Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Old School Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! This year has been my third as a father, and it has prompted some thought about how fatherhood has changed my gaming and modelling habits. In this post I’ll let you in on some of my experiences as a gamer and with a young family, as well as provide some words of wisdom that may help my fellow bloggers along. The post will be punctuated by some Star Wars Lego space ships I have been making with my eldest, which have all photo-bombed iconic Trilogy scenes by the looks of it…
In the Beginning...
Gaming has been a part of my life for a long time; modelling a little bit longer. When I was still a toddler, my father had an accident at work that damaged his spine, requiring several years of rehabilitation to restore his mobility. During this time a cousin of mine gave my Dad a scale model of an American Galleon. I wasn’t much help building the thing, but I was fascinated by it. The detail was incredible; scores of cannons smaller than your fingernail, rigging that had its own instruction book and tiny windows that my Dad painstakingly painted in sky blue with a tiny brush. That ship kept my Dad busy during a hard time and set me off on the course we all now share. He taught me to pay attention to detail: he removed mould lines from every one of those cannons.

My first foray into modelling, like most people, was Lego. I grew up in the 80’s, so that “80’s space man” from the recent Lego Movie really pulled at the heart strings. The instruction booklet was soon tossed over the shoulder in favour of more creative projects. When they broke and I was upset, my Dad used to say “Well… if you made it once, you can make it again.” I can’t tell you how many times I have said that to myself over the years, particularly when stripping 40K minis. I found myself saying it to my daughter a few days ago, and it is good advice.

Aircraft Models
I wonder if anybody else had a crack at these. In primary school I was obsessed by warplanes and regularly worked on kits, both large and small. I distinctly remember packing an expensive and half assembled F-14 model in a box to take with me on holidays. The plastic cement I packed with it (what was I thinking) ruptured and melted some of the weapon pylons, prompting a long discussion with my Dad about exactly how the glue formed a strong bond. Here’s some more knowledge that I have carried with me: plastic glue is valuable for forming strong bonds in plastic, but don’t use too much! And don’t transport it in the same box as your plastic miniatures! I also remember falling asleep having finished assembling an AV-8B Harrier, and waking up to a completely painted model with a white underside and metallic camo top. Anyone who has seen my Jade Falcon Mechs now knows the inspiration for that metallic camo effect I use.  

I have been blessed with a supportive wife when it comes to my hobby. I hid my miniatures from her when she first came over to visit all those years ago. The first place she looked: right where the miniatures were. If I ask her what annoys her the most about it all, she would say “Sometimes you guys just don’t know when to stop.” This was something I had to learn when my eldest was born and has shaped the way I enjoy gaming now. The days of lingering, 14 hour, 40K games are over, as are the all-day painting binges. Here is some advice based on what has worked for me:

1)     Be realistic with what you can achieve in a given time (gaming and modelling). Know your capabilities and factor that in when planning projects.

2)     Divide projects up into discrete, smaller, parts and finish one of them at a time. Leave the next part for another day. You will still progress but there will be less blowouts in time expenditure.

3)     It’s ok to have interests and feel the need for time alone/with fellow gamers to express yourself. Your partner probably needs the same thing, even more than you do. Be open with what you need, but put your family first. You can’t expect time without be willing to give it first.

4)     Play smaller games more frequently. This is much easier to do when it is a regularly scheduled occurrence.

5)     Friday is not a great night for gaming. After spending the working week away from each other, taking the first chance you get to be somewhere else is not a great idea. Convincing your friends of this may be problematic, until they have kids.

6)     Be prepared to just drop the paintbrush. I have never regretted stopping what I was doing to spend time with my kids or help my wife.

Modelling is a good thing. It is creative, artistic and imaginative. It captures the senses and rewards the skilful. Knowing the enjoyment I have had, even at an early age, I have no hesitation in sharing it with my children. Hence all the Star Wars space ships...
See you across the table,