My hobby obsession all started for me when I was given toy soldiers to play with as a kid. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.
I have very fond memories of setting up the rug in the living room in England to make hills, trenches and crevasses. Actually my Dad showed me how to do that.
I would spend hours waging war, usually green V grey soldiers. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realised most of my green soldiers were in fact American Marines and all the grey soldiers were Germans. I would play Cowboys and Indians too but it was clear, when looking at my annual list to Santa, that toy soldiers were my passion. Every birthday, every Christmas and pretty much any chance I got I asked for soldiers. This was even before I was watching movies like The Dirty Dozen. By the time I was seven I had four plastic shopping bags filled with soldiers, tanks, planes, jeeps and trucks. Oh and those old barbed wire and sandbag barricades that clicked together. I was forever asking my parents or my sisters to click them together for me hehe.
Sunday’s was the best day because Dad would play his old vinyl records, mostly the Rolling Stones (his and now my personal favourite band). Mum would be cooking the Sunday roast. I would conduct battle after battle. Of course the green men always won, being English I think it was inherent in me to make sure the grey lost every time haha. It was always a tough fight though with only my favourite soldiers surviving the huge battle. I think I still have these favourite soldiers somewhere. I’ll have to dig them out and take some photos. I remember practicing sound effects with my mouth for rifles, machine guns and explosions and spitting on myself a lot haha. Ahhh good times.
When we packed up and moved to Australia mum said I could fill a suitcase with my favourite toys. I filled two suitcases. One with soldiers, the other with He-Man figurines. Castle Greyskull and snake mountain.
Australia, being a tad warmer than Slough, offered a lot more options to play with soldiers. I headed outside and made diorama style battlefields in the dirt and sand. I dug trenches with sticks for my armies to take cover in. I would drop large rocks onto both sides creating huge explosions of dirt.
A couple of years later I discovered Star Wars in a big way and collected the figures, then GI-Joe.
More years passed and I took an interest in building model planes, although I always cut bullet holes in them or burnt the wings to make them look battle damaged. I have never really liked the clean cut pristine look.
Then I found a book at the local library about soldier dioramas. I was so excited. I would sit in my room just staring at the pictures of these amazing snap shots of battle in miniature. My imagination was captured.
My first diorama was called “Blood Bank”. The scene was of a collapsed building. All the walls apart from one had fallen outward. One wall had crushed a jeep. Another wall had squashed three poor soldiers (Germans haha). Lots of blood haha. The third wall had just fallen apart. The last wall was still standing. There was one British Commando standing in the middle of the ruined building, with a couple more dead Germans at his feet, holding a pistol and pointing to something in the distance. Maybe more German buildings to blow up hehe. It wasn’t an amazing first attempt but I loved it.
Then one birthday a friend of mine bought me some citadel miniatures. Half a dozen skeleton warriors. I really enjoyed painting their flimsy fleshless bodies. Not long later I bought some metal Catachans. They were fun to paint too.
Not long after that I bought a car ( a real one). Started going out, drinking, hanging out with my mates and girlfriend at the time.
It wouldn’t be for another couple of years before I started modelling and painting again. My girlfriend bought me a 40k starter game pack. Black Templars and Dark Eldar. I cast the Eldar aside. Attempted to read the rule book (many, many times) but mostly gazed adoringly at the pictures. I built and painted the TEmplars but wasn’t overly thrilled with them. Plain black and white. Red eyes. They stayed in my cupboard for many years.
It was a long time later that my mate and I started getting into it again. I was now a home owner and a Dad and had plenty of bills to pay.
I managed to scrape together some Orks and Imperial Guard and we started having a few skirmishes. It was fun. We came up with our own scenarios. We used any terrain we could find. Kids toys, books etc.
After that, life got a little wild and a little hectic. I concentrated on one of my other passions, music. My mate and I formed a two piece Blues and roots band and had some nice local success. Lots of gigs and an album release. The hobby laid dormant but occasionally I would Google image 40k hehe.
About 18 months ago the band kind of went on a hiatus and needing something to occupy my mind I picked up the hobby knife again. My band mate talked me into starting a blog and here I am. My wife is also very encouraging which helps.
I was pleased to find this little community and relieved to see there are no trolls or judgemental knob jockeys on here.
I feel like, in a relatively short time, I have got a little better at the modelling and painting and put it down to you, yes you. The bloggers reading this. I find you all quite inspiring and encouraging.
So there you have it. My little life story on hobbying.
I’ll be honest, I’m at the airport waiting to catch a plane to go see mum and dad so I wanted to pass the time haha. Before you ask, no, I won’t be setting up the rug at mum and dads to play with my soldiers hehe.