Sunday, 29 May 2016

Radio Silence And On Feeling One Has Been Jinxed...

Its been something of a shitty week.

I spent most of Tuesday polishing off the May workload, as I'd undertaken working double days, to clear the decks ahead of the bank holiday.

All would have been reasonably OK, until I managed to reposition a pot of 'Coat D'arms' black paint on the floor of the studio.

Luckily, I paid good money for casino carpet, when the studio was fitted out, so it's pretty damn robust. That said, it still took me an hour to lift 99% of the stain and then clean down the carpet washer.

The head went back to the mill stone and I completed my day's work, somewhat fatigued.

And thus, it was in a state of said fatigue that I slipped on the studio stairs and although I managed to avoid serious injury from the fall - or so I thought - I did 'jar' my right tibial plateau, which I broke about 10 years ago whilst longboarding.

Wednesday saw me awake and running around at just after 5AM and as I took the daily shower and hair washing interlude, I bent my neck forwards and 'CLICK' a disc in my lower back decided to give in.


And thus the last three days of my working week were maintained by amitriptylene, assorted pain killers and red wine.

My wife has also been in poor health this week and so, I began to feel that we had been jinxed. And so, taking no chances I grabbed a few old books of mine, and set about employing a protective ritual or two, which seem to have solved things.

If it comes as a surprise to some that I would stoop to what may be thought of as 'woo-woo' I have had a foot in the occult door for about 35 years, and have witnessed too many instances where it's been plain that there is 'something' which works. Only a handful of times have I resorted to 'weaponised' ritual and then only as a last resort. I think it was used fairly.

The holiday has been spent doing a few odd chores and trying to get myself rested again before I begin the June workflow on Wednesday.

I've managed to get some of the Oakbound 'Myeri' which I took delivery of earlier in the week and which, will serve nicely as Fimir.

They're lovely imposing figures and on 40mm bases they should scare the shit out of the opposition with 60+ models on the table.

I also managed to have a couple of hours on the shunting layout which arrived 10 days ago from Steve Hornsey.

I must say, it's a truly wonderful layout to operate and all the traffic in the upper and lower yards was cleared to the mainline with no breakdowns.

A couple of locos did seem to be threatening to 'stutter' and so I purchased a Woodland Scenics wheel cleaner yesterday which, has put pay to that issue, and all 9 locos traversed the layout this morning, faultlessly.

It was £20 well spent and as usual my local railroad emporium 'Rails' had exactly what I needed and at the right price.

And so, if you will excuse me, I have to prepare for the arrival of guests and an evening of boardgames.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

I Have You Now...

Well, after a 96 hour whistle stop tour of the UK, Parcelforce finally delivered my layout from the talented Steve Hornsey.

Superlatives escape me.

I did have high expectations, but they were blown away.

The layout is a smooth and quiet runner, the ballasting is simply divine and my sound equipped locos are running fantastically using my NCE Powercab.

I was so impressed, that I paid in full for a 12 foot layout from Steve, earlier than I had planned (yes he's THAT good) and although I have a couple of months eating baked beans ahead of me, it is going to be more than worth it.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Arsehole Force - Or, How To Mis-Sort A 6 Foot Long Consignment

Oh I was up and bout this morning and full of the joys of Spring, because my new 6foot layout by the venerable and talented Steve Hornsey was going to be delivered.

I got to my desk by 7:27 and completed a full day's work in 4 hours, resulting in a cricked neck. My brother came to help his arthritic elder sibling in getting said steel railed bundle of lust fodder, up to the highest point of the Dark Tower.

Then, at about 13:15, Steve emailed me to let me know that my layout (no fault of his) was in Oxford because those wonderful people at Parcel Force, had mis-sorted it and instead of arriving at the Dark Tower, it was instead spending a day sightseeing in the city of dreaming spires.

I was on the phone to PF in a minute, and was told that 'because it was a 48 hour delivery' it would 'not reach you util Friday as it will still be redirected by 48 hour service'. When I pointed out that 48 and 96 hours are not one and the same the vile little reprobate at the other end (I think he was called Richard, which may go some way to explaining his manners) sniggered and put me on hold.

Livid? I could have torn off his head and filled it with pig's offal (it would have been an improvement)...

Well, I put down the phone, and instead went over to my local depot to collect 6 kilos of Ral Partha Orcs, Goblins and associated goodness.

This went some way to soothing my temper, for as those who know me will tell you, I can give a demon a damned close run for it's money in the unholy rage stakes.

Upon returning, I called PF again, and a lovely lady by the name of Linda, informed me that I had been fed a line, and that she would do everything in her power to get my layout on the truck and up to Sheffield for Thursday. She even said she'd chase it up in the morning and let me know the status, which was very nice of her and made up for Richard The Turd, an hour earlier.

We shall see what comes of this, but with the exception of Linda and the staff of my local office in Rotherham, all of whom have always been true gems, I will think of that company in future as 'Arsehole Force'.


Ral Partha - A Kind Gesture, And The Kickstarter Draws To A Close

The Ral Partha's Chaos Wars Kickstarter campaign is in it's last hours, so get out there and make those pledges and keep the flame of old school gaming alive for another 40 years!

I would like to also say a big thank you to Iron Wind Metals who manufacture the Ral Partha ranges for a rather splendid gift I received today, in the shape of an enormous 'Ghost Dragon'...


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Train Now Leaving... The Train Now Arriving...

Well, Sunday saw my 8 foot layout leave, with the help of a hacksaw and a bloke with a hatchback.

Frankly, on reflection, it was for the best as it wasn't really 'doing it' for me.

After much discussion we've also decided to stay at The Dark Tower for the foreseeable future and to extend and enlarge the courtyards and gatehouse, and erect higher walls.

This means that future model railroad plans can be taken off the back burner and brought to fruition.

On Wednesday, my 6 foot Canadian provincial layout arrives from Steve Hornsey. It's got manual points as it's a narrow layout. It will incorporate two industries (freight and timber' as well as have the edges of the seedier parts of town in the shadows of the highway flyover which bisects the layout .

I also gave Steve a really nightmare brief or my next layout, on 12 feet by 29 inches, again set in North America, incorporating a long run, lots of branches, a yard, coast and provision for 'small town America'.

And by Sauron, he's only gone and done it!

The long line at the top of the picture and curve at left, will be hidden, and will provide about 14 feet of hidden storage, whilst the rest of the layout has a lot of operating potential. At the front there'll be a harbour and I reckon four people should be able to operate a section of rail without getting in the way of other operations.

It says a lot about Steve's insight because he said 'here's an idea'. And I made no alterations...

Right, I better go and earn a crust to help pay for this baby.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

My God It's Huge - And I've been Screwed By It!

Well, my Draco Dracorum has turned up at last. The only downside is that as all shipments into the UK are being processed through customs individually due to increased security risks (according to Parcel Force) I was hit for £55 on a £165 shipment - OUCH!

My £500 army is currently awaiting their ministrations, as I write...

But hey-ho, it's only money and the model is, as you can see - MASSIVE.

This is everything a big dragon should be. And more!


Sunday, 8 May 2016

How To Rest In Peace?

I was just this morning, sitting in the throne room of the Dark Tower, it being sunny and I having no other business to attend to, reading one of the numerous U.S model railroad magazines which I either buy or which are gifted to me by grateful publishers for this and that act of selfless sacrifice.

I noticed a rather intriguing article which looked at the thorny and oft-ignored matter of dropping dead, or if you are unlucky wasting away in a bed somewhere, with nobody who cares.

But in either cheery situation, the author asked what would happen with the railway you left behind.

A very good question, because a grieving widow may not know what that pile of copper, nickel, plastic and flock in the basement is actually worth, and may either simply throw it in a skip, give it away or get fleeced on eBay or by one of those traders who specialise in having no scruples about screwing their victims in the arse, and then selling the metaphorical pictures. (Don't worry, the nasty images in your head will pass, but if not - tough shit. This blog is not Wonderland, Alice).

I was surprised and pleased to read that the NMRA who are the de facto 'official voice' of model railroading in the U.S, do have counsellors to help with the matter of disposing of a collection, post mortem, and what's more they even hold 'clinics' at conventions.

Why then, do we in wargaming (for that is the cap I wear this afternoon, being a libertine, gadfly of varied taste and disposition) not have a similar approach?

It's of course a wild lie that a gamer cannot die whilst he has unpainted lead. Gamers can and I have known friends who have, proved that myth to be just that, leaving rooms full of unvalued lead at the not-so-tender mercies of bottom feeding dealer (no, I won't name names today, but many of you will have an image or a name in your head as you read this, I am sure)

Perhaps, we should predetermine a date or point in our lives when we divest ourselves of the vain fripperies and trappings of of lead lives, and simply invest in something that we can leave to our loved ones chosen cause or favourite brothel (let's face it, the only way some gamers will have been laid is to sell a few figures and wander down Acacia Avenue in the twilight) which will have some value that they can pin down more easily. Silver or gold are pretty good for the long haul, I'd say, but that is just my opinion. I am already, at 48 starting to look to the infinite void, the last failed saving throw the big pike press in the sky, and attend to these matters.

Perhaps there are some professionals out there, who might consider lessening their time in purgatory (for many will end up there, for those times they've said 'This? Oh I have had this army for years...' to cover up another purchase at a show) and offering to help less informed gamers in making those last arrangements. Perhaps they could charge a small fee which was then donated to a worthy charity such as 'Help For Heroes'.

It's a thought to consider, I'd say.

In other news, I have just spent a half hour which I don't ever wish to repeat. The old Ral Partha Imps on wolves, never had standard bearers or musicians, but there is a need for suitable models under most rule sets. Thus, I had to remove the scimitars from eight of mine, and then drill the hand, to allow the fitting of a standard pole. My hands are still shaking, but I still have all my fingers and no additional perforations to my handsome body as a result. The musicians will not be converted. Rather I will simply paint a wolf in white as the musician for the unit, it being a specially bred musical white wolf (Lupus Decibellus in Dog Latin) whose distinctive howl serves as a call to charge, run away or just sort  yourselves out in the nomadic goblin tribes of my imaginary world.

They are not much bulkier than your average 15mm figure and so, the work is fraught with opportunities to get hurt.

Right, I think it's time for a nice hot bath and a milky coffee, before dinner and an improving 80s film.(all 80s films are thus, of course)


Thursday, 5 May 2016


N SCALE LAYOUT - £400.00

Price is for cash on collection.

Paypal will incur a £25 extra fee to cover my costs.

Undecorated, this cost me £1200 from The Fiddle Yard in January.
96 inches x 29 inches

All points are motorised via CDU, programming track on switch board
Wired for DCC. Does not include NCE controller.

Can be split into two parts (and will have to be unless buyer can lower on tackle from my studio, via the end of wall window.

To split, the hillside (plaster rocks over Celotex board with Modroc skin) will need to be cut with a razor saw. About 3 inches depth will need to be cut through and won't take more than a couple of minutes .

Should take 5 minutes, but of course a touch up will be needed.

Buyer to collect

Drop me a line here: EMAIL ME

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tempus Fugit

L to R: Billy Sherwood, Geoff Downes, some geezer, Jon Davison, Alan White, Steve Howe. Prog rock royalty

Kayte and I saw and met 'Yes' last night. Musically brilliant as always. Jon Davison frankly, knocks the socks of f Jon Anderson in the vocal range department. Setlist was primarily the albums 'Drama' & 'Fragile' in their entirety as well as a few others. Highlights for me musically were Starship Trooper, Tempus Fugit and Owner Of A Lonely Heart. All very different stylistically. Got home at about 23:30 after meeting the band and getting pics and autographs. We finally ot to bed at about 01:30 this morning.

The setlist really permitted all the talents of the individual members to show through. Steve Howe is still frighteningly good. Very little banter with the crowd, but that's because you don't go to a Yes gig to bandy words, you go there to listen, and listen hard.

A very moving opening, saw a son et lumiere montage, with the late Chris Squire's bass in a single spotlight. Billy Sherwood was bassist last night and he is truly the heir to the crown.Alan White was his usual steady self on drums and Geoff Downes gave an abject lesson in what prog rock keyboards are all about.

After being served merlot in plastic cups, we wandered outside at half-time with two half empty bottles of coke. I reached into my sock and the contents of my pocket flask (That's why boot cut flares are a godsend) and they became full bottles of rum 'n' coke as if by magic.The second half was very relaxed.

Although the ticket read 'plus support' it was just the men themselves, and nobody complained.Today, I have just stretched out in bed with a few coffees, and a croissant or two, pepped with a little Bavarian ham and Swiss cheese and since 12:30 having bathed our 4 dogs, I've retired to my studio (no, I am NOT painting for clients today) to tickle up a few Ral Partha wolves and listen to a little more Yes.

I still can't believe that it's 35 years since I listened to my first 'Yes' tracks.


PS: think I have a few more streaks of grey in my luxuriant locks this morning. Not sure if this is the effect of meeting some more of my idols, and realising that 35 years have passed since I first heard them on vinyl.

Monday, 2 May 2016

12 Inches, Rock Hard & Knobbly

A good today on the purchase front...

I managed to pick up the 1987 Ral Partha 10th Anniversary 'Draco Dracorum' sculpted by Tom Meier.

At 12 inches long, with a wingspan at the pinions of 7 an a half inches, this 3lb beastie was produced as part of a 5000 worldwide limited run.

Sometimes, you just have to bring the big guns into the battlefield.

I did well, paying $200.00 plus $65.00 shipping.

Oh, The Haters Have Beaten Me...

The 'haters' have forced me to drag this piece into the 21st century, only hours after   it was completed

I have covered the original retro apple green wood filler with more modest coverings. But, like the vicar who sports a cassock, but loves the feel of ladies underwear, I know what's truly underneath...


And Thus It Is Finished...

Well, I got the palanquin finished and based. As you can see, I have gone for a truly old school finish on the basing with the apple green and yellow ochre drybrush over wood filler. This is right and proper, and those young bucks who sneer shall merely by doing so, show their ignorance of the one true way. :)


Sunday, 1 May 2016


As a kid in the early 80s, I was wowed by the Ral Partha 'Wizard on palanquin' carried aloft by four bugbears. Over the next 35 years or so, I set out a couple of times to get one painted, but frankly I never had the drive.

Well, this last week, I picked the model up for a stupendously cheap, £5.99 and decided after a truly gruelling week of painting for clients and promising to keep off the trains for once, to make a start on it, ahead of the delivery of $750 of orcs, goblins, dragons and other goodness from Ral Partha.

Anyway, I have completed the palanquin and it's payload in two days, and hopefully, I'll get the 4 bugbear porters completed on Monday, it being a Bank Holiday here in the U.K.

And so, without further ado, I give you P'Well The Sartorialist with his Drow concubine Kylie and pet panther Snowy riding upon the Red Star Palanquin Lii'Lefson-Prrt.

For those who may be interested, the throne and mage were worked up from a white base and the palanquin and accoutrements were on black.

The Trolls/Bugbears carrying the palanquin were also on a white base.

The undercoats were Halfords auto primers and the paints used, a mix of Vallejo and Coat D'Arms.

Varnishes were Montana Gold high gloss anti-UV lacquer and the matte was Winsor & Newton Professional Matt Artists Varnish.

Being 'true 25mm' it's an intricate model to paint, before you factor in that it is from the maniacally talented hands of one Tom Meier.

Palanquins in Chaos Wars games are pretty potent units.

Anyhow, I am very pleased with how it's coming along.