UK-based Asgard Miniatures was part of the first generation of mini's makers that specialized in fantasy figures. Several of their sculptors went on to work for more famous outfits. For example Bryan Ansell, the founding father of Citadel, got his start with Asgard. In the 80's the Armory had a deal with Asgard to distribute their figures in the U.S. The Armory was a major Dragon advertiser, often taking out multi-page ads. Unlike most mini ads in the Dragon, the Armory used illustrations of the figures rather than photos. I never quite understood why. Were photos that much more expensive? Did the Armory not own a camera?
Either way, I loved the little drawings. I've not seen that many Asgard figures up close and personal, but the drawings always made them seem ready for dungeon shenanigans. I think it was a combination of lifelike poses and detail work. Here's my favorite example, Dungeon Adventurer number 65, the Looter:
I've never seen the figure but there's a lot here to like. That moustache is awesome, for starters. And the detail on the hand-axe makes it look like an actual piece of equipment, not just a shaft with a blade stuck on it. The pouches on the belt are great. And the dude can pull off wearing an armored skirt in a way that not every guy can. But the pose with the axe and bag is what really brings this figure together for me. You can almost here him saying "this here's my share of the treasure" to someone else in the party. This is one rough character. Also, it doesn't hurt that he reminds me of a great illo from my '81 D&D Basic rules:
I find these sack-lugging dudes so compelling because the sack itself tells some of the story of D&D. Figures with bags of loot or carrying torches put the character into the dungeoneering context. You go from having a generic dude in armor that could be from any medieval historical scene to a bona fide dungeoneer. That's why when Jamie Mal posted the Grenadier hirelings it seemed like a breath of fresh air to me. Those figures aren't just little guys with swords, they're part of a larger world of adventure.
2 hours ago