Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Game Room

I have been gaming for 42 years now, and as an adult I have had just two times in my life that I had a room dedicated to gaming.  Both of those times the room only lived a year or so...divorce and changing situations put early ends to both.  Now, after all these years, my life has finally settled down and I have been blessed with a life partner/wife who is happy for me to have a room to call my own, the calm to have time to build it, and the house with room to grow to provide it.  I bought this little rancher almost four years ago, when only the ground floor was livable, but I knew the once-finished basement could be reclaimed and made fresh and livable again.  This summer, it finally began...the birth of my game room!

For the first few years, it was a storage room.  I moved stuff in and shoved it on shelves in a hurry, and being a single dad of three little girls I rarely had time to dig around much.  Once Linda and I started clearing the room out I came across a real treasure...a box with several units of 15mm Macedonian cavalry that I had primed and mounted to paint, then moved and forgot. 
Hmm...check this out.  A paint tray/soda carton with...wait, what's this?

Macedonian cavalry??  So THAT'S where they went!
Once we got the storage stuff cleared out of the room, I realized that we were going to need to re-build the old, steep stairs down into the basement and make them more conducive to middle-aged knees and safe for my little girls.  So we ripped out the old stairs, stared at the new pieces of wood for a couple of hours until the angles clicked, then cut and nailed the new stringers and treads into place.

Meanwhile, back in the room crammed full of stuff, I started sorting through my mountains of miniatures and piles of princesses with help from Chef Rose (not sure what she was going to cook on, but she was dressed for the part!)
Look, another find of something that I thought was long gone...perfect d├ęcor for my man-cave!
Sadly, we kind of got well into the remodeling before we remembered to take pictures.  Once we got the junk out of the room, we pulled down the old crappy acoustic ceiling tiles, replaced the basement window, cleaned the heck out of the fireplace stone, put several coats of Kilz and finish paint on the pine wallboards, and cut a doorway into the closet wall to open the room up into the large storage closet. 

Then we started on the floor...
I had never done laminate floor, but thank goodness my dear cousin Paula flew out from Missouri and really worked her butt off helping me get this room going.  She got us going on the laminate and now I think I can finish the rest of the basement on my own with Linda's help.  Here's the same view (roughly) after the flooring is down.

Linda is very keen on finding new ideas on Pinterest.  She has come up with quite a few ways to use wooden pallets, which I can get free at work; I've used them in her garden, and have some ready to convert to shoe racks, storage shelves, etc.  Well, she found a cool picture of using the pallet wood on the wall as ship lap, so we thought we'd try it.  My buddy and co-worker Mike K very kindly shared some pallets that have 1"x6"x7' boards, and I soon had enough to do one wall for a really neat contrast.
Once again, Daddy gets help from little hands!  Rose is turning up everytime I need little helper!

I won't bore you with more step by step...and again, I kind of forgot to take many pics!  So here are a few shots of the finished room.  I tucked my old component stereo into the fireplace (inspector told me the flue is cracked and shouldn't be used), put in a couple of easy chairs and a bookcase of military history books and gaming books and I've got a comfy little hideaway to read or just stare at pictures.
For now, the bulk of my minis are stashed under the table.  I plan to get a nice bit of cloth to drape around the edges of the table to hide the stuff underneath.  A mixture of barstools obtained on Craigslist and I've got seating adequate for once a week visits from the gaming group.  Down the road I'll be building a bookcase on the far wall where the back of a bar chair can be seen; there will be a horizontal case along that wall running to the right, with a bench for seating and storage underneath.
Looking the other direction from the above photo, here's a good shot of the pallet wall and how I decorated it.  I have my painting table to the left of the door, and inside the closet are plastic storage shelves of minis, terrain, and other gaming flotsam.
In addition to being my gaming room, and my little getaway and stress reliever, the room also gives me a place to decorate with the things that are special to Napoleon print, a miniature reproduction Imperial Guard flag, and a very special sombrero given to me by my sweetheart oldest daughter Ali Eubanks! 

My sincere thanks to my awesome cousin Paula for helping so much with getting this room started, and especially to my wonderful wife Linda for caring enough to let me do this.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Flea market mania!

I love flea markets, true flea markets where people sell old stuff that they are tired of.  You just never know what you're going to find.  Most of it is just stuff to look at, nothing to take home, but there is the thrill of the hunt and, when you do spy some treasure that you can't live without it's always fun to haggle with the seller.  In fact, it's almost expected!  Buying in the flea market without haggling over prices is just plain...well, it's boring.

I have been going to HMGS conventions here on the east coast since 1993 or so...for a long time it was Cold Wars, then Historicon, and finally Fall In!  Early on I discovered that, to fund my new projects, the best thing was to take old projects to the con and sell in the flea market.  I'd dig around for an army that hadn't seen action in a few years, or a project that never got completed, or just whatever gaming odds and ends were laying around collecting dust, and pack them off to the con to convert to cash.  Some cash would make it back to the bank, and some would conveniently fund the next army.  It's the Circle of Life in the gaming world!

My new wife, Linda, has heard me talk about working the flea market for a while now, and though I had to skip it last year I was able to make this year's Historicon and do two sessions of the flea market.  Linda thought it would be a good idea to take some photos during it, since she very lovingly offered to assist me with it.  It was so nice having her there, mainly so she could see the emotional ride it is but also to help me.  So, without further ado, the photos!
Probably the most unnerving part of the experience...getting everything loaded onto the hand cart and safely rolled into the flea area.  A couple of years ago, I had a box like the white plastic tray holder in the picture, and it had 1/1200 sailing ships in it.  I was tired that morning, and so as I rolled my cart to the ramp on the sidewalk I lost my focus for just a split second...long enough to tilt the cart and two drawers of sailing ships crashed to the sidewalk.  Took me a year to get them all glued back together again.

You don't get much to work with.  I had two tables, or to be more precise, I had a table and my wife had a table.  I signed her up as a member of HMGS so she could sign up for games; it didn't occur to me until later that she could get a flea market table in her name, but it sure came in handy!  That definitely helped, as I had a lot of stuff to sell.  Objective for this con: enough cash to help defray the costs of remodeling our basement!

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We had a pretty good location; an aisle and an end on the first row into the flea.  Now to put out the pretty stuff...painted 10mm Napoleonics to attract attention and hopefully draw some buyers.  It's always a challenge to decide the layout of stuff so as to get people to stop and look.  I've walked right by good deals because the first thing I saw on the table was a pile of shtuff, or something not very attractive.
I've spent too much time taking stuff out of boxes and arranging it on the table.  Now I try to transport figures in something that can show off the figures while keeping them in the carrier.

I've had this collection of 10mm Napoleonics...literally thousands of figures in Russian, Prussian, and French/French Allies armies.  I've probably had them for 10 years...and they've been on the table exactly twice.  With all the stuff going on, they fell into the category of "excess to the needs."
I always have a great time socializing in the flea market.  I know so many guys just from the conventions; we see each other once, twice, maybe three times a year and exchange some great talk and good memories, then move on.
Steve wound up picking up quite a few of my 10mm Naps.  He is very big into that scale, and has a pretty interesting blog called Sound Officers Call!  Very nice guy and a new addition to my "see you at the next con" friends.
I've always been told I have great stuff and very good prices, and this con was no exception.  I like to get a fair price on stuff, and I always round down in favor of the buyer.  I'd rather someone take figures home to game with them and enjoy than to pack them away in my basement for another year.

Post-script...August 7th, 2016: Since coming home from the convention I have been so swamped working on the basement and my game room that I completely forgot that I had this blog post going.  Although it's been a few weeks, I still wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the con and the flea market.  While it's always nice to come back with some money in my pocket, and usually some new toys that the flea helped pay for, the social time of the flea market is the key to my continuing to do it.  I know I could use the Internet to sell throughout the year, and I do a little, but the flea market at the convention is so much more fun...and that's why I enjoy this hobby!