Dennis Michael Mize
September 15, 1956 – March 13, 2006

June 30th, 2006 Update: Dennis Mize has been inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame to stand alongside the gaming industry greats such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, Larry Elmore, Dave Arneson, Margaret Weis and Gary Gygax (and more). This was something I felt very strongly about pursuing for Dennis when he was alive, but he would always blow it off and play it down. Now that he has passed on, I went after it pretty hard to get him in on the first ballot after he passed away. And the academy was right there beside me in their feelings that he was an automatic lock for this top honor. Mike Noe from Iron Wind Metals and Melanie Mize (The niece of Dennis) will be accepting this award on his behalf on Saturday night at the Big Origins Hall of Fame Dinner. So, the first three sculptors from Ral Partha are the first three sculptors inducted into the Hall of Fame.


The 2006 Origins Hall of Fame Induction Award for Dennis Mize

I went out to Ohio to attend the memorial service and send Big D off in style. It was great to see everyone out there. A huge thank you must be extended to Dave and Sue Summers for their hospitality. You will all be happy to know that buried with the ashes of Dennis Mize were four things: His Iron Wind Barbarian Clan Medallion, a Cig for the journey, ashes from the last barbarian clan gathering, and of course a platinum plated Green Witch Miniature from Dark Sword Miniatures. This was the first miniature Dennis sculpted for Dark Sword Miniatures and is to this day still one of my favorite miniatures. A couple of close friends of Dennis pulled me aside and told me how jazzed Dennis was to be working with one of his biggest fans (that would be me) and that he told them numerous times how much more extra effort he put into the Dark Sword pieces that he sculpted. That made me feel pretty dang good. I knew Dennis really liked what we were doing with these lines, but Dennis was a man who did not get too excited about anything. To know that after all the years he has spent sculpting (almost 30) he spoke to his close friends about his work on these lines from Dark Sword really shows how special it all was to him.

 


Mr. Mize in one of his classic shirts.

 


Dennis getting the recognition he deserves by joining Tom Meier and Julie Guthrie in the Origins Hall of Fame.

 


A very young Mr. Tom Meier and Mr. Dennis Mize – These are the two young cats that put Fantasy Miniatures on the Map. They were the first two sculptors for a little company you may have heard of – Ral Partha (now IWM). Ahhhh to be young again. Tom still has that same smirk by the way…Even back then it seems he knew he would rock the industry. What about Dennis you ask? As you can see, he was chilling out and having a smoke…He too would rock the industry.

 


A very young energetic Mr. Mize on the table at a gaming session at the old Ral Partha factory with a flexing Brian Hitsman (Master Mold Maker) in the background and an older more wise Mr. Mize sitting down and taking a load off with cig in hand (a common sight I am told).

From original Dark Sword email with the bad news: This is a dark day for pewter miniature fans – we have lost Dennis Mize. The gaming industry has lost another one of the greats with the sudden death of Dennis Mize sometime around March 13, 2006. He died alone in his home of a massive heart attack according to the autopsy report. I am still in shock as this was unexpected and came out of nowhere.

 

Dennis Mize was only 49 years old. Dennis had so much ahead of him in terms of sculpting more fantastic miniatures, hanging out with his good friends watching bad B movies and attending barbarian parties. Dennis was a pretty private guy and was not a huge self-promoter of his abilities. He always felt his finished product spoke for itself. Those who knew Dennis will speak of his love of dinosaurs, King Kong (he did not care of the new version by the way), Ray Harryhausen, mushy weapons, bad B movies (as Fitz from Croc will tell you) and of course sculpting. His ability to lavish sharp detail on miniatures is what he is best known for. That and of course is love of sculpting female miniatures – with sharp detail of course…

 

Dennis Mize and Tom Meier were always in my mind the “once in a lifetime two-headed dog” that will never be repeated in this business in terms of their sculpting styles and abilities. Tom Meier and Dennis Mize were the first two sculptors for Ral Partha and they really raised the bar for miniature sculpting in a very young industry. As I look back, it is fitting that they were the first two sculptors for Dark Sword Miniatures.

 

Dennis kept improving with each miniature he sculpted and always told me “Jim, if you can look at a miniature you sculpted two years ago and not be able to sculpt it better now, then you ain’t trying hard enough to get better at what you do.” Dennis was simply one of the greats.

 

I was never able to let Dennis know the good news about the Caldwell Masterworks and the Visions in Fantasy Lines getting nominated for Best Miniature Line of 2006 earlier in the week. Dennis sculpted both of these lines. Dennis Mize and Dave Summers won the Best Miniature Line of 2005 last year for the Elmore Dragons line from Dark Sword Miniatures.

 

Dennis is best known for his impressive body of work from his years at Ral Partha (now owned by Iron Wind Metals). I am honored that his second largest body of sculpting work was with Dark Sword Miniatures as I was such a huge fan boy of Dennis and Tom growing up in the 1980’s. Dennis also sculpted a number of pieces for Reaper Miniatures. The 2006 Elmore Amazon below is the final piece that Dennis Mize sculpted for Dark Sword Miniatures (painted pictures are recent additions to this tribute page). It might also be the last complete mini Dennis ever sculpted.

 


Painted by Marike Reimer
Marike painted this up as tribute to Dennis. At the time (sometime in 2006), she was dating a fellow by the name of Chris “Fitz” Fitzpatrick from Crocodile Games. Dennis warped the mind of a young Fitz with bad B movie compilation tapes.

 


Painted by Rhonda Bender
This great mini-diorama took the 1st place Dark Sword Mfr. Award at Gen Con Indy 2007. It was painted up by Rhonda Bender and was stunning in person. She called it – Baiting the Trap. Yep, I would fall for that trap…

 

This is such a young industry that we have not lost too many of the greats yet. This has been a tough six months with both Keith Parkinson and now Dennis Mize passing away. I guess that means this young industry is starting to get on in years.

 

To send Mr. Dennis Mize off in style – we will be getting some industry folks together at Gen Con Indy to conduct a bar-wide SALUTE/Toast for Big D. I am also moving forward with getting Dennis Mize inducted into the Origins Awards Hall of Fame – seeing as he won 10 or more Origins Awards during his years at Ral Partha and at Dark Sword Miniatures. He was the 2nd sculptor at Ral Partha (behind Tom) and he needs to be recognized for his massive contributions to this industry.

 

So in the meantime folks – when appropriate, raise your mugs and toast one of the all-time great sculptors – Mr. Dennis Mize. He has left an impressive legacy of outstanding pewter miniatures and is already sorely missed by those of us who have had the privilege of knowing & working with him over the years he has been a key part of this industry.

 


Hal, Myself and Big D in from of Zip’s in Cinci. Dennis loved Zip’s Chili.
This pic was taken on the day I first met Dennis in person. Such a fan boy…Could not stop smiling…
Good travels Dennis – we will see you on the other side.

 


Fare Thee Well Mr. Mize….

 

May 7, 2013 Update – I still miss Dennis and our weekly phone conversations. The industry has changed alot since the passing of Dennis Mize. Some things Dennis would have loved and some things he would have hated (that was how Dennis was wired). With the passing of Dennis, Dark Sword needed to find another sculptor that fit in with our realistic sculpting style. I found a most excellent sculptor to step in and pick the torch up for Dennis in one of his former pupils – Mr. Jeff Grace. Jeff worked for Partha and was trained by Dennis Mize and Dave Summers in the art of Kung Fu sculpting. His work is amazing and he was a perfect fit for taking over the lines that Dennis started. I was actually keeping my eye on Jeff Grace while Dennis was still alive as I knew at some point Dark Sword’s ranges would require another sculptor beyond Dennis and Tom. With the expansion of our Visions in Fantasy Line and GRRM Masterworks line, Jeff has been pulled in many directions and needed some help. So we brought in another upstart sculptor by the name of Patrick Keith to take over sculpting responsibilities on the Elmore Masterworks range and the Easley Masterworks range. I believe Dennis would approve of the work they are both doing for Dark Sword on the ranges he was so key in starting and getting off the ground. And for the record – without Dennis Mize, Dark Sword would have never even been formed and I would have never had the honor of getting to know Dennis and of course hang out with him. So thank you Dennis for being such a big part of my life and being here to get Dark Sword off the ground. We will move onward and upward into the future and keep your torch burning sir.

You are still missed by many people my friend..