Monday, 22 December 2014

It's Green, Hard And Nine Inches Long... No it's Not A Venusian's Pr*ck!

I've been at work this morning on the first of the kits I received on Saturday from Japan.

I've started with one of the smallest and by contrast, the largest to give you an idea of the scope for my fleet project.

Here you see one of two escort carriers and then the behemoth which will be both my fleet carrier and flagship, with a dozen squadrons of fighters and devastating defensive batteries.

Both kits are Bandai 'Space Battleship Yamato 2199' models, although I am a lover of generic 70s and 80s starships as depicted by Chris Foss in his artwork. These will do just nicely.










More pics, soon.


TTFN

Sunday, 21 December 2014

More Chaos Dwarves Gather Under The Banner Of The Dark Tower

In a weekend which I thought was pretty good already -  having been in the front row of the 'Fish' gig last night and shook hands with an artist who was a great influence during my youth as front man of prog rockers 'Marillion' (and who also heckled me from the stage) - I was pleasantly surprised to be able to purchase more 80s Chaos Dwarves for a reasonable 3-figure sum an hour ago...

Admittedly I already have 5 of the bazooka teams but two more won't hurt will they?

Anyway, here's pics of my purchases:













TTFN

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Japanese Invasion Of Sheffield Studio


A knock is heard...

At the door stands a postman with a box from Japan.

'Great!' I think... 'Darren has found a cheap way to come home.' 

But in point of fact it is a package of very nice models from Darren Ashmore who, is a Professor over in the Land Of The Rising Sun and whom I should be seeing for the first time in a few years.

I have known Darren for over 3 decades now and  as youths we gamed and gamed and gamed as often as we could along with a raucous and motley band of similarly fanatical youths.


I met Darren in what could have been dodgy circumstances had I not just been released from 3 weeks of house arrest after I split with a schoolyard girlfriend.


She had given me an ultimatum of 'It's me or Runequest...'


I had done the maths and reckoned that I could get another girlfriend - being a handsome if quirky youth - but that I had invested some serious money in my Runequest stuff. A no-brainer, frankly.


She spoke to my Mum, and what did for me was that rather than 'kiss and make up' I was more bothered about getting a set of dice back (£1.99 even then) from her Mum's house.


All bets were off, I was grounded and had to spend three weeks sitting from 4PM until bed time in an armchair in absolute silence. I ate in silence, read in silence, did various chores in silence, until my Mum broke and let me out a week earlier than planned. I tell you, Mandela had nothing on me when it came to passive resistance.

Released from the parental penitentiary, I was again outside The Wellington on Wednesday night. 

Not wanting to miss a minute of time set aside for games it was probable, nay, expected that our gang would be there for the opening of the pub’s doors. We were canny and just in case the licensing laws had change since the previous Wednesday we arrived half an hour early.

As I got out of the car - my Dad was a little more forgiving than my Mum, so a lift was not a problem - I noticed a sturdily built youth in the shadow of the building.
   

I approached cautiously, trying to weigh him up. He spoke first ‘Ah, a new boy. Let me show you the ropes…

New boy? New boy? I’d been gone for a few weeks and it had come to this. This interloper, this cuckoo, had landed in my nest and was making out that I was some kind of Johnny-come-lately to war gaming.


 It has been claimed that I had the look of a murderer in my eyes but I remember that I simply replied, ‘No let me show you the bloody ropes…’ The blood was up and was not going to let this slight slip me by, but murder?

This was the first time I met Darren, soon to be known simply as ‘Flash’ but the story of why must remain untold. 

By the time the doors opened and in that curious way that boys with similar interests do, we were chatting animatedly like old friends. 

And so began a friendship which, although not always smooth - what friendship us? -  endures to this day.

Thanks Daz... For the kits and your friendship over the years.

See you shortly!

Oh go on then... have some Japanese eye-candy - It's Christmas...



Thursday, 18 December 2014

No Work Until Jan 5th

WHEW...

After a head down couple of weeks, I have finally finished for the year, 5 days earlier than expected.

Better still, I have managed to get a full crew for Malifaux finished, thanks to the kindness of one of my clients.

I'm really pleased with the results as I have worked on a white base coat which is so rare for me to be worth mention.

Here's a quick pic of Ophelia's Gremlin Crew. I will try to take more pics over the Xmas holidays, but I confess that having taken delivery of 5 x Chaos Dwarf Bazookas, 1 x Swivel Gun and a Mortar this week, I may be head down on those over the festive season.



TTFN

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dwarven Chaos In The 80s And Beyond...

I was discussing my choice of Chaos Dwarves for a retro army recently and it was (correctly) pointed out that there are no Chaos Dwarf army lists in the earlier Warhammer rule sets.

Now, this would mean that I could have a problem as I play 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition rules, all of which are quite different. 3rd ed sees the introduction of the Chaos Dwarves proper, with the weird and wonderful bazookas, swivel guns and mortars, so there is no problem there.

The later editions give the CD army a neo-Babylonian makeover which I really, really do not like, and thus the later additions of even more weirdness just don't need to given a second thought.

So, back to the earlier editions and the fact that no specific lists exist.

When one, actually reads the flavour text for the Dwarven army list in the Forces Of Fantasy expansion  to the 1st ed, it notes that whilst Dwarves are generally considered to be of a neutral alignment, there are in the more out of the way mountainous areas of the 'Old World' enclaves of Dwarves who have turned to the ways of Evil, and in the borders towards the Chaos Wastes, yet more which have thrown in their lot with the Chaos gods.

So, there we have it, there's the precedent for a Chaos themed army...

Now, we have to consider the fact the the majority of the models which were produced, are heavily armoured and in later sets of rules there are limitations on the types of armour etc, which may be used on a figure.

With 1st edition, you see in the lists that there is a simple 'Yes/No' entry under the column headed 'Armour' which makes it a lot easier to build your army. The premise is that  you can decide exactly what grade of armour your troops are wearing, paying the appropriate cost. Obviously the fact that heavier armour has a higher point cost naturally limits how many troops you can field, and thus there is no need to have artificial limits in the form of '0-??' in the army list entries.

So, you can see that with no bending of rules you can legitimately field a Chaos Dwarf army which will perform like the traditional Dwarven army, including (and it states this clearly in the flavour text) a hatred of Goblinoid armies.

The only potential sticking point is the inclusion of some of the interesting war machines such as the bazooka. I personally think that it would be reasonable to treat a bazooka team simply as a bolt thrower, but frankly the army can have 25% of it's troops armed with crossbows, so firepower is hardly an issue when you look at the survivability of even the most basic infantry model.

And so to troops...

Now, I love the old 3rd edition Chaos Dwarf Renegade models which are expensive to come by these days and which are also quite limited in terms of variety.

The Bazooka Teams and Mortar are commonly sold on eBay and you can get them at £8-£15 each which whilst not 'cheap' is offset by the fact that you don't need a lot of them.

My own choice for the majority of models has been the Ewal Dvergar range of figures commissioned from sculptor John Pickford , originally a private commission but made available in limited numbers by Carsten at http://claminiatures.blogspot.dk/p/how-to-get-some.html

They are very similar to the 'classic' models but being multi-part castings you can have a truly individual army with every model different to the next. For example, one pack of crossbowmen can produce 96 variant models... You get the idea.

There are of course other ranges, but the ED range really captures that retro feel and enhances the feel of games using the older rule sets.

My own army has been based around 12 units of 16 models, with a few heroic types. This is more than enough for a 3000 point game. I like the smaller units that typified the games we played as kids. Personally, I always thought units of 12-20 models looked 'just right' and gave a really nice looking game with 10-15 units. Later sets of rules had larger units which just looked clumsy and meant that you were painting for years (or so it felt) just to get the most basic army on the table top.

I'll be regularly updating the blog with progress reports and eye candy, once I begin to paint the army up, so, if this is of interest to you, make sure to check back regularly.

Even if you are not a fantasy fan, I hope that you'll check in anyway to see what my brush has produced. After all, a well painted toy soldier is a joy to behold, regardless of the theme.


TTFN

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Old School In The New Style...

I think that I finally have my mojo back...

As you'll have read previously, I had, thanks to my dreadful year involving Sheffield Wargames Society and the opinion of one member that I was the most destructive thing to happen to them in 40 years (quite an achievement when compared to other things I could think of). Metaphorically, my WRG rules have been torn asunder and my average dice ground to dust. Champagne corks have popped across the city and cheers raised as the Great Satan of the gaming table has been cast down. Oh the feel of power as they calculated  the die modifiers for that one...

Not surprisingly, I lost my drive for the historical guff and in fact for most of the hobby as a whole. So I am very surprised that I have re-found my love of the older fantasy games again and a new passion for the modern board games.

The other week I picked up a job lot of old Dwarves from the 80s and as the price was £1.07 per piece I reckoned that I could cherry pick a few bits that were especially significant to me and turn the rest back to the market to cover the costs. Well, I did this.

This done, I decided I am going to reinvest in an army of Chaos Dwarves from the Ewal Dvergar 'private production' range of models which have all the styling and charm of a late 80s Citadel model - and which match very nicely - with multi-part posing. I have hunted down a few of the old Citadel artillery pieces and I have a quite nice 200 piece army on the cards for the New Year.

I have just two days of work before I close down my studio until Jan 5th 2015, and the time between then and the 23rd will be spent painting a Malifaux crew for my own use, thanks to the kind xmas gift of one of my clients who gave me a paid week off as his xmas gift to me. And very pleased I am...

The luxury of having a week to paint at my own pace and to my show standard will be simply blissful.

I have a few sets of paints and inks purchased just for this week and I am really excited about re-visiting some materials I have not used since the 80s.

Roleplaying is coming more and more to the fore and I am informed by an associate of mine who works at the toy distribution centre at the North Pole, that Santa has me pegged for a copy of the superb 'Mice & Mystics' board game this year, because I have apparently met the criteria to be classed as 'nice' rather than 'naughty' - which would have meant I would have received a set of WRG 6th ed Ancients rules instead. *shudder*'

Well my cup of hot chocolate is almost emptied and so I will sign off for the time being...

Merry Xmas!





Saturday, 29 November 2014

A Great Haul Of Vintage Goodness...



It's been a really good week for vintage RPGs this week.

My total haul comprised:

Mint Star Frontiers first ed  £15

Mint books, damaged boxes Star Frontiers 2nd Ed and Knight Hawks

Very good Zebulon's Guide for Star Frontiers £14 (a real bargain)

Ringworld RPG in excellent condition £40 (foolishly cheap)

Mint Warhammer 1st edition

Mint Forces Of Fantasy

Quite an eclectic haul for under £200 and it's very difficult to choose a favourite from them all. It's almost like 1984 again both in terms of the games and the prices paid.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Bethorm - It's Out Of This World!

Now, whilst I have been gaming for a little over 35 years, and in that time having played a LOT of RPGs, I confess that I was never part of an 'Empire Of The Petal Throne'  game.

EPT as it is known by it's fanatical followers was the second RPG system but the first complete game world, being set in the world of Tekumel, the creation of on Professor M.A.R Barker.

To me it always seemed to be something of an urban legend, and I had never actually known anyone in my city who played it.

So, I dutifully went through the various games; D&D, AD&D, Runequest etc, gaining my 'gaming cred' and having a lot of fun along the way.

Fast forward to 1995 when I am head hunted to manage the Sheffield branch of Dungeons & Starships, the details of which I will not bore you with here, but rather would direct you to my gaming memoir 'Real Life's A Bu**er!'  (ISBN10:1471643875).

Around that time Theatre Of The Mind Enterprises released a Tekumel based system by the name of Gardasiyal, which looked promising but frankly it was awful, mainly because you had to try and find one book from a previous T.O.M.E Tekumel system to be able to play it. And so, I decided that it was not to be and resigned myself to dying a Tekumel virgin.

It's 19 years later and I have just taken delivery of a hard back tome by Unigames with the title of 'Bethorm' co-authored by the now late Professor Barker and Jeff Dee, the illustrator whom I would argue (along with perhaps Errol Otus) inspired me in my early gaming days with his black and white illustrations in many TSR products.

Bethorm is a return to Tekumel, but rather than trying to tackle the entirety of the truly vast planet of Tekumel, it focusses on the largest human portion, the Tsolyanu Empire.

The book was vaunted as being pretty much all you needed to explore this rich gaming world. Being a natural sceptic, I was somewhat cautious, but reached into my bag of holding and shellled out a few gold pieces.

The book arrived on Friday evening and so, on Saturday, I climbed the stairs of the Dark Tower to my studio and the comfort of the armchair therein (which I thought, would be a great investment but which has had little use, as I invariably end up sitting at my desk and working).

The description of the book was not hyperbole! Seldom have I seen so much information packed into a single books. Jeff Dee's artwork abounds, but it is in small panels which enhance rather than detract from the stunning amount of text. It makes the old TSR AD&D books look like pamphlets.

Today will be spent delving into it again, and familiarising myself with the rich and vibrant world described within those pages.

If you have ever been curious about Tekumel or just fancy a cracking good read as a change from your normal gaming diet, then you really, REALLY need to buy Bethorm.

You can find out more at http://www.bethorm.com

Go there - NOW. Here, you can borrow my Chlen Beast...

TTFN

Monday, 10 November 2014

Death Eaters Are Amongst Us... Well, Almost.

A busy Monday with plenty to do in the studio. However, just as I was starting to wane a little, Pete at Standing Stone Studios sent me the 'approval shots' of the mask I commissioned for my Death Eater costume.

It just needs the leather ties and then it will be on it's way to me.

The rust effect is so stunningly done that you'd think it was metal and not fibreglass resin.

It may have cost me £175, but the craftsmanship makes it worth every penny.





Saturday, 8 November 2014

Losing Your Virginity...


The sweaty palms, heart beating in your chest and trying to climb your throat. 

The giddy, light-headed feeling as your eyes bulge and you bite down on your lip, anxious that your Mum doesn't come upstairs and ruin that most important moment in a young man's life - that initiation into a wider sense of existence, filled with it's previously unknown pleasures.

You hum 'Feels Like The First Time' by Foreigner and gently take the wrapper off and then you're in.
It's the ultimate high and it will never be quite as good ever again, no matter what you do.
Yes, opening that TSR box and seeing the crayon and dice is something you never forget!'












Heroics & Ros Roll Ever Onwards

Under the ownership of Andy Kirk, Heroics & Ros is going from strength to strength with all the classic ranges and an ever increasing number of new ranges and models which give GHQ a run for their money.

You may recall that earlier this year I gave you all a sneak peak of the amazing Taliban models?

Well, now I can show pictures of the first painted examples of the very latest H&R WW2 release of Germans in Winter clothing.

These are superb, with tons of detail and variety which would even make skirmish gaming possible in 6mm - Really!

 As you may have also hear H&R purchased the old Davco 1/300 and Skytrex 1/600 Coastal Warfare ranges.

If the rumours I hear are true, there's some really great stuff in the pipeline.

(Pics courtesy of Conflict In Colour and H&R)



Tekumel Is Go!

Well, after doing some number crunching and reading up, as well as speaking to the very helpful Howard Fielding at 'The Tekumel Project', 2015 will see me taking forward my planned 28mm project to pitch two large forces from M.A.R Barker's sci-fantasy world of Tekumel.

I just need to get Xmas out of the way  and then I'll be ordering the first 500 models.

Watch this space...

Conflict In Colour - Full Time Miniature Painting Studio

A few pics from the latest uploads at www.conflictinclour.com

Conflict In Colour is a singe artist, U.K based studio offering a consistently high work in all scales.

With many magazine and product packaging 'appearances' as well as taking part in a Discovery Channel programme on wargaming; coupled with over 20 placings in major competitions, Conflict In Colour offers a full spectrum, ready to play service for the discerning gamer.

Those of you with large collection may like to note that they can book regular monthly 'slots' with an agreed budget and output rather than having to wait in a queue.

Anyway, here are some pics including I believe the forthcoming H&R Winter German infantry in 6mm.




















Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tekumel On The Tabletop


I am seriously considering a long term personal project as I've given up on other 'large army' projects. After all, I paint professionally for 40-50 hours per week so I get little time to paint my own stuff.

Add to the mix, the fact that I am working on my second book, and you'll see why I have to really think the logistics of this project over.

I am simply not interested in any more historical stuff for personal use and traditional 'European' fantasy has been done to death.

But, to play Devil's advocate, I need something to get really involved in (folk dancing is out) so immersing myself on a Tekumel trip using the wonderful 'Tekumel Project' miniatures.

'Tekumel? What's that?' you say...

Professor M.A.R Barker has been called 'The Forgotten Tolkein' and justly so. His fantasy world of Tekumel is much richer than Middle Earth in terms of background; A world with unique races, tons of background and a non-european mythos, it seems the way to go for someone with my creative fire... And not an Orc or Halfling in sight!

Try Googling 'Empire Of The Petal Throne' or 'Tekumel' and you'll see why I've been so drawn to a project based on Barker's fantasy world


Also check out http://www.bethorm.com and http://thetekumelproject.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Long Needed Holiday And Some New Gaming Purchases

Hi ho!

Two weeks away from my studio has left me pretty refreshed mentally and physically and ready for that mad dash up to Xmas Eve and another 2 weeks without having to pick up a brush to earn a crust.

Over the last fortnight I've had the company of my wonderful wife and have also seen some of my oldest friends again at Fiasco.

Fiasco was as mundane and moribund as ever, much like the majority of shows these days. They offer no scintillatingly fresh content, bring and buys are on the decline and the wares on offer are just plain drab for the most part.

At Fiasco, my total bill for the day was a measly £48.50 with my purchases being the 'In Her Majesty's Name' rules, a section of 11 British Infantry in Home Service Dress for said rules and a copy of 'Stalagmites' from Midlam Games. This is a wonderful little 'home grown' board game with a distinctly retro feel.

For me, the day was 'made' by the attendance of some really great friends from all over the North and for whom Leeds is a relaxed drive from home.

I played a few fun games at a local Wednesday night boardgames group but both Kayte and I decided that we simply couldn't be arsed with going to the wargames club this week, choosing instead to take a night drive across the Pennines in what turned into the second worst driving conditions I have ever been in. Still it was a fun and sometimes alarming 5 hours in the company of our Scottie.

No gaming this coming week, as it clashes with the traditional night of trying to blow of your fingers with gunpowder *SIGH* and so the dogs would not be at all happy were we to leave them at home alone.

Next week sees the annual general meeting of one of the local wargames clubs which Kayte and I also decided not to attend as we are both pretty fed up with politics and the disregard for the constitution of same by those who want things to rumble along in the same old way, ignoring any opinions other than their own*. The thought of being crammed into a room full of raised voices and hopeless causes seems to be less fun than a couple of glasses of decent red wine and a good book.

Anyway, I've managed to nail down the last few items for my Death Eater costume, with a final bill of £900. It sounds a lot but frankly that's about the cost of two unpainted armies, so I am rather pleased, as it's all 'move quality' kit. Now, if I can get it all fine tuned for January, I'll be able to get to my first cosplay convention (Do try one - they're great fun!)

On Halloween, I went over to Chatsworth House again, where there is a rather splendid new gallery featuring the exploits of Dukes Of Devonshire in the 1st and 2nd World Wars. I really enjoyed it, and given that I rarely watch military TV shows or even go to military museums these days (I find I can't stomach the whole war thing as much as I did as a youth - odd for a wargamer, I know) it was a great little exhibition.

What I really wanted to see however was a 16th century spell book which was on display for the last week...



I've had a lifelong interest in occult subjects (not to be confused with my interest in swords and sorcery subjects). and this was not a book I'd previously seen. I just wish I could have seen more pages. The bestial figure on the left intrigues me.

The day was rounded off with a rather splendid dinner at Chatsworth and a sunset drive back to Sheffield.

Now, as you may know by now, I have an abiding love of vintage roleplaying games and thus I was very pleased to get my hands on a copy of both the Gamma World and Twilight 2000 RPGs in their 1980's editions. T2000 was a really great game set in the aftermath of the nuclear phase of the 3rd Word War and was almost a mil-sim if played properly. I had it as a youth but like most things it was moved on. Anyway I managed to get about 18 modules and the rules for a handsome £80. Gamma World was a post apocalyptic fantasy game, at the totally opposite end of the spectrum. I managed to get a copy along with three modules for £50; a frankly larcenous price to pay, but what the hell... You only get one ride on the roundabout after all.

The game which continues to elude me is Star Frontiers by TSR. In it's time it was a flop of a game but I'd love to try it out again. Despite the massive print run, many are in terrible condition and the sharks who prey on nostalgia-crazed gamers are putting truly horrendous premiums on the game - And are not managing to sell them.

To hell with that... I don't mind a dance but a fuck is out of the question!

If you have a set of rules and any modules, get in touch and I will pay you a fair price, but I'm not going to be extorted by greedy dealers.

During one of the 'recovery days' where we stayed at home to give our arthritic limbs a chance to heal, I did manage to get into my studio and make a start on my UNSC forces for Drop Zone Commander, a rather interesting looking 10mm company-sized sci-fi miniatures game. The first two sections are done apart from the basing. I decided on an 80s inspired colour scheme, redolent of the mid-tech troops in the Traveller and Striker rules systems.

The results are pleasing to the eye, but I still have two more similar lots and all the vehicles to get painted, let alone based.


And so, with 36 hours of holiday left, I shall bid you a fond farewell as I have to watch the second episode of 'Constantine' which is not based upon the life of the Byzantine Emperor but is an occult/horror series based on the seminal D.C 'Hellblazer' comics. It's gritty, sleazy and excellent. The first episode was pretty good, the second looks fun and the third episode will hopefully blow the minds of the viewers. Buffy The Vampire Slayer this is not!

TTFN


*See my previous blog post

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Elitism in Gaming And How Shows Must Evolve, Death Eaters, Plus - Van Dyck By Candlelight

Oh my word, it's been a long time...

But now, after some punishing work schedules, I have 2 weeks to myself with not one minute to be spent at my desk in my studio. No sir, I want me some rest and space to think.

The problem is that even when I am at my desk painting, I do a lot of mulling, soul searching and mental raging about things which confound and anger me in my hobbies.

Over the last couple of years, I've been taking in a few conventions which share a general thematic link with gaming, albeit once removed. One thing which has struck me repeatedly (some may wish it were a piano from an upper storey) is just how welcoming and inclusive were all those presenting and attending, collectively drawing from the whole experience far more then the sum of the parts as it were. I know of very few historical gaming conventions where this is the case. Oh my but don't historical gamers (and I generalise here as there are exceptions) think that they are a cut above the rest? Fantasy gamers, traditionally have a sneering contempt for historical gamers and role players all think that the world of gaming is subordinate both creatively and culturally to whatever system they play.

Doubt this? Then stop, look and listen at every event you attend, shop you browse and so on and so forth...

Those who have a ball in every court seem less affected because they appear to be able to draw a lot more from the hobby and be less partizan because of the more rounded vision their own immersion affords them. They always seem to be the ones for whom, interaction and enjoyment of the hobby in all it's forms and the sharing of that with others is paramount.

My own personal Bugbear are those who deride and belittle fantasy gamers but then indulge in little bit of illicit D&D. This is akin to the T.V evangelist who decries pornography only to be caught mid-masturbation in an adult movie theatre. Perhaps by doing this they get a frisson more excitement... Who can say?

But the point is that unless the traditional pattern events, don't start to diversify, and start accepting that although they may not personally like this or that, it's good for business, they will be a footnote in the history of the gaming hobby. Cosplay, comics, modelling, painting, seminars by luminaries and authors not to mention tolerance for other gaming genres are all intertwined and can all give something to the atmosphere and standing of a show.

Elitism must take a back seat in favour of inclusion.

Moving on, I've not really done much in terms of gaming as I've been frankly disinterested for the last month. I have however, been hard at work on putting together a movie-grade costume depicting a 'Death Eater' from the film adaptations of the Harry Potter books by J.K.Rowling. What started off as a bit of 'Say guys, let's put on a show' idea has evolved into a project which has seen £600 (and rising by the day) go into getting the whole thing to at least the same standard as the costumes produced by Warner Bothers.

The Death Eaters have a very distinctive yet individualised appearance. They do however have a few consistent themes in the shape of black voluminous robes, wicked looking masks and wands carried at the waist in what is tantamount to a holster.

They at once look to be in the past and present sartorially, and tis means that you can really go to town on the whole thing.

I decided on a quite functional costume in that the wizard in question was a traveller rather than a stay at home type and so embroidery on the outfit would be minimal.

 Began with the boots, which were a pair of 15th century riding boots which set me back £135 from Foxblade Trading and which, are simply wonderful...



 However, they are by nature of their design a very close fit at the thigh, and so suitable leg wear was something of an issue. In the end I decided that jeggings - a hybrid of lycra jleggings and jeans - were the answer. The main problem being that they are sold in womenswear stores. So...

I walk into Dorothy Perkins and ask where I can try on some size 22 'jeggings' in a long fitting.

I explain that I am a wizard and not a cross-dresser which eases their minds a little.
I am then taken via the rear entrance, through the ladies changing rooms and into the adjacent Burtons store where I try on a 20L but find that nature has decreed that a little more gusset is required. I walk into Burtons and hand them over to a young chap on the desk who looks a little flustered to see a long haired 19 stone geezer holding ladies trousers.

Anyway, in the end I have had to order them online to get the 22 but at £18 I will look damn good...
Where were jeggings when I was a Goths? They feel like jeans but with none of the rough seams AND a bottom lift effect (not that I need it).
It gave the ladies in DP a good giggle too...
Next I had to find the distinctive robe and tunic. As I stated previously there is a lot of room for personal customisation but the general silhouette is one of cloaked menace. I'm currently speaking to a few seamstresses but it looks as if this expensive bit of kit will be made a professional costumier who was recommended by a friend of mine who has worked on films such as Gladiator and whom now runs a specialist leather working business servicing the arts and live roleplaying sectors. Google Evenlode Studio to see Richard's awesome leather armour! 
Here's an example of a few Death Eaters from the films... 




My original mask was to be leather, custom made to my specifications by Vicky Adams at Masktastic, and which looks like this:

  


However I have since found a props manufacturer who has been commissioned to make me a more 'movie grade' mask which at £175 is not cheap, but I think you will agree, rather awesome:




There is no reason why either mask could not be considered 'canon' however I think the latter of the two has that 'been there and done it' look about it.

The all important wand came from Alivan's Master Wand Makers in the U.S and is solid Gabon Ebony. I'll not mention the cost of that little beauty, but it really has the feel of the stories about it with it's embroidered case and monogrammed packaging:


I am a stickler for small details which bring a costume or character to life and so along with assorted trinkets, I also commissioned two copper bound spell books/journals from Will at Phoenix Copper Art, in which I will pen spells, observations and the like - all in character of course. As you can see, they are beautiful and were very reasonably priced at under £40 for the pair:



Once I have everything to my satisfaction, I'll hopefully be able to use the whole shebang to help raising funds for children's cancer charities and Sheffield Children's Hospital, and I hope that more of my friends and family will join me in that venture.

And finally, I recently went on a candlelight tour of historic Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, seat of the Devonshire family. Now, Chatsworth a pretty awesome pile in the daylight but the house by candlelight is awesome. 

I have never seen so many Van Dyck portraits in one place.

The art on display was breathtaking, the son et lumiere in the garden stunningly atmospheric and as for the Inigo Jones sketches, I was blown away. These sketches had not been exhibited for 40 years and were the main reason I had wanted to attend the candlelight visit.


You simply have to see this place by night... It's just something else.  It cost £18 per ticket and we didn't regret a single, I assure you!


Did I mention the fireplaces were lit so that a gentle smokey tang drifted through the house?


Did I mention the contemporary sketches of both 16th and 17th century battles?

Oh my...

Anyway here are a few pics. I had not realised that photography would be permitted and so I only had my iPhone to hand. Still, I think it conveys at least some of the beauty of the place in semi-darkness:
















TTFN