Saturday, 24 February 2018

Genuinely Better Than Sex... No, REALLY!

After a week of watching and biding my time I just won a 583 piece Mike's Models Wars Of Religion collection at the very reasonable price of £510.00.

It's bang on what I personally love to see... Vintage figures, well painted and based on green filler.

I was pacing the room, with a very large rum (or two) having made sure none of my friends had thrown their hat in the ring, because I'd have been obliged to not bid, as a point of honour.

Anyway, here are the pics:


Friday, 23 February 2018

Need A Good Noggin?

Always happy to help out a friend, I'm doing a shameless plug for my mate David Woods of the Dear Tony Blair...' blog, who also just happens to be the manufacturer of the Noggin The Nog 28mm miniatures range...

Check out David's range and also think about backing the Noggin Boardgames on Kickstarter

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Crumbs! It's been a while...

I just realised that it's been almost two weeks since my last post. What with flu and my workload, I've simply lost track of time.

I have been listening to more of the Grognard Files Podcast and as usual, enjoying it immensely. I'd love to collaborate with Dirk company if the chance came up.

It really does hit that sweet spot in the memories of gamers of a certain vintage, and it's been responsible for me reacquiring several games as you know.

Now, I have always been a bit of a snob where Runequest is concerned, choosing to only buy/collect original box sets, but it struck me that it's a waste of time and money as they are increasingly fragile and using them just exacerbates the entropy.

I no longer need to prove my credentials by having that original item from my early days. I have moved on and will leave that kind of thing to those rather pitiful types who can't see the fun for the collection. So,  after shaking my fist at the screen as I listened to that damned podcast, I decided to just buy what I could from the re-prints.

My haul for last week was as follows:

2 sets of Runequest Classic rules from Blackwells £18.99 each,post free.

Borderlands and Beyond, Griffin Mountain and Cult Compendium from Chaosium, who very kindly found me all of those, lurking in the warehouse. £102.00

Trolls and Trollkin, Militia and Mercenaries, Creatures of Chaos, Balastors Barracks and The Sea Cave from eBay. £34.95

Then I turned my attention to the Judge Dredd boardgames and JD RPG, both long top GW titles and got the former for £22 and the latter in hardback along with the companion volume for £35.

I've also had a change of direction with my 28mm Renaissance project and have gravitated to the 30 Years War as it's a part of the period I'd not ventured into. I am going with 28mm again of course. My 15mm ECW from Lancashire Games should be with me in a few weeks.

I'm also considering another couple of projects which I'll go into in more detail at a future date lest I become distracted.

Going back to RQ for a moment, I was reading the Balastor's Barracks scenario in a fit of reverie and I have to say it's a bloody awful and bloody lethal scenario which leaves you wondering what was going through the minds of the authors when it was written. It's a bit too much like a traditional dungeon crawl, which I am not too adverse too, but RQ is capable of so much more. 

I've been hard at work this week on new releases for Heroics and Ros, in particular their forthcoming 6mm Cold War U.S infantry which, are rather nice indeed:

These models are as detailed as most 15mm, and Heroics are setting the standard for the WW2 & modern eras with release after reales of new ranges.

I was looking around the studio the other day and found my very first 'official' purchase at Games Workshop in 1982, in the shape of this rather tatty looking D20 which did some serious service back in the day:

I say 'official' because I'd already shopped there before it opened.


Well... (fade to 1982 in a shimmering tinkling kind of way)

I was allowed back into town with Alan and we had walked down The Moor, the major shopping area in Sheffield back then (although now, a shadow of it’s former self), which sloped down gently to the Moorfoot precinct with the imposing red brick pyramid which was the Manpower Services Commission building. I worked in that building during the early 2000s when the Home Office shared the space and it was great to look out over the city, but an absolute bugger to navigate around.

   On this, our first trip into town for a month since that fateful clash with Geoff (Or ‘That Bastard’ as he had become known), Alan wanted a record from Virgin Records, which lay in the shadow of that russet monolith. Sheffield had more than its fair share of interesting architecture back then. Of particular note was ‘The Hole In The Road’ essentially pedestrian underpass that allowed several lethally busy streets to be navigated by the simple expedient of going underneath them. Built in 1967 T’ Hole In T’ Road as it became known locally was a roundabout at the junction of four main roads. The middle of the roundabout had a hole in it like the summit of a volcano, which allowed light to pass into the large pedestrian underpass below. 

This underpass contained shops, a large fish tank and even public toilets. It was a great place to skateboard or in my case imagine I was deep in the dungeons of a fell necromancer. I’ll not waffle on about it any further but make a search on the web. It’s worth it.

   Virgin Records was not the shining ‘family friendly’ store it would become in later years. It was a dark and foreboding place as I recall, where if rumours were true, a clean living lad would meet a swift and sticky end at the hands of Mods, Punks and other ne’er-do-wells. I never went in and had my parents discovered that I had frequented a shop with such a ‘sexual’ name, I’d have been grounded for a year or so. So, whenever Alan went in there, I just hung around outside and tried to look moody and mysterious, but approachable and not in the least bit dangerous. This was not easy. Well the mean and moody bit at least…

Thus it was, with Alan in search of his record, this particular afternoon found us walking past the Hagenbach’s bakery – long gone, alas, alas - when what should I see? 

   It was dear reader, the answer to my prayers and the beginning of a life of penury in the shape of a specialist gaming establishment by the name of Games Workshop the first of several dedicated game stores in Sheffield. It was back then, with its amazingly broad range, and enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and distinct ambience, a place of almost holy reverence for my generation. It was in essence, my place of worship and weekly offerings were to the gods of games in ever-increasing amounts, a pattern that has continued ever since.

   These days, game stores seem more obsessed with ‘image’ rather than content, more about form over function if you will. In the ‘golden age’ it was more about the product, the hobby, the fun. It was all about playing games!   

   In 1982, the concept of providing the gaming public with a single ‘temple of games’ was still quite a novel one. Certainly to the uninitiated, it was unbelievable and what was more, the doors were open.

   We walked in, heads twisting, eyes swivelling, like nervous chameleons who, having fallen from their comfortably familiar treetop perch, find themselves on the back of a monitor lizard which is in the process of considering what it will be having for dinner. From all sides our senses were assaulted by literally thousands of striking box covers depicting all kinds of fantasy and science fiction theme imaginable from half naked princesses to gigantic star ships. Although we did not know back then, Sheffield based synth-pop band The Human League took their name from one of the factions in a game titled ‘Starforce: Alpha Centauri’. Just a brief aside, that shows the popularity of this type of game in even the most unexpected places.

   In the centre of sales area were wire ‘bins’ containing various special offers coinciding with the opening of the branch. My eye was taken by 4 small boxes, luridly illustrated ‘a la mode’, each containing 10 plastic figures, half a dozen acrylic paints, a terrible brush, 2 six sided dice and a set of rules. 

Each of these games presented a mini role-playing experience with all that the lucky purchaser needed. What’s more they were priced at £1.00! I picked up one called ‘The Cleric’s Quest’ and Alan, ‘The Woman Warrior’ - although the name of the other titles escapes me at the time of writing.

   Around ten years ago, I saw a set of these games on Ebay go for a three figure sum. Oh how I howled that day I can tell you, both with a sense of loss and recollection of happy times past. But once again I am wandering off at a tangent and you’ve not given me a sound nudge in the ribs.   We had been in there for about ten minutes before being approached by a member of staff. We had been so taken by the sights and odours - yes, smells, of which I will say more later - that we had not noticed a distinct lack of other customers and indeed, staff. The man approached us and said that the shop was not open. We precociously pointed out that it most certainly was, the proof being that we were in said store, having walked through the doors, thank you very much. 

How we were not slaughtered on the spot still amazes me to this day.

   ‘It opens this weekend and it’s going to be great. Do you want that?’ This said with a gesture to the box I was holding and then to Alan’s fistful of goodies.

   ‘Yes please. I’m sorry I thought you were open what with the door being open.’ I replied, my natural state of being returning, despite my indignant outburst.

   Well, we each handed over one pound of the currency of the realm, were politely but firmly shown the door, and I was thereby ejected from that store for the first but alas, not the last time in my life.

   Alan forgot all about his record. We had something new and exciting and what was more we had an inside track to the grand opening event for this temple of temptation, this cavern of game related goodness. After all hadn’t the bloke in the shop all but given us a personal invite to attend?

So, I can state in all honesty, that I was the first paying customer of GW Sheffield.

When the Grand Opening came around, that little brown nugget along with two sheets of hex paper and a comic badge made up the contents of my very first GW carrier bag, which you may have seen on this blog in the past.

As I type this I am looking at a pile of games and books next to the iMac I'm working on and I have to admit that the bold yellow box of the JD boardgame is getting the better of me and I can't wait until our next games night as I think I'll be rolling it out. After all what other chance will you get to rest Judge Death for littering?


PS: If you haven't already signed up of it, go and check out 'The Dice Men', the definitive history of GW's first (and greatest) ten years.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Of Men In Tights...

Well, this week has been very very unpleasant.

I managed to get flu after venturing to York last weekend, and have been quite poorly, with today being my best day yet. I'm far from perfect but I am on the mend.

It must have been bad, because I actually contemplated a day off work on Wednesday so ill did I feel.

My good friend Roger gave me some sage advice on Thursday, insisting take a bath with an 80s RPG book. And loom, was he right. 45 minutes with a Twilight 2000 module did me a power of good.

Last night I finally managed to place my order for £870 worth of Connoisseur Italian Wars in the form of a Swiss and a Florentine army, based on the old George Gush lists - because I like them and they are a good 'go to' starting point for the period which at least do try to match historical compositions.

In the end the butchers bill shaped up thus:


1 x 96 pike

2 x 72 pike

2 x 36 shot

2 x 30 halberds and two-handed swords

5 x knights

6 x mounted crossbows


4 x 36 pike

8 x 24 shot

1 x 18 halberd

1 x 5 men at arms

1 x 10 Knights

20 x mounted crossbow and handgun

Hopefully this will give interesting games, with the Swiss storming in against superiors volumes of firepower, cavalry harassment and a few annoying pike blocks on the part of the Florentines.

I'l add a few Perry character pieces in and possibly some artillery for the Florentines rather than the Swiss given the fast advance of the chaps from over the Alps.

I'd toyed with a few manufacturers for the project but as Roger pointed out, Gilder's sculpts look like they're doing the business with the forward lean to the pikemen being notably attractive to the eye.

They will probably end up being gloss varnished too, a la Gilder for a nice old school finish.

I am not anal about basing so the infantry will be all on 60x40 bases with generally 5 figures in 2 ranks rather than 6 to allow for a little more 'movement' which will give a little life to the blocks and, allow a degree of diorama work to be applied.

Lots of flags and command will be in evidence and the Swiss advance pike Kiel will have 16 of the 20 figures in the 3rd and 4th ranks made up from command and colour bearers, with 10 in the other two pike kiels.

The Florentines will feature Giovanni De Medici's 'Black Band' and a couple of Landsknecht styled mercenary units to add texture, with parti-coloured Italians for the majority of the remaining troops.

I am not painting them of course, but my wife has named her terms and price and was awarded the contract by competitive tender.

Now, I just need my 800 15mm ECW from Lancashire Games' painting sheds to arrive and all will be peachy.

Now, if you will excuse me I am going to have a soak in a steaming hot bath.

Until next time...


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Whatever Happened To The Traditional Wargames Show?

I remember the days when I would feverishly count the weeks and days until the start of the wargame show season.

The year began with a brilliant show here in the North where the club organised events for those attending for the weekend, where traders smiled and made money, and there was a positive atmosphere everywhere.

The club organising the show made a LOT of money, so much in fact that the society became one of the wealthiest in the country, actually paying a dividend to the members in the form of two Essex army packs and latterly a £50 voucher to be used at a local game store.

But along with this wealth came hubris. As time passed the club did less to entertain those attending and did less to help traders set up and take down. They failed to listen to those attending, those in the industry and in one memorable instance stated 'Traders are idiots.'

Basically, they lost the plot. Venues improved, standards slipped. Manufacturers stopped attending because despite repeatedly contacting the organising committee, they were being ignored. Quite literally ignored, because certain individuals could not be bothered anymore.

A rash of frankly piss poor second hand tat purveyors crept in, along with a veritable plague of re-sellers all stocking the same thing.

The rot had set in and like all Empires the end was on the cards.

It was a sad day when that show folded.

Now there are more shows filling the gaps left by this and other 'Fallen Eagles' but none of them are attracting the traditional manufacturers. The 2HTPs and re-sellers are firmly ensconced, to the point that you see no real variation in shows, no individual feel or atmosphere.

I understand that Dave Thomas, that stalwart of the trade scene is also calling it a day, so our hobby is looking even greyer...

Will we ever see the vibrant shows of the 80s and early 90s return?


Twilight Arrives And Vapnartak Passes

It's been a while since I put fingers to keyboard due to heavy workloads (no complaints from me there, as it pays the tailor's and vintner's bills and funds my rakish lifestyle) and a shorter than normal working mont, what with it being February.

Last week, I managed to get my hands on a rather nice copy of the Twilight 2000 RPG in it's 1st edition along with 7 supplements for slightly more than £100. This was more than I think reasonable, but the condition was nice and they were there for the taking.

T2000 or (WW3 The RPG as it's known in these parts) has been a favourite of mine down the years as it tied the two sides of my hobby together very nicely indeed and, being well written presented, is one of those games you can sit and read just for the hell of it.

The later edition of the game was 'sexed up' and for me, it lost some of it's feel.

I've not found the time yet to indulge myself in it's pages yet , but it's on my 'to do' list.

On Sunday, we made the annual trip to Vapnartak at York racecourse, stopping off at a very nice diner just outside of York in what was once a Little Chef. The menu was reasonably priced, the food and coffee very good indeed and it cost £10 per person including gratuities. Not for us the greasy pasty and instant beverage of York racecourse.

 I am pleased to report, the personal hygiene rating of those attending the show had improved after last year's stench-fest. In fact there was a noticeable improvement in the overall sartorial standards too, with plenty of tweeds, caps and sensible brogued footwear as is right and proper.

The show seemed a bit livelier than last year too, but I managed to spend a mere £144.50 which was later reduced to £84.50 after I flipped a £25 purchase for £60.

The day was only marred by repeated evacuations due to false alarms. In the end we just said 'fuck it!' and sat there drinking our tea and coffee.

However, this is the last show we will be attending this year, because the traders in attendance are becoming very 'cookie cutter' and there is only so much 28mm plastic WW2, Medieval and Dark Age product that a gamer needs or can look at without bleeding from the eyes.

I never thought I'd be witnessed saying 'Well, there's no point in going to 'X' or 'Y' show, because there's nothing of interest for me.'

But there you have it...


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).


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!


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



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.


    Thursday, 11 January 2018


    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.


    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...


    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.


    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.


    Monday, 25 December 2017

    And Now, Some Serious Eye Candy For Christmas Day...

    And now, I can show you all what I was working on for the 60 hours prior to my Christmas close-down. These were commissioned by William, the son old friend, Andrew Needham, as a Christmas gift.

    For my part I was of course paid, but because Andy is a Grognard of many years standing in my own affections, I went a bit further to make them special and convey a son's love for his dad.

    I did show these to another gamer who immediately asked for the same and was refused. I will only ever paint these once in 15mm. They are dated and signed and Will is a lad to be treasured in my opinion.
    For my part, I'm proud of this unit and although it was a tight schedule, it has been a pleasure to see Andy's response today.