First, a prelude. In 1990, Tiny-GuitaRasmus (then 8 years of age) was rumbling through the kids section of my local library (my parents were always good at dragging me along, giving me a lifelong passion of books) and I stumbled upon a small book called (in danish) "Figurer til Rollespil; sådan maler du dem" (Miniatures for Roleplaying; how to paint them):
(Fun fact; back then there were actually serious newspaper articles being written about roleplaying and Dungeons and Dragons leading young people to devil-worshipping! :D )
Tiny-GuitaRasmus was immediately blown away by the pictures of the tiny monsters, orcs, warriors and other miniatures, and took it home. I remember poring over the pictures again and again, and being completely enamoured with these small worlds you could build. My dad, who was (and still is) an great model train builder and enthusiast, quickly seized the opportunity to get his son interested in model building, and took me to a giant (at least it was to me back then) model kit shop in Copenhagen, where they had racks upon racks of miniature blisters.
I spent a long time trying to choose the coolest miniatures in the shop, and eventually decided upon a a pack of (then unbeknownst to me, they were just cool) Grenadier Fantasy Lords Dragon Men: (picture from ebay)
I remember going home and getting straight to work - ripping the miniatures out of the box, being completely oblivious of the concept of mold lines, and choosing a few of my dads Humbrol Enamel paints (when we wasn't walking to school in the snow, that's what we used back then! And we liked it! ;) ) and got to work:
Please note the exquisite sense of colours - the bright vivid green, the beautiful shading made with a fine point sharpie, and the orange used on the inside of the tail - clearly didn't have the patience to let the green dry first. ;) Also the decision to use brown on everything that isn't green or armour - horns, bow, arrow, quiver, belt, weapon handle - you name it. I didn't have a concept of undercoat either, so the paint is just applied (one thick coat of course!) in enough amounts to cover the metal. For a finishing touch, you can spot the remains of the classic modelling flock (which I think was coloured dried, cut up grass bits) on the base.
Oh well, we all have to start somewhere. :D
Some months later I got hold of some actual Citadel acrylic paints, and decided to repaint one of the models (an 8 or 9 year old isn't the most nostalgic of creatures), just painting over the existing paint job, making the coat even thicker, and not really making any significant improvement:
I think it's safe to say that these models started it all for me; I LOVED it from the moment I started slapping paint on. I used to play with these for hours, and spent countless hours making my own games with them. I think it was during the autumn I got them and for Christmas my parents gave my HeroQuest - which took this from the start of a hobby to an outright obsession. I loved that game - the miniatures, the furniture, the board - everything. I spent so much time painting those models, and trying to make them look just like the painted models on the side of the box - of course, failing miserably, but making progress in the process. From then on I think I wished for some miniatures for every birthday and Christmas for many years, aside from the many times my parents to me to a model store to get some (they could see I was really enjoying it) and I used to sit for hours in my room, trying to make the small monsters come to life with paint and brush. I even remember getting Space Hulk (1.st ed) for Christmas the year after, and realising the rules were in english, I sat down with my dads Oxford English to Danish Dictionary, and basically taught myself english to be able to play. :D I went on to getting into a gaming club, and immersed myself completely in the universe of Warhammer, both 40k and Fantasy - it really was an all consuming passion.
Flash forward to me starting in high school at 15, discovering that girls were interesting, so was playing music (and the latter could help me with the former!) I put aside the miniatures for many years. When I was 28 or 29 I was working at a youth club, and some of the boys there were getting interested in Warhammer, I was asked if it was something I could help them get into. "Sure, why not", I said, and started searching the web for ideas and miniatures - I was blown away at how far the hobby had come in the 15 years I had been away from it - plastic miniatures had gotten soooo good, the models were better than ever, there was plastic terrain (we used to build everything ourselves from polystyrene sheets, cardboard, etc), the paint range was a lot better and the washed made painting miniatures much easier - and there was a huge amount of background material (books, audiobooks, and so on) to dig into - well, like an old drug addict, I relapsed big time. I started buying a few miniatures here and there (you know, just professional interest!) and enjoyed painting and especially converting them so much, that I joined a local gaming club, where I met lots of cool likeminded adults, and evolved a lot painting and conversion wise.
Flash forward 9 years to today; the arrival of my son this summer has meant that there isn't nearly the same hobby time as there used to be (not that I would trade parenthood for the world), but I still love the hobby just the same, if not even more, as when I was a kid. I would love for my son to get into the hobby himself - but really, I think the lesson to take from my parents example is that if you see a spark of interest or passion in your kids, no matter what it is - you take it and run with it.
So, thanks mom and dad, for indulging me in my weird interest back then - it meant the world to "Tiny GuitaRasmus". :)
PS: I love to hear some stories about how you guys got started.