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Author Topic: 13/02/13 - Sultanbev!  (Read 9963 times)
Posts: 16618

« on: 13 February 2013, 09:52:34 PM »


Mark Bevis

Burnley, Lancashire

Do you have a pic?


Current occupation:
Model figure painter, writer (MicroMark army lists), occasional gardener and accounts person.

What’s the best job you've ever had?
This one! Been self-employed full time now for 4 years, best thing I ever did.

What would your ideal occupation be?
Full time writer (1/4 of the way there….)

How did the MicroMark Army Lists come about?
Way back in the 1980s my wargaming colleague at Polytechnic introduced me to the TableTop Games army list books, and good as they were, there were many gaps and errors in the information. Understandably, given
that TOE data back then in the pre-internet days was in short supply and only available in academic tomes, most beyond the affordability and accessibility of most wargamers. What was available was inconsistent in depth and layout. Now, with the internet and cheaper book publishing, there is too much information for any one person to process it all.

So I borrowed the idea of selling the single sheets with a standardised format that is still in use, with combat arms shown first, then support arms second. This has been a remarkable success, and now accounts for a quarter of my income. By keeping the price low per item, it makes TOE data easily accessible to wargamers, modellers and researchers, and having individual sheets makes it easy to update when new information comes out. Rather than having to wait 5 years for a second edition of a book to come out.

Some people object to paying for TOE data, but how much is your time worth?
One MicroMark list can take anything up to 10 hours research to do. All the sources I use are in public domain somewhere, for the price of a pint of beer I can save you 30 hours work!


How did you get involved in wargaming?
Driving Airfix tanks over my model railway layout. You are all so lucky. If it wasn’t for wargaming I’d be doing trains all over the house…

What was your first figure?
Airfix Yak-9 that my mum made and painted.

Do you have a favourite period/genre?
Oriental Napoleonics, WW2, modern.

How big is your figure collection?
Are you sure? Here goes, from my spreadsheet:
4101 x 1/300 painted vehicles, planes and guns
2982 x painted WW2/modern 1/300 infantry
10,289 x 15mm Napoleonic infantry/gunners
2246 x 15mm Napoleonic cavalry
172 x 15mm Napoleonic guns, 631 horses, 135 limbers and wagons
c300 x 20mm AFVs
several hundred 20mm modern and WW2 figures
20mm medieval: c500 plastics (Syrian Saracens, Mongols, Egyptians)
25mm LoTR: c300 figures

And how big is your unpainted lead mountain?
3944 x 15mm Napoleonic infantry
591 x 15mm cavalry (no where near enough!)
16 x 15mm Napoleonic guns, 12x limbers/wagons
1407 x 6mm tanks. Plus uncounted planes and infantry
few hundred 20mm modern infantry
c2500 x 20mm plastic ancients/medievals
25mm LoTR: c200? Maybe, never counted them!
Totals correct as of lunchtime 02/11/12, be far different by the time you see this!

Do you have a favourite model in your collection? And do you have a pic?
Can’t really say. Favourite army is Napoleonic Turks.

What is the most important aspect of wargaming for you?
Social contact with fellow meglomaniacs, researching the periods, finding out about wars and armies you’ve never heard of!


What project are you currently working on?
Ongoing 15mm Napoleonic campaign, raising armies for China, Britain, Papacy, Venetia, Genoa, Lombardy, Romagna, Holland, Flanders, Tuscany, Arabia, Habesh, Afghanistan.  

Here is the campaign map, it's 10' long and goes from Ireland to China! In addition, a hand drawn US/Caribbean map that goes with it. Scale is 1"=100km.  Had a count up last night, we have 23,700+ figures painted for the campaign so far between us, I have another 4000 to paint at least Smiley

6mm modern Norwegian 1980s, current Chinese, 1980s Algerian, WW2.5 Hungarians.
20mm medieval Saracens, Georgians, Byzantines, Egyptians, Mongols.

And do you have any long-term projects on the go?
Six Secret 15mm WW2 armies ditto, adding Persia, Chechens, Burmese, Sikhs, Baluchis, Haitians, Mexicans, Cubans, Jamaicans,  Venetians, Ghurkas and Tibetans. Oh, and Omanis and Iraqis…
20mm ancient Romans/Britons – 2 Legions at 1:20 to do, and 40 Briton chariots!
20mm ancient Gauls/Germans/Celts/Dacians
20mm World of Tanks – one of everything ever built
So it’s really more of the same, rather than new periods. The 10mm French interventionist forces for the SCW are a bit of a one-off side-step for me.

Do you have any wargaming influences?
Fire & Fury rules for 19th Century combat, Tank Battles in Miniature series, TTG army list books from way back when.


Spend £100 a month on wargaming at least. Now I’ve given up drinking can spend even more, and have more time to paint them!  Cheesy

Do you buy scenery, or scratch build it?

Which figure range is at the top of your request list?
15mm Napoleonic Ghurkas and Tibetans
10mm French WW2 extra bits

Which individual item is at the top of your request list?
15mm 1814 Ghurkas
6mm SK105 Kurassier, UR416, Panther II, Turan III, TAS 44M tank, TAS 45M SPG
10mm Renault D1, WW2 French cavalry, WW2 French motorcyclists, 1938 Czechs

Which wargaming websites do you visit regularly?
BKC/CWC forum, Pendraken forum, GHQ, H&R, Irregular Miniatures, Outpost, various blogs, Yahoo TOE Group.

If someone handed you £100 right now, what would you buy?
8x Lancashire Games battlepacks, or two tank books (!)

What has been your biggest one-off purchase?
Two books for £150…


How many hours a week do you paint?
30-60 (well it is my day job!)

What kind of technique do you use?
Black acrylic undercoat for pre-20th; enamel for 20th Century; GW purity seal followed by car primer for 20mm plastics.

Do you have a preferred brand of paint?
Miniature Paints, Colour Party Paints, Humbrol

Do you have a painting area?  And do you have a pic?
Yes and yes.

Have you had any painting/modelling disasters?
Melted some 6mm tanks once drying them off on the top of a heater after they had been nitromorsed (paint stripper).  Inevitable batch of figures ruined by contaminated varnish.

Do you have any painting/modelling top tips?
Always undercoat, always varnish. Even if the undercoat is the base tank colour.  Paint by units.  Stored well, paint job will last decades.  A permanent painting table is essential to get through the lead mountain.  Turn the telly off, put a black cloth over it and use it as a plant pot stand. You’ll be surprised how much more you get done.

Why the painting service?
This came about by chance, someone at the local club saw my own work and asked if I could do his tanks like that, and so it began.  Informally at first.  Making it a full time business came about because I found out the hard way that working for someone else doing jobs I’m not interested in badly affected my health.

Back in 2007, the local job centre incapacity benefit bunch had a scheme where you could start a business and retain your benefits for 6 months, anything you earned in that time they kept, then after 6 months you looked at the results and got all your money back, then decided whether to carry on as real self-employed or go back on job-seekers. During the 6 months you have regular meetings with a business advisor, and got a top up on your benefit. In my case he was an ex-bank manager, and was very helpful.  In that 6 months I made two grand, so took the decision to go solo.

And I’ve never looked back. Yes, it’s the minimum wage, or less, but it’s relaxing, doesn’t feel like work, I can do it at home, and I’ve never run out of custom.

Is a painting service really viable?
A painting service has one of the lowest investment to output ratios.  For £200 of paint and brushes I can generate £5000 worth of work in a year. Your main cost is time. As I suspect anyone working in the hobby
knows, a 50-60 hour week is normal. As the cost of living is fixed too high in this country, state support (tax credits, housing benefit top-up) is needed, unless you can charge £7 a figure like the top end of the market. Setting up a small business is easy. It’s getting the customers. I already had the contacts when I started (from editing the SOTCW Journal) so getting the work wasn’t too much of a problem. So as is often the case, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that counts.

To run a painting service you have to enjoy it, because you’re not going to get rich doing it! To do any small business, you have to be dedicated, and realistic about your pricing structure and what you can do. I tend to concentrate on the smaller scales, going for volume painted to a good wargames standard, leaving the 28mm to others more skilled with more demanding customers. Having other income streams is also a good idea, like in my case I do occasional gardening work, and accounts work as well as the MicroMark lists.

And like any small business, you don’t have regular income. You have flush weeks and poor weeks. If you are coming from a PAYE background where you had regular monthly or weekly income and then going self-employed, you life structure has to adapt! If you have family this can have a major impact on them, and would need to be factored in before you start.

How is business in the middle of a recession?
Wargaming as a whole seems to be pretty recession proof. Currently I am fully booked until April, with the same customers repeatedly sending in commissions, I have never been busier with the painting.  Each year has shown a 5-15% increase in profits, although this year looks to be no increase because of increased costs. Balancing work is a juggling act - army lists sales are not increasing, but that is because I have so much painting work on that I don’t find the time to write new lists. Even with a catalogue of 2600 items, I have enough information piled up around the house for another 3000 easily.

By the time I’ve done them, we will have had enough wars and what-if wars for many more, plus older overseas archive material is always being revealed to generate more source material. So there is plenty to come!

I have taken February off painting to concentrate on writing, so there will be roughly 100 new releases this month.


How often do you get to game?
Twice a week, Tuesday night at local club, Thursday night at my house for 15mm Napoleonic campaign.  Occasional weekend game as well.

Do you belong to a local club?
Yes, Burnley.

Do you have a funny wargaming story?
It involves numerous double-six blunders…

And have you had any wargaming disasters?

Do you prefer short games or long campaigns?
Campaigns, although do both.

Do you have a wargames room?  And do you have a pic?
Oh yes! 10x 5’ table.

How do you store your figures?
Plastic boxes, Really Useful Boxes,  jigsaw boxes from charity shop.

These are my various storage boxes:
- 15mm Napoleonics and a few 20mm moderns in plastic screw boxes.

- 15mm Napoleonics in charity shop £1 jigsaw boxes, cheap as you can get, just throw the jigsaw away.

- Thin plastic boxes for microarmour, from Hobby Craft, ideal as you can get 90x Spearhead size bases in one box, enough for 2 battalions at 1:1 usually.  

- In this case, 1985 Algerians on show.


What are you reading at the moment?
The Sabres of Paradise (researching Napoleonic Lesghis).

Do you have a favourite book?
Lord of the Rings, Grunts by Mary Gentle (Orcs with AK47s, how can you go wrong!?)

Do you buy any wargaming magazines, and if so, which ones?


What are your 3 favourite films?
Lord of the Rings, Kellys’ Heroes, Almost Famous.

And your 3 worst?
None I can remember

What are your all-time Top 3 TV shows?
Blakes’ 7; Young Ones, Not the Nine O’clock News.

And right now?
I don’t have a telly, I have a life!


Who is your favourite band?
What, only one?
Here’s a few – BabaJack (and not just because Becky Tate is a bit tasty!), Fag Ash Lil, Joe Bonamassa, Mostly Autumn, Pink Floyd, Free, Journey, Chantel McGregor

And favourite album?
How do you pick one out of thousands? Probably The Wall by Floyd.

And your 3 favourite songs?
Faithfully by Journey, Comfortably Numb by Floyd, Sloe Gin by Joe Bonamassa


What other hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
Country walking, seeing live rock/blues bands, would love to take up archery and wood carving if I had more hours in a day!

What do you drive?
Shank’s pony.

Are you a breast or thigh person...  Wink
Breast! (And long hair…)

And who are your Top 3 Totty?
Bit of an aging rock chick fan with no telly, so a bit off most people’s radar I imagine, but I am sure everyone’s Google-fu is up to the task:

Heather Findlay

Flake Advert girl 1985
<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Lzzy Hale of Halestorm

Kate Bush

Nina C. Alice

Do you have a favourite quote?
”A man’s got to know his limitations” – Clint Eastwood in one of the Dirty Harry movies.
“It’s a beautiful tank!” – Oddball
“Keep them doped with religion, sex and TV, you’re still f****** peasants as far as I can see” – John Lennon, Working Class Hero, 1967.

If you could do anything, what would it be?
Abolish capitalism, and all other –isms for that matter, then everyone can focus on doing what they are good at.
« Last Edit: 13 February 2013, 11:36:01 PM by Leon » Logged - Home to over 4000 products of shiny 10mm goodness! - MDF bases, Vallejo paints, I-94 decals, Red Vectors MDF buildings, Raiden Miniatures, Militia Miniatures and more!
Steve J
Posts: 8796

« Reply #1 on: 14 February 2013, 07:54:05 AM »

Wow Mark, you have an awful lot of figures etc Shocked. I just wish I had as much space as you do! Great read as well.

2017 Paint-Off - 2 x Winner!
mad lemmey
Posts: 21841

« Reply #2 on: 14 February 2013, 08:23:42 AM »

Good interview

Off to the Shed of Decency.

Chekov's Gun, Occam's Razor, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle walk into a bar. You won't believe what happens next!

2016 Pendraken Painting Competion Participation Prize  (Lucky Dip Catagory) Winner 😎
« Reply #3 on: 14 February 2013, 09:01:56 AM »

Great interview.
Yep....Wottalottafiggaz !!
Cheers - Phil.
Lieutenant General
Posts: 7137

« Reply #4 on: 14 February 2013, 10:32:31 AM »

Great lifestyle. Wish I had the stamina.  Thumbs up

When you realise we're all mad, life makes a lot more sense.
Posts: 248

« Reply #5 on: 14 February 2013, 11:24:13 AM »

Nice one Mark! Great interview. I love reading these.
General Bt Sherman
Posts: 360

« Reply #6 on: 14 February 2013, 02:38:09 PM »

Very impressive

Wargame or Die!

2012 Painting Competition - Winner!
Lieutenant General
Posts: 5894

Blessed is the mind too small for doubt

« Reply #7 on: 14 February 2013, 10:14:06 PM »


Just be carefull not to bump the tanks when puting the bike down  Grin
Posts: 7668

« Reply #8 on: 14 February 2013, 10:16:27 PM »

Nice interview Mark  Cool

Posts: 379

« Reply #9 on: 17 February 2013, 07:36:48 PM »

Wargamer in Burnley! Though my mate Nigel Howarth was the only one - but then he has just emailed me to say that there are in fact a few of you and that he has known you for many a year

Great interview

Posts: 630

« Reply #10 on: 17 February 2013, 09:41:31 PM »

yes, Burnley has a weekly club, War Machine and some kind of tank game on every week. I remember Nigel. You nearby Bernie?

Posts: 379

« Reply #11 on: 18 February 2013, 07:39:05 AM »

Hi Mark

Nope other end of the country - Dover

Met up with Nigel for a weekend of wargaming a couple of weeks back

All the best

goat major
Posts: 1112

« Reply #12 on: 18 February 2013, 08:56:59 AM »

This was already a great interview but the Cadbury's Flake advert makes it a classic  Thumbs up

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