In case you were wondering, some of the parts to make my groovy Rough Riders were sculpted by Rob at Curious Constructs.

Saturday 31 March 2018

The Greatest 40k Hobby Adventure Ever Told [Part 1]

Big call right. - Trust me, it's worth it.
The Easter break provided me with the opportunity to finally pen this epic tale. 
Enjoy it while downing a few choccy eggs ;) 

Being married with young kids, along with having a job that is hard to leave at work, means that finding opportunities to game can be really tough. In the past it has been the norm that I will organise a 'game day' with my mates and it will be cancelled because someone’s kid gets sick or someone’s wife pulls the pin on it. It happens and we move on. It makes the time we do play special. It is probably why we take photos, blog and celebrate the games that we play so much (thanks Muppet). This epic tail (over a few posts) is about that ultimate 'no holds barred' battle between real life and gaming. This time however, I set the stakes higher than ever before. This is the story of one man battling against extremes odds to play a game of Warhammer on the other side of the world.
I visited Warhammer World back in 2009 during a quick work trip to the UK. It was great. No, it was awesome. “How cool would it be to one day come back to the UK and play a game with my own army?” I thought to myself. It was an impossible dream. How would I even get an army from Australia to the UK? No, it's ridiculous. I was engaged and had no kids at the time but even then I knew it was a ridiculous dream. This year that dream became a reality.

Real Life
Last year I was working as an academic and scientist at a university in Australia. I lacked a  permanent position and my scientific brilliance was not being recognised in any way. I decided to change that by getting in touch with a professor in Sweden who was working at one of the most prestigious labs in my field. I saw that he was advertising a research position and I thought this would be a good way of getting my CV under his nose. The response I was looking for was “Sorry you didn’t get the job but yes I’d love for you to work with us on a project...”. I mentioned my plan to the wife but didn’t actually do anything about it. Then one Sunday I went into work to finish something off and I remembered about the position. I checked it but it had closed that morning so the opportunity had been missed. But wait. The deadline was in Sweden and I was in Australia. It wasn’t closed - I still had 2 hours!
With no time to think about it I hurriedly put together an application and sent it off! When I got home I triumphantly told my wife how I had managed to get the application together in just 2 hours to meet the deadline. To my surprise she was not amused about my superhuman deed but was upset that I had applied for a job in Sweden without properly discussing it. I hadn’t thought about it like that. “I can always say no” I said, “And as if I would get it anyway.”

Fast forward a month or so and many of my colleagues were losing their jobs thanks to a tyrannical chaos worshiping Dean of Research. My interview in Sweden had gone unexpectedly well and I had a job offer on the table.
Professor: “I want you to have the job”
Me: "Wow!"
Me: “Can you pay travel expenses for me and my family?”
Professor: “No”
Me: “The pay is less than my current job, and Sweden is expensive, can you up the pay at all?”
Professor: “No”
Professor: “You can stay in my holiday house until you find somewhere to live and borrow my bike”
My wife was a firm no. I understood but struggled to pass up the opportunity. Then I found out that my contract was not being renewed in Australia. Backed into a corner, my wife agreed so I took the job. Later she would change her mind about every week or so and decide that she wasn’t going at all for a day or two every fortnight but that was part of the fun.

Back to the hobby part of the story
So I was moving to Sweden for maybe a year, maybe longer. I would be just a short hop away from the birthplace of Warhmmer and a large group of my blogger friends. Not only that, but I might have an army with me! I immediately stopped my current hobby projects and started planning what I would take with me and how I would get it to Europe.

As for what army the choice was simple. It had to be my Praetorians!
This was a small force that I had penciled out as a fun tournament list during 6th and 7th ed. Painted up finished I had 30 riflemen, a platoon and company command squad, 20 veterans, a tank, rough riders and an earthshaker. The rest had been started and just needed a good push. Of course I also had loads of models with older paint jobs but they were a bit rough.
I had a lot of tanks that needed a lot of work. 
The Parade of Shame (due to being mostly unpainted)
And I had all the Praetorian that I'll ever need. 
So the question was how much could I paint and how much could I take? 
For transport I had a big battle foam bag so that seemed an obvious choice.....  Well in terms of model safety my battle foam bag would have been a good choice but it turned out it was going to be too expensive to ship. I was funding my move out of my own pocket so I had to come up with something else. I discovered that I could post boxes to Sweden for much much cheaper so that became the new plan.
I  began to prep my force... 
Bases for 5 Earthshakers/Medusas.
Lascannons in early stages of painting. 
I wasn't happy with my original lion. It needed repainting.
Four blast shields on their way.
I wanted to resurrect my first ever tank due to the many fond memories of this guy from 2nd and 3rd ed. I got it second hand and over its long life it had 4 or 5 coats of paint. I stripped the paint as best I could but the side panels were in bad shape so I replaced them.

I selected my infantry from the 'parade of shame', stripped them and gave them a fresh undercoat. 

I wanted the bases of my artillery crews to match the steel tread plate on the gun platform. Fly screen did the trick. 

Here is the infantry force starting to take shape. I have painted most of the bases brown ready to add rocks. I didn't want to ship rocks to Europe so getting them based first and painted later was the priority. 

And the basing moved forward.
(I'm sure the flowers were to cheer the wife up about Sweden)

Bases for heavy weapons teams, sentinels and cavalry.

More progress...

A selection of tanks also progressed. After a lot of time stripping paint and repairing them I added stowage. 

A quick undercoat then making ready to board the ship.
(yes, they look like drugs and yes I was worried about that)

Three months before leaving I shipped three boxes to Sweden by sea knowing that would take about 3 months to arrive. One box of kids clothes, one box of kids toys and one box of model tanks and hobby supplies for me!

With those posted it was back to the infantry. To get many models into the boxes and hold them safely in place I decided to magnetise them to metal base-plates. I made cardboard stands so I could fit several layers of models in a single box. The magnets were 2mm high and 10mm wide so they fit between the base tab insert. I secured them with DAS clay and then once it was all dried I added superglue which soaked into the clay making it rock hard. I have never had a magnet come off. They stuck to the tray well. I could shake the tray upside down vigorously with no movement of the models at all.

I boxed them up, posted them by air fright to my new address in Sweden, then hoped on my plane.
Traveling with a nine month old baby, an autistic three year old and a high anxiety, claustrophobic wife that's never been overseas was an experience I'll never forget. Truly the stuff of nightmares. 

We all survived though, which is more than I can say for my army...
To be continued.

Col. Ackland


  1. Oh NO man!! That last photo... **Gets popcorn for next post**

    1. I know right.
      The next post is on its way ;)

  2. Ha - a post. Nice. When are you posting the next one.

    1. Next year.
      Kidding! It'll be up in a few day. Happy Easter mate.

  3. Wow! You have been on an adventure, man - fascinating read, looking forward to seeing part 2. And that last photo/sentence... Nooooooo!

  4. Cheers for stopping by to read it. Yes, an adventure indeed!
    I found part 2 gut wrenching.

  5. What a gripping tale! You certainly have the gift of writing... and therefore have no business being an academic! (Just a little joke - my heartiest congratulations for your success sir!)

    And condolences in anticipation of the conclusion of your tragic tale...

    1. Oh Scipio, wait until you see it. :(

      I laughed at your academic crack!

      Jeepers, the pressure is on make sure the next post is good! Hope it doesn't disappoint to much. ;)

  6. Love the gig of chappy riding the jet!

    But...the army...long distance...breakages?

    The Horror.

    1. If I could have wound the clock back and changed that decision I would have!

      (I do love a good gif too)

  7. Wow! Quite the story.

    Bit afraid to what happens next. Minis and long distance travel rarely mix well...

    1. It was a hard lesson. But I think I have it sorted now.

  8. Make with the update already! I dropped a case onto a parade of minis on my desk once... Smithereens springs to mind. The Colonel is right, your writing is very good.

  9. I totally stole your idea for the regimental standard. I my have my pith helmet cover the whole skull though and not leave any visible.