Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Another obituary...

I was saddened today to learn of the passing of another friend, Alex 'Rat' Heath. 

Alex had the odds stacked against him all his life due to health issues, and was certainly much, much too young to climb over the fence and into the afterlife.

I use that description because 'Rat' was like that, a loveable rogue, who when he was too ill to take part in reenactments, didn't just sit there vegetating. He used the internet and his 'can do' attitude to help others.

Although I did not know him as well as many others who will I am certain feel his passing all the more, we hit it off right from the first meeting, and his evil, leering grin, meant that entertainment was sure to follow.

He made my reenactment events all the more enjoyable, and I still have fond memories of taking snuff in the bar in Elsecar with him, his bloody amazing dancing, tasteless Irish kilt and watching Rob Willmer march him off a train at MRC. 

That bastard, Fate may have taken the body but never the memories of that young tearaway...

Alex, you will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Obituary - A Sad Loss To Wargaming

It's funny how sometimes it takes a couple of days, along with checking and double checking to make sure you didn't dream something, before the cold reality hits you hard.

I was informed on Sunday of the very sad death of Trevor Collins of Mosborough & District Wargamers at the age of 51, following a sudden stroke.

I first met Trev about 25 years ago at my old club, Sheffield Wargames Society when he firstly sold me some fantasy figures and latterly commissioned some painting from me. We became friends very quickly, and despite the odd raised voice down the years and diverging in our gaming interests, still remained so.

It's all too common to read an obituary that tells the reader what a brilliant, funny and generous person the subject was. It has become a cliche, a template if you will for a society which never wants to see anything in the most positive way.

However, in this case, Trevor was all of the above and also much more.

In the mid 90s, as I was doing the whole child care routine following the birth of our daughter, I was painting here and there to make ends meet. I was also always around the home and Trev would call in at all times of day, to collect a unit or just have a cuppa and a damned good discussion about gaming.

His anecdotes about non-gaming exploits were the stuff of legend and his warmth and wit just made them all the funnier and enjoyable to hear.

He was at once a very physical presence and at the same time gentle and softly spoken.

I recall Trev calling around one day in a real temper, murder in his eyes. He was raging about how he had almost been forced from the road by a bin lorry and having finally passed the truck, he'd pulled over and taken them to task over their antics.

He was livid, and when the crew decided to 'get a bit leary' had offered to fight them all - one at a time or all at once!

Just as he seemed about to explode, my daughter came downstairs to see what the noise was. In characteristic style, Trev grinned at her and pulled a copy of Disney's 'Little Mermaid' from his pocket with a big 'Happy birthday, Quids!'

All the rage was forgotten.

As I type this, I am grinning broadly myself, because that was so typical of the man.

To Trev I was never 'Mark' or 'Hidesy' as with my other friends. I was always 'H' and he was the only person to call me that. The thought that I will never again hear 'Eyup H, how you doing pal?' together with a firm handshake, is a bitter and painful one.

Trev took up with the Mosborough crowd and played a big part in their display games, providing hundreds of superb figures for display games all over the U.K. 

I know the kind of money that he paid out for his hobby, but he was never precious about his collection, gladly loaning it out to friends on many occasions over the years.

I could go on at length, but no words can truly capture the essence of Trev. He will I know be sorely missed not only by my family, but by his own and by many gaming buddies.

Ironically, on the very day of Trev's passing, my daughter gave birth to twin boys. I think there's a meaning hidden in that, somewhere.

If there is an afterlife, then I hope that Trevor is going at it with same enthusiasm he did in this one.

Rest In Peace, Trev...

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Spacefarers And Gendarmes

It's been a really busy week.

Our daughter decided that Tuesday would be a good day (being well rested after a long Bank Holiday weekend) to give birth to her twins, eight weeks early.

Despite a few nagging complications both mum and boys are doing well. Time is what is needed and we all have to be patient.

Work-wise I have had a nightmare week working on 15mm renaissance for one of my clients. More specifically, the cause of my angst has been 15mm horses for 16th century Gendarmes.

I love the renaissance and would say without pausing to think about it, that it's my favourite historical period.

Here're a few pics which I think will illustrate why my angst has reached a pinnacle this week. Fuck, I nearly considered going back out to work for a living...

After the first 32 of these, even fully equipped mounted crossbowmen seemed like a breeze. The models are late Essex Miniatures, which personally I find less aesthetically and indeed historically pleasing to my aged eyes.

And so to my weekend...

If you are one of the many who follow this rambling stream which I call my blog, you'll know by now that I am more than a fan of the Citadel Spacefarers... I am the fan. Furthermore, I've decided to build a display game with around 300 figures pitching Imperial Marines, Redemptionists and Space Pirates against each other, hopefully with as much attention being paid to getting them to look true to the times.

So, here I offer you what in my not-so-humble opinion is the greatest jet cycle ever produced by any company in the history of the world.

I have nicknamed this the 'Ackland Interceptor' and I paid a pretty penny for this, along with it's rider.

Now, I have a real bee in my bonnet about representing these old models with authentic paint finishes and styles.

To me, if you are going to use 21st century styles and wonder products on old lead, then you may as well fuck off, and join the GW fanboy brigade, whoring their souls to...

* At this point I had to go and calm down *

Right, where was I?

Ah yes, old style painting. If you go back and look at contemporary photos of this range (and others of course) you'll see that slightly wobbly free hand was the norm and that some decidedly bold colours were used alongside strong metallic tones which did not involve the use of this and that medium. My generation learned to paint well using a few sparse ranges of hobby paint and whatever we could get our hands on at proper artists suppliers.

So, I have only used paints and inks of the type that would be available in the 80s. I find the disciplines I learned almost 40 years ago, returning and what's more they still look good in the modern gaming environment. Flying bases are right out at this time for the most part and the use of wire to give the impression of 'lift' is what's called for. So, I have the model mounted about 6 inches from the ground. I concede that I have used laser cut MDF for the base, but I used to sit for hours in the back garden cutting cavalry and vehicle bases from hardboard with a hacksaw, then sanding off the corners. Once I get the obligatory green painted sand, finished with a yellow drybrush, or the apple green filler with a yellow ochre drybrush onto that base, it will look bang on the money.

Elite painters of the day such as Pete Armstrong and Andy Ritson also used 'Woodflex' wood filler, which gave a really great finish, but was expensive for large armies (and still is) but came in wonderful earthy shades, out of the tube.

I am not saying that modern painting styles don't look good. Hell, Delaney King's SF stuff looks lovely. But, for me, you have to get that slightly 'blocky' finish and utilise the strong yellows, greens and purples that made the best models of the era stand out.

Now, if you'll excuse me I really need to go and think about whether I should paint my marines in white or a garish orange.


PS: I have set up a Facebook group specifically dedicated to the Spacefarers range and game here: