Paper Factory

I’d like some new buildings for my tabletop figures to run around, and also to get some practice with this method for model railway based models. These models need to be as simple and cheap as possible to make, and hopefully quick, although I admit the last goal would be a first in my model making.

The plan is to achieve all this by downloading texture pictures, pasting them together on a graphics programme and print them out, making a sort of mini Ikea kit. I recall that the campus where I completed my theatre training was built in exactly this manner: with office buildings, barracks, dining room and houses all made from standard parts brought in using trucks. Only problem was that they sent the wrong parts: we were in Montana and the buildings were meant for California and thus had no insulation whatsoever, making for a very cold winter, but I digress.

Anyway, this attempt is a small “power station” or similar. I’ve discovered that tabletop games are much more interesting when models have interiors. This factory will hopefully contain a fairly generic and probably quite ridiculous device which for now is known as the “GLOM” or “Gratuitously Large and Ominous Machine”…

I’ll work on that later. Right now I need to get these designs to work and stick to card without it all going funny shapes.

Distractions abound

Long suffering readers will know that I have the self-discipline of a cat when it comes to new projects. You will therefore not be surprised to hear that I am doing something not particularly model railway orientated. It is creative though, so I can sort of excuse putting it here.

This time I’ve found yet another old bike frame and I’m trying to make it into a touring bike; yes, again. It is currently getting bits brazed on, and I’m designing the decals because I can’t just do things the simple way.

This may take a while, not least because my usual lack of organisation means it isn’t always going to plan either.

However, I have been sketching out the next item of rolling stock for the Körschtalbahn, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to get moving on that project…

Part two of the story; part one and the backstory are in the previous post, but so far:

In a world where the First World War was ended in 1916, air travel is by airship, and Edward the 8th did not abdicate the throne in 1937, the tiny mid Atlantic island of Ascension is a world transport hub, and suddenly the centre of attention for several powerful interests. Lord Mountbatten, head of a new and mysterious political police force known as the ‘Auxiliary Police’ has left some compromising paperwork on Ascension while travelling through, and has ordered the local detachment of the ‘Auxiliary Police’ to retrieve it.

On attempting to do so the Auxiliaries find they are not the only ones after this prize: the League of Nations has sent a detachment of mercenaries from the Hohenzollern Guard to collect the paperwork as evidence against Mountbatten for his nefarious deeds. After some light skirmishing Lieutenant von Muldenheim has reached the Control Tower office where the paperwork has been left. Unknown to him, however, the Auxiliaries are not far behind, and Colonel Oliver, their leader, is about to enter the building…

Suddenly everyone was converging on the control tower. von Mildenheim’s colleagues ran to support him, with his Captain, Von Witzleben, leaping onto the bonnet of a truck and taking a shot at Colonel Oliver. He missed but the shot alerted the Lieutenant inside to the danger. Pvt. Hoepner, veteran of many a close combat, ran to the control tower.

Ever the coward, Oliver tried to play the ‘disarmed’ card to avoid getting hurt, but Elder Son had been prepared and countered this with a ‘Free Pass’. Lieutenant von Muldenheim was able to deliver a haymaker of a blow to Lawrence, knocking him out of the door and down the steps, after which Oliver decided that promotion or no promotion he would make a tactical retreat and left the scene.

Now that he had the journal, Lieutenant Mulnheim was ordered to get out of the area, while Private Hoepner jumped into the control tower to cover his defeat, and Sgt. Lühring came to support him on the opposite side.

The Lieutenant hesitated, clearly wanting to support his comrades, but Sg. Lühring shouted something through the widow in German and he legged it; no-one is sure what the sergeant said but he looked more scared of her than anything the auxiliaries could manage.

With their object achieved the mopping up began. One Auxiliary ran into the control tower expecting to meet a young Lieutenant and instead was confronted by pvt. Hoepner, as nasty a surprise as could be imagined.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Gunning found himself between Sgt. Lühring and Capt. Von Witzleben.

At this point anyone sensible would have retreated but Gunning decided this was the time to settle old scores and took a wild swing at Lühring, who blocked it and landed a few blows in return.

Meanwhile Pvt. Hoepner, never one for the subtle approach, punched Warrant Officer Whitehead so hard the latter flew off the balcony and onto the ground.

Lühring and von Witzleben expected Gunning to retreat, but enraged he kept fighting back. Unable to disengage they had to keep going and hope to knock him down.

In the end, just as Whitehead returned to the fray, Lühring and von Witzleben managed to subdue Lt. Gunning, and retreated with Hoepner, leaving Whitehead to remove his Lieutenant from the area.

The end result was that Mountbatten’s Journal was captured and the secrets contained therein will hopefully be transported to the Hague for analysis of the contents, while Colonel Oliver worked on a highly imaginative report to blame his subordinates for the failure of his mission…

Elder Son hand I had a great time: he told me later he’d been a bit concerned that he wouldn’t enjoy the game but had found himself getting more and more into it until the end. We missed a lot of things, and forgot to use some fortune cards and skills on the character cards, but now I’m all motivated to finish preparing other characters, so another game will probably appear soon.

In the last weeks before Christmas Elder Son and I finally organised a tabletop game using all these bits and pieces I’ve been building up for months. I’d been preparing for a game based on the old ‘Pulp’ serials of the mid 20th century which appealed because it is more about storytelling than tactics. Equally important, it’s very over the top to the point of silliness which suits my sense of humour.

I’ve been painting several groups of swashbuckling heroes and dastardly villains but ironically I’d procrastinated painting my ‘main’ team for this story and they were still not finished. We ended up with two others I’d painted as ‘practice’, the buildings I’d finally finished last month, and a fair bit of improvisation. The story had to be made up based on the teams available…

It’s about 1938 in a somewhat different world to our own. The First World War ended in 1916 after intervention by Woodrow Wilson. Germany, unified for a mere 49 years, dissolved after the war, returning to a patchwork of small states. One of these, Hohenzollern, is a tiny slip of mountains just north of Switzerland. Technically part of Prussia but far from the rest of the country it has declared independence and in the decades following 1916 it made an export industry in supplying well trained mercenary soldiers to anyone willing to pay.

Meanwhile, in the UK, King Edward VIII has refused to abdicate after marrying Wallace Simpson, causing the British Government to resign. Edward promptly asked his friend sir Oswald Moseley to form a government. One of Moseley’s ‘initiatives’ was the Auxiliary Police, a paramilitary organisation drawn from current and former servicemen to act as political enforcers. This mysterious force appears to be under the direct control of Lord Mountbatten, another close friend of the king, and answers to no-one.

Far away from these events, the tiny mid Atlantic island of Ascension, formerly a backwater of the empire, has become a major transport hub for the new-fangled airships. Mountbatten recently passed through the island on one of his many tours of the Empire, and left behind a notebook containing details of some of his more nefarious activities. He has sent a group of “Auxiliary police” to recover it quickly.

However, the League of Nations, keen to have evidence on Mountbatten’s wrongdoings, sent a small squad of the Hohenzollern Guard to recover the evidence. The two teams meet in the Royal Navy Aerodrome at Wideawake on Ascension island…

Game setup. Elder Son was playing the Hohenzollern Guard (L) and I was playing the “Auxiliary Police” (R) The orange squares are the objectives for each team, five in all. The players have to move a figure to an objective then pass a random challenge to win it. The main objective, “Mountbattens Notebook” was in the “Control Tower” and worth double the amount of points. The team with this point after six moves was the winner. The action on the table was, as expected, accompanied by a lot of theatricals from the players.

The Auxiliaries edge their way onto the scene with their (in game) leader, the arch coward Colonel Lawrence Oliver. As usual he’s insisted on bringing a couple of men with him, and as usual he is using them as a shield.

Meanwhile on the other side of the aerodrome Lieutenant Gunning is making a more professional approach.

End of round one. Hohenzollern moving in from left, Auxiliaries lurking top right.

As well as die rolls, we can play cards to try and make life more difficult for each other. In this case I attempted to slow Sgt Lühring so she couldn’t reach the first goal, but she easily passed the ‘Finesse’ test with a die roll and carried on.

On the other side of the board the Auxiliaries were doing well with a sniper on the water tower, until Pvt. Danner of the Hohenzollerns hit him with a lucky shot.

The remaining Auxiliaries, now without covering fire, lurked in the shadow of the monowheel. Col. Lawrence was shouting at them to stop being cowards, although his voice was muffled as he was hiding behind the water tower at the time.

Meanwhile Sg. Lühring and the Hohenzollern Lieutenant, who had the unfortunate name of Louis Alfred Oscar Muldner von Mulnheim, were advancing on the control tower, picking up a secondary objective as they did so.

Lieutenant Gunning took another secondary objective for the Auxiliaries and a loud and remarkably ineffectual firefight ensued.

Suddenly Pvt. Danner, the Hohenzollern sniper was injured. At the same time, Lieutenant von Mulnheim had just smashed a window and climbed into the control tower itself.

With no sniper any danger was largely past and Colonel Oliver decided that his opportunity for promotion had come. The Colonel ran across the open ground and hid behind the control tower privy, ready to run into the tower and claim Mountbatten’s notebook for himself. von Mulnheim, unaware of the danger, was about to reach out and retrieve that very notebook…

Who will get the notebook first? Will the rest of the Hohenzollern Guard reach their comrade in time, or will he be overcome by the Auxiliaries converging on the tower? Come to that, will Colonel Oliver be overcome by the smell of the Privy? Find out in the next thrilling instalment of “Mountbatten’s Notebook.”

I’m back online, finally. It took several weeks but it seems I finally found an internet provider that can do what it says on the tin.

So, you probably aren’t wondering what has been happening in the creativity department over the last few weeks, free of online distractions? What worlds were built, what problems solved and stories told?

The answer I’m afraid is “not a lot”. This is partly because at the same time as moving, I took on a new position at work, taking over the bike recycling workshop with a mandate to get it organised and at some point at least breaking even. As this workshop looked like the inside of a Skip when I started, this has taken a lot of time and energy. Worse, I’ve been unable to avoid being sent on training seminars which used up the final reserves of get up and go.

My solution to this is generally to start a simpler project, so I dug into the model making box and found the final two huts I’d been making for silly tabletop games; these were in the same sorry state as last Spring, but ideal for my purposes as they don’t require a vast amount of fine detail; they’re just background; details can and will follow but the main thing was to get them ready to plonk on a table ready for the dashing hero or dastardly villain to break into/ out of, climb on, hide behind, or blow up, depending on circumstances.

Now I just need to finish painting said heroes and villains…

To Be Continued…

In a not particularly surprising turn of events, the internet provider for my new apartment has gone from enthusiastically saying everything is fine, to much tutting and “service not available at this address”, so I’ll be without any internet connection for a while. Of course it isn’t that simple; despite the company’s technician visiting and saying the required connection isn’t available, I now have to confirm with the apartment owner that this is the case, which will delay matters still further.

I’m not sure why it is but German internet providers seem to be required to follow this process every time they are asked to make a new connection. I’m not sure if it’s in the constitution or simply the notion that actually should provide a service for the payment they receive is a bit confusing to the poor dears, but if they would spend half the time actually sorting out connections that they put into delaying responses to people who have already paid them and now can’t get online, then Germany would have the best internet access in the world.

And yes, I am supposed to confirm that I can’t get online using an online form…

And it begins…

I’ve been putting off packing for a bit in the hope I could paint up at least one more set of figures before moving next week. Unfortunately the apartment owner and I realised the last day for the handover was today, and we discovered this in Friday.

I didn’t want the potential awkwardness that leaving out the model making stuff would cause because apartment owners have a certain prejudice against sharp tools and large quantities of paint and glue lying about, especially in a furnished apartment, so Saturday was a fairly extensive tidying up session; so extensive that I accidentally packed up the paperwork I needed and promptly forgot which box it was in.

From this, and the evidence of the picture above you’ll gather that I’m being as organised as usual.

On the other hand, the owner will be moving into the apartment with her own furniture, and therefore needs to get rid of a lot of what is already here, so she offered me several items I urgently needed for essentially pocket money, including the shelves containing the model making desk I built way back in 2020, saving me a lot of time and money designing and building a new one.

The flip side is that I now have an unexpected logistics issue, because instead of moving a few boxes as I thought, I now have to haul several items of furniture across the village…

Moving date comes ever closer, but I can’t pack much because I only have the most necessary items here anyway.

I’m including model making tools as “necessary”, because if I don’t so something creative at least once a day then I tend to get grumpy, so figure painting is continuing. Paintbrushes can be packed quickly, right?

After Lev the Anarchist a couple of weeks ago, here’s a few comrades, or possibly opponents, This would depend on things like political allegiances, personal loyalties, and mostly of course, who happens to be offering the most cash…

I think I can get another handful of figures painted before I move, so there may be one final post before I go dark for a while…

Empire Building

I’ll be visiting family this weekend. Youngest Son is graduating and Beautiful Daughter has plans to expand her railway empire so I’ll be a bit busy.

See you when I get back…

Contract Signed

Finally the flat hunting which has been plaguing me for several months has been resolved; it wasn’t helped by the need to be within easy cycling distance of work because I’m a tree hugging hippy and refuse to own a car. On top of this it’s generally advised in social care not to live where you may be found by clients, and I had to leave at least one apartment viewing because I realised it was right next door to someone I’d worked with.

Anyway, I’ve found a newly renovated apartment a short ride from work but distant enough that it isn’t obvious. The payoff for this being that it is quite small so space for a model railway is likely to be limited especially as it needs to fit all kinds of “extras” like two bicycles. We shall see.

In the meantime I’m getting ever more addicted to figure painting, as seen above. Currently named “Lev the Anarchist” who is carrying enough explosives that he’s probably a danger to friend or foe within about 20 metres in a combat situation, I particularly like the way he has a detonator on his back but appears to be lighting a fuse on the dynamite in his hand.

He’ll soon be joined by some comrades in arms to travel the world and awaken the proletariat to their oppression, or possibly of course, oppress them a bit more in service of the highest bidder; even anarchists gotta eat.