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

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Greatest 40k Hobby Adventure Ever Told [Part 2]

(Part 1 here)
[Please excuse my over use of Gifs. It was tough for me to write some of this out. Also sorry for the long post - I could not break this part of the story up. If you can make it to the end it is worth it!]

Our first few weeks in Sweden were hard. Nothing seemed to go to plan at all. Without all the details this was me:

Two weeks after being in Sweden I received a letter under my door. My rough google translation read that my boxes had arrived but I had to pay hundreds of dollars to customs even though it was my own stuff and it was all second hand. I had no idea how to argue it so I paid it. My boxes were not delivered to my apartment but to a little tobacco shop at the local shops. This is how Sweden does mail.

I picked them up a few at a time and walked 1.3 km home (taking four trips all up). My model box had not fared well. It looked like it had been kicked and dropped and tossed and rammed and shaken galore. When I picked it up it even sounded bad. It is not a sound I ever want to hear again.

The actual box.
Even though the box was double thickness and the magnets were strong, everything was loose. My models were a mess. Everything was chipped, dented and broken. Everything. I was heartbroken. I now didn't own a single painted model and my cavalry was smashed too. I put them aside not wanting to look or think about it. It was too depressing. An entire box of all my best paints and supplies had not arrived at all. Nothing in Sweden was going to plan. My wife had said we made a mistake coming and I was starting to think that she was right.

I started taking a few photos thinking I might be able to put an insurance claim in but gave up as the devastation set in. I should note here that looking back at the photos some models don't look that bad, but these shots don't capture how scratched all the paint was. Everything needed repainting.

Cavalry Before:

Praetorians before:
Praetorians After:
Many of the lasgun barrels were broken too.

Force Commander Before:

Commander after (the gun was never found):

A few other models:
I just stopped taking photos. It was gut wrenching.

A stressful few weeks later my hobby box arrived out of nowhere – in average shape but I was glad just to see it. Weeks went on and I was starting to get concerned that my first boxes (the tanks, toys and cloths shipped by sea), had not rocked up. I had posted them to my work but had not seen a parcel slip. One afternoon whilst in the photocopier room at work I found a bundle of mail. In it were three letters addressed to me! They were letters from the postal service telling me to pick up my boxes or they would be returned-to-sender. The return date was that day!!! I frantically rang the post company and after being on hold for an hour got through. My boxes had just left Sweden that morning to go back to Australia. My models were gone but more importantly all of the cloths for my 9 month old daughter had gone with them. I tracked the parcels to the Netherlands and tried to get them returned. I spend hours on the phone between companies but it turned out that the only people that had the authority to send them back to Sweden was Australia Post. I stayed up until 3am to call Australia Post during working hours. They were not helpful and would do nothing about the situation. It was a dark time. I remember sitting up at 3am after the call; my pay was much less than back in Australia and clothes were much more expensive, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work, and my wife really wanted to go home. 

But we pushed on.

As time went on we found second hand stores for clothes and slowly I began pulling my chipped and broken models out of their box. Finally, on one particularly hopeless day I sat down and picked up my paint brush and painted some lions. I remember how bad I felt at the time. I thought about how my son was getting no help with his autism, while in Australia he had a number of therapists (for which there wasn't out of pocket expense). I was having trouble with my work contact, I couldn't get a bank account and there were a billion other things not going to plan. I mention this only because sitting down to paint these lions really cheered me up. It held my focus, quieted my mind and for that hour or so life was calm. At the end I was happy with the lions. Among the billion things I couldn't get done, here was something I could.

Soon after, I pulled out my rough riders and decided to fix them. The repair work was symbolic and gave me hope that the trip was salvageable. It was heartwarming to see models that I thought were beyond repair looking ready for battle again. It wasn’t long before I started dreaming about hopping over to the UK for a game.

They were almost all repaired, but like a scar, some break marks remained (like on the helmet spike above).  Free from any goals or painting plans, I stated some new cavalry. I had always wanted to convert up some classic 'British household cavalry' to add to my Macharian Thunder Guard. Without thinking too much I got to work. Thus begun 'The Great Cavalry Distraction of 2017'. 

It was so weird building lances again after all these years. I had to check my post from 2011 to remember how I did it!

I should point out that the Macharian Thunder Guard are a veteran cavalry division made up of the last surviving remnants of numerous cavalry regiments. This means there are a large variety of uniforms throughout the force. The exception to this are riding lances and the genetically bred horses which are standardised 'Macharian' style across the force. I imagine that an effort is made to form riding troops (units) from the same original regiments. This means that I usually make five guys in the same uniform. In the photo above I'm seeing how four different units look side by side.

The reputable 'Col. Ackland' was also repaired and began to be repainted. I worked a bit more on his noble steed in an attempt to make it look a little more special too. 

(I imagine him showing off the the other horses)

A command squad of Terrax Grenadiers:

Here are a few units lined up.

This is where I was up to in September after being in Sweden for 3 months. The Great Cavalry Distraction of 2017 had ushered in some hobby routine so it was about time to start some new redcoats. With that thought, I found myself dreaming again about hopping over to the UK for a game. I semi-casually mentioned how a Throne of Skulls weekend at Warhammer World was one of my life long dreams. I imagined it would be the ‘friendly’ gaming atmosphere that suited me. Then something happened that I never could have predicted... She said "When"... I said "November"... She said "OK". 

"Maybe another time we'll all head over to the UK for a trip" she added. Blogger extraordinary Zzzzzz from Devos IV had reached out to invite me over to the UK too. Sudenly my wildest dreams were coming true. We couldn't pin down a date for our family trip to the UK but Throne of Skulls was solid. That day way the 7th of September and I was aiming for Throne of Skulls on the 11th of November. With nine weeks to go, I booked the cheapest flights and accommodation I could get and painted and painted and painted. I pulled really long evenings at that desk!

Leading up to Throne of Skulls my wife changed her mind about me going on a pretty regular bases.

Army progress on the 8th of September:


Army progress on the 16th of September:

I was going to run my army as DKoK with my cavalry as Death Riders. So I modeled platoon standard for a few squads.

I love foil because after it's painted you can bend it into realistic flowing shapes. Being double thickness, it is pretty strong and doesn't tare easily.

Army progress on the 24th of September:

Around this point at the end of September / beginning of October the 8th ed Astral Miliwhat (Imperial Guard) codex dropped. 

I should have been full of ambition and painting at breakneck speed, however real life put a rather large bump in the road. 

At the beginning of October I had to fly to Prague for a conference leaving my wife in Sweden with the kids. I knew she would find it hard and isolating by herself but it was way worse than expected. The kids came down with ‘winter vomiting disease’ (which I thought was made up). It wasn't.

They vomited and vomited and vomited everywhere. To make matters worse a fuse blew in the apartment and the power went. From Prague, I talked my wife through how to change the fuse but it blew again a few times so there was a bigger issue. One night my wife rang me and begged me to come home early. It was not going well. In the end I didn’t come home early (it was too hard to make happen) but it was made very clear that couldn’t go away and leave her home with the kids in a 'strange country' again. I went to cancel my tickets for Throne of Skulls but I was not going to get my flights or accommodation back so I just left it.

I was crushed and the painting stopped. I did convert a crusader just for fun but there was zero motivation to do much else.

At the end of October it was my daughters first birthday. My wife was upset to not be spending it with our parents, family and friends in Australia. I had to find some way of making it special….. cue a last minute trip to Disneyland Paris. It cost an arm and a leg but went down a treat. 

After we got home, somehow my trip to the UK was back on the table! Suddenly with three weeks to go I had to paint like I had never painted before! I emailed the organisers to get approval on the conversions I was bringing. They did not get back to me so I pushed on.

Army progress at the end of October:

With one week to go before the event, the organizers emailed me back and said I could not bring my cavalry. I was a bit crushed especially because I had seen other people's converted cavalry with the same bits at Warhammer World events (like Col. Gravis and Col. Winterbourn).

With one week left I needed to sub-out the cavalry and find an extra 47 'power level' in my list! My LR Demolisher was painted so it slotted in and the rest was filled by more men and lots of characters. 

Army progress on the 3rd of November (7 days until flying out):

Army progress on the 4th of November (6 days until flying out):

Army progress on the 7th of November (3 days until flying out):

With only a days left why the hell I is doing conversions is beyond me. Never the less I wanted 'bugles voxes'. 

Army progress on the 8th of November, 12pm, (2 days until flying out):

Army progress on the 8th of November, 7pm:

Army progress on the 8th of November, 10pm:

Army progress on the 8th of November, 11:30pm:

Army progress on the 9th of November 8am (the day before flying out):

Army progress on the 9th of November 10pm (the day before flying out):

Army progress on the 10th of November 6:30am (the day of my flight):

I stayed up until 2-3am every night that week painting and was pushing a full load at work during the days. On Thursday the 8th (the day before my flight) I got home from work early at 3pm and painted all night. I was still painting at 10am the next day. I stopped, and spent less than an hour working out how to put my models into my case. I used my magnet and metal plate method that had failed me to Sweden. This time, as carry-on baggage, my models would not leave my side and I was sure that would make the difference.

I had 20 minutes to pack my cloths and gaming equipment before running to the train station and heading to the airport. I got on the train and could not believe what was actually happening. My worries at that point were getting my army through security at the airport and onto the plane as carry-on luggage, then finding my two trains in the UK to get to Nottingham. 

I am pleased to write that both me and my army arrived in the UK safely.

On the train to Nottingham I struggled to keep my eyes open but was paranoid that I would miss my stop. I finally got to my tiny hotel room at around 11pm. I placed my bags carefully on my bed, laid out my army to inspect it, and pulled out my bush to finish the last touches.

10th of November 1154am (the night before the tournament):

I have no recollection of what time I got into bed. As I laid there I thought about all that I had done to get to where I was. I thought about all the things that had worked against this coming together. It was completely, ridiculously, unlikely that I had pulled this off. But that was the thing - I HAD pulled this off. Having been wake for well over 40 hours, I was utterly exorcised but so excited. Strange thoughts drifted through my mind; I had started this army exactly 20 years ago; After being around on the far side of the globe I was bringing my army of 'veterans' back to their home; How many battles had I fought with these guys? How badly had I wanted to play them here? Had I taken that job in Sweden and gone through everything just to get here? God, that's a crazy thought. I had no answers but I drifted off to sleep knowing that this was going to be one of the greatest weekends of my life.

To be continued.

Tally ho,
Col. Ackland.


  1. Ye gods, that was a heart-wrenching read. I'm terribly sorry to hear of the trials and travails, but super glad to hear that there sounds to be at least some light at the end of the tunnel. Kudos for staying strong throughout, my friend!

    1. Thank you. It took me a long while to share the story here but I’m glad I did. When hobby is a big part of your life, the way it mixes with life events is fascinating to consider.

  2. I had to stop looking at ‘those’ pictures after the 2nd one. Must have been devastating. I commend you for picking yourself up and getting the army in such wicked shape. Also looks to me like this has ramped up the overall painted levels of your sea of grey plastic from Part 1 ;) Sounds like your whole family went through a bit of a wringer to start with!!

    1. In terms of army painting it has shown me what grim determination can do.
      I think I needed to claw myself out of the hole and my army was the mechanism by which I did it.

  3. What a gut wrenching post to read - I can only imagine how terrible it must have been to live through. For myself, I thought that the inspirational "paint therapy" was a fantastic way to recover from the tragedy of the models' loss.

    Perhaps you could memorialise the event in your models? Write a section in your fluff where a whole battalion is lost in the warp during a deployment, and the heartbroken Colonel has to battle against Imperial ineptitude and inertia to raise a new unit in time for a major campaign! "The Second (Phoenix) Battalion, Macharian Thunder Guard".

    Stick it to fate by turning the disaster round into a gripping new chapter in your army's history. Anyway, whatever you decide it was seriously one of the best (best-worst) posts I've ever read. Absolutely gripping.

    1. I don’t know what I would have done without my paint therapy. I remember my wife saying to me before we left Australia, “Are you sure you HAVE TO take models to paint?”
      I was blank faced “umm yes!” I’d probably be an alcoholic if I didn’t have models to paint.

      Oh and the event in fluff – you know me too well! You’ll read about it in the coming posts but yes pretty close, a whole crusade army lost in the warp, these are the last survivors who are now temporally displaced by hundreds of years. The galaxy has become a lot nastier since they left too.

  4. Ray FFS ! There are 2000 infantry figures here and 200 AFVs (and 45 death riders) You could have taken what you wanted !


    Your blog goes off line for a year and then you go post whilst I'm out of the country !


    We need to better at communicating....


    Good read ! Well done persevering, I felt your mental and emotional squeezedness.

    1. I know, I know. It wouldn’t be the same without my red coats though.

      Communication is not something I do well when I’m stressed. It’s a tough flaw.

      I am hoping that the last post in this series is us gaming....

  5. What a comeback--great work! I hope all goes well for you and your family from here ;)

    1. Cheers. I’m going through chaos again now but we are on the last legs before returning to Australia. The end is in sight!

  6. Nothing but empathy and indeed sympathy for you (normally I only find sympathy between sh*t and syphilis in a dictionary).

    On a plus point though, those new Life Guard Rough Riders...

    Tenterhooks for the next instalment.

    1. Thanks for reading it Ady. I’m pleased with the new rough riders – it was just a pity I couldn’t take them otherwise I would have had them all finished. I should go and finish them up now!

  7. That was some thought things to go throu. I live in Sweden too (I´m swedish) so I´m wondering where you live? It would be cool to meet up :)

  8. Ha cool!
    I’m in Stockholm (Solna). Drop me a line in real life:
    Raymond ‘dot’ W ‘dot’ Matthews ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com

  9. Fuckin hell Ray! O_o I damn near teared up reading this. :(

    All of you went through so much getting to Sweden and trying to make it work - far apart from my own troubled start to life here after emigrating to the US 17 years ago. Bravo though mate, for your minis, your babies and suffering missus, but also for actually getting to Nottingham!

    Excited to read the 3rd part to this epic tale!

  10. Can't wait for pt3

  11. Amazing information providing by your article, thank you so much for taking the time to share a wonderful article.

  12. Your blog goes off line for a year and then you go post whilst I'm out of the country !
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