Archive for RIP

FRABuSEL, In Memoriam

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , on May 29, 2016 by krautscientist

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Hey everyone, it’s been a while since the last update, for which I apologise. Unfortunately, there’s a pretty sad reason for today’s post, as my favourite hobby store, FRABuSEL, will be closing its doors come the end of the month. So I’d like the opportunity to talk about the store a bit and share some memories of the last couple of years. Let this serve as a heartfelt eulogy to my favourite FLGS:

FRABuSEL's storefront: Taking a look at the various armies presented there always made me come away with a new conversion idea or two.

FRABuSEL’s storefront: Taking a look at the various armies presented there always made me come away with a new conversion idea or two.

I only really found out about FRABuSEL’s fate last week, when I swung by the store to pick up a pot of paint or two: I was faced with half-empty shelves and a jumble of moving boxes. And sure enough, Carsten – the owner – confirmed my suspicions: Due to the recent lack of sales, and especially due to the lack of new customers, running the store had turned out to no longer be economically viable. Now you can probably imagine that this came as a bit of a shock to me: I had been purchasing virtually all of my hobby products (with the exception of some specific bitz purchases) at the store for the last couple of years (and at FRABuSEL’s predecessor store Spieltraum for more than a decade beforehand), and most of my armies and warbands consist of models purchased at the store:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2016 (1) big

And for a good reason, because FRABuSEL wasn’t merely the closest and most convenient location to pick up new plastic crack, but also a teriffic store in its own right: Carsten ran a great business and was always quick with good advice or a fair discount. What’s more, as is a sign of all the best hobby stores, FRABuSEL was also a venue for all kinds of events and friendly games, and while I am not a huge gamer myself, Khorne’s Eternal Hunt did see quite a few outings against its enemies on the tables provided by the store, and some of those games remain among my favourite tabletop moments (such as that one time I wiped the table with my cousin’s Dark Eldar and then let victory elude my grasp because I actually played too much like a World Eater).

Khorne's Eternal Hunt facing off against a coalition of Craftworld Eldar and their dark kin at FRABuSEL

Khorne’s Eternal Hunt facing off against a coalition of Craftworld Eldar and their dark kin at FRABuSEL

It helped that the business side of things was excellent as well, of course: Carsten stocked a lot of products that would otherwise have been a bit of a hassle to get hold of (ranging from a wide range of Vallejo colours to all kinds of OOP GW metal models). And whenever the internet erupted in cries of misery due to a newly released model or boxed set selling out about 3.5 minutes after first becoming available, I could rest easy in the knowledge that a copy of it would be waiting at FRABuSEL for me the coming week, should I wish to pick it up. And whenever I read about more and more hobby stores around the world closing their doors, I was happy to know that my own FLGS was still around — and hopefully would remain so for a long time to come!

Discovering excellent models, such as this Looted Knight, courtesy of the store's other regulars, was always an additional treat!

Discovering excellent models, such as this Looted Knight, courtesy of the store’s other regulars, was always an additional treat!

Only now it won’t be around any longer, and that really sucks! It makes picking up new hobby supplies more complicated (and much less personal), but that’s only the smallest part of the problem , obviously. It also means one less place for getting in touch with other hobbyists, sharing friendly banter and advice, and for immersing myself in this particular part of hobby culture.

Granted, this is certainly only a part of much bigger developments, with more and more specialist and special interest stores going out of business, while people primarily buy online. But while the internet has done lots of good for our hobby, providing forums, blogs and communities that foster communication and the exchange of ideas and hobby projects, it has also been doing a hell of a number on the brick and mortar stores that have been real hearthfires, so to speak, for hobbyists for years and years. The same is obviously true for all kinds of smaller, owner-managed stores, as more and more of them drop out of the race at. And maybe that’s just the way of the world. But its’s a bad way, and it leaves all our cities looking exactly the same, with just the same five big store chains endlessly arranging and re-arranging their respective stores in slightly different configurations.

One of Carsten's own models, a Soulgrinder well-known to regular customers.

One of Carsten’s own models, a Soulgrinder well-known to regular customers.

 

But back to this particular story: I dropped by the store one last time last Friday, and dug through the packing crates with models in order to score some final deals. It did feel like helping to pick clean the bones of a former pet, to be honest, even after Carsten repeatedly assured me that every sale helped. But yeah, it wasn’t a particularly happy day, for obvious reasons.

One of the crates containing heaps of miniature blisters. Digging through these for the last time did leave a bittersweet feeling...

One of the crates containing heaps of miniature blisters. Digging through these for the last time did leave a bittersweet feeling…

 

So here’s to FRABuSEL, my favourite FLGS, and the store that launched a thousand armies (three or four in my case alone, actually)! And here’s to Carsten, who was always a pillar of the community, and to whom I wish all the best from the bottom of my heart!

So if you have any brick and mortar stores in your vincinity that you like, please make sure to spend some money there as soon as possible, lest they share the same fate — that 20% discount online may seem tempting now, but those guys at the big online sellers are not going to provide any tables for you to play on, and neither will they remember you when someone brings in a huge box of odds and ends and allow you to dig through it at your leisure — just sayin’…

In spite of everything, I would like to wrap up this somewhat sad post on a slightly uplifting note, and maybe I have just the thing for that: In addition to the stuff I purchased during my last two visits, Carsten also gave me a Space Wolves model he had assembled himself as a small gift. And the least I could do was to give this poor straggler a new home. So I just made a few small tweaks…

Kharrsten Bloodhowl WIP (1)
Kharrsten Bloodhowl WIP (2)
Kharrsten Bloodhowl WIP (3)
…and now Kharrsten Bloodhowl, the Death-Dealer, stands ready to join my next batch of traitorous Space Wolves and ultimately become a part of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:

New Blood Wolves WIP
It’s a very small gesture, to be sure, but one that at least seems like a neat little tribute to me 😉

So thanks again to Carsten for running an amazing store over these last years! And, as always, thanks to your for looking! Stay tuned for more!

Carsten's Imperial Guard, now heading for another battlefield. The Emperor protect you, soldiers!

Carsten’s Imperial Guard, now heading for a different battlefield. The Emperor protect you, soldiers!

Wayne England – In Memoriam

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2016 by krautscientist

It’s only February, but 2016 certainly hasn’t been pulling its punches so far, with some spectacularly talented people sadly departed from this planet these last few weeks. Unfortunately, Wayne England is now among those departed, and I was very sad to learn yesterday that he had passed away, because he has been an all time favourite among GW’s artists for me: His very stylised, angular illustrations of heavily armoured – and mostly very evil – guys were one of the most effective gateway drugs for getting me in this hobby and played a big part when permanently roping me into assembling and painting little spiky plastic men. In fact, Wayne England’s work was probably just about as important for getting me into the hobby as the iconic illustrations by John Blanche, especially during my younger years, when the latter’s work sometimes just seemed a bit too trippy for me to grasp 😉

By the same token, some of GW’s publications – and indeed some stages of my own hobby life – will always be inextricably tied to Wayne England’s artwork, so in honour of this great artist, allow me to reminisce for a bit:

 

Army Book Realm of Chaos and the Champions of Chaos Supplement

These were the first chaos army books I ever owned, and I can still remember poring over Wyne England’s tableaus of jagged chaotic weaponry and armour in search of possible conversion ideas as a lad:

Wayne England artwork (18)

And his cover for the Champions of Chaos supplement was probably even more iconic (and also served as the cover for my first ever issue of White Dwarf, incidentally):

Wayne England artwork (17)

This bad boy really embodied everything that I loved about the hordes of chaos back then: He’s heavily armoured, faceless, spiky and utterly menacing – what’s not to love?

 

3rd edition Codex Chaos Space Marines cover

My first CSM Codex  — and the one iteration of the book that I think most chaos players would rather like to forget: This Codex was one of the first to follow GW’s somewhat questionable idea of radically reducing the Codices in scope (in order to be able to produce more of them at a faster rate). Alas, it didn’t end well, as the resulting books ended up feeling rather thin in more ways than one. But something that still stays with me is the warped, iron-toothed champion of the ruinous powers to adorn the book’s cover, once again courtesy of Wayne England:

Wayne England artwork (8)

In a way, this illustration actually serves as a perfect companion piece to the aforementioned cover of “Champions of Chaos”, with both pictures creating perfect avatars of the WFB and 40k sides of chaos, respectively.

 

3rd edition Warhammer 40k rulebook
This book ‘s background section has often been called one of the darkest versions of the 40k universe, and this is at least true when looking at the very dark, brooding black and white artwork appearing throughout the book. Wayne England created a couple of extraordinarily dark pieces, giving us, among other things, some very grimdark interpretations of the three monkeys,…

Wayne England artwork (20)

Wayne England artwork (19)

…a brilliantly creepy illustration presumably showing a Dark Eldar Haemonculus that had me marveling at how monstrous these guys seemed…

Wayne England artwork (21)

…a splash page perfectly capturing the Astartes’ duality between noble and righteous warriors and creepily inhuman weapons of mass destruction:

Wayne England artwork (22)

….and finally what may still be my favourite piece of Dark Eldar art, even after all these years:

Wayne England artwork (11)

 

2nd edition Codex Chaos

Actually published earlier than at least the two previous entries on this list, of course, but I didn’t own the book until well into the 2000s. It remains one of my favourite GW books ever, as you may remember. Of course I was delighted to discover some very cool Wayne England artwork in this book as well. Such as one of my all time favourite World Eaters:

Wayne England artwork (23)

I actually think Wayne England may also have been responsible for the original version of the various traitor legion symbols published in this book – at the very least, they seem to show quite a few hallmarks of his style. I still love these symbols and the amount of detail that has gone into them – Forgeworld’s treatment of the traitor legion heraldry notwithstanding, these older versions blow all of the newer interpretations out of the water, if you ask me.

 

And all of this is really merely scratching the surface: How can I not mention the excellent illustrations for Kharn the Betrayer or Angron from the Horus Heresy trading card game, along with more excellent work from the same source (In fact, his work for the setting really managed to give the Heresy an epic and mythical quality, something that seems to be missing from the more codified, cleaner artwork of recent years)? Or the beautifully forlorn voidborn? Or the seminal Sons of Sekh art? In fact, let me just share just a few of my favourite pieces by Wayne England that appeared beyond the books mentioned above:

In short, Wayne England’s work has always been emblematic of GW’s style during some of my formative hobby years, especially when it came to portraying the forces of chaos. I remember reading about him participating in the Oldhammer scene a fair bit recently, and while that scene’s old school sensibilities don’t always fully agree with me, I was still very happy to see him make an appearance there. He also created a brilliant illustration for morbäck, depicting the latter’s Chaos Lord Korthalis a while ago. It’s an excellent piece of art with all the strengths of his vintage GW artwork, and Maxime must be incredibly happy to have received it – even moreso in the light of recent events.
Wayne England’s artwork still speaks to me many years later, and his trademark style added a layer of visual identity to GW’s publications that is sadly lacking from the newer books – and has been for quite a while.

My heart goes out to his family. And thank you, Mr. England, for all the wonderfully spiky evil guys! And all the best to you, wherever you may be now!

Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , , , on March 13, 2015 by krautscientist

RIP_Terry_Pratchett

Damn. There’s really not much more to say. Far more intelligent and eloquent people are singing Terry Pratchett’s praises even now, so suffice to say that this is terrible news! Even though his illness was well known, I would have hoped that Death would still save him for later — but in the end, he probably wanted to finally meet the man who had made him into one of the best supporting characters ever, I suppose.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books have a very special place in my heart, because they are a triumph: Wonderful fantasy with an abundance of humour and some excellent stories hidden within: Few fantasy writers seem to realise that fantasy novels need compelling worlds and interesting narratives above all else — narratives that could even stand on their own if all the fantastic elements were to be removed from the equation. Sir Terry was one of those people, which makes his loss all the more tragic.

I remember wanting to be fluent in English, so I could read his books in the original. In that, Terry Pratchett probably did more for my multilingualism than any school lesson. I remember being overjoyed late last year when I discovered the Discworld Diary had made a comeback after several years. I remember reading his last few books and wondering, time and time again, whether the book I was reading was going to be the last one. Or whether it would – possibly even worse – be the one where the rot finally set in.

That never happened, and maybe we should be glad for that, in spite of everything. Terry Pratchett’s work seems far removed from the grimdark setting of Warhammer 40k at a glance, but in the end, all of this may have come from a similar breed of very British satire. So it is probably safe to assume that many 40k fans frequenting this blog will feel this loss just as keenly as I do.

My condolences to the family. And all the best to Sir Terry Pratchett, wherever he may be now. May you live in interesting times, sir!

 

EDIT: It has since come to my attention that fellow hobbyist and very talented artists Henry South is holding a raffle/auction that will allow you to own some of his beautiful models (which have already been featured in Blanchitsu, no less), with the proceeds going towards supporting Alzheimer’s Society, in honour of Terry Pratchett. Please take a minute to check out the following links and maybe make a contribution! And thanks for the wonderful idea, Henry!

The raffle is here, and the auction can be found here.