Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Seventy-Five Bloody Pounds? (Slight Refrain)

Chris (Vaults of Nagoh) raised a interesting point in yesterday's comments that £40 for Space Hulk in 1989 equates to £78.80 in today's money therefore WFRP III's RRP of £75 isn't that far off and we've just temporarily forgotten how old we are now. I can assure you I bloody well knew how old I am this morning when the alarm clock went off at half-six....

Now that monetary figure is interesting, because on my wargames club's forum discussion about Space Hulk I worked out that Space Hulk 2009's RRP of £58.70 (note for non-UK readers; Value Added Tax got cut from 17.5% to 15% recently to try and stimulate the moribund economy hence why all UK high street prices look really odd now) was £39.72 in 1989 land. So who's right?

In all honesty I don't know. I thought my figure seemed low when I calculated it (for a modern GW sticker price to end up being only 17p off it's inflation-adjusted figure twenty years ago struck me as so coincidental as to defy belief - assuming it was £39.99 back then) and Chris's high. In defence of my figure I remember that in 1989 I could combine pocket money and birthday/Christmas money and get a GW game - at the equivalent of £80 this would have been an impossible dream and probably not even practical as a Christmas present.

Three GW prices have stuck with me over the years, lodged away in the back of my tiny, little mind.

For Christmas 1987 I had the hardback WFRP and it was £15. Christmas money went on 40k Rogue Trader which was £12.95 at a high street store in Wolverhampton which was cheaper than GW Birmingham - probably would have been another fifteen quider if I'd gone to the GW. In 1993 I went on the bus to the Merry Hill centre in Dudley and bought Space Marine for £34.99 - that was a big boxed set of lots of plastic so Space Hulk four years earlier must have been priced similarly.

Anyway you can't directly compare costs from then with those from now because the World has changed - improved computer use has certainly brought the cost of prepping manuscripts and the like down and while oil is dearer now, the plastic moulding technologies must surely be cheaper.

What's perhaps more important is to compare this £75 price with other equivalent prices that are around today. Last year I bought Trail of Cthulhu from Leisure Games - I thought it cost me £20 but was probably £25 since the Leisure Games website lists it at £26.99. So that's a modern RPG in the modern hardback book format of similar "physical" standing (i.e. binding type, paper quality, pagecount etc.) to every other similar game on the market and it costs a third of the price.

But WFRP III is full of bits - ToC is just a book. So the direct equivalent is probably something like Arkham Horror - Leisure Games price £42.99 and the beast is so heavy that they have to charge extra for postage. Talisman - £39.99. Space Hulk 2009 - a game so beautiful and with components of such high quality that the game is practically game-changing (sorry...) for the industry - £58.70. These are all bits-heavy games and they are all significantly cheaper than WFRP III. And it's not my fault (or your fault if you are another WFRP player) that FFG decided that the game had to have a million pieces of card. If BMW decide to gold leaf the interiors of their cars driving the cost up to astronomical levels they can't come complaining when I decide it's just too much to justify the outlay. I didn't ask them to do it.

Now there's another matter we have to consider with the boardgames - they are complete. WFRP III requires the players to use all manner of physical components, cards, special dice etc. and only provides for three. So it's technically a four player game alright, but one of those is the GM so effectively it's only a three player game. And what's usually declared to be the optimum number of players in a game?

That's right, four. Check every staged photograph of an RPG session. Four players. Check every made-up transcript of a session in every RPG rulebook. Four players. So either player four will have to go out and buy the "upsell" to join in or the cost of a set of bits for player four will go on the £75 cover price.

I think it's obvious what I'm getting at. This is shockingly expensive and can never be considered as an impulse purchase. It's not complete unlike all the other expensive, bits-heavy board and Eurogames. I feel this is going to miss it's target with such a whimper it will defy belief. FFG are attempting to sell an RPG that is so different to what has gone before that the old hardcore of woof-ruppers won't be interested and is so bloody expensive that newbies could buy three RPGs for the same amount or just buy one RPG and enough supplementary material for it to last them years.

It's £75. Yes the Euro price will probably be cheaper because Sterling is weak. But the price differential between all the other games on sale in gaming stores in Holland and Ireland (to pick two Anglophone examples in the Eurozone who will be receiving the same printing) will surely remain the same. Surely somebody must have looked at the costings and what they'd have to charge the customer, and sat down and wondered if the thing was too far removed from what people recognise as a pen and paper RPG and questioned whether this was a good idea at all?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Seventy-Five Bloody Pounds?

(Back when it was all proper in the days of White Dwarf 92...)

I've just had the weekly mailshot from my FLGS. This new not-WFRP, the bastard child of 4e, CCG and the WFRP name will cost £75. Shame that, looks like I'll have to forego a copy in favour of my other, cheaper, hobbies such as off-shore powerboating, collecting vintage Bugattis and snorting coke off the buttocks of expensive prostitutes.

I assume at that price that I will never see it played and it will do precisely nothing to dislodge the installation base of 1st and 2nd editions. In other words, no effect upon me whatsoever.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Links of Leng Episode 1

With my newly resumed interest in Trail of Cthulhu causing me to wander off all over the net looking for interesting research snippets, I thought I'd start an occasional series of links for mining for Cthulhu scenarios. The idea is to to post with five links, each a potential gem for inspiration for Keepers. This means various matters Fortean, occult and generally just social background of the interwar period.

Magdalene Asylums

Let's start with a subject that has received some press in recent years, the Republic of Ireland's close links between Church and State and how that has devastated the lives of orphans and victims of society. This wikipedia article talks about the Magdalene Asylums, horrid "fallen women's homes" designed basically to hide away and punish women who were guilty of various misdemeanours such as prostitution, pre-marital pregnancy and the heinous sin of actually being a victim of sexual crime (rape, child sexual abuse etc.). The unfortunates committed to such were essentially forced to work as slave labour, most often in laundry work, and suffered all the regular abuses to be found at a place of confinement where little or no accountability exists. Many modern commentators hold that the existence of such places is directly tied into a strong misogynistic streak within Roman Catholicism. While the article, and subject, is most commonly associated with Ireland such Magdalene Asylums were also to be found in Great Britain and Australia.

For Keepers such a horrible place offers an excellent location for the investigators. Males may have to sneak in or pretend to be handymen. Literally anything could be going on in such a place where the nuns and priests often seem to be hand-picked so that their particular perversions and cruelties could carry on without the general public being alerted. Investigators will no doubt be shocked to discover de facto slave labour carrying on with the apparent connivance of the authorities in the British Isles in the 1920s.


Fictional countries are an excellent idea for Keepers. They avoid all the nasty problems of avoiding anachronism and player knowledge external to that of their characters. Syldavia is a favourite of mine, being from Herge's Tintin books, most notably King Ottokar's Spectre. This 1939 book shows Syldavia under threat from external Fascism and therefore nicely topical for users of Trail of Cthulhu's 1930s setting. Eih bennek, eih blavek!


British Great War black propaganda of the blackest kind. So hideous you have to admire the sheer gall of it's invention.

Based upon a chance juxtaposition of two photographs, one of German human remains being removed from the front in railway carriages and another of dead horses being taken by railway carriage to be rendered down, the Kadaververwertungsanstalt tale was concocted in order to convince a horrified world that the Bosche was now rendering his own war dead down in order to extract their fat for candles, industrial lubricants and bootblack.

Complete bullshit, but released into a world already half-believing tales of German atrocities across Europe.

Obviously this never happened. Except in the worlds of Cthulhu. Where maybe the facility has been demolished, but underground rooms remain untouched. Or the paperwork was lost during 1918 and the facility still stands because the Weimer republic's bureaucracy still hasn't decided what to do with it. Maybe it just closed down mid-shift and the Investigators will discover just what the place looks like when the "input" is left on the conveyors belts and left to decay for ten years...


OK, here goes. The Anglo-Saxons are the descendants of the tribes of Israel and the Bible not only states this but predicts the rise of the British Empire and it's creation of the other Anglophone nations. This means that the British are God's Chosen People and the Bible says they can rule the World. Oh, and the Windsors are also the descendants of King David's lineage just for good measure (which would presumably make the Queen related to Jesus Christ as well).

Modern DNA evidence has knocked this one on the head but it enjoyed a lot of support in the past. Perhaps so much support that people would be prepared to kill in the interests of maintaining or believing in this myth? What if it were true? What horrid piece of atavism could be hanging around in the Anglo-Saxon bloodline that had laid dormant since Moses was a lad? Read the wikipedia article here.

Temple of Karni Mata

In Desnok, Rajasthan. Dedicated to rats, where shoes are forbidden so that the rats can pass on their good luck by running over your bare feet. It's also lucky to eat food or drink water that the rats have already sampled.

Have these people never played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay? There must be Skaven hiding away in the sewers beneath this place. Contains somewhere between 6,000 and 20,000+ rats, each a sacred animal worshipped as a God. Musophobic Investigator? Send him here...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix

Does anybody else ever wake up and suddenly decide that, completely out of the blue, Game X is now a item of deep longing and lust? For some unfathomable reason I woke up this morning and decided that the copy of Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix (probably the worst named racing game in the history of racing games) that's been in Waylands Forge for the past few years is now top of my want list. I won't be there for a couple of weeks but will now be gutted if it's not there next time I go in. Then again if it is sold, it will save me the money I would have splashed out buying it. Then again, I may have changed my mind completely and not be bothered any more.

Risk Express

I know it gets lots of hate from people who've just discovered German board games and now suffer from a new-found selective memory filtering out the fun they've had with old favourites (BBG this means you) that did not originate from the Continent (erm.. except that Risk is actually French) but I love Risk. Always have done, always will do. A cracking blend of buckets-o-dice, Napoleon-complex fantasy and what I still hold to be an excellent mechanism whereby you have to keep judging how far you can push your advances, allowing for the fact that once you call a halt to your aggression you have to ensure that you are not overstretched and liable to be gobbled up by the others player's moves. BBG enthusiasts would probably rave about it if it was themed up as Swiss farmers planting carrots or something similar. Yeah, players get stamped on and knocked out of the game. War is hell. Suck it up.

In all seriousness I am aware of a big flaw in Risk, which is that it's basically the boardgame equivalent of Squash (the racquet sport, not the concentrated orange juice stuff). If one player is just a teeny bit better than the other he can make the other player(s) dance to his tune. Fun for him, not so much for the others. So Risk doesn't get played that often by the Stourbridge crew, even though the Lord of the Rings version is an excellent game. We tried Transformers Risk once with two players, the least said about that the better.

I first heard of Risk Express on BBG but it seemed unavailable just about anywhere, except possibly Australasia. (We tried to invade and seize copies but they had a massive stack of 30+ armies on there and we couldn't crack it). Then one day, about a year after I first heard of it, it just sort of appeared in at a local WHSmiths in the Christmas stock so it flew off the shelf and into my sweaty mitts. A few plays later and other Stourbridge denizens were off sourcing their own copies so at last count I believe my copy has caused the purchase of another 5 or 6 copies just within the club. For some reason Smiths picked it up for the Christmas season a year after it's release. It's now a favourite post-game-game (*) that has relegated the earlier favourite Formula Motor Racing back to the games cupboard.

So what is it?

Firstly, it's not a fast-play or "lite" version of Risk, so doesn't have the same relationship to the parent game that something like Formula De Mini does to it's parent. It's a great big dice rolling game, so manages to keep the buckets-o-dice feel of Risk, but with a board of regions comprised of circular cards. There is no movement between regions, you simply pick a region to invade and set to it.

There are seven dice, marked up with the familiar iconography from Risk. Faces are the General, Cavalry, Artillery, 1 x Army, 2 x Armies, 3 x Armies. You roll all seven and attempt to complete a lines of matching icons on a single region. That done, you roll the remaining dice and try and complete the other lines on that region. Fail to complete a line and you drop a die. Complete all lines before you run out of dice and you conquer it. Some are easier than others. You only get one shot at a region per turn so each turn you fail is technically a missed opportunity to score or bank some points.

The United States (part of the blue continent of North America) requires three lines - two of 1 Cavalry + 1 Artillery and another of 3 Armies (which could be on a single die or on two or three). If the US is held by another player the round General line must be filled as well. You can only take one line per roll.

Attack a region held by another player and you will need to roll an extra "General".

Conquer all of a continent (2 or 3 regions, although Australasia is a single-region continent) and it becomes "locked". The cards are turned face-down and can no longer be invaded. So you've "banked" these points and they may not be taken away from you, whereas regions for which you do not possess the complete set may be so if captured.

Once the last region is taken, tally scores.

And that's it. You get a nice bowl to roll the dice in (which is also the game box) but in practise this rarely gets used as the high sides tend to block the sightlines of at least some players and this robs the game of some drama as not everybody can see the bones being cast.

Initially it seems like a load of pure luck with no skill involved but after a couple of plays you learn the regions and can start to judge how soft a target they may be and whether it's worth going after one once someone else has conquered it, bearing in mind the extra "line" of a single General you will have to complete. You also have to discipline yourself into not getting drawn into long slogs to take a difficult region whilst simultaneously letting others overtake you by seizing the empty regions whilst you have your eye elsewhere. You have to decide whether to go for the easier complete continents of South America and Africa or risk it on the much-harder-to-take Europe and North America . I have been concentrating on the former and keep losing to people who capture one of the higher-scoring continents so clearly my gameplan has been lacking somewhat. I've seen Asia taken by one player just the once, IIRC this was in a game where everyone else squabbled over Europe and North America.

Amazingly Risk Express manages to capture the feel and tension of a game that has completely different mechanisms. This is a remarkable achievement when you think about it but works because you keep the epic dice rolling gameplay, the graphic design is identical to the original, continents are important and Australia remains an uncrackable early target (because of it's one region continent status once seized it cannot be lost).

Recommended, assuming that dice don't hate you. I've won this game only once out of many plays, whereas at Risk-As-Squash - I am the better player you all hate. But my Risk Express dice don't love me like all my Risk d6s do.

(*) A short, 30-45 minute game played at the end of the evening when the main game has finished and the midnight chucking out time has not yet arrived. Something of a modern phenomena spawned by modern wargames actually reaching a conclusion on the same evening on which they are started. Post-game-games need to be very portable and capable of being played with any number of players, often changing players in between rounds.

Friday, 18 September 2009

AT-43 Reversible Gaming Tiles

Latest arrival at Coop Towers is a set of Reversible Gaming Tiles for AT-43. I saw a set of these in use at Waylands Forge and decided that they were exactly what we needed for 40K Combat Patrol. Rackham stock levels in the UK are a bit hit-and-miss (essentially you get stuff when it arrives in a bulk import and then the shelves are bare until the next lot arrives) so I wasn't able to get any until this week when I got the nod from Antony that The 13th Floor had some in stock.

I collected them from the sorting office this morning. They are nice things and a great way of covering the table while remaining portable, but..

...there's a but.

You get 15. Which are each 30cm x 30cm. And our board is 4'x4'. Work the maths out yourself...

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Inquisitor 28mm - First bash

Scott H. ran a game of Inquisitor last night. None of us had played before.

As mentioned before our plan was to use 28mm figures rather than the standard 54mm figures that GW produced to go alongside the game. Mainly for cheapness, mainly because we have a stack of 28mm terrain and none of 54mm terrain and have no desire to produce and store the same again in a different scale.

Scott ran it in a slightly unusual fashion. All the players were on the same side, all members of the Amblecotius Planetary Defence force. The governor of Amblecotius had declared the system to be part of the Tau Empire and loyalist PDF factions were warring against traitors. Our mission was to follow our leader (a retired Imperial Guard veteran) to a bunker within a ruined part of a city and hold it until Imperial reinforcements landed in order to retake the world.

I played the role of Nicodemus Kole, twin brother of Barbarella Kole (played by Ash) also a loyalist volunteer in the Amblecotius PDF. We were psychic mutants and could use telepathy with each other - i.e. notes. This was supposed to be a secret but the other players raised eyebrows and suggested telepathy as soon as I passed a note to Ash.

Scott had split the game into three discrete encounters.

Firstly we encountered a guard post of rebel PDF members guarding a truck. We caught them cold and tried out the action and firefight rules in finishing them off. Nicodemus didn't exactly do much, drawing a nice bead on a rebel with his revolver only to have another PDF member steal the kill and when he attempted to dive through a window, run to a fallen rebel and finish him off - he fluffed and fell through the window, lying prone in the open for a turn.

Inquisitor uses a really nice action system. Each player has a Speed rating (Nicodemus had 5, most of the PCs had 4). You declare a number of actions that you wish to undertake up to a maximum of your speed. Then you roll 1d6 per Speed point. Each d6 that comes up 4+ is a successful action. This means that you never know at which point throughout your move the clock will "tick" and leave you halfway between actions while somebody else has a go.

For example, at one point I declared that I would - Move up to the window, aim for two actions at the rebel on the truck's cab (each aim is a bonus to a shot) and fire two shots. I rolled 5d6 but only scored 3 successes. This meant that Nicodemus got up to the window, spent two actions drawing a bead on the rebel but didn't get to shoot. By the time I got to go again, the last player to go before me shot that rebel and knocked him off the cab out of Nicodemus's sight. So everyone's actions overlap nicely and add a unknown factor as to exactly how much your own plans will be interfered with. If you are going to use all your actions to fire at an enemy you don't know how many shots you will get off before he gets to do something about it - duck for cover or fire back at you.

Once the rebel mooks were neutralised, Scott rolled the clock on a bit and moved us deeper into the ruined hive city. We then encountered our old friend Inquisitor Mugabe surrounded by rebel PDF troopers. I fired two shots into the air to alert them to our threat before they finished Mugabe off and we engaged in another firefight to rescue him. Mugabe then told us he was off to try and communicate with incoming Imperial forces.

The third part of the scenario saw us holding the bunker and surrounding buildings against waves of Tau infantry before the club shut whereby Dark Angels Space Marines appeared and rescued us by obliberating the Tau. This was just a hack-and-slash part of the game shooting at Tau and removing them from the table if Scott thought we'd done enough damage.

Good fun. The rulebook looks intimidating but the game flowed far better than I would have expected for a game with 6 players and a GM, none of whom had any prior experience of the game. I look forwards to playing another scenario. The basic system of a random number of actions is excellent and allows for a lot of inventive play.

For the record we did no conversion for the changes in scale. Inquisitor assumes 1 yard = 1 inch which matches the figure scale of 54mm figures. We kept this which made our figures half the height they should be but honestly this never became an issue.

Figure wise we used Infinity figures for the PDF, Foundry SWAT team for the rebel PDF, Mugabe was a Warzone figure and the Tau hordes were Citadel.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Iacobus and Mugabe - Better Pics

The older pics were crap weren't they? Here's some decent ones, taken properly with manual setting on the camera not just with the automatic point and shoot mode.

These show the painting style up much better I feel. Everything is flat colour with no shading and no highlighting. The closest thing to highlighting is a bit of green damp-brushing on Mugabe's chainsword bayonet to suggest at being alien blood. Then a single coat of Wilkinson's Quick Drying Indoor Varnish - Satin Dark Oak to shade and topcoat everything leaving behind a sheen that I quite like for power armour. Speed painting at it's finest - not the greatest results in the world but very, very fast and easy to do.

I usually white primer my models that are going to be painted with this technique because the dark varnish darkens everything down so you need to paint with a brighter palette than you intend to end up with. Iacobus was given a grey primer basecoat because of his grey armour but I'm not certain it affected the final colours too much.

End of the Idiot's Lantern

My big CRT television starting the process of dying at some point over the weekend. It's not quite pining for the fjords but the picture quality is going to hell in a handcart and getting worse each time it's switched on. So I've decided to do without from now on. Which feels pretty good thanks for asking.

In 2011 the area in which I live goes over to digital broadcasting only. At present I still have the old school aerial on the roof and RF feed. Quality is poor because I live in a broadcasting blackspot which didn't get Channel 4 until 1989 - I hear rumours of a 5th terrestrial channel but am unable to either confirm nor deny it's existence.

Now I generally don't watch television. In my experience people who don't watch television fall into two categories - cranks who feel it's a bad influence (such as the Father of a lad in the same Scout troop as me who wouldn't let his son watch Star Wars) and geeks. Geeks are often anti-television because they feel they have something better to do. I generally like to flatter myself into thinking I belong in the latter group, not the former.

As a result, I don't have cable or satellite television. If I wanted to pay monthly for something I don't use, I'd join the local gym.

My plan was always that once the digital switch-over occurred I'd stop paying my TV licence and relegate the goggle box to being the display for my large collection of videogaming hardware. I've always said that the latter is the only reason why I keep the bloody thing around.

Now that I'd faced with paying out £250 to replace it with a like LCD or similar I just find that I can't be bothered. Even the gaming isn't pulling me towards replacing it. I generally favour old games and while I have put many hours into emulated arcade, 8-bit and 16-bit games on the XBox I can do all that on my laptop.

Besides, the television holds nothing for me any more. Post Hutton-affair, the BBC has become a spineless national embarrassment that fails to understand the words "journalism" and "critical". It's news reporting consists of unquestioningly reading out press releases from pressure groups, showing an unhealthy close relationship with MicroSoft (again, MS PR puff-pieces read out under the pretence that they are technology news items and not, as they really are, another corporate outlet for MS's abuse of monopoly position) and a wholesale acceptance of the claims of the Climate lobby, even more PR releases masquerading as news. Even the scumbag-rag The News of the Worlds goes out of it's way to undertake investigative journalism - the BBC wouldn't know it if it bit it on the arse. ITV is below contempt. Sky is out of the question as I won't put money in the pocket of that cunt Murdoch.

So there we are. Joining the ranks of the television refuseniks. The big silver box is still sulking in the corner - it weighs a bloody ton and I'm not quite sure how I'll get rid of it - but it won't be on again. I can't wait until the TV licence renewal comes around and I can smugly ignore it.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Two Dark Millenium Characters

Meet Inquisitor Mugabe...

Mugabe is an old and OOP Warzone figure. He's been painted to represent an Inquisitor in a game of 28mm Inquisitor that Scott is running on Friday. I think he'll be an NPC but in a narrative campaign where each player has an Inquisitor/Rogue Trader etc. with henchmen he would be me.

And Brother-Lieutenant Iacobus of the Spacewolves Chapter...

A plastic Grenadier Space Ranger painted up for the not-really-a-nephew nephew. I worked out a 400 point Combat Patrol army for him based upon a bunch of cheap Spacewolves that his Dad got for him via eBay, the army was short of a leader model so I've done this for him.

Both models were speed-painted in flat colours and dipped in Wilkinsons-brand tinted varnish for a superfast and tabletop-acceptable finish.

Uncharted Seas

The Dwarves got used in another game of Uncharted Seas last night - a 7 player bash at Stourbridge. Unfortunately this was probably too big a game to be played properly and while Scott did well as a dedicated umpire, I felt it dragged on a bit. Unsurprisingly no real result was achieved.

There were some nice fleets on display, Tom's Elves being especially nice. Some of the painting on display has tempted me to add another fleet to the collection but I think I will be more keen on smaller games in the future.

Next Friday is Scott's game of Inquisitor in 28mm so I look forwards to that.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

More Western Front 2mm

I changed my mind about the ground-working on the Great War 2mm. Having lived with it for a while I decided it looked far too dark and dingy which, while it may be thematically correct, didn't help the aesthetics much. It hid all the detail on the figures and made everything blur into a brown mess. I know the Great War was an ugly war but this was starting to look bad. Not to mention ineptly painted.

After some experimenting I've revised the basing technique and started using Vallejo Buff 976 as the colour onto which the brown flock is tipped rather than the Revell Khakibraun 86 I was using before. This looks a million times better, the castings "pop" out and the texture looks three-dimensional rather than flat. Water-logged ground remains a mix of blue and grey with white blending highlights/reflections. I'll be using this from now on and might re-base the dozen or British bases I'd already done in the darker form.

Three companies of Tommy Aitkens with machine guns and a piece of Low Countries cathedral. The water-logged ground will be gloss varnished after the bases are sprayed with Citadel Purity Seal.

I've already got a nice, "green" basing technique sorted out that was used on my Thirty Years War pike and shot figures but wanted to avoid any grass on these bases, being as they were intended for the period from 1915 to the Kaiserschlacht and Hundred Days Offensive. Grass flocking would have lightened the bases and brought the models out but was thematically wrong.

So what happens next? I'm in Waterstones, I see the Osprey Campaign for the allied counter-attack at Amiens in 1918, known as "The Black Day of the German Army" buy that, get home, put the kettle on, sit down with a cup of Assam and the book and lo and behold! All the pics of the Amiens offensive show troops fighting and marching in nice pastoral fields and villages and intact woodland all a long way from the shattered Golgotha of No Man's Land and very reminiscent of the landscapes of summer 1914. Oh well.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Space Hulk Has Arrived!

And it's heavy. Very heavy. And I haven't opened it yet... thinking of doing a grand opening of the shrink wrap at the club on Friday as I know there will be a lot of interest in the beast.

GW Merry Hill not only had a large pre-order list, they had a reserve list for people waiting for a pre-ordering customer to change their mind - apparently their "shelf" stock has been taken back to Lenton in order to fulfil all the pre-orders. I strongly suspect that you won't be able to get one off the shelf in any area of the UK with a high population density come Saturday (official release date).

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Through circumstances far too convoluted to relate and not overly interesting anyway, I ended up accompanying some friends to Parabellum in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter on Saturday.

What a discovery! A fantastic model shop close to the city centre, and a proper old-fashioned model shop at that. The sort of place where you have to draw your shoulders in to avoid dislodging stock which is piled up from carpet to ceiling. I didn't think places like this existed any more. I found a 1:32 scale Jap car kit that will end up as a Scalextric kitbash at some point in the future and was so impressed with the breadth of what soldiers you can get in plastic 20mm these days that I picked up a box of Caesar Miniatures "WW2 Chinese" (actually Sino-Japanese War) which I knew Dave O had been after for ages.

So the shop scores heavily for massive range of stock, pokey-ness and the fact that searching around you could find potentially anything in the dust somewhere. A great shopping and browsing experience, far removed from the sterile environment of, say, Modelzone at Merry Hill.

Black Country Bugle on Fromelles 1916

A local newspaper article about our casualty on my Mother's side who fell at Fromelles in 1916. The newspaper is actually dedicated to local history rather than current events. As you can see my parents are appealing for anybody with a closer DNA match in order to try and identify his remains, if present and recoverable from the excavation.