Tuesday, 22 May 2018

How The Hell Did I Manage It? Or, Painting A 15mm Army In 24 Hours...

I'd like to start this little ramble, by thanking those of you who commented on yesterday's post or contacted me privately to offer your thoughts and condolences.

Every one was appreciated and helped me through the day, which despite my determination to work as usual, still ended up with my going to pieces a few minutes after I put my brushes away for the day.

Anyway, I was mulling over things somewhat and I related to my wife how, at aged 15 I'd completed a complete 15mm army in a single 24 hour period, to a competent standard, and was marvelling at how the hell I managed it.

In the mid 80s we had a 'pop up store' run by John Armatys (may his rules ideas and postcards to write them on never dry up) and Roy Gunson as part of the 'Dodo Publications' wargames empire which was a force majeur in Sheffield, I can tell you.

Every Monday evening for a few hours, Roy's brother's lawnmower shop (yes that's right) became the Dodo showroom and we could buy Gallia, Hallmark and Dixon Miniatures amongst others, before heading off to the first club of the week, Sheffield Runelords.

Well, Roger was on one of his periodic 'What about Colonial?' cycles in the same way that I'd have similar surges of enthusiasm, as indeed we all would, but of course we all generally enthusiastically dived in.

Well, I got the bug and bought a Gallia 15mm Zulu Wars, British army (and my are those figures still a favourite, being produced at very, very reasonable prices by Warrior Miniatures) and as I was in my final exams at school and therefore only contractually obliged to show up a for said exams and a couple or tutorials to justify the form tutor's salary, I determined that I'd start them the following morning.

Tuesday dawned and as I was (as I still am) an early riser, I broke my fast on Cumberland sausage and Bachelor's Savoury Rice (chicken flavour if you must know, and why I ate that is another story) and set to work cleaning and priming the models with white Bobcat acrylics (those of a certain vintage will remember these with tears of fondness for a lost friend).

I was 'on one' that day and hardly left the dining table until the evening, when I had to make way for the rest of the family to eat, before returning to my seat to continue.

My brother, Dad and sister all went to bed, but my Mum decided she would watch TV on the sofa and keep me company until I went to bed...

I didn't.

At 3AM my eyes were crossing but I was almost at the end of the entire army. I wanted to get them painted, stuck down and the interior filler applied having accepted that I'd have to let that dry before painting it a suitable sandy shade.

But my eyes, my eyes!

At this point, Mum intervened and made me go and sit in the darkened lounge and then stuck two big rounds of ice cold cucumber on my eyes.

30 minutes later and I was as good as new and back at my desk until at 6:15 shortly before my Dad would be getting up for work, I crawled to bed, my mission accomplished.

My Mum had spent the night sleeping on the sofa, but the fact that she was there meant I had to prove my skills, and so I did.

After a couple of hours sleep, I was up and eating breakfast before finishing the basing, the army packed and taken to Sheffield Wargames Society that evening.

Had it not been for the cucumber, I'd have never made it to the finish line. A few years later I did a 23 hour stint when I was doing a bit of painting for U.N.I.T.S Painting Service in Barnsley (showing my age again).

Another memory yes, but for the life of me, I really don't know how I did it and I am certain that I couldn't and indeed wouldn't do it again.



  1. It sounds like you had someone who supported you above and beyond what would be typical. Needs must, when the devil drives and all that.

    My mum would tolerate me and a mate taking over the kitchen table through the night to play WH40k in the late 80s, early 90s, and I’m eternally grateful - I need to tell her that.

  2. Yeah, do that... Too late for me now.

    A hard learned lesson :(


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