Barry's Blog

Barry FordBarry Ford was born in 1966 in Bury, Lancashire, UK and has never strayed very far from there. His earliest memories are of watching Thunderbirds as a toddler.

The downhill slide into obsession started there.

From an early age Barry tried to make things and was always frustrated that his toilet roll holders and sticky-backed plastic never looked as good as John Noakes'. When not watching Gerry Anderson shows or Star Trek as a child Barry could usually be found drawing or painting. Unless he was reading American comics, of course - another of his passions. With these influences it was only a matter of time before he gravitated towards the shelf of model kits at the local newsagent, particularly when he spotted the Airfix Interceptor from Captain Scarlet and the Aurora Enterprise kit.

Barry's parents encouraged his creative endeavours and, when the limited number of SF kits available at the time ran out he began working through the Airfix kits most boys born in the 1960s and '70s will be familiar with.

Modelling then took a back seat until he came across Bandai's re-issues of Thunderbirds kits in the mid 1980s and began to take model making seriously.

He studied Architecture at Manchester University before deciding to become an Architectural Technologist rather than a Design Architect. This slight change in career can be summed up in two instances: during one critique session the tutor likened his design to something out of Fireball XL5. Barry thought he was praising his work - but later found out he wasn't. In another review session a tutor commented that, whilst his design wasn't the prettiest in class, it was the only one that was structurally sound.

Architecture as a career is a natural progression of Barry's desire to create things - the big difference being that, during the day he works to a much larger scale than he does in his free time. He has worked for Byrom Clark Roberts in Manchester since 1988 and is currently an Associate there with a team working under him. In addition to his qualification as a Chartered Architectural Technologist he is also a Chartered Environmentalist; a Chartered member of the Institute of Building and a CDM Co-ordinator.

During the late '80s Barry discovered limited run 'garage' kits and his modelling focus from then on was purely sf and fantasy orientated due to the wide variety of subjects becoming available as models. He admits to becoming very anally retentive about model making at one stage - obsessing over every last detail and colour shade, but, after a few years of this, he began to realise he was getting older and the pile of kits on top of the wardrobe was not getting any smaller. If he did not stop fretting over things that didn't really matter he was never going to get anything built, and, most importantly, wasn't going to have any fun with what is supposed to be a relaxing hobby.

With this revelation Barry's modelling skills started to improve. He was no longer scared of trying new techniques, working on the principal that even if it didn't turn out right he would have learned something from it.

Many of Barry's modelling skills are self taught, but he has also picked up a great deal over the years by reading books and magazines, both subject-related and from other modelling genres, as he believes we can all learn something from each other.

As Barry has grown older the challenge has moved away from purely creating stand-alone models towards placing models into realistic environments, with the ultimate goal being to try and tell a story with his dioramas.

Barry, author of How to Build Better Dioramas, currently lives with his dog, Honey.

A Grand Day Out: Mark II

17-09-2012

On the morning of Saturday 21st July Andy Pearson and I arrived at the Manchester Central Exhibition Hall to set up a stall with the aim of exhibiting and, hopefully, selling some of my model collection. The MCM Expo didn't open until 9:30am, so Andy and I were quite surprised to see that people were already queuing up at the door to get in at 8 o'clock. Once we had found our stall it didn't take too long to set up and then it was time to wait for the announcement to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, so to speak.


The number of people that had come to the exhibition was phenomenal, with people queuing round the building and waiting over an hour to get in. And all shape, size and colour of humanity came through those doors - many in costume. Many were in superhero costumes, with the recent Avengers movie being an obvious big influence and there were a lot of Steampunkers there, but Manga and Anime subjects (of which I know nothing) seemed to be the primary focus of the dressing up.


My stand received a lot of positive interest, particularly when I told people that each model was a one of a kind, hand built item, as most of the attendees were only familiar with factory produced, pre-built collector's models. Unfortunately, the predominance of interest in Manga and Anime meant that a lot of the audience were in the mid-teen to mid-twenties age bracket and had come for more of a fun day out rather doing any serious spending, so whilst I didn't finish the day with pockets full of cash I didn't take back home as many models as I had come to the show with.


Having said that the day was full of potential, with a lot of people taking my details and looking to give me future commission work, and two young ladies asked me if I'd be willing to give them one to one tuition... I obviously directed them towards my book as a starting point! What was also interesting was that a dealer selling art prints from down south said that if I took a stall at a London convention my models would fly out the door and he was interested in buying a number of models himself for re-selling. So you may well see me making an exhibition of myself in the big smoke one of these days.


Five o'clock rolled round and it was time to pack up. Andy and I headed home tired but having had a thoroughly enjoyable day out; a day that I would classify as highly successful as it confirmed to me that I have a good product and there is a market for it, all I have to do is find the right audience and away I go! I look forward to seeing you all at the third UK Garage Kit show on 29th September, where my first kit will be unveiled. But that's a story for another day.


With my most sincere thanks to my good firend Andy Pearson for all his help and support.


Making an exhibition of myself

29-06-2012

The last time I wrote one of these blogs I commented that if I was supposed to be producing them on a regular basis I should start taking the writer's equivalent of Ex-Lax. After realising that it is over a year since my last blog I really should be adding prune juice and gunpowder to that. Perhaps I should just console myself that between making models and trying to get on with life in general there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to. We have all heard the saying that time goes quicker the older you get and it is very true: I find myself halfway through the year feeling that it has gone quicker than a rainy Sunday afternoon as a teenager.

Life is a truly wonderful thing and sometimes I stop and marvel at some amazing events that have happened to me. Case in point being that three years ago when I bought a kit from the United States (which, in itself, is a miracle I would never have dreamed possible when I was younger and thanks due to the introduction of the Internet) who would have thought that I would be selling the build up of said kit and posting it back to sunny California (cue Al Jolson song at this stage of the proceedings). Sometimes, despite the merry go round of day to day life, you have to stop and carry out a review and I realised that I was quickly running out of space at home to store my build ups. I decided that the best way to rectify this was to try and sell off my collection and hence the sale of my Batman: Scars diorama that some of you may recall from a chapter in my How to Build Better Dioramas book. I have started this not-closing-down sale in a low key manner and some of you may have seen my posts on various modelling forums. My gallery of models and dioramas can be seen at

http://s256.photobucket.com/albums/hh192/mack2919/Models%20for%20Sale/

If you would like any further details or prices of models you can contact me through this website or directly at modelbford@aol.co.uk.

Another thing I never expected to happen to me was to see my work in a museum. Well, not exactly in a museum, but featured on its website anyway. I recently discovered the Mechanical Art and Design Museum in Stratford upon Avon http://themadmuseum.co.uk/ which is full of amazing mechanical devices and a section devoted to Steampunk. I am very pleased to say that the dioramas I made for the two Steampunk Modeller specials can be found in their work for sale section.

Which leads me onto the title of this blog: on the 21st July 2012 I will be making an exhibition of myself at the Manchester MCM Expo to be held at the Manchester Central Exhibition Centre (formerly G-Mex), details of which can be found here http://www.manchestermcmexpo.com/

I will have a selection of models on display and which will be available for purchase on the day. If any particular model takes your eye on my online gallery I will be very happy to bring it along on the day for you to collect for a small deposit up front. My very good friend, Andy Pearson, will be manning the stand with me, so please stop by and say hello.


Where does the time go?

29-03-2011

Where does the time go? I can't believe that as I sit down to write these notes that we are fast approaching the end of March and already a quarter of the year has passed us by. I also can't believe how long it is since I last sat down to write a blog. Mr Reccia asked if I could produce them on a regular basis for the website, and if this is regular I'm going to have to start taking the writer's equivalent of Ex-Lax.

Things that perhaps I should have written about:

Visited the IPMS Show in Telford with my good friend Andy Pearson and managed to keep my wallet in my pocket for longer than I expected. After many years of talking on the phone I finally got round to meeting the living legend that is Tony James and was blown away by the quality of the model competition entries: enough to make you want to hang up your glue and paint for good. Although, both Andy and I were puzzled by some of the decisions made by the competition judges: without going into too much detail there seemed to be a bias towards bigger being better and some other strange judgements as to what actually could be classified as a "plastic model".

Had the happiest Christmas I have had in a long time though didn't get round to doing any model making.

The end of February saw the dynamic duo of Pearson and Ford hit the road again and visit the South Cheshire Model Show. Unfortunately the wallet couldn't be quite so restrained this time and so some more Knight Models white metal miniatures, including the new Star Wars Speeder Bike, came home with me.

Mid-march I visited the Ray Harryhausen exhibit at the London Film Museum; I was both blown away by seeing the models at such close proximity and had my modelling mojo reinvigorated. Well worth visiting if you're in the area as the museum also has the original costumes from Robocop, Batman Begins and Superman Returns, the 2005 Thunderbird 4 full size prop and some other items of interest to the SF modeller. Combined the visit to London with a trip to Comet Miniatures in Battersea, which was fun as I ended up signing some copies of my book (which is still a very surreal experience) and, inevitably, came away with a lighter wallet and some models in my bag.

Which may leave you thinking: how does he find time to do all that, hold down a job, sleep and be a prolific model maker all at the same time? The simple answer is that I can't, and the modelling has taking a little bit of a back seat of late whilst I've rediscovered that there is a real world outside of the four walls of home following the intensive period of work required to write the book. However, as I said before my modelling mojo has been reinvigorated and I've currently got three projects on the go for future publication. Without giving too much away (if I told you, Mike would kill me) the projects involve a certain Norse God heading towards the silver screen this spring; a re-imagining of a classic Anderson vehicle using a recently issued kit as the starting point and a little diorama that I will tentatively call XL5:TNG.

On top of all that it's time to do some spring cleaning so I've decided to put up for sale my completed models. If you are interested in purchasing any of my models featured in the pages of the various Happy Medium Press publications or others from my collection you can contact me either via this website or at mack291929@aol.com to discuss costs. I would note that whilst it is possible to post some of the single vehicles or figures I cannot guarantee how the package will be treated by the Royal Mail and so you may need to get some super-glue out after opening the box. If you are interested in any of the dioramas they really must be collected in person from my home or at a mutually convenient location as they are too fragile to consider popping in the post.

Take care
Barry


A Grand Day Out

07-11-2010

It was a dark and stormy night... actually it wasn't, but this sounds more dramatic than 'it was mild and overcast in the early hours of a Saturday morning at the end of October'... which it was when Andy Pearson, Des from Manchester Modelzone and I set off for the inaugural United Kingdom Garage Kit Show to be held at Brookfields Golf Course near Nantwich in Cheshire.

The event, inspired by the likes of Wonderfest in the 'States, had been organised by Dave Nichols of Killer Kits to give fans of limited run garage kits, particularly figures and busts, an opportunity to get together, discuss the hobby and have an emptier wallet going home than when they arrived.

Andy and I had decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to combine a social event with the chance to try and promote our books and the range of Science Fiction and Fantasy Modeller publications.

Arriving at the golf course I don't know who was more bemused - the golfers staring at these middle-aged men carrying models into their clubhouse, or the modellers staring at the golfers and their choice of clothing. Setting up our table didn't take too long and we were able to refresh ourselves with a nice cup of tea before the show started at 10:00am. The venue was very nice - south-facing and overlooking the golf course - and we were joined by several dealers plus Joe Bailey, who provided sculpting demonstrations throughout the day.

Attendees began to trickle in and it became obvious from the variety of accents that people had travelled far and wide to get to the show. This was a completely new experience for Andy and I as we had both attended shows as the paying public but never on the other side of the table. Whilst it was a new experience for us it was also a most pleasurable one as Andy and I really quite enjoyed having our egos stroked (and no, that is not a double entendre) by the people who came up to our table to compliment us on our models and ask how we had made them. We even signed and sold a few copies of our books.

Late morning saw Darth Vader and his Storm trooper cronies arrive to menace one and all, these larger than life characters providing one of the most surreal images I have witnessed in a long time, as later on the Dark Lord of the Sith and his followers marched across the golf course to get a breath of fresh air.

Later in the afternoon we were asked if we would like to enter any of our models into the painting competition and I declined as I've never been able to understand the desire to make modelling competitive (Surely we are all in the hobby because we enjoy doing what we do?) or the need to say 'mine's better than yours'. However, after Mr Pearson intimated that if I didn't enter one of my models for the contest he would do it for me (actually the terms he used were a bit stronger than that, but I'm aware I'm in polite company), I submitted the diorama of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Bat-cave that is featured in my book. Actually, Andy did have an ulterior motive for doing this as it had been suggested earlier in the day that we might be the judges for the competition, and by me entering and he sponsoring me, we could walk away from any judging duties with a clear conscience and no fear of violent reprisals from any losing competitors. The upshot of all this was that I walked away with the award for Best Model in the Show, so I won't say any more on the subject.

Things started to wind down about 2:30pm so we packed up and headed home. Whilst the event had been quite small in scale everyone seemed to have had a good time and hopefully with word of mouth there will be more interest in the show next year and the event can grow into something that can compete (there's that word again) with anything our colonial cousins can put together.

Finally, a big thank you to Andy Pearson for acting as taxi driver for the day and a very big thank you to both Andy and Des for their support and encouragement.

Barry Ford
2 November 2010.


There's nowt as queer as folk

22-09-2010

When young Master Reccia asked me to write a blog for the revamped website the first thing that came to mind was: what the heck do I witter on about for a few hundred words without a specific brief in mind? I did wonder if I should produce a few words about myself and my modelling philosophy, but then I thought that everyone who is going to read the blog (by the way, where does the word blog come from? The only words I know that come before log are Captain's) will have read all that bumf in the introduction to my book. You have read the book, haven't you?

I then wondered if I should discuss the state that the hobby is in, but to some extent there has been a lot of discussion on the matter and I think that we all realise that we have this strange dichotomy that the hobby is slowly dying because there is little young blood coming into modelling (A fact brought home to me only last year when I attended a Model Railway exhibition in Manchester, and whilst it was very busy, at 43 I was the youngest person in the queue to get in) and yet in many ways, due largely to the internet, for those interested in modelling things couldn't be better, with manufacturers responding to what modellers actually want and discussion forums meaning that we no longer engage in a solitary existence.

So I was left scratching my head for something to say when I thought I might say a few words about how strange human nature can be. Don't worry, I'm not going to get philosophical, its just that I was thinking that whilst we are an endangered species and engaging in the same hobby we still form cliques and factions; which may be a bit too strong a word, but I'll use it anyway until something better comes along. I'm sure that we are all aware of the disdain that a lot of so-called serious modellers have for SF&F modelling, and in return some SF modellers view, in particular, military modellers as 'rivet counters'; and even amongst the same genre of modelling we find factions, so amongst SF&F modellers we find figure modellers and hardware modellers not being aware of what the other does.

There is a very wise saying of "'et he who is without sin cast the first stone' and I'm the first to hold my hand up to say that I have made uncharitable remarks about other forms of modelling in the past (How many Rivet Counters does it take to change a light bulb? None - Whilst the Rivet Counters are busy debating the accuracy of the profile of the light bulb and wondering if it can be improved with the addition of some etched brass parts an SF modeller has changed the light bulb to a daylight one and built six kits in the meantime). But perhaps, in this fading hobby, we should accept that each form of modelling is equally valid and that if we talked to each other and listened to each other we might just learn something and be better off for it. As you know, I build a lot of dioramas and I find that a lot can be picked up by reading about techniques used by railway and military modellers; similarly, military modelling can be a great source for weathering techniques. And perhaps, we as SF&F modellers can suggest to our colleagues that the imagination is a wonderful place to visit from time to time and that things can be learnt from boldly gluing what no man has glued before.

Take care

Barry.

September 2010