We're doing some alchemy today - turning lead into gold, courtesy of my good friend John. He received these two gold-plated figures from the Ral Partha collectors club back in the early 80s.
This is the original version of ES1 - Evil Wizard (later 01-001) which I think beats the other versions hands down.
And this is the special promo piece of "Ral" the caster.
The name Ral Partha came from a D&D character played by John Winkler, who worked as a caster at Ral Partha (the company) for many years. This is a figure of him at work with heavy gloves and a lead ladle.
Both figures are by Tom Meier who has his own company -
Thunderbolt Mountain Miniatures. I asked about the figure's "MIAMI" t-shirt over on the Thunderbolt Mountain forums, and Tom replied that John went to Miami University (the one in Ohio). He also said that John's Ral Partha character was a sort of cross between Grocho Marx and Cornelius Vanderbilt; now that's my kind of guy! :-)
You can see that post >here<.
And you can read a short article on the origins of Ral Partha by company president Jack Hesselbrock >here<.