Sunday, 28 January 2018

Roger, Bloody Roger... Or, Plunging Into Pluderhosen Again.

Greetings all,

I have had a busy, busy week painting toys, but today I have spent my time in a selfish manner which involved deliberately staying out of my studio because to be frank, I don't get paid for working my days off.

In the end I spent about 12 minutes up there dealing with a client query, but then it was a festival pf frivolity.

I started wth a fortifying breakfast of eggs on toast and a shower, with a few cups of coffee, having been kept awake all night by the family feline and 4 terriers who were Similarly disturbed by the tabby bastard...

Then it was to the sofa with a pile of improving books for a two hour snooze before rising invigorated this afternoon to sit at one of the iMacs we keep here at the Dark Tower, composing a couple of army lists.

Roger has really got my juices flowing for the Renaissance again, and so, I have been dying to take some time to write up a couple of armies for purchasing in the next few weeks and handing off to my wife to be painted (forget ye not that I refuse to paint my own stuff because I don't get paid and thus my wife gets to bank a tidy penny from my decision - Besides, she enjoys it).

So...

They have to be 28mm
They have to be nice figures
They have to be armies rather than exercises in points, but yet still be able to be used competitively if required
There has to be little by the way of wasted models
They must be metal, as Gilder intended
They have to be mounted in 8 man elements
They have to be interesting

So, after 4 hours of hard crunching of lists, I decided upon a later Swiss and a Malta era Knights Of Saint John , both of which - entirely accidentally - come out at 306 figures representing around 340 because I. use 8 figure bases with 7 models to accommodate modern figures and give a more dynamic look than traditional tight ranks.

The Swiss will comprise of :

1st Kiel of 72 pike and 24 bills

2nd Kiel of 72 pike

3rd Kiel of 72 pike

Advance Guard of 24 bills

32 Crossbows

32 Arquebus

This will be a truly horrendous offensive army to face off against...


The Knights of St. John will comprise:

24 EHI knights

40 Arquebus

40 Arquebus

40 Arquebus

40 Arquebus

40 Arquebus

30 Pikemen

Mercenary block of 25 pike and 20 arquebus

Mercenary block of 25 pike and 20 arquebus

2 Heavy guns

3 Battery guns

This will be a solid army of C class infantry with a small core of B class fanatics as even the mercenary elements are C rather than M class.

I have been also crunching the financial cost, and the fact that I want a mid 16th look, and thus at the end of the day I have decided on the Redoubt hangover Perrys which are just that bit too early. Wargames Foundry and Artisan are priced out of the market and besides some of the Foundry Renaissance stuff is awful unless you get the Perry sculpts.

Metal cost will be around the £900 mark, plus painting at an undisclosed figure to save me breaking into a nervous sweat.

In a fit of wicked brilliance, I decided to use the English range for the KoStJ as they have the crosses on their tabards and jacks which will do nicely if painted red and white.

Beyond that, I'll be building Henry VIII's army in the later incarnation, again using Redoubt.

I'm looking forward to meeting Roger at Vapnartak next Sunday to discuss our respective forces and maybe plan a g bring and battle game, as my old friend has previously suggested.

His contention that once you go Renaissance, you never go back is proving wonderfully true.

Way to go Roger!


TTFN


PS: As usual the Sheffield contingent will be holding court in the bar area on the first floor at Vapnartak. Pop by and say hello!

Monday, 22 January 2018

DICE MEN: Games Workshop The Early Years 1975-1985



How it all began...

A grey day in 1974. Three games geeks are thinking about sinking everything they have into their dream of starting a games company. They go for it, but in less than a year one of them leaves. The remaining two carry on and end up living out the back of a van as they can't afford to pay rent for both an office and accommodation.

They're living off canned food and takeaways with all their meagre earnings going into the fledgling mail order business. The business grows, and in 1977 they make the decision to open their own shop. It was going to be a proper games shop, as opposed to the small room at the back of an estate agents they had been working out of. It was a damp day in April 1978 and the shop was about to open up for the first time. But would they get any customers? They had no idea whether anyone would turn up at all but when they opened that door on the first day they found...





Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and John Peake were the three games geeks who founded Games Workshop in their flat in Shepherd’s Bush. Not being a fan of D&D, John left the company, and Ian and Steve turned Workshop into a fantasy games specialist.
And that's what this book is about. A history of Games Workshop, not just the business narrative but the story of its founders and their journey, along with all the people they picked up along the way.
How did Ian and Steve do it? How did they get to that first Workshop store? What's the story behind Dungeons & Dragons coming to the UK, starting a whole new hobby? How did Games Workshop grow after that? It's now so big that it spans the globe. And along the way they invented an entirely new book publishing genre, too!


A full colour, highly illustrated hardback over 300 pages long, A4 (210mm x 297mm) printed on 140gsm gloss art stock, colour printed endpapers and bookmark ribbon



WATCH THE 'DICE MEN' PROMO CLIP

GET THE BOOK AND MORE DETAILS HERE...

Saturday, 20 January 2018

What's That Smell? What Have I Funcken Done? WOW!

There comes a time in a man's life when he has to consider what is good in life and also decide whether more little lead dollies is a wise and prudent way to go.

As you know, I had decided and in fact still have, that I am going to reduce the number of figures I buy after this year and my half century (gods willing) but, after I considered just what was good in life this week, it's going to take all my resolve.

You see, now that I am not quite as destitute as I was in my younger years and because I am less inclined to buy random piles of lead, I find myself making luxury purchases of a type which would make my Methodist forebears apoplectic with rage and righteous indignation.

It started innocently enough when I came across Penhaligon, the London based perfumiers to The Crown and decided that perhaps a small bottle of something as alluring as I might be in order. Starting at around £70 for 50ml on average, you use the stuff sparingly and in the right setting, which is OK, because 5 days a week I am in my studio and because I have a natural odour like that of angels, sparingly was not going to be a problem.

And so, making comparisons of the copious notes on the various scents I decided on a nice bottle of No33. Eau De Cologne, a lavender based and masculine little number:


An innocent enough purchase I thought, but when it arrived... Oh my sacred aunt, was it good stuff... My word yes. So, checking the war chest, I thought I'd buy another couple, but in a fit of foppish excess, I went the whole hog on 100ml bottles, such was the sheer olfactory rush I experienced.

I bought Zizonia, a gender blending blend of fop and duellist, and Eau De Portugal, which is another eau de cologne first blended for Sir Percy Croft of the Croft port dynasty, which is redolent of being hit with a wet wooden club wrapped in citrus fruits - with a hint of vetiver and musk:



OK, I'd now spent enough to buy myself a 28mm competition army using say, Perry Miniatures, but, I was happy and wading on the shoreline of excess. It was only a matter of time before the beach dropped away and I was swept away.

And sure enough, it happened...

I like beautiful things (which is why I am such a vain creature) and I have always loved to pour over the plates in the odd Funcken book. Liliane and Fred Funcken must be known to all gamers as the creators of the most beautiful books of historical uniform plates ever. Forget your Ospreys, these books are where it's always been at, because they are packed to bursting with information which boggles the mind. The rub is, that you have to pay for what you get, and the price tag is reassuringly high.

So imagine my joy and agony to find an 8 volume collection comprising 1500 pages or so as I randomly searched for the odd lead figure on a well known auction site. It's not often the titles all come along together and, in another fit of excess, I went ahead and pressed the 'Buy It Now' button...

And bought this:



But for me, the best volume was the one covering the 8th to 16th centuries:



As a die hard renaissance gamer I never actually managed to lay my hands on the three Age Of Chivalry volumes, but now, here they are in a single binding. And what a treat for the eyes:


A pictorial guide to tacking and horse furniture you say? Here you go...


















And so, I rounded off the week with a celebratory ordering of another suit in a blue-grey Donegal tweed - three piece of course, 3 merino wool sweaters and a heavier knitted cotton sweater to wear under the mariner's coat I purchased a fortnight ago:


I've not really had much time for gaming of late as work has been heavy. I put in some extra hours to help out our daughter and in doing so painted some stunning Baccus 6mm, 7YW French as regiments of the Irish Brigade:

(Click to enlarge the pics)



All in all, a really pleasant week despite the added work load.

I did however have to take a few minutes to mull the mater of old friends and just how far I want to be involved with some. A friend of old, recently set about a fit of drunk typing on social media as he is won't to do now and again, from what I've seen. But this time I was the unsuspecting target and some things were said which whilst taken as the drunken ramblings of someone for whom the world it would seem is to blame for 'it all', did actually make me think.

I've spent a lot of time in the past finding buyers for friends unwanted gaming stuff, sometimes buying it myself to help them out, feigning interest. Now don't get me wrong, I have sometimes made a penny or two in doing so, but the cost has been my time and effort. If you drop 300 models on my doorstep and ask me to sell them, I have to sort them, clean them up sometimes, arrange, photograph, sell them and then pack and ship them. That takes a really long time when my time is at a premium.

So, I thought about it long and hard and decided that I'll not buy or sell from friends with a very, very few exceptions, any longer.

This may cost me a friend or two I suppose, but the cathartic realisation of the above coupled with the liberation of not being responsible for others is rather wonderful.

It also led me to realise that I live for me, at the end of the day, and so although I hold out the hand of friendship to anyone who responds in kind, I will simply not acknowledge or bother with others. Life's really too short and it's taken me almost half a century to get that crystal clear in my head. True, I shall miss some people I'd considered friends, but the positive benefits of not  having to navigate a morass of hang ups (theirs and my own) far outweighs that loss.

On a lighter and brighter note, I was surprised when my book got a name check on the Christmas edition of the Grognard Files podcast the other week. I love this podcast and am grateful to Steven Williams of their parish for pointing me towards it last year.

And on a 'WOW!' note, I have saved the best for last. OK, this may not be a big thing to some, but for me, there are few things which make mw get that buzz I remember as a youth in all it's technicolour, reach for the Findus Crispy Pancakes and Marillion album beauty. But now I think I just had one of those moments. In fact it could seriously be considered to a defining moment in the gaming historical record.





    • Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson with Jamie Thomson

      A full colour, highly illustrated hardback over 300 pages long, A4 (210mm x 297mm) printed on 

      140gsm gloss art stock, colour printed endpapers and bookmark ribbon

      From the back of a van to the London Stock Exchange...


      A grey day in 1974. Three games geeks are thinking about sinking everything they have into their
       dream of starting a games company. They go for it, but in less than a year one of them leaves. 
      The remaining two carry on and end up living out the back of a van as they can't afford to pay rent
       for both an office and accommodation. 

      Steve and Ian in the ‘breadbin-sized’ office in Shepherd’s Bush in 1976
      Pivotal moment for Games Workshop in 1976 at Gen Con IX when Steve and Ian first met 
      Gary Gygax

      They're living off canned food and takeaways with all their meagre earnings going into the 
      fledgling mail order business. The business grows, and in 1977 they make the decision to open 
      their own shop. It was going to be a proper games shop, as opposed to the small room at the 
      back of an estate agents they had been working out of. It was a damp day in April 1978 and the 
      shop was about to open up for the first time. But would they get any customers? They had no 
      idea whether anyone would turn up at all but when they opened that door on the first day they found... 

      ... a long queue that went around the block! The rest is history, as they say, and it's time to tell it...

      Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and John Peake were the three games geeks who founded Games Workshop 
      in their flat in Shepherd’s Bush. Not being a fan of D&D, John left the company, and Ian and Steve turned 
      Workshop into a fantasy games specialist.
      And that's what this book is about. A history of Games Workshop, not just the business narrative but the 
      story of its founders and their journey, along with all the people they picked up along the way.
      How did Ian and Steve do it? How did they get to that first Workshop store? What's the story behind 
      Dungeons & Dragons coming to the UK, starting a whole new hobby? How did Games Workshop
       grow after that? It's now so big that it spans the globe. And along the way they invented an entirely new 
      book publishing genre, too!

      Part story and part game, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain written by Steve and Ian launches in 1982 
      published by Puffin Books
    Now, this is a big book with a LOT of pictures of the first days of the 'Golden Age' and it's in full colour. For me it was an immediate 'must buy' and I reckon a lot of you will do similarly...

    Here's a link to the book's page where you can find sample chapters and a lot of eye candy and a nice You Tube video..


    Spread the word please, because this really is a 'once in a lifetime' moment.

    And so, on that note I shall leave you in peace dear readers because I hear the memsahib stirring in the main house, and I have to go an get a haircut and locate comestibles for tea before the fortnightly gaming session here at Fackham Hall.


    TTFN

    Thursday, 11 January 2018

    FIGURES TO SELL? GOING TO VAPNARTAK? NOT GOING? - Read on...

    If anyone reading this or known to one of my readers, is selling a collection of 25/28mm Late Medieval or Renaissance figures, please drop me a line by commenting below. Only I will see your details of course.

    If you are going to Vapnartak on Feb 4th we could meet there or alternatively, I am happy to do the deal by post.


    TTFN

    Tuesday, 9 January 2018

    I Don't Care What He Says, It was Roger's Fault...

    So, I was distracted yesterday by this damned bronchial problem, so I was painting, listening to documentaries and mulling over a few things simultaneously to keep my mind off just how rough I feel at present.

    You will recall that yesterday I blamed an old, old friend by the name of Roger for my return to the Renaissance? Well, I stand by that, but it also occurred to me just why...

    I will point out from the start that I received a rather indignant mail from Roger this very morning as I turned on my Mac, decrying my position and claiming falsely that he could not have the blame laid at his door.  Well Roger, yes you can, and I am doing.

    I realised yesterday that my favourite periods are actually driven by more than just academic or aesthetic reasons. It's about who I gamed those periods with and moreover the memories that are stirred when I look at a particular type or make of figure.

    I think that Roger and I, along with a couple of other people, were closer than the Famous Five 'back in the day'. I mean we literally lived in each other's homes during the school holidays, we gamed and we gamed hard (It was Roger who justified a common bond between a Polish and a Gaelic speaking character in Twilight 2000 based on their inability to be understood by the rest of the party, and he did it convincingly).

    It was Roger who first turned me on to Connoisseur Miniatures because I am sure that Roger had a shrine to the late Peter Gilder somewhere under his bed. The renaissance range was stunning for the time and Duncan MacFarlane published some great shots of the Wargames Holiday Centre with massive pike blocks which just 'sang' to me.

    Look, when you listen to prog rock and you have bands like Jethro Tull and Marillion (and as I type I am listening to 'Walk Into Light' by Tull front man Ian Anderson because it makes me think of those days gaming Roger or talking gaming whilst he strummed away following his latest guitar lesson) you are exposed to codpieces and motley a lot, which, inevitably leads to unwholesome thoughts of Landsknecht pike blocks, OK?

    This, along with Q.T Models range of multi-part renaissance models and Roger's shelves full of them, in particular one Landsknecht in white and green with a deep vermillion beret - which is the first model I think of when I get the Renaissance bug - draw me back time and time again. I then think of the good times we had - and still may have - and in fact today I made a conscious decision to erase the odd 'bad' memory once and for all as I stood drying my hair after the morning shower, because quite frankly, life is too bloody short, isn't it? and I am at the wrong end of half a century now.

    The idea of spending a day, just shooting the breeze with Roger, moving a few toy soldiers and exchanging dry and sarcastic observations is a priceless one. Maybe it will happen, maybe not, but this kind of thing is exactly what I mean when I say that there's more to a period than the period. It really is for me, one of the driving reasons I am still so in love with my hobby. I and others, although from the same city would never have met had it not been for wargaming and role playing. That makes it a very special hobby indeed. It challenged us all intellectually and socially . It opened us all up to a much wider world, and I think that we all realised that we could be more than just carbon copied youths destined for the factory floor.

    So, yes my dear friend, it is your fault - yours and that Gilder fellow - and I thank you and the Powers That Preserve for drawing me down that parti-coloured path to perdition.

    Now, I just have to resist the urge to buy unpainted Q.T Models rather than trying to find a ready painted army...


    TTFN


    Monday, 8 January 2018

    Of Lurgy, 1979 And The Accursed Roger...

    Well, as my friend Roger just pointed out via email, it's been 'ages' since I posted. Well, Roger, here you go old chap, a brief update...

    I've been horrendously busy since my return to the studio last Tuesday and doubly so because I've been working on 15mm Napoleonics for which I have an unreasonable level of loathing and which, added to recovering from bronchitis made my days hellish.

    By Friday I was feeling pretty good and then at around 18:10 on Saturday night I was struck down again, worse than before. The fact that I take Methotrexate for my arthritis, which suppresses the immune system has certainly not helped and I confess that  feel as rough as hell at present, with another full week of 15mm Napoleonics ahead of me.

    On the gaming front, whilst I am still waiting for my Elheim 20mm Cold War British to arrive, my 'Winter of '79' rules and supplement arrived on Friday. They look pretty good and are beautifully presented. I do have a few issues with the background covering Yorkshire, and in particular my home city which is viewed with some suspicion by the rest of the county. So, I am currently sketching out some ideas for a Sheffield source book with scenarios utilising some of the unique (at the time) architectural and social features of the city.

    I'll also be re-watching the excellent 'Threads', (a film which I had a small part in), because it's very much 'of the time' for the WO79 rules.

    And now to the last part of the title, and yes, I am looking at you, Roger...

    Roger and I, back in the day were not only big fans of Q.T miniatures, but we also dabbled in many periods. One of these was the renaissance, and I shudder to think how many we painted in our prime.

    Well, my chum mentioned that he was rekindling his interest in the period, and in 28mm, so try as I might to resist the temptation, I have been drawn back towards the great and gaudy Satan, which is the 16th century wargame.

    Thank you Roger!

    Speaking of which, if anyone has any painted 28m Renaissance and are going to Vapnartak, drop me a line here, as I will be interested in giving you hard cash for them (and so may Roger I'll wager).

    So, I'll say farewell for the moment and if I am a bit quiet, it's simply workload and health.


    TTFN


    Monday, 1 January 2018

    And Just Around The Corner, Is The English Civil War...

    Firstly, let me open the first post of 2018 with a very warm and hearty 'HAPPYYYY NEEEEEEW YEEAAARRR!'

    OK, now that's out of the way, we can get back to the serious stuff :)

    I've spent the last week rather poorly with bronchitis, and whilst I am not fully recovered by any stretch of the imagination, the antibiotics are coursing through my veins and I am back at my desk at 6AM in the morning cracking on with another fully booked year of painting. Civilisations may rise, empires may fall, but Conflict In Colour must always soldier on regardless!

    Whilst I have spent many hours in hot and steaming baths this so-called holiday, I have pondered on what I want to do this coming year as I wind down my buying of lead ahead of my 50th birthday.

    As you may recall, VBCW was on the cards, but I confess, I don't quite 'connect' with it. But, then I remembered a blog entitled 'Winter Of '79' with the premise that after Margaret Thatcher came to power, there would be a collapse of the U.K and a bitter civil war, as Left battled Right and all of the other politically charged causes of that era which I remember so well, all came to a head.

    So, I took the trusty Pad into the bath and did a search or two, to find that there are now some lovely looking and seemingly sensible rules, plenty of metal Cold War figures and civilians and of course the traditional plastic kits and figures.

    Of course there are also tons of buildings in assorted media, meant for model railways which are perfect too, so it does look like this one has legs and some real possibilities for 'true to life' what-if scenarios free of armed football teams and gun toting W.I groups.

    And so, as I actually feel like painting a platoon myself I ordered a standard British platoon made up of PHQ and 3 x 8 man sections with some M.Ps, a dog handler a nice vignette of squaddies brewing up whilst a mate takes their photo ('Dear Mum, here are me and the lads, having a break in-between rounds of killing striking Yorkshire miners...') and a couple of other bits and pieces to represent attachments from the battalion. All models were ordered from Elheim and look jolly pretty.

    Of course, it may be that the Falklands fall, the Warsaw Pact infiltrate or simply go nuclear, dissidents  manage to get into Greenham Common or that the I.R.A become even bolder and mobilise. Maybe the Tooting Popular Front will actually become something more than taproom Trostkyites. Who can tell?

    Whatever way the alternate history goes, it could actually pan out into a rather nice 'period' which does not cost that much in the big picture of things.

    We shall see...

    Anyway, if you will excuse me I have 18 hours of freedom before I must return, unrefreshed to the painting desk, so I shall bid you a very fine farewell for the present.

    Hope your gaming in 2018 is all you could wish for.


    TTFN