Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Less Than 12 Hours Remaining on the Dwarf Empire Kickstarter Campaign - GREAT Freebies!

With just 12 hours remaining you only need to pledge £8 to get the Kickstarter Exclusive models. I have pledged for 500 of these little buggers and they are worth every penny!

There's more than just knights... There's every type of troop you could ask for!

Remember that the exclusive models will only go to KS backers and then the moulds will be destroyed, making them very rare indeed...


Another Section Of The Layout Completed...

Yesterday, I finally got the main construction of the 'Big Shed' completed on my layout, and the lighting fitted.

This means that I have been able to permanently fix and fettle the shed and fence. I am really happy with the grimy windows and the limestone hard standing.

Next I'll add a portakabin and portaloo. Then I'll move on to the industrial unit and BR compound. Once they're done, I can start to add the fine detail and people to really bring it to life.

Here are a few pics. Note please, that the 'night time' shot was taken before I dealt with light leakage.

As before I have used the 'Just Plug' lighting system by Woodland Scenics which is simply the easiest way of lighting a layout.

All in all, I'm really happy with this layout, given that it's new ground for me. What's more, I'm making serious progress, which I don't seem to do with wargames figures, given that I paint for a living and so rarely feel like painting in my spare time.


Another Year Shoots By...

Well, I got up at 7AM this morning, after a well deserved lie in, and harnessed up the pack which roam the grounds of the manse to savage any intruders.

I normally walk them a lot early on a local field and so at 7AM they were more than ready for some exercise - Which they never got, in the end!

I was slowly ascending a steep path when two of the pack ran around my legs, acting like a bolas. I went down like a brick and I am not a small fellow. I stood up. took four steps and then realised that something was wroong in my chest.

Anyway, I ended up in casualty with some of society's finest examples of hopeless causes and a number of police constables, who had obviously been busy. One member of the Watch spent a good five minutes giving me the eyeball, and as is the custom, I smiled and stared right back...

And so, it looks like I have some broken ribs, high on the left of my chest. I'm dosed up to high heavens on every kind of pain killer short of morphine, and feel rather poorly.

Thus I have crawled to my desk in the studio, to write a few word and keep my mind off the pain I am in. It really is quite exquisite...

And so, another year is at an end. It's been an odd one.

For the first time in my life I did not go to the Sheffield Triples. I'll not go over all that crap again, but even the Show Secretary of SWS trying to get me to accept a handful of tickets was not going to tempt me, because frankly, it wasn't worth the grief or the time. Still, it felt rather odd and left me with an empty feeling.

Vapnartak at York was great, whilst the Newark shows were absolute rubbish. At the Spring Partizan the breakfast catering was  managed I believe by a descendant of Typhoid Mary. After a 20 minute wait for a sandwich it appeared that the egg had not even been introduced to the pan , but rather cracked onto the sandwich in the hope that the bacon would cook it with it's own heat. 

Derby Roundhouse was the venue for a rather wonderful model railway show, which organisers of any and I mean ANY wargames show should attend, to see how a show should and can be run. I mean it - you lazy buggers have a lot to learn about hospitality, engagement and P.R.

I've done very little gaming, but I have two model railroads under construction and a third at the planning stage. This interest in model railways will undoubtedly continue, but I am also finding my wargaming mojo again, having backed the TAG Dwarf Kickstarter to the £400 pledge level, meaning I have around 500 models on the way and a LOT of freebies. My plan is to get these painted and then maybe paint a 28mm 100YW army using the new Perry plastics.

It's really odd to think that I am no longer part of an organised club (nor I think would they have me back if I wanted)  and I miss my friends, but I'll be damned if I will stifle myself just fit a collective view which is flawed, unimaginative and so bigoted. Yeah, I am outspoken and offensive at times, but that's who I am... I can live with it, so long as I am speaking from the heart. It gives me no pleasure when things go the way I predicted and likewise 'I told you so' gives little satisfaction other than proving to myself I was correct all along. Ah well...

2015 saw the loss of two friends, both ahead of their time. One was a wargamer and the other a re-enactor, but both were warm and funny guys with a real grasp and love of their hobbies. Both had a lot more to give.

Alex & Trevor I have drunk your health this Christmas and will do so again on New Year. You are missed...

Looking ahead to 2016, I am already planning meet-ups with some wargaming mates from way back, and there's talk of 'getting the band back together' for a few projects involving games, conventions and other commercial ventures. It will be an exciting time. I'm also looking at getting back into club gaming and due to various factors I am looking both at Sheffield, Rotherham and West Yorkshire. I'm in no real rush because A. I am busy and B. I know that it will not be the same as my old club, so my list of requirements will be different and thus a careful choice will need to be made.

My model railroading interests mean trips again to Derby and York. The York show at the racecourse, as I have written previously is awesome, and you can get a lot of stuff useful to wargamers. And of course the sheer beauty of the model making makes it a worthwhile trip and VERY family friendly whatever the age of the visitor.

On a more sombre note, it has come to my attention that a certain trader and a certain gamer whom for now will remain anonymous, both have figures belonging to a third party which should be returned to his family as a matter of urgency. 

Shame on you both!

Anyway, we'll collectively remind you both at shows and indeed I or any of my associates will gladly act as middle men to facilitate the return of the figures in question and will issue receipts.

And with that, I will bid you all a very happy and prosperous new year.


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day, 10AM... Erecting A Security Fence

I have erected 200 feet of fencing and it's only 10AM on Boxing Day.

Yes, it's OO scale, of course...

Well, it's coming on in leaps and bounds. The warehouse needs painting and detailing as 'Miami Spice (UK) Ltd' and there's a red brick office for the central yard. At the far end, it's a case of completing the ground work and the scennic buffer around the big shed, before getting the details done such as portakabins, portaloos, junk, tools etc... Ditto for the office area.

Dwarfs, Dwarves, Short Arsed Little B*****s...

Well, my mojo is back I fear. Introspective soul searching, and an analysis of what I really love, hobby-wise have made me realise that I really, REALLY want to get my head back into 'old school' fantasy gaming.

I have always been a a fan of the Orc & Goblin armies and at the totally opposite pole, Dwarves.

Orcs have got too silly even for fantasy, but Dwarves are still a pretty 'sensible' army.

In 1989, when my daughter was born, in fact in the very week she popped out and said 'hi' to the world, I bought a Dwarven gun and crew from the Marauder Miniatures (Citadel offshoot) range, which re-imagined the short arsed little fellahs in renaissance attire. People took to them right away, but of course Q.T Miniatures had already produced Landsknecht Dwarves several years earlier with less of a trumpeting than the GW propaganda machine gave this range of latecomers.

Still, I enjoyed painting them and then moved onto other things, such as being a full-time Dad for 5 years or so.

Well, when White Knight announced that he a had privately commission John Pickford to sculpt him a range of renaissance Dwarves about 3 or 4 years ago now, I was pleased to find out I could get him to sell me a few. But, when life overtook for a while I decided that I had bigger priorities with my time and the mood passed.

Now that The Assault Group have the Kickstarter going , having taken ownership of the range, I am in there again, and have backed them for £400 which gets me 122 packs of figures and a saving of around £500.

What really has me drooling are the freebie figures for those people who back the campaign, which will never EVER be produced again after it.

There's a foot knight and even better a Dwarf Santa. The Santa will apparently go to anyone who pledges over £8 which is less than many GW figures with far less character...

Anyway, get over to the Kickstarter site and spend a little of that Xmas cash which is burning a whole in the pocket of your festive cardigan...

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

It's The Time Of Year When One's ThoughtsTurn To Meat...

Well, another year is almost at it's close, and I am indeed older and wiser...

The one thing to come out of the last couple of years, is that  there are no more favours without the chink of coin. The Swiss had the right idea.

On the flip side, I do still have a few friends after my castigation and scourging as well as the fall out from 21st December 2012 where I put the fact that my wife had pneumonia before dragging her to a get together of old gaming mates in a wet and windy backstreet pub, far from the beaten tracks. I ended up saying a few choice and offensive words (no surprise there) and that was the last I heard or saw of about a dozen people I'd known for over 30 years.

But, at least I have been true to myself and have not bent to the wills of others.

Not the nicest wisdom, but it was an experience. People may not like me, but I still hold them in my thoughts and heart for the most part.

It's a funny old world...

Moving on, I have been drawn in by the Kickstarter being run by those fine people over at The Assault Group, who've taken on those rather wonderful Renaissance Dwarves formerly available in a limited Way from White Knight.

For £400 I have managed to get around £900 worth of models, which is more than enough to build the entire 3rd ed Warhammer Dwarf army list, with an additional 50 cavalry mounted on ponies, redolent of the 'Thelwell' cartoons, and a few more additional infantry units for variety of weapon types.

The Kickstarter is here:

And the range, with pictures can be seen here:

Dwarves in Landsknecht dress... What's not to like?

And so, I am now winding down for a couple of weeks of sheer indulgence. It'll be a quiet Christmas as usual, with just the two of us and the four dogs, but we have excellent vittles including venison, pork, pheasant, turkey, beef and gammon for starters and a seriously fantastic range of pickles and condiments:

Just as well, really because we have a few kilos of cheese and pate, too:

And just in case we need to wash it down a rather fine selection of wine, 11 bottles of port, plus gin and cognac:

Which just goes to show that cutting back on wargaming spending this year has led to much worse habits...

Well, all that remains is for me to wish you all a wonderful festive period and all that you would wish for and deserve in the new year ahead.

Eat, drink and make merry!


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Rodney Matthews Comes To Live At The Dark Tower, Along With Frank McCarthy

Now, that's more like a holiday...

After tending to the needs of my menagerie at 5:30AM, I made a little toast,with strawberry jam along with a mug of Java, and crawled back into bed to watch Antiques Roadshow and sleep in until 10:45.

What could be better?

Well, I woke up with that general joie de vivre which comes after dreaming you are on a motorcycle with a large animated  marshmallow figure on the handlebars - You know the feeling...

So, I should have stayed away from the Mac and my credit card because I decided that, given that I have been a good boy this year and have ended up 'in the black', despite some rather ambitious plans and projects  I could risk a look at the catalogue of original Rodney Matthews works.

I am a big fan of RM's work, and have been for about 4 years, but I've never allowed myself to add one of his works to my gallery. OK, owning assorted pieces by John Blanche, Tony Ackland, Wayne England, Phillip Downes and Tony Hough (and a few more, come to think of it) is one thing, but when you get into the big boy's game, it's taking things to a whole new level.

Now, much as I love the full colour stuff, I have a rather naughty attraction to pencil work, and even though you are generally looking at a mid 3 figure sum for a pencil sketch, it's good quality work when you compare it to say £75,000 for a colour original of a piece of album cover art.

So, I found a rather nice piece which is the concept sketch of a logo for Bizarre Creative, 12x16 inches and priced at a trifling £150:

So I registered my interest with the gallery, and was surprised when I got a mail saying that for 24 hours, I could make offers on any RM originals.


Thus, I allowed myself to be snared by 12x16 inch sketch of Legolas, which was a piece of concept work for the Lord Of The Rings musical (look it up, it was great fun) by Bernd Stromberger. It's lovely and was priced in the catalogue at £495. I registered interest...


I then noticed another piece which I had seen earlier in the year, again, concept work for an album by Barclay James Harvest which became 'Caught In The Light' but was under the working title of Feel The Silence, measuring 13x21 inches and priced at £350

I made an offer on this which was accepted, but then I considered what it is that I want from a piece of art, given the serious lack of space on any wall in the Tower apart from the bathroom, and withdrew my interest in the album cover.

So, here I was with two pieces of artwork I really loved and a potential price tag of £660.00 with shipping at £15.00.

So, I did the sums, looked at what I want to do hobby-wise in 2016 and then pitched a ridiculous offer of £490 including shipping, expecting some serious return haggling because let's face it, I was asking for a consideration in excess of 25%.

The gallery agreed...

And so, I now own some classic artwork which will need to be archival framed and insured, but let's face it, RM is no getting any younger and he is very, very collectible indeed.

Later in the afternoon, I found myself in a favourite charity shop, wherein I did find a 1984 exhibition poster for the work of famed American Western artist Frank McCarthy, who is right up there with the greats of American cultural art.

What's more it has a wonderful dark wood frame:

Not a great pic, so here is one of another...

Now, it was priced at £20, but I haggled... Yeah, yeah I haggled in a charity store, but to be fair they have had a few hundred pounds of donations from me, and they know me, so they returned the good turn and accepted £15 (so I spent some more cash on a few bits).

Well, as some of you may know, high end exhibition lithographs are seriously collected and because of the limited runs, are often considered works of art in their own right. This particular piece is very high end with contrasting print finishes and metallic details which are foiled. As I said... very high end.

So, I filled the last bit of space in the lower levels of the Dark Tower and then checked on average values. My hunch was correct and this is a $200-$400 piece at auction. But this baby stays with me as I have a rather unhealthy love of North American popular culture.

I have now sated myself for 2015. I bloody hope so anyway, because I have just had to sit and rework my plans for next year.

Well, it's been a tiring yet satisfying day, so I will bid you a very fond 'good evening'.


Monday, 14 December 2015

Fishy Goings On, Bagging Bargains In Canada & Tiny Fantasies...

Last Thursday, saw me finishing up for the year, about 10 days ahead of my standard schedule. This was due to the fact that I had worked like a demon for the last two months, completing two and sometimes three days of work in a single looooong day.

And so, all that left was the stripping down of my studio to give it the end of year deep cleanse which marks the 'official' last day of work, and thence to enjoy an extended Christmas break until my return to  my desk for work purposes on January 4th.

But, before I did that I had to go and pay homage to the former frontman of Marillion, the band which figured heavily in my youth as I struggled with all the crap that the 80s could throw at me.

Fish has remained a force majeur of the heartfelt lyric down the years, and whilst I openly confess that it took me 20 years or so to really appreciate this, boy have I been making up for it.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 'Misplaced Childhood' album and tour, and so, as part of his 'exit strategy' which should finally come to fruition in 2017, Fish was performing the entire album, live, for the last time.

He did so rather splendidly, despite not being a well bunny on the night.

Supporting him were French prog rockers Lazuli, a 5-piece from the South of France, who can do shockingly wonderful things around a marimba...

Seeing them perform this life, with a marimba-fuelled excursion into Marillion's 'Incommunicado' is something to behold, let me tell you.

Anyway, we were there, right at the front of Sheffield City Hall, being wowed by music which transcended the language barrier, with the crowd giving a very appreciative standing ovation to the band.

It was a late night after such a hard work regime, and I was up at 5AM on Friday to walk 4 assorted terriers in awful weather before tearing into the studio.

I also took the time to clear out a load of vintage gaming stuff to the dustbin, being sure to make a good job of deterring bin raiders. This means that I have the space I need for the model railroad layouts that I have on order and planned. The boardgames I kept were all placed in plastic storage boxes which will sit under the layouts. My large collection of sci-fantasy art books are piled at the side of my desk awaiting a dedicated bookshelf, having previously shared the same shelves as the games.

Alas, when I moved the shelving I was chagrined to discover a large area of well established black mould at a point where the air of the Dark Tower and my studio meet and clash, with disastrous results. So, I was in there with the bleach and mould killer, and then a can of Halfords white primer to seal it. I'll give it a quick shot of emulsion this week. It's my own fault for not checking air flow in there.

Speaking of model railroads, my layout builder has suffered a PVA failure this week which has really set back my layout. To my eyes his coloured PVA has not been uniformly mixed, and the entire yard area of the layout looks a right bleedin' mess.

I have done it myself in the past, but never on this scale, and it's going to take some clever remedial work to correct it. After paying out a four figure sum, I am going to have to a bit harsher than I might perhaps like, but that's how it goes I guess...

And so, to Canada...

One of my clients in the Great White North was kind enough to help me find some Canadian railroad stuff, and when I went to the site, it was of course priced in Canadian dollars, which right now are $2 to £1. This means that even with postage and customs I can get some pretty darned big savings.

I therefore also intend to do some shopping with Canadian wargames companies (with the exception of RAFM, who price using $U.S - Bloody unsporting.

I worked out that generally speaking on a like for like basis, I can save about 35% on the prices I pay for stuff imported by re-sellers. This in turn gets turned into more toys of varying kinds.

I'm now making my budgetary plans for the 2016 hobbies season, which begins Jan 1st and ends on Oct 31st. The last two months I spend nothing on hobbies but I pay for Christmas in full and so don't have to use the credit card or go into the red, thereby doing my bit to both support and thwart Capitalism.

It's looking pretty good so far.. On paper I can pay for a 3rd model railroad layout, a massive 6mm fantasy army (more on this anon) and a Perrys 100YW army in plastic and metal and still have £200+ per month for other 'off the cuff' purchases.

This is largely due to the decision to not support several shows any longer, When you bear in mind that I generally spend £1000 or so at Triples and £500 at each of the Partizan shows, it's not something to be sniffed at.

I'll be at Vapnartak where I always spend time in excellent company and bag some great bargains for pennies on the tabletop sale, and then later in the year at the Britcon show, which several local commentators have referred to erroneously as 'shit'. If you know what you are looking for and appreciate that this is a competition with attached trade show, rather than an arena gig, you can do very nicely. What's more the atmosphere is decidedly more convivial than many other shows, with the lure of Manchester's Chinatown and some good eating. Oh, and the venue itself has always been great... Good food, plenty of seats and well lit - Just what you need!

On the railway front, I'll be at the York and Derby Shows. York is massive, and I encourage you, be you gamer or railroad modeller to go and have a look at some of the stuff on offer. It's at the racecourse, but unlike Vapnartak, uses the whole Knavesmire stand and generally has the restaurant open too. It's a model of what wargames shows could be in the North, if they could be arsed.

Now, going back to 6mm gaming, I love the scale, but I loathe strips of conjoined models when it comes to fantasy. I want that bit more character and individuality - I don't know why, but fantasy demands it, I think. So, you may imagine my delight when I was directed to a company in the U.S by the name of Microworld Games, who produce stunning little models  at really competitive prices and with the added bonus of having a dirt cheap international postage rate of just $8 - flat rate.

It equates to about 10p per model but these are superbly detailed little toys and have plenty to go at regardless of individual tastes.

Have a look at

The only thing I've not found so far are Halflings, but there's a lot of really nice stuff.

Right, I'll bid you farewell for the moment and try to find something to fill my time... With 21 days holiday ahead of me, this may become increasingly difficult.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

When The Band Stops Playing It's Time To Turn Out The Lights...

For me, music and gaming have always gone together in a BIG way...

Asia, Human League, Duran Duran, Haysi Fantayzee, Adam & The Ants, Sisters Of Mercy, The Cult, New Model Army; they have all played a big part in my life and I can tell you exactly what I was gaming or painting to each of them.

But, without a doubt the bands which fuelled my creativity and imagination the most were Rush, Marillion and Yes.

To Yes, I painted ECW and scratch built mecha. whilst to Marillion, I painted some of the most intricate Samurai I ever turned out, and then along with Rush they got me through exams, arrest for assault on a kid who was kicking the shit out of me, and the angst filled later teen years during which  I painted hundreds of fantasy figures and actually completed armies.

Of course Marillion split, but lead singer Fish continued to write and perform some wonderful stuff. This week I'll be watching him perform the entire Misplace Childhood album on it's 30th anniversary as part of his musical exit strategy which culminates in his planned retirement from music in 2017.

Yes, are still touring but after the untimely passing of bassist and co-founder Chris Squire earlier this year, the future of the band is uncertain.

And now, in the year which sees them celebrate 40 years of filling stadia to capacity the world over, Rush drummer Neil Peart has announced that he is effectively retiring, although the latest buzz is that this is only from touring.

This has left me wondering if it's time to throw in the towel with wargaming (just as I was actually starting to rediscover gaming and really get over all the fuckery of the past couple of years with my old club and mourning the loss of lifelong friendships) and plan my own exit strategy from my lifelong hobby.

It's funny how things like that come along, but I guess there is a time when you have to look around you and ask whether it's prudent to have piles of unpainted lead and plastic all over the place.

So, what I think I will do, is buy a couple of 'must have' armies and get someone else to paint them by 2018, at which time I shall be 50.

50 indeed... where those 35+ years of gaming gone? It'll be 39 by the time I am 50 and it has just shot past me. It's almost as if you get up to make a coffee and a decade has just gone by...



Monday, 30 November 2015

It's Hip To Be Square... Musings On The Geek Generation.

If you sit back and look around you for a short while - I mean at the cultural influences, not your living room - you'll quickly conclude that it is now 'hip to be square' or to put it another way, it's fashionable to be a 'Geek'.

Let's take a look at what the term actually means in it's original form, and let's go to Wikipedia for the answer:

'The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a "peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual".

OK, I'm good with that...

Those of us with a 'certain vintage' may have been - and probably were - bullied harassed and generally given a hard time. It's a common thread, although many deny it and put up a front of just how popular and rugged they are, that a lot of gamers (and I guess anyone with a hobby which is not understood by the sports morons perpetuating the miseducation system) were marginalised, and used as a way to make  the 'hard kids' look harder (or just bigger dick heads than they were already).

Now, you'd think that these minority groups would have a common purpose, and you would be wrong of course because in the same way that you don't have to be the fastest kid to escape the monster - just faster; these subgroups of geeks tried to look cooler than the others. Train spotters were universally derided, model railway enthusiasts look on wargamers as being lower than them, wargamers looked at model railway enthusiasts as wasting time making terrain that was not used for anything more than playing with trains (If you doubt that, I refer you to the years when Northern Militaire had several superb model railway displays. Another show - which if I even name, I'll be accused of having a vendetta against - had local model making and model engineering groups in the early days too).

Of course bus spotters were universally reviled - even by train spotters, but stamp collectors were left alone because they had more money than anyone else, and owned tweezers which, in skilled hands could inflict much pain and suffering.

What was probably the worst aspect of belonging on the fringe of right and proper-thinking society was  that in order to get to the top of the geek tree, there were kids who masked themselves by hanging out at school with the 'cool kids' and picking on other gamers etc, but then whom once out of the crucible of youthful hatred, were the first kids knocking at the door of the same lad they had just picked on, hours earlier. I know of a couple of guys from another part of the city who were put through this by another guy, who to this day, carries off in just the same way. The difference is that he has been rumbled over the years and is ignored or at best tolerated. I find this to be fair and just for such a Quisling, but that is another story...

The apex predator in the hierarchy was of course the older guy who had fallen between the rails as it were; old enough that he should have probably at least had a steady girlfriend, but still young enough that he could inflict his will upon younger kids and be seen (often erroneously) as godlike, his every word, law.

I think every group had one or two like this. I found out some 25 or more years down the line that a local guy who was like this, was bullied himself. Now this is a simple case of transferring the suffering he was put under onto younger kids, and once he had a couple of victims, keeping the rest of their gang in check by directing their scorn to the poor bastards.

A while ago at one of my coffee mornings I was discussing this with a victim of this kind of behaviour, who made it very clear that he was of a similar mind, and that if this person tried it these days, he would be flat on his arse. I believe him - he's far from the shy and retiring lad of 1985. I have similar thoughts myself, and often wonder how a few bloodied noses would have changed things back then.

But I digress...

The point is that far from being fashionable or cool, those we collectively call geeks had it rough, at a time when parenting was not as liberal and you were likely as not going to get a similar amount of abuse from parents who could not understand what the hell you were doing with pencils, dice, tin soldiers and books with badly drawn pictures of semi-naked men and women, which hinted at some occult infestation of their offspring.

Oh how many of us must have wilted under those terrible words - 'Why can't you be like the other kids around here?'

So, let's dip back into Wikipedia and see what the etymology of the word 'geek' supposedly is :

'This word comes from English dialect geek or geck (meaning a "fool" or "freak"; from Middle Low German Geck). "Geck" is a standard term in modern German and means "fool" or "fop."[2] The root also survives in the Dutch and Afrikaans adjective gek ("crazy"), as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut ("jester's hat"; used during carnival).[1] In 18th century Austria-HungaryGecken were freaks on display in some circuses. In 19th century North America, the term geek referred to a performer in a geek show in a circus, traveling carnival or travelling funfair sideshows (see also freak show).[3] The 1976 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary included only the definition regarding geek shows. This variation of the term was used to comic effect in an episode of popular 1970s TV show Sanford & Son.'

So, we can see that theoretically at least we have always been seen in a pejorative and derogatory way. I can live with that. I mean, look, we have been around longer than soccer, so I think that that's a big 'fuck you' to the school 'Jocks' don't you?

Wikipedia, continues:

'The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning. The term nerd has a similar, practically synonymous meaning as geek, but many choose to identify different connotations among these two terms, although the differences are disputed. In a 2007 interview on The Colbert Report, Richard Clarke said the difference between nerds and geeks is "geeks get it done" or "ggid"[4]Julie Smith defined a geek as "a bright young man turned inward, poorly socialized, who felt so little kinship with his own planet that he routinely traveled to the ones invented by his favorite authors, who thought of that secret, dreamy place his computer took him to as cyberspace—somewhere exciting, a place more real than his own life, a land he could conquer, not a drab teenager's room in his parents' house".'

I don't think that I disagree, but of course we could not blame computers back then because let's face it, not even the most deluded fantasist (and I include myself here) could think of anything on a Spectrum ZX81 as 'secret' or 'dreamy'.

Alas, these days the term geek, carries cache and really is at the opposite end of the spectrum from where it was in my youth, when Warhammer came in 3 volumes and wargames rules didn't need pictures, because we read them.

Nowadays what was a guilty secret is open and accepted, and many, simply whore the principles of my generation out, by buying anything that has 'GEEK!' written on it. They have simply joined the establishment and lost the way somewhat in doing so. 

I blame it on the contemporary sociocultural tendency to believe that every child is a precious flower or fragile snowdrop, that if they have to deal with rejection or ridicule, they will be somehow maimed for life. Maybe they will, but at least they will have character.

After all, I got the shit kicked out of me for not conforming to the peer group at school, but let me be very clear about this I ended up marrying one of the hottest girls on the Goth scene, and being a full time figure painter together with my book of gaming memoirs and anecdotes, keeps the bank account ticking over nicely.

My past experiences and constant neuroses caused by others (and my own for not simply twatting a few of them in my youth) keep my creativity and determination to do things my own way, constantly simmering.

I don't need 'official' scenarios or the 'science' of my game worlds to role play. I don't need glossy rules with the same old fucking painting guide in every publication, because I developed my own style, rather than some cloned, production line style, with about as much soul as a soulless thing...

I  was reading this morning that 'Generation Y' are independent and want coaches rather than managers. I think that's erroneous because from where I stand, they are on the whole a generation which due to cosseting and a lack of real threats (such as the IRA, Bader Meinhof, Black September and Margret Thatcher - OK, OK, the current Tories are giving it their best shot) to their existence seems to think that the world revolves around them.

Now, I have been called a narcissistic prick - I don't dispute it - but the younger generations today take the rice cracker (much healthier than a biscuit) when it comes to self indulgence.

The current fad for 'Oldhammer' (there is of course no such game) is a great example of a generation which seeks to recreate what it missed whilst simultaneously getting it wrong. How I giggle, nay, guffaw, when I see someone who is younger than my own daughter exclaim that they will only use figures from 1989 because they are contemporary to a particular edition of Warhammer. 


Unlike today, back then we used any figures we had and didn't buy new models every time a new rules set came out whilst disposing of the rest of our collections. You see? That's where they go wrong because most of them have never played or seen a report of an old Warhammer 1st or 2nd ed game. But they spend thousands in some cases on figures which are not worth more than £1 each and then lord it over their peers who are using more modern offerings.

 Because all they know is the present, they fuck up recreating the past. They don't want to have to admit that they are new geeks on the block and so disregard  what does not fit their world. It's like buying a Chinese meal, cooked by  a European. It has all the ingredients in it, but just isn't the same as the genuine article, because unless that Englishman is shown how to cook it by a Chinese person, they will not appreciate the nuances and methods involved.

A lot of the people I met when I got into gaming were bullied, afraid of the threat of nuclear war, IRA bombs or just did not 'fit'. So, they jumped headfirst into imaginary worlds to survive. It was more than just a lifestyle choice and a T-shirt.

And we for the most part, asked questions of our elders in the hobby. Hell, we even asked shop staff, because there was none of the corporate bullshit back then,. The companies sought to make a profit, admittedly, but there was a passion for the hobby. The same people with that passion when GW was new and fresh, got subsumed, wrung dry and then spat out in the furtherance of the consumer dollar.

Now, they seem to have gone full circle and are once again producing the kind of work that they once did, but with higher production quality. OK, so there's more colour and it looks slicker, but the actual material has balls again.

If we are lucky they will save us from the current shallow generation. Time will tell...

Anyway, I have to go and have a craft beer, artisanal cheese, and try and work out which Dark Elves were on the shelves, this week in 1989 so that I can get one over on my fellow Hipsterhammer devotees..


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Onwards, Ever Onwards...

Despite feeling like shite, I have managed to get the security fence and propane storage cage fitted on my OO layout. (yes, the 'legit' business has it's stuff secure, unlike Simmonite's yard) and landscaped in next to Miami Spice (Imports) Limited, prepped a second set of fencing for the BR civil engineering depot, and got the groundwork laid for the motive power shed at the far end of the layout.
Quite enough for today and I feel rather tired out now...

Thursday, 26 November 2015

An Am(trak)erican Classic

The first of my Amtrak consist arrived yesterday and I am very impressed indeed.

Fully lit, including number boards and ditch lights, these are truly channeling the spirit of America and the heydays of Amtrak.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding...

North Korean generals, apparently:

It looks like they've been co-opted into a solar energy program as collectors.

Trains, Trains, Trains..

I have found that toy trains are even more addictive than toy soldiers, and that just like the tiny tin troopers, if you spend money you can get some fine stuff...

As I outlined the other day I am commissioning a third bespoke layout after the Christmas holidays - another N Scale layout which, will pretty much fill one wall of my studio on shelf brackets, above the two free-standing layouts already commissioned. 

It's a mere 9 inches deep but 13.5 feet long . Still in N scale you can get a LOT into that space without even using scale compression.

As with the other N scale layout, I've gone back to Ollie Reading at The Fiddle Yard 

Ollie is about half my age but has a pretty solid reputation on the model railroad circuit. What's more, he understands what matters:










Competitive Pricing


You will notice that I come back time and time again to Communication? Because it matters to me. I put great store in dealing with people who communicate and likewise I do the same.

With hobbies where a four-figure sum purchase is run of the mill it's astounding how many traders don't give a damn. Those people will never get a penny from me.

I did my due diligence before I ordered my first layout and no matter whom I spoke to, Ollie's name always without exception drew praise of high order.

Anyway, the poor guy has not finished my first layout and already I am assaulting his mind with the plans for my next.

My love is the scenic side of things and so my first layout was commissioned with everything up to 'grass level' done by Ollie. I will then put my mark on it and make it 'mine', breathing that life into it as I imagine it in the rail yards of my mind.

The OO layout I am already at work on was a bloody expensive ready-made layout which I the proceeded to rip apart and which you've seen here over the last few months, as I recreate one of those grimy Northern railway shit holes, beloved of my youth.

The third layout is a slightly different approach in that I'm doing all of the landscaping from baseboard level. Ollie is going to work his magic and deliver up to me a superbly robust layout with trackage, wiring and ballasting all ready for my attention.  Space is at a premium this time so instead of the large electrical console, Ollie reckons he can build all of the switches for the points, into the fascia, along with the plug points for my DCC unit.

I dropped him a line on Sunday and by bedtime, he had come back to me with his initial suggested plan, based on 3 x 4 foot modules:

Noe, the plan is to make a few changes to the length and composition of the right hand module, but that is just 'dressing' as it were. Ollie has an instinct for interpreting the client brief, but what's more, he knows what will work and what will not.

I have great hopes for this project...

I mentioned in my last epistle, my pre-Christmas blow out with the last of my 2015 budget... 

Well here's a bit of a visual guide to what I bought:

First up the KATO Amtrak Superliner rake. Note that there are three variants of the loco in the pic, on their way to me. I am dreading the £150 bill for getting them fitted for digital control.

Now, that was 'it' but today I decided to go the whole hog and add two material handling cars which are tacked on at the end of some Amtrak rakes.

I found two discontinued models, second hand on eBay, for £20 which was a bargain, and though the rest of the train is new and mint, these will do just fine.

The livery is what I consider to be the epitome of 80s America; the Phase III scheme.

This very day I also took delivery of the other stuff I bought,; namely a rake of 15 Beth Gon coal porters for the Norfolk Southern railroad.

Made by Athearn, these are lovely. They are finished in a super reflective chrome paint, which, when blasted with Winsor & Newton matte artist's varnish, will take on the more recognisable dulled finish, you'll see on pics of stuff that's been in use for a while.

The models are really nice and as I am a bit anal when it comes to having every model, different, the individual running numbers satisfy the OCD part of me. 

I am the kind of person who has to have every Landsknecht in an army different to the next... Sorry!

And that's about it for now. I thought that as I had an hour or so spare, fellow gaming rail-heads would like a bit more detailed look at what I am up to.


PS: I am currently working on some exciting stuff for Heroics & Ros, which I'll showcase as soon as I am given the nod to do so. All I can say is that they have insane attention to detail where you'd not expect it on a 'true' 6mm model.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

It's Been A Quiet Day In Lake Wobegon...

Straight off the bat I'll say that posts may be sporadic for a while as I focus on work ahead of Christmas (I want to be able to clear my workload for December by the 12th and then I have nearly a month of holiday at my fingertips - muwhahahahahahahahahaha) and to also try and get on top of health issues including this arm and shoulder thing, which it appears is caused by a prolapsed disc about 5 down from my cranium, giving the nerves a hard time.

Consequently, going against medical advice I am working my usual 8 hour days and so the thought of typing afterwards is not pleasant.

The Renaissance plan has been shelved for a while as I move on to plan and execute the commissioning of a third model railroad set in North America in the late 80s again. I am split between either a Florida themed layout or perhaps Canada. A long, mainly single tracked roadbed with spurs to assorted small industries and a staging yard, representing the 'rest of the world'.

The brief to my constructor of choice is that it needs to be 12-13 feet by 9 inches with a mere 4 inch backdrop. A tight brief, but he's good... VERY good, and I am sure he'll do wonders with it.

Yesterday saw £450 vanish all over the world to various model railroad suppliers to add more stock to my forthcoming U.S layout.

As it's set in the late 80s, I went for a classic Amtrak 10 car rake pulled by 3 F40PH locos. All are in the Phase III livery which is the classic silver cars with red, white and blue bands along the bodies. 

I went for the Superliner type of cars, those gloriously large, double level cars you see in many movies (think Silver Streak with Gene Wilder) because if you are going to pay £30 for a single N scale car you have to max out the bling for your bucks.

As it happened I was able to get KATO branded stuff at a very good price and so the 3 locos and 10 cars cost me a very fair £320. However I still have to fork out another £150 to get the three locos converted to DCC control.

I rounded out my purchasing with a set of 15 Athearn brand Bethgon coal porters to go behind the two Norfolk Souther C30-7 locos, already on my desk.

I have now placed myself under a restriction which will see me not spending anything until December 27th, when I have a nice order for 3-5 more locos and 20 or so box cars from the U.S as I try to build a Canadian National and Grand Trunk, fleet. I will be having the DCC decoders for those, fitted prior to shipping. Then it's head down and saving for Vapnartak and the York Model Railway Show in 2016, although, if I spend more than £100 on wargaming next year it will be a miracle.

Speaking of wargaming my old club has had a change of Chairman with the loss of the statesman-like and patrician Tim Gow and the installation of a new fellah the other week with all the same people remaining in their seats. Tim was in my opinion the greatest force for change in the history of the club and it's a loss to SWS I feel. Well played Tim!

The Renaissance plans will probably reshape into a 14th century Italian army when Perrys get their second box of 100YW plastics out into the market place. I am in no rush...

Right, I am off to read Derbyshire Life in a hot bath, and then perhaps watch a documentary on modern day railroad hoboes in Canada.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Walletbusters... A Brick Too Far?

Now, I am a big fan of the classic 80s film Ghostbusters, for which I make no apologies. I am also a lifelong fan of LEGO.

Last year, I managed to get the limited edition 'ECTO-1' which was released for the 30th anniversary of the film and which, sits on the Shelf Of Treasured Things in my studio.

Well, LEGO have taken things to the extreme now with the upcoming release on January 1st, 2016 of the Ghostbusters HQ, which is in scale with ECTO-1 model, and which has almost 4500 parts.

The price is a pretty reasonable £274.99 and this will mean that I sacrifice about 7.5% of my allocated hobby budget for the year, leaving plenty for the few games related purchases I want and the two conventions (Vapnartak and Britcon) I'll be attending, the rest being set aside for model railway deviancy.

More details can be found here:


A Little Pause To Promote P.A.W 2016

OK, so if you have been finding that all those big, shiny shows in recent years have looked a little like this:

And you would rather go to a show which feels like this:

Then I would direct you to  PAW 2016 hosted by the Plymouth Association of Wargamers...

This is a great show, with a great atmosphere - and a BRING & BUY untainted by mercenary concerns.

The show takes place at the start of the next 'campaign season' on February 6th/7th 2016 


The Kitto Centre
Honicknowle Lane

You can find out more at

So, get your wargaming year off to start that will make you feel more like this:

And less like this:

And now with all that said: