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.



    1. You could write off the Funcken books as tax deductible - you know, an essential business expense:) Glad you’re still enjoying the Grognard Files, I’m saving the Judge Dredd episode for exit weekend, when I get the brushes out again.

      I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Thomson a few years ago when he came to the school I work at to talk about his Dark Lord novels. I may have spent lunch geeking out over Sword of the Samurai - he, very generously, listened to my blathering sand answered all my questions.

    2. A great memory! And yes, they are essential for my job are them thar books


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