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!