Greetings fellow Warhammer nerds.
Bobby here, 50% of the Bitsmonster team, aspiring Guard player and recovering brushlicker.
This is the story of how I became addicted to grey plastic. I suppose in a sense it's also the story of how Bitsmonster came to be.
It was the late '90s. I was around 10 years old. I was in town with my great-grandmother. We were going to the back of the local shopping centre, to get a "black taxi" up the road to her house, Belfast has hackney cabs which run along set routes like a bus, they only cost £1 to use, but you have to share until all the seats are filled. As we approached the rear doors of the centre, a dimly lit, smokey space, I saw a shop that wasn't like the others - the sound of fairly mild rock and grunge wafted out of it along with a strong smell of what I knew to be plastic cement.
I knew what plastic cement smelled like, because I'd built a few Airfix kits before, newspaper spread out on the kitchen table, all planes, all horrendously constructed and badly painted with un-thinned enamels (I didn't know better.) I pressed my nose to the window of the shop and saw a ruined cityscape on a table and armies of brightly coloured miniatures in the display cabinets in the windows. Above the door in red and yellow - GAMES WORKSHOP.
I liked games, and models, but I was quickly led away out of the centre and told "that shop is for bigger boys", but at 10 years old that only made it more intriguing.
Over the next little while I managed to convince my mother and grandmother to take me back to the shop. I discovered the walls were lined with little metal models in tiny packets, and nothing had a price, you had to match the letter code on the box to a price list. I played a trial game against a staff member called Sam - Eldar vs. Space marines. I played Eldar. I arranged them in a triangle, thinking I was being very clever and making sure they all had line of sight. Sam put a flamer template over the centre of that triangle and wiped out most of the Eldar with a lucky roll. I was disappointed, but the nerd gene had been activated.
I left that day with a box of Eldar Guardians, a few paints and some pamphlets. I think I was hooked at that point. I got home and out came the newspaper on the kitchen table. Models were badly glued together in horrendous poses and liberally coated in paint, probably before the glue was even dry. I loved it. I think my mother was less thrilled, because she had seen the prices in the shop.
After a while I made it back to the shop and Games Workshop did what it does best and told me all about the Space Marines, the Adeptus Astartes, and why they were the best thing ever and the single squad of Guardians I had at home became fodder for the Marines Bolters. I wanted the 3rd edition core game box very badly but it was very expensive, as was the rule book, but somehow I managed to acquire the book, I suspect via a Christmas present. I somehow innately knew Ultramarines weren't for me. Too noble, too blue. Blood Angels, that was where it was at. I blame metal music. Their codex was also cheaper, that might have been a factor.
I went on to amass about 3k points of Blood Angels over a few years, eventually selling them around the time Tau came out. I also had a small force of Tyranids when they were relaunched in 3rd edition. I loved the idea of the all consuming plague of locusts "in spaaaaace" but was less thrilled with the pewter models which tended to tip over and chip badly (I didn't have access to rattle cans, so everything was undercoated with normal paint and a brush, which is painful to think about.) I joined the wargaming club in school (a textbook nerd move) and played a lot of 40k in 40 minutes, on battlefields of that kind of horrible industrial melamine they make school tables out of, far more toxic and depressing than any hive world.
In those heady pre-widespread-internet days I was taught little by little though regular visits to the shop (on reflection I think it suited my mum well to be able to leave me there while she shopped) to drybrush, to push greenstuff into gaps to hide them, what the pin-vice was for and how to use it. I discovered a now sadly defunct shop *suspiciously near* Games Workshop called The Modellers Nook, it only did historical models and trains, but it had even tinier brushes.
I painted far more than I ever played, eventually I started painting other kids stuff for money (to buy more hobby stuff for myself obviously) mostly endless amounts of LOTR stuff and 40k, some ready-made terrain and lots of basing. We were still pretty much in the painted sand / flock era locally. Cityfight made us all repaint our bases grey. Eventually I was able to get the Mega Paint Set which stands out as a particularly exciting time. My workspace was a little desk built into a steel-framed bunk-bed. I can't imagine how many hours I spent hunched over at that desk painting and listening to music, probably thousands of hours (and yet somehow I'm still not a particularly good painter!)
No pictures survive sadly, I don't think we had a digital camera until the mid-noughties and by about 2006 I had drifted out of the hobby, but I always kept an eye on the hobby via the internet, and watched a lot of painting videos on Youtube to get my fix, which weirdly I think improved my painting in the intervening years without me actually practicing at all in that period. I had a few notions of starting up again over the years, as anyone who is on the hobby-wagon does, but never actually took the plunge.
I started a new job just as Covid was kicking off in the UK and Ireland, working from home... and someone let slip that they painted Warhammer as a hobby, one thing led to another and before I knew it I had ordered models and paints. Before long I wanted bits for converting, so I started selling bits I didn't need on Ebay in order to buy the bits I wanted for conversions, I'm not much good at half-measures, so before I knew it we were trading and I'd roped Robyn into being involved too, that's how peer pressure works right?
At the moment with things being so busy with Bitsmonster I don't get a lot of time to do my own hobby stuff, but I'm slowly putting together a little Astra Militarum force (probably Mech guard) with lots of converting, kitbashing and applying everything I learned from Youtube in the lost years, I mostly try to use the bits no one else wants, leftovers, damaged bits etc. which adds an extra element of challenge and although I don't get as much time to paint now as an adult as I did as a kid, I probably love it even more than I did then.
Wanna contribute? - get in touch we are seeking contributors to this blog, you can tell us about your army, share conversion and kitbash ideas, painting guides, or just share your own story of plastic craic addiction.