Sunday, 22 January 2017

Testing MTN94 Aerosol Paints

In an attempt to force a little normality back into myself, this morning I have been testing out the MTN94 range of spray paints... I've tried the gloss non-yellowing varnish and it's frankly superb and therefore, will be 'standard issue' for my business needs. I have also tried out the matt colours white, bone white and London grey... Here are the results.

They have great covering power despite being low pressure cans. They initially look mottled but the finish levels out very nicely as show.

Drying time does seem slower than most 'hobby' paints, so a liitle prior planning will be needed for me to utilise them on a day to day basis for my work. The boats are resin and metal, whilst of course the ogre is metal.

The barbarian used for the gloss test below was an old, figure, previously matt varnished that I found in the studio. He was given a coat of MTN94 gloss and then after a mere 15 minutes, a coat of Winsor & Newton Professional ARtist's Matt Varnish. You can see the results of both stages for yourself.

You can clearly see that despite the matt varnish, the colours are retained, thanks to the excellent gloss coat.

They are quite pungent as sprayed, but the smell dissipates very quickly, even in an enclosed space.

MTN94 sprays can be purchased from Cass Art

Saturday, 21 January 2017

He Was The First Of Our Own... Paul Stephens: 1967 to 2016

This is a long post, so please, bear with me, indulge an old and tired man, and allow me to tell a story. Not a life story, but a part of one, indeed several which were for a while at least interconnected

Are we sitting comfortably, my young Hobbits?

Good. Then I shall begin..

In the 1980s, I would guess probably 1982 or thereabouts I was getting into gaming of all sorts in a really big way. My typical week, looked like this:

Sheffield Runelords

Sheffield University Wargames Society

Sheffield Polytechnic Roleplaying Society
Sheffield Wargames Society

Weekly meeting of ECW reenactment group

Games Workshop
Sheffield Space Centre
Hopkinsons Toys
Beatties Models
Gaming with mates from about 1PM to 9:30PM - possibly involving an all night session if the parents of said mates were feeling well disposed to half a dozen hairy little blighters dossing down in their family manse.

Add to this conventions and several after school trips to the numerous stores, and you'll see I gamed a lot. In fact I think there were Nazis at Nuremburg, who would have blanched at my fanaticism. True, I wasn't getting up to their tricks, but, if it had involved a gaming session, it's a possibility that I'd have thrown in my lot with the jackboot brigade.

I also made a lot of friends at the clubs. Some intermixed across peer groups, and some didn't, but for the most part, in that way that only teenage boys can, (doubly so where toy soldiers, imaginary worlds and dice are involved) we just 'got on'.

I guess that it would have been about 1983, when after being a member of Sheffield Runelords for a while and playing with some older gamers, (who had done a pretty damned fine job of putting up with me and my youthful exuberance - without killing me and feeding me to the pigs)   
I’d also recently got to know a group of boys of my roughly my age, who, I'd seen in Games Workshop but never spoken to. 

There was Paul Green, who was slightly older than the rest of us, and a very talented illustrator, going on to work for Games Workshop before moving into the video games industry and thence to make his mark to this day as a comic illustrator of repute. He was very mature for his age and had a way of being reasonable under any circumstances, radiating a self-assured calmness, even when I accidentally hit him in the face, demonstrating a 'Johnny Alpha' back hander, or when faced with a pretty realistic looking replica of a .44 magnum – but that as they say, is another story.

Paul Stephens was, to be frank,  too good looking for his own good and back then, in the full flush of youth, could come across as aloof and superior. He had those handsome features that any girl would fall for and had a girlfriend who was able to draw him away from spending all Saturday in town, itself something of an achievement and, indeed, I will spare you a fruity anecdote here dear reader. He was an excellent role-player often playing characters that seemed to be the opposite of the personal image he portrayed.

There was also Pete White, who was I guess back than as introverted as myself. Although we got on with each other, I think at first we both kept our defences up. But down the years and despite going our own way, we are firm friends, and moreover, we can freely speak our minds without getting into fisticuffs. Pete is quiet and thoughtful, with an insightful dash of introspection. He speaks his mind, and I find that to be an admirable quality, whereas others may find it a tad antagonistic I suppose.

The two Pauls were very close, and at the time I think their close friendship was misread by others as a aloofness. Looking back, it's evident that they were as tight as friends could be, as tight as I myself was with other mates. But, remember that through the eyes of an insecure teenage boy, anything can be read in a negative manner.

Saturdays began with us all meeting at an amusement arcade situated behind The Moorfoot shopping precinct. It had the normal selection of slot machines but we weren’t interested in those. We were there to play Krull, a video game based on a fantasy adventure film of the same name and Dragon’s Lair, which used a series of animated scenes on a laser disc with the player having to make the correct split-second choice to complete the game.

I played Dragon’s Lair a few times and could not for the life of me get a grasp of it. But Krull was a different thing altogether. Week after week I completed the game racking up high scores. It would remain my favourite until 1985 when Gauntlet and Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins took our breaths away. I vaguely recall that both Pauls were pretty sharp on that classic 'Space Harrier' - Talk about a surreal premise for a game!

In those days video games went hand in glove with the pen and paper games that we played. We never thought that this new gaming genre would all but destroy role-playing games within 10 years

Next port of call, sometimes (if we were running late) after a revitalising bag of chips and maybe a cheeky dash of gravy at ‘The Friary’, washed down with a carbonated beverage of choice, would be Games Workshop, where we would take in the numerous releases for that week, maybe with a purchase or two. We’d stand and chat with the staff until one of the management team pointed out that it was, contrary to what we may believe a retail establishment and not a social club for limpets. 

Daz (Now Professor Darren Ashmore)  may join us along with ‘Lizard’ who was another school friend of Darren's.

 His real name was Martin Lightowler but when he ran, it reminded the casual observer of one of those geckos that run on their hind legs, and so was renamed 'Lizard'.

Lizard was another rock fan and played several instruments. He had and indeed has, a crazy sense of humour and Daz suffered many an impromptu ad-libbing session as either Lizard or I got an insane idea and ran with it. One particularly memorable afternoon whilst sitting around in D.J’s bedroom admiring his taste in ‘artistic magazines’ somebody started a conversation about how a battle between God and Satan would sound in the style of Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’.

Somewhere is a 60-minute cassette tape containing what turned into an ad-libbing session that was genuinely hilarious. If you can imagine God being played by Robert Duvall, you’ll get the idea of the whole zany skit.

From Games Workshop, we’d wend our way – possibly via another fish and chip emporium to the ‘Sheffield Space Centre’ our local comic shop on the fringes of the city centre.  With Pete in tow, buying a bag of chips could be an adventure in its own right.

You see, Pete had an uncanny ability to attract attention when he was in possession of half a kilo of deep fried potato products. In one instance he was adding condiments to his steaming bundle of carbohydrates when he chanced to spy a deep fried wasp in with the expected starchy delights. He raised the point somewhat vocally with the proprietor who took umbrage with this teenage food critic, resulting in the entire band – some without their orders – being asked to leave his establishment. While we starved, Pete pocketed the wasp for posterity and proceeded to eat the chips anyway.

On another occasion, whilst we all peacefully noses-down in our al fresco lunches, Pete was approached by a somewhat rough looking skin-headed youth, quite clearly out of his mind on some form of inhaled solvent. This in itself should have set every alarm bell ringing, but Pete stood there and faced the fellow in his customarily laconic way.    Conversation was joined, with the oxblood booted weapon of destruction opening the discussion, ‘Give us a chip then…’

‘I’ve only got scraps.’ This said with a mouthful of steaming hot potatoes.

‘You want a scrap?’ the shaven-headed hooligan politely enquired. At this point we intervened, gave the fractious youth the remains of one of our bags, and is a scene reminiscent of an Ealing Studios farce, Pete was dragged away protesting.

Sheffield Space Centre a tiny dark temple to comics and science fiction memorabilia. This was where we would make a postprandial pilgrimage most weekends. Space Centre is today, still a thriving business but has moved to larger and infinitely brighter premises at the opposite end of the city. If comics and memorabilia are your thing and you are ever in Sheffield, you are obliged under pain of something unpleasant to pay it a visit.

From there, the posse would split, sometimes I’d go with the Pauls and Pete and spend an afternoon watching videos at the home of Paul ‘B’ which was close to Space Centre but more often than not I’d go with D.J and Lizard and do some serious gaming grabbing a few other lads along the way. It seemed at times as if the streets of 80s Sheffield was paved with gamers, such was the impact of the hobby on the youth of the day.

And so it went on... 

Then in late 1986 I met my first long term girlfriend and we moved in, together sometime thereafter. Anyway, it was a doomed relationship. Over time, we argued and fought and it was a never ending circle of woe. Frankly it was bloody amazing that we didn't kill each other.

In early 1988, the girl in question 'Rita' took it upon herself to bed a few of my friends, mostly my newer less established friends as I'd lost touch with many of my gaming buddies following a ban from GW (I'll not dig that up here). and had become a Goth.

Anyway, one thing led to another and she ended up having a one night Stand with Paul Stephens. I found out, and Paul and I had a bit of a 'scene' in a local night club.

Anyway, that kind of soured our relationship thenceforth and although we kind of buried the hatchet,  I feel that we never put enough heavy stones over the hole.

Back in 2011 we finally met up again and faced up to the past. I forgave, but couldn't really let go. Ok, I'll be frank... There were 10 mates in total involved in 'flings' but I just put up with it. Paul was however an old friend, and I guess in my testosterone fuelled indignation I saw his actions as so much worse than everyone else's because he was 'one of us', somebody that for all the usual quirks of the teenager (and we all had them, trust me on that) was loved (we wouldn't have called it that back then of course) and from whom honour and loyalty was expected, demanded.

And of course, it took two to tango, but the man betrayed, sees only the other man when he is in a rage.

For the next few years, I would cultivate an objectionable ‘f**k you all’ attitude, and as a result it must have adversely affected my old friendships. I was as the saying goes ‘one twisted little bunny’. I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder… I had a 2kg bag of unwashed Maris Piper potatoes with a side serving of bitterness and humiliation.

Anyway, Rita went her own way later that year and towards the end of that sorry episode in my early years, I met my now-wife, from whom, I have barely ever been parted in 29 years. 

Paul Stephens passed away in December 2016. I was mooching around the house on a Sunday morning, busy doing nothing, when Lisa ( a former GW staffer from our shared youth) contacted me on Social media, to tell me Paul had passed away. 

I thought she was winding me up, and so I thereby sent a somewhat anxious and terse message to Paul Green (you may recall from past blog posts that we'd all failed to get back together in 2011/12) who despite my previous 'bad mouthing' in December of 2102 (because, yes - I can be a real asshole - Let the records show that fact) graciously responded to confirm the news.

I was devastated to a degree I could not have predicted. I mean, I was numb. I cried, I raged, on and off that day. I listened to the early albums of Marillion, for whom we all shared a love, but I just could not shake off the surreality of the news. It was absurd... Stephens dead? Bollocks... He was one of us, a bright young immortal, a fellow egomaniacal, gamer. We'd all wake up and it would be just another day.

But no, it was true.

On Friday 20th January 2017, Paul's funeral was held. I had to go. Pete too, and in fact as I don't drive, Pete showed that honour and friendship we all once shared and travelled across the city without complaint to get me to the service.

Paul Green was the closest to our late friend than any of us. Let the record also show that fact. I can only imagine how he felt. He was a pallbearer and delivered a beautiful and moving tribute to our friend. 90% of those present would have not understood the nuances, but 10% of us did and I think collectively took some solace.

(I think this is the first time all of us were in the same place, wearing formal attire. I think Paul S would have found this funny)

More of us perhaps should have been there, but life is not like that, is it - Ideal I mean?

Paul G had repeatedly told me that our late comrade had repeatedly made is regret known to him. I don't think I realised, or appreciated the strength of that regret. And let the record show that your correspondent regrets being so blase about it. 

I can't tell my friend that now. Yes, he was a friend, but I was not truly able to let go of the past until it was too late. Ah, the asshole gene runs deep in this one... 

Listening to others yesterday, I think I understood Paul Stephens in a way I had not previously done. I guess a few of us realised a few things about each other yesterday as we gathered to pay our genuine and heartfelt respects. I also realised for the first time that Rita had actually been pursuing a kind of personal class war. She came from a totally different background of poverty... real 80s poverty, and saw 'my kind' as being undeserving of her perceived wealth.  When I look back with a clear eye and head, I see that she targeted those for her escapades, who were in certain ways those types she instinctively despised. It's a pity it took 30 years for that penny to drop.

Let me share with you a few lyrics from Marillion, which, have been on my mind of late, and which I think will be well understood by those of us, who shared good times and bad for over 3 decades to differing degrees and often with conflicting hearts and minds:

'Oh I remember Toronto when Mylo went down 
And we sat and cried on the phone I never felt so alone He was the first of our own Some of us go down in a blaze of obscurity Some of us go down in a haze of publicity The price of infamy, the edge of insanity' 

'Blind Curve, 3rd movement - Misplaced Childhood album.

'The final performance, the main man lies in state'

'Tux On'

'And it was morning
And I found myself mourning, For a childhood that I thought had disappeared
I looked out the window 
And I saw a magpie in the rainbow, the rain had gone 
I'm not alone, I turned to the mirrorI saw you, the child, that once loved
The child before they broke his heart
Our heart, the heart that I believed was lost

Hey you, surprised? 
More than surprised
To find the answers to the questions
Were always in your own eyes...'

'...So it's me I see, I can do anything.
I'm still the child'Cos the only thing misplaced was directionAnd I found directionThere is no childhood's endI am your childhood friend, lead me on.'

'Childhoods end' - Misplaced Childhood album

I'll leave you with a couple of little anecdotes from around 1983/84, which show the playful spirit of us all in those days, and which I hope will allow me to pay my own tribute to a fallen comrade.

We often used to spend Saturday afternoons in the wonderfully welcoming living room of Paul Green's parents, watching some truly brilliant and often awesomely terrible videos (remember those? No? Well you should!)

One weekend we were watching assorted horror movies, and I am admittedly not god with that genre, in the slightest.

Earlier that day as we settled in for the marathon session,  the two Pauls had told the story of how a previous owner of the house had been found hanging at the top of the stairs like a grizzly marionette. I was suitably ‘creeped out’ and a couple of hours later as I sat in terrified awe watching I think a film called ‘The Entity’, Paul ‘B’ threw a cushion across the room outside of my peripheral vision onto my lap.

The effect was spectacular. Already refusing to go upstairs and across the landing to the bathroom and being the nervous type anyway, I shot vertically into the air with a scream which could match the most talented castrato, before grabbing the cushion and sitting in an almost catatonic state for the next hour.

Paul's parent's place was a creepy house at times though. When Paul’s parents went on holiday, we spent a week painting, gaming, making the odd trip to Games Workshop to see if Golden Heroes, the latest RPG set in the world of comic book super heroes or Twilight 2000, a game of a realistic post-apocalyptic future had been released. We ate when we felt a collective hunger and slept when the mood took us in the living room that was one of the most comfortable places I have ever slept. I was still wary of the landing and the lads did a sterling job of maintaining my state of nervous caution.

On another  night we had been watching T.V and had all drifted off into the arms of Morpheus. Sometime in the night I awoke on my knees with my upper body on the sofa and head under a cushion. Paul G was on the floor, Pete sprawled in a chair and Paul S - ever the poseur, even when sleeping – was laid upside down in another chair, his legs vertically up the wall – the male model in repose.

In my fuzzy headed state I was aware of a bilious green glow in the room, an eerie musical chord and a deep ‘Muwhahamuwhahamuwhahaaaaaaar!’ from close by. I was not the only person who heard it and four teenage lads were suddenly sitting bolt upright, cushions flying as the struggled to assume various poses from ‘karate’ to ‘scared rabbit’.


Thankfully, it wasn't a demonic servant from the outer planes of Hell, but the first playing on local radio of the theme to the forthcoming Ghostbusters film by Ray Parker Jr. Paul ‘A’ had at some time in the night, turned off the T.V set and switched on his Dad’s ‘radiogram’ which, had a green backlight on the tuner, hence the sickly glow in the room. 

Every time I hear that song, I still crack into a smile as I remember that night almost 28 years ago. And that is exactly how it should be.

Paul Stephens - September 1967 to December 2016 

Rest in peace Paul, and get the drinks ready at the bar, because all too soon, we'll all be there with you.

Sheffield Triples - May 2012

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Macrocosm's Goblins - 3 Day Kickstarter MEGA CHEAP Goblins

Chris over at Macrocosm is running a 3 day duration Kickstarter for his latest Goblins.

The more he raises, the more sculpts he'll do.

For £250 you can get 60 packs of figures which will get you 300 of the little buggers at the equivalent of 83p per model.

Chris has an excellent delivery record and he is a stand up guy who deserves to be supported. Just take a look at the various targets, and you'll see it will take very few decent sized pledges to get a full range of Goblins out there.

Choices, Choices... But What to Buy?

I’ve been mulling over what makes me ‘buzz’ when it comes to miniatures.

I see a LOT of miniatures every week, as I paint for a living, and I have to say that with very, very few exceptions, I just can’t warm to any fantasy minis from about 1993 onwards. I suppose that given the theme of this group it’s not a bad idea.

I digress.

I’m thinking of doing one of my epic spends in the next couple of weeks, and so I came up with several potential manufacturers from whom to select my £500 worth of toys.

It's going to certainly be directed at fantasy themed stuff

I am looking for ‘evil’ themed units, and I guess it’ll end up being Goblins or undead.

Initially I was taken with the idea of Minifigs, but I am not sure they warrant the price tag.

Then there’s the Asgard range which is arguably a large and nice range with an excellent pedigree. Alas, the amount of import charges to the U.K will be unreasonable, now that the moulds are owned by Viking Forge. I’m not ruling them out of course.

Essex are pretty high on the list. I love the rounded and slightly ‘non standard’ designs. Goblins with hair and moustaches make you reevaluate the colour schemes for skin etc which is rather a pleasant notion. And they look ‘hard’. They have character!

I’m planning a large order for a client using the Fantasy Warlord range, which I love… I just wish from my personal point of view that they’d come up with cavalry.

I’d be interested to read the your comments on the above, and indeed your own thoughts and ideas. After all with the best will in the world I may be missing a range that I have simply forgotten after 38 years of lead abuse.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Sometimes Stupid IS Simply That - BUUURRRP!

I have in my 48 years, 4 months and 30 days on your planet, done some stupid and/or legendary things. I guess it comes from being bullied unmercifully at school, or maybe, as I suspect today, I am just prone to the odd swing in my behaviour from sober and serious to well, bloody loony.

Today, five members of the Metall Stadt Wein, Wurst Und Zinsoldat Aufklarungs Abteilung made a visit to Warhammer World in Nottingham with the intention of picking u nine or ten copies of the 30th anniversary printing of the Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader rules, which can only be obtained from that location.

However, earlier in the week, whilst perusing the menu for the rather wonderful 'Bugman's Bar' we
 came across this little gem:


Now, please... Take a moment to actually work out the immense size of this.

And so, two of, both I fear prized idiots, decided to give it a go. My wife, for the record looked horrified, as we watched a guy who must have been 30-35 stones break into a sweat with one of these, and I will admit that I blanched. But, nothing ventured and all that...

The order went in, money changed hands and after about 30 minutes, luncheon was served.

Fuck me, it was HUGE!

One hour later, my co diner had thrown in the towel, and I was seriously beginning to go into a state of ecstatic fever as I fought with around 3.5 pounds in weight of food.

About one hour and ten and:

Ten minutes after that and I was the sixth person ever to be awarded the certificate of supremely heroic and stupidly irresponsible gluttony.

If I ever see or smell another onion ring, I will not be responsible for the outcome. In fact, as I struggled, I think I cured myself of a love of burgers for life. No, really.

Anyway as the young lady came over with her colleague to check the result and issue the certificate, she wouldn't stop talking about food - Jesus!

Anyway, I fear I have damaged something internally and yes, I accept responsibility for my actions, but at least I have more material for my second book.


Monday, 2 January 2017

Progress On Layout Number 1

Last night, mere hours after I posted about the three model railway layouts which I have commissioned from the maestro, Steve Hornsey, Steve dropped me a line to show me the progress of Layout No.1 the brewery.

He's already built the baseboards and laid the track, and believe me, he lays a track, so quiet that there should be safety notices for passing spiders!

Anyway, I thought you'd like a peek:

This will be, as I previously remarked a 6x1 foot shelf layout. The next thing Steve ill be doing, is covering the whole baseboard with cobblestones and insetting the track likewise.

It goes without saying that I am mightily impressed with the way Steve has thrown himself into it as usual.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Screaming Mob MIniatures Adds 4 New Codes

Screaming Mob Miniatures, yesterday added 4 new codes to it's range of multi genre 28mm Cultists.

Take a look here:

OK, 2017 Is Here... So What Will I Be Doing Hobby Wise This Year?

Firstly, a very happy an prosperous new year to you all, whomever and wherever...

Well, 2016 was taken firmly by the collar and belt hooks last night and thrown out the door, as we played our first game of the Labyrinth boardgame by Riverhorse. It's a great little game with simple and elegant rules - It relies on hitting the ground running and working as a team. Believe me, it's a challenging game.

As is usual at our New Years Eve shindig (all welcome if we know you) there were copious amounts of well decanted port including one which came to me from the estate of my Grandmother who passed away a couple of months ago, and so it was apt to share this bottle and toast her memory and indeed the memories of absent friends and relations in general.

The food consisted of a wonderfully retro selection of vol au vents in about a dozen flavours, cheese, pineapple, onions, maraschino cherries,and two kinds of sausage presented in the approved manner on cocktail sticks.

The star of the evening to the more adventurous epicureans was the creamed 'No Blue Monday' cheese with loganberry sauce, followed closely by the mushroom and chicken dressed with chive and fresh mushroom, and tuna with cucumber and red chilli.

Anyway, I have emerged from the land of morpheus and I am now considering what I will do with my hobby this year.

First off, I have ordered 3 new model railway layouts for my studio, once again engaging Steve Hornsey for the duration, as he is simply the best man for the job.

All 3 are narrow gauge 009 scale. The first one is 6 feet and is an interesting one as the entire layout is set inside a distillery with the entire rails set into cobblestones, The train services the various parts of the brewery from the cooperage, to stills, to the road transport shed.

The second one is also 6 feet and represents the private railway of a country estate, with a station for 'His Lordship' to receive guests and to board his private carriage to 'go into town' as the notion is that the railway links through to the nearby town adjacent to the mainline station. Also featured are the estate goods shed for the shipment of supplies to and from the estate, along with a sheep loading dock.

The final plan is a 009 take on the Hook Basin layout which you can see here:

It's an interesting layout, and Steve has agreed to produce it as a 12 foot by 1 foot layout which in the 20mm wargames equivalent scale of 009 will allow a good chunk of scenic detail to be added. It's got great scope for some rather wonderful vignettes.

So that has taken care of the first £1800 for the year.

Wargames-wise I'm thinking of spending some money on Essex Miniatures 25mm Fantasy models and on the re-released Minifigs Valley Of The Four Winds range.

I know that some of you will think that I am out of my mind, but I love those figures and always have. They are about as 'genuine' as you can get, particularly the Essex stuff. They have a real charm, and those of you who are of a similar mind and vintage, will recall that they featured regularly in the review pages of White Dwarf, painted exquisitely. They are great models and look wonderful, in units. What's more, they have bags and bags of character.

The VFW figures are a little more obscure in that you admittedly have to be a fan of the Minifigs style, but again, painted properly, they are a real blast from the past and again, have character.

In terms of historical gaming, I will be weighing up the choices, but I am certainly starting with two fleets of Navwar 1/1200th Renaissance naval vessels. These are again, simple models but back in the 80s I spent one of the most memorable Christmas Eves of my life drinking martini with my best school pal, playing our first game of this type using those ver models and the Navwar rules which were simple and fun. We also had our first taste of Peter Gabriel's first solo album and it made for a surreal assault of the senses, one I've not forgotten in over 30 years.

I'll be at the Vapnartak show in York at the start of February and then the following week, at the Festival Of British Railway Modelling in Doncaster, both of which are big shows and examples of how events of the type should be run.

Rumours abound of the Sheffield Triples returning as a one day show, but I can't see it being in 2017 and that means that it will be competing with another Sheffield show which is already slated to fill the old Triples date from 2018. Interesting times...

And so, that's as far as I have got with my plans for the year ahead, or at least for the first quarter of the year. Let's see how it goes...

All the best for 2017!


Monday, 19 December 2016

A few words

Whilst I am filled with carpaccio of beef, raw garlic and bloody good red wine, let me use it as an excuse to say that I love and respect all of you whom I have known since I was but a youth, and although some of you may think I hold you in disdain, I will say on the record that it is not the case, and that its my way of coping. You have all played your part in my life and I'm grateful and pleased to know you.

To my DS3 and latterly FB friends I will say that I do indeed think of you as friends. Coming from someone who only interacts with people whom I find interesting, please reflect and accept my hand.

And those of you who have got inside my defences since my forays into gaming in 1980 both as peers and GW 'untouchables' ( you know who you are) will probably know me well enough to know that you are as close as anyone in my blood family. Indeed some of you were regulars at the family manse in the 80s and are every bit my brothers and sisters. Some of you in SWS may also on reflection appreciate the part you played and play in my life, whether you realised it until now.

Thanks all, for being who you are. 2016 has been crappy, but 2017 looms large.

Sunday, 11 December 2016


If anyone has a copy of the old 'Encounter 2' sci-fi skirmish rules by Starfleet Studies or TTG, and would sell them to me for £10, please drop me a line.


Friday, 9 December 2016

A Change In Scales

As is now pretty obvious, I'm as addicted to railway modelling these days as I am wargaming, so it will come as no surprise to hear that I have this morning, just commissioned two new shelf layouts from my 'go to' builder, Steve Hornsey.

As usual I am looking for something different and so, this time I have decided on narrow gauge 009 scale, which in short is OO scale scenics but track which is, in all but the spacing of the sleepers (if you use 'proper' 009 stuff) N scale.

The first layout is going to be set inside the walls of a distillery, and the entire groundwork will be cobbled with the rails set into it - something that Steve portrays really well. It has a lot of potential for nice scenery and vignettes as materials, barrels to be filled and filled barrels being moved down to the road transport sheds.

The second layout will be set in the 1920s on the estate of a member of the gentry. It will feature his Lordship's private station, engine and carriage shed and then at the other end of the layout the loading dock for estate livestock as well as  small inbound goods shed for delivery of large goods from the local mainline station to the estate. The top right line will vanish behind the back scene representing the link out from the estate, to the local main line station.

Again, there's a lot os cope here for some nice vignettes and slices of 'Downton' and 'Wodehouse'.

Both are constrained to 6 feet by 1 foot to sit on my studio walls and will as always be fully automated and wired for digital control using my NCE Powercab system.

Also, as normal I'll be doing the bulk of the scenic work and I will of course post pics of it progressing.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Sheffield Wargames Society Committee Change

The AGM of SWS was held on 23 November 2016

An entirely new committee was elected as follows:

Chairman - Tim Gow

Secretary - John Armatys

Treasurer - Graham Northing

Show Secretary - Pete Scholey

Publicity Officer - Cy Harrison

It has been speculated that there is a high probability of  a show returning to Sheffield. My personal guess would be 2018 at a smaller venue, lasting one day. It can be seen that for the most part, this new committee could be seen as progressive and 'safe pairs of hands' and I for one, wish them well in their endeavours.

Monday, 5 December 2016

So Long To 2016... PLEASE!

I am really beginning to think that the sooner 2016 is out of the way the better.

Real life keeps rubbing up against my hobbies in a none to friendly manner, and I confess it's beginning to really piss me off.

Exactly a week ago now my wife's car was hit on the M1 between Leeds and Sheffield by a large articulated truck delivering to Aldi, which, carried her 100 or so yards along the motorway, spinning her sideways and depositing her into (and thankfully there was one) the hard shoulder.

The driver accepted responsibility at the scene, and the police informed my wife that they did not expect her to be found alive, but, thankfully she was saved by being in a Skoda Yeti. She spent the next day at the hospital and was not brain damaged, nor was she a 'walk talk, die' case, but she is internally battered about and quite severely whiplashed.

Let me tell you, relieved at her survival is not the world.

And so, as she was not fit to make it on Saturday and had to also deal with the paperwork for upcoming court case, I went to a wargames show on my own for the first time since I was 12, and made the journey to Pudsey by train on for Recon, a show I had thought long extinct. It was a nice parochial show with a good vibe, but I tell you, I was lonely. I had never quite fully realised just how much my wife's company contributed to the basic enjoyment of my hobby. I'll not voluntarily repeat that.

I was in low mood, still contemplative and certainly not conversational with the few people I conversed with. I left after 2 hours which is no reflection of the show.

I must state for the record that Recon is back on my radar. £6.30 got me in to the show, an excellent sausage sandwich and a large, fresh cup of coffee, so that even with my return train fares, I spent under £20.

My only critical comment would be that the organisers should cut down on the number of re-sellers peddling the same two or three ranges and trying to cute their profits to get a sale.

On a personal note, I have managed to contract a respiratory infection which was exacerbated by a day of travelling in the cold, when I was already a little frayed. Now, 10 days before I close for Christmas I am trying to work against the clock whilst being in rather severe discomfort.

To cap what was frankly a shitty week, I was informed the other day that an old gaming buddy had passed away. We wee both about the same age, band although we were pretty good mates in the mid 80s, the late 80s saw us go our own ways after an event which I could not forgive until about 2011. We last met whilst at the Christmas 2014 gig by former Marillion front man 'Fish', where we hugged, wished each other Merry Christmas and called each other names in good humour. Paul's last words to me were 'Merry Christmas you miserable old bastard.'

Those words I will always recall with a smile.

I wish that we could have undone the knot that was tied a quarter of a century earlier, because I think that things would have been so much different. A mutual friend told me at the weekend that Paul would have given anything for it to never have taken place. So would I.

It's funny how you just carry on with arguments and grudges so often, until something causes them to be put into actual context. I have focussed for so long on the dark part of what transpired, but on the up side, without that, I'd have not in a roundabout way have met my wife, raised a daughter or written a book.

Rest in peace Paul, and if we do meet again, let's talk more...


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Screaming Mob Miniatures Goes Live


I am pleased to announce that Screaming Mob Miniatures has finally launched.

The original sculpts were done back in 2013, but the realisation has been a long process due to my other commitments as a writer and miniature painter.

Now, I am turning more of my time over to the manufacture of figures with the launch of the multi-genre Cultists range which in the initial release will allow you to field a theoretical 500+ variants, armed with everything from clubs to heavy support lasers.

What's more there's a brilliant Grand Master borne aloft on a palanquin by two of his devoted followers.

Heads are supplied at random with every pack, but we have also had two special head sprues created to allow you to portray your models with Plague Doctor masks or with the brazen features of followers of the tentacle-faced god.

Remember that the first 50 packs sold in each code are discounted by 30% in what is known as the 'Mobstarter' promotion.

And to top it off, Chris Nicholls over at Macrocosm, has produced a one-off limited edition which will go to everyone who orders £50 or more during the duration of the 'Mobstarter' promotion.

You can see a pic of the model over at the Dear Tony Blair blog, curated by the godlike David Wood, here:
We have given David the honour (no matter how dubious) of unveiling it, because frankly, we love his blog, here at Cult H.Q!

You can see the range and place an order at

Remember, once each code reaches 50 packs, the price will increase, so this is your chance to bag a real bargain.

Next planned releases are cultists carrying bows and crossbows, to round it all out very nicely.

Thank to all our supporters and especially to Chris Nicholls of Macrocosm Miniatures - - who has done sterling work to bring the project to fruition.