Sunday, 19 November 2017

Why Is It Always About How Big It Is?

I am writing this as I listen to the latest 'Grognard Files' podcast. If you don't already listen to it - DO SO!

Last Sunday, I steeled myself and went to my desk (yes the same desk I spend Monday to Friday painting for a living at) and painted the horses for 16 Blue Moon Manufacturing ECW generals, which are exquisite. The plan being that I might sit there again this weekend and paint a few of the riders. Alas, that was not to be because frankly and honestly - I just could not be arsed.

EDIT: As I typed the above, I looked with some guilt at the undercoated riders,stopped and spent half an hour wth some buff and brown paint on a couple of them. So much for refusal to bend to the call of the painting table. It's an odd thing that although I have I-Macs all over the house, I still retreat to my studio to write these posts.

So getting back to the blogging; I instead spent my day cleaning a month's worth of palettes (finding after scrubbing 18 of them in boiling water and Dettol floor cleaner, that I had stashed 2 somewhere in my studio, leading to a lively game of hunt the plastic discs) catching up with the latest issue of 'The Chap' and then slinking off to bed for an hour of disturbed sleep.

As I sat in the warm embrace of hot bath water, scented with 'Mont Source' hibiscus and pomegranate  body wash it occurred to me that when you are young, everything is small; as you hit your teens and maybe early twenties, everything is big and constantly flashed at everyone, but then as you turn to middle age it seems that it gets smaller and ends prematurely.

I am of course speaking of figures...

I was speaking with some friends recently about the origins of our gaming (I'll specify historical gaming here, because I'll always defend the position that for fantasy, only 25mm  - 28mm for you Millennials - will do. No, don't argue; IT'S THE LAW!). In Sheffield, we mostly fell in to two camps - role players and war gamers (a few of us were in both camps right from the outset, because I think we were the equivalent of the drug addict, constantly seeking harder and heavier kicks, wandering the dark streets of the Steel City, gaunt-faced lost souls with dice bags). The war gamers, all had a common root in 15mm, despite being dispersed all across the city and coming from various backgrounds.

Because we had a good number of shops in the city, we were able to buy pretty much everything we needed, in any scale and any period. In the early 80s, 15mm was only just starting to really find it's feet, but those of us who had around £3 per week in spending money could buy around 10 25mm figures (yes, even Citadel Miniatures, stick that in your pipes you youngsters!) or 30-40 15mm figures (Peter Laing figures weighed in at about 50 to the weekly stipend, but even then we were looking for detail - Not that I don't love P.L figures). Therefore, as we were all into Colonial, ECW  - Hell, everything - and worked at the WRG 1:20 standard, we tended to go with 15mm for new projects that our constantly burgeoning 'young firm' undertook. This meant that we each bought around 1 unit per week, which was pained an based  by the time we received our next dole from the family coffers. We were collectively producing the numerical equivalent of a WRG competition army each week and getting together to play large games as often as possible.

Some of us who were canny entrepreneurs, had a sideline in painting figures (I started off at 7p per 15mm figure) and I think we all possessed the ability to get a sustaining school dinner for about 75p from dinner money of £1.50 per day which, allowing for 2p per bus ride (thank you South Yorkshire and your Socialist ideals which gave us ridiculously subsidised bus fares) to and from our clubs, friends homes (unless a parent could be coaxed into filling a car with long haired - but very polite - patchouli drenched youths in +3 denims and driving to some dark side street to deliver them usually to a dodgy boozer wherein games could be played) and the numerous post-school trips to the numerous stores (filled with delights where, we indulged in an almost tantric self-denial until Saturday came) meant that we could probably rely on an income of £10-£15* which in 1982 was a considerable sum without resort to a Saturday job or a paper round.

So, we would hit the streets on Saturday morning  and do the rounds of the stores, with the exception of Dodo Games, which was what is these days termed a pop-up shop that appeared on Monday evening from about 5PM in a local lawnmower repair shop, with a healthy stock of Gallia 15mm models and Dixon 25mm figures.

It was here, Games Workshop (yes, G.W back in the day) and the New Model Soldier where we indulged in the buying of 15mm ECW and Colonials. It was rumoured, there were older gamers who worked at the NMS who built their armies by the 'repatriation' of stock and many year later I saw a carrier bag containing a Mikes Model Han Chinese army in the original baggies  which was reputed to have been collected via this form of tithing.

As we became more involved in the local club scene and started to take the monthly magazines with the awesome collections of the likes of Peter Gilder, S.O.D.S and the like, we all wanted to build massive historical armies in 25mm. One of my most enduring memories is meeting Roger Smith (may the gods favour his brushes and dice forever) who, in a tiny box room, had shelf after shelf of Connoisseur Napoleonic Russians, Citadel Medievals and QT Greeks. Roger, Simon B and Myself were arguably the worst offenders when it came to spending every penny on models, but Roger was by far and away the fastest painter, and constantly spoke with awe of the legendary painting prowess of Peter Gilder when it came to oil painting horses.

Anyway, we moved to 28mm and then came the era of the chequebook wargamer, the golden age of gaming, where companies blossomed and figures were aplenty, a time before Front Rank and Old Glory; a time before plastic 28mm models identikit companies. And we took to it like a Yuppies to lines of coke.

But, as the diehards amongst us found a acceptance in with the 'Big Boys' where looks where appearance was all, I think we lost that sense of community that we had a few years earlier and vied with each other to have the biggest and best and play the latest rules, at the cost of losing the sense of collective fun we had nurtured.

Then came responsibility and the commercialism of the 90s scene. We settled down, raised families, still strutted around like gaming cockerels ( although I think one or two were just Cocks) but actually gamed less and less.

And so to the present. I am not a rich man in the modern sense, but I am 'comfortable' and generally have a disposable monthly income which would not restrict my buying choices. I have a reasonable amount of space in our home, my daughter having grown up and moved out (Crom! Where did those 4 decades go?) but I don't have the time or inclination to spend time painting or waiting for the painting of, 25mm armies. I don't want to fill the Dark Tower with toys, I don't even want that much gaming nostalgia cluttering the place (No thank you, I curate a museum of the hobby in my mind these days - It's very exclusive) because I also want to fill my home with artwork, aquariums, Scottish Terriers and the like.

So, I am looking at those scales and armies which gave me the greatest pleasures, which were the basis of enduring - if paused - friendships and which have the most poignant memory triggers for me. I sense that even my most die-hard 25mm friends also feel that same imperative, and we collectively recognise that there is no need to 'prove' ourselves anymore.

And so, 15mm which a well known industry luminary described as 'a dying scale' in the late 90s, is making a comeback for many of us, and we are now discussing how many models we need, and what size element basing (we were element basing way back before it was the norm because we had such massive armies). Roger had a bit of a hang up regarding the size of ECW units, last year, whilst I am (forgive me, Roger) working on units which are nominally 1:33 ratio whilst not actually giving a fig about rules concepts which are based on head count or single figure removal (I think we both agree on that).

At 49, I feel that drag of the grave and the long sleep upon me, and so I want to get more games in, I would love to get the 'Young Firm' back together for one more weekend of self concious-less gaming. Perhaps a nice big 15mm ECW battle. We have no need to brag about how big our men are. I am pretty certain that if we really wanted to we could quickly dust up armies that would be large, 28mm and frankly stunning, but we did it a long time ago. We bathed in the glory, we took the applause of our peers and envy of others, and that can never be taken from us.

Now, for me it's about the friendship and gentle rivalry of pushing little lead men around a table top in the company of genuine friends.

As an aside, I was looking at a wargaming group on social media, where someone was selling someone was looking to sell a dozen very pretty 28mm Napoleonic lancers, whence apropos of nothing a 'Cock End' as my mate Dave would say, posted a nice big picture of their collection of over 100 lancers - the wargaming equivalent of hitting puberty and strutting through the post-gymn showers singing 'My Ding-A-Ling'.

I almost dropped Roger and Dave emails with the message - 'Let's show this smart arse how it's done.' Then, I calmed down and remembered the old adage, 'I'ts not how big it is. It's what you do with it!'


TTFN


*Girlfriends, whilst increasingly important, could seriously get in the way of game spending and had to be handled with care and the keen eye of a Dickensian miser.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

I am mulling over an idea which occurred to me a couple of years ago, when I'd been looking at the Copplestone and Tekumel Club figures. I'd had an idea to put together a collection of Amazonian tribal types, with the idea of a mini campaign involving two tribes knocking the shit out of each other with low tech weapons, poisons and magic (because those people BELIEVE in magic and so it has to be factored in).

Then I considered an idea of adding a few pulp type Europeans after coming across the tales of Roosevelt in Brazil. Small bands with bearers etc, armed with superior weaponry and immune to magic unless a local bearer.

About 20 years (REALLY? EEEK!) ago had an idea for a race up an African river between three expeditions for a participation game, with the aim of reaching and discovering a temple. The twist being that the first group to reach it and sack it remove the wardings which release a Spawn of Cthulhu or similar - Then it becomes a race back to the boats, so the slowest on the up route would have the advantage on the return leg.

And then I found the Tekumel Project with a rather nice little race, the Hlutrgu one of the so-called Inimical Races in the Tekumel story. Oh my, do they seem to be the perfect non-human opposition for the Amazonian Indians, being a similar size, equally tribal and with the hint of the Lovecraftian which could make for an interesting range of campaign possibilities.

Little tribal bands with their own Shamans in each group, using nasty little spells, but the rub being that each spell which succeeds also has a knock on effect... Any harmful spell raises negative energy which will summon nasty creatures which will attack anything mortal. Any positive spell, such as healing or a protective charm will reduce the possibility of a summoning of something evil, or perhaps may summon a Feathered Serpent etc.

Anyway, it's just an idea which is starting to gain momentum as I look for something a little different. The other bonus is that such a project could be painted very quickly by using the right combination of base colours and washes, and so it is one of the more appealing projects I could tackle myself.

We shall see...

TTFN

Check out the figures (and maybe by some here:

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Brace Yourselves...

Well, I have an hour or so on my hands before my compulsory Sunday evening spent watching an 80s film of often questionable quality - It's my hobby - and so, I thought I might just vent some spleen about a situation which really, REALLY irks me.

As a full time painter who makes his - admittedly comfortable - living painting figures 5 days per week, I get through a LOT of figures every year. Now, I probably do more trade with many companies and have a higher turnover on their products than some bricks and mortar establishments.

But, because I am not a reseller in the traditional sense - whoops I feel a rant brewing - I do not get trade discounts with the majority of manufacturers. In fact I often go to a friendly bricks and mortar store or a trade show stockist and get a discount there, with said stockist being more than happy to take cold, hard cash from my hands.

You will note, that I emphasise that I pay in advance for my stock, and don't ask or expect credit of any kind, and that if a stockist rather than a manufacturer can cut a deal with me which is agreeable to I and they, and moreover know that I will be back again with a similar order shortly thereafter, a manufacturer would see that there is money to be made from bona fide full time, professional painting outfits who seek to offer an 'all in' client package.

In fact, I can say with all sincerity that there are some truly awful figure ranges out there, which have sold more figures than one might expect, due to the paint work. The By Fire & Sword range are often truly awful castings which belong in another decade in terms of sculpt and production values, but I have been obliged to paint a few thousand of them because I paint them very nicely. I no longer accept commissions for those models because I think my clients are paying a premium for sub standard figures, and I am having to put in way more effort than is reasonable to make these white metal mutants look fit for purpose.

Another very well known manufacturer has been in the past, only too happy to use images from my website - WITHOUT CREDITING MY WORK - and has, I know sold a lot of figures as a result, but refuses to this day to offer a trade discount other than the bulk discounts that anyone else can get. That is frankly despicable and rubs me the wrong way.

One company who attended a now defunct Northern show used to make their money to cover their outlay in attending, just on my purchases. Then they cut their reasonable discount to an insulting level, and so, I took my business elsewhere and they lost a large envelope of £20 notes every time they went to that show, and shortly afterwards stopped attending.

The worst types are those who almost sneer when you approach them and explain that you are a full time figure painter - I won't name two of them who are serial sneerers, but if the mood takes me in future, I may tell a rather amusing anecdote about one of them and a tale of supply of the most dire castings ever, of the other - as if you are unworthy of recognition as a part of the wargames industry.

Mind you, there are some people I've met who think that an 8-10 hour day bent double under a high powered lamp creating what are in reality individual works of artistry are not even worth the national minimum wage, so it's not just the trade.

In my own armies, the number of models can be staggering, and if I do paint say 1-2000 15mm Renaissance for example, you can be damn sure that the company who made them, will get some knock on business on the back of my toil. Like it or not you lead pushers out there, I am good advertising for you and if you don't treat me with respect, your models don't get any space on my website, instead going straight to the always appreciative client, who comes back time and time again, admittedly resulting in more business for you, but considerably less than might otherwise have been generated by a few pictures and a credit.

There are also some very notable exceptions, almost all companies who showed a bit of kindness and cut me a penny or two off the cost of a unit when I was a kid 35 years ago, or whom drove me to a the railway station when I spent 5 hours getting to their open day and had only 35 minutes before the last train home. These were in my opinion as a member of the public, the true ladies & gentlemen of the hobby who could see that by genuinely nurturing a client - even a 13 year old boy with deep pockets - would ensure a lifetime of loyalty.

To this day, when I can do business with these people, I do so. I get slightly less than what might be considered 'trade', but at the same time the cost of the figures is already reasonable compared to some of the others who apply eye watering mark ups for poorer castings. In return, I have an understanding that I pay cash with order and would never be so presumptuous to expect a line of credit. For my part, I give them large orders and we are happy on both sides. In turn I can pass a small saving on to my clients and save them the time of having to source their models, then have them forwarded to me for beautification.

I know this may seem like a pointless rant, but it's not. Painters as I have already said, move a LOT of lead in a year, and can often be instrumental in locating problems with a mould based on the castings they see, or even glaring historical inaccuracies, the correction of which can make a difference to future sales - the location of the magazine on a sten gun on the wrong side of a model for instance.

There are a few 'two bit' painters out there, but the majority of us are hard working professionals who take a real pride in what we do and who also have a vast amount of information in our heads, sometimes with more knowledge of a period in history than the manufacturer who is producing little lead dollies for it.

If there are two ranges of models which are equally good, you can be sure that a client will choose the one on which the painter can offer some incentive. Its a win/win scenario in this case with happy client, happy trade customer and happy manufacturer, who have all benefitted to some degree.

Right, with that little rant off my chest, I will bd you a very sincere 'good night' and join the memsahib for our weekly dose of 80s visual gratification.


TTFN

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Busy, Busy Busy...

Greetings,

As you may expect, I am as busy as ever with my 'day job' of painting figures, and I've been clocking up some long, long days in the last week or so. But, it pays the bills and for the decadent lifestyle which I demand in my middle years.

I've been mostly working on new releases for Heroics & Ros who, under the leadership and vision of Andy Kirk are simply going to new heights and standards of production.

In total I have 4 entirely new ranges on my work schedule this month alone. I can only reveal two of them to you here, but I know of several other ranges which are also under development, as I write.

First of all, I can show you the smallest of the new ranges in the form of a range of WW1 British troops for the Middle East and Mediterranean theatres which I love:


Then, there's a monster release of West German troops for the Cold War Era, which are something I have a particular penchant for:


As you can see, these are models which will give any other company a real run for their money. I love how the LMG gunners assistants have their G3 rifles on the ground at the side of them... PERFECT!

On the personal side of things I have purchased a few packs of ECW generals by Blue Moon in 15mm and I am actually looking forward to painting them to provide the command for my armies being painted by Lancashire Games. They are exquisite castings indeed, and I am hoping that a certain relative takes the hint and sends me the ECW camp scene for Christmas.

I also continued with my Age Of Sigmar acquisitions with this rather nicely painted Skaven Vermin Lord, which caught my eye:



And that's about it for this week. No long winded rants, moans or hypotheses to share. Of course I do have a few things I am mulling and formulating, but I am too busy to take the time to write them down at present. And besides, I have a fortnight's washing up to do:




TTFN

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Old Model Army

The first large historical army I owned, was the New Model Army in 15mm which I loved, and picked the brains of the late, great Peter Armstrong for tips on painting it all up fast, plaguing him with early morning visits to Games Workshop on the quieter days, and learning from a man who was, at the time, the master of all things paint orientated and an ECW buff himself.

It was a large undertaking in the early 80s on £3 per week, and the figures I chose were a mix of Mikes Models and Gallia. Darren Ashmore, Roger Smith, Mark Bamford, Keith Rhodes and Steve Smith all collected regiment upon regiment , and as many of us were reenactors, we took our ECW very seriously back then.

We played some great games using the Gush rules for the Renaissance including sieges, marching our arMies on to the field before starting at an appointed time, all in the name of getting that sense of 'period feel'.

I had 28mm armies in later years, but they never quite caught that same vibe as the original.

Last night I commissioned Lancashire Games to paint that army for me again as well as an opposing Scots Royalist army. I used the WRG lists but reworked them to 1:33 and to be based in elements with a view to using Horse, Foote & Faith fast play rules. I spent this afternoon writing the painting instructions for Allan at Lancashire, who is in my opinion a gentleman of the old cut, who must be  sighing as he reads through it all.

Tonight, I am off to see Big Country, whose music kept me company on many a long distance trip to an ECW event or wargames show. It doesn't get much better.

I am in a state of retro gaming bliss as you may imagine.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Kind Words, Reflection And Static Grass

Hello, hello, hello,

Well, after a bloody awful night's sleep and waking to feel all 49 years pressing down upon me, I was really pleased and flattered to find a message in my inbox which read thus:

"Mark, just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading 'Life's a Bu**er . . .". Brought back so many memories of 'back in the day'. Still gaming, mind. Cheers for the giggles and not-so-giggly insightful bits. In short, thanks for making my life a little bit richer. Cheers (Name redacted by your correspondent)"

Now, I do get mails like this, but it never ceases to make me smile and get a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that in some small way I've had an effect on another person for the better. That someone manages to track me down and then takes the time to write to me is an honour.

This lifted me from what has been something of a negatively introspective mood of late and into a retrospective mood, which is not at all negative. True, I have reflected on a few uncomfortable memories as I worked today, but I realised just what I have achieved because of my hobby and that stubborn refusal to 'grow up' or 'forget about the crap' both suggestion having been levelled at me over recent years.

My hobby has allowed me to create things of beauty and be paid for doing so, taken me all over the country and participate in one of the era defining cultural memes and movements from it's earliest days.

I have owned a shop and lost it, I have worked for Chris Harvey, one of the guiding lights in the early days of the U.K hobby, and what's more I learned a few principles from him which I hold true to, to this day.

I have appeared in Wargames Illustrated, Wargames Journal and on television in my own right, and in recent years become a published author.

I have the companionship of the finest woman a man could wish for, through some very dark episodes and many more as bright as the sun.

Life has in it's own way been very, very good to me.

I have met people who have been friends, enemies, mentors and tormentors; all of whom have shaped me in some way.

All this has come from walking into a toy shop and buying a packet of three Dwarves and then, a few weeks later being the first person through the doors of Games Workshop here in Sheffield whilst they were stocking the shelves.

All things considered it's been a bloody good run up to now...

As I write, I am watching paint dry, and trying not to sneeze, having just applied static grass to the Stormcast Eternals force which arrived yesterday and which, I mentioned in my last post.

Ahh, the simple pleasures can sometimes be the very, very best...


TTFN

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Oh, It's Vewy, Vewy Quiet...

Greetings my dear and appreciated readers,

Firstly I must apologise to you all for seemingly disappearing from the face of the earth of late. This is due to a couple of things:

1. I am exceedingly busy as Conflict In Colour goes from strength to strength and I have more clients than I have time. Thus, I am working stupidly long days, mindful that on December 15th I close for a well earned bout of R&R with pies, wine and turkey - Not to mention duck, venison, pork, beef and more pies.

2. There is a pretty serious mater related to the health of the memsahib which I will not go into here, but trust me, it's the first time in almost 30 years that I have really been scared.

So, whilst I have a lot of thoughts and memories swirling around, the time I need to craft them into an interesting and possibly controversial post or two, just isn't there. And I care about giving you all a bit of distraction, even if it's just one of my polemics on this, that or the proverbial other.

I have really got a bug for this here Age Of Sigmar thing, and I took ownership of another army, this time the Stormcast Eternals who are so cheesy you need to have a pack of cream crackers at the side of you when they are on the table. But, I do like a bit of cheese now and again and as I said before if you don't try to connect this game to Warhammer or it's background, it's pretty epic and very old school in a way that those of you who remember 'back of a postcard' rules from the likes of the esteemed John Armatys will really appreciate.

Allan at Lancashire Games tells me that my Culloden project will be under way after Reading, which is understandable. Hell, it's been 31 years since I got a bug for that battle, so what's a month or two, and Allan is a top bloke in my not so humble opinion.

Last night I was out watching a presentation streamed to the Sheffield Central Library from the British Library on the subject of the tools of witchcraft. It was a very entertaining evening and to be in an Art Deco building 'after hours' is a thrill in itself. We will be going to a few more similar talks this month, and in December I will be attending an adult orientated event with my Death Eater costume in a sort of official capacity, again in the Central Library, which looks as if it will be a VERY good evening:




DESCRIPTION

Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Libraries invite you to an adults only, fun themed night of magic, music, creativity and ‘potions’ as we celebrate Harry Potter: The History of Magic exhibition.
Magical dress is encouraged.
Please check www.museums-sheffield.org.uk or for more information



It's a 3 and a half hour event, starting at 7PM, so I am really looking forward to this.

I'll be at Winter Recon in Pudsey on December 2nd. I love this show as it has atmosphere and a lot of good memories for me in it's various incarnations. Plus, the catering and entrance are very reasonable indeed.

Anyway, that's the news for the moment. Again, please excuse and forgive me if my posts are somewhat thin on the ground, but normal service will resume as soon as possible.


All the best,


M

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Let There Be Light

For me as a full time painter, lighting is one of the most important 'tools'.

I use a pair of Daylight company 2 foot, 3 tube lighting rigs, which each give 6500 kelvins of light for 42 watts per lamp.

These are not a cheap lamp (well, £120 is pretty reasonable for a lamp, if you value your eyesight I suppose) but you do get a 2 year guarantee on them which is just as well, as I have had to invoke that guarantee twice.

The rub is, that if you need to replace the T5 tubes the Daylight Company will rob you blind for what is simply a 14w low energy tube like any other. Despite the claim of 30,000 hours before a tube needs replacing, I tend to change them every 2500 hours as they do noticeably dim.

This used to be an expensive thing for me, but I found a company which supplies me with replacement tubes at under £2 each; what's more they are from quality lamp manufacturers such as Osram, GE and Sylvania (all far superior to the Daylight Company tubes) and are available in assorted light types to suit the user's needs.

I took delivery in 48 hours for ten GE daylight bulbs, delivered by UPS to my door for £21.00

If you use a daylight lamp, I would urge you to make sure you change the bulbs at least annually and to do so, buy your bulbs from www.lampshoponline.co.uk


TTFN

Friday, 20 October 2017

A Gallimaufry Of Miscellanea

Greetings readers,

TGIF has never been so apt as this week...

I have just had almost two weeks solid of painting 15mm Napoleonic figures, which whilst rather splendid have left me with a real headache and fatigue, the likes of which I've not had in a long time. So much in fact that I am actually considering ceasing accepting orders for Napoleonic models. 11 hours a day instead of the normal 7.5 is not a fun or healthy regime.

In fact I have been so busy that I've not had chance to do much shopping save a couple of cashmere sweaters, a couple of pairs of rather nice moleskins, a copy of the Disciples Of Tzeentch army lists for Age Of Sigmar and 35 old Traveller RPG books. Rather piss poor by my standards I have to admit.

The memsahib has been rather ill recently and it could have been rather serious (terminal in fact) to the point that she was hospitalised with an 'or else' warning. She was slated for 3 weeks but made good her escape after a week and is recovering at home. Luckily she is of fine English stock and as she has a pretty senior post of employment is able to work from home, which is preventing her from gong around the twist. I used the hospital stay to eat a lot of brown rice and liver ,both of which she loathes. I also used the time when not working to get that Culloden project sorted.

But I confess that I was pining from day one. You see, we have been together through thick and thin for just shy of 30 years and despite some rather serious ups and downs in our time are very much a solid partnership, never being parted this long in all that time. She games, is witty, intelligent, cooks almost as well as I and is very much a soothing presence, countering my baser instincts and vile temper.

 I met her when my first truly long term relationship was in a terminal dive - when your girlfriend screws 10 people behind your back it doesn't tend to end well - and our first date was going to the cinema to see Hellraiser ,and her first gift was a red rose and a painted ghost from my then 'army of the moment'.

Anyway, that was when I met my best friend and critic, and I realised that there was a person for whom I'd give up anything - even wargaming.

She was not a gamer in any way when we met, but was and is genuinely interested much to the chagrin of a few people who have attempted to talk down to her in those 3 decades and have found themselves totally outclassed. A very well known trader and figure manufacturer once made that mistake and then compounded it by focussing on her bosom at Vapnartak. That was 'interesting'...

Anyway, I digress; I have been brooding and mulling over my youth as one is won't to do. I didn't help myself by watching the 'Recital Of The Script' the final date of the 1983 Marillion tour, filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon. Marillion are for me, intrinsically linked to gaming and my early experiences therein. The late Peter Armstrong introduced me to some of the more obscure stuff, some of my happiest (and darkest) memories have a soundtrack by Marillion, Rush and Jethro Tull.

I sat brooded about what I could have done and didn't, what I should have done and shied away from and wondered if at the end of it all, I've wasted my life? I couldn't say and it maybe that on a given day I would think one thing and on the next another, so mercurial are my moods these days.

My exclusion from Games Workshop in the mid 80s for a period of about 3 years estranged me from my friends. Those friends as is typical of children I suppose, were not wont to risk their own 'visiting rights' and thus I raged against them for the next 25 years when, had I been better adjusted and less temperamental, I guess I could have tried to maintain those links.

Hindsight and all that...

I was listening to the Grognard Files podcast following a comment on this very blog by Steven Williams and was flattered to find out that my own book was in some way responsible for the development of that rather excellent and quirky show. I listened to the double edition of the show on the Traveler RPG and that was it, I set out to put together my collection again and, within 7 days and after £340 or outlay I acquired the initial purchase of 35 books.

In fact if you have any unwanted Traveller books and games, please let me know. I am particularly looking for Snapshot, the man to man combat system and would pay £25-£40 for a copy in good condition.

I'm pretty much in a downward spiral of reveries at present and thus, I am holding onto as many memories as I can lest my emotions take me on a full-blown depression cycle *sigh*.

I do sometimes consider cutting all of my social media ties with the friends I have re-connected with, particularly when so many have passed away in the last 12 months, way, way too early, but so far I have managed to keep myself in check and, if I can get some quality 'me' time, reading and gaming I might be able to put a stop to those thoughts and get my game face on. I think that some people always expect me to be the strong and dominant type, but in truth that's not who I am.

Hopefully when Allan atLancashire Games presents me with my painted Culloden armies, I'll be distracted for a while even though my interest in Culloden dates to the 80s and a love for the music of Big Country, which could actually set me off on one again... Bloody hell, who'd have thought that the carefree 12 year old buying his first dwarf models at Hopkinson's Models in Sheffield in 1981 was opening a Pandora's box which some 37 years later would lead to thoughts like those covered in this post?

It's a funny old world innit?


TTFN


PS: having now played Age Of Sigmar, I have revised my original scathing opinion. If you ignore the fact that it is prefixed as 'Warhammer' it's actually a pretty fine little game indeed.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Awa' Awa' - But properly dressed...

Well, it's been a hectic week on the domestic front, but I did manage to place an order with always helpful Allan Lumley over at Lancashire Games for 616 painted 15mm figures to allow me to refight Culloden.

I have wanted to 'do' that battle since the mid 80s after seeing it at Triples in 6mm. I never liked the look of it in 28mm - I don't know why - but 15mm was on the cards a few times. However, as I paint for a living and have zero time or inclination to paint things myself, I decided to go with Allan as I love the gloss finish, old school basing (you know, proper paint and tetrion basing, not static grass which is the norm these new fangled days.

I have worked at a flexible 1:30 ratio as it makes for nice sized units which retain a good aesthetic value. I have been reading like mad and giving myself a refresher course.

I fear I may have swamped Allan with more detail than he probably needs, bit I am a little OCD like that.

Yesterday I finally picked up my bespoke suit from my tailor after a 6 month wait, and despite the fact that I am have on the wrong shirt (it being cut for field ports and so quite long and loose; and that my hair does need a trim on the back and sides, I am very happy indeed.

You will recall that this whole smartening up was after suffering the stench and sartorial disarray at Vapnartak back at the start of the year.

Well, I for one will not be found wanting in that regard.





TTFN






Sunday, 8 October 2017

Monster Comic Con - Meh!

Well, Monster Comic Con in Doncaster was a disappointment. The vibe was subdued... Massive venue, lots of trade but a distinct lack of people.

The so called 'Cosplay Guests' were a waste of time... They were supposedly giving presentations, but frankly the info was non existent. Also having 4 nubiles in leotards etc, did no really send out a message of inclusion which we hear so much about. No male presence on 'Lechers Row', no Over-30 cosplayers on there... Do it right or don't bother. I could have walked up there with no preparation and presented something better off the cuff.

True to form the 'camera carrying mid-life crises' brigade appeared, gently sweating and fiddling with their lens caps - And no I DON'T think that many of these fellows are doing anything more than adding to an unsavoury personal gratification album.

As I said, the trade element was good, and I purchased a Polar Lights 'ECTO 1' kit and nerly spent £300 on a set of 4 Mattel 12" Ghostbusters figures - Nearly.

Was it worth the £12.50 advance early bird ticket cost? Certainly not. And if you arrived at the door and wanted that 1 hour start on the masses (who did not materialise) it was going to cost you an eye watering £15.00.

By 2PM I was thoroughly bored, and for the first time ever, I actually removed my hood and mask in the venue.

Meh...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

I Got Wood... And Then Some Bush

Yesterday, I collected the Sylvaneth army I mentioned in my previous post, and I am really happy with it. The day was made even better by a pleasant lunch with the memsahib, who also developed a keen desire to finish her Undead army or steal my Treemen.

Today, I have spent a rather relaxing 3 hours, adding foliage to the army because I am of the generation who like their wood to have bush, so to speak.

Anyway, here are the pics of the finished army:





TTFN

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Of Dryads, Star Destroyers And A Broken Promise - Not To Mention, Bloody Clavers and the Duke Of Regina's Finest.

I am just as busy as always with my day job as a figure painter. In fact I am having to work longer hours as the number and f account check stompers increases seemingly every month. Mind you, I am not complaining as I see many other painters with very slack workloads.

This has meant that my 'Me' time is in short supply, just as several things begin to take form at the planning stage.

Firstly, I've been reading and re-reading the Laserburn rules and trying to decide on whether to use the old Citadel Traveller range of figures, or the of dial Laserburn models.I used both back in 1982/83 so it's a really hard choice, let me tell you.

I have also been reading the first book my wife bought me, back in 1989, 'Bonnie Dundee' a history of Viscount Dundee who raised the clans in 1689 and met his death at Killikrankie. It's much prettier than the 1745 rising with a few pikemen still in evidence. I am sorely missed emptied to construct two armies in 15mm, but again, time is my enemy.

Last weekend saw me play Star Wars: Armada for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it as did my gaming buddy, Dave. We played with three ships, and I fear that I may have bought one or two ships too many.

Here are my two fleets so far, with Dave shown for purposes of scale:



Give or take I think there's around £800 worth of models there and we used £80 worth and had some damn fine games indeed!

Now, I mentioned the theme of a broken promise in the title, and I confess that despite my stalwart positions on both 28mm gaming and the GW 'Age Of Sigmar' system, I have not only taken a fresh look at the possibilities of those rules now that the latest 'General's Handbook' has been released, but yesterday I made one of this 'on a whim' purchases that you will know by now are a hallmark of your corespondent which time and wisdom have not been able to temper.

I was perusing the best known auction site when I happened to come across a rather pretty 'Sylvaneth' army from the A.O.S game - essentially an army of Ents and Dryads to those of us who remember a time before Warhammer and plastic figures not made by Airfix and Matchbox.

It was temptingly priced at £300 or best offer, and so, I made an offer which was accepted and became the owner of:



Treelord Ancient.
Spirit of Durthu (Conversion).
Treelord Conversion (used as Hurricanum). 
Drycha Hammadreth.
Branchwych.
Branchwraith.
3 Kurnoth Hunters with Greatbows.
3 Kurnoth Hunters with Scythes.
5 Tree Revenants.
5 Spite Revenants.
30 Dryads.
1 Sylvaneth Battletome.


I suppose some would say that it will all end in tears and failed saving throws, but to my mind, that's an allegory for life...
Moving on; Upon that fateful day way back in the dark mists of time, that GW opened in Sheffield, they had various sci-fi nuts dressed in assorted (and original) outfits. There were no cosplayers back then. 
These people were the geek elite and you may imagine how the heart of a barely teenage I nearly burst with pure escapism of it all.
I always wanted to put a costume together which was based on the Traveller 'Military' 15mm figures, which is essentially a modified U.S Army uniform of the Cold War era. 

Now at last, with the unit T'shirts from FFE, I think I can do it...


4518th Lift Infantry Regiment
The 4518th is a typical Star Marine Regiment assigned to defend the empire against the many threats that it may face. The 4518th is based on Regina in the Spinward Marches. 
Worn under a modified M1 helmet and M60 battledress, coupled with a few bits of tech and webbing this should evoke the feel of the Traveller universe nicely. 


154th Battle Rider Squadron 



With this T-shirt I'd wear a grey one piece flight suit, a few bits of tech and Nome gloves, with perhaps a repainted X-Wing pilot's helmet and black assault boots. 

You can check them out here:



And that's about it for the present

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Derby? I Think Not...




I have always enjoyed the Derby (note DERBY) World Team Championships. 

The venue moved a few years ago to Donnington Park - OK, but I just saw that it is now moving to the Buntington Proving Grounds which are another 30 minutes down the road for us. Well, - and excuse my brusqueness - fuck that, for a game of soldiers!
I am not that desperate to buy toys, from a show which has lost it's sparkle but which until this latest fuckwittery was still worth the travel time.

Time to drop the 'Derby' part boys!