A Visit from America


GBS, Bob, Eve Hallow and wee Bob too!

It has taken me a wee while to get to this posting here due to work commitments (I am only one Man damn it!) but I wanted to tell you all about a visit of several days that I had been looking forward to from my good friend in America Bob McAlister and his family.  During a visit to Scotland last week the jolly three came by and spent a few days here in Girvan.  A good time was had by all and several field trips undertaken as well.  Bob had sent me a package last year which I posted about and I took the chance to repay him by a filling with beer at the Roxy Pub here in Girvan and getting him hooked on Irn-Bru.

While he was here Bob and I played out the Typhon demo scenario for Salute 2013 on a cut down sized playing area and yes I won but only just.  It was a close call.  Below you can see Bob and I talking shop before play commenced.  Typhon is a super game for a visual experience and my Droves of Shades gave a powerful account of themselves against Tyro and her Cyclopes too.


Getting ready to Play Typhon. Bob is the handsome fellow on the right!

During our excursion to Glasgow we visited Static Games and I picked up a stack of second hand books and magazines including some very early White Dwarf issues.   If time allows I will post on these later in the month.

Bob and his family were delightful company and we all missed them when they left.  The world can seem a large place but really in these days of jet travel, skype, email, facebook and more its not so big after all.


The Chocolate Factory Visit from a Golden Ticket


A Golden Ticket with my name on it!

Its a rainy dreary day here in Scotland…well at least in the South West where I am.  But that did not put the wee three off a trip to the Chocolate Factory today.  A trip which had been planned since the Warrior’s fourth birthday.  At the themed party that day he had gotten a ‘golden ticket’ and duly a visit to the excellent Chocolate Factory about an hour or so away was arranged.  It has taken a few months for the golden ticket promise to be honoured but today was the day.  I unfortunately was too busy to go along but the tale was told upon their return.


The Thinker and the Warrior learn the ways of Choc!

The CocoaBean Company runs the premises and you can see from their website just what they offer.  Above you can see a photo of a children’s chocolate workshop which all three of my lads enjoyed a lot.  After this and a spot of lunch (and chocolate..duh!) a large indoor play area offered fun and then an even bigger play area outside had a giant slide; see below.


The Poet on the loooong slide down!

All in all based on what I seen and been told I would recommend this experience to anyone with children who is in this part of Scotland or North England.  Good show!


The Iron Lady is no more….

At the age of eighty seven Britain’s longest serving and only female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died peacefully after a stroke this morning.   While I do not discuss politics typically I could not allow the death of the ‘Iron Lady’ pass without comment here.

As a baby born in 1979 I lived my first eleven years with Margaret Thatcher as the leader of the nation and even now I remember being very confused when she stepped down as I could not imagine her not being in charge! If you agree with her political choices or you don’t it cannot be denied that she had a bigger impact on Britain than almost anyone else in the 20th century.  She was involved closely with the end of the Cold War and oversaw the re-taking of the illegally seized Falkland Islands too.  She broke the power of the Trade Unions and resisted the increase in UK integration with Europe too.  It is fair to say that although I admire her I am in a minority in Scotland where she is disliked or more by many even to this day.

How will history judge the Iron Lady?  Time will tell but I personally think that she will be remembered in the positive overall.

For the full story and links to videos from those who knew or were influenced by her visit the BBC News page.


SupaBases adds a String to the Bow

This posting is a little late as it had been planned for last Friday but if you look at the post previous to this one you will see that South West Scotland, where I live, was battered by one of the worst blizzards in living memory and that I was also affected by it.  Though the snows are currently gone, they may return, it has meant I am playing catch up now.  So…on with the show eh!

supalogo_wsThe ‘SupaBases’ logo designed by Sam Croes

Last week Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk both released the ‘SupaBases’ range of MDF Wooden wargaming bases into the hobby market.  This was the culmination of several months of effort on my own part and others as although there are a few other makers of these kinds of bases in 2mm and 3mm thickness’s none of them were suitable as suppliers to the company.  So we decided to create our own and we were determined to source the wood and get the job done in Scotland.   The bases are precision cut with a tool, not a laser, and this gives a lovely finish to what is currently fourteen different sizes of square, rectangular and circular.  You  can see them below in the picture.


I personally think that although the company offers white metal and plastic bases these wooden bases have a lovely feel and especially for 15mm scale miniatures as singles and elements in wargames they give an impressive finish.  From this point on I will be using them for all of our own new releases and so on.

Its not always all about new miniatures and the excitement of new game systems sometimes its the tasks without the glamour which give a lot of satisfaction.  Hundreds of customers had asked if we would make these bases, so we did.   Not a lot more I can say except that if you want to you should give them a try especially the larger ones like the 75mm and 100mm circles as these are not practical in other materials and allow for some great set pieces or dioramas or vehicle mounts.   Thanks for reading and if you want to see the SupaBases then click on your choice of link below:

15mm.co.uk        Alternative Armies


Big Can, Little Can..Weather a Blizzard

Its been a manic weekend here in Girvan.  Not really for me as I remained snug at home all except for Friday but more on that in a minute.   But for the rest of Girvan and indeed the whole of South West Scotland the weekend has seen some of the worst weather that the area has seen in many years and me personally since  I have moved here some eight years ago.  You can look at the news for the full story but essentially high winds from Thursday evening peaked across Friday into storm conditions and when that was combined with snowfall it led to gusting blizzards that caused no end of trouble.


Truck Park Girvan!

Across Friday afternoon one road after another was closed and the snow fell on and on.  I decided to leave the office an hour or so early expecting I might have to deal with a bit of snow on the ten mile drive down into Girvan.  I was wrong.  It was actually the scariest drive of my life to date as a driver ( I have only been driving a year so that is not saying much but read on).   As I drove the snow got deeper until I passed a delivery van that had broken down due to stalling.  Following this the wind whipped the snow into drifts and a tundra like gale and my view of the road ahead was reduced to little more than ten feet.  A mile of this saw a small convoy of vehicles form with me at its midst.  I kid you not that about three miles out from Girvan the brakes in the car stopped working, they froze or were packed with snow.  I had to use the gears to slow and the handbrake to arrest the increasing number of slips and skids that the car underwent.  I picked up a passenger too, a driver whose vehicle had been left at the side of the road, I did not want to leave him out in that.  By the time I reached Girvan the police had closed the road to traffic and there were cars parked on the roundabout that marks the edge of the town.  I sat in the car for a while watching the weather and waiting for my hands to stop shaking before heading for my house.

I found out the next morning that virtually all of the region had been brought to a halt.  In fact Girvan was home to several packed coaches and at least a hundred HVG’s which parked where they could (see the image above).  I am pleased to report that the people of the town turned out somewhat in force with tea and hot soup for the stranded and every hotel room was filled.  Several people it seemed suffered accidents on the main road down the coast too, but I don’t know more about that.

Snowy Weather

The weather is now much improved but still windy though the BBC says it might come back again…


Big Can, Little Can

Anyway with the nasty weather out of the way the post I was going to put up was an idle muse about smaller sized cans of fizzy drinks and if they were actually better than the larger more normal size but I can’t summon up the energy so I will keep it short for ‘ya all.  The Food and Drink Agency here in the UK back in 2010 introduced legislation trying to make companies reduce the size of their sugary drinks cans to combat obesity.  I noted this at the time and ignored it but I picked up a case of Pepsi in this size this week and it came back to mind.  You can see the two sizes above, I like diet drinks as coffee makes me feel unwell, but did the smaller can make me drink less?  The answer is a cynical no.       Typically while working I will drink two cans a day, one in the morning, one in the evening but with the third smaller can I have found this number increase to five or six.  This is not due to concious thought, just desire as I type ever onwards with email and such.  They are just too small to satisfy.  As a result, the equally expensive, but smaller, cans are consumed at three times the rate of the other ones.  As I said cynical…combat obesity or just sell more under the old three choices adage…’Reduce Size, Reduce Quantity, Increase Price‘…seems to be the first one to me.


18.09.14 The Day Scotland Decides

Well the date has been announced.  The date which will see a vote here in Scotland over whither or not we remain part of the United Kingdom or become once again a separate sovereign nation.  On the Eighteenth of September Twenty Fourteen so about a year and a half from today.

I am not political and I am not a great believer in politicians either but this is more than a policy choice or party spin this is likely to be the most important vote I will ever cast and so to that end I am going to keep a distant eye on the campaign as it moves on.  The ‘Yes’ and the ‘No’ sides and as the date approaches I will focus more on it.

There are many questions to be asked and I have no fixed opinion myself as of today.  Am I in favour of Independence?  Time will tell.


Lockout 2012 – Film Review

The French release movie poster in honour of Luc Besson

“I heard you were dead Snake.” ….. “Yeah, I get that a lot”

That classic line from Escape from New York really sums up Lockout.  I had a spare two hours early this morning and I had gotten Lockout a few of weeks ago so I thought I would give it a watch.  Is it a bad film?  No.  Is it a good film.  Not really.  Is it fun?  Well yes.  Let me elaborate.

Luc Besson is a great director who has made some awesome films (I am thinking Fifth Element especially) but I was surprised when I picked this film up and saw that what I assumed was a B-Movie was directed by him.  I was swayed already to give this near future movie a punt as I like Guy Pearce (Time Machine especially) and also Edward Jackson had said to me he liked it.  But when I saw the directors name that sold it.  I watched it without reading any reviews (something I have taken to doing to avoid being prejudice towards a film), but I will give you the plot first before moving on to my opinion on Lockout.

In 2079, CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) is arrested for the murder of undercover agent Frank Armstrong who had uncovered evidence of an agent selling state secrets about the space program. Secret Service director Scott Langral (Peter Stormare) threatens to have Snow incarcerated on the maximum security space penitentiary MS One where prisoners are kept in stasis for their sentence. Snow’s agent friend Harry Shaw (Lennie James) tries to locate Snow’s contact Mace who knows where Frank’s briefcase containing the secret information is hidden.

Meanwhile, Emilie Warnock, (Maggie Grace) daughter of US President Warnock, arrives at MS One to investigate claims that stasis might affect prisoners’ minds, leading to psychopathy and dementia. Hydell, a prisoner, is awakened for questioning, but manages to escape. He releases all of the prisoners and starts a riot, led by his brother Alex. Emilie and others are captured. Shaw convinces Langral to send Snow to rescue Emilie rather than risk her life in a siege. Snow is initially reluctant, but agrees after Shaw tells him that Mace is on MS One, and could help Snow prove his innocence. Snow secretly infiltrates MS One. Alex realizes Emilie is the President’s daughter and goes to secure her. Emilie manages to escape with her bodyguard Hock and hide in a secure room. A problem with the oxygen supply however causes Hock to commit suicide to give Emilie more time.

Snow breaks into the room and rescues Emilie. Snow changes Emilie’s hair to conceal her gender and appearance after the prison is alerted to her true identity, allowing them to walk through the prison population. They find Mace, but the stasis has given him dementia and made him incoherent. Snow and Emilie bring Mace with them as they attempt to reach the escape pod. Without the maintenance of the staff, the prison has begun to fall out of its orbit and crashes into the International Space Station. The collision causes a breach and Mace is killed. Snow brings Emilie to the pod but discovers it has only one seat, and that he has been sent there to die. He sends Emilie on her way, but she allows the pod to launch without her, believing that the remaining hostages will be otherwise killed. Hydell contacts Emilie and threatens the hostages unless she reveals her location. When she does so, he kills all of the hostages.

As Snow and Emilie flee, they discover evidence that the prisoners were being illegally used as test subjects. Alex finds the pair and captures Emilie after shooting Snow and leaving him for dead. When Alex learns that Hydell has killed all of the hostages, he beats Hydell and contacts the President threatening to allow Hydell and the prison population to rape Emilie if they are not released. The President refuses to allow a siege and risk Emilie, causing Langral to temporarily relieve him of his command. Langral orders the destruction of MS One. Hydell tries to rape Emilie as promised, but is stopped by Alex. Infuriated he stabs Alex to death. Emilie fights back and Hydell attempts to stab her, but he is incapacitated by Snow. Snow and Emilie flee from the prisoners and Hydell. Meanwhile Langral’s men plant a bomb on the prison. Snow and Emilie use space suits and jump from the ship as it detonates, destroying the prison. The suits allow the pair to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land safely in New York City.

Snow is arrested. Emilie later realizes that Mace’s seemingly incoherent rambling was the location of and password needed to access Frank’s briefcase. Armed with the briefcase, Snow meets with Shaw. Shaw immediately unlocks it to see the evidence, but finds it empty. Snow notes that he had not given the unlock code to Shaw, and Shaw is revealed as the mole and arrested. Snow is released and his possessions returned, including a lighter given to him by Frank before his death. Snow finds a memory card containing the real secret information hidden within it. Emilie meets Snow and teases him, having learned his first name is Marion. The pair walk away together.

Lockout is a total B-Movie and it shows.  But its a roaring action adventure and a laugh too.  Its been panned by critics and it really went straight to DVD but I liked it.  Agent Snow simply WANTS to be Snake Plissken and takes on the same mantle that in the 1980’s all action heroes had.  Gruff, sarcastic, violent and full of one liners while smoking (when was the last time you saw that in a new movie!) Snow tries his best to channel Snake but never manages it.  Like the shade of a long dead hero he rattles along well enough dispatching the bad guys but never really clicking into place.  Not a reflection of Guy Pearce, he is a fine actor, but more on the movie itself.  Its brainless and lazily directed, it lacks pace and its set pieces are weak as dish water.  Luc Besson either does not care or did this on purpose (why, don’t ask me!).  When Pierce is not on screen the film drops several notches which tells you its a weak movie.  Some of the CGI effects are appallingly bad in places as well.

But!  Its well worth watching and it is free of all the crap that plagues a lot of genre films now.  This movie is out of place in the 21st century, it should be in the 1980’s.  If you want a popcorn film for a weekend that is alpha male to the hilt with a dash of science fiction then Lockout is for you.  If you are a wargamer it also has several set pieces which would work really well in USEME or HOF Fire-Team.  If you want real class go and get Escape from New York!


Creative Staff Meet – February 2013


Eve, GBS and Sam

Its been a hectic week for it was time for the ‘creative staff meet’ hosted this time by me here in Girvan in Scotland.  As you can see from the picture above myself (centre…ain’t I pretty!), Sam Croes on the right and the crypt keeper himself Eve Hallow on the left (yes, he does manage speak with that on!) had a jolly time of it.  Being face to face allows for a lot of conversation and ideas to flow quickly and they did.  It did mean that I have been out of the office all week but I do promise to catch up on, what I am told, is all of the fifty plus emails for me that are awaiting answers.

As well as work we did do some sight seeing too as it was Sam’s first time here in Ayrshire so I took him to see Alloway and the land of Burns along with some scenic sights.  This was made easier by four dry and sunny days in a row which for Scotland is a rare thing.  Eve did not come along…sunlight does not agree with him strangely…

Sam was kind enough to give me some pressies from his homeland of Belgium and I gave him some goodies from here as did Eve Hallow.  I have not pictured all of the presents as I drank some of them and ate others but I will review the excellent looking comic books and the music too.  Time should not be so pressed now for me.


Gifts from the lands of Ghent!

Its rare to have so much talent in one room and it was a blast and I can’t wait until we all meet up again in London at Salute 2013 in April.  In a time of instant communication and ever faster computers sometimes you just can’t beat working shoulder to shoulder on exciting things for the future of miniature wargaming.  Eve say’s he might even turn up to Salute without the mask or his shovel for digging up corpses!


Brush your Teeth…it really does pay off!


Its the one on the left…that on the right is typical size.

I wanted to share a little story with you all which has just been relayed to me by my Good Lady.  It concerns my eldest son The Thinker and his visit to the dentist today.  A visit to have a tooth removed…but before you begin to tut and chastise be aware that this tooth was being removed due to its desire to stay rooted into the mouth of a lad approaching eleven years old.  I shall inform further.

My children do not get to drink fizzy drinks of any kind.  Now I am not harsh but its for their own good for you see I am child of Glasgow in the early 1980’s where virtually all children had missing teeth due to such drinks.  Sadly this is still the case for many in Scotland despite the evidence of tooth decay these drinks cause.  So its a diet of milk, squash, water, fruit juice and the odd lemonade for a special treat..no caffeine either!   Here in Girvan like elsewhere I regularly see idiotic parents giving toddlers or older children bottles and cans of fizzy drinks which they tip into blackened mouths and then howl from the sugar and caffeine rushes.  None of that for my dearest three.  So the teeth in the heads of my three sons are white and bright just like they are.  This is literal proof for this science being correct.  Take it from me.

The dentist removed my son’s tooth because it was so healthy and well grown that it did not want to come out to make room for the adult tooth coming in behind it.  She remarked that not only was it one of the best mouths she had the pleasure to work on (mine is not too bad too, we all have the same excellent dentist) but also that the total lack of decay was astonishing.  But what was really remarkable was the super size and strength of the tooth, which you can see above, twice or so the length of average.  My lad did very well and not even a whimper when the pliers did their work.  When he becomes a man his mouth and his mind will thank his parents.

Brush your teeth..better to have healthy ones pulled than a mouth of rot!


The Shepard and his Flock

The Warrior Shepard

The Warrior Shepard

After yesterday I will admit to a bit of a case of nerves when I attended my youngest son’s nativity play at Girvan Nursery (which is attached to the primary school) but I am happy to say that there was no drama off stage at all.  The Warrior, above in all his finery, played a Shepard.  He is not the actor that my middle son appears to be and much prefers his toy soldiers (not white metal, just a one pound bag of green and grey plastic ones!) and and pop guns but he put on a grand show.  Singing, clapping, miming the actions.  He is smart as a button which was plain to see as he reacted quickly to instruction and made no errors during the performance.  I enjoyed the show…it always reminds me of a horde of little goblins arms and legs flailing madly as they tumble around in a cloud of dust.  Pure madness in the best possible way.

It was a little sad for me though as that was my last nursery grade nativity play 🙁 .  The Warrior begins school next summer and he is my youngest so that is that for the nursery with all three of them passing through its excellent caring hands.

On a separate note the image below makes me smile.  This is the Warrior in his day to day mode as it were.  Just as popular as his brothers.  He handed out his birthday party invites for January today (before school breaks up)…I had to get thirty made to meet the list of those who want to come!

The Warrior and his Fans!

The Warrior and his Fans!