Friday, 28 August 2015

Spacefarers, Impetuous Youth and Greblord

Now, I paint for a living. That's right, I paint 5 days a week and earn as much as I did as a Civil Servant. My advice to those of you who want to quit the 9-5 rat race and take a similar jump...

Don't be so fucking stupid!

But that aside, I exclusively work on a black base coat for clients and to be honest it's something of a matter of pride that I can get red, yellow or white to cover in a single coat on that base colour.

So, it might surprise you to hear that today, I made a return to a pale undercoat in an attempt to return to the time I love - the early 80s - in order to rediscover my mojo, my inspiration and some joy from painting. More importantly I wanted to pay my sincere respects to someone.

Back in the ever darker shadows of my youth, back when you could count the number of GW stores on one hand, before the time of heretical blasphemy which was slotta bases (they'll never catch on) and blister packs (you stole one of the truly harmless pleasures in life you transparent, foam-back bastards) I became hooked on the Citadel 'Spacefarers' range.

I marvelled at the paintwork in the GW display cabinets which, brought the bright and bathykolpian future - where scantily dressed ladies mixed with armoured marines, and everyone had a jetbike - (political correctness, you can go screw yourself too, whilst I am on a rant) to life in my young head. Come to think of it they still do that now...

Anyway, I bought a dozen, rushed home to paint them with a mix of Bobcat acrylics and Humbrol enamels. And promptly made a right old Orc's scrotum of them all. Silver marker pens were also employed and I blush to recall what I inflicted on those stunning little lead figurines.

I went back into GW, looked at the examples in the cabinets, and never touched another Spacefarer again.

But, I never forgot the models and the paintwork which made them glow for over 3 decades in my minds eye.

Now, back then there was no 'Eavy Metal' team. No sir (or madam, that was still a couple of years away at the very least. Some of you who are old enough to buy a coffee in a pub and feel no lack of 'street cred' will recall that in the Citadel 'Dragon' catalogue, there were two articles. One was by Tony Ackland  (blessed be his name and may his beard always shine and be tangle-free) on converting models, the other was by one Peter Armstrong on how to paint them.

And guess what?

Pete worked in the Sheffield store.

Now, asking Pete how to paint something back then was suicide for a 'Limpet' (so-called because it was near impossible to remove us from the store and in particular the front counter) as he was not the mildly sarcastic man of middle years that he has since become. Nope... He was a one-man social assault course. Even worse when he had his colleague Chris Gilbride providing supporting fire, you may as well just accept that scorn, ridicule and instant death were on the menu.

But, if you got Pete on a good day, or first thing on a quiet mid-week morning before he had a coffee or two. you could get the odd bit of advice on paints, colour mixing, basing etc. Any of this info was absorbed semen into a Kleenex.

Anyway, Pete managed to get colours and vibrancy that very few other were capable of. His style was painterly and economical, using serious art materials in an age before we had dedicated inks, washes, dips and non-toxic materials in general. His work seemed to glow. In short he was a bit bloody good.

Jump forward 30+ years to three weeks ago, when I decided that it was time to revisit my youth and play some 'Laserburn' in 25mm using Spacefarers models.

Not, being patient in any way whatsoever, and deciding that I want to put together a display game comprised entirely of these long OOP models, and what's more I want to do it A La Armstrong.

So, I shelled out more money than I care to record in writing, and got hold of my first 150 models as well as 12 jet cycles and 6 of the two seater skimmers (a good half pound each in weight) and began to make my plans...

Today, being the last working day of the month for me, I cleared all of my outstanding chores for August and prepped up the first half of my September workload ready for undercoating. Finding myself at a loose end at 13:30 I decided to spray up one of the few models which don't need to be stripped of paint first, and finding that my Liquitex white spray primer was feeling so unloved (remember I don't work on white, but I always keep a can on hand as a talisman)that the can had given up the ghost, I used Army Painter Bone spray.It was as close as I was going to get (No, I do not undercoat with a brush because frankly that's a mug's game).

Pete always wowed the Limpets with his vibrant purples, greens and yellows, so I decided on the first two as a main theme with a hint of the latter 'just because'.

It was a hard two hours. I will say at the outset that I did not want to 'copy' Pete's work but kind of 'channel' his vibe using the manilla hued skin tones and aforementioned vibrant hues, so typical of Pete's style. Additionally I wanted to get the authentic early 80s look and feel in general.

And so, I give you Mikkel 'Moonwalker' Jaxxon - Former Imperial Trooper turned adventurer.

The ever present youth within me (that sounds wrong) hopes that Pete would approve, but regardless, this is my way of paying my respects to someone who at last count I understand, thought me to be a narcissistic prick.

All I can say is I learned that skill set in a particular local games store and it brought me out of my shell in a way that could not have happened otherwise. And so, I will wear that badge with pride!

Thanks for inspiring me with your work Pete!

You can see a vast selection of Pete's pioneering work at his excellent blog



  1. Thanks for the kind comments and the link, Mark.
    Nice purple you have there on the moonwalker.
    I will be posting more of my painted Spacefarers in due course, but potential viewers can find all of them by clicking on the 'spacefarers' keyword near the bottom of all posts.

  2. Thanks Pete. I drew the inspiration from the old C series starships you painted in a lovely purple, back when most purples were grubby.

  3. Well, to be honest, although Pete was present in the Sheffield store, I wouldn't say he did any "work". :-)

  4. I know that sarcasm...

    What's a limpet to do when outnumbered?


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