Sunday, 16 July 2017

Despite Living In Beirut, An Excellent Day Was Had

 After 4 weeks (with several more ahead) of living in what is a building site with windows, redolent of those 80s news segments from downtown Beirut, today, I made my second visit to the Joy Of Six, 6mm themed convention here in Sheffield, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable day - and an expensive one!

Let me say from the outset, that if you think that 6mm is a waste of time or simply doesn't have anything for you, you really should make the effort to attend, because you are missing a genuine treat.

We arrived at about 10AM and I delivered a few thousand 6mm models to assorted clients, including some new releases for Heroics & Ros, including Danish Centurions, T55s, and WW2 Italian infantry, all of which were. joy to paint.

The venue is the atrium of the main Sheffield Hallam University campus and is bright, airy and a very relaxing venue for a show. The atmosphere of the show is probably the best of any I have attended in the last 25 years with only Britcon coming close. I genuinely believe that the days of the big show are numbered, and if it results in more shows like J.O.6 then I'll shed few if any tears.

The staff and organisers are friendly, the attendees are friendly and the traders are equally friendly, sharing a passion for tiny yet perfectly formed things. Nobody smelled bad, smiles and good manners were abundant. What more could you want?

The bring and buy seemed a bit of a waste of time and this would be my only (and a minor) criticism.

The food was very well priced and the quality outstanding. Two bacon sandwiches and two large hot drinks cost £6.85, and the catering staff were kept very busy, serving all with smiles and banter which simply poured more goodness into the cereal bowl of life. My wife has to have her bread buttered, and the gentleman serving me did not make the fuss and grumbling noises of the catering staff at the Partizan show, a few months back. In fact I would like to thank those staff for being professional and friendly. After all we gamers can be a fickle bunch can't we?

When another of our party arrived, he grabbed two excellent slices of fresh, home made pizza and a large coffee for a fiver...

We set up camp in the seating area as my wife is not in the rudest of health recently and we chatted amiably with friends, clients and traders who dropped by. It was most agreeable.

The display and participation games were of the usual high standard and it was noted that there was a distinct lack of the miserable buggers, you seem to find at many shows these days.

30 minutes into the show, and I'd spent £180. By 4PM when we left, that total had reached £310.

My wife, a sceptic of the scale spent £99 with Baccus on a shedload of Napoleonic models for the Peninsular - for her personal use, you understand.

The traders were very busy indeed, and never seemed to be idle for more than a few moments, because of course, potentially every attendee was a customer, with the focus being on one scale.

When you see a table with a few thousand figures and 500+ trees, it really makes you want to go and spend some of your hard earned lolly. And I did...

I spent around £100 on sci-fi models from Brigade Models, then another £50 on scenery from the same company - And I got a LOT for that money too.

Then it was over to Leven Miniatures and a few fantasy buildings and a stunning rendition of Rourke's Drift which will fit into about the same area as a sheet of A4 paper. An exquisite little model!

Next, we visited Rapier Miniatures, who were telling me about their Glorantha range of 6mm models, and their plan for a massive Runequest / Glorantha game next year at the show - Stirring stuff if like me, you are a fan of the Glorantha mythos. Anyway, I walked away from there with a massive Trojan army, whilst Kayte and Dave ended up with Egyptian and Assyrian armies.

We then repaired to the nearby Red Lion pub where they serve a rather stunning Sunday roast which is tasty and almost too large to manage, washed down with a few alcohol free beers before returning to the show and spending another £50 on a few bits from Brigade and a Prussian army of the FPW from Baccus.

Dave had purchased a couple of raffle tickets and at 15:45 when it was drawn, he won a set of the Command Horizon sci-fi rules - Jammy git!

And so ended a most enjoyable and relaxing day.

I would like to thank Pete Berry of Baccus and Jon Skotulanski of Wargames Emporium along with all of the staff who made the day possible and without whom it would not have been the well oiled machine of an event that it was. And of course thanks to, to those people who presented the games which showcased what this most underrated of all the wargaming scales, can really be!

I am already looking forward to J.O.S 2018!


Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Joy Of Six

Let me begin with an apology.

I apologise for the lack of posts of late, but as you may recall, we'd  undertaken to have the DarkTower re-worked. Alas, what was to be a straightforward renovation of bathroom and kitchen has now become all of that plus the knock through of the dining room, plastering of three locations, replacement of a floor and three ceilings.

Three weeks in, and we are living in only two of the 8 rooms here at the Tower. I am working in some of the most cramped conditions I have had to endure in twenty years.

But, it's given me a lot of time to think of things game related. I've come to one big decision and that is to move over to 6mm for all but my 40K, Cape Wars and Warhammer Fantasy projects.

It all began when, lost in reveries of my misspent (or is that well spent?) youth, I was wont to remember the Triples that irregular Miniatures released it's 6mm range. We were al pretty hooked in our group of Young Olympians, with the exception of your correspondent who, at the eleventh hour when the rest of the gang had cleared out pretty much the entire show stock, decided he would be less of a martinet and join the club. Alas, Irregular had sold out on the Sunday afternoon but one of my mates took pity and sold me a Frankish army pack, which was frankly uninspiring when compared to the other armies Roger, Simon and the rest of the crew were jealously guarding.

But, the scale snob in me, never really went away, and despite the fact that I arguably paint some of the nicest commercially available 6mm you will ever see, I have stubbornly hung on to the notion of larger scales.

Well, that is right out of the window. I have painted so much 6mm that I have begun to once again see the sheer beauty in this scale. Last weekend, I was taking lunch with my gaming buddy, and he was berating me with a series of 'What did I tell you all those years ago?' comments. But, he was correct.

And so with the Joy Of Six show here in my home city on the 16th of July, I have set u a fighting fund to cover the cost of around 5000 (probably more) models.

As the blurb states (and it's all 100% true!):

'The venue for the show is the Heartspace at Sheffield Hallam University. This is a large stylish atrium which will give a light and airy atmosphere to the event.
The venue also has brilliant easily accessible on-site catering, and the menu will be tailored to wargamers at reasonable prices.
The opening times are 10am-4pm and the entrance fee is £3

I'm certainly starting with 6mm sci-fi, fantasy, 18th century and renaissance. Beyond that I have some other ideas, but the world as they say, is my mussel.

I've been reading Craig Armstrong's superb little rule set 'Lord & Lands' which are streamlined yet have a lot of tactical opportunities and multi-genre flexibility.  Indeed I am looking at the possibility of modifying them for 20th century urban unrest.

If you can get to Sheffield on the 16th, I'd really, really suggest you visit the show. You will be blown away by the quality and scope of the games on display, and what;'s more there are great bacon and sausage sandwiches, decent coffee, and if you want a bloody good lunch, the Red Lion on Matilda Street, a couple of minutes easy walk from the venue, offers a truly outstanding Sunday lunch.

Even if the idea of 6mm does not appeal, give the show a visit, because I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what the scale has to offer the gamer.


Monday, 26 June 2017

The Day My Scrotum Failed It's Save Vs Poison

I appear to have angered the gods.

Gentlemen... Check your boxer shorts when they have been out on the line.

I have just pulled on mine and been stung, squarely in the balls by a bee which must have got in there whilst they were on the line.

It is NOT pleasant.

Funny, yes... I admit I can see the funny side now that the tears have cleared.

Pleasant, NO!

The bee alas will not see the sun set upon this day, like me it failed it's saving throw

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Real Life Is Indeed, A Bugger!

I've never really been that materialistic beyond my lust for books and all things a bit nerdy and figure related.

But, of late that does seem to have changed. You remember I laid out my 'everything stops at 50' plan a few weeks ago? Well...

The bathroom at the Dark Tower needed overhauling and so we put plans into place last year to get it done. Alas, the kitchen also needed some work, despite being 11 years old and bloody expensive. The kitchen staff and even an insolent scullery maid had been somewhat rowdy and outspoken to both myself and the lady of the house, despite being flogged with a handy shoehorn and the dogs set upon them (the scullery maid will be out of hospital next week).

And so, we called in our faithful and favoured builders and in the end, it was decided that the Dark Tower would be brought into the Century Of The Fruitbat with the following work:

Replacement of bathroom suite
Full tiling of walls and floor of same
New fittings and fixtures
New ceiling and spotlights
Removal of wall between the kitchen and great hall (all the better to ensure that the staff refrain from spitting in the sauce Bernaise)
Bricking up of the kitchen door and addition of a window in it's place. (that should fox those damned tinkers  who are always bothering Cook and our footman with their wares)
New main kitchen window
Removal of no less than 3 previous layers of ceiling over the kitchen (what did the last incumbent Dark Lord think he was doing?)
Replacement of the entire kitchen with a 50% extension of space utilising the darker corners of the great hall.
Tiling of the floor s of the great hall and kitchen
Replacing the great hall ceiling
Replacing the kitchen ceiling
Re-plastering of the grand staircase, study and great hall
Re-carpeting of the grand staircase and study
New cabinetry in the great hall to display the fine glassware collected by the lady of the house, in our 3 decades together.

All in all, we were looking at around £20,000.00 of work and although we were able to enlist the assistance of Robin Shylock the local approved money lender at the temple of Humdingah, at rather favourable rates, we still had to raise some more funds when we extended the scope of the restoration work.

The lady of the house used some of the funds earmarked for her passion of collecting fine silverware and undead wargames figures, and I had to forego 3 rather wonderful 15mm armies which I had planned to purchase from the Duke Of Scarborough (late of this parish, but defending the coast against the barbarian hordes for several years now) as well as somewhat reluctantly also sell one of my recent acquisitions of WH40K Space Marines which was admittedly an impulse buy based on volume and value over a need or aesthetic consideration.

The hardest thing to come to terms with is that I am now actually getting excited at the prospect of the Dark Tower being brought up to standard, despite the loss of 4 armies, and I think it is a clear indication that I am becoming rather mundane in my middle years.

The Dark Tower is a mass of rubble, plaster dust and ancient spider webs, we have had no sink in the bathroom since Monday, the bath was installed in a somewhat rudimentary manner last night...

...and the toilet is temporarily plumbed in, with the disconcerting addition of being sat on floorboards, under which no ceiling exists, meaning that every set of 'maneuvers' can be clearly heard by the kitchen staff (mind you, if they look upwards in mirth, you can be pretty certain that you can piss in their eye through the cracks in the floorboards, so it does have some entertainment value).

I have a pile of game related reading material to get stuck into, but there's nowhere really suitable to indulge in that little peccadillo quite yet.

I have however also decided that I will be doing a lot of 6mm gaming, as i am arguably a fine painter in that scale (in every scale, come to mention it) thus it would seem to make sense that 6mm is a way forward. I love that feeling of being god of all you survey with the hundreds of, tiny troops able to roam over a far greater area than their larger counterparts.

It's my hope that I will have some eye candy of this sort to show to you in the coming months, but right now, I am very hard at work, creating things of beauty for my clients every day (even today as it happens).

That's about it for now, and if I am remiss in my reportage, please forgive me, but quiet moments in which I can sit and indulge myself at the keyboard are few and far between.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

For The Emperor!

Today's bargain...

The seller was asking £1200 (not unreasonable really, given the quality), but I was being firm on my long term budget. Then yesterday, the deal on a rather nice Imperial Fists army fell through due to the seller dawdling, and, as I scanned the Imperial Psy-Net I saw this army had been slashed to £600...

And you know how it goes from here...


Saturday, 10 June 2017

This will be brief as I got to bed at 2:30 after finishing a monumental painting stint just before midnight, grabbed a glass of wine, hummus, pittas and olives along with some cheery charcuterie, and took in a couple of 1984 episodes of Top Of The Pops. I was up again at 6AM, to sort out some steel pins, destined to become pikes, and so I am actually a tad fatigued as type this blog update.. 

My 20mm Vietnam stuff arrived on Wednesday, and was sent back on Thursday as the seller had just dropped them in a box with a few bits of newspaper. You may imagine - or prefer not to - how they arrived. I was not happy at all.

I am currently waiting for a 20mm Arab/Israeli collection to arrive from the Netherlands. It was quite a large collection and worked out at about 75p per model or vehicle. The seller I understand has taken great pains in the packing and so I am hoping that they will arrive in pretty good condition, some time next week.

My lightsaber also arrived this week and Parcel Force gave my wallet a real good going over   with their fees, charges and taxes racket - That's what it is - a racket!

Hopefully tonight we'll be gaming and drinking a few alcohol free beers. I'm not sure what we are playing, but it'll probably something fairly straight forward as we are all seemingly, pretty whacked out this week.

I buy copious numbers of audio books from Audible, which I listen to as I workI am currently listening to the travelogues of Neil Peart of veteran Canadian rock band, Rush. He's a really perceptive observer and writes well, painting pictures of Canada and the U.S which bring those places to life in the mind's eye. 

He describes his terrible shyness and how that shapes the way that fans perceive him as being somewhat misanthropic. 

I am also absorbing 'Down & Out In Paris And London' by George Orwell and it's OK in small doses - like arsenic. After that, I have Somerset Maugham's 'The Gentleman In The Parlour' lined up leaving about another half dozen of varying genres including the 60 hour long marathon which is Alan Moore's 'Jerusalem'.

I am now very certain that I will finish my 'last hurrah' of gaming spending a year earlier than planned. It all turns on the availability of Perry Miniatures 'Cape Wars' models at Britcon in August.

I've been so busy that my studio had got into a right old state. I am not the kind of artist who can wallow in squalor, so a 3 hour heavy duty clean has been in order and, I can now see all the work surfaces, but cleaning the dust from the lids of 200 pots of paint with a lump of Blu-Tak was something of an experience. Still, it's done and now I can feel a little more at ease up here.

I ordered all my 8th edition WH40K stuff last weekend and I cannot wait to get my hands on it all in 7 days time. It really does look to be a great leap forward and the figures I have recently purchased are all dying to get stuck in a.s.a.p. 

Well, that's all for now,


Saturday, 3 June 2017

14 Months And 15 Days To Go, And All Is Looking Good...

Friends, both old and new were somewhat sceptical when I announced a couple of months ago, that after my 50th birthday, I would be making no further large purchases of wargaming stuff and that I had a pretty finite list of wants - considered the least plausible of my proclamations.

But with 14 months and 15 days until that historic day, I can say that at this time I am well ahead of schedule.

As I type, I am only short of:

6mm sci-fi
28mm Cape Wars
6mm or 15mm Dark Ages

I aim to have them all purchased by that date and indeed all painted and playable with the exception of the Cape Wars which, is to be my last grand gesture of artistic prowess and one which I hope will proved a suitably elegant swan song.

Fingers crossed, I'll probably have all but the Cape Wars completed by the end of 2017.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and dress myself as a Death Eater and get myself frisked by security, under the watchful (and very welcome eyes) of police firearms officers at South Yorkshire Cosplay Con.


Friday, 2 June 2017

All Spent Up... At Last!

Today finally broke the camel's back. I have managed to hit my spending limit.

As I had worked a double shift in the studio yesterday, my brother and I zipped down to Nottingham to Warhammer World for a spot of lunch and to grab some Adeptus Mechanicus decals. And a nice time was had, as always.

Thence I returned with a bee in my bonnet about some 20mm Arab-Israeli War models I had seen a while back. It's a period I have wanted to have a crack at for years and so mustering the last of my depleted resources (until Joy Of Six, anyway) I purchased the collection.

The following pics give you a taste but don't fully do them justice. They are very nice indeed...

Of course, now I just need to find some reasonably brisk rules. Any suggestions?


'Charlie' In The Trees and Backwards Facing Knees

Well, sometimes my purchases do not go as smoothly as I'd wish.

You may recall I'd bought a nice little Sons Of Horus 30K force to be joined with another which I'd set out to buy from a German seller. The German seller got cold feet despite me meeting his asking price, so I was left with the S.O.H part-army.

Ho hum... No problem - It took less than an hour to recoup what I'd paid, but I still wanted a 30 era army. Anyway, on Saturday I'd seen a rather nice 30K Adeptus Mechanicus force which was only around 1500pts. To be honest I was not too enthused by the pushiness of the seller, so although it was nice, I passed on it.

This was what it looked like:

Well, I was looking on eBay yesterday and came across a smaller force which was very similar in style and which would, if combined with the army above, make a really nice force as well as coming with the Forgeworld rule book:

Some very swift Paypal action and both were secured - Result!

Now, a few months ago, I'd looked at some 20mm Vietnam models. The painting was varied, but at an asking price of 50p per figure and £4 per vehicle, I was almost tempted, but passed in the end... But, I have been watching M.A.S.H which whilst being supposedly set in Korea is a blatant nod towards the Vietnam War. This got me digging out my old books and the excellent Body Count rules, which led to me contacting the seller, who still had them. It seems that 20mm has lost it's pull these days so I was in luck and purchased the collection which is around 350 models:

A bit of TLC on the vehicles and I think it'll be a nice pocket money priced collection all told...


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

It Was The Bloody Baboons I Tell You...

I crawled off to bed at 10:15 last night... I am an old man and the weekend had, as I said previously tired me out somewhat. I settled my head for a decent 7 hours, with Radio 4 Extra playing on a timer.

My dreams were fevered and in them I heard a screeching bark (no, not my mother). I woke up and there it was for real. A quick look at the clock - 12:37


It was a programme on R4E all about bloody baboons - I ask you, 12:30 at night and they play screeching, bleeding apes?

Well as you may imagine my night was disturbed...  I awoke this morning and found solace in a glass of fizzy multivitamins, a mug of coffee and my iPad.

I finally managed to calm my somewhat shattered nerves with a small purchase in the shape of a rather pretty 'Sons Of Horus' Heresy era force for a £200:

Two hours later, and I can conform that retail therapy is a definite cure for baboons!


Monday, 29 May 2017

The Voices Made Me Do It...

There I was in the bath with the iPad, when ehe voices started whispering in my head.

Then I saw these three Imperial Knights… Did a deal for £60 each (RRP unpainted is £85 each)

I have 5 now, since yesterday, plus the Warhound Titan...


Busy, Busy, Busy...

It's a dull Bank Holiday Monday here in Sheffield, and so I am at my desk preparing for my return to work in the morning.

It's been a very busy long weekend.

Friday saw Kayte and I travelling down to Nottingham for lunch at a cheeky little oriental place. I was in need of sushi and sashimi. I have to say tempura sushi is an experience worth repeating. The large Japanese population in Nottingham means that the food is pretty damned fine.

Thence, we made our way up to Warhammer World after calling in at a newsagents so that I could pick up my copy of 'The Chap' a fine sartorial magazine. And guess what? I was in in the mag in all my Death Eater finery after lightheartedly submitting myself for sartorial scrutiny in the guise of 'Damius Darkweasel'. It was a surprise that I was actually featured though :)  But I am known by some (the poor deluded fools) as a narcissistic media whore , so it was good to live up to my reputation.

Anyway, I went into the Forgeworld store with the aim of picking up a 40K scale Warhound Titan (£370), two Imperial Knights £170 and a Fire Raptor gunship (£105) And a decal sheet for my Imperial fists army which arrives on the morrow. In the end, I followed a gut instinct (something I am deliberately doing of late with great success) to give it a day or so as I would get free delivery anyway, taking just the gunship and decals.

I spent the evening building the gunship - or at least trying to as it's a bugger of a model to build - and crawled into bed at midnight, which was a bad idea as I'd been working from 6AM to 21:30 all week.

Up at 5:15 on Saturday to carry on with the kit build and managed to send a pint of coffee all over my desk in the studio along the way. Then, off to Baslow in the locale of Chatsworth House for lunch with my mother-in-law at Il Lupo where I can always get a very passable Liver Veneziana. Home for an hour and a half before setting off to Leeds to see Adam Ant at the arena. Lots of well armed police outside the venue and full shakedowns from Showsec before we could get in. I spent a few minutes with to of the firearms officers debating the merits of the G36 against the older H&K platforms. I have to say it made me feel a lot more relaxed knowing that there were a dozen or more of these tooled up professionals outside the venue for 4 hours. Still. we left before the crowds, as I'd worked out what I thought was the best exfiltration route and a 10 minute start is always good.

It was 2AM by the time we got to bed and I was awake at 7AM (I had a lie-in) to walk the dogs and prepare for my mate arriving at 11AM for a game of WAB. I went back to bed with my coffee (this time IN the mug) and checked my various social media groups, to find... A Warhound Titan for £250 - FULLY PAINTED!

So I bought it... You see? The gut feeling was correct again... Yes, fully painted (I will do a bit of  neatening) for £125 less than bare resin:

The game was a massacre... I had my arse handed to my by Vikings, and I was using my Normans. The following pics will tell you the story:

And the fate of the Norman general?

Then it was out into Derbyshire to find decent fish and chips for tea (and why the hell not?) and look for houses, with a relatively early night ending at about midnight, but not before I proved my gut unsting was right again and got two Imperial Knights, fully painted at plastic cost:

Up again at 6AM this morning to walk the dogs, but at last my energy has given up the ghost and I think I triggered a flare of my arthritis, so I was back to bed for 3 hours. I've been taking it very easy as I am in some pain, but I need to be fighting fit to do some heavy-slog basing for my clients at 7AM Tuesday.

However sitting still and checking the assorted gaming groups bagged me these:

The seller wanted £300 which I guess was OK, but in the end, he asked for £250, so I obliged him of course as it would have been churlish not to. OK, I need to do the basing, but I suppose I cant expect to always keep my hands clean at weekends, can I?