I think I fall between a few stools with the whole miniatures lark. I kind of enjoyed a little bit of gaming when I was younger; a smattering of D&D with my school buddies, then a bit of WHFRP outside of school with an older group. We went so far as to play a bit of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was a top system. But, my first real gaming love was Heroquest, and I'd say even now that nothing has come close to matching the gift-related excitement of opening that box one Christmas when I was in my early teens. The smell of it, the feel of the figures, the board, the cards, the artwork...it woke me up to something that has stayed with me ever since. We'd get through hours of gaming at my mate's house. I was always the Dwarf. That probably signified something.
Later, and almost as excitedly, Advanced Heroquest switched me on to the slightly wider world of GW. I was even trying some proper painting with acrylics by the time I got it (again at Christmas), having previously only managed to daub some Humbrol enamels over my HQ models. By AHQ I was beginning to tinker a bit. I still remember using Moody Blue and some of the Expert set. That should mean something to some people for sure.
Bloodbowl (2nd Ed) was a winner as well; such a simple game, and the polystyrene board was mint. I remember my mate's brother telling me to paint his Dwarf team or else he'd burn me with his fag or something. I shat myself, had a pop at it, but he got so bored watching me he gave up. I never was the fastest, like.
Out of interest, anyone remember a Dragonlance board game with dragons that flew around a hex-style board, using counters for altitude? That was good. I used to love the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms jazz before I grew up enough to find proper fiction (I've never really gone back, other than to read a bit of Moorcock - another quirk in my relationship with fantasy stuff. I'm a motherfunking snob when it comes to quality lit.).
Anyway, I am old enough and lucky enough to have been able to shop at Encounter Games, High St Arcade, Cardiff, before it closed down (presumably because of the arrival of Games Workshop). It was an amazing shop, and I remember buying from there such marvels as the Star Players supplementary book for BB, paints, brushes, Ral Partha type figures and some other stuff like dice, etc. I mostly misted up their display cabinet though, peering in at some pretty shit-hot painted figures. One was a 54mm (maybe larger) topless female soldier. Not my thing really since about the age of 16yrs old (the soldier bit, not the topless bit, or indeed the combination. Whatever, I digress...), but titillating at the time. Like proper titillating. Enduring image, etc...
As well as being old enough and lucky enough to frequent Encounter Games, I am still young enough to have managed to knock about in the Cardiff GW in its early years, spending days at a time there in the summer holidays, carting my paints in and just daubing stuff on whatever I had or the store trusted me to dry-brush to a basic gaming standard (Salamanders mostly, using Dark Angel Green over Salamander Black - cutting edge it was, though I do also remember some armoured horses and a particularly cool Orc Boar Rider upon which I must have experimented with layering and freehand for the first time. I wish I still had it to see what I was like at painting back then). But, for all the time I spent there, and all the figures I bought to paint (I remember a Skeleton Horde, a classic Dragon Slayer with his foot on a decapitated dragon's head, and a gnarly minotaur with a nobbly, spiky club as per the Monsters Combat Cards below, among others), I rarely gamed. I enjoyed Battle Masters when it came out, did a little bit of WH40K, Rogue Trader era, plus a few games of WFB in store, but for me it was all about the painting.
The reason this is all relevant is linked to my relationship with Oldhammer and the collecting of mid-80's through early-90's stuff: I collect stuff simply out of a desire to paint, though my painting has been so infrequent as to be a piss-take.
Well, now, having just turned 37yrs old, and with a whopping lead collection numbering somewhere in the mid-thirties (yep, I am out of control - ha!), I have decided to get my shit together. I have my Coaties (Coat 'd'Arms for the uninitiated - old-skool acrylics that hark back to the original Citadel sets) to hand, my figures also close-by, and - most importantly of all - a desk upon which I can leave my stuff out without fear of upsetting the good lady. Indeed, after years of begging, I now have an entire space to use and abuse (as long as it's cleaned regularly, says the boss).
Some other stuff to mention: I was lucky enough to paint for a year for a salary of sorts, with a small games company. I started off quite average and moved to a decent high-end gaming level, sometimes above that to the sort of level I always aspired to when seeing McVey's, Dixon's, Blanche's, Adam's, Prow's, etc, stuff in White Dwarf, though never consistently. I then almost put myself off painting forever, worrying about how folk on Coolminiornot would judge my shizzle, and I ended up not painting much at all over a fair period of time. I once even sold all my paints on ebay, with them going to the legendary Spacemunkie (his painting is awesome, and he's a decent feller to boot), but ended up purchasinga new set in the last year or so after a massive wave of nostalgia washed over me, dragging me back to the simpler times of lead and paint. I've been feverishly browsing for figures on ebay since then, picking up what I consider are some of the more characterful pieces of the mid-/late-80's to early-90's era that has gained the moniker 'Oldhammer,' the sort of stuff that - for me - lends itself to decent paintjobs just for the sake of painting. Let's be honest, it was a very different era back then, and it's no wonder people of my age focus on it. Oldhammer is a great idea, and for me it is a way to keep in touch with the (online) people who collect, paint and game with the figures and rules of that era. I'm a lurker, but I still feel part of it. It's what I like!
We all need a hobby don't we, and I'm going to attempt to use this blog as a means to gee myself along to painting some odds and sods just for the love of it. I'll also use it to shoot shite.