The Tale of Years


I’ve always been an avid reader. I have fond memories of visiting Barnsley’s Central Library. On one occasion I was drawn to one cover in particular; The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.

It sat within the pile of 10 books I checked out for a week or so before I read it, and I instantly remember feeling some sort of affinity with the material. When I next visited the library, I got a copy of Fellowship of the Ring, but at my young age I just couldn’t seem to get into it like I had with The Hobbit. I took the book back to the library and that was that.

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.”

Fast-forward a bit – ok, a lot – to December 2001. The Fellowship of the Ring was released at the cinema and I went to see it on a Christmas trip with the Scout group I was a part of. Memories of The Hobbit came back to me, and I couldn’t remember why I’d never finished The Lord of the Rings – I had an overwhelming urge to start reading the books again.

Over the next two years, I’d read the books, went to see the movies as they came out and watched – and re-watched – the extended edition of the movies as they were released on DVD – they’re pretty much the only DVDs I still own!

During this time something else caught my eye. Whilst out shopping with my family, we’d always wander past Games Workshop. Whilst I had friends who were interested in painting and collecting miniatures – usually Space Marines – it wasn’t something that had ever really grabbed me.

Now, every time you passed Games Workshop there’d be a cabinet or two filled with Lord of the Rings miniatures. Me and Dad would spend a good 10 minutes marvelling at them every single time we popped into a shopping centre.

Still, without any close friends involved in the hobby and with no idea where to start I was happy to just be an ogler. 2002 brought De Agostini & Games Workshop’s joint venture into a Strategy Battle Game part-works magazine; I remember picking up the first issue for £1.99 on a school sick-day which gave me the entire afternoon to paint the included plastic goblins!

They didn’t turn out very well, but I wasn’t too bothered; I’d found something I could get obsessed with. I’m quite obsessive when it comes to hobbies & collecting!

Over the next few years, I collected and painted Games Workshop’s ever expanding range of Lord of the Rings miniatures. Then I got obsessed with other things – guitars and rock climbing. The minis moved from desk to drawer, then from drawer to attic. Finally, I gave my entire collection away to a friend’s son who was starting out painting Warhammer and didn’t think of it again. For a while.

I went through 2 years of college, 3 years of university and 1 year of my first real job without ever picking up a paintbrush. I’m not exactly sure what made me start up again – I remember wanting a hobby that got me away from my computer screen, maybe that was it. Anyway, I managed to pick up a starter set containing the very same plastic goblins and pots of paint that had gotten me into the hobby in the first place; seemed fairly serendipitous so I went with it. Painted some goblins, again they weren’t great – but they were better!

Some time after this, I moved back to my home town of Barnsley, and my modest collection went in to storage. It didn’t come out for a long time; but again at some point I was in need of a screen-less hobby. This was about the time Games Workshop released The Hobbit line of miniatures; the new sculpts of Gandalf, Bilbo and mostly Radagast the Brown caught my attention – I start painting for a third time! Also I finally felt like I was improving my technique.

I’ve been painting and collecting again ever since – I still go through fits and starts but it’s remained one of my favourite things to do for quite a while now. Like everyone involved in the hobby, I have a cupboard full of unpainted miniatures.

I take part in a monthly Facebook challenge called The Unexpected Journey which randomly selects a model from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit ranges – soon to be Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game – for the members to paint. This has really helped keep me motivated, expand my collection and address some of the backlog.

Based on this model, I thought it would be cool to start painting my way through the scenarios in the Games Workshop books. This lead me to wondering how they could be matched up to the books and movies. I read through Appendix B in Return of the King, The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands) and formulated a plan.

Hobbitarn’s The Tale of Years will be a series of posts – most likely over many years – which will examine chapters of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, scenes from the movies and associated miniatures from Games Workshop’s (and now Forgeworld’s) ranges, including thoughts on the miniatures themselves and perhaps some painting guides to associate with them.

I decided to start out where both the books and movies start, with A Long Expected Party.

“I think I’m quite ready for another adventure!”

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