15 February 2011
Full gallery at End of Article
When I was asked for my profile, the part of me that still
remembers playing the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons waaaay back in my teens said: do a stats list. That’d be the best way. Roll some dice and make a list! But all that tells the reader is some facts, which doesn’t really get behind who I am, and why I bother about this wonderful hobby of ours. So. A sort-of list of facts first, and then I’ll fill in some background after; which is what I used to do when rolling up a new D&D character all those years ago. And there’s not going to be much of a pattern to it, just stuff that comes to mind.
Matabele’s facts and fictions
Real Name: Mark Taylor
Born: 1969, in Bulawayo, Matabeleland Province, Zimbabwe. Emigrated to the UK with parents and one of my brothers in 1981.
Married: to Sarah, with 2 children aged 12 and 9.
Town: Currently living in the centre of the universe, otherwise known as Swindon, in the county of Wiltshire, in good Olde Merrye Englande.
Job: Currently employed as a Product Manager for a company that makes products that helps cars go “bruum bruum”, tanks to go “rumble rumble” and aircraft go “whoosh”. Sometimes I refer to it as “murder death kill” stuff, as a lot of our products go into military ground vehicles and military aircraft.
Military history, specifically the Civil War ( English!), the Rhodesian Bush War/Chimurenga, the American Civil War, and anything to do with British military history, with a definite bias to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and early to mid medieval period. Oh, and Anglo-Saxon post Roman occupation stuff. A lot of this stems from the books I was reading, or stuff I saw on TV. Reading enough Ladybird books on King Arthur and books like “Children of the New Forest” at an impressionable age will have this effect. Plus a father who was a fund of (sanitised) well-told stories about his own military service, and British and US history in general. Plus being given a nice red-coated Britains Ltd toy soldier when I was about 4. It’s all helped bend my mind.
I have long had an interest in prehistoric and fantastical monsters, space exploration, deep sea weirdness, things that go bump in the night. I had pictures of all the Apollo program astronauts and moonscapes on my bedroom wall, and I have fond memories of making a werewolf out of a shampoo bottle and wool when I was 9, and having a fascination with old Universal Studios horror movies ( old black and white not really scary stuff) and any movie where Ray Harryhausen had done the monster effects. Thus the world of Dungeons & Dragons, and Citadel Miniatures figures were a natural part of my teen life, alongside “Robin of Sherwood”, the Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Douglas Hill’s “Last Legionary” and, unfortunately, a short foray into medieval re-enactment as part of a group called “Legend”. We weren’t.
Outside of the hobby? Music; rock, preferably of the Iron Maiden/ACDC style, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles,some minor band called Led Zeppelin and a long standing loyalty for U2; oh, and film scores. A lot of 1970’s and 1980’s music, if only for nostalgia value. Plus comic books. Books by Steven King, Robert Howard, HP Lovecraft, and Terry Pratchett. Occasional bad guitar playing. And it’s not unknown for me to turn up to church fairly regularly on a Sunday, but not with the guitar, for which everyone is grateful.
Aside from that there’s lots of family stuff to do, including learning the rules to Games Workshop 40K game, since my son is a big fan and wants to play the game.
So, that’s me, in an extended list. To which I could add:
First model kit made: Airfix plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex, back when I was about 7 years old. My godmother sent it to me from England, God bless her, and my big brother helped me assemble it. I still have that kit, somewhat battered, and currently in the loft.
First figure painted: an Aurora/Life-like caveman which came with their version of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Made when I was about 8. Also sent by my godmother.
I painted a few tank kits in my teens, before eventually deciding that the figures were of more interest when I hit my 20’s.
First metal figure painted: Citadel Miniatures Broo/beastman and a dwarf, back in 1983.
I paint in acrylics, having switched 10 years ago from oils and enamels. I switched because the fumes from the paint thinners was giving me headaches. Now paint exclusively in acrylics.
Biggest influences in the hobby: Actually have little to do with the beautiful work produced by some great model-makers in our hobby, and everything to do with 2D artwork produced by John Blanche, Arthur Rackham, Angus McBride, Ron Volstad, John Buscema, Joe Colquehoun, Richard Hook, Ron & Gerry Embleton, Don Troiani, Bryan Fosten, Frank Frazetta, John Howe, Alan Lee, Adrian Smith, Paul Dainton, Paul Bonner….
The real kick I get out of this hobby is two-fold: First, thanks to the friendships built up through The Basement, the social side of the hobby is now the main reason to go to shows, and has made everything so much more interesting and rewarding. Second, the chance to re-create, in miniature, something that inspires me, something that has to be “made real”, even if only in little bits of plastic, metal and putty. In effect, to breathe “life” into my imagination.
Still awake? In which case I will say that I have my hobby feet firmly in both Historical and Fantasy/Sci Fi camps; with no real preference either way. Just don’t try and force me to give one up.