A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to score an interview at Games Workshop’s Head office in Nottingham. And although I wasn’t successful in getting the job, I did successfully re-invigorate my love for a hobby I left by the wayside over 16 years ago. And a few weeks later, I’m far happier for it, my wife/wallet however, not so much.
It started simply enough, Apply for a job, get awarded an interview, research the company so you know what you’re talking about at said interview.
So, I took a trip to Warhammer World on the way home from work one evening and chatted for nearly an hour with a nice chap called James. I just wanted to figure out what had changed in the last 16 years (it turns out, a lot!), instead I managed to talk myself into starting up my hobbying past once again.
For me, the miniature hobby started back in Junior School aged 10, a friend (Alan) brought in a load of stuff his older brother collected. It was all interesting, but the thing that caught my eye was (what I’ve only now realised is) a Space Crusade Dreadnought. To me it was basically a plastic ED-209 I could own. I looked around for one of these things for years after I originally saw it but we didn’t have a “The Internet” back then and I could never figure out what it was.
That night, I begged my mum to take me to this “Games Workshop” place, and after a few weeks she took me to the store in Meadowhall so that I could finally get my hands on some stuff. I remember we spent ages in the store. My interest was taken up by all the box artwork and blister packs of shiny new lead figures (yep, they were all lead back then), my mum was interested in how much this new interest was going to cost her. Especially as I’d given up on every other hobby I’d ever had up to this point. From football and collecting How My Body Works books to playing the keyboard (In case you weren’t aware, this is the 90’s i’m talking about). And after much deliberation, we finally settled on getting the painting starter set.
I wish I could find a pic of this, but it’s so old I’m not even sure “Starter Paint Set” is it’s actual name, But it was in a red box, came with 5 or so of the main paints and an elf and I think a goblin.
Edit: Found it, and I was totally wrong (unless there are different versions as I’m certain I had an elf at least), you got 10 paints, a Space Marine, a Chaos Warrior and a Starter Brush (a brush I actually still have, and still use!………occasionally).
I was never a fan of the fantasy Warhammer stuff, I always had a love for Sci-fi Warhammer 40,000 and after getting quickly bored of the 2 figures I now owned, back to begging mum I went. As it turns out mum wasn’t just talking with Mr shop assistant about how much this hobby costs, she actually got some good background on the company. Including the important little fact that the mail-order office was in Hill Top, Eastwood. Less than a mile away from our house. So close it was actually on my walk to school and is now on my cycling commute to work (the building at least, GW has move into somewhat larger offices in Lenton).
Not being shy, mum drove us up there, where we met a lovely receptionist who I believe was called Hope. Most companies would say. “I’m sorry, this is the mail order office, please place an order over the telephone (no internet remember) and we can deliver it to your house. Nope, one of the guys came out of the picking office and chatted with us for nearly an hour about what the next purchase should be and said nobody’s ever done this before, but you can buy it right here and now. (Now I’m not saying we gave Games Workshop the idea to incorporate a shop into their Head Office, but I am saying, this guys said we wee the first people to buy directly from there). I already knew what my (Mum’s) next purchase should be. It should be some bloody space marines so help me mother (thank you). So off we went with a box of Marines, some glue and a copy of the latest White Dwarf chucked in for free.
I’m not sure if this is the correct box (above), but it looks familiar. These are like today’s Space Marine Tactical Squad (but 6 in a box, what an odd (yet even) number of Space Marines). Sprue based, multi part build yourself models. But unlike today’s marines, the legs and torso actually connected with a flat surface at the top of the legs and a flat surface at the bottom of the torso, unlike the ones today which have more of a ball joint.
And that was the start of my first true hobby.
It built slowly from there, I spent almost every day of summer holidays painting. Some of my school friends were into it too and we painted and played together. Now, at the time I knew there was an actual “game” you could play with all these models, but my 10 year old brain and 10 year old finances could neither understand or afford that. So when I say “playing”; I mean waggling them round in the air shouting “pew pew” noises at each others models.
As I left my Junior School and joined Comprehensive School (comp) I found that several members of my social group also collected the figures. White Dwarf had become a monthly necessity, my 40k 2nd edition purchase was a distant memory and I found myself needing to choose an army to collect (it was sort of Blood Angels up to that point because Space Marines + Blood = Cool). At this time I also discovered that Rock Music, along with darkness and anger were the answer to everything in the universe. Just as Games Workshop went and re-launched Chaos armies in a big, big way.
So, I had some painting skill, a parent funded subscription to White Dwarf, a copy of 40k, friends who play and…… A Codex (A book about a particular faction), I was set. I listed every model from all the pictures inside the codex (there were words in the book too, but unless it was an image caption or the title on the front cover, I never read one of them) and that was my collection list, I had to collect them all.
Saving £1 a day from my lunch money and making a pilgrimage every Friday to the mail-order office I was rolling in a figure a week. Sometimes more if my weekly pocket money/paper round allowed. I was obsessed, My school girlfriend got me a figure to celebrate my birthday, My childminder even bought me figures for christmas (they were High Elves, but you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth. And I quickly traded them with a mate (Daniel) for a full copy of Space Hulk (shhhh)). Living far away from all my other friends, I couldn’t spend any evening’s playing out with them so I stayed in, and I painted, and without blowing my own horn too much, I got good.
I collected, I painted, I tried to copy all of the paining styles from inside the Codex and got close-ish. I bought all the new figures that were released after the codex. Kharn the Betrayer, Fabius Bile (which some bastard nicked from the Meadowhall store when I was showing off my collection one day). Even the Chaos Bike which I waited years for it to be released. As I came close to completing this collection (It wasn’t an army in the strict sense that the game rules outlined, just a collection of everything pictured in the Codex). I started to game a bit. My mum, bless her got 2 wallpaper pasting tables covered in snooker table felt for me so that I could play with my friend (John). We had 2 games, ever, and only one of these used those boards.
I even started collecting Dark Angels too. I had no idea they were directly opposing factions to my current Chaos collection, I just thought they looked cool and I needed a change.
But somewhere into this collection, I changed, I grew up. I was allowed to play-out in places off the top of our road, and eventually up o my friends houses near school, or they came to see me. I didn’t have the time to sit and paint figures but I still tried to find some for a while.
But then, something which put the final nail in the Games Workshop hobby coffin.
I discovered boobs……..