Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Deciphering the miniature seller's secret terminology...

I thought that it may be useful to provide a glossary of gaming terms often encountered by Oldhammer enthusiasts seeking additions to their armies.

And so, without further ado:

Pro painted:  Daubed by someone with little talent, but their Mum said it looked nice, just get them out of her face.

Collector's standard: See 'pro painted' but this model has been at the back of Grandma's china cabinet where visitors would not see the embarrassingly talentless work of her grandson.

Museum grade: Painted in flat enamel colours, but at least the paint is within the lines.

Rare: Less than 200,000 made

Very rare: 'I have ten of these'

OOP: 3 years old

Long OOP: 5 years old

Recast: 'I want to keep the figure and get a refund.'

2nd Edition: Genuine recast

Sought after: 'I have ten of these and you are going to pay ten times the actual value.'

Slotta: Anything that has a little black plastic base

Pre-slotta: Anything that doesn't have that little plastic base on it. No matter who makes it.

Post-pre-slotta: 'I am going to fuck with you because you are taking the piss, mate.'

Unreleased: 'I am unable to see it in a GW catalogue.' - Because it's made by another company you fuckwit!

Once you have a handle on the above, you can easily decipher the arcane truth contained in any advert, so for instance:


Unreleased, pre-slotta Dwarf. Pro painted to Museum grade, collector's standard. Sought after.

This translates to:

Denizen Miniatures Dwarf - of which I have lots because my big brother gave them to me in a big box of Games Workshop figures last week. I have 'painted' one and although my Mum said it looked nice, only my Grandma is blind enough and kind enough to give it a home. I need some pocket money, so I have pinched it back from Gran's china cabinet and I'm going to try to screw you for £11.00*

* Ten times Denizen RRP



Sunday, 17 May 2015

Train spotting...

Well, I've been talking about getting a model railway, for about 5 years.

And at last it's come to pass.

Now the rub for me is that:

1. I spend every working day, painting and basing wargames figures,  at weekends, I want to do something else.

2. My skill with electrics is ZERO (or less).

3. I have never attempted a layout.

Taking the above into account, it seemed to me to be a good idea to let a professional handle things, but at the same time I wanted to breathe some life into it to make it my own.

And so I decided to find a company who could build the boards, lay the track and do all the landscaping up to grass level, including the scenic backdrop, and wire up all the electrics, including automated points.

Enter 'The Fiddle Yard' and the capable and experienced hands of Ollie, the head honcho and former member of staff at 'Rails Of Sheffield'.

A quick look at the company website will show you why I chose Ollie to build things for me...

But what sealed it for me was the fact that Ollie tells it how it is and communicates very thoroughly with his clients to make sure that their expectations are met without tears.

I gave Ollie a brief idea of what I wanted - originally planning on depicting the railroads of 1980s America. Over time I decided that I'd really like to depict a UK line of the early 80s. Ollie had drawn up some ideas for me, and despite my um-ming and ah-ing reworked the plans several times until w got a plan for a layout in N gauge (1:148) which was 8 feet by 2.5 feet, based on a traditional loop, but with half of it hidden from view to give the sense that the viewer is looking at a section of main line adjacent to a freight yard or similar (I actually have some pictures of a section of track near Bilston, which looks just like the plan Ollie devised, before I had purchased the book containing them) and which looks like this:

Once Ollie has completed the layout to that level, it will then come to me for finishing. Now, don't for a moment think that I don't think Ollie could do that, because I can assure you that he can. But, I want to be able to potter about in the studio adding buildings, trees, figures and super detail myself. Hopefully I'll enjoy it and it will not be too much like my day job. We shall se, but I am very confident...

It's two weeks since I paid for the layout and I have been amazed at just how much Ollie has already achieved - including adding a 'wave' to the tracks in the foreground to reduce the 'toy town' look that you can sometimes get in circuit type layouts, after I enquired if he could adapt the plan a little last week.

Anyway, here's a pic or two, just received from Ollie:

Now, I am a notoriously difficult customer to please, so when I say that I could not be happier, that's quite a statement. I look forward to taking ownership of the layout in the Autumn, and will periodically add a post or two to this blog, along the way. Now I know that I claim that this is a blog about wargaming, but the creation of miniature worlds on the tabletop, is shared by gamers and model makers, so I think it's quite a suitable way to take things now and again.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

'Gaming is my life!' - A tribute too late

I have just been somewhat deep in thought, as to just how deeply my hobby has intertwined with my life thus far.

On the day of my marriage, I kept a promise, made some years before to go into Games Workshop on my wedding day, alas, by then it was not the wondrous store of my 80s youth, but still, it was personally symbolic. On that same day, I purchased my first 'Paper Tiger' art book, 'Lightship' by Jim Burns, which to this day is on my shelves.

As my daughter spent the first few days of her life being poked, checked and generally approved by midwives, I played a blinder of a game (15th Century Japanese vs Knights Of St John - My K.O.St.J won, hands down) with Andy Mackay, a stalwart of the early days of Games Workshop.

Last year, as my Grandson made his early appearance, I sat painting at my desk for 26 hours straight.

The first gift I gave my wife, was a 28mm ghost model and our first outing together, was a trip to Liverpool, cuddled up on a National Express coach, in the heady, pheromone-packed throes of what was to become an enduring and deep relationship. Why Liverpool? I was taking her to see 'Games Of Liverpool' a long lost but legendary 'temple' of gaming.

But, gaming has not always  brought good memories...

In the mid-90s I was asked to be manager of Dungeons & Starships, the retail arm of Chris Harvey Games. Not long after we opened the store, my Grandfather passed away. I remember that the weekend preceding, Kayte and I had been at the Mailed Fist convention and on the Sunday my Father visited, making accusations that we had not bothered with my Grandfather as he faded away in hospital, a shadow of the vibrant man I had loved, still love. A blazing row ensued, words harsh and never forgotten found an outlet in a tirade of rage, forged in the impotent despair that accompanies the realisation that there is nothing you can do for a loved one.

But you see, we had visited the tiny, helpless figure, who lay seemingly oblivious in a private ward. We had visited when nobody else from my estranged and dysfunctional family was there to witness and approve. Indeed, the very night before this explosion of emotion, I had held my Grandfather's hand, quietly said my farewells and pleaded - yes pleaded - with him, to let go and find peace and freedom from pain.

I did not attend the funeral, such was the absolute venom in my blood, at the time. I was at work, the need for me to be there, my excuse, my saving throw for the soul. It was as if, by being absent from my post would tumble the whole house of cards, so recently completed. In the end, it collapsed anyway indifferent to it's human inhabitants, so reliant on the income it gave. Games were my refuge from the real, the placebo cure for a soul in pain.

That was a long time ago.

But now, for the first time, I am going to pay my tribute to my grandfather, Arthur Barson, who encouraged me whenever I painted a new figure in the kitchen of my grandparent's home. The time that he sat there and nodded and listened, even if he did not understand the dragon-obsessed outpourings of his first grandchild. I hope that I will be half the grandfather he was, but I fear that it's one challenge to which I, nor any other could be equal.

I miss him, although I never really speak of it, but one thing is for certain, I will never forget him, nor the passive yet important part he played in the gaming history of my life.

I used to say that I would trade one year of my life for one day back in the Games Workshop of my youth. I still would; but now I'd want to share that experience with my Granddad too.

Those of you for whom gaming is 'everything'; think long and hard on what I have written. Some things you cannot buy back at a later date. Life is one of those things.


(This article was originally posted in a slightly different form on 1st March 2014)