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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

2019- A hobby/hobby business retrospective

The nights have drawn right in and weekends are filled with Christmas visiting, so with not much hobbying left for the year I feel I can put pen to screen for a retrospective of the year. Plus, if the Conservatives get back in after the election tomorrow all positivity is likely to go out the window so best write it now!

This time last year we had just bought our first house and the first 4-5 months of 2019 were spent making it our home. I'm still hoping I will get the staircase finished before this Christmas... One of the highlights from a hobby perspective was, of course, having a dedicated games room.

With the new windows it made for a lovely light summer of painting and sculpting. I think I need a winter set of lights for my overheads though, the warm yellow LEDs are fine for atmospheric gaming but not much good for painting eyeballs!

Of course, with the renovations I didn't get to finish my Tale of 4 Gamers skaven off, hopefully they'll get picked up again in the spring. There's actually not much left to do on them, just highlights on the rat ogres and some basing.

I did, however, manage to get my snotlings together for a game at BOYL, and started a few more projects in the summer with some halflings and orcs joining a motley collection of small armies. As always the intention is to be able to take them off the shelf and work on them when the mood takes, but the reality is that I have far more ideas than time!

Last winter was the start of a wave of Kickstarters for Oakbound, getting the miniatures range upscaled for the new edition of The Woods. Goblins, gnomes, some festive mummers, pixies, woodland creatures, bucca and gnawlochs all rolled out with minimal problems and the fae and hobyah are fast approaching fulfilment. No runaway successes and the Annwyn campaign did rather less well than hoped (due in part to Kickstarter being mired in controversy over its union policy) but a solid core of backers got us through each successfully. I think it would be fair to say there's now a small but strong following of our particular style of miniatures and I am very grateful for their enthusiasm. It was also great to be able to feature miniatures from Martin Long, Philip Hynes, David Powell and Charlie Earl in our range. It's not often I can afford to commission or purchase sculpts but a lovely treat when I can.

The big Oakbound news this year was the release of the second edition of The Woods. After taking the first edition print run around shows for three years it was a great surprise to sell the same quanitity of the second edition in just 6 months! We did our first Salute, ran some demos with the great guys at Bridge Troll Hobbies and followers of Oakbound on Facebook grew from 200 to almost 1000 through 2019. The new book was featured in thee editions of Miniature Wargames and a number of podcasts and online reviews. It also let me commission art from two of my childhood heroes, John Sibbick and Tony Hough which was a real delight. There was a low point of the year when the paid-for print run of books did not arrive in time for Salute, despite many promises. The company responsible still has not sent me any books and despite a successful court ruling in my favour I have not been able to recover the money. The run was saved by a very generous friend who leant me money to have another batch printed (by a reputable UK printer this time!) and with Kickstarter funds and the sale of the Factious Waste miniatures range to Effin Cool Minis I was able to repay the loan to get back on a level footing again. The big challenge now will be going forward into a new print run. I am currently fighting with the Print On Demand section of Wargames Vault which keeps rejecting a file set up exactly to their specifications... Even if I have to bite the bullet and remake the whole book on InDesign we'll get there in the end. In the meantime I still have ten copies from the first print run left if anyone is desperate to get their hands on them.

There was some more exciting news in the summer when I heard that after eighteen months of bouncing between the UK, Canada and Germany my license to produce a figure range for a childhood favourite had been approved. Sculpting is underway and 2020 should see an RPG, miniatures game and miniatures range celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Dreamstone. If you've not seen it, give yourself a treat! Speaking to producer Martin Gates, artist/creator Mike Jupp and composer Mike Batt about the project has been just the latest in a series of meeting childhood heroes this year which includes the aforementioned artists and the legendary Brian Froud.


With the evenings drawing in and work getting busy it's been hard to keep a hobby mojo going these past couple of months. I am slowly grinding away at more orcs and am looking forward to a few days off to get the mob together properly. I have also picked up a copy of Trinity Battleground, the surrogate Necromunda I played in the 90s when I couldn't afford a GW boxed game, so it would be great to get some of that on the table. Speaking of tables, when I couldn't summon the energy to do any painting or sculpting I managed to knock out a few hedgerows and am now pretty psyched about how GW LotR my game board is looking. They add to the rock formations and trees I did for my display at Salute in April. Just need to get some more games on it now, so feel free to come over for a game if you're in the area!

It's been really nice to be closer to my friends in GROG (the Gloucestershire Retro and Oldhammer Games group) this year and to get to play more games. The group's expanded a bit in 2019 as well which is nice to see, even if we have also lost a member to the pull of Nottingham. A recent surge in interest for trading card games has meant I've managed to get the Magic and Middle Earth cards out again and have been blessed with decks of Dredd and Star Trek cards. Deck building is another brilliant activity for dark winter evenings when the painting muse is not upon me!

Moving has, however, taken me further away from the Concord Gaming Convention committee. We've managed to meet a few times in person and via skype and have a great lineup planned for 2020 with guest speakers, tournaments, traders, RPG sessions and live musical comedy, so hopefully it will end up being a nice weekend out even if the monthly meetings and Sunday game sessions aren't so easy to attend.

Of course the shadow of Brexit and the constant political chaos in the UK has cast a shadow over the year, and may well do for years to come. However I have been blessed with so many good friends and acquaintances, so much enthusiasm and generosity and so many opportunities that I'd just like to finish by saying a big thank you to everyone I've spent any time with in 2019, and even those who have just left comments on various parts of social media. It's a privilege to know such splendid people. Here's to a happy hobby 2020, cheers!


Monday, 2 December 2019

Golden Gobbo 2019 winners

And that is voting closed!

Thanks to everyone who took part, painting and voting. It was a close-run thing right up until the last weekend but we have our winners:

1st place- Ketil Trout's Goblin Chariot

 2nd place- Vintage_Warhammer's Mutant Beastman

3rd place- Orjetax's Thunder Warrior

Well done chaps, prizes will be on their way to you soon.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Golden Gobbos 2019 Entires

It's time once more for the glorios Golden Gobbos painting competition to be judged! This is the annual Oldhammer Forum paintfest and always attracts a lovely array of vintage and curio miniatures in varied style. It's a free-for-all open competition which Ketil Trout has managed to once again push to its fullest by entering another giant goblin 'scenic base' complete with chariot animals... I'll say no more.

Here they are then, this year's entries. Once you're done gazing at their wonder and beauty you can vote for your favourite here: VOTING THREAD

The winner, 2nd and 3rd place will get small prizes.

(I'm told he really glows under blaclight... probably best not to ask why)

(Restored and revitalised)

(Who're you callin' Space Marine'?)

(Much sought-after by quack doctors the old world over) 

(He's a dwarf and he's goin' adventurin')

(We tried to tell John it wouldn't be fair if he entered...)

(disclaimer- this is NOT a mini painted by John Blanche!)

(See this? This is an elf this is)

(Riding his mighty scenic base)


Well done and thanks to all who entered!

Friday, 25 October 2019

Orctober Fest 2019

I painted some orcs.

I realised that I only had two sets of orcs- my Goblinoids set which live in their nice display cabinet and my Heroquest orcs. What I needed was some gaming orcs!

Sadly prices of classic Citadel orcs seem to have gone up even more than when i was doing the Combat card thing a few years back. In fact I don't think I could have begun to do that project with today's eBay prices for these chaps. There must be thousands of them around, I guess people just love them and hang on to them. I did have a couple kicking around and managed to pick up a few broken models but it seemed that the best way forward would, like with my undead, be to find old-school still-in-production miniatures. This seemed quite difficult. Most of the available orcs were knock-off red era cartoony without being anything like as well sculpted. Those that caught the look exactly (like Knightmare Miniatures' Kev Adams-sculpted, ex Crooked Claw) are still too pricey for me to get more than a small warband's worth from, I may as well get the classic Citadel ones.

In the end I decided that rather than try and capture the Citadel look I should go for another orcy classic, Angus McBride's LotR illustrations. This was especially relevant as I've just got back into playing the ICE Middle Earth CCG and GW LotR skirmish game again.

Many years back I bought some Wargames Factory plastics to make an Angus McBride orc force, but they were really too spindly in my view to do the job well. For this attempt at an orcy rabble I turned to Alternative Armies, Ral Partha Europe, Denizen Miniatures (Paul Strivens goblins) and a Westfalia goblin that fitted nicely with the Citadel Monster Starter Set I'd wanted to paint for a while.

I think they turned out as a nice orcish rabble.

This is all I've managed for Orctober, I have another 40-ish orcs waiting to go (archers and boar riders mostly) but time is in rather short supply at the moment. Nor are these strictly finished, there are some details left to pick out and a couple of broken weapons still to fix. I want to put a big banner on the Monster Starter Set ogre. They'll do as my Orctober contribution though. :)

The orcs (and goblins) on the right are based on 20mm slottas and will probably count in WH as goblins but to my mind they are all orcs. After all, Tolkien didn't draw a clear distinction and there are clearly orcs and goblins of various sizes in his writings.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

All along the hedgerow...


One of the things that bothers me about modular scenery is how visible the joins can be, especially with straight edges. I've attempted to put extra flock along the sides of mine to blur the seams but with only limited success. I decided what I really needed was some hedgerows and ditches to bridge the joins and soften the straight lines. 

The base for these modules is 15mm thick MDF which sits between the two modules, ensuring that the hedgerows are fixed in place and giving me a deep area to carve ditches and plug trees into. To break up the resulting grid look I made the hedge modules different widths so that the base boards would become offset from one another.

Here's a photodump of the 11 modules I ended up building. Scroll on down for some close-ups and look at the materials used.

Here's a selection of the ground cover used on the modules. I've tried to mix up the textures a bit to give a wild look and indicate a wealth of different plants growing over the terrain. Because I was keen to crack on I haven't done a step-by-step photo guide but the basic process is as follows:

After shaping the base board and cutting any ditches with a router and dremel I applied a generous dose of readymix filler to each module. Plaster cast rocks from rock moulds, cat litter and resin casts of polystyrene stones I carved were set into this and more filler applied to blend them together.

The whole module was sprayed black, misted with a green spray then drybrushed with various greys and browns. Pigmented epoxy resin (I use Easy Compsites GlassCast) was poured into the ditches, then Woodland Scenics grasses were pushed into the wet resin to give clumps of reeds. A small amount of leaf litter was scattered onto the surface to suggest fallen leaves floating in the muddy water.

A base layer mix of black tea, green tea and coffee grounds was applied over the whole module, then a blend of Model Tree Shop foam scatters (C11, C5 and C6) were sprinkled on top. When dry the whole thing was given a liberal dose of diluted PVA. the sponge scatter soaks it up and dries solid whilst retaining its grassy look. I also sprinkled Model tree Shop static grass on whilst the dilute PVA was drying to give an additional texture and to provide shading around the hedgerows. The path areas and patches under trees were left bare of sponge scatter but had leaf litter (green tea mostly) and fine sand sprinkled on. A sparse sprinkling of pink and red flock (leftover from some cheap Chinese model trees...) gives an indication of flowers.

 The dry stone walls are resin casts of walls I built from fuller's earth cat litter.

The hurdle fencing was created from aluminium wire, brushed with readymix filler for texture.

The big trees are twisted wire, covered with a thick mix of powder filler, paint and PVA. The trunks were then drybrushed with greens and greys. The foliage is lichen glued in place with PVA, painted over with diluted PVA and sprinkled with first Model Tree Shop C11 medium sponge scatter (to give shadow) then more lightly with Model Tree Shop C15 fine sponge scatter highlights.

The hedgerows are a mix of lichen, Model Scenery Supplies lump foliage (similar to Woodland Scenics olive underbrush but more solid), Javis tree foliage (which has an excellent two-tone look giving shades and highlights all together) and cheap Chinese trees. With the trees I sprayed them with a dull green before attaching them (they were too garish before) and gave them the same highlight treatment as the big trees with PVA and Model Tree Shop C15 sponge scatter.

Hope that's helpful to somebody. I'll try and take (any!) more step-by-step photos next time and will get some pics of a full set up soon.

Lord of the Rings anybody?


Fimm McCool's

Fimm McCool's