Tabletop Wargamer Blog is no more…


Its a sad but valid day today for its time for me to retire the Tabletop Wargamer blog that I had begun in an effort to show everyone my own personal efforts in wargaming at home away from work.  I got a collection of Ion Age and Flintloque miniatures, I got a fine gaming buddy, I got terrain and even a spiffing table upon which to play…but… Time was not on my side.

As it happened the wargamers who provide me with a living were far more keen on me penning and testing rule systems and fiction than they were on reading about me playing!  That is fine as I have to add that I have found it hard to get the time for focusing on my own efforts and I do not want my own efforts to compromise the happiness that my work brings others.  Lastly exciting projects have developed that will need more of my time and involve blogging so you will all see me on another blog soon enough.

So Tabletop Wargamer is no more.  Thanks to all those who contributed comments, emails and more to the fifteen thousand views it built up.  If anyone wants any of the content from the blog, pictures, scenarios and such I have them but most are already on Barking Irons Online for you to read free.  They are in the HOF Fire-Team and Flintloque pages on the whole.

‘I am numbers not a free man!’  To paraphrase ‘The Prisoner’.


Salute 2013 for GBS


The Shirt and the Badge

Well that is Salute by for another year and while others have posted their reviews of the show (very few this year compared to previous years, or perhaps I am missing them) I have just got to it as its a long trek home and the wind down afterwards always takes a day or so.  So how was the show for me and for Alternative Armies?


The front of the mighty Excel Centre home of Salute 2013

Personally for me I thought that Salute 2013 was down on last year in terms of attendance and that the average spend in the trade hall was lower too.  How do I know this, well I don’t for sure but I can guess at it from the following information.  No que at the gents toilets at 1pm, only a minute’s wait for a coffee at 2pm and a virtually empty hall half an hour before the doors closed.  The crowd was never all that dense at any trade stand.  As always the Warlords were polite and helpful and the Excel staff were excellent.  The weather was lovely and the traffic shuffle out of London was easier than normal too.  Oh and I noticed some of the free plastic miniature sprue that was this year’s entry gift left laying once all the stands were broken down so I have a good half dozen of them!

For Alternative Armies it was a good day considering the above and while the total take was down on last year the overall month of promotion (which ends this Friday) was WAY up on the year before mainly due to a great pulse of SHM, Laserburn, Security Force Alpha and HOT orders on  So all in all it was a super top month for the company.

I did not purchase anything this year at Salute which is odd and for once I did not get offered any freebies either (not a lot of give away for me awwww!) but it was kind of my plan as what I did want to do with my wargaming budget this month and what I got for doing Salute was to get a brand new wargaming table.   So no new rulebooks, figures or terrain but I did get the table TODAY and its a beauty but more on that in another posting.


A photo for the Typhon demo game 2013

I have also decided that I will not be doing any more demo games at wargame conventions myself as I did not get to play Typhon myself at all.  My attention was taken up with conversations, hand shaking and other duties.  It seems my infamy is too great just to toss the dice all day anymore.  Thank though to Craig Andrews of Barking Irons and Orcs in the Webbe fame for fielding the Typhon game four times in the afternoon.

Eve Hallow attended Salute for the first time this year and he did an excellent post about it too.  He travelled to London with my good lady wife…but he did make her carry his dirt filled coffin all the way to Excel!

Great to catch up with Edward Jackson, Steve Young, Bob Naismith, Sam Croes, Craig Andrews, Bill Hilton, Sandy B, Rob Alderman, Elton Waters and Russ Grey on the day; you guys make the trip worthwhile alone.  Thanks also to the hundred plus wargamers who spoke with me I can’t name you all but I took all your input and suggestions onboard and thanks for the kind words too.


Feel the Force in one to one scale!

So good result all in all.  I will see you there next year!


A Week Until Salute 2013


This Years Salute Badge

It is seven days now until the biggest wargame show in the world takes place down at Excel in London.  Salute 2013 is a lot of fun for me on the day.  A chance to meet and greet, chat and play a game or two as well.  But it is a ruddy lot of work before hand as well.  Those who work in the wargame industry will this week be spending their time making stock, filling orders, packing racks, painting miniatures, counting books and more besides.  I often think that some wargamers do not realise that in our time of automation this industry needs a person to create every miniature and fill every blister pack too.  The materials in the massive hall at Salute will most likely represent a million hours of effort on the part of the traders.

How will I and the company do on the day?  Who knows!  It is all part of the excitement for me and every year is different as the ranges and products we offer evolve and change.  This will be my twelfth Salute in a row and maybe the fifteenth I have attended.

I will say it a lot on the day but I want to say it here as well to all the customers of Alternative Armies and :  “Thank you all for keeping me in the best job in the world!”


A Day of Photography…painful on the eyes!

Its not often that I spend an entire day on one central task but today was such a day.  Today, with the assistance of my good lady, I photographed all of the professionally painted releases for the next three months for  This came to more than three hundred images of roughly seventy unreleased miniatures from the HOF, HOT, SHM ranges crafted by six different designers.  We take photographs very seriously with the aim of showing the actual miniature in the best light and with no software trickery involved.  So many hours of thousands of watts of light and positioning figures resulted in some great shots but left me with eyes like a Blood Hound!

The vast majority of the new miniatures are in the HOF 15mm Science Fiction range and all but a handful were painted over several weeks by Eve Hallow.  He is an excellent miniature painter with an eye for colour.  Its also his birthday this weekend so I will be standing him a Lady Juniper or two at the local hostelry and giving him a wee gift but for the moment I will tell you of his first gift.  He is not only a miniature painter but an aspiring sculptor too and his first miniature will be hitting the SHM range this week… coincidence or what…on his birthday weekend.

I am not allowed to show you all the images I took (don’t even ask…you would burst with the thrill of it!) but I will sneak out a few in the coming weeks and for now I give you what is coming out this week.  The Jelly Cube by Eve Hallow, the Criat Mercenary by Will Grundy (another first!) and the icky Biomorph by the excellent Eli Arndt.  Enjoy!


The Jelly Cube

Jellies Cubed!

Jellies Cubed!


For Scale. He’s Jellified!


Criat Mercenary…gurr!


For Scale with Human Cultist


Eli’s Biomorph from the front


And the Rear…urgh!


Julanna…love ya baby!

Baroness Julanna at the head of her Knights

My good friend Sam Croes has just posted up a piece of art by the talented Emel-de-Syrs.  The art shows Julanne a baroness of the League of Canlaster at the head of her Retained Knights.  A scene from the Ion Age universe taken from the MOTH game book.  I really like this image, its got pace and drive and scale too.  Makes a fella want to go AWOL from the Prydian Army and join the rebel Canlastrian ranks.

Well done Emel!


Two Mad Weeks and a new Postage Image

Self Gratifying…only a bit!

Two weeks ago I posted about an offer that was putting on that would give free postage on all orders for any address in the whole world.  That would be on an order for anything or any number of orders too…which as it turned out was just as well!  I am knackered and rather sweaty from the extra effort!

What a fortnight it has been for the company.  It turned out that thanks to email campaigns, website promotion, blogging posts and word of mouth that not only was order volume up by a large degree but we also sold items from every single range we have including codes so odd that we do not keep them in regular stock.  Customers placed two, three, four orders across a week or more and we had orders from half the nations of the world.  Most of the orders were as normal from UK, Europe and North America but there were a whole load from Australia and New Zealand (as I had predicted).  While it will be another week until all the orders placed are sent out I think we dealt really well and the majority of orders went out in our normal two day turnaround right up to the start of this week when the strain started to show.  Even so that is still a fast turnaround and as one email said ‘dear I live in Illinois and my order from you in the UK arrived before my order on the same day from a company in this state!‘.

I do not yet know if economically it made sense to make this promotion as numbers are still to be crunched but in sheer number of orders it can be concluded that wargamers love getting free postage more than any one single promotion on a range or a percentage discount on product codes across the website.  If it did make business sense and I think it might well turn out to have then we may make this offer again during the festive season.

As an aside there were several emails and one phone call that I took during the offer that asked if we took credit cards (we do) and if we charged different postage rates normally by world region (we do not).  This set me thinking that perhaps the existing postage image on the header of might be out of date or a little confusing so donning my virtual design hat I put together a new one.  You can see it above.  It is bright, clear and easy to understand conveying the idea of postage and telling of the flat worldwide rate. Below it are the standard icons for Paypal and all the major credit cards.  We will see if it makes a difference.


Beware the Were-Chickens of Beesdone!

Uncle Rogipoos and Jose survey their new premises!

A few weeks ago Tony Harwood asked me to do him a little favour.  What is it you ask!  To send on a gift to Roger Willcox, or as he is better known to the Notables Yahoo Group ‘Uncle Rogipoos’.  I was delighted to do this for Roger as he is a very entertaining and stand up fellow who often makes me laugh with his crazy tales of adventure on the group.  Also to help out Tony who is a very talented modeller and fan of Flintloque.  Above you can see the item which was the gift.  The coop of the Were-Chickens of Beesdone.  I could not resist having a look and taking some pictures.  This image shows the coop along with Uncle Rogipoos and his pet Armadillo Jose, two miniatures from the VLE10 set based on Roger’s characters.

I can say that Roger got the gift in perfect time for Halloween as Tony asked me.  He did open it a day early and I accept the blame for this as a recent bad head cold made me forget to email Roger and tell him not to open it to the 31st!  But hey ho.   I know Tony is planning a book on his wonderful terrain, perhaps the coop will feature in it.


Free Postage – The Quest of all Wargamers?

Does this image make Wargamers Happy?

At the end of this week will be acting on input from a large group of wargamers all over the world who have been asking, cajoling, begging and so on for a ‘free shipping’ promotion on the website.  All of these messages basically came as feedback to our two months of ‘one week offers’ which while on the website were mainly distributed through Mailchimp as HTML emails.  This offer was suggested on almost all of the messages that came back to me.  Based on this I have been thinking that perhaps ‘free shipping’ is the number one wish for wargamers, especially those far from the UK such as in Australia  and New Zealand, even though has the same basic postage rate for all regions.

As everyone knows I like to aid wargamers where possible so it will be interesting to see what reaction has to this offer.  Will it increase order volume, will it mean more orders from far flung places or will wargamers not take to the this offer preferring a deal such as those on certain miniatures or ranges as I have been organising through Mailchimp.

If you are reading this and have an opinion on this offer then please do comment or email me directly.


The Thinker’s English Adventure!

This is a rather special post as it is not about me!  It is a short account of the trip my eldest son, ‘The Thinker’, took to the south of England two weeks ago (yes, it has taken me this long to get to it!).  This trip took him on nearly one thousand miles of road and not only to the Uk’s biggest military modelling show but also to a famous garden centre and the site of one of Europe’s most pivotal battlefields too.  While I have written most of the text here anything that appears in italics is by his fair hand and straight from the horses mouth as it were.  So without further ado..the Thinker’s English Adventure!

Sunny South!

After leaving Scotland with his grand parents on Friday morning the Thinker headed for Folkstone.  I had to get up very early and then I sat in the car and watch all of the films I had on my DVD player.  It was a really long ride in the back seat but I had fun and I got to eat in the service station for lunch and then a ‘beefeaters’ for my dinner.  It was warm and sunny on the Saturday morning and you can see me above sitting on a bench.

Smile though your glue is drying…

Saturday 22nd September was Euromilitaire day (well one of two!) in Folkstone and the Thinker got to go along with the throng!  This is the largest military modelling show in Europe and he was under instruction to bring me his loving father some scenics and bits and bobs back from the show.  We got there early and I was excited (but you would not know that from my tired and stern face above!).  It was very, very busy and I took a photo of the hall which you can see below.  We spent hours looking at everything.  My favourite things were a scale model handmade of the Millennium Falcon from Starwars and a special unique figure (150mm) of a space man in his armour.  The spaceman is in the second picture below.  I had a good time and want to go again!

The Hall all Athrong!

Spaceman in Armour

 The Thinker had a big day and as you can see below he likes nothing more than planning out his grub for the next morning.  I was tired after the show but my Papa insisted that I go to bed early but not before choosing my breakfast from the menu.  We stayed at the Premier Inn and it was really nice and comfortable.  My Gran said that now we had been to the show it was time for us to do some things she wanted to do.  So I got a big sleep and was ready for more! 

Decisions, Decisions!

On the Sunday the happy trio headed along the English coast and visited a few places including Battle Abbey at Hastings where he learned a bit about Saxons and Normans.  It was raining all day and I got wet a few times, but I enjoyed the Abbey and now I know about Harold and his eye!  There was no Battle but then I was told I had missed it by a thousand years!  Once we left Hastings I had lunch and then we went to Gran’s favourite place the  nursery at Great Dixter.  I don’t know much about plants and flowers and neither does daddy!  Gran enjoyed this a lot and we saw lots of insects like Bees.  That is me below at Battle Abbey and Great Dixter.

Abbey Tymes

The sprout among the plants!

With the trip nearly over the Thinker spent most of the Monday travelling back to Girvan with a brief stop in Nottingham to visit his most favourite Uncle James.  I did not see him until I picked him up on the Tuesday from school since his Gran refused to give him back!

I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot on this adventure and I would do it again.  It was great to see the models and the battlefield and Uncle James too.  Thanks Dad for letting me type on your blog! 🙂


Ladies and Trolls!

This week Alternative Armies will be making its late summer, early autumn releases.  I have been working on these for a few days on and off to get them ready and they are a lovely little lot indeed.   Several new Trolkin for use in Flintloque and in Slaughterloo along with the first female Elves in the whole range (aside from the Empress Morgana of course!) all of whom have been sculpted by the talented Rob Alderman.

Trolkin come from the frozen land of Copendaz and are the lesser cousins of the huge Trolka.  While smaller these Trollish soldiers share many of the same characteristics including stony skin and bulbous worty features plus a habit of wearing clothes too small for them and are more than a match for an Orc in a fist fight.  There is a great free booklet which I wrote that can be be downloaded from the company website (here is a link to get it from this posting) which gives the reader a mass of information on the Troll races plus great artwork by Edward Jackson.  The new miniatures include Colonel Skande Stoyne whose character was set in a Notables Yahoo Group competition last month (see this previous posting) and a character from the Troll booklet the owner of the Marske Company, Towern Marske.  Also a dead Trolkin in the uniform of the Lergo Line (a lot of wargamers like to put those who fall onto the wargames table).  These releases are another stage closer to the agreement that Rob and I had on bringing the Trolls to a full divisional force which would include cavalry, artillery, infantry and command.

The last of the releases is the Elf Ladies.  I have been looking forward to this pack for a while as I was the one who said ‘there is a real gap here, we need more woman!’ while playing Flintloque back in the spring.  Three lovely miniatures, a young strumpet, a wife of middling means and a more mature woman.  Really useful and top of my list for more Flintloque miniatures over on TTWG blog once I have the Elf Dragoons sorted out.

I have put images of the new miniatures in to this posting for you all to look at.   Both painted and raw metal alloy.  You will be able to find these white metal miniatures on Alternative Armies as of this Friday.

I have a Flintloque scenario for Barking Irons Online which features these new miniatures plus a full section of Dogmen Lancers and some Burrovians.  It has been playtested and I plan to do a concept posting on TTWG blog once time allows.