This Is Me! – TIM’s Modelling Memoirs – Part 2

The Fateful Day (circa 1989)

I can’t recall the exact date but She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were out shopping in Aldershot on a Saturday.  Declining my kind offer to help her chose new underwear the wife was keen to be shot of me.  As luck would have it for both of us she spotted a poster advertising a model show which was taking place that very day in the town hall.  Not being the ideal shopping partner (why chose white dear when red or black are so much nicer and go with your eyes?) I was sent off to amuse myself.

I’d never been to a show before so had nothing to compare with.  As best I can recall it was a mixed bag of traders, toy sellers and model makers.  I was instantly transported back to my childhood, even spotting Swoppets along the way and thoroughly enjoying myself.  I then reached a stand where the owner of Tiny Troopers was selling and displaying his wares.  The figures which caught my eye were two 75mm white metal cowboys.  One was an outstanding figure of Clint Eastwood as the man with no name, the other was an equally remarkable figure of John Wayne.

I was taken with these figures immediately and had to have them.  The only trouble was I did not have a clue what to do with them.  The guy was more than happy to chat and told me how to assemble them, undercoat them with white primer spray and then simply paint them.  Easy!  As easy as passing over the cash.  Then I got home and didn’t have a clue where to start.

With no Internet and therefore no YouTube I was left to my own devices.  A visit to the local toy shop enabled me to buy brushes and Humbro enamal paints and a can of white spray primer was purchased from the local garage shop.  I was on my way.

I’m not entirely sure how to describe my first result.  At the time I was pleased with it.  I didn’t notice that the colours had run, that I had left finger prints in the enamal paint while it was tacky, that the face was just a flesh colour and that everything was painted in gloss.  It was a master piece and I showed it to everyone whether they were interested or not.  Today I would describe it as fucking shit.

Fortunately fate was on hand.  While waiting to catch my train home from Waterloo station in London I would browse the books and magazines in WHSmiths.  With so many people about it was difficult to concentrate on the top shelf offerings so I browsed instead through the hobby section where my eye caught sight of a publication called Military Modelling.  With my train due to leave very shortly I grabbed a copy and quickly paid for it.  That journey home was to further change my modelling life.

Military Modelling Magazine

The first thing to hit me were the photos.  These weren’t models these were images of real people surely? How could anyone paint something that small that well and how if they could did they do it?  The next thing that struck me were the adverts, loads of adverts.  Now I knew where I could buy models, I just needed an envelope, a stamp and to write a cheque!  The next thing I knew the train pulled into the station and it was time to get off.

I must have read that first magazine from cover to cover several times.  I couldn’t wait of the next month’s copy to come out.  I was in awe of what people could do but none the wiser as to how they did it.  Then, a couple of months into buying Military Modelling they started a series of articles called “Oil Painting for Beginners”.  Slowly I was on my way.

The monthly articles covered everything I needed to know.  What paints to buy, what brushes I needeď and how to paint everything from faces to horses.  It was just a case of getting some figures and practising, lots and lots of practising.  I learnt about colour wheels, complementary colours, shading and highlighting and very, very slowly things began to come together.

Early Models

I managed to get some new Tiny Trooper figures to replace the ones I’d poorly painted and produced paint jobs which were far better than my earlier attempts but still along way off of what I’d like to have achieved.  I also practised on some plastic airfix multi-pose World War 2 figures and bit by bit I began to make progress.  A toy shop in Aldershot also proved to be a great source for models and here I bought white metal Rorke’s Drift figures made by Hinchcliff Models.  Another company sadly no longer going but whose figures would undoubtedly have stood the test of time.

My main concern at this point was painting faces.  It might have just been me but no matter how well the body of a figure was painted if you didn’t get the face right then the whole thing didn’t look good.  There was nothing for it but to practice face painting over and over.  To this day some faces (to my eye admittedly) look great, others are still hit and miss.  The quality of the miniature does make a big difference, as does the materials you use but technique is key.

By the time I discovered a series of Wild West figures produced by Hornet I was pretty happy with what I was producing.  The finished models were never going to win shows but I felt I had come a very long way.  These figures are the oldest in my collection.  All previous examples having been either given to my brother who still has some or, regretably, simply thrown away.



Three early Hornet Wild West figures

Andrea Miniatures

I can’t recall exactly when I first discovered Andrea Miniatures but it would have been in Military Modelling that I first came across the company.  By comparison to today the company and its range was much smaller and the prices were much cheaper too but the figures were fantastic (and still are).  They produced mainly 54mm figures and had a superb range of Old West which was the only subject I was really interested in at the time.


One of my earlier Andrea 54mm models

I’m guessing that by now we are in the early 1990’s.  I was painting well enough to satisfy myself but I had no production line going and only worked on one figure at a time.  The time I had to spend on the hobby was diminishing slowly due to work promotions and job demands although kids were still away off.

Modelling was still important to me, I’d realised that a hobby which required total concentration was a great way to come down after a stress filled working day.  I didn’t get to do as much as I would have liked but I always came back to it in the darker moments.

Figure painting was still very much where I was at and where I stayed for many more years.  Base work was still largely very basic but I had begun to appreciate through others the significance of a great setting.  I started to explore this area a little more and even produced my first 54mm diorama, Custers Last Stand.


It was to prove to be a one off, I just didn’t have the time.  Time more than anything remained the key issue for many years to come.  Modelling never left me but time spent doing any was very, very limited.  Then in 1996 along came the first of my two wonderful children, Tom.

Unfortunately Tom was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) which turned our lives upside down and then nothing really got done on the modelling front after that. What time I had went into charity fund raising.  Long distance walking covering the length and breadth of the country raised in excess of £80,000 and gave me a dodgy hip!

I wont dwell further on this period of my life, it’s not so much that it’s private, it’s a subject I’m happy to discuss but life threatening illnesses aren’t fun and besides this is a modelling blog!  I will say that medical science is a wonderful thing and he is now 21 and in very good health and has a great looking girlfriend!

It was when I was in Australia in October 2002 on business with a couple of weeks holiday added on that I learnt my wife was expecting our second child.  Suddenly it felt like a long way from home but I loved the place and hope to one day go back.

David - 2002

Official press photo of me just before going to Austarlia in 2002

My daughter Jennifer was born in 2003.  If I had little time for modelling before she arrived I had even less afterwards!  Modelling very much took a back seat.  Occasionally I would pick up a brush but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t have that much time either.  My job was anything but 9 to 5 and the demands of the role had increased significantly over the years.  To be fare I got paid well but I was time poor.

Things remained that way until 2007 when two things happened.  As a consequence life turned upside down and everything changed.

… (to be continued in Part 3)


34 thoughts on “This Is Me! – TIM’s Modelling Memoirs – Part 2

  1. Wow so much to say…

    Firstly thanks for sharing your memoirs with us mate. Isn’t it funny how we started with sharing pictures of little men and now get to learn so much more. It fascinates me and even though it’s social media I see it as miles apart from Facebook or Twitter.

    I think your painted faces are grand. I really struggle with faces. Do you have any tricks when it comes to eyes? 54mm, I imagine, are a tad easier than 28mm scale but it still takes a whole heap of skill.

    Your son Tom must be a tough lad like his Dad and well done on raising so much money.

    One of my best pals son passed away from cancer early last year, fought the bastard thing for ten years of his twelve years. We did several things to raise money for their family. We didn’t know what else to do apart from just raise money for them. It meant that the Mum and dad didn’t have to work and could spend quality time with their boy. It also helped with hospital charges and medication etc. it’s always good to do something for others.

    My mums name is Jennifer, it’s a pretty name I reckon.

    I used to stare at White Dwarf (Warhammer) magazines for hours on end before the internet hehe. I’d get lost in all the details. This was long before I even put brush to miniature.

    I’ve got to be honest the photo made me laugh haha. Why are you in the fucking bushes you peeping Tom? Haha. You look a bit like Sting, when he had hair… and if he was hiding in the bushes ahaha.

    I look forward to part three man.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. If I’m being honest I thought long and hard about writing and publishing this kind of stuff then thought bollocks, publish and be damned! If only you and me enjoy it was worth it. I just didn’t want to get to far removed from modelling, this chiefly is what my blog is about after all. There’s something about this little community of ours though that made me feel comfortable doing so. I couldn’t see me doing it anywhere else.

      On the subject of eyes on 28mm you might want to check out YouTube Artmaster Studio, painting faces #1. Good place to start in my opinion. On the one hand 54mm are easier to paint but on the other hand they have to be more spot on because you see more with the naked eye.

      Tom is a tough lad but a few years ago they developed a break through drug which should provide him with a normal life expectancy. To look at him you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with him.

      Sad story about your friend. Great bit of community. Sadly though shit happens, you just have to hope it avoids you as much as possible. As for kids, you can teach and guide but that’s all you can do.

      I love the name Jennifer, always fancied the idea of replacing SWMBO with Jenifer Aniston, so hot! Faust is in the states, I’ll have to get him to put a word in for me!

      I ought to explain the background to the photo. Associated with work I went to Kangaroo Island off the mainland near Adelaide to work on an Earthwatch project for two weeks. The local press got wind of it and wanted to run a small article and so sent a photo journalist round to my house to take pictures. As they thought I was jungle bound they stuck me behind a shrub! Thought it might amuse you!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I’m team Jolie!!!! Aniston is too “girl next door” for my liking.

        I’ll check out the tube man thanks.

        90% of my posts are hobby related but I do like to share other views and ideas and news from time to time BUT only because of the close knit community we have here on WP.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Agree whole heartedly on the community thing. I’ll stick with Aniston, saves us from competing and you losing! Might be worth having a word with Brad, he should be able to give us the low down on both of them!

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Haha, but the best crazy f@#$s I’ve had, have been with the most surprisingly straight laced people. I guess we call it “unwind time”! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I used to have a client on Kangaroo Island. Back when I was in sales. They were the worse performing client but one of the nicest. They even sent me a bottle of plonk at Christmas. They also mentioned some English Git hanging about in their bushes.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. Wonderful post- all credit to you for that much fundraising too.

    Oddly pre- internet I used to get much more done… Talking of things I got started in gaming in 1989 when I started high school (I’d been building model kits before then though).



    (Team Aniston)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Bugger me Dave ,got something in my eye there for a mo ,anything to do with young folk tends to do that to me ever since I had kids . Great effort on the money you raised mate, I’m sure your kids would be chuffed having a dad that would go to so much effort ,but it won’t be until they have their own that they will realise why you did it ! .
    It’ says a lot for your little group ( whom I’m proud to be apart of now ) that you can share your personal life’s experiences ,It takes a bit of guts to do that and I myself an impressed .
    Kangaroo Island , bugger me, my one of my brother in-laws is a dyed in the wool Crow eater and will be over the moon when I tell him the great IMP from the UK came all the way out here to see his state but was unable to drop into Wrattonbully to see him as he was on a tight schedule !
    Sorry mate but that hair don’t look to Ginger ! I hope you aren’t pulling that Ranga bit just increase your fame !.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We all go through life with our crosses to bare Pat. It was tough going at first but then things settle down and it becomes normal and, like everyone else does, you just get on with it. The fund raising was fun but ironically it would never have happened if Tom didn’t have CF. As I’ve said he’s in very good health and thanks to medical advances should be set up for a good life. Believe it or not 30 years ago you wouldn’t have made a cake for their first birthday!

      As I replied to IRO I did think long and hard about doing this post series (last one next week!) And if I hadn’t felt comfortable I wouldn’t have wanted to do it. I suspect some find it a little uncomfortable or not to their liking but like every one I have a story to tell and just decided to do it. People’s lives just fascinate me, the twists and turns of the fickle finger of fate!

      If I get to Kangaroo Island again I’ll call in on your brother in law, can’t see that it would be hard to find him. If I remember correctly the island had 4 million sheep and 400 people.

      Not so ginger these days it must be said. Much less of it and getting whiter by the day. You’ve got to remember that in the days when it was at its most ginger the photos were black and white! The freckles are real too!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have to say TIM that your story has been well-worth sharing. I have enjoyed learning more about your journey and how your modeling has had a part in it. I must congratulate you on the fundraising for CF and for the steadfast fortitude on raising two kids as you went through that. Thank God that advances will help your son now – but I know that you did not have that assurance for many years, so that was indeed a cross to bear. Also, because I have a colleague who has a child with CF, I know the challenges in just daily maintenance are not easy either. Again, heartwarming to read.

    Love the dioramas, and my favorite is the 7th Cavalry. I have walked by Custer’s gravesite many times at West Point when I was there.

    Lastly, the banter among you Brits and Aussies is so cool to read. You have so many terms and sayings that just don’t exist here in New England. I’m sure we have ours that amuse you as well. Hell, there are many from other parts of the US (they’ll say I pronounce it “paahts”) who have issues with my vernacular and my accent. I remind them that there are 6 million in Massachusetts alone, never mind the other 5 New England states. Of course, each state has a different accent or accents too.

    Again, you wrote Part 2 well, looking forward to more.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers Mark very glad you’re enjoying it, I did think long and hard about theses posts but people like yourself have responded well so I’m thinking it wasn’t such a bad thing to do after all. Part 3 which brings things up to date goes out Monday all ejng well!

      Sorry to hear about your friend having a child with CF, please wish them well from this side of the pond. We were lucky with Tom in so much as they developed a break through drug called Kalydeco a few years ago. The drug fortunately for us targeted the two missing genes which affect Tom. I know they are looking to adapt it across all missing gene types so hopefully that will be achieved soon. Fingers crossed. Made a huge difference.

      I’d like to visit the battle ground for Custer. I’ve seen films on YouTube and it looks very interesting. Many years ago before the kids were born I managed to get to Tombstone, Arizona and found that amazing. Also visited monument valley which was equally incredible. I envy you New England, beautiful area. That was our last trip to the states and another unforgettable experience.

      Like you I enjoy the banter. I’m not sure if all blog groups share the same camaraderie but we are very lucky I feel with this one. Not sure the banter is confined to us Brits and the Aussies though, there’s a few Americans in the group quite capable of holding their own!

      I know the odds are slim but if you see Jennifer Aniston can you put a word in for me!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Heh Mark I was taken by your referee to pronunciation ,here in Aust , we only have six states as apposed to your 52 but the way we say things is quite remarkable for a country with only 20 odd mill population I’m from NSW and say caarstle while across the river they say cassill not that it matters though the are all only made off sand and with vanish in the next tide . My wife is from QLD where they call a suitcase a port ( short for portmanteau ) why ,they don’t even know . I have a cousin that lives in your neck of the woods ,married with a score of lads and the thing we notice is that she has been there near thirty years and when she comes back there is no hint of an accent ,she could have walked of my uncles farm out in the back blocks yesterday .
      What you say is really interesting ,and leads me to think why she hasn’t changed , my self in ignorance thought everyone in the US spoke in what we call Yankee ,like all those western movies ,.One of the reasons I keep going back to the UK is the accents , I just love them and I first live there in the 70’s but I still use some slang from all those years ago . No country should loose there accents ,its so much to mark of any individual culture . Rgds P

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought you had 7 for the seven pointed star on the flag? Maybe one is not a state but a territory? In any case, as you might not have seen my “tribute project” that was Aussie-themed a few years ago, here it is:

        I love different accents. Americans have innumerable accents, and many are disappearing with some folks. Glad to hear you guys have the same issues!

        Here is a good idea of our accent:

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, so much to take in. I know it’s not all that popular but I often fall back to Nietzsche’s quote “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”. The challenges in raising a kid, especially one with a life threatening disability is such a hard thing to go through. But those challenges end up shaping us and making us the people we become. Well, assuming we overcome those challenges. Still, I’m sorry to hear that your family had to go through that, especially your son. But it sounds like things are much better now, and that’s pretty amazing.

    As for the smaller stuff. The minis look great, even back then and it’s fun to read about how you got into it. I kind of happened into it through seeing minis, buying them at stores, and seeing the odd Dragon magazine ad. I had no clue what I was doing, and didn’t really learn from any magazines. My younger brother helped a bit, being the real artist, and I eventually the internet would come along and I would pick up tips from web sites, and blogs, and youtube videos, and blogs again.

    The blues in that Custer’s last stand piece are just breathtaking by the way. I’m glad you shared, plus all the back story. Sorry it’s been a busy week and I’m still trying to catch up on all the reading, and a lot of work. I was supposed to get a post out today too, but likely not going to happen. Anyways, eager to read the last chapter in the “This is Me!” novella. I’m already signed up for the next 5 books in the series. IRO said he’d take the money for you, such a nice chap.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad you found it interesting. We all have a story or two to tell and people’s lives and how they pan out is somethjng which really interests me. Part 3 on Monday and then it’s all about living long enough to have a part 4!

      Liked by 3 people

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