On 1 June 2011 – one day after my first wedding anniversary, I visited my local hospital about a bit of a lump I’d had where there oughtn’t be a lump. No fears however as my GP told me that at 39 I was “too old for what young men get, too young for what old men get”. What he failed to tell me (or I suspect to know) was that I was entirely, totally, precisely the right age to get just what I had – a malignant tumour on my left testicle. I’m not going to be flip about the trauma and upset, the plain fear and angst this caused nor am I going to try to get across a bigger message. I will say simply that I was and am one of the lucky ones but that I have seen those who are not and, simply, trust yourself, check it out and if you are not happy or are just plain unlucky, own that and persevere: it is your life and no one can or should value it like you do.
Anyhow, thankfully, one abdominal surgery later and the traitorous teste was offski. I however was left pretty darn sore, comfy only when sat bolt upright. To fend off boredom during convalescence I resolved to finish a Tyranid monster I had been busily converting from a toy dinosaur.
As you’ll spot he is pretty tumorous himself and I thought completing him would be my catharsis. In matter of fact he never has been finished, being put to one side as, instead, for reasons I will never know I decided that “no”, I needed to have a go at sculpting a Martian Overlord – a six inch tall tripod in the style of HG Wells’ machine and its occupant combined.
And it worked!
Some flower arranging wire, a lump of Milliput, a tonne of greenstuff later and voila I had my Martian!
Between recuperation from the surgery and then laying low after a blast of radioactive platinum came the Martian Warriors, inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs downloaded en masse to my Kindle whilst I was grumpy, drugged and sore.
Not amazing I admit, but I was happy. In a moment of stroooong pain-killer inspiration I fired some photos of these chaps to PSD, Briogenese and Robert with the very basic question “should I make and sell these?”
No, wait, that’s a lie. I sent them an email in among my then-regular codeine-induced madness which said “I’ve tried sculpting and it’s gone really well – I think I may make them and try to sell them” They came back, properly supportive of their drug-addled chum but as quietly suspicious as they should have been so I didn’t go too nuts and send them off to GW or Wyrd with a demand-with-menaces! Then I sent them photos. And the response I got was hugely supportive (albeit much of the credit went to my new prosthetic testicle rather than me – an assertion I will forever refute). Having spent most of my time off sculpting in my attic, the name of the business felt like an obvious gift from the fates. And so, I guess, Attica was conceived.
Looking back now it would have been dead easy for this all to have been just another scheme or idea (we all have them, in my case at a pretty steady rate of about three per annum: In Brian’s case three an hour). Once it had run its course I could have simply headed back to work, life and DIY (and in many ways I have had to of course – the bills insist) particularly when I overlay the “tail” that my adventure into illness will have of check-ups, scans and all that malarkey. For whatever reason though it did not all go away. I have largely left to one side for now my initial ideas for a game based in the gladiatorial arenas of Mars and the races which would and might yet populate it, but only to replace it with Shiver – a range which has grown out of my love of TV and movies of a certain type. Think Sapphire and Steel, think Dr Who, think The Blob or Quatermass or Lost Boys. Modern horror minus the chainsaws, sci-fi minus the gunships.
That’s the Attica idea: quality, fun figures in the classic sci-fi/horror style, quirky not gimmicky. And before very long (once PSD has been suitably cajoled, bribed and shamed into full-scale production or whatever it is writers do) a tabletop skirmish game to match.
It’ll make a million or it’ll give me an ulcer. I will become a better sculptor as I go, or go blind as I sculpt, but either or any way, Attica is here to stay!