Monday, 1 August 2016

Hilarys Musings: How do we make it all count?

Webcam selfie: taken as I sit and write this article
How do we make it all count?
I don`t follow everything my partner does within the hobby, just most things. Stevie has a passionate interest in some historical areas which don`t really interest me nearly enough to want to follow in any serious way, let alone cover on the table top. Such things would include most of World War II (but I do like the more whimsical semi rpg Dads Army approach of things, like “Bolt Action” skirmish scenarios). Nor do I follow World War One or Colonial Afghan, Sudan, India,  Zulu, or Boer Wars (though I do enjoy 20`s and 30`s Pulp `Indiana Jones` style semi rpg and skirmish). I have no interest in the American Civil War.. though I do like Roman Britain, especially Boudicca and Dark Ages King Arthur (i.e. the last days of Romans in Britain... aka Marion Bradley`s “Mists of Avalon” novels). English Civil War could interest me, but Stevie has talked endlessly for more years than I can mention,  about running a rpg and wargame campaign set in these time (and nothing ever came of it) so I sort of went off the boil with this one. I do enjoy Tudor and Stuart history in as far as period costume drama goes, but whether I ever `get into` the subject as a game, is now debatable.
With fantasy, unlike Stevie, I don`t share any interest in Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Middle Earth,  Super Dungeon Explore, or Standard D&D (though I do like horror.. aka Ravenloft and so on).
The rest I am interested in: Zombies, Gothic stuff, Weird World War I and II, Pulp, some superhero stuff like:  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Gotham, Dark Knight (in small-ish doses), and the wartime Captain America material (you will note in this genre, my interest stems from films  and series, not comic books, which I simply don’t have time for lol). The rest of the HeroClix range doesn’t interest me much, probably because I`m not a comic book fan like the rest of the household is; but I do very much enjoy some of the films and TV series.
Mostly I am interested in the genre of gaming called “Imagi-Nations” or  “Imagi-Worlds” by some. Though I rarely seem to find time to play games or write about  any of this nowadays, as I am too caught up on more current projects.. usually supporting Stevie, Tarot  or the club(s) in something or other. But my old blogs on the subject probably best describes what this is all about:

I also enjoy boardgames like Wizard of the Coasts Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System games, Fantasy Flight Games Arkham Horror and Talisman,  Flying Frog Productions Last Night on Earth, A Touch of Evil and Shadows of Brimstone. Or Cool Mini or Not`s Zombicide and Black Plague. But already you can see, my likes (and I`ve not mentioned them all, for fear of sounding like a shopping till receipt) number a considerable number of divergent hobby/gaming topics.

Steve has mentioned many, many times (indeed, it is a pet `rant` of his, and justifiably, I honestly have to say), that in the old days of the hobby, people tended to think about it deeply, contemplate their options, and then collect in just one.. POSSIBLY two interests, and spend their hobby lives collecting for their few chosen subjects, with deep, focussed passion that endures for their entire lives. “What a rich and wonderful way to pursue a hobby “ I often always find myself thinking.

Painstakingly and lovingly purchasing models  few at a time, and painting them to add to their games a bit at a time, over an entire lifetime: playing games on a depth of detail which most modern gamers would shiver in fear at (most people nowadays are used to having everything nice and easy and digestible on a plate). Hard work right? Not these good old diehard types of yester year. These guys would study their subjects until they were literally amateur experts in their chosen field(s) and the pleasure they got out of their passion was obvious for all to see: and the only proof you needed to witness this was to look at the sheer bulk of stuff these good people managed to get done, and achieve with their hobby. Of course, most of them will never be known about. Ordinary people like you and me. But some big names do (never the less) crop up: people like H.G. Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Edward Woodward.

But back to the relevant point. Just looking at my own interests within the hobby (and I`m a woman, and tend to be more frugal and, perhaps even, slightly more focussed than many guys.. Stevie would say I`m more mean with money hehe: but the point here is, even possessing a frugal streak a mile wide), I find myself following over a dozen subjects within the hobby. A DOZEN *gulp* WOW!! Now, without having to analyse this too deeply at all, already I can see this sorry state of affairs is simply ludicrous. How can one possibly enjoy so many things all at once.. or even consecutively (as many convince themselves they can effectively do... rubbish of course, because it MIGHT be true if they consolidated and just tried to `play` and `enjoy` with their already overly vast collections, but they don`t.. they keep accumulating and adding MORE and MORE to the horde, making the problem worse than ever), and so this brings me neatly to the title of my article musing: just how do we make it all count? How do we go about making sure we don’t waste so much time drifting between subjects, and allow ourselves to focus on just a few deep passions, so we get really good at these and even (through time) become, somewhat, amateur experts in our chosen fields of interest?

The answer is simple. Actually Stevie got it right a few years ago, then chickened  out and started to regress again. He tried to cull his beloved precious treasures, and started to `let things go`. He was doing amazingly well, and managed to give away, sell, or throw away about %50 of his hobby collection: and interestingly, never once regretted any of it, never looked back, and was happier for it. However, the allure of Kickstarters and `things he simply couldn’t live without` got the better of him and he slowly started to build up the pile all over again.  BUT he realised what he was doing and has redoubled his efforts at culling the flood of new things, and is actively letting things go again, determined to bring his lifelong addiction of BUYING hobby stuff to a halt and (simultaneously) remove maybe %90 of his current collection, allowing him to concentrate on just a few things which really matter to him. And yes, I am very proud of him for this. And yes it brings me to a point of looking at myself, and thinking *gulp* I`m in danger of being just as guilty myself.. with my dozen or so interests.

 It was the moment I watched (in open mouthed surprise) Stevie give away his entire Dungeons and Dragons collection of books, and his entire Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System boardgames, that I really sat up and took note. This was all only a month ago, and my admiration for him was beyond measure. NOT for getting rid of stuff (I`m not that mean, and I know how hard it is for him to do this) but I am proud of him for DOING something he realises he must do for himself, so he can be free to pursue the things within the hobby that are important to him. It’s so easy to look at what we have and say to ourselves, “I will let some things go” and then we look around and say: “Oh but I need this, and this, and this, and I LOVE that, and....”  before you know it, half the things you SHOULD let go, you end up keeping simply because we harbour such a covetous need  to hold onto things, even though the wise course of action would be to LET THINGS GO.

So what happens? We start out trying to cull, but end up just letting a few things go (ending up as a waste of time, and we might as well just have kept the stuff in the first place) but never truly break free and end up at the place we need to be mentally... free of the endless addiction of collecting more and more and more and more and more; and aimlessly convincing ourselves each time that we NEED the new stuff we are buying, as though it will somehow make us happier by doing so.

And so again I refer to the title of my musings: How do we make it all count? I think the answer would be the same as I would give to a cigarette smoker. Don’t get addicted in the first place. But let’s say (metaphorically) you are already a smoker, hook line and sinker. Similar to being addicted to endless buying of hobby stuff.. you will get the parallel I`m trying to make, I`m sure. I think my advice, the same as if I were advising and trying to get a smoker to quit; would be to just STOP (no quick fix ever truly works, no nicotine gum, no patches, no distractions), just mental willpower and an honest desire to change. Throw away your spare packets of cigarettes.. none of this, “oh I`ll just smoke these first then I`ll give up”. When the desire to quit take you, strike while the iron is hot, and do it there and then. Flush those cigarettes down the sink, and prepare yourself for the cold turkey and the pain ahead. If you succeed, you will find yourself free of the bad, and become a far happier person for your efforts.

So how does this all apply to me? Well, watching Stevie go through cold turkey to be free of his VAST collections, his ball and chain, forged link by link himself over literally years of over indulgent collecting, it all made me take close stock of my own hobby. I asked myself  “what is it you like about the hobby and what do you want to do to enjoy it more?”

The answer to myself was three fold.

1)      Watching Tarot enjoy her hobby, realising just how much has sunk in, with all our guidance and help to her, at getting the most out of the hobby: it dawned on me that looking at her, her drive, energy and sheer focus, was just how I used to be: and I realised how much I was missing out and stealing from myself, by darting back and forth between interests so much of my time. Tarot is doing it RIGHT, and I am not, is the bottom line - and this minor epiphany was like a sharp slap on the cheek; but I was glad of it. It all made me realise what I needed to do.. cut right down on my butterfly approach to all the lovely and wonderful things that are oh so readily available and on offer for the `spoilt for choice` gamer to indulge in.

2)      I need to put my money where my mouth is. I am a trained professional therapist and hypnotherapist. I get PAID to help others (who come to my studio) overcome their addictions, fears  and phobias.  So I needed to wise up and start doing what I normally preach.

3)      When I look back, I have been in this hobby many, many years. It’s even how me and Stevie met: at a game club. Looking back through the years, my happiest gaming days were when I followed a couple of interests thoroughly: Vampire the Masquerade, and Fantasy rpg and table top gaming.. plus model collecting and painting within this era. How did I ever get so lost in so many additional subjects. The answer there is choices.. there are simply too many choices available now to the average gamer. The hobby is a commercial one, and we are the poor victims of it all, as too much choice simply causes us to fall prey to the system the game company sellers desperately WANT us to be caught up in. We are their bread and butter. But all I have to do is step off that merry-go-round and find peace and harmony, happiness and contentment with just a few things that really matter to me. In my case, converted Hero Clix (especially with Tarot ), Chibi/Anime gaming, and possibly s deeper immersion into Arkham Horror. And that`s IT. No more lol.

SO yes, I think maybe I really have found the answer to that elusive question:

How do we make it all count?

 Me and Him
We live in a throw away society nowadays, where all that is wonderful and new today, quickly gives way to the next newest thing to hit the shelves or the on line pages (like kickstarters). Going against the tide against overwhelming odds takes amazing discipline, and this is why I have the most incredible admiration for those who take what they already have, and re-kindle and re-vamp these things into something fresh (like Simon does, and like Andy does, and Jez does too). Its what we all did as kids in a much simpler past: if we didn't have that super duper toy that sold in the shops beyond the range of our pocket money or our poor old parent`s wage packet, we made do with what we already had, and customised our existing things into other things, when we couldn't afford to go the expensive route.
There is a saying. "You can`t fill an already full breakfast cup, you must empty it before you can re-fill it with fresh tea". Simply put, by de-cluttering, this not only allows our brains breathing space to focus on new thoughts, but also allows us to concentrate on the important stuff as well.


  1. Very interesting and most apt for the way I`ve been thinking lately. Watching Tar` about to convert an old set of figures into something ... well frankly quite amazing and fresh, from an old set of miniatures long past their shelf life: and turn them into something marvellous and unique – well, it really makes me think, and causes me to re-evaluate a lot about my own hobby that I take for granted without a second thought most the time. I see Tar` about to carve up a collection of very old figure and turn them into something easily as exciting as buying an entire ARMY of newly purchased miniatures, and in fact maybe more exciting, because she doesn’t just have to make up a game, but she also gets to repaint them, re-sculpt them, re-base them, AND ponder over a new set of rules to cement her ideas all together with. What a marvellously exciting project.

    What she’s also done is turn her entire hobby into a single fully focussed project, with two separate topics (but at the same time... linked: aka by employing a single range of figures for both subjects).

    I wish I was in that lucky position. Sadly I`m still in the middle of trying to get a firm hand on my subjects. But I tell you what I AM determined to bring my entire hobby down to a manageable whole (by Christmas): four things is my aim = Zombicide, Colonial, Chibis, and Arkham Horror.... with the odd board game handy for when the lads and lasses want a change. After all, every family has a few board games in the cupboard. Ours just aren’t Monopoly, Kerplunk or Mousetrap lol.

    But seriously, what your musings HAS done Hil, is remind me that I miss the simplicity of a few focussed hobby topics. You are right, those who manage to focus in this way are to be admired and emulated.

  2. I`m going to disappoint you now Hil. I`m so taken by (and fallen utterly in love with) the 7TV2 B7 miniatures that I think I may use the existing Clix figs for the WWII project, but save money like crazy, and BUY all the Blakes 7 ones for this game (three of four sets I believe there are). They`re simply so deliciously like the characters from the series I can`t resist.

    I`m just curious about two things. A) How do the Crooked Die Game Design figures compare scale wise to other miniatures.. I`m guessing they are smaller, more like true 28 scale, or even 25mm right?

    and B) is 7TV first edition not as good, as good as, or better than the 2nd edition rules? And what are the differences. Anyone know?

    You musings hit a hard chord Hil, but I can`t fault its integrity or its even harder hitting truths. I find myself nodding and agreeing, though it is a difficult thing to accept, that our modern age perhaps needs to be evaluated at times, questioned, and the decision possibly made that we have seen the best of times, and the future may not necessarily be as good as times gone by.

    The world is changing so fast.. is it all for the good I wonder. Me I`m happy with my retro gaming arrest of the `gwond my retro miniature collections hehe (for the most part). And I thank my lucky starts I live in the remote regions of Ireland away from the rest of the big bad `grown up` world.

    1. Just to answer a couple of your questions regarding 7TV2e. First up, second edition is far better than first edition. It is more streamlined and refined. The figures are closer to 30mm so they'll fit in with so many other ranges.

    2. OOo thank you Bryan that's really handy to know. I am in two minds now, whether to collect the two key sets and the two piece Servalan and Travis set (I was delighted to discover there are two main sets not four).. or whether to concentrate on the rules. My mind set is, I HAVE the rules in PDF format and if I absolutely have to I am quite prepared to sit and copy them all out neatly by hand (like gamers used to do back in the 60`s and 79`s, I`m told). The figures and the rules would cost me over £100 and that's a no go for me, sooooo, I can cut that cost in half by just buying the main figures. The fact they are nearly 30mm means they will fix nicely with the Clix ones as well.

    3. T - I have the free beta test download for 7TV2 and that's enough for me, all the fluff and stuff is for me to build up in my head (I use the rules for TMNT) I even found images on the net and made my own counters.....

    4. {{T - I have the free beta test download for 7TV2 and that's enough for me, all the fluff and stuff is for me to build up in my head (I use the rules for TMNT) I even found images on the net and made my own counters.....}}

      Hi again Andy. Thank you for that, this encourages me no end. I will go take a closer look at my free PDF download a bit later. But I ask a question Andy: printing out and using the free PDF rules, if I can find the images and counters and so on, can they be used in black and white, or is colour necessary for the print out?

    5. I don't know if they produce counters T, I mean I found some images and made them into counters :-)

      If I can find them I'll email them to Steve for you x


  3. wow, don't know what happened there but the words all got jumbled up. only spotted it after I posted: I meant to say:

    "Me I`m happy with my retro gaming along with my retro miniatures collection hehe (for the most part). And I thank my lucky starts I live in the remote regions of Ireland away from the rest of the big bad `grown up` world."

  4. Lovely article Hil and one that resonates with me a lot, I've really enjoyed exploring Bushido and devoting time and energy building terrain, minis and boards to it almost (but not quite....) to the exclusion of other games. Some of my buddies always want a new project, new game to begin, I say to begin as they rarely finish any of them, but recently I've put the brakes on this and said no more often. I do feel better for it and have managed to concentrate on the games I want to play and explore. X

  5. Once again, you have come up with a great article, Hil. I wish had the willpower to ditch so much of my own junk but I'm too much of a hoarder and there is always the eternal problem of, "I can't get rid of that because I may need it later!" Yeah, right! It never happens, does it? Still, for what it's worth, I have cut back a lot on my hobby spending.

    1. Hi Bryan darling. Actually I was not talking of you my friend, or singling any one person out. It was a generic rant against the intrinsic and endemic conundrum of the age we seem to live in.

      I go on about it so much NOT because I sit back idly yet go on and on but do nothing (like pubbies at a bar, sit endlessly trying to right the wrongs of the world from the bottom of a glass), I go on about it because the words I speak are simple and actually express how easy it is for each of us to correct the errors of this modern condition of addictive collecting. I am saying to anyone (who listens lol): "you actually are self empowered in this thing... and can fix this problem yourselves, IF you want to, it just takes the will and the desire to do it... and the be happier for it at the end of the road."

  6. Thank you Andy, your words mean a lot to me. I know I go on a lot and I know I must come cross often as a bit of an moody opinionated cow, but I`m actually really not: I do however have very strong convictions and a belief.. a need almost, to help others when I think I see an area where I can do good or strike a chord that resonates with some people. If I can only reach out make one person see something good and wholesome and make his or her life happier because of that, then I feel happy to have done something worth while.Lifting the blinds and going against the norm and the status quo is often a lonely place to make a stand lol.

    But you impress me no end Andy, the way you have gumption and moral fibre, it is commendable and I really respect you for it. What you say in your last reply really touches me, because I feel every word you speak.. I have been exactly where you are with your friends, and in the way you speak of.

    Never change x

  7. Hmmmmm, thought update: you know, these articles and comments have helped me no end lately, and other peoples` blogs have been an ceaseless inspiration to me. It’s almost as though by watching the motivation and insight of others, has been like surveying a sea chart or map.. all guidelines to steer by and find a steady course with my own endeavours.
    Hil, your last Article, `how do we make it all count` really struck a chord.. an entire cadence of notes actually. So much so that I have come to a reversal of thought and yet not so much a reversal and perhaps.. more like, made me rediscover the right path.

    I won’t save and buy the Blakes7 (B7) minis for 7TV (in an ideal world where I was rich, maybe it would have been very nice) but I will instead carry on with my original inkling, and make/convert/ and sculpt my own pieces. Cheaper, rewarding, and a pretty hard task ahead, so lots of work, which is always satisfying.

    So *looks once more, wistfully, at the official Crooked Dice figures* I will go the DIY route. Still, it gives me something to write about on my Clix and Bits page *smiles happily, looking positively on the bright side*

  8. For what it’s worth sweetie, I think you are onto something amazing and refreshingly wonderful with your original idea of using the vast range of heroclix at your disposal to create ANY type of game or figure styles you want, to suit your own personal take on things. Your collection would be unique in every way. Would you not get more of a buzz out of knowing that your Roj Blake, and your Kerr Avon, and your Jenna Stannis are unlike anyone else’s? Or that your Hydra soldiers, Hyrda lab technicians and loyal agents, are all conversions that are uniquely exclusive to YOUR collection only?

    If you want to get the official Crooked Dice Freedom Fighters and Imperial Trooper sets, then you will find nothing but support here for us, and will, no doubt, coo over them just as much as you do when you get them. But IF you go with your original idea of utilising what’s already at your disposal and at your finger tips, I think you may find it just as rewarding or more so. But only you must decide.

    Either way, it sounds so exciting.. and you will have a lot of fun with it, whichever way you decide to go with it.

  9. Thank you Hils *big hugs* meanwhile, I will just concentrate on the Clix stuff for a while I think.

    They do say it is our prerogative to be indecisive about things like this. I will just sit on it for a bit and tilt up and down with the scales for a while, no doubt on a daily basis for the next week or so.

  10. Brilliant article Hil. Struck quite a chord with me, as I am in the middle of such a clearout. 29 years of impulse purchases has left me with a load of models and no complete collections.

    But I still have so many interests! My technique for coping has been to switch to smaller scales (15mm and smaller), or play skirmish level games that don't need so many figures, so I can collect what I like and store it easily. It's been a partial success. As you say, cold turkey may be the only way to go with this. I feel like you have addressed an elephant in the room, and I thank you for doing so.

    1. Hi Jon, and thank you so much for your kind words. I`m only glad my words managed to strike a chord. I sometimes fear I must come across as a bit of a misery when I talk in that way.. but I truly feel it, and with all my heart, my intentions (when I point out such matters) are meant with nothing but the best intentions. It’s always good to face demons I think: which is why I do this.. and also why, I think, I do therapy work professionally. I`m a natural `mother hen` type figure hehe. Even at our gaming and club sessions I`m the one running round making sure everyone is happy and fed *grins*

      That you have a positive focus and aim of moving into 15mm is a GOOD thing, and will help you focus your passion, your hobby and hone it into a workable while.

      All the very best Jon,

      Hil x

  11. Brilliant article Hil. Struck quite a chord with me, as I am in the middle of such a clearout. 29 years of impulse purchases has left me with a load of models and no complete collections.

    But I still have so many interests! My technique for coping has been to switch to smaller scales (15mm and smaller), or play skirmish level games that don't need so many figures, so I can collect what I like and store it easily. It's been a partial success. As you say, cold turkey may be the only way to go with this. I feel like you have addressed an elephant in the room, and I thank you for doing so.

  12. Okay, this Blakes 7 idea sounds utterly awesome. I shall be watching to see how this project progresses with a v-e-r-y keen eye.

    As for Captain America... "The Early Years" or "The First Avenger: Retro Redux" or what ever you will call it. Wow, what a truly uniquely fresh take on a well known (normally, almost overused) theme. Its so cool I could almost pop it in my Jack Daniels (shaken not stirred).

  13. With me, Hil, you're already preaching to the converted. I went through a period where my dragonfly mentality caused me to buy various miniatures for various projects - which never got completed and/or painted - so onto eBay they went.

    My current focus is my own superhero universe (with side excursions into other superheroes - such as our Forgotten Heroes project), Oriental Fantasy and Ghostbusters/Scooby Doo (which as far as I'm concerned are the same thing). The figures I own have therefore been 're-purposed' for one of these ongoing projects, where they can be. As my own superhero universe's history runs from the Golden Age of WWII up until the current day, and includes time-travel and alien invasions, the majority of the figures I own can be used. If I want a specific figure and/or character for any game, I will either convert a figure I already own or purchase a 'cheap' figure from a variety of sources. And when I say 'cheap', I mean two pounds or less. My 'golden rule' is that I will never buy a single 28mm human-sized figure for more than five pounds - which means those European manufacturers who consider it acceptable to charge 7-8 quid a figure AND in a scale that is slightly TOO big to fit in with my other figures won't be getting my money, even if their figures are quite nice...

    Whilst I WILL buy specific figures where the sculpt is perfect (such as Crooked Dice's Ghostbusters), this will be after much consideration. When you have such ranges as Heroclix, Reaper's Bones and D&D Miniatures, you don't need to spend huge amounts of money to get almost anything you need. And that's not even considering other scales - my Chupacabra are 15mm lizardmen and I have my eye on some 15mm Oni to use as Amanojaku.

    As an aside to Tarot - CP Models do Federation Troopers and they're cheaper than Crooked Dice's.

  14. Jez, your description of how you do your games is an absolute prime example of what I would class as my dream hobby. Not only to paint your own collection but also to make/convert your own collection. I have always had a massive respect for those clever few who not only paint their own figure, but also make their own figures (home casting your own metal figurines from moulds and metal bars is pinnacle of that list in my honest opinion .... Stevie made over a thousand figures that way, until earlier this year, when he gave all his moulds and casting equipment to an on line gamer friend in the UK who dreamed of casting his own but didn’t know how to go about it. Stevie just `helped him` a bit is all hehe). There is something very therapeutic and calming about not being a part of that merry go round of buying endless droves of new figures. What you do Jez, describes exactly the way I would do it if I were starting the hobby again. Buy a ton of cheap stuff of eBay (like `job lots` of Clix figures.. a hundred and more at a time) and use these to convert, re-paint, re-sculpt to my heart’s content. Obviously not ideal if you wish to game in a historical period: no matter how good you may be or a dab hand with a modelling blade, you probably couldn’t make an ideal America Civil War Soldier of a Greek Hoplite out of a HeroClix mini. But yes, your way sounds ideal, not only as a `how to collect on the cheap` but also as a therapeutic and rather refreshing take on the meaning of hobbying and modelling in general. You even describe scale mixing.. “good man yerself” (one of Stevie`s favourite Irish saying), excellent. It sounds like you have your hobby E-X-A-C-T-L-Y where you want it.. firmly in the land of DIY. It’s almost too easy now just to buy everything. There`s a market now for just about everything isn’t there. I bet if someone wanted to play in Camberwick Green, there’s a figure company out there somewhere does the miniatures for it lol. But how much nicer, more special, and unique to have an idea like that, and convert all the pieces you need yourself. In the case of someone like Tarot, I can totally understand why she would want to collect for something like the official `not` Blakes 7 range. She is a rather amazing semi pro sculptor in her own right, and it would be somewhat of a `busman`s holiday` for her to make the pieces all herself, and the Crooked Dice ones are simply gorgeous. As she says herself: “I would be hard pressed to make my own as good as these” besides, she just fell in love with them so fair enough really *grins*.

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a lovely long comments Jez. As always, your words are greatly appreciated.