Saturday, 15 October 2016

Of Screaming Mobs & Cheap Figures

Screaming Mob Miniatures aims to bring fun, varied and affordable miniatures in traditional metal, to those of you who want to not just be able to play a skirmish game, but also field armies of 28mm warriors, thugs and ne'er-do-wells without selling a vital organ or making dark pacts with nameless gods. (Although, we would never discourage you from the latter!)

Screaming Mob may be new, but is built upon the firm foundations of it's sister businesses Conflict In Colour and S.N.A.F.U Scenics.

I am a veteran gamer of almost 4 decades at the time of writing and I'm also the author of the well received gaming memoir 'Real Life's A Bu**er - A Tale Of Sex, Dragons And Rock 'N' Roll'. In the 1990s I also ran the Sheffield branch of the Dungeons & Starships chain of stores, so I have 'seen the elephant' as it were.

I harken back to a time before blister packs and slotta bases, where  the models mattered more than the packaging. With that in mind, I am taking a very firm stance on the matter of 'frippery'.

Simply put, I am not going to waste your money on fancy packaging and graphics, because every penny I spend on such, will inevitably be passed on to you the customer, and that's not the way I play.

The initial releases will be a range of over 50 rabid Cultists, with weapon variants a-plenty and separate randomly supplied heads. This will mean that you can buy models armed to suit your tech level or game setting but, moreover you will be able to field potentially an army with hundreds of variations.

If these go down as well as I think they deserve to, I'll add some more packs as well as more head variants which may include some tongue in cheek pieces, 'just because'.

Beyond that, I have plans which are firmly rooted in the Old School camp which I don't want to disclose quite yet, but which I am sure will be of interest to most gamers who remember a time before spiky and gothic, became the norm.

And so, to 'MOBSTARTER'

The original  plan was to utilise the Kickstarter funding platform to launch the range with a 20% discount on the final RRP once the range was up and running.

But, wait a minute...

If I did that, I'd be paying them 10% and  you, the customer would see exactly the same product.

So, what seemed the best way to go forward was to use a pre-order sytem, selling direct, and ofering a 30% discount on the final RRP...


This will work very simply:

You place a pre order in the store, and, get rewarded with a nice discount by way of a thank you for helping to bring a pack of figures to production. Once the required figure is reached, the moulds go into production, you receive the first of the models from the moulds and then the pack goes on sale generally at the full price.

What's more, I'll put a 'Thank You' page up on the site where your name will be revered in all it's glory, so that all may see you were a backer.

I'll also put some deals up in very limited numbers for certain groupings of packs, bought in bulk. These will be even better value and in some cases, will be enough to launch aseveral packs on their own. If anyone selects one of these deals, the figures will go into production and anyone who has already pledged their support will get their models in the same way.

Watch this space for details of the website, coming soon...

Friday, 14 October 2016

It Was All The Fault Of A Frenchman...

Yesterday was a busy day....

I took delivery of two shipments of Dwarven Forge scenery. The first was all older stuff from those fine people at Spirit Games whilst the larger shipment was from Dwarven Forge Europe comprising 9 large sets including 7 limited edition sets, and a single smaller set.

Alas, as previously none of the 5 limited edition sets contained their numbered certificates, so I've had to get in touch with Dwarven Forge in the U.S to ask them to remedy this situation. I am now at the 41 large set mark and about 20 of the small peripheral extras, so I am most certainly at the level where I can get the display game up and running.

I couldn't get time to open them as straight after a hard day of painting 1/1200th aircraft, I had to get on a train in the afternoon to go to Leeds where I was to be entertained by one Mnsr. J M Jarre in person.

Now I have always loved Leeds. It used to have a branch of 'Games Of Liverpool' and I did a good bit of my carousing with friends there at the 'Phono' which was a subterranean nightclub for Goths and Cloggies and all of that stripe, slap bang in the middle of the Merrion Centre...

Alas, it is no more...

The patch of lighter tiles near the column mark the grave as it were.

Leeds, you are a lover and a bitch in equal measure!

Anyway, I met up with my wife who works in Leeds and we set off to be entertained by J-M.J. And entertained we were, with some bloody amazing sounds, complimented with a 3D light and laser show. This was not a 'gig' this was a piece of performance art!

We crawled into bed at 2:15 this morning, and as a result I finally got to open my Dwarven Forge goodies at 10AM - And it's all the fault of a (very talented) Frenchman.

Now I have 24 hours to recover before we are of to see Bad Company, again in Leeds. It's a gruelling thrash of a life...


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Intervention May Really Be Required

I've just ordered some more Dwarven Forge dungeon sets, bringing my set total to 39.

I really believe that this is indeed an addiction, and I need to slow down. Lord only knows how large a layout I can build, but it must be over 40 square feet of 28mm dungeon.

And what's worse, I can still think of stuff to add.

Sunday, 2 October 2016


Ok, here's hoping that someone reading this blog, can help me in finding the old Grenadier Miniatures 'Solid Gold Line' of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures.

I will pay £25 - £60 depending on whether I'm buying a small or large box.

I'll pay via Paypal and will cover shipping from anywhere in the world to the U.K

These are the sets I am seeking:

Monday, 26 September 2016

Damn You, Games Workshop!

Alright, I know I was the first paying member of the public in Games Workshop, Sheffield, back when all was sun, fun and Thatcher, but over the years I drifted away, because - and let's be candid here - they became like the embarrassing uncle at the family party. They, knew the music, but the dance was all wrong...

No, let's be honest again, they started producing some shite.

I was never really comfortable with Warhammer 40,000 (it wasn't '40K' back then) and the later, even darker background felt like a tight collar at a Summer funeral. I id however love the Imperial Army, Harlequins and the Genestealer Cults.

The Genestealer Cults had a certain fascination, in that here were parasitic aliens, interbreeding with humans, and the human and hybrid offspring showing the same love and affection to these bug eyed monsters as they might a kindly human grandfather. Ok, I guess you'd have to think twice about the Werthers candies in the case of the bug eyed monster, but I reckon that you get my drift.

They were splendidly creepy.

And then, like the Squats, the futuristic take on the Dwarf (and pretty reasonable when you think about high gravity worlds) they vanished.

Until now...

This Saturday sees the proper return of the Genestealer Cults, with a more rounded background, but still it seems, all of the things that were good in the original, as well as some new troop types and what appear to be converted heavy plant and mining vehicles.

And so, drawn like a salmon to an angler's fly, this sad old man, took the bait and got hooked to the tune of £190, which I hope will take care of the majority of the army to be honest. I'm not in love with GW, it's more akin to metaphorically sleeping with an 'ex' for old time's sake. Yes GW, you have hurt me bad over the years, but you shook that booty and a spark took hold.

Only time will reveal if we can be friends again.

Anyway, I made my purchase with Element Games who offer great service and a sound discount on most products, and whilst I was there I also ordered a set of cave scenery (Caverns Of The Underdark) which is produced pre-painted by Gale Force 9 for the D&D game. But, I intend to use it to vary my Dwarven Forge terrain as it is studded with purple crystals and dank purple pools, which will do nicely for a mine.

Hey, and aren't the Genestealer Cultists miners too?

What a fortuitous purchase...


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Clerics For Warhammer 1st Edition

Clerics in WHFB 1st Ed

Clerics are essentially the militant priests of whatever benign or malignant god they serve.

Clerics Must always select WS as their primary skill and always have a BS 

Clerics may wear any armour, use shields but may not used weapons with a bladed edge or stabbing point in combat.

As Clerics draw their power direct from their deity, they do not expend energy to cast spells. They do however, need to test for fumbled spells. Failure has no other effect than the spell failing, primarily because their patron god is not watching them at the time, or is chasing a comely nymph whilst sipping draught ambrosia.

Clerics may use a mix of standard and necromantic spells.

The spells available to Clerics are as follows:

Level 1

Cure Light Injury
Bless Sword
Magic Light
Hold Undead

Level 2

Aura Of Steadfastness
Cure Severe Wound
Banish Undead (Necromantic)

Level 3

Banish Undead (Magic User)
Walk On Water

Level 4

Restore Life

In addition, Clerics may petition their god to perform a miracle. To do this roll 2d6 on any double apart from double 1 their request is granted, but loses all spell abilities for the rest of the day. On a roll of double 1, the Cleric loses one spell of their choice permanently.

Only one request may be made per day (game session if fighting a tabletop game). A miracle may be something such as:

‘Oh mighty Zoink, deliver me and my companions to a place of safety’

'Oh Greblord The Sarcastic, raise this corpse to life again’

'Oh mighty Arkwright…’ Well, you get the idea - something that’s miraculous.

Thieves In Warhammer 1st Edition

I've been looking at the use of first edition Warhammer Fantasy BAttle for dungeon skirmishing. The rules are basically sound, but you only have the choice of Fighters or MAgic Users.

With this in mind I've begun to work on additional classes to give variety and a more traditional feel to games.

First up, I offer you the Thief class.

You will see that I've split the skills into two groups. This is because a player has to choose whether they are primarily melee or ranged combat specialists, with one being higher. This also allows two distinct styles of thief class to be catered for.

Thieves for WHFB 1st ed

Thieves use WS to ‘roll to hit’ for successful use of the following thief skills:
Fade into background
Climb sheer surface

BS is used for the following skills:
Pick locks
Disarm or arm trap
Secure grapnel
Locate trap

Fade into background: The thief blends in with the surroundings and may make a single move without being seen or heard.

Back stab: The thief must be to the side or rear of the target, roll to hit  ONCE as normal and then roll again for the back stab attempt, If the backs stab is successful then damage is equal to the WS of the thief, with no saving throw.

Dodge: This skill is used to dodge an attack. If a successful attack is made, the thief may elect to attempt to dodge away at the last moment. If cornered, this may be a better option than relying on armour.

Climb sheer surface: A thief may climb a vertical or horizontal distance along a sheer surface at half normal movement rate. The test is required each turn or the thief will fall taking falling damage as per the main rules. A roll of 6 will negate the need to take a test on the following turn.

Pick locks: A thief may attempt to pick a lock. If they fail, they may try again in following turns but their BS is reduced by 1, on each consecutive attempt. No movement may be undertaken in the turn this ability is used.

Disarm or arm trap: This allows the thief to disarm a trap that they are aware of, or re-arm a trap already disarmed after the party has passed it safely. Nome movement may be undertaken in the turn this skill is used.

Locate trap: The thief will be able to locate any traps within 6 inches. No movement may be undertaken in the turn this skill is used.

Secure grapnel: This allows a thief to firmly set a rope and grapnel in place to allow other party members to climb a vertical surface, making a test as if they were a thief climbing a sheer surface. A thief using a grapnel may climb making a single test failing only on a 1 for the duration of the climb.

A thief may attempt any of the above once per turn but may not perform a normal melee or ranged attack (back stab is the exception as a normal attack is made, then a test to see if the back stab attempt is successful) . Test against weapon skill. Thief skills may be used at any point in a turn unless otherwise noted.

Thieves may only use light armour, and no shields.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Anybody Looking For 28mm Marlburian?

If anyone is interested I have a large, 28mm Spanish WSS army, using Ebor Miniatures...

£320.00 which is a heck of a saving...

Would consider trades for 'Grenadier Gold Line' AD&D miniature sets from the 80s.

12 x Infantry regiments (18 figs)

2 x Guard infantry regiments (18 each)

3 x Dragoon Regiments (12 horses and 12 riders each)

5 x Horse regiments (as above)

1 x Garde Du Corps regiment (as above)

2 x Guns each with 4 crew

12 12 Send me a message if interested
(1) Spanish Garde Du Corps Cavalry  £23.00 each

Surrounded By Good Things, But The Lurgy Has Me In It's Foul Grip

As I type, I am in the 49th hour of a severe dose of the lurgy which has laid me low with all the symptoms of flu' and, left me feeling like the inside of a Kobold's loincloth at the end of a 12 day forced march whilst under pursuit by the local Ranger's.

I feel like shit...

Two days in a row, I've promised myself I'd take the rest of the week off, and recuperate, but as I have only lost 3 working days to illness since 2011, it's not something I can do easily. Thus, I've slogged on when really I should have stayed tucked up in bed .

And to cap it all off, I just had the great idea of using my coffee machine to get some hot water fast, for my Beecham's Powder, only I forgot to take the previous coffee pod out first, and I am now drinking a remedy which tastes and looks like a urine sample from a Kenco coffee taster who spent last night lashed up on  bottles of 'Hooch'.

Actually, it's not too bad, so if anyone reading this is a coffee taster with a penchant for alcoholic lemonade - get in touch!

Anyway, following my little splurge on 29 sets of Dwarven Forge over the last ten days, I have turned my thoughts to rules and miniatures, with a definite intention to keep it old school where possible.

To this end, I have taken delivery of a pile of Rolemaster books, Warhammer 1st edition and today, a pile of AD&D 1st ed rulebooks with the intention of spending my weekend in a series of hot baths, quaffing Lemsip and hot Vimto, with a box of tissues (for the nose!) and a selection of old rule sets. Come to think of it the tissues are a really good idea, when you think about it.

So, if you will excuse me, I feel the need to sweat and swoon a little more...


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Cocaine Is A Cheaper Habit - Really

Well, after my splurge on 21 sets of Dwarven Forge scenery last week, my kid brother and I messed about with 3 sets yesterday, and we were really impressed with the look of it...

 The layout below was  about 3 square feet in area:

Anyway, I am really impressed with it and you really can't tell between the older resin stuff and new 'Dwarvenite' stuff.

We also played with the LED lit parts too, and they brought forth 'OOOOOHHHs' and 'SQUEEEEEs' aplenty.

Anyway, this lunchtime, another 4 sets arrived and I'm planning on another 4 this week. Then I think another 6-9 will finish things nicely.

I can confirm for the record that in comparison, cocaine is cheaper and less addictive by an order of magnitude.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

At The Edge...

I am an unashamed lover of all things 80s as is probably, exceedingly, obvious by now.

After my recent epistle on the wonders of the toy and game stores we had in Sheffield, I was reflecting on what else I was being opened up to at the time I really got a handle on the whole gaming thing.

I think it was late ’79 to early ’81 where I started to musically awaken as well as exponentially broaden my mind with the possibilities of fantasy and science fiction beyond the Saturday morning TV cavalcade and the seeming mountain of sci-fi and action comics that I partook of every week.

I think it really all began with Adam & The Ants… OK, they looked pretty camp on reflection and with 35+ years of hindsight, but look, they were different and they had a sound which was different to most. There is a case, of course for drawing comparisons with  Bow Wow Wow, but given that both bands were Malcolm McLaren proteges, that’s hardly surprising.

One thing which has stood out during my musings is that I was from this point, no matter how much my parents tried to make me conform and control me, no matter how often the so called ‘popular kids’ made my life a misery (and they did. Not your modern idea of bullying, on no, some proper fucking kickings and what can only be described as physical torture) I had music and imaginary worlds to retreat into. Retreat, I did.

I was joined in my musical adventures by Stanny who also shared an interest in gaming once I’d made the decision to share my newly found secrets. His elder brother was a serious heavy rock fan and so we got our hands and ears on some top notch metal. He was also a talented professional artist and it was he who tok some of our first plastic Heritage fantasy miniatures and painted them. They were not a patch on the stuff that we later drooled over when Games Workshop opened, and the skills of Peter Armstrong and Andy Ritson were showcased. Pete was good, but I’m sorry, Andy Ritson took everyone to the cleaners when it came to brushmanship.

Anyway, as we found our feet at secondary school and met new friends from other schools, we fell in with Andy B and Stav. Andy B was the first new contact, and he shared our love of a rather peculiar mix of Peacock Punk (Toyah, BWW, The Ants etc), Rock (Maiden, Deep Purple,Saxon, and a whiff of Sabbath) and Post Punk (P.I.L, Stiff Little Fingers and Exploited). Andy B’s cousin was a few years older and he was a recovering punk, and was part of a group of similar aged hardcore punks who tore up the Thursday lunchtime discos at school.  Our teachers we found could be seriously liberal when not in the class room and with their left wing, anarcho-hippy tendencies we could be sure that amongst the usual sugary pop crap, there would be some cutting edge stuff.

Week after week, we 2nd form types watched from the sidelines as the older punks danced what can only be described as a kind of Redskin war dance backwards. It was called oddly enough and without irony the ‘backward run’ It was a kind of backwards running pogo, with serious spazzing out, but it was awesome to se these guys, dominating the dancefloor for 2 and a half minutes at a time, hurtling around and seeming to be on a collision course only to duck and weave away as if magnetic opposites at the very last second.

Then, one Thursday, Stanny, Andy and I kind of looked at each other, silently agreed upon a course of action and threw ourselves into the storm. Andy nodded to his cousin Sid, who nodded to his mates and we were allowed into the sacred Pow-Wow circle. Then we saw another kid also join in. I vaguely recognised him as being in my year and as one of the ‘In Crowd’ but here he was with the rest of us, as the hall watched on… This was Stav, more of whom, later.

The dance seemed to last for hours, but as ‘At The Edge’ by Stiff Little Fingers is a shake over two and a half minutes, it’s pretty obvious that exhilaration and fear were working their potent alchemy to make time stretch out forever.

Anyway, it ended and although we joined the older lads a couple more times in the coming weeks, it was never quite the same.

We did however start to dance to more stuff, and the popular kids did for a while give us a wide berth as they tried to work out if wisdom dictated a continuation of hostilities. Eventually it was business as usual.

But, Stav sidled up to Stanny and I one day and got talking. I can’t recall how he could have found out, but he said he'd heard we played D&D and did we want to go over to his parent’s house for lunch? We were suspicious of course, because it could be a trap, but Stav was a true closet gamer, it turned out. He was pretty safe from the hard kids as his older brother had ‘form’ and so that made Stav 'off limits' to all out bullying, and besides he could look after himself in a tight spot.

He had some games that we’d not heard of but had not played D&D. Thus it was, that we raced the 250 yards every day to his parents house and either gamed or talked about games whilst eating soup which I swear was like lava, but which could not have been in the pan for more than a minute. Stav was a through and through gamer like Stanny and I, but he made us swear that we would never tell anyone, nor indeed would we discuss our mutual interest at school, but every weekend, every holiday for about three years we got some gaming in, slowly drifting apart as I became more and more involved in the numerous clubs in Sheffield and widened my circle of acquaintances.

It was not just the gaming that Stav was into. He was a massive fan of The Clash, and it was during one of our daily lunchtime sessions that Stav first opened my ears to them when he played ‘London Calling’ and ‘London’s Burning’. At the time I was pretty impressed but I was starting to listen to other stuff such as Haysi Fantayzee (the only kid in the school who did) XTC and Tenpole Tudor, with a smattering of Lene Lovitch. Lord, I was weird… I still am. In later years though I really understood what The Clash were about and whilst I am not a hardcore fan, I confess to having the odd binge on their back catalogue. 

I could go on, but I am tiring tonight, but, it’s amazing how you remember stuff just by looking at a rule book or catalogue. Oh that reminds me ‘EXIT Books’ in Sheffield, a rather run down ‘underground’ book shop. But that will save for another day, I am sure…



As the following picture shows, the Dark Tower is currently buried under 33.3KG of Dwarven Forge dungeon scenery...

And plans are in hand for another 20KG shortly.

Will the madness never end?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Sheffield - Designed By The Bastard Offspring of Le Corbusier and Armitage Shanks. An 80s Gamer's Paradise

Sheffield in 1981 may have looked like the demented sketches of the bastard offspring of Le Corbusier and Armitage Shanks, but it  had a number of outstanding toy and model shops. Sadly, all except one no longer trading and the remaining one is, I am sad to report a shadow of it’s former self. 

Even local the suburban shopping area of Firth Park half a mile from where I lived, boasted no less than two toy shops, both stacked to the rafters with plastic distraction. I haunted these like a lost soul, my long suffering Dad and ever patient Nan and Grandma (when she was back here from her bohemian 'Good Life' existence in Penwortham on the wrong side of the Pennines) indulging my whim. I loved both my grandmother's. They were both kind, but where my Nan had a sharply defined manner, defined by her strong Methodist background, my Grandma Hides, had a more indulgent and attentive way, made her own wine and was a hedgerow forager of no mean skill. In short she was almost witch-like - in a good way of course - all very alluring to a daydreamy boy. Sadly some never explained family feud meant that I was not to see her for several years until I got  my dander up in the late 80s and got the family talking again. She passed away not too long after and by then I was so obsessed with the trappings of youth, that I squandered time that I could have spent with her, as I did with my maternal grandfather a few years later.

 I digress...

The city centre was where the real action was to be had, with:




and Hopkinsons situated on The Gallery (more of which later, but here's a taster of what it looked like on a really good day)

In 1981, during the summer holidays, I was making my weekly pilgrimage to Hopkinson’s, a traditional floor to ceiling type of toy and model shop in the city centre. At this time, I was still not allowed into town on my own, or rather not without adult supervision, and so my visits were dependant on the good will of my family and of course my own good behaviour. I was still well behaved and what my Nan would have called a 'good boy', so visits into town were pretty much assured.

Hopkinsons was an Aladdin’s Cave for the true toy connoisseur and Old Mr Hopkinson seemed to live for his store. I never failed to find something that drew my eye or sparked my imagination. I shudder to think the amounts that my family spent on me in there over the years. But, again I digress…

On this day I was starting to despair, having failed to find that essential next ‘must have’, when my innate ‘kid sense’ indicated that some subtle change had manifested in the very substance of this temple to the toymaker’s art. My attention was drawn to a wire display rack in a somewhat stygian alcove to the left of the counter. On it were a number of scruffy card-headed bags bearing the names Ral Partha and Citadel Miniatures in a variety of shades.

Okay… what’s a ‘Ral Partha?’ I mused and, like a shot from a bow - It would not become an elven bow for a few months yet - I crossed the intervening 6 feet to investigate. This was all arcane and forbidden stuff to a molly-coddled, Mummy's boy and had about it the whiff of the decadent and edgy.

Each bag contained one or more tiny figurines made from lead. I was the proud owner of a large number of old lead soldiers and so this was no real surprise to my young eyes. What was a surprise however, was the subject matter. Along with medieval knights, were wizards, dwarves, elves as well as smattering of space-suited figures armed with laser rifles. The majority of them were priced at 30p and unless I was able to secure additional funding via a prayer to the gods of spending money along the lines of ‘Oh go on, pleeeaaaassse…’ that was going to eat into the £3.00 that I received in tribute each week from various parties charged with bank-rolling my childhood.

‘No,’ I thought, ‘I will not indulge myself today.’ After all, 30p was 30p and I was not about to squander it before I knew what a Ral Partha was in greater detail. Besides, I was getting the same response in the crotch area as I did when I looked at some of the older girls at school in their short skirts, with the accompanying musk of bubblegum and cheap perfume.

In fact, Ral Partha was, like Citadel Miniatures, a company producing beautifully detailed miniatures for use with fantasy games. Even 30 years down the line they are amongst some of the best examples of the sculptor’s art you’ll ever see.

 With that firm ‘No’ still ringing out it's peel inside my head, I went off with my Nan and Mum to have a chip butty and glass of cola in the nearby Sheaf Market, in an establishment renowned for it’s skilful presentation of deep fried potato sandwiches. Quickly disposing of lunch via my mouth, I told my Mum I was going to go back to Hopkinson’s while she and my Nan chatted and finished their cups of coffee. I was going to take another look at those tiny figurines that were already beginning to telepathically call out to me.

It was this day that I first really became aware of the youth subculture of Sheffield. Okay, we had diluted, primitive schoolboy versions of Skins, Punks and the irritatingly clean cut 'Trendies' emerging like clip-winged butterflies behind the science block smoking 'Bensons' at break, but it was on The Gallery, a roughly rectangular walkway which linked the markets, several small businesses like Hopkinsons and the upper floors of Woolco and British Home Stores, in a manner redolent of the buildings in Mega City One, the dysfunctional post apocalyptic city in which Judge Dredd patrolled on his Harley Davidson Lawmaster, dispensing parking tickets and death sentences in equal measure. Well, that's how it seemed to me, a kid who didn't need LSD to trip. 

It was on the gallery where the 'senior service' of the sub cultures lurked, each claiming their few yards of turf, using violence with what appeared to be gay abandon. The Skins lurked around the side behind BHS, and were frankly a bunch of 'Grade A' bastards, if popular folklore was to be believed, the antics of one 'Adolf' being youth legend. The Punks gathered thinly between Hopkinsons and Timpsons shoes, but more thickly by the upper front entrance to the Castle Market. This meant a head-down shuffle, for me, trying to look as small as possible because I had to pass a mob of two of them as I made my way up the staircase from the Sheaf Market , the shortest route to toy Shangri-la.

Let me tell you, with a basin haircut, beige flared jeans and a blur jumper with jaunty alpine motif, I must have had the skills of a ninja, because I made it to Hopkinsons without being cut from gizzard to midden, by a cutthroat razor.

Sphincter winking out a nerve induced morse code to my adrenal glands, I calmed myself somewhat by standing open-mouthed with the returning of that odd stiffening of the groin, which for years would cause confusion if I looked at a mate's porn collection whilst also discussing the day's figure purchases.

What was apparent even this early on, was that I was obviously a youth of taste and distinction. Ten minutes later I had spent the considerable sum of 75p after much soul searching and hand wringing. In possession of a paper bag containing two dour dwarves carrying a dead comrade on a litter made up of two shields and a pair of spears, I returned to my Mum and Nan, a little tingle running up and down my spine.

That day something had changed in the world. It was almost imperceptible but at the very moment that I took possession of the paper bag containing those models, I felt that I had crossed some line into a secret world, filled with dystopian danger, bohemian excess and the allure of sexual pleasure. Certainly, none of my mates at that time knew - or probably cared - about this new phenomenon, and I felt that I was indeed marked out for greatness, the leader of some new and exciting pastime, if I could only discover what that pastime was. I had high hopes as I'd cracked the code which was Ral Partha, after all, so it was a just a matter of time wasn't it?

 Very shortly, I would find out and then nothing would ever be the same.

All around me Police and disaffected youth were fighting in the streets, the I.R.A was continuing it's campaign of terror on the British mainland, Thatcher was doing to the working men of England, what they would only do to their own wives or favourite girlfriend, and in the midst of this, besotted with a newly found taste for the truly strange, I didn't give a bugger!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Like A Crack Whore, I am Addicted, And It's All the Fault of E.T...

Any gamer of a particular vintage and for whom, fantasy gaming has an enduring appeal, should be able to pinpoint the most famous appearance of D&D in popular culture - namely the opening scenes of the 1982 film 'E.T' and even more memorably in the novel of the same name by William Kotzwinkle.

In these portrayals, the kids appear to have a really sexy looking 3D representation of the the dungeon, which was way, way beyond anything on the market at the time.

In fact, when a new kid started at our school, some months after, and, seeking to impress us hardened 14 year old gaming veterans with his own 'cred', announced that he had just such a dungeon model, we made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was 'talking bollocks'.

We may have been the bullied and put upon minority in the wider world of comprehensive education, but, by golly we were the High, the Lords Of Taste, and in this case Board Of Execution in all matters relating to gaming. In fact we would only bow to those mythical (or so we thought in those heady days) figures a few years older than us, who worked in the newly opened Games Workshop (and it really was, back then).

Anyway, we saw this mountebank interloper off, and he was later seen with the lower orders, indulging in field sports and speaking to members of the opposite sex. Obviously, our instincts were spot on!

Anyway, over the years a few proprietary dungeons scenery systems came along, as well as some home made offerings, such as the rather nice cave system, built by the Sheffield Runelords and used as a participation game at the Sheffield Triples, but none really 'hit the sweet spot'.

Then, in 1996, along came geek genius Stefan Pokorny with 'Dwarven Forge', setting the standard to this day for 3D dungeonscapes. Cast in a polystone resin and superbly painted, these were the discerning gamer's choice. They were also bloody expensive and heavy. I remember in 1999, buying £300 worth of DF scenery and being a little chagrined at just how little I actually a got.

This was a rich man's product, a dalliance for the dilettante chequebook gamer. And so, I disposed of the pitiful selection and went back to tabletop historical gaming.

Then, a couple of years back, DF announced that they would be producing dungeons in a poly based material called 'Dwarvenite' which is a wonderfully robust, light and cheaper alternative. It remains however a product for the committed gamer, with a whiff of elitist panache which narcissists like myself (IE: the majority of gamers) can savour like a decent wine, or truffle butter.

This year, I have decided that life is indeed not a dress rehearsal, and reasoned that as I am almost a half century old, and somewhat comfortable if not wealthy, I am only going to indulge in the finer things which please my eye, stimulate my mind and moreover appeal to me if not others.

I have decided that where practicable, I will engage other painters to paint my own collection. After all, I paint for a living, and want to do other things in my spare time. I will only buy the best models, obscurest artwork, etc... In short I am pleasing myself, whilst I may. with the provision that it is done on a 'cash down' basis. If the money is available I will indulge myself and if not then I will wait patiently until it is. Not for me the credit card, as placebo pacifier of wanton retail lust.

Anyway, last week, after deciding that I would not be attending any further shows this year and after ordering 800 or so figures from Ebor Miniatures, I rashly (and without reason) happened upon the Dwarven Forge, european distributor's website.

Uh oh...

Cash in pocket + thing of beauty + cache of said product = palpitations and desire of an almost sexual nature!

So, I put together a small order...

And added a bit...

And a bit more...

And then like the gaming 'Crack Whore' aesthete I am, ended up with an order just over £1500 in value, and the idea of a display game, brewing.

The order went in at 12:30AM Monday and is due today, a mere 24 hours later, and it comprises:

2 x Chamber Of Sorrows Limited Edition set

5 x Starter sets

Game Tiles Set x 1 (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Diagonal Wall pack

Diagonal Wall Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Floor Pack

Dungeon Floor Pack A (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Narrow Passage set

Narrow Dungeon Passage Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Dungeon Dressings Pack

Dungeon Dressing Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Grand Stair Pack

Grand Stair Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Cavern Pack

Basic Cavern Set - Standard Walls and Floors (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Lava Cavern Pack
Lava River Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Cavern Expansion Pack

Wicked Cavern Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Water Cavern Pack

Water Cavern Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Chasm Pack

Chasm Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Cavern Floor Pack

Cavern Floor Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Narrow Cavern Passages Pack

Narrow Cavern Passage Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Mushroom Pack

Mushroom Pack (Expertly Hand Painted)

1 x Ice Cavern Pack

Ice Cavern Pack - Special Drybrush Edition

1 x Den Of Evil Room Set
Den of Evil - Room Set

1 x Den Of Evil Expansion Set

Den of Evil Expansion Set

1 x Catacombs Set (with sexy LED features)

Catacombs Set - 47 pieces - Limit 1 Per Customer

1 x Catacombs Expansion Set (more of those fucking sexy LED bits)

Catacombs Set 2 - 31 pieces

1 x Ice Snake (well he's pretty)

And, just like any addict, I am already looking for the next 'hit'...

I think I'll add more passages and caverns in the New Year as well as more of the lakes and Grand Stair packs, but for now, I think I have enough to be going on with, especially as I am also waiting on the delivery of 40 buildings in kit form for my latest model railroad.

Well, I guess I should bid you a fond adieu, and go and earn more pennies to feed my hopeless addiction...