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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fat boys on tour.

Well, it's that time of year again. Clocks back an hour, woolly jumpers back on and our annual jaunt to Crisis is just a couple of days away.

Mrs Warbases is coming with me this time as I've decided to make the 1100 mile (give or take a furlong or two) round trip in my own van this year. Kudos to Eric of Figures in Comfort for allowing me to tag along the last two years. I felt that it was time to try and take more product to this show, and sharing a van meant that this was just not feasible.

So as well as Claymore Castings, I'll be stocking the very popular 'tufts', courtesy of my good friends at Mutineer Miniatures. I'm acting as pack horse for the SESWC too - taking along their terrain and figures for their display game.

If I'm being perfectly honest, this is not one of the most profitable shows we go to. It's not that the we don't do well at the show, more the associated costs - fuel, ferry, food, beer and hotels take a sizable chunk of the takings. The price of the trade space is kept at a minimum by the Tin Soldiers (10 Euros per metre last year), so this is the least of our costs for the weekend.

However all this aside, it has to be, arguably, the most enjoyable weekend on the circuit. The secret to surviving it is to stay away from bad influences like Dave, Phil, Kev and Erik!

Here's an action packed itinerary of our 'weekend';

Wednesday afternoon - pack the van, checking and double checking we've got everything.

Thursday morning - back to the unit to collect all the things I've forgotten. (It always happens).
Thursday circa 12:00 pm. Time for the off! Dawdle down the road to Harwich on fuel saving mode. Why Harwich I hear you cry! Because its half the price of travelling from Hull or Newcastle.
Arrive Harwich circa 9:30 pm. Check in and drive onto the ferry. Get beers in and relax for the night.

Arrive Hook of Holland circa 7.30 am Friday, (being woken up the the sounds of  'Don't worry, be happy' very loudly over the ship's tannoy).
Drive from Hook down to Antwerp, in convoy, arriving at the venue, approximately 11.00 am.

Take a couple of hours shopping for chocolate, and having a second breakfast, to allow the TSA to set up the venue - lighting rigs need to be assembled and tables set out.
When we return to the venue, we unload, set up and mingle with our fellow traders. I'm hoping to pick up a master mould and some castings from Leon and Dave of Pendraken, of the first of our new livestock range.

Then we need to check in to the hotel and see who's loitering in the bar. The vast majority of British traders and punters stay in the Holiday Inn. Those preferring a bit more adventure, stay at the Docks Hotel, where apparently, you can rent a room by the hour. I'll leave further details to your imagination!

Friday evening is free time to head up the city centre - there are a lot of bars and restaurants and you can easily spend an evening sampling the local delights.

Saturday is show day, and we spend a thoroughly enjoyable time, swapping currency for our products, chatting with our clients and trying to speak French, German, Flemish and sometimes even English. One unusual factor to the show is that while the majority of customers will pay in Euros, some will pay with Sterling too. Two cash boxes required here!

During the show, you can indulge in some beers and burgers, provided by the wives of TSA .

On the close of the show we can leisurely repack the van and  retire to the hotel bar for a well deserved beverage. On Saturday evening, we have the option of attending the buffet put on by the TSA in the venue, or another evening in Antwerp. I am undecided as to which to do yet, I'll just wait and see who appears to lead us astray.

Sunday we get to leisurely get up, check out of the hotel and maybe take the opportunity to visit Ypres or Mesen during the afternoon before we travel back up to Hook for the return ferry.

Monday morning will see us arrive back in Harwich at 6.30 am. Then just the small matter of the short journey home. We expect to be home in time for tea.

No time to rest and recover though as we have another show on Saturday at Kirriemuir!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tiny leaves

I'm always looking to improve the quality of my miniatures. If I'm being brutally honest with myself, my painting is probably as good as it's ever going to get. My eyesight slowly going south and not getting much time to practice being the main culprits.

A friend told me that it's faces, bases and flags that define the quality of the completed job. So I've decided to look at some small and simple ways to improve my basing. The usual static grass is already in use, along with the tufts you get from the likes of MiniNatur and Army Painter. I saw some of these little leaves on the bases of miniatures on CMON that I liked the look of. So I did a Google search and discovered that they are actually a natural product. Birch tree seed scales to be precise.

Now, Silver Birch trees have to be (arguably) the easiest type of tree in the UK to identify due to their silvery grey bark. Here's one at the end of my street.

Now the scales we are looking for come from the catkins produced by the tree. But I've left it too late in the year and they've all fallen from the tree. Not to be deterred I searched around the tree and found a lot of rusty coloured mush. On closer inspection this contained the bits I was looking for. I took a handful home and dried it out in the oven on a low heat for about 15 minutes on a baking tray. Having picked out the items of dubious origin, this is what I'm left with.

You can see the 'leaves' are definitely in there, even if there's still quite a bit of fluff, grass and unidentifiable matter in the tub, but as I'll be using it one or two bits at a time, I can live with this.

Here's a unit of my Roses Billmen, with fallen leaves scattered strategically around the base. I think it looks acceptable - I might paint the leaves a dark red to pick them out, but I'll need to procrastinate on this a bit.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

From Small Acorns...

When I started Warbases back in 2007, little did I realise the impact it would have on my life, most things have been very positive - my health has improved greatly, mainly due to diminished stress levels.

This Blog is to enable me to share my experiences as a busy trader in the wargaming industry, including visits to fine and exotic places, as well as to introduce new products and describe the efforts we go to in producing these items.

We hope that you will join us on this journey and enjoy my efforts at attempting to write something (relatively) interesting.