Monday, 27 February 2017

OBITUARY: Peter 'Greblord' Armstrong

It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce the passing today of Pete Armstrong known to many in the hobby and on the net as 'Greblord'.

Pete had been seriously ill for several weeks and passed away today in hospital, leaving behind his wife Gilly and three young daughters.

Pete was one of the first people I met when I got into fantasy gaming, when Games Workshop opened it's doors in Sheffield in the early 1980s.

He was also the first GW figure painter and wrote the painting guide which appeared in the early Citadel and RAFM catalogues. He was an innovator back when the standard paint job was a simple block finish in enamels, and he was the inspiration for many of my generation.

I emulated his style and made his life a living hell sometimes both in and out of Games Workshop. To get a grudging affirmative grunt from Pete when you showed him a figure, was high praise indeed.

I lost contact with Pete in the late 80s and the next time I saw him, I was the owner of Dungeons & Starships, when he walked through the door on a visit to his family in Sheffield. I never told him, but seeing him, seeing me owning a store which was greatly influenced by the old GW, meant a lot.

I would be a hypocrite if I said I always got on with Pete, because I didn't. We were abrasive with each other at times, because he was not the same egomaniac twenty-something and I was not that awe-struck teenager, and I don't think either of us adjusted too well for a while.

That said, this is the third loss in just over two months to have struck the 'Old Guard' of the Sheffield gaming scene and all have passed at ludicrously young ages.

What's more a genuine hobby pioneer has been lost, and should be celebrated and mourned accordingly.

As befits Pete's renowned sense of humour, I'd like to leave you with a an excerpt from my 2011 book, which illustrates just how mad he could be.

'Sheffield used to have 3 main city centre cinemas, The ABC, and Gaumont were ‘respectable’ cinemas, but then there was Studio 5-6-7 a rundown pit even in the 70s and had only opened in 1968. The latter of the 3 specialised in porn films and the odd X rated splatter movie. By the time I was old enough to go there and sample the flea-ridden pleasures of the place it had gone the way of many of these old ‘bug pits’.

But, it was at the Gaumont that I spent the best part of an entire day watching all three - there were only three back then - Star Wars films back to back. It was I recall a Thursday in Summer and I had gone as part of a gang including Pete, and sundry other ‘gentlemen of the twilight’ all carrying 2 litre bottles of Quattro – the carbonated beverage of choice that year – and a bucket of weapons grade popcorn each.

I had dressed for the event, wearing a white cotton shirt with a mesh overlay on the shoulders. It was all very fashionable for the time – honestly – and had two vent pockets that ran vertically down each breast. This meant that I arm myself with my hairbrush and sundry other items that allowed me to keep my rapidly growing hair in tip-top condition.

We sat in two rows and I had the dubious pleasure of listening to Pete - who was sitting directly behind me - recite verbatim, the entire dialogue of the first two films. 

As credits ran for the 2nd of the trilogy, Pete leaned forward and whispered in my ear, ‘Either you’ve got really big dandruff, or a f***ing great parrot’s crapped on your shoulders.’

Somewhat bemused, I craned to see what he was blabbering on about, patting gingerly at my shoulders and back. My hand touched row upon row of toffee- coated popcorn and discovered that my shirt had gained a layers of comestible rhinestones. Pete had managed to meticulously stick individual kernels to me as I sat watching the screen. I was once again the butt of a masterfully orchestrated wheeze.

Later as we stepped out into the late night air I bounced my empty Quattro bottle off the back of Petess head as he walked out of the cinema. It was a petty revenge, but revenge nonetheless and it felt soooo good to have had the chance to exact it.'

Rest in peace Pete. You will be missed by many, forgotten by none.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

On Reclaiming The Sartorial High Ground

Following the trip to Vapnartak the other week, and the proliferation of the unwashed and unlaundered therein, it was something of a relief to take a trip to the Festival of British Railway Modelling and not be assaulted by body odour or the remains of the previous week's dinners displayed on the shirts of those attending.

Anyway, my experiences prompted me to reflect upon the days when the three piece suit was de riguer at the wargames show, and where good manners and polite language was the norm. As a youth I did not really appreciate those qualities, but as I have aged somewhat and stopped using words such as 'cunty' in general conversation (I do hold a 'fuck' or the odd 'bugger' are still OK, where warranted - but there again, don't we all?) I have come to see that there is nothing wrong with having standards.

I have therefore decided to up my game somewhat and put together something of a sartorially elegant  wardrobe for wearing when I am not in my studio hard at work, filling the collections of Lucky gamers the world over.

Being something of a wargames Flaneur these days, as very little catches my eye or inflames my gaming passions to the point that I need to relieve my tension by opening my wallet, I have decided that comfort whilst promenading is the order of the day and so, I have chosen a heady mix of tweed and flannels in 2 and 3 piece combinations. Not for me the risqué cords or suede shoes. I have engaged Hoggs Of Fife to produce a durable green 'Jura' check three piece to be matched to several of their Tattersall shirts, whilst more casual shirting has been ordered from S.Windsor and the shoes from Mssrs Loake. Hats and a double-breasted 3 piece are also on the cards, but I need to really take a day or two away from the studio to speak to local tailors and fondle some swatches of suitable grey wools.

You may scoff, you may be critical, of this return to conservative dress, but really, it has to be an improvement on the slippery slope of slovenliness down which many seem to be sliding at ever increasing speed in a miasma of bodily excretions.

I might be seen as 'odd' (although I will of course say that I doff my hat to those few chaps, who turn themselves out with a sense of occasion for shows) but at least I will be sure that my own standards are somewhat higher than many and that it's not my musk, causing offence.

Dress and manners, make the the man - even today.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

On The Covers...

Not even a whiff of controversy today I am afraid *chuckle*, but rather a few pics of some of the work I have done in the last few years as box art for companies such as Mantic and Spartan Games, of which I think I can be justifiably proud.

I was really chuffed to see that another blogger had posted images of his own work, where he had faithfully copied the scheme used for the Ralgard fleet box art.

I still need to get a copy of my appearance on the TV show 'Model Town' from the early 2000's where I was demonstrating the basics of figure painting for the massing throngs out there in Videoland.

The Ralgard ships in particular were a real strain as at the time I my wife was seriously ill in hospital and so, I was working flat out to get stuff done and keep myself occupied. Spartan than apparently had a shake-up in their studio (or some other bollocks) and I was dropped, being paid off in models, which frankly sold for much less than I was owed, leaving me in severe financial difficulties which took two years to clear... Thanks guys!

The Relthoza box art is a bitter sweet one for me. I wanted to do something really Chris Foss with the models, I mean look at them... They are classics, but the big man ant Spartan wanted the scheme shown, which I really loathed doing.

And there we have it, a few of my works to date. You can see more over at


Sunday, 5 February 2017


Today we attended Vapnartak,which was a little quieter I thought than last year, but was as usual a nice show for catching up with friends.

But... Some of those attending need to take a reality check and think long and hard about setting foot in anywhere public.

I have never, I repeat, NEVER seen so many grossly overweight, scruffy and frankly unhygienic individuals at a wargames convention. Seriously...

At one point, I and my accomplice in all things gaming were nearly floored by the collective smell of one group. It really was offensive.

Now, you may moan about not discriminating against folks, but show organisers, please - If you get someone at your doors who clearly and plainly just stinks, don't admit them.

Perhaps instead of free figures or dice, wargames companies could supply complimentary mini bars of soap in the show carrier bags?

Fair warning to show organisers - If I attend a show, and cannot quietly enjoy my day without damage to my olfactory senses I will be demanding a refund and leaving your show. Trust me, as my average convention spend is £500 - £1000m some of your trader will notice a drop in sales.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

Armies To Sell? Going To Vapnartak?

If you are going to the Vapnartak show in York and have any of the following armies, painted nicely in 25 or 28mm for sale, please get in touch.

30Years War
14th C
15th C
Dark Age
Italian Wars
Early or Late Renaissance
Older Fantasy


Starships - The older the better.

The only models I am not fussed about are the Warlord plastic ECW infantry as they offend my eyes...

Cash or Paypal available on the spot. Prompt settlement over the weigh bridge.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Fantasy Warlord - A Forgotten Hero?

We all know that Warhammer is 'The Game Of Fantasy Battles' but in the early 90s a tactically superior set of rules was published by Folio Works by the name of 'Fantasy Warlord' it was a seriously large rulebook, and in my opinion it was aimed at mature or experienced gamers which, could at the time be the reason it died on it's arse.

It was a percentage based system, with simple but elegant army lists, a full 'classic' fantasy world background with a magic system that had some brilliant spells.

It was detailed, and on first reading it looked complex, but probably only because WHFB was totally the opposite. It was not a bucket of dice system, and you had to think about the movement of regiments within a brigade.

What's more it was crammed to the gunwhales with Gary Chalk artwork.

Anyway, I dug out my copy last week and re-read it. And, I think I will be playing a few games in the near future. I also managed to get another two copies on Amazon for £2.80 each, because you can never have too many sets of rules to hand can you?

I would encourage those of you who like the idea of a fantasy game, but shrink back from the works of the Evil Empire Of Grimdark...

Go on, you never know - You might enjoy it!

Festival Of British Railway Modelling 2017

This is a show not to be missed.

As the title suggests, the FBRM is all about British outline railways, but the standard of the exhibits and the sheer volume and variety of traders makes this a 'must go to' show. Even if you are not into model railways, go and look at the tools and scenics that are available. Forget that mundane rubbish we get served up by wargames companies, you can get top quality materials at reasonable prices, and have a great family day out, without shaven-headed 'Storage Ears Wannabes' pushing the memsahib and kids out of the way so that they can grab a bargain.

Doncaster Exhibition Centre, 

The Racecourse, 



11th - 12th FEBRUARY 2017

Why My Layout Builder Gets My Business Again & Again

I've waxed lyrical before about the talents of Steve Hornsey  (hornseysteve to those of you in the eBay know), and as you know I respect his talents and ability to 'ride the vibe' of my ideas and ravings about this and that project.

You recall I'd asked him to reproduce the Hook Basin layout which was so skilfully built by Richard Williams in 1:25  scale.

You can see it here:

I looked at it and thought it would be a nice plan to reimagine in the North East U.S in 009 scale, stretched out to 12 feet rather than the 8 feet of the original. Steve said 'Can do' and we had the plan on the drawing board.

Then, as I am inclined to do to poor old Steve, I said 'Hey, what about upping the scale to On30, Steve?' (7mm to the foot or 1/43 scale)

'No problem' said Steve... 'Same price, as the track costs the same'

So, I sat at my desk this morning and saw a mail from Steve, telling me that he could not fit it into the width I had asked for, based on the maximum size I know Steve can ship without causing himself undue stress of the type my last layout caused.


'No problem' wrote he... He could fit it it into 12 feet by 23 inches and still use his normal courier. What's more he also knew that my maximum width available was 26 inches. You see? Steve not only thinks out problems from his point of view, he listens to the client, flinches not at their waffling and gets to the heart of the matter to the satisfaction of all.

Anyway, here is the plan of the Hook Basin layout, now on order:

I emailed Steve to tell him that I wanted my version (at the bottom) extended to 12 feet rather than 8. 'I know' he replied... Look at the scale on the bottom plan. It IS 12 feet...

And there you have it folks... Steve Hornsey is the 'go to' guy for your model railway custom builds.

Now, I am off to plan my purchases for 3 layouts at the Festival Of British Railway Modelling in a couple of weeks. It's a BIG list.


Unleash The (Undead) Legions

I have a particularly unhealthy love of fantasy and science fiction, every bit as much as I do historical gaming as is by now blatantly obvious.

I also have a penchant for uniformly ranked troops, perhaps stemming from the days when I got into gaming and single poses in a pack of figures were the (just and proper) norm.

I loathe slotta bases which sometimes means that I wont go near the modern, unclean, unrighteous, ungodly models on offer on principle.


I was surfing the aetherweb a couple of weeks ago, when I came across two models on the Black Cat Bases website which made me a little moist in the crotch, I have to confess.

100x Skeleton Roman Legionaries with Gladius & shield

Yup, undead Romans...

This ticked just about all the boxes for me.

Single pose, undead, hand weapons and thrusting/throwing weapons... Ok they have slotta bases, but let's not be churlish about it eh?

£3 each...

But wait...

5 for £12

But wait...

10 for £20

It's getting better, but wait...

50 for £75.00

This is a 50% saving

But wait some more mister...

100 for £100

£1 each!

OK, that sold me... 300 of those please.

The only problem was the small matter of archers. I know that skeletons are traditionally not the hobby's greatest shots, but they can sometimes tip the psychological balance before you charge home.

At £1 per model I'd be willing to do some converting but I reasoned that it would be interesting to ask what BCB would charge to produce a variant. After all, it should be a straightforward case of right arm with bow and a quiver for the belt. This would maintain the look of uniformity and ceaseless advance as befits the undead.

So, I typed off a quick enquiry and when Jo at BCB found out how many I wanted, it was decided that it was worth them making the model as a new variant. All they asked was that I allowed them 21 days max, to sort it all out.

And so there you go...

Now I just need to find some of the old Zvezda 'Ring Of Rule' Cursed Legion artillery and Cursed Legion Cavalry (if you have them get in touch) to round out a Legion of 9 x 24 figure cohorts with a 48 strong 1st cohort.

The largest fantasy army I ever completed was undead, using the original Citadel plastics for the skeletons with pack after pack of GW and Essex figures for the metal stuff. It was the entire Ravening Hordes army list with a shed load of extras. It was the most valuable thing I owned, when I met my wife and was living in a shared house, with no money, a long purple mohawk and my first long term relationship going into a terminal dive. My wife came along and saved me from that, but the army was offloaded for pennies on the pound at Games of Liverpool in 1988. If you bought that army - GET IN TOUCH!

Over the years I have promised I'd build a new version, but the attempts have all been aborted as I could never feel the love for the models I bought.

I think that's changed with these beauties. Now, I need to find some suitable command models.