Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Wayne England

I have some sad news to report. Wayne England died suddenly this morning. I am sure all of you will agree that his contribution to the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 (and beyond) was considerable. Thinking back on a lifetime of enthusiasm over his work, the front cover of White Dwarf 110 springs to my mind instantly. An inspiring and iconic image that launched a thousand marine armies in the 1980s. 

But then, Wayne England was an inspiring and iconic figure in the gaming industry. He will live on through his astonishing body of work. 

Thoughts go to his family at this time. 


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Things that go bump in the night!

I hate it when a paintbrush goes. You know what I mean, don't you? One minute you are painting away, master of the paint's destiny and the next... Splodge! The point of your brush just doesn't want to co-operate and ends up splitting in two! 


Then comes that period of scrabbling around for a new brush to work with. Getting used to it's quirks and idiosyncrasies can take time and for a while at least, you lament the old one's loss.

That is where I am at the moment. Perhaps I should say, I am between brushes? 

I find speed painting great fun and often urge all and sundry to have a go themselves. Set yourself a time limit and just paint. It is liberating. 

These two nasties were born out of the need to change brushes. I knew I'd only get two or three models out of my current one, so snatched from the leadpile two simple figures that could be completed in a few hours. The first is the Old Hag from one of the villagers/townsfolk releases put out in the '80s while the other is the classic reaching Citadel mummy. 

The light was as dim today as you would expect in England during February but I managed to capture these nonetheless. 

More soon. 


Friday, 29 January 2016

eBay: A lament

Looking back, I can see it was a Golden Age. And like all such wonderous times, I was totally unaware of its existence until it had gone. I could, obviously, be talking about the years Bryan Ansell ran Citadel Miniatures, and his magnificent design studio produced exceptional models, games and supplements to support them. 

But I am not.

I am talking about eBay. 


As a miniature collector, I have passed through the atypical phases of the grognard. That initial early period of high aspirations limited by poor funding (otherwise known as youth) to the wilderness years of indifference as booze and girls take over. But like an insidious poison, the desire to collect (and sometimes paint) little lead men slowly drips back into your subconscious. You pass a Games Workshop in the mid-nineties and peer through the foggy glass of the store front. Before you stand the 'next generation' of the company's target demographic, buckets of dice in hand, egged on by the wild-eyed enthusiasm of the redshirt. He looms large, like a overeager cultist at a religious rally. 

You pity them all, for they were not there in the 'beginning'. They're just not aware of what has been lost. Looking over, you see the miniature display cabinet in the window. The miniatures on show are largely unfamiliar to you, though you can still recognise the basic humanoid factions; inexplicably they are nearly all painted red. You may even pop in to purchase a model for old times sake, and a set of paints too. You while away a few hours at home working on it, reminiscing on the miniatures you have had, and the ones that got away. 

Then gradually you learn of a place online where 1987 chaos thugs are being traded. You meet a bloke who proudly fields an impressive unit of them at a local GW, who goes on to explain that the website in question is called eBay and the whole enterprise is reasonably safe as you can pay with a cheque. Later on, as the familiar chimes of dial up gurgle across the living room, you remember that moment in time and type eBay into the Alta-Vista search engine you always use just to see what all the fuss is about.

Well done grognard. You have discovered eBay!

Chapter One

I can remember that moment well and it was awesome. Now, I know that the Americans have overused that word to such a degree that the adjective has lot its power to communicate a feeling. See the game last night, Chuck? Yes - it was awesome! What did you think about the new Star Wars film, Starbuck? Yes- it was awesome! Want to play a game of the new edition of Warhammer, Butch? Yes - it is awesome! But in truth, that moment in my life was mind-shatteringly joyous. It was awesome in the true sense of the word. For there, on my computer screen, were all of the miniatures I had ever dreamed of owning for sale in their thousands. No matter how obscure the search, results would ping up almost instantly and a bloke in Petersfield could sell me a Perry Chaos Chariot for a few quid. 

Of course, it was all auctions then. You have to wait and see if you succeeded in your plans to pick up the miniatures you wanted. Early on is was fairly simple and almost sporting, much like the beginning stages of the air campaign during the First World War. Missed out on Sandra Prangle? Nevermind, she will turn up again soon. And she did. But like trench warfare, the experience of bidding quickly took a darker tone with the emergence of the dreaded sniper. Oh, you thought you were winning that 1988 Rogue Trader Chaplain with the flag? Well, you were up until the final two seconds when someone dropped £2 on top of your 50p bid. I am sorry, but you have been outbid.

But such things were tolerable, and hell you even joined in with the action when you really just HAD to have that model. I can remember pulling late-nighters just to jump in at the last instance with the hefty bid of £3.77 to get my hands on Skrag the Slaughter. There were just so many listings all of the time that, to me at least, it didn't matter if I missed out as there was always five or six other juicy lots to have a flutter on. 

After all, everyone who was anyone posted up their listings with a starting bid of 99p! 

Chapter Two

Overwhelmed by choice, I took on a rather whimsical approach to collecting. I called it '99ping', after the trend I has just described above. There would be easily twelve pages of 'dwarf' models alone when I typed in Citadel dwarfs 80s into eBay's search engine. I'd run down the results placing a bid of 99p on anything and everything that took my fancy. I'd not bother to snipe or track the auctions, I'd just pop back later and reflect on what serendipity had netted me. 

Joblots were great fun. People had yet to realise that 'more money' could be made by selling models individually with a crisp photograph. These were the collecting equivalents of pot luck and the fag smoked stained parcels were a revelation to unwrap once they arrived at your door. You'd discover models you did not even know existed.

Very early on I picked up the Machineries of Destruction Skeleton Chariot in one such auction. I hated the thing on sight, thinking it crude and ugly. I discarded it in the back of my garage where, years later, I was able to retrieve it. It was to be one of my first proper 'Oldhammer' miniatures published on this blog. 

My collecting followed no real pattern as I had no goal beyond buying the models I had always wanted. I am awfully glad now that I did as I now have a very eclectic collection of odds and sods in the leadpile. 

Chapter Three

'Buy it Now' was starting to develop as I began to shift miniatures on a larger scale and twice in my life I had to resort to trading Citadel to make ends meet. Both times it worked, but I bet it would be impossible now. Too many sellers wanting you to hand over a set amount of cash rather than taking a chance. Just look at the results today; out of 19,469 lots under 'Citadel' only 2,175 are auctions, and a fair whack of those have high starting bids of £5+ 

I can remember selling as being fun. The auctions were a big part of that. I'd post up my wares with a seven day turnaround and habitually sign in to watch the green sale price grow. It was exciting to see the models I had kicking about the place unloved to go 'double figures' as collectors sought to out do each other. Sure, I was stung a few times with lots that didn't sell for what I was hoping, but  I always stuck to the belief that a model would rich its price through bids alone. And generally, they did. 

As a rule, I would always, always, always list with a starting price of 99p and a low postage cost, as I noticed that the higher you charged for 'expenses' the less punters seemed to bid. I don't recall huge amounts of unsold lots sailing by unloved either, I sold everything I listed every time. Look over eBay today, and there is an enormous amount of product just sitting there, unloved and unsold, not even soliciting a cheeky bid. 

Prices can be stupid now. I have written extensively about the subject here, here and here over the years. Back then, it seemed, to me at least, that the only stupid prices were the once created by bidders in their frenzy to own something, not the sellers in the hour of greed. 


I still have the occasional flutter on eBay. And you can still find some incredible bargains, believe me. But it is exhausting work. Scrolling past page after page of overpriced BIN models that just seem to sit there and fester. I have heard all of the justifications for this trend over the years. 

My favourite is the classic 'Scalper's Defence' of 'my prices are high so I can keep models available all year round for you!' Yes, you have got that right - the sheer cost of keeping unsold stock on eBay with all the fees that abound causes sellers to have to hike up their prices to turn a profit. They have to sell one massively inflated model every now and again to keep the whole enterprise afloat. Lunacy!

The other old chestnut is 'the market always dictates what miniatures are worth so if it sells it is the right price!' I am sure that words of this nature have been uttered in many a doomed boardroom across the world as idiot managers 'raise' those prices to order to rebalance books or please badgering shareholders. Even back in the 'Golden Age' of eBay I can recall buying models for a couple of quid at auction and a couple of places above or below the lot, the same model would be selling for twice the price. I could never work out what was going on in this regard. Could they just not see the same listings as me? 

A while back I heard a 'rumour' (though I expect it is more of an urban legend) that this whole trend of very high BIN prices comes from a single event. Some nameless company had one of those 'wild' office parties and set a lowly underling the task to buying in the sundries for the event. His (or her) budget was very high, and knowing that 'The Boss' was a hue fan of Warhammer they allegedly hoovered up nearly every model that was on eBay at the time. BINs only, of course - busy people like that have no time for an online auction. 

I have been scrolling through eBay tonight and doing so has left me feeling a little sad. I am sad that we have lost such a wonderful resource and a wealth of old school models. Of course, I wonder what part I had in the slow decline of eBay as a medium to buy old Citadel figures. When I created the Oldhammer Trading Group years ago, I never expected it to grow to the size it has. How many of the punters who used to list stuff like I did (99p all the way!) now trade through the OTC? Or hoard stuff as trading fodder, rather than peddling it off on eBay to create more hobby funds in that never ending story of the leadhead. Buy. Sometimes paint. Sell. Buy again. 

What about you dear reader? Do you think there was once a 'better time' for collecting Citadel miniatures on eBay? Do you even still use eBay to buy and sell your models? I would be most interested to know. 


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Circle of Chaos: Oldhammer style miniatures Kickstarter

I had a very pleasant surprise returning home from work today, another Oldhammer inspired Kickstarter and one that has already reached it's pledge goal flashing up on my Facebook feed! I must admit to not being aware of the project before spotting the news and I expect that there are a great deal more potentially interested parties out there in the same boat. Hence this post. 

Anyway, out of the horse's mouth is always best, so let's hear from the team responsible for these new models. 

"Welcome to the first Circle of Chaos project! We are a group of sculptors who banded together to create the most evil and chaotic minions, mutants and miscreants ever seen. Now we are letting them loose upon an unsuspecting gaming world!

These models are all scaled to 28mm heroic in order to be useable in as many different game settings or systems as possible."

"This project is being run by Curtis Fell. Curtis is the owner of Ramshackle Games and has successfully run five previous Kickstarter campaigns.
The master sculpts of the figures are all completed and ready for the mould making process. We will be using a reputable casting company to produce the models. We are asking for backers to raise the money to pay for the casting and postage.
Therefore the risk on this project is low. The only real challenge will be to make sure that the casts are all sent out in time if this project receives loads of backers!"
Curtis Fell, who I have had the pleasure of meeting during the Oldhammer Weekends, is behind the project with his company, Ramshackle Games.  As I said, the project has already funded with twenty days remaining. And at £25 for seven metal miniatures delivered to your door, Circle of Chaos offers good value for money.

If you are interested in the project, more information can be found here.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers: Plague Skeletons

This weekend was a little bit of a busy one, and Fallout 4 currently holds me in its post-apocalyptic embrace but I still managed to get these four plague skeletons finished. These are the the rank and file of the seven skeleton unit I am planning for my Nurgle force. The command models - a skeletal champion, standard bearer and unit commander remain unfinished on my paint station. The standard bearer is a conversion and needs more work, while the other two models only arrived in the post this week and have yet to see undercoat. 

I was keen to make these models a little more generic, rather than go all out on the Nurgle iconography for much the same reason as I did with the plague cart. These models will also be able to become part of my undead force, and as I have three painted metal skeleton warriors elsewhere and future ten man unit is a possibility.

These old Citadel skeletons are full of character. I used to really despise them and strongly favour the plastic models from Skeleton Horde, but actually playing Warhammer has softened my few of them, for the plastic models are so light and spindly they are so easy to break. These chunky boneheads are much more hardwearing than their plastic cousins. I also love the variation of pose, armour and style the skeletons of the '80s bring us. I think all of the major sculptors working at Citadel at the time had a crack at at least one bonehead and they sold is suitable millions over the years to make them very easy to collect now. 

They are totally crap in combat mind, but they look great! 

Unusually for me, I painted the four models as a batch, working on each area separately before moving on to the next. For the bone, I used my trusted Foundry boneyard triad. The rusted metal was fairly simple, with a black undercoat drybrushed dark silver and then orange/brown to create the rusty look, with the dark silver back over the top. I highlighted the chainmail here and there with pure silver, and edged the helmets, plate and shields with the same. As you will have seen, I opted to give each skeleton a 'colour' to add interest. This is where these models differ from my standard undead army models as they stick to a scheme of black, bone, white, metals and brown. 

As is my usual style, I knocked up a couple of shields and had a go at some tiny little freehand skulls. They look naff up close but work reasonably at a distance. 

The 'green' skeleton is my favourite of the bunch. I have always loved the figure ever since I saw one fielded by Thantants at a game in Mansfield. His collection (particularly the undead) has always been a big influence and inspiration to me. This skelly's cheeky beard (still hanging from the jaw) tickled my fancy and I managed to find one cheaply on eBay. Lovely model! 

Right, I am off once again. I have a game in just over a month (In Defence of Far Corfe) and need to produce my units over the next few weeks. Hopefully, I can get a few hours in to finish this unit before March. Until then, enjoy what ever you are painting! 


Friday, 22 January 2016

The Lead of Winter: A Warhammer Fantasy Battle Day at the Wargames Foundry 5th March

"Far Corfe was once a thriving economic centre with a wealthy and tasteful artisan class keen to patronise the arts. The key to their success? The humble wool trade. The lolling, grassy hills that surrounded the town could easily sustain thousands of sheep, and the countryside was once awash with numerous little farmsteads specialising in fleeces. The town's location, built on a crossroads to Altdorf, Erzstadt and Middenheim, also helped, as it was easy to transport goods to and from the rivers that were the pathways of the Empire.
But the town has been in decline for over eighty years. New markets and cheaper produce from Kislev reduced the profitability of wool and though still viable, the industry is not what it was. Nowadays, if you ask the average peasant in the street across the Old World about Far Corfe, they would probably speak about the 'Grand Recreation' rather than its former role as the hub of the wool trade.
Some two hundred years ago, the chief of the Airyaxe Wound tribe, Todge-Dropper the Terrible, unleashed a swarm of orc and goblin raiders against the defences of Far Corfe. Legend said that the previous winter had been so harsh in their mountain fastness, that even the warmest undergarments could do little to ward off the evils of frostbite. Swearing appalling oaths of violence on the altar of Mork, Todge-Dropper set out to destroy Far Corfe and claim their enormous stores of warm, fluffy wool for himself. He swore that warm underdrawers would be the spoils of a successful war and all of those who followed him could return home with as many pairs as he wished. 
As all schoolboy students of history can tell you, Todge-Dropper was defeated and Far Corfe was saved in one of the most remarkable battles in history. Due to a series of remarkable coincidences, field armies of men, dwarfs, gnomes, halflings, wood, sea and high elves were all in the immediate area when Todge-Dropper launched his poorly timed assault.
Dick FitzInwell, leader of the Far Corfe militia, couldn't believe his eyes when rank after rank of elite fighting men marched up the road towards the town walls within hours of him sending out the call to arms. Bjorn Whiffabigun, the dwarf mercenary captain was the first to arrive. Swiftly followed by a combined elvish force lead by the sorceress Pyria Sweetcherry. Their timely arrival meant that Todge-Dropper's vanguard were beaten back and Far Corfe was able to re-enforce itself considerably. Eventually, Todge-Dropper's forces were crushed on the wooden walls of the town, though the orc leader's body was never found.
So remarkable was the victory, that the nations of those involved continued to celebrate it years after the final survivor had died. Every ten years, hundreds of warriors would arrive in the town, from all over the Old World, for a week long festival of feasting and re-enactment. Local tribesmen were employed to dress up as Todge-Dropper's legions and a 'Grand Recreation' was fought (using safety weapons) to the delight of the adoring crowds.
Since the town's decline, the Recreation has become less and less well attended. Though all of the nations involved still send token units of troops. Interest in the spectacle is waning. Mayor Haywood Jablomi, the current ruler of the town, is now faced with being the last leader to organise the event. This year's low key celebration will be the last of the 'Recreations'.
But unbeknown to Jablomi, or the crowds that are forming inside the town, this year's event is soon to spiral out of control. For the winter has been long and harsh....
And something is coming..."

'In Defence of Far Corfe': A Warhammer Third Edition Fantasy Battle
The organisation is simple. Anyone you wants to become involved in the battle needs to bring TWO units of equal points value. ONE unit needs to be from a 'goodie race' (Empire, W H Elves, Dwarfs, Brets etc) and ONE unit needs to be from a 'baddie race' (undead, skaven, orcs, goblins).
No chaos units please - as they won't fit into the narrative as well.
All units will need a named levelled character to lead them (lvl 5 - 15) and a full write up of their stat line, equipment and special rules on a handout. No magical items - as they will be up for grabs during the game. 

Warlord Paul has suggested using these:

The battle will be fought using the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition rules, with a far greater emphasis on 'narrative gaming' rather than traditional tournament play. The GMs will be organising the layout of the battle, including the placing of all units on the table, out of sight of the players. The units you will command, as well as you position in the command structure of the 'good' and 'evil' sides will be determined randomly. It is extremely likely that you WILL NOT be playing with the models you bring on the day. 

The town of Far Corfe will be realised using the cardstock buildings from Warhammer Townscape, so if you have any of these models in your collection please do bring them along.
This battle is open to all, and if you are interested in attending please email me or sign up to the Event Page on Facebook - though you will need to be a member of the Oldhammer Community on Facebook to follow this link. 
Of course, the Wargames Foundry have loads of other tables going free, so if you fancy playing something else and want a lively atmosphere in which to game, why not come on down and join us?
We hope to see you there! 
Wargames Foundry
The Carriage Court
Stoke Hall
Church Lane
East Stoke

Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers: Plague Cart

Hello all! I have had quite a prolific weekend and managed to get a large number of models near completion. Sadly, the light is diminishing rapidly so I must reluctantly clean off my brushes and pack away until next Saturday. But, blogging is possible in any weather, so he we go...

Last month the leaderboard looked a little like this:

Warlord Paul = 8 points
Steve Casey = 5 points
Chico = 5 points
Orlygg = 4 points

And yes, that is me languishing and the bottom of the table! Not wanting to remain there for any longer than I have to, I got to work building up my rank and file for my Nurgle army. Using the list in the Lost and the Damned gives you a great deal of options, and my eye immediately fell on the units of plague skeletons. I have a large number of undead models sitting in storage as well as an embryonic undead army, so why not kill two birds with one stone and paint up some skeletons!?

Nurgle's daemonic number is seven, so any units I build will need to be grouped by this amount, or a multiple of. I selected seven suitable skeletons and set to work prepping the models. It was then my eye fell on the section for plague carts, and it appears that any player who fields plague skeletons in the Nurgle army can have a cart for FREE! So my Nurgle warband would soon be seeing seven skeletons (lead by a skeletal champion) and a plague cart to boot!

Only I hit a snag. I ran out of decent light today before I could finish the skeletons. But the plague cart that goes with them is, at least, complete. The plague cart usually costs 100 points (and even though I technically don't have to pay them) can act as this month's commitment on its own. I hope to have the skeleton unit complete well before the end of the month, but this post can be my insurance policy just in case!

I must confess to being a big fan of this model. The plague cart is a truly iconic Warhammer model that sadly disappeared from the game some years ago. The beauty of the plague cart is that it can be used in ANY game, thus making it essential to any serious old school Warhammer player. If you are not au fait with the rules let me paraphrase. The plague cart can appear on any battle field and usually travels in a straight line across the table, passing through most obstacles. It causes fear and reanimates fighters slain nearby as it trundles its way wherever! A choice piece for any GM and a regular 'event' in my games of youth. 

Initially, I tried to paint the model entirely with drybrushing but the results were less than spectacular. So I returned to my tried and tested bone recipe - using the Foundry Boneyard triad, which is excellent. I completed the undead ox first but realised that I was in danger of producing a model that just looked like a cart made from bones. How would the eye differentiate between the ox, the wheels and the pile of bones in the back?

In the end, I used a red/chestnut ink wash over the corpses in the back of the cart, before highlighting in my usual way. This gave the bones here a bloodstained look that I really took too, and I used the same technique on my other (as yet unfinished) skeletons. 

The wooden cart was very simple to paint. Just a brown undercoat washed over with black ink. When dry, I drybrushed over with my brown basecoat and highlighted with the darkest shade of boneyard. Very simple. 

In the end, I decided to paint the grim reaper rider like a ghost. If you read the background of the Plague Cart it states that the vehicle is actually ethereal so I wanted to make reference to it on the model. Again, he was fairly easy to paint and I used a dark blue/green mix as a basecoat and added the lightest shade of boneyard gradually to create the highlights. 

To conclude, I am really pleased with how the model came out and it has become one of my favourite ever Citadel miniatures. I discovered a new way to approach the painting for bone that I am keen to try again too. With a point for this post and another point for delivering my 100 point entry for the month in the guise of the cart itself, I now have six points. 

Hopefully, I can earn a few more before the end of January and knock that Paul off the top of the table!