I had no idea what the first words of this blog should be, but it does seem as though I’ve just written them.
I suppose the first step, logically, is to introduce myself, so here goes.
Hi, my name is Neil Roberts and I’m a writer/novelist living in Cornwall. I love the written word, absolutely adore it, and believe that it offers one of the most intimate experiences that can be shared between minds (yup, third paragraph and I’ve already managed to get pretentious). Let me explain that statement. On the shelves around me I have works by many authors, most of whom have been dead for decades and a few of whom were nothing but dust centuries before I drew my first breath. Each of them had a wonderful mind, a mind capable of thinking, feeling, loving, hating, laughing, crying – the whole range of human emotions (except for the agelastic genius Sir Isaac Newton, who only laughed once in his life and even then it was at someone else’s misfortune). Unfortunately, each of those minds stopped being anything other than decaying organic matter mere moments after each of those authors drew their last breaths. Thank God they left behind a legacy of their thoughts, philosophies, ideas or tales recorded for posterity on flimsy paper (and recently on iPads, Kindles, computer screens, and so on). I can pick up a slim volume and have the samurai philosopher Musashi Miyamoto or the Chinese general Sun Tzu describe their ideas on war and politics. I can have a story told to me by the genius that was HP Lovecraft or read of Brigadier General Sir Harry Paget Flashman, the Hector of Afghanistan, courtesy of George MacDonald Fraser. I can have Feynman teach me phyiscs and Newton instruct me in mathematics. But best of all these great examples of humanity won’t get angry if I have to go over the same point a hundred times before I understand it, if I let my attention wander and have to get them to repeat themselves or if I come and go as my whims take me. It’s only a shame that I can’t actually talk to them, but I’ll happily be their rapt and attentive audience.
Yup, still pretentious…
This blog, however, is planned to be about my other great passion – miniatures and, more importantly, converting them.
A few years ago I did some work for Games Workshop, writing a few articles for their “Exterminatus” magazine. I penned a couple of master-classes, a rules/background piece for the Ordo Sicarius (always my favourite ordo) and a short article on creating weapons called “Arming the Masses”. Why do I mention this? Partly to prove that I can write (although I hope that you’ll have figured that out by now), partly to prove my hobbyist credentials, but mostly so that I can mention the by-line that the editor (a wonderful chap named Andy Hall) bestowed upon me.
To those of you who have never had any involvement in the worlds of writing or journalism the term may be obscure, but it simply means what comes after the title/headline of the piece. It is, literally and literarily, the line that follows the word by. For my first two articles Andy left my by-line as the obvious ‘by Neil Roberts’ – since that’s my name the decision made perfect sense and I can’t fault his unerring editorial instinct. Following my third article seeing print I received a phone call from Andy asking if I’d received my free contributor’s copy. I said that I hadn’t, but promised that I would call him as soon as it hit my door-mat. When that happened the next day I tore open the envelope and saw that my by-line had been changed to ‘Neil “Mad Converter” Roberts’.
I geeked out. Total nerdgasm. I had never had a nickname before (admittedly I’d been the target of a few insulting epithets, but nothing positive) and I loved it. It was meant to be the title of this blog, but someone in France beat me to it.
My plan for this blog is to use it to voice my opinions, share some techniques and air my thoughts on the subject of the miniatures hobby in general, and miniature conversions in particular. The first couple of blogs are likely to be fairly word-heavy, but as soon as I have the bits and pieces I need for my camera (just ordered and hopefully in the post over the next few days) and figure out how to use it, I’ll be adding photos of completed projects, works in progress and maybe even a few tutorials. If you’re not a fan of the GW hobby then you might not get much from this as most, but not all, of what I do revolves around it. To give you an idea of what’s coming up – and this comes with a big SPOILER ALERT – the bulk of what I’ve worked on in my 30+ years in the hobby has been for Warhammer 40k and the Universe it inhabits, and most of that has been for the Imperium in general but space marines in particular (both loyalist and Chaos). Some of the pieces have been painted, and I even have an army or two to show for my efforts, but most of them are bare even of undercoat so you can still see what I’ve done to them.
Seemed a shame not to show them off.
Which reminds me… One last thing that I have to say is a big THANK YOU to Steve Buddle. Years ago I met Steve, a young, beardless and callow youth, in the Truro branch of Games Workshop and convinced him that converting figures was really easy. Over the years we exchanged modelling and painting techniques and kept in touch and now we’ve now been friends for the best part of two decades – he’s one of the closest friends I have on the planet. Of course, I’m still a hobbyist while he now sculpts for Games Workshop at their design studio in Nottingham…
I know exactly how Salieri felt when he saw how successful Mozart had become.
But it was Steve’s idea that I start this blog, his suggestion that I try green-stuff as well as the miliput I’d used for years and it was his camera before he bought a new one and donated the old one to a worthy cause.
I hope that you, my faithful readers, will thank him for it. And if that thanks takes the form of a coffee, hot-chocolate or a proper Cornish pasty then I know he’ll thank me in return.