Game) – Letting painters run a little wilder, this category isn’t just about individual models, but framing them in a larger scene of conflict.
- Duel (Any Game) – Likewise, this category is similarly about framing a scene, just this time specifically in two miniatures facing off against each other.
- Small Scale (Any Game) – This category, focused on the alternately scaled miniatures of games like the giant-robot-dueling Adeptus Titanicus or the airship combat game Aeronautica Imperialis, is all about detail on the tiniest of canvases.
- Middle-earth – Duh. This category is for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit miniatures found in Games Workshop’s licensed strategy game.
- Youngbloods (Any Game) – Miniatures in this category can come from any Games Workshop game, the only restriction is on the age of the painter: Youngbloods is for kids aged 16 and under, so be prepared to be very intimidated by the skills of the Youths
- Open Competition – This is the free-for-all category where anything goes, from lavish dioramas to custom busts and sculptures, to models from discontinued games. It’s also the only category actual Games Workshop employees are allowed to compete in.
Click through to see an absolute smorgasbord of artfully painted monsters, mechs, heroes, villains, and everything in between, from the category winners to the commended runners-up.