Wednesday, 28 October 2015

W.H.O Announcement On Sausages Puts North Korea Into Overdrive

Following yesterday's announcement regarding the cancer-causing effects of cured meats, North Korea has unveiled to the world it's latest fiendish weapon of mass destruction, believed to be tailored for use against the West.

Officially known as the 슈퍼 큰 죽음 소시지 로켓 or syupeo keun jug-eum sosiji lokes, NATO has designated it SKJSL-15.

Western sources have informed us that NATO is to work with a major German sauerkraut manufacturer to develop high altitude detonation kim-chi based weapons to act as a deterrent, but full roll out is unlikely before 2017.

In the meantime, NATO has advised all civilian defence agencies to stock up on mustard and ketchup and prepare for the wurst.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Pop Art Of The Highest Caliber Comes To Sheffield

Thos of you who are fans of Pop Art may be pleased to know that an exhibition of the works of Peter Phillips will be held at '99 Mary St' here in Sheffield from Friday October 30th.

Peter Phillips is contemporaneous with Blake, Lichtenstein and Warhol, and this is a rare chance to both view and buy his work.

I will be attending the private viewing later this week, and will report back shortly thereafter.


We Want Peace, Yet Revel In War...

I was laid there in bed, unable to sleep because of the damned arm problem I have and it struck me that we are a hypocritical group, we wargamers...

In the real world, nobody wants war, because let's face it, people get hurt and you have a right old time trying to get brick dust and the blood of your family out of 2mm static grass.

And then, on the other hand, we celebrate wars and battles that happened sometimes a millennium ago.

What's that all about?

Face it, celebrating death and destruction is tantamount to a crime against humanity. At an occult level it is a ritualistic act, inciting chaos upon the world. It also suggests a collective mental illness.

Think about it...


Monday, 26 October 2015


18 months ago, I spoke out against my then local club.

At the time I was on the committee and frankly was getting stuff done. Communications were fast and bridges were being built into the community as a small band of club members, actively tried to engage with new potential members and attendees of the show that club puts on.

We were featured in the press and on the radio, and what's more we also sought to bring back some of those whom, it seemed had become disenfranchised. We even got a few junior members and it was frankly looking good.

And then I opened my mouth and maybe, somewhat without guile aired a few points which were frankly pissing me off, in a private social media group consisting of other gamers of long acquaintance as well as a couple considered to be 'worth keeping an eye on'.

Sure enough, the shit hit the fan and the rest is history. I vacated my position and there was some rather toxic rhetoric bandied about including a really awful mail from a long term member who stated I was this, that and the other in no uncertain terms.

One particularly humorous moment came at the AGM last year when one chap suggested a censure of me, essentially a removal. This came on the back of the statement by the same person who sent the offensive email that if they were in power I'd be out on my ear.


Now, I think that when you get to the point that speaking your mind about stuff gets to that stage, you are better off on the outside. Moreover, when you have folks saying things like:

'We don't want to encourage kids, because the only time we suffered thefts at a show, it was kids.'  (Absolute bollocks by the way)

'Traders are idiots.'

'We don't want fantasy really, because this is a proper wargames show.'

You don't want to be around to be used as a scapegoat.

I remember that when we had the local press in, the previous Junta blackballed the interview. Then, at the end of the year came around with the AGM, out they came claiming the credit and what's more receiving it to stop them throwing a wobbler.

Maintaining the status quo is one thing but pandering to folk lest they jump up and down and call you names, is another. It's all about power and little fiefdoms... Rather like wargaming when you come to think of it.

Anyway, 18 months down the line and my whole outlook has changed. Toy soldiers don't hold me in the way that they had done for over 3 decades, and although the transition and realisation that friends were actually nothing of the sort was a painful one, it's been for the best in the end. I had to laugh when I was offered tickets for the show this year, recalling as I refused them, conversations about hypocrisy  back at the start of things.

Perhaps they were offered in all goodwill, but - and call me suspicious if you will - you can bet I'd be getting called a hypocrite myself had I taken them. 

Ah well, it's getting late as I write, and I want to get some work done on my model railway layouts before bed...


Saturday, 24 October 2015

Pains, Trains, No Automobiles...

The arm and shoulder problems are still not diagnosed. There is still a possibility that I have brachial neuritis - which is rare - but having been called in to see my G.P yesterday with the promise of a 'shoulder injection' I instead left with the promise of an MRI scan of my neck and brachia as well as a prescription for neuro-inhibitors (I believe that is the term) which whilst they nock me for six, did actually let me get 5 or 6 hours reasonable down time last night. Better than nothing, I guess...

After the swathe of work I  have got through in the last month (I have my decks cleared right through until 16th November, now) I am going to award myself an additional week of vacation, once I get the workflow for December prepared in a few minutes. Anyone who thinks being a full time figure painter is a doddle, should think again. It's hard graft - if not, you're not doing it properly.

I managed to get a couple of hours this morning on my OO gauge railway, and the upgrading of the 'Stanton Yard' layout I bought from Trainline Models, to 'Bright Pastures' is coming along nicely.

The buildings are all finalised now. Today I have got the gravel for the industrial unit in place. The building is Skaledale and will be repainted and an interior added. In it's new guise of 'Miami Spice Imports' when you look through the skylights there will be several sharp suited types doing business over some strange white powder surrounded by crates. (It is set in the 80s after all).

I also finished the ground in 'Simonite's Scrap Yard' added the Nissen hut (Skaledale again) and did the initial scrubby grass and wild rose tree. Next is to make a really ugly corrugated fence, install a sickly coloured bulb in the hut and add the scrap. The stark difference between the inner and outer foliage is more apparent here because of the fence not being in place yet.

In the background you can see the shed and the offices, which are coming along slowly.

I need 72 inches of Knightwing security fence for the next stage and to find a set of Bachmann Porta-Kabins.

Once I am happy with the structures, I'll start filling the spaces and adding details and figures.

But for now, I am pretty happy with things.

Once this is done, I have a large-ish N scale U.S layout to go at the side of this and then I am looking at a 14x1 N scale Canadian layout running above the two.

Right. well I better crack on with the prep' work...


Friday, 23 October 2015

Lots Of Eye Candy

I am not the happiest of bunnies at the current time.

I have an unidentified issue with my right arm and shoulder, causing three distinct types of pain, crepitus and the sense that I have electric shocks, numbness and cramp to boot.

Despite wasting a week seeing 2 registrars, 1 consultant and ER doctor, as well as two physiotherapists,  nobody can tell me what it is.

When I tell you that on a scale of 1-10 the pain is 11, and negating my arthritic pain, you may appreciate why my posts have been somewhat sparse of late.

But, when all is said and done, I still have to work as self employment is a jealous master and leaves no room for being ill.

And so, after a pre-dawn start, I have today completed some pretty darned fine units comprising 15mm Italian Wars and Muscovites as well as some bloody amazing 10mm Copplestone Dwarves and GW Trolls.

So without further ado, here's the eye candy...

In other news, I am making headway on the OO layout and the filling in of incomplete areas id going steadily with the purchase of some Hornby 'Skaledale' buildings which will be weathered and lit before being added. I've also done some detailing to the PECO yard offices and added more shrubbery around the road bridge. Still a lot to do.

I have also bought all but one of my rolling stock items, deciding depicting an early 80s civil engineering storage area, with about a dozen pieces in 'departmental olive drab'. I need another class 08 shunter and a couple of larger locos, and as for the outstanding piece of rolling stock I am torn between a 75 ton breakdown crane, or a repurposed passenger coach,

My good lady (and she is that in every way) made a witty little sign for the chair next to my layout. I am 'Fluff' in the parlance of matrimonial affections and I am rather pleased with the whole thing...

This Sunday sees the Fiasco show at the Leeds Armouries, but let's face it, it's a piss-poor show these days bringing to mind the aged pet which really should be taken to a place of euthanasia and released from it's obligations to man.

With no bring and buy, you need some pretty amazing traders, but this appears to not be something one can expect. So with a cost of around £15 per person based on travelling in a single, fuel efficient vehicle it's not worth it, not even with the Armouries - I mean you can only look at the jousting codpiece of Franz-Maximillian Von Battanball so many times before you start to tire of it all.

Well, I am starting to ache just a little more than I would care to, and so I will bid you farewell for the moment.


Saturday, 17 October 2015

F*****g Gendarmes...

This will be a brief post as I am not up to scratch at the moment.

It's been a looooong wee this week, but I have been able to finish the painting of 50 early 16th Century Gendarmes for one of my regular clients. The models are mostly Essex, and are shown here with the high gloss lacquer that I give to all of my work before matting down with Winsor & Newton prof artists varnish. They should be based later this week, ready to ship to Canada when I get back from my 3 week sabbatical in mid November, along with some rather nice Italian pikemen and Swiss mounted crossbowmen.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

'LOOK - MODEL TRAINS!' - Or, How Things 'Just Happen' When Least Expected.

Saturday was a change for me. Normally, when my wife makes her bi-weekly visit to Mum, I get a few like-minded souls around and we play some board games and shoot the breeze about whatever we think deserving of our scrutiny and/or ridicule.

But, as this week saw me take my Anti-TNF, Methotrexate AND have my flu shot, together with having had what seems to be a trapped nerve in my shoulder for 4 weeks, I was not feeling that sociable. More importantly, my concentration was not what it should be and it would be rude and indeed unfair to potentially spoil a day's gaming for my friends.

Thus, I had decided to just mooch around the tower and doze in a chair, perhaps with a book and one or more terriers, as befits a man of middle years.

However on Saturday morning, the mini-flu was all but gone and I was restless. I decided to ask my beloved to drop me four streets away at my own parents home and try to scrounge up some breakfast and leave some more dishes for my Dad, thus helping him stay active.

Over viands my brother, Andy and I decided that we'd go and check out 'Olivias' a model railway shop specialising in custom re-paints and sound-equipped locos. A mutual friend had been suggesting that this store was worth a visit, and boy was it.

I'll not bother you with technical details, but let's just say that when I decide to make the change to sound, I know where I will be heading.

But, before we reached Olivia's, serendipity was to strike in that unexpected way that makes the phenomenon what it is. We were heading up Prince Of Wales Rd, here in Sheffield, chatting amiably and slagging off Audi drivers, when Andy exclaimed 'LOOK! A MODEL TRAIN SHOW...' So we did a bootleg turn at 60mph, across two lanes, the central reservation and back into the opposite flow - in our imaginations anyway. In reality we went up to the next roundabout and retraced our journey with due care and attention - And located the sign. Sure enough there was the annual show of the Sheffield Model Railway Society being held at a former steel works social club. Of course we went in.

The entrance fee was steep by wargames show standards, but I have found that this is the way with railway shows, so didn't baulk too much, although I did hear my wallet sobbing softly in the night.

It was a small show - much smaller than when I last attended in the early 80s - but the atmosphere was brilliant. Friendly, informative and inclusive - wargames show organisers take note, because generally speaking you have the customer relations skills of an autistic orc.

Serendipity was to strike twice more in short order...

I managed to find a really nice Bachmann Class 08 'Gronk' ready chipped for digital use at a very reasonable price and my brother who, had not taken an old bag of assorted and battered Hornby stuff from the boot of the car since he brought it to show me a couple of months ago, remembered it was there and noted that a dealer was buying old tat, right there at the show. A few minutes later, and he had the start of his model railway fund in his pocket.

The displays were great, and surprisingly varied. As you may imagine I was taken by anything from North America or the blue era of British Rail. Andy was almost ensnared by model trams, but a few smacks on the nose with a rolled up catalogue, did the trick.

I was particularly pleased with the chat I had with the fellow representing the British 'Legion' of the NMRA who was exhibiting a lovely N scale North American layout and promoting the group exceedingly well. 

After a couple of hours we made our way via a scenic route over to 'Rails Of Sheffield' arguably the best model railway store in the area, where I did a little 'test' purchase of some PECO OO scale platform kits - which I have been fiddling with today and which I have purchased some more - and then we headed home to try to figure out just how to program the decoder in the 'Gronk' using my new NCE Power Cab system, which we did on the 79th attempt, spending another hour giggling like school boys as we tried out the various functions.

So, all in all it was a fun packed but non-stressful day, which allowed me to recuperate a little without just mooching about the family manse.

I also bumped into an old friend who I've not seen for a couple of years and had a good little chat and 'catch up', which was a pleasant surprise and a nice way to end the day.


Thursday, 8 October 2015

It's Been A Long Time...

It's been a long time since I posted to this blog.

I've been busy with orders for my clients, working double shifts to let me have 17 days off in November. Whilst all of my clients are happy for me to have a holiday, I don't see why they should suffer from a lack of my talents whilst I do so.

And of course, with recent news, I've been been really soul searching about what I want from my hobbies, what is relevant to me with regards to my hobbies and what is a waste of my time.

Wargaming is becoming for me, something of an irrelevance. I spend all my days painting for others, and as I have mentioned in previous posts, the last thing I really want to do is spend my weekends painting some more.

The club scene for me is fucked... I know, I know... There are other clubs in the area, but in what appears to be wargames Stockholm syndrome, I'm never going to settle elsewhere. I confess that whilst I have not played any part in my old club for well over a year in any way, the rumours I hear reinforce that my previous commentary was well founded. What I find truly amazing is that people who protested loudly about hypocrisy and wanted nothing to do with me, still buttonhole me at shows. Look, you think I am your personal fucking Great Satan of gaming - fine. I try not to force my company on you, so, do me the same fucking courtesy.

I have been to several shows this year and frankly, they do not offer me anything that I cannot get cheaper online. Often traders don't carry what I want and have to mail it out, anyway. Thus, why spend time and money of travel, entrance and piss poor catering?

Don't kid yourself that shows are something wondrful. Some of course are, but they are the exception rather than the rule and are usually run by people with the foresight to see that the hobby is evolving, that traders are not idiots as some would posit and that no matter whether your tastes are grenadiers or goblins they are equally relevant in the big picture. At the end of the day it's all about people playing with tiny toy soldiers, pretending to 'kill' other tiny toy soldiers. The only show that has been fun this year has been Vapnartak at York and on a social level perhaps Britcon. I did not bother with Triples or Derby and whilst I attended the first Partizan (which was piss poor) I attended the second only because I had to, staying for no more than an hour - Look, if I wanted to have to wear a head lamp to see where I was going at a show, I'd organise one myself in Peak Cavern. Actually, I saw several traders/attendees who really were wearing thos head mounted lamps at the second Partizan.

The Oldhammer movement is starting to look a bit stretched and I can see some internecine warfare in there. Pre- slotta goblin barrages will be exchanged between those who 'were there' and those Millenial Hipsters who think that buying a load of old figures makes up for it. If you weren't there - Get over it and move on. It's not your fault that you were not born into the greatest era of gaming there has ever been or will ever be. Back to your artisan beers and breads, the lot of you...

I've been to a few model railway shows this year and have found them to be well run, engaging and vibrant. Now, it goes without saying that wargaming is a piss in the ocean compared to the model railway hobby, nonetheless the innovation and engagement with the paying public by traders and exhibitors - with a few exceptions - is really refreshing.

Speak to model railway clubs and they would generally really love to attend a wargames event, but suggest the same to gamers and they go into a huff in many instances, plumping themselves up at the notion of sharing their serious, research based hobby with something as trivial as a hobby where grown men play with toys. Go figure...

I just this week sold the last of my figures and began the sorting and offering for sale of my fantasy and sci-fi art books. I am looking at about an 80% 'cull' of those. My board games are staying and I have actually pre-ordered 'Beyond The Gates Of Antares' by Warlord Games - a 28mm 'hard' sci-fi game with rules based on the great 'Bolt Action' system. The feel and buzz is very 'old school' with modern production standards. The starter set is £70 but boy, do you get a lot for your money. What's more, it's all done to a very high standard.

The first of my two model railways arrived and has been wired up and the first modifications are under way in the shape of the removal of cardboard buildings and their replacement with PECO and Ratio plastic kits. I think I can safely say that I have done more on this in a month than I have on wargames projects in the last 5 years.

The layout I am working on is a small yard in the early 80s in OO scale. Hopefully I'll receive the other at the end of October. That one will be N scale depicting an area of small town America in the 80s somewhere in the Illinois area.

I took delivery this week of the first 13 buildings by Woodland Scenics, which whilst not cheap, are wonderfully detailed. I also ordered  a couple of DCC fitted Norfolk Southern locos and about 2 metres of box cars, all with different running numbers.

You may have already noticed my enthusiasm.

Well, it's 7:50 as I write this and I am already two hours into my working day. The stuff I was waiting on is now dry, so I will bid you farewell for the present.