Sunday, 25 November 2018

Of Bargains And Pastel Pink Ponies...

I finally fell for a Black Friday deal, and purchased the entire 'Tails Of Equestria' RPG set in the My Little Pony world, and produced by River Horse Games.

I have no excuse, other than the idea of playing a simple RPG wherein I can play a powder blue pony with big eyes and a golden sparkly mane, appeals to me... Not to mention the sparkly four leaf clover on my butt.

I also picked up a couple of other bargains today:

At £21.50 - It would be churlish not to.

Siege and Dogs of War will go in the bin of course. I have absolutely no use for modern tat...

And then for £100, I got this lovely little lot of Citadel 'Paranoia' figures from the 80s.

Now imagine if you will, the 80s series 'V', but in which the Visitors are simply paranoid and inept in equal measure... Well, they will be invading my city in a series entitled 'Y?'

And I think I have spent enough for the week, now, when you add into that the £60 refund for a set of old and rare rule sets which were removed from the envelope in transit to the U.S, the recipient receiving an empty, surgically opened envelope. I of course paid him out without question, but it has made my week a little more expensive than planned - Not to mention the new four-legged arrival.


Saturday, 24 November 2018

It's A Dog's Life...

Wow, what a busy weekend so far.

Friday was a hell of a day, as well as painting from 8AM to 4PM, I then had to spend  two hours racing around the city in anticipation of the arrival today of a new baby at Fackham Hall.

Last minute dashes for food, bedding and training pads were exhausting. Then, it was back to the Dark Tower atop the hall, and more painting until 10PM , with tea being served at 11PM and bed at midnight, with the alarm clock set for 6:30 AM.

Then, at 8:30 AM this morning I was riding shotgun with the memsahib up the M18 to Hull to collect the new addition, a 7lb Scottie (or Aberdeen Terrier to be more correct) for a top-end 3 figure sum, thence back to Sheffield, for 13:10 to attend our veterinary surgery on the far side of the city.

He was vaccinated and microchipped, then taken home to meet the rest of the pack, who have been pretty good with him.

Rex McHubbard to give him his full name, has a serious appetite. Despite being a mere 3.5KG and just 9 and a half weeks old, he destroyed a freshly cooked chicken thigh on his own before taking himself to bed for a couple of hours.

As I type, he's just up and about, finding his way around the house and growling at numerous soft toys that have somehow offended him.

After a year with a lot of sorrow, it's nice to have a new spark of life to take care of, although it has meant that Recon and Vapnartak are off the cards which means I'll not see Roger, Mike or Andrew N for a while (which is sad) but in terms of gaming I have a lot to be getting on with, what with the city and my vintage Warhammer projects, not to mention the sorting out into units of my 20mm WW2 Romanians.

Today, I took delivery of the new(wish) OGRE Battle Box, being a rather nice version of the Steve Jackson classic, with really nice plastic tanks, vehicles and figures in plastic, in the time honoured 1/285 scale.

And of course it can be played either as the traditional hex based board game or as a full on miniatures game, thus meeting the needs of everyone. The models are really nice, and I am actually itching to get some paint on them.

This morning as the memsahib guided the family transport towards Hull, I picked up online a rather nice set of mostly painted 'Mars Attacks' models, for the embarrassingly low price of £40 including postage.

These are destined to invade my city scenery in the future, more of which is on it's way to me as I type, my mate Dave having done yeoman's work on getting stuck into building the MDF over the last fortnight.

And that as they say, is the news from Lake Wobegone.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Unknown Pleasures... Time To Admit A Dirty Secret That Even Roger & Darren May Find Surprising

About the time I was first becoming aware of gaming in 1980 was about the time my parents were trusting me to go into Sheffield city centre on my own. Indeed it occurred shortly after my first encounter with a display of Citadel and Ral Partha miniatures in Hopkinson's toy shop on The Gallery, a series of first floor shops connected with walkways inn the Hay Market area of the city, an area at that time frequented by Punks at one end and Skinheads at the other, and a serious no-go area in the daytime for young Rockers like your correspondent and his at the time best mate 'Stanny' Staniforth.

Today's youth I don't think, can appreciate what the late 70s and early 80s were like. They were frankly, bloody lethal. You either had to be a good fighter, a fast runner or know where to run to locate some older and better fighters.

It was also at this time that I became vaguely aware of politics, left wing liberal arts (odd for someone who is certainly not much of a supporter of the political left, personal style (more of this later) and design - in particular bright primary colours, abstract and graphic styles and a love of textures be they visual or tactile.

Now, this was a few years before I met Roger, who, upon reading this might just splutter, laugh out loud or raise his eyebrow in a wry expression that can only be appreciated by someone who has seen it in person.

Even the learned and erudite Professor Darren Ashmore, who knows me as well as Roger may, give out a small gasp and a giggle .


Surprisingly, one of my favourite places to go when in town was not a games store at all. Hell, this was 1980 and high street stores were scarce. Games Workshop was still just shy of 2 years from arriving.

One of my favourite haunts was Rackhams, latterly House Of Fraser which, had a really chic (by 80s standards) coffee house and a 'Knobs & Knockers' franchise on one of the upper floors.

This company specialised in door handles and fittings, of an astounding variety and with a keen eye for design and quality. I was enthralled at the colours and varieties. The shiny bright plastic mouldings in ergonomic shapes, the beautifully hand enamelled handles, the.... Oh my, it moistens my gusset, even thinking of it.

The only place better was the clothing departments in Schofields about 100 yards away with the free jukebox and risk of getting hammered by some older New Romantic smoothies. One particular trio, each in a leather suit of a different hue (burgundy, blue and grey iirc) used to take great pleasure in trying to corner us in the lifts every Saturday, terrifying the life out of us.

Admittedly as we got bolder, we baited them. This generally involved two of us giving the posers  some lip, whilst the other of our group held the lift doors open (having pressed the button which would take them either down into the bowels of the store or the top floor; both out of bounds to the public), dashing past them as they entered the enormous lift car to teach us a lesson.

Of course, as the doors closed, we waved to them before leaving them to explain to the staff why they were in a forbidden zone and why the lift had been held up. It was usually long enough for us to get to the jukebox, select a dozen rock and new wave tracks and perhaps listen to one before our nemeses returned and the world went pear shaped.

I digress...

I really started to get a feel for design, and over the years I would develop a fanatical love, or more precisely a yearning lust, for soft furnishings and ceramics as well as a respect for Scandinavian design. I don't mean that tat which IKEA touts, but serious hard core, minimalist design which cost a dragon's treasure trove but would last longer than you.

I never really indulged myself as the years passed. Frankly until I was 30 and managing (later owning) Dungeons & Starships in Sheffield, I had no money. We were, as I have said before, Third World poor - Really...

However, what that taught me was to buy things that were pleasing to the eye, which would last and moreover, it taught me to snatch any opportunity which presented itself. Up to now, this has been exercised mostly on artwork, but I have acquired a few choice items - cushions, coffee services and the like.

The odd thing is that when I get a taste for some retro games, I get an equally strong urge to look at 80s militant left wing art, and fondle some seriously good fabrics or stroke some quality glazed pottery.

And so it was that this morning, as I searched the internet for another Aberdeen Terrier (Scottie) to go with the four existing members of the Fackham Hall pack, I found a few interesting adverts for old models. Moreover, in the margins of the screen, I saw an advert for a small collection of Poole pottery from the time I was managing D&S, but which ticked all my retro styling boxes as well as having the tactile and visual keys which made it necessary for me to go and shower again and change my boxer shorts.

The items were local and the seller was happy to drive over at lunchtime and exchange them for a three figure sum. and so, treating this as some type of holistic, synchronicity-driven sign, I checked my safe and spent a little of the contents on 5 pieces of Poole 'Galaxy' ceramic ware:

 The only thing which could have given me the same buzz, would have been a visit to my favourite supplier of domestic soft furnishings, where the price of a cushion can bring tears of pain and pleasure at the same time, as you caress the fabrics (or as I always do, simply thrust my head into the display) and read the price tag...

And so, whilst some of my associates, may be referring to me as a 'Screaming Quent'. I think that Roger and Darren, who are men of taste and sensibility may be able to adjust to my coming out and and sharing this tale of forbidden fruit and unknown pleasures, in time being able to face me in public with smirk or raised eyebrow.

Incidentally, this is my favourite cushion weighing in at about 9lbs and being about 55cm square:

The smaller cushion was marginally less expensive but when I tell you that the larger was a 25th wedding anniversary gift from my wife, you'll appreciate that I look after it because she'll never spend that on a cushion again, I'm sure.


Saturday, 17 November 2018

Plenty Of Swedes & Not A Single Turnip In The Whole Pile

The first couple of days this week were spent painting the display models for the new modern Swedish range from Heroics & Ros.

As is the case with all of the new era H&R models, the detail is great and a joy to paint, if demanding at times, due to the meticulous detail and skill of the sculptor.

The models even have the goggles on the helmet rims, as equipped to Swedish troops.

They are a little odd to paint as the Swedes commonly have green painted weaponry, so that as a painter you feel a little bit 'lost' when comparing the process to most other armies where black and brown, act to break up the green and camouflage somewhat.

All in all, these are stunning models and a welcome addition to the equally stunning range of Swedish vehicles already produced by H&R.

You should be able to see them this weekend at the Warfare show in Reading, as I fast tracked the completed models down the H&R HQ on Thursday.


The Un-wittily Titled Post

Look, I just couldn't be arsed to come up with a title, OK? Don't judge me...

To be honest, it's been one of those weeks where I have been working flat out, to the extent that my internal monologue has been turned off, and I've not done my usual 40 hours of mulling things over as I work, formulating opinions, posts and vitriol. I'm sorry.

BUT, the city is taking shape. My regular gaming opponent Dave had taken the MDF mountain home with him last Saturday, and immediately - or so it seemed - he was into it like a beaver in a wood shed.

He dropped me a few pornographic images, mid week of the TT Combat 'Star Store' model, and I'm really pleased with what he's doing, because as you know I've been quite vociferous in the past about my homicidal feelings towards MDF. Dave convinced me that if I had the money and stomach to buy it, he could build the models.

As I understand it, the fittings are not being 'fitted' to ease painting by the Memsahib. Likewise, the signage on all buildings is being left unattached to facilitate easier colouration.

Midweek, I also turned my thoughts to rules which could be used with the city, and I ended up acquiring 'The Chicago Way' from Great Escape Games and the 'Shut It - Geezers' & 'Vice Palms' rules from Killer B Games. Chicago Way looks pretty straight forward, but I'm not sure about the use of cards. I'll give it a try though, because like the MDF, I may be converted.

Yesterday, I received a soft package through the door (no not one of those packages, because at Fackham Hall we'd set the dogs on anyone doing that) which contained my custom mat from Tiny Wargames, based on their 'Chicago' mat.

It's 6x4 feet and much like the MDF, has made a convert of me because I've always been a traditionalist when it comes to scenery and playing surfaces. 

This really is a super product. It's lightweight, very clearly printed and more importantly the designers seem to have looked at how a real street plan is laid out. I can't wit to begin populating it with the MDF real estate.

Those are big areas to fill, and I can easily do it with buildings to spare.

If you haven't already taken a look, I really urge you to go over to

I've been fleshing out the concept for the 'living city' and I am going to lay out a plan for the area of downtown, circa 1925, and write up background for each building as well as the stats for notable citizens, including motivations, morals and dirty secrets. 

If for some reason a citizen ceases to inhabit the building or a building is destroyed, the plot will be left bare for a while and a new structure built, or taken over by a new proprietor, tenants etc. As the decades pass in my timeline there will be more modern buildings and possible areas of gentrification due to an influx of Hipsters seeking cheap but spacious places to raise a brood.

This may of course result in knee jerk riots by long term locals becoming priced out of the area and the need for police intervention if it all gets out of hand. Perhaps, the work on the basement of that long abandoned property that Jeremy & Jacasta picked up for a trifling fifty thousand, has upset  a family clan of Deep Ones who have lived there since the mysterious fire of 1909...

You can see, I've not thought too much about this.

In non-gaming news this week, the latest instalment of the 'Rivers Of London' series by Ben Aaronovitch was released on Audible. It's very enjoyable, but I can't help but feel the author is trying too hard to push the idea of London being a diverse place. At times he simply sounds like an apologetic white guy which sort of cheapens the story. I'm all for a varied cast - it can only be a good thing, but the way in which Mr A goes about it sometimes feels contrived.

But as I said, it's a great book and it's twisting the established timeline in new directions. I'm listening to it over a 3 or 4 day period as I work, so that I can savour it rather than simply binge out in a single day.

On a more sober note, I also bought the new album from gothic avant garde maestros 'Dead Can Dance'.

After the tour de force which was their last album 'Anastasis', I had very, very high expectations for 'Dionysus'

Sadly, it was not to be...

Now I am a 25 year fan of the duo, but I am pretty cold to this album despite initial positive thoughts when I played it for the first time.. The album is broken into two sub-divided 'acts' rather than a straight A-Z track listing. As usual the cover is modern and handsome, but the musical content lacks any kind of advancement form where they were in the 90s to my ear.

Brendan Perry writes some wonderful lyrics and his voice is only matched by perhaps David Sylvian at his peak. Lisa Gerrard has a haunting vocal range, relying on glossolalia (look up 'speaking in tongues') rather than actual 'language', and together they can make angels weep.

But, this album sounds as if it is made up from cast-offs from the 'Spirit Chaser; album, with a nod to 'The Serpent's Egg', perhaps with a few lunchtime noodlings from Hans Zimmer (with whom LG has worked repeatedly) and, at around 36 minutes, it's the aural equivalent of a quick post-night club shag in a doorway whilst the pizza place over the road prepare you different kind of 10 inches.

Very disappointing.

As I type, the postman has just arrived with a smile - or maybe a grimace - his arme literally filled with goodies.

It appears to be unsurprisingly, a mass of vintage lead,  two rule sets from Killer B Games (very hefty) and a map from Great Escape Games, which was absent from the sealed copy of 'The Chicago Way' which I purchased from 'The Pit Gaming'. Kudos to Great Escape for promptly resolving a problem that the store seemed to be unconcerned with, offering a refund rather than doing what I did, myself and asking the publisher to forward the relevant part. Well done, Great Escape!

And so, I will leave you to enjoy your weekend in whatever way you se fit.


Sunday, 11 November 2018

All Systems Are Go, But The Wallet Alas, Is Empty...

Well, the last week has been a very expensive one, but a very rewarding one in hobby terms.

My buildings arrived from TT Combat and Warbases.

It's worth pointing out that the Warbases order had an incorrect model in the shipment, but to their eternal credit they rectified that straight away and asked me if I'd keep the incorrect model as an apology.

Absolutely sterling service, which, will see them getting a lot more custom in the future.

The models have now gone to my mate Dave, who really enjoys building things, and as he's recently found a taste for MDF, he staggered from Fackham Hall last night with a heavy box of buildings and a bottle of wood glue.

My old school Chaos collection is getting somewhat ridiculous as I happened on several lots this week, which have conspired to begar me for a little while:

This is on top of the tidal wave of purchases arriving daily here at the Dark Tower atop Fackham Hall. Such is the flow, that I fear I will need to get the Memsahib, Virginia, Lady Of Chaol Glenn to rustle up a spreadsheet lest I miss something. She does it rather well, as all those who know of her legendary organisational skills will testify.

I have genuinely lost count of the total number of Greater Demons I've bought, so I am spending today with paint stripper and adhesive in an attempt to make some sense of the situation.

The only downside was a rather sordid little exchange with an eBay seller named Goldfishblue, who upon being politely told that offer they submitted to me was too high, then wasted an hour sending me desultory messages, which have simply served to lose them my trade on a permanent basis.

Manners cost nothing - Unlike bad manners.

And with that, if you'll excuse me readers, I must away and shower, grab a coffee and get on with it!