Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Great Prices & Great Service From The Great White North

I believe in praise where praise is due...

I just placed an order with Jeff Arnold over at 'Prairie Shadows' in Manitoba, Canada.

The service and prices were frankly excellent, and if you are looking for something Canadian and a bit different, or just a really good deal, check him out.

I just ordered a load of N scale suff, comprising:

3 x Intermountain F7A with DCC

1 x Intermountain F7B with DCC

1 x SD40 DC (not for long) in Expo 86 livery

3 x Rapido GMD1 with DCC and Sound

2 x Pointe St. Charles cabooses, with lighting

Grand total, including express shipping a very, very reasonable £921.00

You can see what Jeff has to offer at :


A Festival Of Colour

Just some very quick pics of the latest Essex and QRF Miniatures, 15mm Renaissance units for one of my clients:

Monday, 28 March 2016

A Grand Day Out

York MRS was as expected and indeed as usual a superb event.

We attended on the middle of the three days, and having an advance ticket, were in earlier than those stood outside in a biting and some may say evil, wind.

I didn't buy much, but that is not for want of traders, rather that I have a very precise shopping list of stuff which is mostly imports at the moment.

I did however pick up some rather nice OO figures by Dart Castings and OO etched brass shed for a future OO9 project, and a Flying Scotsman teddy bear for the good lady wife...

Oh and a copy of a sign that (as an owner of several Scotties) has been on my list for a while.

The layouts on display were all rather impressive, in particular a bloody enormous U.S Fn3 gauge affair which had sound fitted to add to the awesomeness.

But without a doubt the star of the show by miles was the stunning OO layout 'World's End' presented by Pete Goss, an astounding depiction of Knaresborough, complete with depiction of an ECW re-enactment...

All in all, a grand day out, and as I have said before, wargames shows could learn a LOT from the model railway fraternity.


Friday, 25 March 2016


Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Next show

26th, 27th & 28th March 2016

At the Knavesmire Stand York Racecourse YO23 1EX

Open 10am until 5pm Saturday and Sunday

10am until 4.30pm on Monday

Admission: Adults £9.00 Child £4.00 Family £22.00

2015 held for 2016

247 Developments

Al Models

ADM Turntables

Agenoria (Mike Williams)

Miniatures by Aidan Campbell

Alan Gibson

Bachmann Europe PLC (Display not sales)

Bill Hudson Books

Book Law / Santona Publications

C & L Finescale Modelling Ltd.

Caistor Loco


Ceynix Railway Trees


Connoisseur Models


D & E Videos - Realtrack Models

Dart Castings


Eileens Emporium

Freestone Model Accessories



Helmsman Model Rail

John Wigston - Railway Artist.

Langley Models


London Road Models

Megapoints Controllers

Milnsbridge Models.


Nick Tozer Railway Books

Parkside Dundas

(NB Incorporating the previously separate Railway Modeller and Wills / Ratio stands)

Phoenix Precision Paints

Picture Pride Displays.

Plus Daughters

Railwayania / Replica Railways

Realtrack Models

John Ross (second hand sales)

Severn Models 


Squires Model & Craft Tools

Taunton Controls Ltd

Ten Commandments

Totem Signs

Trackside Signs


Wills / Ratio and Railway Modeller 

Wizard Models (Incorporating MSE and 51L)


York Modelmaking & Display Ltd

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Writing History With Toys

I recently had a really good conversation or two, about this and that, including figures, games, shows, attitudes to the hobby back in the dark ages and nowadays.

I brought up, as I have done on this blog in the past, the notion that we all have a collective responsibility for the legacy of this hobby. One person in our group of very mixed personalities, but whom was about 7-9 years behind the majority in terms of time served in the hobby, remarked that he really didn't care, about leaving a legacy or indeed what happened to the hobby.

Now, I personally believe that the older generation of gamers who 'came up' between say 1975 and 1985 were some of the most enthusiastic advocates the hobby will ever see.

The lack of 'corn fed' product lines meant that they had to more often than not, use a great deal of imagination and creativity - and did.

A good example is paints. I studied art as many others did, and the materials we used were often purchased from art supplies shops, combined with a dizzying array of model paints which truth be told, were vary varied in quality. However, we learned how to get the best out of them and some people truly excelled.

Peter 'Greblord' Armstrong, to this day still uses materials that even I have not tried or heard of. He is a prime example of the way it was and still should be done.

How many of us converted models with putties and knives? How many of us produced our own roleplaying scenarios in a similar manner to the few which were professionally produced by the game companies? How many of us tried to recreate battles we had read of in books, using rules which were not the big glossy hardcover presentations we take for granted these days?

Pretty much everybody, I'd guess.

In the mid to late 80s, as computers started to appear, we saw efforts to make the hobby 'sexy' and to mutate or evolve - it depends on your world view - into the hobby we have today.

The generation who got 'tuned in' during those years look at you agog when you tell them what it was like just 5 years or so earlier.

To this day, one of the finest games I ever saw was a starship combat game using models built from household items such as funnels and ballcocks. I think it may have been the venerable South London Warlords who pulled off that masterpiece.

It sounds crass these days, but if you saw it, you could not but be impressed. It was not just the skill, but the passion and drive which carried it.

Today, it seems that for most people to play a game you are expected to adhere slavishly to using 'official' this and that.

Nay, nay... That stifles creativity.

If you think that an Essex Miniatures 25mm Gnoll is how you envisage a Hobgoblin, why shouldn't you use those models instead? If you like a 1976 Hinchcliffe Landsknecht over a modern figure, why not us it? At the end of the day it is a game counter. You breathe the 'life' into it when you paint it and play a game with it. Your imagination is what animates it and writes the history of that figure and it's white metal comrades.

And so, this is the history of the hobby. We are are writing it as we play our games and create our worlds in miniature. I am not 'down' on the modern, but I do think that we need to be a little more proactive in the recording of our history so that our hobby is more than just a late 20th century 'fashion' in the annals of popular culture.

I'm already planning how I can get as many gamers - not just industry types, but you, the average man or woman with a love of games - to record their memories. I aim to publish as many many as I can and archive all of them, so that there is a picture of the evolution of the hobby. We have already lost so many grandees of our hobby that we really do need to take action, because there are a generation of 'Hipsters' who are re-writing the history by presenting the hobby's evolution in a manner which makes it a an idealised fashion statement of 'cool' or who try to reinvent the games with 'clones' which are simply not as good as the original, no matter how dire the original was, because they lack the genuine sparks of 'new territory' enthusiasm. It's not just about making figures that look like old Citadel Miniatures offerings, but also about actually having the same originality as the sculptors of yore.

Today for instance I walked into what is certainly a superb game store, but not a single game caught my eye. So many games are simply the same game with different graphics, but people buy them up, because they have to be constantly on the cutting edge of 'cool'.

I do sometimes buy a new game, but it has to capture me in the same way as those games I bought 35 years ago. They have to demonstrate all the qualities which would have me talking about them in 3 decades. Hopefully I will inspire my daughter and her 3 boys to pick up the standard when I fail my saving throw versus death...

We shall see.


Monday, 21 March 2016

The Rather Tired Show Scene In Sheffield

I love shows...

They are still, I don't care what you say to the contrary a great way to see models 'in the flesh', to make an informed choice and maybe even get drawn into another era or area of interest when you catch the sight of a somewhat fetchingly painted model in a glass display case.

Then there are the displays of vehicles and figures, which at the end of the day is what the hobby is all about isn't it? The eye candy..?

There was a show in Sheffield this weekend, that I didn't go to, because frankly I felt it held nothing for me, being smaller than I remember, with little trade to entice me. And so, I had a lie in and then went for a drive in the country, when, I should have been indulging in my passions for miniature worlds.

The ticket price put me off, for a start, being too high for the size of the event. Then there were the displays, of which there were not that many. There were I have seen, a couple which would have given me the buzz which is sought by the addict, but not for the asking price of the ticket.

The trade to my old eye looked somewhat bland, and more akin to a car boot sale, in composition or a rural one day show in the sticks somewhere.

Certainly not in Sheffield, the 'Steel City'. But it seems that there is a tarnishing taking place, and Sheffield doesn't have a big show that it can be proud of anymore despite there being several groups in the area.

When I was a youth, we had a large model railway show, which was every bit as good as York (and York was great, even back then). Back in the days before wargames claimed my soul for 3 and a half decades,  I and my mates would take our hard earned pocket money and go and indulge our passion for 00 gauge locos - Not like that...

I was fanatical about saddle and pannier tanks and many a bargain was had at the local show. Airfix was still producing it's range of plastic railway figures, too and I picked up bags of them for pennies, populating the 6 x 4 layout in our loft. OK, it was a piece of chipboard painted gloss green with a standard Hornby track plan inexpertly nailed to it, but we instilled it with life.

In fact we all visited each others homes, taking a couple of locos with us for running sessions. We weren't too precious about our stock either - all apart from Tommo, who had a rather outrageous collection of blue era diesels which looked cutting edge when placed next to our combined collection of assorted steam power.

When we'd been to the annual show, we'd all race home, throw some food down and meet at someone's hose to review purchases and brag about bargains before getting down to some serious model building or running of new rolling stock.

OK, we had some damned fine model shops, but the show was where it was at, because it gave us a focus and a sense of impending excitement as we counted down the weeks on calendars of in diaries (remember those?)

When I came back to look at model railways again, I was hoping that things would be similarly charged - and they are. But not in my home city, it seems.

York, Derby and Doncaster have some fine shows - really top class events - but Sheffield appears to have two or three little events which don't seem to really advertise or promote themselves. How can this be in such a city?

We went to a show last Autumn - I forget which militant train fetishists group was running it - and it cost £4 per ticket to look at about a dozen layouts (some were admittedly very nice but not spectacular) and a similar number of tired trade stands and tired looking traders. It had the air of a rolling funeral with trains there to liven up the remaining mourners...

About 6 weeks later, there was another small even in a church hall, which we simply drove past, despite it being near a damned fine artisan bakery - for which I have a distinct fondness.

And so to this last weekend, when there was a show at a school, with a ticket price of £5.50 for 17 layouts and 12 traders (some of whom were just exhibitors).

What a bloody farce...

A few weeks ago, I went to the Doncaster show, which admittedly cost me £8 per ticket, but what a difference.

Fuck me, if I wasn't blown away by the sheer volume of product and eye candy. What's more it's one of the few times in my life that I have actually 'needed' to sit down and take refreshments before continuing. And as for the trade and displays, well they were vibrant and effervescent.

This coming Sunday sees the York show, and I can tell you that at £7.50 I will be getting way more than my money's worth. For the last few nights if I lay quite still and listened, I could hear the distinct sound of my wallet crying in the night, and an uneasy rustling of notes as the conferred with the credit card about how they might control me.

So why can't Sheffield have this effect?

I confess, that I don't really know what the politics of the city's groups are, but I suspect that in the past, buffers have been hit at speed, pencils chewed and some cheeky graffiti scrawled in spotters books, leading to schism, hatred, and the Balkanisation of the hobby.

Perhaps, these groups could get together and put on one big show which Sheffield could be proud of and which 'big gun' traders would attend again?

If they really don't think that they could all stand on the same platform, their anoraks almost touching, perhaps a single ticket (with proceeds and responsibilities evenly split) but three venues across the city all open on the same weekend creating a temporary 'Railway Modeller's Quarter... After all 'Quarters' are all the rage these days and if you add all the 'Quarters' up in Sheffield you get 1 3/4 of them, so who's going to moan at another?

Anyway, unless Sheffield's scene bucks it's ideas up, I will continue to travel further afield to get my fix.

Come on Sheffield...

At the moment you are less like the beautiful figure head on a Rolls Royce and more like the ageing good time girl, cigarette dangling from mouth as she sips at a pint of stout in some canal side boozer.

Unite your anoraks and analogue controllers and start looking a little bit more 'Bergahaus' and DCC...


Saturday, 19 March 2016

35,000 Hits & Climbing

I just want to say thank you to those of you who stop by. 

Yesterday this blog cleared 35,000 views, and I'm looking forward to clearing the 50,000 mark.

I know it means nothing in the big picture, but I really appreciate you stopping by.



Friday, 18 March 2016

A fake for £510

So, last weekend, I paid £510 for 'The Citadel Giant' on the Oldhammer Forum.

This was what I was offered:

Thankfully I refused to pay via Paypal Friends & Family as £510 is a lot to lose.

The item arrived today and the model was broken... LUCKILY

Because what I was sold was a counterfeit torso made from plaster, thus:

At the moment I am laughing at the surreality of it all, whilst at the same time with Paypal.

There are I am sure a few people out there who will be having a good old snigger at my expense, and I don't begrudge them that small pleasure, if it brightens their life and gives them another reason to go on living.


The seller appears to be as horrified as I, and has arranged a refund. He says (and I have no reason to doubt him) that the item was part of a bulk purchase, by his brother, some time ago.

It appears that both he and I have been taken to the cleaners by a recaster.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Sky Is The Limit, For The Moment...

Not so much a post as a brief update.

This morning I fitted the backdrop to the layout and as you can see it does give a better feel and some perspective to the landscaping.

We are looking ere from the YYorkshire end of the valley, where a gentle Spring sunshine lights the moor, looking towards Lancashire, where the clouds are gathering and casting a dark shadow across Mord... I mean Manchester.


Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Layout Grows...

I've been hard at work in the evenings on my model railway. I never normally work on anything creative for myself during the week, as it tends to blur the lines between work and hobbies, but the railway is very relaxing and I end up in a Zen state and 4 or 5 hours has passed. Last night Kayte had to come and yell at me to stop as it was 22:20 and I had just lost track of time.

The layout is looking really promising now.

It was delivered looking like this:

I then built up the background so:

And used plaster bandage for the rocks, thus:

Then I spoke to an old gaming buddy who has taken up the railway engineers hat, and I decided that the sandstone rock faces were rubbish. So, I went out and bought  one of the Woodland Scenics moulds for making rock faces. These contain as you may already know, a number of assorted 'panels' which you combine to create a rock face. I've never used them before, so it was a ll new to me. Anyway, I cast up ten lots over a week or so, and then sprayed them with buff and grey acrylics and installed them over the Mod-Roc areas, after painting said areas dark grey:

And then framed in and filled in between the rocks with Woodland Scenics clump foliage, in four shades:

After 16 hours of applying thousands of pieces of clump foliage, adding yellow flowers to depict areas of gorse or broom, and dry-brushing the rock faces, I've got it to this stage with the ground foliage all done:

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it for a first attempt...