Wednesday, 15 August 2018


It's been an odd day when nothing has gone as planned.

My wife popped to the G.P for a quick follow up appointment and ended up spending two hours at the hospital on a heart monitor as things are still not quite right.

But, once they had done with the wires and electrodes, it was over to Huddersfield and Dixon Miniatures. Alas, the satnav had a fit and sent us to three different locations before reaching the right address, adding 25 miles to the 28 mile journey.

However, I came away with a big box containing several hundred 28mm Samurai, which I will spend Thursday sorting out before they go to my painter, so all's well that ends well.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

And On The Seventh Day...

Oh it feels good...

Having literally not stopped for a proper break since 11th August 2017 (Yes, I know I had a break at Christmas, but that was the start of 3 months solid of flu and bronchitis which very nearly put pay to me) I now have 3 weeks of R&R to properly unwind and de-stress, as well as take stock of my life. I have worked ridiculous hours for the last 6 weeks to clear the decks as well as having to deal with Kayte's 'near miss' a fortnight ago.

Kayte is doing OK, but her recovery is slow and she is tiring very easily. I have suggested she take early retirement in 5 years, which will mean a lower pension but with the lump sum we could clear the mortgage and have about the same monthly income as we do now minus the mortgage payments. But that's just thoughts and discussions at present.

You may recall that about 18 months ago, I drew a line under my wargaming excesses and vowed that  from my 50th birthday I would not buy any unpainted lead unless it was going directly to a painter and that in fact, I didn't want to buy much at all.

Well, this Saturday sees me hit that target and to the surprise of those who know me or who are nearest and dearest to my flinty old heart I've done it in style.

1. I've tracked down the majority of the roleplaying stuff I want.

2. I have purchased almost a thousand Perry ECW castings and they are with the painter as we speak, all paid for and in good order.

3. I have also (in an unplanned project)  paid the painter to paint 500 or so 28mm Dixon Samurai and acquired 100+ painted models. I am collecting them from Mr Dixon on Wednesday and as soon as I have them sorted into units, off to the painter they go.

4. We have the quote for the log cabin wargames room down pat and are just waiting for things to drop into place.

Now each year, I will possibly allocate £3600 to acquiring painted figures, but if I am brutally honest, I don't need that much. I think 240 Samurai and 600 ECW will complete everything, so it may not be the state of play for more than 18 months. Jeez, listen to me

I never would have placed or taken a bet on that being the situation, but this year has been an odd one in which I have found a zen-like state of hobby satisfaction.

In the last week I did treat myself to a few little gems as metaphorical amuse bouche whilst I read up and studied what could be seen as the biscuits, cheese and port to the hobby year. I picked up the Skytrex Renaissance galley warfare rules, a copy of the old Reaper fantasy rules and the icing on the big jam-filled bun, Starforce 3000 and the rather rare Starforce 3001, the precursors to 40K.

And this is where it goes pear shaped...

I had noticed a while ago that Tamiya were releasing their old 80s radio control cars. I had one back in the year that I started gaming. Alas, it met a sticky end in a 20 foot death plunge into a sewer excavation and vanished from my life.

Well, I read a few magazines and it seems that in fact, Tamiya are more stuck in a time warp than I, and that the once reviled ready to run models are now the cutting edge of the hobby. So, I looked at what was on offer and decided that I liked the idea of an off-road vehicle that was not fast but was rugged and capable of scale performance comparable to a real vehicle.

All the reviews and online videos pointed to the Traxxas TRX-4 chassis which is available with a Landrover Defender 110 body shell and which looks rather nice indeed.  The next best model would need about another £700 of modifications to be of the same standard as the TRX-4 out of the box, so that was my decision made. It was going to cost me around £500, around £200 more than a Tamiya before any mods, but what the hell.

Then, I did a search too far and found a black and orange limited edition which pushed the price to around £700. Right - deep breath, remember you are going to no more shows this year Mark and allocate your hobby money to covering the bill. After all, I am always saying you should either do it right or go home.

I'd originally planed to get past the Partizan show and then order the car, but after looking at the list of traders - about as inspiring as plain boiled noodles to be frank - it was decided that we would give it a miss. Thus, I brought forward my plans, and decided to do a last bit of investigative enquiry.

Bad move!

I then found that Traxxas also produced a 1970s Ford Bronco based on the same TRX-4 chassis and like a bunch of grapes held in front of Tantalus, it had the classic 'Sunset' paint work.

I made a few calls, and located one of the limited edition Landrovers at a VERY reasonable price and also one of the Broncos, also enticingly priced.

The RRP on the Landrover should have been £599 with £120 for the battery and charger = £719

The Bronco was £499 with again, £120 for the power and charger = £619

So, with £100 in it between the two, I had a decision to make.

After some negotiations with dealers I bought both, yes both for a grand total of £1160.00 including 24 hour courier delivery.

What the hell. I have 20 years in front of me at best I think, and I saved £178 on list price. Think of i as my 50th birthday gift to myself, and I'l have it paid off by the end of October.

These are 1/10 scale models which come in at just under 2 feet long, so there's a lot of detailing work I can do and what's more there are so many upgrade kits that it could keep me very busy for the next five years.

Here are the two models I've purchased:

The rest of my holiday is going to be spent visiting galleries and museums all over the place. We visited 3 local exhibitions this morning, wanting to stay pretty close to home this week where possible so that Kayte can be in easy reach of base camp if she starts to tire, but next week we'll be going further afield. I'll hopefully get a few hours figuring out how not to wreck the new toys, but with gears, lockable differentials and cruise control, the gods of mechanical things will no doubt 'mark my card' if possible.

Anyway, I'll bid you a fond farewell for the present as I have a salami sandwich and a glass of pretty damned good red wine waiting for me.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Almost there... Dice Men Reaches 99% Funding Level

Funding now at 99% - SO CLOSE!

TSS Business 'FOR SALE'

Hot off the press is the news that Total System Scenic is up for sale. I confess that I have made enquiries, but it's not high on my agenda...

As part of a restructure of QRF Models Ltd following the recent 'event' suffered by Chas and Sarah's ongoing illness, we are considering selling part of the business

Total System Scenic is a worldwide known brand name that has been trading for over 30 years.  It is a unique product that has no rivals and maintains a steady presence in the market place.
It is used throughout the wargames world and construction industry as well as museums and acadamies.

The sale is for the following:-
  •   'Total System Scenic' and 'TSS' brand names
  •   Polystyrene and Styrofoam tile ranges 
  •   Foam cutters,
  •   Flocking machine and cabinet
  •   Stocks of polystyrene and flocks.
  •   Copy of website with email address and listed ranges.

Instruction can and will be provided for a UK buyer on a face-to-face basis, if desired and by telephone/email for those in other countries.

It is not often that a completely stand-alone business comes on to the market.

If you are genuinely interested, please send us an email to with your contact details and we will send you a brief summary of the business.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

With three days remaining until I take almost 4 weeks off, for R&R, I just completed the basing of Over 1500 'pieces' in 46 hours. They are 1/300 models by Heroics & Ros for a client, depicting a battalion of 9th/21st Panzer, during the Normandy campaign at 1:1 ratio. 

The varied basing was done at the request of my client.

Total project completed two months ahead of schedule to meet my client's needs, by getting in some serious overtime. I estimate a total of around 320 hours from start to finish.

You may imagine , that I am very pleased at this outcome.


Sunday, 5 August 2018

I love my hobby. In fact I live and breathe my hobby and have done so for just shy of 40 years. I remember the Satanic Panic, Pat Pulling, the blaming of D&D for all the woes of the world and so much more.

In short, I remember when it was considered easier to admit that you were an incestuous, morris dancing, junkie than to say 'Oh, I play games with funny shaped dice and little model soldiers'.

Now, what really, really gets my fucking dander up, is when I see a documentary purporting to be 'about the creators of D&D' interview a bunch of kids employed by the current owner of the line, with no mention to or attempt to interview the real creators or even their surviving family members.

If you listen to bearded grinning buffoon responsible, he is right in there with the people who gave him his great hobby.

No! You fucking well are not, my friend!

This is blatant re-writing of social history by a generation who are sore that they were nothing more than a masturbation session with high hopes back when their father was cracking one off to a Jeff Dee illustration of tightly chain mailed, buxom pulchritude.

Hell, their fathers must have been fair weather gamers, if they left their bedrooms or basements long enough to have a shower, leave the house and then indulge in social and latterly sexual intercourse with a  member of the opposite sex.

OK, hands up, I did it - and yes, I was a bit of a fair weather gamer at the time, as it was during the years of my banishment from Games Workshop where I'd been a literal fixture since 1982 (there are rumours hat one November morning around 1984 I was found frozen to the glass).

Anyway, it gets me upset, and makes me yearn even more for 'Dice Men' to be published. By golly that will tell it like it was from the looks of it, and you'll not see a single one of those smug, hip bastards in it, that's for sure!

Incidentally, funding has reached 94% and if you have any genuine interest in the early days of gaming in the UK , you really should get behind it.

You can find out more here:

Incidentally, these are the kid of people behind your wonderful hobby, you irony-filled, little shits...

Moving on, David Wood of the Little Soldier Company has just announced the Tenoch, a race of amphibious frog folk from the stars, with a taste for the Mesoamerican, sartorially. Wonderful models, sculpted by Kev Adams no less. Find out more at David's bog:

Coming soon from Screaming Mob Miniatures, are several ranges with over 200 variants in each, comprising:

Fantastic Tribes - A collection of classic fantasy races and archetypes, that tip the hat to the Golden Age, much like the Tenoch.

First up are Gnolls, Hobgoblins & Zombies

And then there's 

The C.C Reese Range - A similarly retro collection of fantasy models inspired by the often heard question 'What range are they?' to which you always hear the reply 'C.C Reese', although I may be mishearing something more akin to 'C Series'. Again with over 200 variants to the initial release of South American inspired warrioresses tooled up with everything from a blowpipe to a futuristic handgun will over a hard to beat spread of models for the gamer and collector.

And finally, in just a few short weeks the first U.K based stocks of Hudson & Allen buildings for many years, will be arriving with Conflict In Colour. The first shipment will contain all the medieval and renaissance buildings, with the second delivery comprising castles, following shortly thereafter.

And that's about it for now, other than to thank those of you who sent their kind best wishes for the recovery of the memsahib after her angio oedema on Monday. She is doing well and is soldiering on, but is tiring very easily, as you might expect. But at least I still have the woman without whom, I'd waste my time hanging around on this mud ball, backwater planet.


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Back To Normal, & Takeda Arrives

I am pleased to say that I have my wife safely home and recovering from the angio oedema. We are both tired, but life goes on and both she and I are working as normal.

Yesterday my painted Samurai eBay purchase arrived, bit sadly had some damage:

It's a shame, but because I am an experienced and skilled painter and fixer-upper, it'll take me perhaps an hour to bring them back up to standard. Beyond the transit damage they are a wonderful purchase and, the seller has kindly refunded £50, bringing the whole box down to £250.00, so I am far from complaining.

Now, it may be that you don't hear from me (cue: cheers) until some time after the 10th of August as I am so busy that spare time's not really an option. I am not complaining because after that I am taking a break for almost a month to recharge my batteries, celebrate my 50th birthday and generally slow down for a while and spend time with my wife at conventions, galleries, museums and the odd restaurant, no doubt.

I'm looking at a return to Sat's Mill to take in some more Hockneys and to Bradford's Cartwright Hall Gallery where they have a stunning and somewhat forgotten gallery of British Black & Asian art, which I am somewhat red-faced (being a fan of modernist and abstract art) to admit I was unaware of until I watched the excellent BBC programme on the subject.

You can find it here:


It really is worth an hour of your time. For me, it has linked a few things in my knowledge base and experience of militant/protest abstract and modernist artwork, which I first became attracted to at about age 11 as I prowled the numerous art galleries of Sheffield.

Well, I must sign off for now, as I have 1500 individual 6mm infantry to base, and only 4 days to do it in.



Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Well, This Is A Week I Am Already Wishing Was Over...

It's only Tuesday but I'll be very, very glad to see the week off, I can tell you.

Yesterday, my wife was whisked to hospital by a Paramedic with a suspected allergic reaction. As it turned out, said fellah was a gamer we've known for about 20 years which made the memsahib relax somewhat.

At 8PM she was still at the hospital, having said I should stay at home and work, so I got a lift over there thanks to my Dad, and found her in the accuse case unit. At 23:30 she was admitted to a ward with angioedema, and I left her at 2AM having fragged my brother out of his bed at midnight to go and make sure our 4 dogs were put to bed.

Good on yo bro'

Neither I or my good lady were certain we'd see each other again as the swelling of the blood vessels was spreading to her lungs and breathing was increasingly difficult.

At 4AM my brain shut down and I crashed out having not eaten since Sunday night nor slept in 21 hours.

Anyway, Kayte was allowed home this afternoon, exhausted but relieved, so you will understand why I am not friends with the week.

On a brighter and more geeky note of gamer goodness, I purchased 400 Dixon Miniatures Samurai yesterday morning and they are being sent off to be painted after I sent the funds in advance to my  painter of choice.

Last Friday, my very good and respected friend Roger pointed me to a collection of 100 or so nicely painted Dixon Samurai on a well known auction site. I made an offer to the seller of £300 which was accepted, so I have around 500 Samurai - A fair start!

Good on you, Rog'!

As you can see the quality is rather nice for the money, when you think that painting worked out at about £1.55 per piece after metal cost allowances

I will be rebasing them of course...

Now I know many of you will be recoiling at the thought of Dixon sculpts, but I will thumb my nose at you, because I love them. I always have, since I first came across them when Steve Royen founder of Hallmark Figurines offered them who he teamed up with the Dodo shop in Gunson's Lawnmower Repairs on Monday nights, here in Sheffield.

Indeed, the very first painting competition I won was with a Dixon model of Ii Naotaka, leader of the Tokugawa aligned 'Red Devils'.

Dixon are stylised but stylish. The metal has always been superb, and as Roger pointed out, if you want the to venture into the legends of Japan, you need heroic figures to take on the Oni and Bakemono. And as always, he is 100% on the money.

Perry look like shop window mannequins by comparison, Old Glory are just piss poor. I like TAG, but again for me Dixon are the drug of choice. 

The chunky and dynamic sculpts lend themselves to scenic element basing. 

And with that my very dear readers, I must sign off as my brain is telling my body it's overdrawn.


Sunday, 8 July 2018

Satan Wanted Us So Badly, It's A Wonder I'm Here To Type This Today...

I spend my working hours plugged into documentaries and podcasts covering all types of subject, and yesterday I was tuned into a paranormal podcast which was discussing the 'Satanic Panic' of the 80s. which I remember all too well.

Now, as well as the worry that heavy rock music was tempting teens into worshipping Satan, some of you will recall that Dungeons & Dragons came clearly into the firing line of the Religious Right spearheaded by the wonderfully named Tipper Gore.

Even here in Sheffield, UK, there was a flurry of anti-D&D sentiment with the local press echoing the worries of the Church Of England that sweet teens like me would be drawn into a life in which they became Satan's minions. Of course because I was into Iron Maiden et al, I was doubly doomed.

Forget the fact that I was way more literate than my peers as a result of the time I spent with my nose in books, no, I was going to hell and had a first class ticket.


Anyway, I've covered all that previously in my first book, but it did get me into a conversation on a social media site, which led to me taking a fresh look at the controversy that surrounded what is in reality an innocent pastime.

In 1982 Irving Pulling of Virginia, USA, committed suicide, not in itself of particular note, however Irving was a member of a high school D&D group, and his mother Patricia was to become infamous for what came to pass in the wake of her son's death.

Driven by the Satanic Panic and being an anti-occult campaigner, Patricia Pulling filed a lawsuit against the principal of the school on the grounds that as the D&D group met at school, and as Irving was the victim (Pulling claimed) of a D&D curse placed upon him prior to his death, the principal was directly responsible.

This led to the founding of 'Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons' or 'BADD' which sought to 'educate' on the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons.

Pulling even produced a pamphlet which strangely enough looks like many of the fanzines of the day...

Patricia then filed what was to become an infamous lawsuit against TSR and Gary Gygax, which was finally thrown out by the courts in 1984, after a prolonged battle. However, it was also demonstrated during the proceedings by none other than Michael A Stackpole, that contrary to the grief driven claims of Pulling, there were lower instances of suicide amongst gamers than non-gamers.

Pulling succumbed to cancer in 1997, and despite her continuous campaigning right up until her death, BADD pretty much faded away.

An excellent in-depth article named 'The Pulling Report' was compiled by Stackpole in 1990 and can be found here:

At over 40 pages, it's worth a read, if you are interested in the history of our hobby.

There were many such claims made against gamers in the 80s, and more often than not, BADD, which punched way above it's weight in the minds of the conservative small towns of the Southern United States, was in the eye of the hurricane...

The Miami Herald ran this article in October of 1985:


On the afternoon of June 9, 1982, Irving Lee "Bink" Pulling II completed his final examinations at Patrick Henry High School and wrote on the test sheet, "This is the last paper I will ever write, GOODBYE."

That evening, outside his parents' home in Montpelier, Bink, 16, shot himself in the chest with his father's pistol.

Patricia Pulling, Bink's mother, is convinced that his suicide resulted from a "curse" put on him in school earlier that day while he was playing the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. He was so distraught over the curse, she said, that he killed himself.

Pulling and her husband, Lee, have spent the last three years fighting to have Dungeons & Dragons removed from schools, which sometimes permit it as an extracurricular activity, and to force the manufacturer, TSR Inc. of Lake Geneva, Wis., to put warning labels on Dungeons & Dragons materials.

"We've never asked for the game to be banned from the market," Lee Pulling said. "We want warning labels."

A TSR official said that the game is harmless fun and that warning labels are unneeded.

"What's the warning going to say?" said Deiter Sturm, TSR public relations director. "Are you going to put a warning label on automobiles, saying, 'This automobile is for transportation use only, not meant to be a weapon or means of suicide?' Anything we have in life can be misused, be it games, TV, sports, anything that we have."

Bothered about D&D

After her son's death, Patricia Pulling organized BADD -- Bothered About D&D -- whose newsletter now goes out to 2,000 concerned parents and others who oppose Dungeons & Dragons. BADD says it has linked Dungeons & Dragons to 51 suicides and killings involving young people since 1979.

The research, however, is unscientific, consisting mainly of Patricia Pulling's interviews with police and parents in cases brought to her attention by newspapers and television. She and her husband want the federal government to investigate the deaths to determine if Dungeons & Dragons was a cause.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game of the imagination. Dice are used, but there is no board, as there is in Monopoly or backgammon. It is set in medieval times, based loosely on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the trilogy Lord of the Rings and other fantasy works.

Pulling's group and other opponents of Dungeons & Dragons object to its emphasis on violence.

"Dungeons & Dragons is essentially a worship of violence," said Dr. Thomas Radecki of Champaign, Ill., a psychiatrist and chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence in Washington, D.C.

"It's a very intense war game. Talk to people that have played it. It's very fascinating. It's a game of fun. But when you have fun with murder, that's dangerous. When you make a game out of war, that's harmful. The game is full of human sacrifice, eating babies, drinking blood, rape, murder of every variety, curses of insanity. It's just a very violent game."

Radecki's organization is trying to convince CBS to take its Saturday morning cartoon show Dungeons & Dragons off the air.

Dungeons & Dragons has been controversial almost from its inception, but controversy has only spurred its popularity and growth. TSR's Sturm said in a telephone interview that three to four million people play the game and that many other role- playing fantasy games have appeared since TSR founder Gary Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons in 1973.

Initially, Dungeons & Dragons was played mostly by college students. But the trend in recent years has been toward high school and junior high players. TSR has simplified the instructions to reach the younger market.

Bright players

Because the game is complicated and requires a vivid imagination, Dungeons & Dragons always has attracted bright young people. Bink Pulling was in a program for the talented and gifted at his high school.

In a number of cases, Patricia Pulling said, the connection between the game and the death is clear.

Deiter Sturm said TSR investigates when BADD attributes a death to Dungeons & Dragons.

"We always find there were many, many different factors involved in that person's life," Sturm said. "We haven't yet, out of all the names, seen one shred of evidence to indicate the game was the cause" of a death.

The mother of one suicide victim said Dungeons & Dragons "is a dangerous game for some young people. It was a dangerous game for my son."

But the woman, who did not want to be quoted by name, said her son had other problems. Some of the criticism of the game "is a little misguided," she said.

That is the view of some others as well.

Easy explanation?

"Dungeons & Dragons has been one of those things that people grab onto to explain suicidal death among young people," said Julie Perlman, executive officer of the American Association of Suicidology. "And I feel it is unwarranted."

She said that in 1982, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 5,025 suicides reported among people aged 15 to 24. Perlman said she believes many more suicides went unreported.

"Everybody wants an answer that explains it easily," she said. ". . . I just see that Dungeons & Dragons is an easy answer. It's not that simple."

Beth Grant-DeRoos of Dublin, Calif., is director of the Association for Gifted-Creative Children. She said her organization, with a membership of 7,200 families in California, views Dungeons & Dragons as a positive force that encourages children to exercise their imaginations and use their minds.

"Eighty-six percent of our families have children who play Dungeons & Dragons," she said.

Out of schools

Several school systems have removed Dungeons & Dragons as an extracurricular activity since the controversy arose. The Arlington, Va., school board banned the game shortly after the Pullings filed their first lawsuit against the principal of their son's school.

TSR's Sturm said many parents oppose Dungeons & Dragons "because they have to find something to place the blame on to relieve their personal guilt.'

And, if you think that was bad, take a look at this from the Omaha World-Herald of November 1984, where police speculated that there was a D&D connection following the deaths of a pair of brothers in Colorado.

Chief Of Police, Larry Stallcup was quoted thus:

"We aren't sure at this point whether we have a double suicide or a suicide/homicide,"

The police chief said [Dungeons & Dragons] appeals to very intelligent people, who use their imagination to manipulate characters and work through a series of mazes to achieve treasures and avoid falling into the dungeon.

"My undertstanding [sic] is that once you reach a certain point where you are the master, your only way out is death," Stallcup said.

"That way no one can beat you."

D&D was everywhere from colouring books, and 'Letraset', to boxes of cereals. There was even an animated series which had me running home from school every week to watch the latest adventures, and try to work out whether the producers were following the rules. And before you ask, yes, I have the whole thing on DVD. It seemed that Satan's influences were everywhere:

And, how many pubescent gamers 'rolled their D20s' to ads like this?

It's plain to see that we were all certainly going to hell with such explicit advertising...

We were screwed!

Some of you will no doubt recall that TSR (the original owners of D&D) experimented with a (truly awful and very unsuccessful) line of toys based on the game in the 80s...

Not to be outdone, the 'Defender's Of The Faith' hit back with their own toy lines. Praise Unlimited Inc, a Florida manufacturer of Christian toys, deliberately aimed their lines to counter the evil products spewing forth from TSR:

How TSR and we the gaming public trembled!

The Miami Herald, that bastion of anti-gaming fervor profiled the the company in December, 1984 thus:


Cute, cuddly dolls with names like Joy and Faith and an action toy called Judah the Christian Soldier could some day replace "the devil's toys," say two North Carolina women.

"We feel that this is a ministry," Dana McNeal said, displaying toys she believes answer the biblical call in Proverbs 22:6 to "Train up a child in the way he should go."

McNeal and Linda Campbell market dolls, games and other items in North Carolina for Praise Unlimited Inc., a Sarasota, Fla., company specializing in "Christian toys." Campbell and McNeal describe themselves not as distributors, but as "toy missionaries."

"We feel we were called into this ministry, led by the Lord," McNeal said. "The reason there's a need for Christian toys is because of the toys that are on the current world secular market."

McNeal dismissed with a wave of her hand dolls such as Darth Vader from the film Star Wars and the shadowy men and monsters from Dungeons and Dragons.

"We call them the devil's toys," she said.

McNeal said she hopes parents will give their children alternatives -- perhaps a 116-piece Noah's Ark or an action toy named Judah the Christian Soldier.

Another Praise Unlimited toy is a child-sized suit of "the armor of God" described in Ephesians 6:11 as the proper gear to "stand against the wiles of the devil," she said. Accessories include the Helmet of Salvation, the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith and the Breastplate of Righteousness.

There also are the Praise Dolls -- Joy, Faith, Hope and Love. They tell their religious messages in song, activated by a child's hug.

"God is so good. God is so good. God is good and good to me," sings Joy, a 21-inch doll with blond hair and a dress decorated with descending doves representing the Holy Spirit.

Campbell and McNeal, who have worked together since March, said the dolls' messages are the antithesis of what's going under many Christmas trees.

"A lot of toys on the secular world market illustrate violence, competition and sensuality,' McNeal said.

She said a recent U.S News and World Report said sales of military board games, guns and violent video games have increased 200 percent in the past two years. But her strongest criticism was for Dungeons and Dragons, a board game that prompted reports of youngsters identifying too closely with the subterranean knights and sorcerers they control on cardboard.

"We're trying to make people aware of what children are playing with and the effect on them," McNeal said.'

And the 'evils of D&D' were making it to the TV screens. Rona Jaffe a writer of somewhat dreary romantic fiction scored a hit when she wrote 'Mazes & Monsters' a truly awful story which, was turned into a 1982 'for T.V' film starring the young Tom Hanks.

I have that book, and I have watched the film, but fear that to do so again may cause brain damage.

The story was based very, VERY loosely on the life and death of one James Dallas Egbert III, who was something of a child genius, who by 16 was studying computer sciences at Michigan State University.

He could not take the pressure and was a drug addict who tried three times to indulge in self harm. The first time he took to the steam tunnels of the university, took a handful quaaludes (hypnotic-sedatives) and failed to kill himself .

He tried twice more to end his life and finally managed to fail his saving throw vs. shotgun in his apartment on August 16th 1980.

At the time it was thought that the fact that Egbert played D&D, was a contributing factor, hence that bloody awful book and film.

(You will note that this pre-dates BADD)

And so on and so forth...

As you can see, this really was taken very seriously at the time. I guess that today's teenagers with their almost constant supply of paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy media would laugh if we 'Oldies' tried to tell them how we were at one time 'Christianity's Most Wanted'. My, how times change...

Or do they?

A new rallying of the so called 'Religious Right' in the U.S is starting to stir these same old prejudices, despite the fact that so many of the games now are as pure as angel piss, when compared to the old stuff. I fully expect that at some stage we'll see a troubled child, stymied in their ability to express who they are by the button-down society we seem to be becoming, do something which see them harm themselves or others. Then, when the distraught parents, clear out the child's things and find a fictional work containing 'demons' or 'spells' they will seek a way to exonerate themselves, and lash out at the producers and players of games.

We will become hunted members of a 'Global Satanic Cult' and the wraith of Patricia A Pulling will rise again.

Let's all take out our copies of Deities & Demigods and pray to whatever power we wish, that this does not come to pass.

Now, if you will excuse me I need to find my dice and some paper, and do some serious Satan worshipping...

It's been a while since our fortnightly gaming group got together, and as I'd purchased all those RPGs this week, it seemed a good idea to reconvene in a relaxed atmosphere and start to roll up some characters

Well, we had a fun night last night, rolling up Golden Heroes characters.

Kayte ended up with a 7 foot character who is super agile, can go invisible and has a cybernetic flight unit and criminal connections.

Alison ended up with a hard as nails criminally connected death machine.

Andy has a cybernetic brain, tough skin and is a chemistry genius with super powered sidekick.

Dave ended up with a bloody tycoon Industrialist, with amazing toughness and a bank balance which means he never carries cash.

I rolled up a deliberately non-superpowered character, who is totally average across the board, but has high level government contacts. He will be known as Stupendously Average Man (SAM) will be there as an NPC plot device.

The rationalisation and back story were frameworked, and it looks as if the disused Alcatraz, now belongs to a shady industrialist tycoon.

This is going to be fun!

And, we had cheese and pineapple on sticks too, for a truly retro night!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

When Tormentor Becomes Saviour (Not For The First Time)

When I was but a small Limpet, I fastened myself regularly (usually daily in fact) to one of the two sales counters in Games Workshop (back when it was a true gold mine of gaming goodness sandwiched between Hagenbachs and Cantors - very useful if you were shopping for games, sandwiches and a little occasional table for the living room, at age 13) drawing the attention of the staff who were fierce creatures capable of destroying the young in one or two words or with a look. I recall that an eyebrow was once raised at a less hardy mollusc, and they vanished in a small sulphurous cloud.

In short, it was a hard, hard place and one which to this day, I'd trade two days of my life to be able to spend a day in again, just to experience it.

It always seemed to smell of ground coffee and Poly S acrylics, and on a grey Wednesday afternoon in early Autumn it was indescribably comfortable to just browse all of the wondrous products.

Perhaps the only place these days, that can match those early GW stores is Spirit Games in Burton-Upon-Trent.

Anyway, as I started to find my feet, I became a regular target for the two guys who ran the figure bar; the late Pete 'Stretch' Armstrong (he hated being called Stretch) and Chris Gilbride. Now, Pete was a tough cookie, with a sarcasm level which went off the scale, but you could praise his awesome paint jobs and soften him down a bit.

Chris on the other hand was intellectually and verbally a different bak game. He was quieter and a lot more surgical with his incisive comments. Jesus, if he got you in his sights, you got reamed. Worse, if Chris got you, and Pete was riding shotgun, or Pete was on his back foot and Chris came to his aid, you just wanted to curl up and die in a corner.

Naturally, because I was a royal pain in the collective rectum, I got both barrels on a reasonably regular basis. I spent a lot of nights, curled up sobbing and praying for death.

It was great!

No, really... Look, I was not by nature a gregarious boy. I was chatty when I felt comfortable, but if you confronted me, I went very quiet and sullen. Chris and Pete with their merciless attacks (in later years, rechristened the Armstrong-Gilbride Method {TM}) taught me to stand up for myself without recourse to physical means. They also made me realise that it was OK to be me. True, I was still a geek, but I learned to hold my own with other geeks. (It didn't stop me getting arrested for assault when I was 15 for dealing with a kid two years older who thought I'd be a pushover, but it gave me that confidence to confront something I'd have run from until GW came to Sheffield).

I must point out that a couple of times I was saved from a verbal mauling in the den of these lion of sarcasm, by Lisa Brook, who probably prevented me suffering the fate of the kid I mentioned at the start.

The majority of people I gamed with and went to shows with were 10 years or more, older than me, and the verbal jousting skills, picked up in the GW tilt yard meant that they treated me as something more than an annoying kid. Thus I learned about periods that interested me, travelled the UK and spent weekends in strange towns, getting a gaming education, with the 'Big Boys'.

The only thing I never actually got to do was game with Pete and Chris in their own campaigns, because I was too cool for that *cough* and they couldn't take the *cough* competition. *choke*

It was only as I got older that I understood how I'd grown and benefitted from the 'counter of death', and my respect for Chris and Pete grew. It's a funny old world.

Anyway, Chris has helped me out in the last few years with obscure rule sets and the like and also has helped me deal with confronting my own ghosts at times. He is a sensible and dryly funny bloke, and any kid would be lucky to have a dad like him, I can tell you.

As you know, the week, I've been busy tracking down a few games I wanted to visit and re-visit, and once again, Chris has helped me out by agreeing to sell me his Paranoia collection. For me this is not only great from the point of view of having all I need to play, but it has that direct connection, almost talismanic to the years which I think of as 'The Rise Of The Limpet'.

For that reason those who knew me back then and who know the reasons why I am such a retro-freak, will understand just what a great thing this is for me. I'm counting the days until the box arrives, packed to the gills with memories and atmosphere** as well as some Golden Heroes stuff.

Thanks Chris!


** On the subject of atmosphere, I gave a pack of 1983 TSR Commandoes to wife to open this week, in an attempt to give her that buzz we got, back in the day. When she remarked that the blister contained 35 year old genuine, geek air, I grabbed it and inhaled deeply. I spent the afternoon at my desk, feeling sick... DON'T TRY AND COPY THIS - You need stupendous Limpet powers like me -and even then it was nearly fatal.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Middle Age As A Gateway Drug To Hardcore 'Class A' Gaming

I realised the other day - not for the first time- that I am not getting any younger.

With just 5 weeks until I hit my half-century, I thought I'd go back through my 40 years of gaming and look at some of the games I'd missed out on playing, ignored or just simply snubbed, out of a sense of youthful arrogance.

The one thing I did raise in doings so, and upon reflection, was that my peers were a pretty staid and boring bunch when it came to gaming. Nice chaps for the most part, but so many of them played a single or maybe two systems, at a time when there were so many games you could all own half a dozen different systems and be pretty certain that you'd get a game.

Now, some of my friends, such as Roger and Leccy were as addicted as I to all forms of gaming. Hell, if it involved dice, figures and a tape measure, we were 'up for it'. Darren, was also pretty game for a game, but the majority were either historical gamers of the old school, D&D or Runequest players, who might, might, tackle the odd board game.

This meant that I ended up with a 6 foot pile of rules systems next to my bed by the time I was 15 and very few of them actually got played because of those miserable bastards.

Twilight 2000 had a good following at the wargames club, so we did get a few sessions in before people drifted away, unable to see the possibilities for a 'real world' setting. Ring world made a good attempt, but the pace of the game and detail killed it off, but not before Darren lost his pet hamster in the game, to the surly Kzin, played by Togs Bamford whose inventive use of the food processing unit on his flycycle was a benchmark in gaming as far as I am concerned. And Darren a vegetarian in real life... TUT!

Anyway, I realised last weekend that I really miss White Dwarf (yes I do have them all in electronic format but it's just not the same), Star Frontiers; would rather like to try Golden Heroes again and after reading a few old books on RPGs from the era, fancied Commando and Gangster. There's a hankering for Gamma World too - God forgive me!

6 days later, and I have located and purchased two sets of White Dwarf 1-100. I won't go any higher because they are piss poor beyond that point, and are well and truly GW catalogues and nothing more. Hell, it was pretty shaky in the top of the 90-somethings, but 100's a good round number.

I bought about 30 copies from an eBay seller who listed them as sold as seen... Alas having seen them today, they are going back. I line my budgie cage with better paper - honestly. There'll be a bit of a skirmish but I'm pretty confident that I'll get a refund in the end.

On the subject of the games listed, I have managed to get Gangster (tatty on the box but for £2?), Command (looks untouched at £6) and Star Frontiers and Knight Hawks for £26 (fair even in reasonable condition).

And then, because you always decide you want something else (well, I do) I was reminiscing about Games Of Liverpool, a truly fantastic shop in it's day that blew even an old style GW out of the water, when I recalled the cellars full of Grenadier boxed sets, with their evocative covers and Andrew Chernak sculpts. Uh oh...

Well I remembered the Secret Agents & Spies sets which comprised two 12 figure boxes. One was spies and agents of various types and the other was mercenaries and command types. All of them were wonderfully attired in that late 70s to early 80s, action movie style. I never bought them because frankly I never thought I need them and besides, I had a lot of Platoon 20 models back then, also purchased from Games for the most part.

Well, you know how this is going to end up... I bought a set of the agents and two boxes of the Mercenaries on eBay, complete with original boxes and al the equipment sprues.

This means that I am now going to have to run Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes or Top Secret , this leading to another mini spending spree, but that's OK, because it's now or never I think.

I guess, I'll also need to buy a set of Imagine and Sorcerer's Apprentice magazines won't I? And what about Car Wars?

And to cap it off, I also want to play Paranoia. One of the worst sessions of any game I ever endured was when Darren ran Paranoia 'by the book' and I went through characters faster than girlfriends, that week. It was hell, and thus I really need to revisit it and become reacquainted with it.

Oh dear! Am I starting to froth? I fear I am...


PS: I have also now realised that I need Lords Of Creation and Star Ace... DAMN!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Beginning Of The End?

I collect games and miniatures as many of you know.

I am always willing to pay a fair price for something I want, as are many others. However, I have noticed that there are prices being asked all over the place which are not only high, but almost bloody criminal, without recourse to any due diligence or scruples on the part of those asking them.

In my opinion, some of the highest prices for supposedly rare lead on eBay. are being asked by Cougarrinard, Goldfishblue, Hygienic Porridge and Melgil, but there are others too. Where and how do they come up with their asking prices? Perhaps they undertake naked midnight vigils at the grave of Gary Gygax, but I think they just invoke the Gordon Gekko principle and hope for the best.

Now, look, you can argue that demand guides the asking price, but when they are buying at pennies and selling at many times the price to several decimal points in many cases, it's falsely inflating the market.

And now that they have hoovered up the majority of figures out there, there is a dearth of old miniatures, and everybody who owns a model dated pre-1989 is declaring it 'rare', 'sought after' and I think I read on one advert 'hand polished on a unicorn's vagina'. It's getting out of hand quite frankly, and I can't wait for the day that they all find out that there's nothing more to be snapped up, and go off and find the next nostalgia trip for them to milk, as they surely will.

So, how can we address it?

Perhaps collectors should agree a code of conduct for the duration of the conflict, with similar calculations?

Sellers should not be allowed to get away with 'rare' in a description without justifying why the epithet is used. Call them out and if they get shirty, tell them and every other collector you know that you will not deal with that seller.

We shouldn't forget that these are not crown jewels or precious metals, nor are they Magna Carta or the writings of Julius Caesar. They are toy soldiers and printed paper which have been handled by sweaty fingered youths over the last 4 decades, usually quite clumsily and without recourse to good hygiene.

Take away the money from the resellers and sooner or later a few of them will see the error of their ways.

I will state for the record that I don't expect vintage stuff in good condition to be lower than original asking price, but I have personally set a limit of 'For 'X' I am willing to pay 'Y' times original price, where Y has a numerical value between 2 and 5.

Look at the Demogorgon furore when 'Stranger Things' hit the screens a couple of years ago, with every type of chicanery being used to sell models described as 'rare', 'top' and 'vintage' with many of those models being modern reissues produced by Mirliton, in new alloys and at a frankly eye searing mark up.

Pure bloody madness!

Look, fellow collectors, it's not about who can afford the prices (hell, I can, but i won't on principle) it's about keeping some form of integrity which will allow those who come after us to enjoy the things we enjoyed. When you die, those models might be sold for a decent price, but in most cases they won't. You won't be in a position to care, admittedly, but it's time we stopped acting like Thatcherite Yuppies at bonus time.

I could rant some more, but I'll save it for another time as it's a nice sunny Sunday and I want to enjoy it before e bed time.

All I ask is that you just stop and think about the true value of your toy soldiers and used books.