Thursday 27 April 2017

Beast in the Broch

I have been trying to find the time to make this post for a while now, but ‘Salute’ and the new academic term have rather conspired to derail any, and all, my best laid plans.

Still with a couple of days left in April, there is still time to act and so I just wanted to draw your attention to a post that I read on Edwin’s wonderful ‘Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomatist’ blog.  The long and short of it was that having made the decision to go his separate way, Graeme Dawson, formally of ‘Crooked Dice’ has set up ‘Beast in the Broch’ as a solo venture, taking with him the Future Freedom Fighters range.

Now I have fond memories of Blake’s 7 from my childhood and have long hankered after these miniatures, especially having seen them in action on Simon’s wonderful 'Fantorical' blog.  Having missed out on the 'Crooked Dice' not Dr. Who range, I decided that the time was right to add some Future Freedom Fighters to my collection.  Now let’s be clear about this, I have no idea how and when I will use them, a morally reprehensible standpoint to some,  but there was a wave of nostalgia that washed over me when I saw them and it was inevitable that my already suspect willpower would eventually crack.
Well crack it has and with the decision made all the sweeter, by the very generous 20% off in April when you subscribe to the 'Beast in the Broch' mailing list, I can confirm that I now have a collection of Future Freedom Fighters and jolly nice they are too!  Such great sculpts, wonderfully crisp, with little or no flash - not to to mention delivered in good time, great service Graeme, thank you!

To complement my purchase I treated myself to the Blake’s 7 box set, a Dutch import as it was considerable cheaper - I just need remember to turn the subtitles off!  I had forgotten just how good it was.  Yes the special effects are ‘of their time', but the Orwellian themes and rapport between the actors was certainly better than 'Young Master Awdry' would have appreciated at the time, all this and that theme tune; one of the best perhaps?
I just need to resist the temptation to add a couple of packs of Federated Security before the end of the month!


Sunday 23 April 2017

Salute 2017

Safely home after what felt like a very long day, it is time to reflect, albeit briefly, on the mighty hobby jamboree that is 'Salute'.  I have to confess that I very nearly didn't go this year, even having already bought the tickets, which incidentally I realised that I had left at home half an hour into the journey - thank goodness for smart phones!  The truth of the matter is that I have been feeling a little under the weather having picked up a summer cold, nothing too serious, but it is conspiring to make me even more grumpy than usual.  However, buoyed by the irrepressible enthusiasm of my good friend the 'Provost Marshal' we set off on what was to prove a relatively stress free, if somewhat tedious, journey.

We arrived at the venue just after eleven, in time for a goody bag, but avoiding the queueing system and set about gorging ourselves on all the wondrous hobby eye candy.  Although I didn't have a shopping list per se, I did bring my pocket money and it wasn't long before I was doing my bit for the economy.  On the crude subject of money, I did spend a lot, especially when I consider the areas of 'Awdry Towers' that have fallen into a dilapidated state and are in desperate need of decoration and here was I spending money on toy soldiers!  I have managed to square this away by restricting my outlay to the money saved in my piggy bank over the course of a year.  From one Salute to the next any pound coins not snaffled by the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' are squirrelled away and then cashed up ahead of the great event; simple but effective.  That said the cost of Salute has been troubling me of late and there had been a number of conversations before the event about whether or not it was worth it?  I have to confess that I was starting to think the same as just my entry ticket and train fare meant that I was over £50 down before I walked into the venue, add a couple of foaming ales and a pasty into the mix and it really is starting to make my wallet wince!  Just out of curiosity, I totted up the potential savings in not having to pay postage and packing this morning and even when with over estimating from the seven different companies that I had bought from that total only came to £28 - something isn't right here.

I have no doubt that I will continue to go to 'Salute', but I need to stop thinking about it as a shopping trip, that is clearly nonsense.  What 'Salute' does if feed my creativity just by seeing all the wonderful tables, painting and sheer enthusiasm that there is for this most wholesome of hobbies gives me such a boost.  A very important part of that boost is meeting up with the fellow bloggers and once again I was delighted to catch up with some old friends and just as importantly put faces to names of new ones.  So to finish the now compulsory swag photograph, although I have just realised that a couple (or four!) packs from 'Sarissa Precision' have missed the photo-call.
I did take my camera and managed to take a couple of shot of things that caught my attention, but as the day went on and I became more weary the camera was put away.  Two wonderful ideas for Bushido boards, one a snowy demo board by 'GCT Studios' themselves and the other a superb showpiece by '4 Ground', both outstanding! 
A couple of examples of the some wonderful demo boards that caught my eye, Frostgrave still interests me, especially when the table looks this good. 
 I don't think anyone could fail to be impressed by the 'Renedra' Castle, it is a thing of beauty, but who can afford to buy it?  The one at the show is bigger than the catalogued large castle so I'm guessing somewhere in the region of £300?
This 'Crooked Dice' demo game really made me smile, especially seeing the 'Ironsides' docked by the rig, certainly something to aspire to.


Thursday 13 April 2017

We Three Kings

In the run up to Christmas a flurry of emails passed between fellow challengers Stefan, Sander and myself as we started to come to grips with the idea of joining forces in order to produce the Curtgeld required to meet this year’s entry requirement.  This was always going to be the highlight of the challenge for me as the idea of collaborating with two friends over three countries in order to produce a single coherent piece was a challenge we all wanted to be part of.
There were several ideas floated as to what to do, but we all felt that ideally we should submit something that might fit with one of Curt’s existing collections and before long we were all thinking Italian Wars and in particular Landsknechts.
This in turn pricked a memory and after a bruising and exhaustive search of the loft here at ‘Awdry Towers’ I fell upon my quarry.  Some years ago I had been gifted, from my good friend the Provost Marshal, a collection of 'Redoubt Miniatures' Landsknechts, these were little vignettes and so seemed perfect for the job.  
True, their appearance was a little ‘of their time’ and perhaps lacked some of the finesse of modern day sculpts, but nevertheless they seemed to fit the bill.  Unable to decide which of the groups of characters to work on we agreed to have a go at finishing them all and after the random distribution of miniatures (random in so much as I closed my eyes and counted them into piles, they were duly packed and posted to the continent.
We bravely attempted to embrace new technology with a group web chat to discuss tactics and colours and it was during this that I discovered the more mischievous side of my compatriots as when deciding on colours it was agreed to go for a particularly odd mix, perhaps in a bid to encourage Curt to create his own, equally resplendent unit in response. How we chortled.
After our initial exchanges things fell a little quiet as we all started to get on with our own personal challenges, but I am delighted to say that we have finally arrived at an outcome.  I can’t explain how thrilling it was seeing the miniatures reunited and then assembled to the bases and if I have one regret it is that Stefan and Sander couldn’t see them together before they were sent to Canada.
This proved to be my final post of this year's challenge and I am delighted that it was to showcase the collaboration of Sander’s, Stefan’s and my own work as we fulfilled our obligation to provide Curt with a suitable memento of our involvement in this year’s ‘Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’.

Also added to the 'Command Stand' page.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Everything stops for tea.

Just the briefest of posts today as I have just realised that I hadn't posted this small collection of loosely themed miniatures that were part of my efforts in the 'VII Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge'.  In the back of my mind, I have an inkling that the new 'Congo' rules are something that I need to have and in order to justify that purchase, I have dusted down a few bits and pieces that might be suitable. 
Various manufacturers on show here, Copplestone, Dixon and Northstar, I believe, but do correct me if not the case.  I was actually quite surprised at how many potentially suitable miniatures I already have for this departure and so who knows where this may lead?

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Colonial Steam River Launch

I think that it would be fair to say that my challenge did not go exactly as I planned insomuch that larger* units of historical miniatures were been overlooked in favour of smaller, more interesting items. I am squaring this away as a direct result of my inability to focus on one thing at any one time and although initially frustrating I decided to embrace it wholeheartedly and enjoy the ride - so to speak! 
*larger for me anyway
To that end let me present to you one of my last offerings to the challenge in the shape of a 'Sarissa Precision' Colonial Steam River Launch.  Whilst I know that not everyone is a fan of the seemingly relentless march of MDF in our most wholesome of hobbies, I have to confess that I am a bit of a fan.  I really enjoy putting these kits together and in the case of the 'Sarissa Precision' models there is plenty of scope to add your own personal touches.  
Having said that when it came to mine, I shamelessly cribbed much of the colour palette and additional extras that I had seen on the Sarissa display stand when I last visited 'Salute'.  The Coal Sacks were sourced from 'The Battle Forge' and I affixed some rivets to the boiler before swapping out the somewhat angular funnel for a more cylindrical piece of tube.  
As with all MDF models, priming is essential as the nature of the material means it will absorb great quantities of paint if you do not.  That said a liberal spray with 'Games Workshop' black undercoat seemed to do the trick, followed by a couple of passes with the trusty airbrush before the details were picked out with a brush.  
Once completed, I set about looking for a suitable skipper and felt that a 'Wargames Foundry' Stouthearted Brit, enjoying his cup of Earl Grey was perfect for the job, but wait, what was that breaking the surface of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River?
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I am often misdirected by the smallest of things and in this case it was the notion that there might be something lurking beneath the waves, ready to ensnare this humble craft. Perhaps lured by the rhythmic thumping of the steam pump, something long forgotten has been stirred from its slumber. In this case some plastic tentacles from my 'Rum & Bones' Kickstarter sufficed and they seemed perfectly responsive to paint. Not content with paint alone, I used a little Vallejo water effects to give the impression of them breaking the surface.
So this was another entry for the challenge completed, but perhaps more importantly another itch scratched.  Maybe the launch will resurface in a 'Congo' scenario, or be seen ferrying troops ashore along the Irrawaddy, but either way it has proved another hugely enjoyable distraction for yours truly.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Dinosaur Detector™

It will not have escaped many, that I have a ‘thing’ for dinosaurs.  I’m not sure why, but as a small chap something about them sparked my imagination.  The different shapes, the different sizes, the ridiculously long names that a precocious young Master Awdry seemed to be able to reel off at will, all combined with a heady mix of fear and mystery; yes it is true, everything is better with Dinosaurs.

Now a tad older, if not wiser, this love of all things prehistoric is as strong as ever and occasionally the passion is indulged.* One such indulgence is the recently discovered Dinosaur Detector™ – surely every Dinosaur lover’s perfect gift?
* The less said about the six foot inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rex that resides in my study at school the better!
I can’t deny that I was a smidge sceptical when I first saw this listed on a well known internet auction site, the scepticism somewhat heightened when I recently discovered that the company has changed the listing description, which you can see here, but all said and done this did present a thoroughly reasonable investment.

In a fit of childlike enthusiasm, I brushed aside all doubts and clicked ‘buy now’ and didn’t give the matter another thought until, that is, the Dinosaur Detector™ arrived on the doormat of ‘Awdry Towers’.  The excitement was palpable as I fell upon the package and in a ripping frenzy only matched by the king of lizards himself unearthed my prize!  Following the instructions to the letter I carefully filled the dinosaur detector with water and waited…
and waited, and waited.  In fact just when I had given up all hope and had started to scour the company’s webstore for a returns policy something amazing happened – another shudder and it was clear to all, the dinosaurs were coming!
Now good reader you have been patient for long enough so it is only fair that I share with you my record of this morning’s adventure.  I leave you with incontrovertible proof that my Dinosaur Detector™ is fully operational and hope that you enjoy the rest of this first day in April.

Post Script
To see another Dinosaur Detector™ in action you might be entertained by the following link: "Where's the goat?"

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