Eat More BEF

The Slug and I are big fans of all things local. I’ve indoctrinated him with a type of micro-nationalism based on relative geography, so someone doing something a few miles away or even someone from around these parts who has wandered off to do something gets my wholehearted support without question. Tracey Emin is a prime example, even though she’s evolved beyond the simple seaside girl we might have originally known her as, it’s still a case of rah-rah her. So to discover via GWP the existence of BEF Miniatures in the nearby pretty but under-rated town of Deal was a joy of many beams of light, one based on the micro-nationalist scale, another being they manufactured miniatures, yet another being the possibility of going shopping without going to a shop, plus the chance to promote something worthy with this blog.

So I emailed the man behind BEF Miniatures, Crouchie, and asked if I might pop down to pick up a few figures, say “Allo” and save on the cost and delay of postage. “Sure” he replied, “You’ll get to see the centre of my empire, namely a damp lean to shed with a pile of boxes.” and we set a date. I told the boy Slug the minimum I could get away with, namely “We’re going to see a bloke in Deal.” Now if you’ve any form of memory of being a sprog, aside from the hopelessly nostalgic, you’ll likely recall how visiting folks with your parents tended to be incredibly dull – rating just above looking at a pile of bricks and deffo below just about anything else you could ever do for a few hours. So I deliberately played things down.

Come the day and we’d just enjoyed the first showers of snow, you know the light dusting of powder which grinds the nation to a halt, so this added to the drama I was so carefully building for the young Slug. Slowly we wound our way along the coast having sent a text ahead to warn of our impending visit, enjoying the enhanced beauty of Kent as well as near empty roads. I parked right outside his home and revealled the true reason for our visit to a flecktarn wearing Slug. The immediate surge in his demeanour beats anything the makers of energy drinks might offer.

A knock on the door later and Crouchie welcomed us in, plonked a cuppa in my hand and we started chatting. Yet again we’d found another old-school gentleman gamer, only this one happens to make miniatures too. He showed me the British range and I wanted the lot, along with one of his nifty Vickers Light Tanks (which will feature here soon) and he very kindly offered them at what can only be declared a bargain price.

We nattered on, him showing us various items which made us go “Ooooh!” and “Ahhhh!” and touching spoddy subjects until we settled on VBCW – him suggesting a socialist stronghold at the nearby colliery, me freting at just how many Marines would have been stationed in Deal at the time, with Crouchie treating the Slug as an equal throughout. It wasn’t long before Slug had mentioned Afghanis, and Crouchie asked him if he’d seen “9th Company”, all eyes lit up of course as we all adore this fine Russian film. Totally out of the blue Crouchie dug into one of his boxes and gave the lad a bag of 9th Company figures along with a couple of bags of Afghani to give them something to shoot at- as a gift.

Now it’s easy to declare someone a paragon of gaming when they’ve cut you a good deal or given you a gift, and possibly a little sordid too, so I’ll pull up slightly short of doing so – BUT for someone to accept us into their home and honestly share their enthusiasm is magical. I was delighted with meeting him, but for the Slug it was an epiphany which had him walking on air and proving to him yet again that to know about history isn’t a bad thing, to expand that knowledge with gaming isn’t either, how being both sociable and respectful with your elders via such an activity can be an exciting experience in it’s own right.

“Okay,” I hear you think, “enough of the soppy feel-good nonsense, what about the miniatures?”. Well you’ve got eyes haven’t you? You can see from the pictures how they’re simply excellent you should buy some and as you do consider how much of an ambassador for gaming Crouchie is, the antithesis of the faux chumliness you’ll find in GW shops. Hurrah for Crouchie, we adore him and his work plus he’s much nicer than Emin.

Finally a comparison shot, which people are fond of, left a Renegade piece which are typically the chunky end of 28mm, and to the right a BEF miniature. All figures painted by the Slug.

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One Response to “Eat More BEF”

  1. Vampifan Says:

    What a great story, Phil. It perfectly demonstrates all that is good about our hobby and just goes to show why it is far better to support the small independant companies then add to the bloated coffers of the likes of Games Workshop. The phoney friendliness of their staff really pisses me off. I went into one of their stores just the other day to buy some pots of paint. Inevitably, I was asked what I was painting? Zombies, I replied. Oh, are you collecting a Vampire Counts Army? he cheerily asked. No, I’m not, I said with some disdain. I’m painting contemporary zombies by FU-UK and Studio Miniatures. Honestly, he hadn’t a clue how to respond to that. It simply did not compute that I was not collecting a GW army!

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