Saturday, 29 October 2016

Of Family Connections & Their Influence On The Hobby

Before gaming there was comics, LEGO, Airfix plastic soldiers, model kits and trains.

Well, there was for me at least, but I suspect that those of us in this hobby of around shall we say 'mid century' in age pretty much followed similar if not identical roots.

The supply of comics was the domain of Dad and maternal Grandad, who between them pretty much filled my week with at least comic every day, including from memory; Whizzer & Chips, The Beano, The Dandy, The Eagle, Battle, Action, Starlord, 2000AD, Warlord and the Commando, War Picture Library / Battle Picture Library and Starblazer full length mini-comics.

Generally, Dad was the supplier of model kits with a simple system of calculation based on 'number of weeks without pocket money = kit purchase of higher value than the amount racked up between 1 and 3 weeks'. Dad also picked up the tab for my White Dwarf magazines from 1981, which was rather splendid and even got the local newsagent to source and deliver them, when no newsagents stocked them.

That said, I never owned a single Star Wars toy because my parents thought them a waste of money.

My paternal grandmother ('Grandma') did take me to see Star Wars though on one of her visits from Mordor where she had moved with my Grandad Hides because of his work as a draughtsman with G.E.C (he was involved earlier with the English Electric 'Lightning' b.t.w). It was Penwortham in Lancashire, but to me a good Yorkshire lad it was Mordor. They just didn't speak the Common Tongue and lived in barbarous isolation over there...

My Grandma did me wrong once when she bought me a football kit, well several actually, but I was a dreamer and sport was not for me. However, it was she who taught me to tie laces by making me learn to fasten my football boots, and the goalkeepers gloves she bought me, did allow me to walk downstairs using the walls, thus avoiding creaky stair boards at Easter, Christmas and on my birthday, so she can be forgiven.

A family rift (never discussed, but I have a bloody good idea through some investigation and deduction  - thank you Civil Service for training me to investigate and data sift ) meant thay I became estranged from my paternal grandparents until the late 80s, which I resent and mourn to this day. I was responsible for getting them back together but it was not long before my Grandma passed away. Today all I have of hers, is her bible. I am not religious, but I dare anyone to get me to part with that.

My Grandad Hides was a talented but somewhat cold individual. He was not really built for sociability and with the exception of a fishing rod (a turning point in our relationship, and not a good one, which is covered in my book 'Real Life's A Bu**er) and repairing some broken Subbuteo players, (yes despite not liking sport I loved table football) he was a minor figure in my toy infested childhood.

Grandad Hides passed away in the early 2000s, and as I have grown older I have understood his mannerisms a little better as I see them in myself to a degree.

My maternal grandfather 'Grandad' indulged me with toy soldiers - as did all my family with one exception and he told me stories. I paid him tribute in a previous post on this blog, because simply put I didn't show him how important he was in his last years, when running Dungeons & Starships became my sole focus, because , and I say this with candour - I was a proper wanker. I was such a wanker that I did not go to his funeral in the late 90s, because I could not be drawn from my failing store.

NEVER, put your games before your loved ones. It's not clever, it's not going to give you 'cred', but it will get you loathed by the rest of your family and will cause you trauma in later life. And you'll be as big a wanker as I was.

My maternal grandmother ,'Nan', was responsible for the majority of my OO railway stuff, lots of LEGO and plastic kits and soldiers.

It was she who could always be coaxed into Games Workshop (unlike my parents who thought it a waste of time, which would get me nowhere.. Who's laughing now eh?) and who bought me a lot of my early rule sets, most notably the 'Bodycount' Vietnam war rules for £3.95 from the selection that GW Sheffield stocked. What's more she put up with my youthful ramblings about Knights, claymore mines, dragons, hit points and all that jazz...

In recent years though, I have been somewhat estranged from her after an altercation over a dispute between her and my daughter about 3 or 4 years ago. I remained cordial, but after she called me 'evil', I vowed I'd never set foot in her house again. We talked on the phone or doorstep, but like the wanker I can be, I kept my word. I may be a wanker, but I am a wanker with principles.

Nearly 3 weeks ago, my Nan suffered multiple strokes, aged 94. When I visited her in hospital, I was shocked at how small and birdlike she looked. Surely this was not the woman who grounded me for a fortnight at 16, or who in a fit of rage almost knocked me off my feet with a flurry of slaps which raised my normally placid Grandad to absolute rage. This surely wasn't my Nan who did more than anyone to encourage my gaming during my youth? It was.

Last night, I sat at her bedside and apologised for being a poor Grandson, said the Lord's Prayer , held her hand and wished she would find the strength to simply 'let go'.

My Nan, my direct conduit to so many memories tied up with my hobby, passed away today.

Friday, 28 October 2016

I Failed My Spelling Test

Last weekend after a personally harrowing week, I needed to really kick back and so, attended the 'Out Of This World' event in Sheffield, wearing my Death Eater (Harry Potter) costume.

It was great to see families and kids in particular meeting their favourite heroes and villians and being able to interact with them.

The highlight for me, was when this young lady (see below) playing Ginny Weasley, saw me walking towards her across Sheffield Peace Gardens, detached herself from her puzzled Dad, surged down the steps they were descending and shouted 'EXPELLIARMUS!' before I could even draw my wand from my belt.

A Death Eater was taken down by a Hogwarts First Year.

Oh the Ignominy...

Her Dad took the following photo and apparently, she was talking about the encounter for the rest of the day.

Mission accomplished, I'd say.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Of Screaming Mobs & Cheap Figures

Screaming Mob Miniatures aims to bring fun, varied and affordable miniatures in traditional metal, to those of you who want to not just be able to play a skirmish game, but also field armies of 28mm warriors, thugs and ne'er-do-wells without selling a vital organ or making dark pacts with nameless gods. (Although, we would never discourage you from the latter!)

Screaming Mob may be new, but is built upon the firm foundations of it's sister businesses Conflict In Colour and S.N.A.F.U Scenics.

I am a veteran gamer of almost 4 decades at the time of writing and I'm also the author of the well received gaming memoir 'Real Life's A Bu**er - A Tale Of Sex, Dragons And Rock 'N' Roll'. In the 1990s I also ran the Sheffield branch of the Dungeons & Starships chain of stores, so I have 'seen the elephant' as it were.

I harken back to a time before blister packs and slotta bases, where  the models mattered more than the packaging. With that in mind, I am taking a very firm stance on the matter of 'frippery'.

Simply put, I am not going to waste your money on fancy packaging and graphics, because every penny I spend on such, will inevitably be passed on to you the customer, and that's not the way I play.

The initial releases will be a range of over 50 rabid Cultists, with weapon variants a-plenty and separate randomly supplied heads. This will mean that you can buy models armed to suit your tech level or game setting but, moreover you will be able to field potentially an army with hundreds of variations.

If these go down as well as I think they deserve to, I'll add some more packs as well as more head variants which may include some tongue in cheek pieces, 'just because'.

Beyond that, I have plans which are firmly rooted in the Old School camp which I don't want to disclose quite yet, but which I am sure will be of interest to most gamers who remember a time before spiky and gothic, became the norm.

And so, to 'MOBSTARTER'

The original  plan was to utilise the Kickstarter funding platform to launch the range with a 20% discount on the final RRP once the range was up and running.

But, wait a minute...

If I did that, I'd be paying them 10% and  you, the customer would see exactly the same product.

So, what seemed the best way to go forward was to use a pre-order sytem, selling direct, and ofering a 30% discount on the final RRP...


This will work very simply:

You place a pre order in the store, and, get rewarded with a nice discount by way of a thank you for helping to bring a pack of figures to production. Once the required figure is reached, the moulds go into production, you receive the first of the models from the moulds and then the pack goes on sale generally at the full price.

What's more, I'll put a 'Thank You' page up on the site where your name will be revered in all it's glory, so that all may see you were a backer.

I'll also put some deals up in very limited numbers for certain groupings of packs, bought in bulk. These will be even better value and in some cases, will be enough to launch aseveral packs on their own. If anyone selects one of these deals, the figures will go into production and anyone who has already pledged their support will get their models in the same way.

Watch this space for details of the website, coming soon...

Friday, 14 October 2016

It Was All The Fault Of A Frenchman...

Yesterday was a busy day....

I took delivery of two shipments of Dwarven Forge scenery. The first was all older stuff from those fine people at Spirit Games whilst the larger shipment was from Dwarven Forge Europe comprising 9 large sets including 7 limited edition sets, and a single smaller set.

Alas, as previously none of the 5 limited edition sets contained their numbered certificates, so I've had to get in touch with Dwarven Forge in the U.S to ask them to remedy this situation. I am now at the 41 large set mark and about 20 of the small peripheral extras, so I am most certainly at the level where I can get the display game up and running.

I couldn't get time to open them as straight after a hard day of painting 1/1200th aircraft, I had to get on a train in the afternoon to go to Leeds where I was to be entertained by one Mnsr. J M Jarre in person.

Now I have always loved Leeds. It used to have a branch of 'Games Of Liverpool' and I did a good bit of my carousing with friends there at the 'Phono' which was a subterranean nightclub for Goths and Cloggies and all of that stripe, slap bang in the middle of the Merrion Centre...

Alas, it is no more...

The patch of lighter tiles near the column mark the grave as it were.

Leeds, you are a lover and a bitch in equal measure!

Anyway, I met up with my wife who works in Leeds and we set off to be entertained by J-M.J. And entertained we were, with some bloody amazing sounds, complimented with a 3D light and laser show. This was not a 'gig' this was a piece of performance art!

We crawled into bed at 2:15 this morning, and as a result I finally got to open my Dwarven Forge goodies at 10AM - And it's all the fault of a (very talented) Frenchman.

Now I have 24 hours to recover before we are of to see Bad Company, again in Leeds. It's a gruelling thrash of a life...


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Intervention May Really Be Required

I've just ordered some more Dwarven Forge dungeon sets, bringing my set total to 39.

I really believe that this is indeed an addiction, and I need to slow down. Lord only knows how large a layout I can build, but it must be over 40 square feet of 28mm dungeon.

And what's worse, I can still think of stuff to add.

Sunday, 2 October 2016


Ok, here's hoping that someone reading this blog, can help me in finding the old Grenadier Miniatures 'Solid Gold Line' of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures.

I will pay £25 - £60 depending on whether I'm buying a small or large box.

I'll pay via Paypal and will cover shipping from anywhere in the world to the U.K

These are the sets I am seeking: