Saturday, July 27, 2013

Painting Through the Ages

 Here are a small group of Goblins I painted back in 1984. I remember meeting someone from school many years after, we got on to the subject of gaming. He laughed and said "Oh yes, everyone remembers your blue Goblins" however, I think for all the wrong reasons.I always thought blue would be different and cool...
 I think some paint stripper might be in order.
 Here we have an adventure party of Dwarves and Halflings painted again back in the early Eighties. No shading, just straight from the pot, done!

In a way I miss that old carefree approach. I think that's why I have taken to using Army Painter so readily, It's the same process just with a dip at the end. Halfling with stringed bow...nice! No bases though.

 "Give me a row of Orcs necks and an axe..." 1987 now and I've started to play around with shading. Dry brushing was all the rage back in the money making Eighties don't ya know.

I don't think they look too bad, but then I did take much longer to paint one figure back then. I think It was a time before the twenty figure production line approach.
 Bases were layered with Poly filler then pricked hundreds of times with a needle to make grass. It took ages, today I just flock and go.

Still stringing those bows...nice! These adventurers are just three in hundreds of painted figures from the Eighties, for me It was the Golden Age of Fantasy. Mind you, I had been brought up on a crash diet of Beast Master, Krull and Conan the Barbarian from an early age. Almost forgot to mention Hawk the Slayer...It that a bad thing?
 Now we find ourselves in 2013 and things have come on a little further. I have read painting books and looked at other painters blogs for tips. The results aren't that much different for 1987, only the colours are brighter and the speed of painting has increased. Nice big easy to move grassy bases now.
I am still dry brushing but use many more techniques like layering and Ink washes. In fact I think I just Ink wash everything these days...


Bases have really come into their own now and actually have become as important as the figures themselves. Lots of lovely new inventions like grass tufts are now available to really finish things off.

The Internet has come along and with it a whole world of jazzy accessories.

 Deep down somewhere in me there is still a blue Goblin trying to get out...well a kind of bluey/grey Goblin anyway. You know, for old times sake.

Also paint systems have come on in leaps and bounds. Today after spraying on an undercoat I can choose from hundreds of premixed paints to finish a job in breakneck speed. Back in the Eighties I must have had twelve paint pots and half of them would have been dried up.

Eighties paints.

Frog Retirement Fund

Over the last couple of years I have been buying the odd Fantasy figure on eBay in preparation for my HotT Armies. Slann this days seem to go for silly money and by that, I mean really silly money. As a kid I always liked the idea of giant walking frogmen, so I ended up collecting quite a force. It's a comfort to know if anything goes bad I could always sell one on ebay and buy a huge house with a pool in Spain.

The Time Capsule from 1994


I gave myself a scare yesterday when retrieving all of my old fantasy figures from the loft. I got all of the old suit cases down and started to sift through them. It was a little odd because there were so many old memories connected to them all. Every one seemed to summon up an old emotion, location or story.

After I has sorted through all the cases I realised that I was missing hundreds of figures. I searched back in the loft and resorted the cases but to no avail. You can imagine my relief when I went back to my step dad's today and found the missing case. Phew, what a relief. So here they are, the forgotten armies of King Street.

It was a little bit emotional when I finally got them home because they had been left for decades, untouched and unopened. It was a time capsule from 1994.

 My mum is long passed now but I remember sitting on the bedroom floor packing it with her (she was laughing at me because I was being very careful packing them, a trait she wasn't used to). So It wasn't just the figures that were full of memories, It was the whole box, even the tape used to close them. Very strange, a happy and sad feeling all rolled up into one.

Mark Copplestone, a name very familiar to me now but back then I would have just seen the name, High Elf Cavalry Army! I had no idea he had started that long ago. I love his work to date, with his Foundry Romans and Wild West figures, It seems I was a fan back then aswell, only I didn't know It.

 The mighty Dwarf army of Cristeel. Well I say army, can you call a box of lead an army... more a ramble really. Anyway, this is how we used to fight with them back in the day, no movement trays or big bases, just hundreds of free standing figures. Seems funny now thinking back, It took half a day to move them in a movement turn and a sudden knock of the table could result in the death of sixty figures. We don't even talk about the hills...


Zing-zong Battle Fleet Break Through Inner Defences

There is another good reason for my move...The prophecy was true...they came!

Thank god I packed up when I did, bloody Zing-zongs!

The Final Push

 These large pieces will go into more 'Really Useful Boxes' but the next size up.

 I think when I get to the new place I will only have one cabinet, the smaller one for, display.

The dusty state of my forgotten poor old figures from the main cabinet quite depressed me. I think I will keep most of them in these handy boxes, dust free and easy to get to and move around.

Finally both cabinets are packed really for the move...Phew!

Moving Lead mountain

 The Romans lead the way into the Ark.

 The make of these boxes are 'Really useful boxes' and they were perfect for what I needed.

 Funny enough, the Cybermen loved their new plastic home, It's going to be hard to get them to come out again!

 I cut areas of anti slip matting to give my tiny horde something to hang onto in the move.

The main cabinet is done... If you click on the picture you can see the spaces in the dust where the bases were. My figures are going to need a lot of dusting when I get to the new place...yaay fun!

Boxing up the Horde

Friday, July 26, 2013

War Games Terrain Tiles

 My new house looms closer by the day and my thoughts have turned towards my up and coming war games room. For many years I have lugged a huge heavy piece of 6x8 MDF around the house to use as a gaming board. On one occasion it carved a channel out of  the stairs when i dragged it down them to set up a Roman game. It really is a dead weight and is just too big and heavy to move around with ease.

I have started thinking it's time to start over, a new room, a new gaming board. I have been thinking about terrain tiles! I have always liked the look of these and especially like the ones which are carved away to form river beds, roads and fords etc.

Can anyone out there recommend any good makes of gaming tiles for me?

Many thanks Secundus.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author Rant

I have been reading a book this week while on holiday about the memories of a war gamer's life. It tells of his childhood collecting cap guns and reading Commando comics, playing with Action men and then Britain's toy soldiers( all this leading up to his joy of war gaming). I had read all this and was awaiting his chapter on him getting his first Fantasy figures which later progressed onto historical, but no. Instead he started to rant about Games Workshop and tear holes in the whole fantasy side of  gaming. He even went as far as saying poor old Tolkien should be put against a wall and shot for his part in the fantasy genre! At this point the book stopped being much fun for me and my reading started to tail off (I swopped the book for my HotT rule book instead). I will make myself finish it as I am almost there and there might be a small chance he can redeem himself. However, once you know someone is a history purist there isn't much point reading on. He also alienated me by slagging off 'collectors' who just put there figures on shelves and dust them once a year instead of gaming with them. This really put me out because due to space restrictions It's what I've ended up doing myself. Note to self...If writing a book on War gaming, don't slag off half of your demographic.

I myself don't mind taking the Michael out of GW, after all they are greedy bast@rds, but If It wasn't for them and the other companies back in the Eighties, I wouldn't have got into war gaming at all. There is a lot of good things to be said about the Fantasy ranges and their games and even though I joke about them, I can't ignore all the hundreds of hours of enjoyment my friends and I got out of them as teenagers. Even now reading HotT, I have started to look through my old collections and enjoy them again. I haven't played a Fantasy game for well over twenty years but I can't forget where It all began for me.

Anyway, that's it, rant over.

My rant was quite nice really, after reading two pages of the book to my friend, he was ready to murder something...probably an orc or some other made up f@ck. Thanks for listening and enjoy wargaming, no matter what bloody genre it is.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving House...the Lead Nightmare

Well after thousands of years hording metal figures the time has come to finally start packing them up to move. Cupboards, wardrobes, the loft and practically every sideboard in the house has delivered a box of forgotten warriors of one shape or another. I knew I had heaps of lead in the house but even I was surprised by a few boxes, that 28mm Saxon army in the loft was wiped from my memory about ten years ago. It's a strange mixture of joy and disappointment when you find them ( but mostly joy).

My figure display cases are now empty after the great evacuation of last weekend. I prepared myself for a really stressful day, but in the end it wasn't that bad. By the end of the day units were being packed at break neck speed. I was depressed to see just how much dust had built up over the years, my French blue Currasiers could of doubled as grey confederate cavalry when I finally removed them from the top shelf. Has it really been that long since I have moved them? Storage boxes may be the way forward after this grizzly discovery.

I used 'really useful boxes' to box my figures up, they were indeed...really useful. They come in a huge assortment of shapes and sizes, so I have managed to get some to store my scenery in too. This may be the way to go in the new house as storage room is going to be limited in my new war games room. Yes, you heard right, I now have my own hobby room to mess around in. Well that's the idea anyway, but we will see.

  The new house is going to soak up a lot of free time so it may be a while before I can settle back into painting and gaming. Don't worry though, the hobby will still take up 98% of my waking life with reading rules and planning armies..always planning. It will all become good in the end once I'm there and settled. It will also be a relief to know that all my lead is in one room and not scattered across the galaxy in tiny boxes.

I have also been reminded of just how heavy a box of lead can be, with a biscuit tin of 'Black Tree Design' Ancient Germans almost pulling my arms out of their sockets on trying to move it. I'm realizing now that the packing was the easy bit...the actual move however will be another story I'm sure. 

My wife actually checked with the architect of the house to ask if the upstairs floor would be strong enough to take my thirty years worth of lead...he assured her there would be no problem. We're good to go!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Re-enacting the Prussian Landwehr

 Here I am at Chalke Valley festival of History last week. It was a boiling hot day and the dark wool uniforms became like ovens in the heat. This is me learning the drill, complete with Landwehr beard. I upgraded my sideburns for the weekend.

 It was quite hard learning a new drill, but even more so because the landwehr drill in German! After a while I started to get the hang of things as some of the words did sound quite English. I like the fact that even the language has been adopted so that we sound as well as look authentic.

 I got to fire my first flintlock musket as well which was amazing. After all my years reading and drawing history, I finally got hands on with it. I was amazed at the shower of hot gun powder that blows up when the gun goes off. It was a little scarey at first with the noise being louder than you expect, even though I hear them going off all the time next to me. I think I am now hooked!

Here is a nice group shot with most of the regiment marching in formation. My musket was a replica Brown Bess I bought ten years ago. I was very pleased to be using it in anger, as I thought It would just sit in a cupboard for the rest of it's life. I will apply for my shot gun and black powder licenses soon and when I have them, I can buy my own working musket and take the fight to the enemy. Until then, I will have to rely on the old cold steel!

 Being the man with the replica gun, It was my job to die in glorious fashion every now and then. I enjoyed this very much. I also got to play a Frenchman on the second day to help the poor old out numbered French...this was the highlight of the weekend for me.

Here i am on the second day in borrowed French uniform.

The excellent pictures were taken by Pat Patrick, Sarah Ford and Barry James Wilson.