Sunday, 15 May 2016

Silk Anniversary - What I Did In Edinburgh

Sister Superior has a lot in common with Lois Lane, but I'm way more of a Plastic Man than Superman.

April marked the 12th anniversary for Sister Superior and I being an item.  We didn’t do anything really big on the day – instead, we waited until the start of May then went to Edinburgh for the weekend for a wee adventure.  Accommodation was booked, entertainment arrangements were made and disgustingly coupley moments were had.

A new story from the day we first went out - April 18th 2004.

The missus was working last Saturday and so couldn’t come to Edinburgh until she’d finished work – I, on the other hand, was free all day.  I went in a few hours ahead of Sister Superior, then, as an advance scout party whose primary objective was to drop off the suitcase and pick up some little odds and ends in the shops.

Of course, releasing me into a city unsupervised inevitably leads to a secondary objective: Visit the nerd shops and hunt interesting things.  With hours to kill and no-one to question why I was walking so far just for a toy soldier shop, I set on my way.

Naturally, I wouldn’t spend all my money at the start of a romantic weekend when I was on my own and visiting geek shops, right?

"I can just tell her it was... um... a bargain?"


Not far from my mate Kev's house, though this time I let him watch sportsball in peace.

The first stop was RPG shop Black Lion Games, to the south of the city centre and about twenty minutes walk along South Bridge.  This shop seems to be the main RPG and card-gaming haunt for the city, though the RPG selection was a lot smaller than a few years ago.  Instead the shop had a lot more shelf space taken up with board games.

Unfortunately the main thing that drew me to the shop when I first visited – copies of more obscure indie games like Best Friends or Starchildren, the latter of which I'm due you a play report. – seems to have evaporated, which leaves the RPG selection as perfectly good but no different to visiting any other major stockist.  In fact, Static probably has a better indie selection these days, something it’s really grown over the last year or so. 

There remains a fairly strong second hand selection at Black Lion Games which still makes it worth a visit for someone after something more interesting than just the latest D&D books, and if I was living in Edinburgh I'd probably make this my go-to spot for picking up game books.  The staff have always been very friendly.

Yeah, cause I needed more dice.

From Black Lion Games I got two packs of Chessex Dice a “festive” set of polyhedrals because of it’s rather unique mélange of colours and a pink frosted set of D6s so my Emperor’s Children could add some Slaanesh-coloured dice to their pool. 

I also got a second hand Star Trek RPG book, a guide to Starfleet Academy – setting a game there is something I’ve been talking about and it was only a fiver to get my hands on the book.  It was originally from a boxed set but this is probably the part I was the most interested in getting - it talks about the course curriculum of the Academy for example.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Next my wander took me to the west of the city, near the old Edinburgh Picture House.  That was another twenty minute walk from the center of town, this time down more scenic roads with the castle to my side.  The reward at the far end was Wonderland Games, the largest model shop in Scotland one of the best model shops I’ve seen in my entire life.

A fusion of Airfix-style plastic kits, Hornby train sets, Scaletrix race tracks, Lego models, airsoft guns, remote control cars and other delights, Wonderland Models had more than a whiff of the DNA of Beatties toy store.  Recommended to me by a staff member at Games Workshop Glasgow, their online store is worth a look if you can’t make it to them – they have a good selection of plasticard for those of you who enjoy scratch-building.

A toy cow, a toy tank and two sheets of clear plastic.  Happy anniversary, honey!

My purchases from here are a little more bizarre.  Two sheets of clear plasticard for making windows on future terrain and vehicle projects won’t surprise too much, but a plastic toy bull will seem weird.  However, this is an item I’ve been hunting for – including trawling eBay.  This is a Papo toy of a Texan Bull and the size and pose make it useful as the basis of a conversion I want to make.  Are any of you nerdy dudes sharp enough to work out what I have in store?

You’ll also notice a rather large tank kit.  This is a World War 1 era mark one “male” tank in 1:35 scale by Emhar.  Smaller tank kits are fairly easy to get a hold of – Airfix make a cheap and cheerful 1:72 version of this same vehicle – but I’ve long wanted to get a hold of this larger kit which is a lot rarer.  There used to be one in Jamieson’s Models, a shop which was a neighbour of The Dragon and George and closed at around the same time for the same reasons and with me un-tanked.  I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to get it this time, so I pounced like a fast pouncey thing.

Why do I want a 1910s tank when I mostly play with space toy soldiers, you may ask? 

Well, you won't ask if you've read White Dwarf 203 any time recently.  Like all the blog's pictures, click to embiggen!.

Why, because many moons ago as a schoolchild I saw a conversion in the pages of White Dwarf where someone had used one as the basis of making a Land Raider.  A GW manager, no less, who had a whole article to his awesome figures.  It looked epic, doubly so at a time when there was no in-print kit for the Land Raider - it was converting or nothing!

While I have made my own tanks with cardboard before, using a real plastic kit as the base gives you more detail and heft which makes it the preferred option.  I’ll need to size the kit out to see exactly what alterations I will have to make.

A surprise discovery.

I thought I had already spent too much money and was going to call it quits now, returning to await Sister Superior appearing at Edinbrugh Waverly…. But there was a speedbump on the way, because the walk to and from Wonderland Models passed a nerd shop I hadn’t heard of before.  Naturally I had to go in, and of course I felt obliged to support a small geeky business in these difficult economic times by buying something…

6s 2 Hit is a wargaming store with several tables of terrain and shelves of very attractive painted figures.  Sharing premises with a café, there’s some of Geek Retreat’s style of nerdy hangout spot here.  The miniatures collection is varied, with traditional Games Workshop figures on sale alongside Kings of War, Dreadball, Flames of War and other smaller games.  A shelf proudly displaying GW boxes from across the last few decades reinforces the idea that this is a welcoming spot for people of many different interests, and indeed at least one game was taking place when I arrived.

As well as having space to play and consume a beverage, there was another service available at 6s 2 Hit.  Rather than just sell you the figure, they also offered to assemble and paint them.  When I was there, a female member of staff was behind the counter working on a squad of Sons of Horus Marines and had a particularly nice green effect going on with their armour.  I’ve never seen a store in Birtain with that service before and I’d be interested to know how popular it proves.

Because one box wasn't enough.

From here, I made a wee purchase of three more Mantic Lesser Golems for the Abyssal Dwarves, and at less than Mantic's own store price.  I quite liked the effect I made when I painted these and think I can do it better a second time around – still drybrushing the first layer or two but manually painting on the last couple of darker colours to produce a more subtle gradation of colour.

So yeah!  I then met up with the missus and went back to the mushy nonsense of an anniversary weekend and didn't tell her how many things I got and smuggled back to Glasgow without telling her.   She still won't know, either, because I'm such a master of keeping secrets.

...except she's just read this blog post, hasn't she?



  1. This is a Papo toy of a Texan Bull and the size and pose make it useful as the basis of a conversion I want to make. Are any of you nerdy dudes sharp enough to work out what I have in store? CHAOS DWARF GREAT TAURUS!

    1. Interesting guess. I wonder if this pair of Tyranid bat-like wings in my bitz box is in any way connected?...

  2. You did miss a few other Nerdy shops in Edinburgh, but you hit the main ones!
    I am a regular at 6s2hit and it is an amazing place to go to, and kids are welcome and well cater for (I have an 11yo and 2 8yo). I would recommend you check their Facebook page and come to one of the event (the Kids Demo Day if you have kids or nieces/nephews is a great event every 2nd Sunday of the month)
    See you at Claymore 2016 in August too if yo can make it :D
    Eric "TheMadFrenchman"

    1. Yeah, when I was in 6s2hit there was a mixture of people there including a couple of youngish people - think one of them might have been a daughter of a staff member, actually.

      I've never been along to Claymore... maybe this is the year I should finally try it?