Author Topic: BFFS History - In the Beginning by Graham Dixey  (Read 8245 times)

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Nicholas Ball

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Re: BFFS History - In the Beginning by Graham Dixey
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 02:04:40 PM »
Hello Ervin, and welcome to the forum.I hope you enjoy it and please ask questions, we are all very helpful ;)

There are 2 groups on this forum, Associates and Full Members.  At present you are an associate and therefore there are areas within this forum that you don't have full access to. These include the Journals and a workbench, where members put on their current workings. All very good stuff.

We all look forward to seeing some of your work

Kind regards    Nicholas


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Re: BFFS History - In the Beginning by Graham Dixey
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 01:02:31 PM »

Thanks for sharing such nice informative post about BFFS..I have just become part of such an elite group and I am so happy
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 11:31:45 AM by marko92 »


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BFFS History - In the Beginning by Graham Dixey
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2012, 02:28:05 PM »

This article was written in February 1996 at the time when the Society was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Society was formed early in 1986 by Graham Dixey, Jacques Vullinghs and Jim Woodley. Launch date was launched in April 1986, the first issue of the Journal appearing in that month. Graham Dixey designed the original logo, his wife supplying the motto.

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An advertisement appeared in Military Modelling in April 1986:
"Enthusiasts of the flat figure will be interested to learn that a new society, catering specifically for flat figure painters, has just been formed. Known as The British Flat Figure Society its aim is to embrace every aspect of painting and collecting flats……”.

Membership had grown to 32 by April 1986 and climbed to 200+, remaining fairly steady over the years.
The bulk order of figures from overseas was started in April 1987, together with the catalogue service to make it easier for UK members to buy from overseas.

The quality of the Journal increased over the years, initially being produced on an Amstrad with a dot-matrix printer, later on PCs with desktop publishing software. The first colour insert appeared in the October 1991 issue, and for some time from January 1994 we were able to include two colour photographs in each issue. Now two of the four issues a year include colour pages.

On the 10th anniversay of the founding of the Society, Graham Dixey wrote an article for the Journal recalling the early days:

In the last months of the winter of 1985/1986 I received a phone call from Jim Woodley, the gist of which was, would I be interested in the idea of forming a society to cater for the interests of flat figure collectors and paint­ers exclusively?

Apparently the idea had been raised by this Dutch fellow, Jacques Vullinghs.I wasn't sure what I thought of the idea, to tell the truth. I didn't think there would be enough interest in it. However, when Jacques phoned me to discuss the idea at length, I was rather bowled over by his enthusiasm. Jacques can have that effect on you!. We agreed to meet at my house in Wembley to talk over the whole thing and to formulate a plan for bringing the society into existence. We hadn't even got a name for it at that stage.

So, shortly afterwards, the three of us met and were sitting around the pine table in my kitchen, sipping cups of coffee, pads of paper in front of us, pencils sharpened (so to speak) while Jim and Jacques filled the air with cigarette smoke. Some people apparently have the knack of remembering every detail of a conversation that they had years before. How many war memoirs have I read where the author recalled, for example, exactly what he said to a fellow officer at 14.00hrs on the 5th May, 1943? Do these people rush out of the room and write down all of their dialogue for posterity, or do they just have super power memories? What I'm getting to is that I can't really re­member what was said on that auspi­cious (7) day, but I do know that it fell tomy lot to be the first treasurer, Jacques to beChairman and also to edit the first issue of the Journal, while Jim would be our 'expert', dealing with members' queries, etc.

The society, after some debate, would be called "The British Flat Figure Society". That seemed as appropriate as anything else we could dredge up. I know that we estimated at the time that, if we were lucky, we could expect eventually to get about 30 members within the UK. There was never any suggestion that anyone outside of the British Isles would be the slightest bit interested! For the record, the annual UK membership fee in the beginning was the highly optimistic figure of £3.00, to include four copies of the Journal.

The next stage was to advertise the Society, which we did by using the model press. In a moment of intense pride I phoned Roy Dilley, President of the British Model Soldier Society and told him of the newly emergent body that would shortly take the model world by storm -that had him worried! In front of me is Issue One of the Journal, dated April 1986. It contains a complete list of members, 32 all told (many of them still members), includ­ing the committee. The listing is cross­referenced to each member's specific interests, in the form of a table. Imagine trying to do that today. The very first item that appeared in print in the Journal was contributed by Jacques Vullinghs. It's a little bit of old Dutch philosophy and I'm going to quote it again here, so that those of you who were lucky enough to escape it first time round won't be able to do so now! Here it is (see left)

Jacques goes on to comment that,in our first month of existence, our membership had grown to 40.

"Here is a man who quietly collects,
Here is another man who quietly collects,
Here is yet another......
Each could show, tell and teach the other,
Each could learn and gain knowledge from the other,
And all together could save themselves a lot of bother and trouble,
If they would find another from one street to the next
only a couple of minutes driving well maybe a few hours driving away from each other"

What was the first Journal like? Well, it consisted of 16 single-sided A4 pages, held together with a staple at the top left-hand corner! In spite of its relative crudity, what it contained was what flats people wanted and couldn't find elsewhere - articles about painting and collecting flats, reviews of new flats, pictures of flats - even if they were only line drawings, etc.

It was put together by Jacques on his kitchen tale in Bray and duly mailed out to the membership, who seemed to receive it with approbation. !t carried a badge (see left), a rather crude design effort of my own, and the Society's motto, which my wife Carole concocted - "Ex Stanno ad Vitum", which she assures me means 'Out of Tin, into Life', which seemed as good a way of expressing our aims as anything else. I have reproduced our old badge here just as a reminder of the past. Other articles were on the Gottstein dioramas by Jon Redley, on Mike Taylor's dio­rama "Before Kadesh", drawings of some stand marks, the first of a series by myself on flats painting, entitled 'Beginners Please', an expression borrowed without shame from the theatre. There were a number of reviews, a sale and swap column, notices of events and a couple of pages devoted to some of Gerhard Rucker's range of Masai tribespeople with appropriate vegetation and wild animals. Not a bad mix, looking back.

Issue three was the first to appear with the new BFFS logo and in a proper magazine style. For posterity, let me give credit again to Belgian member, Jacques Lekeu, for the design of the logo that now graces all BFFS journals, lapel badges and notepaper. In response to our request, a number of members submitted designs but Monsieur Lekeu's was far and away the best. By this time, Jacques Vullinghs and I had reversed roles, with me putting the Journal together and J.v. acting as treasurer, etc. From that time until I handed the Society over to the present committee, the Journal was designed and the master pages printed using an Amstrad 8512 computer and a Hewlett-Packard Deskjetprinter. The DTP software was a simple but effec­tive package called Microdesign2, plus Proscan and a simple hand-scanner. The latter was an absolute boon, and I use one frequently today, for 'lifting' images from a variety of sources, edit­ing them as needed and pasting them into place. In this way I was able to 'cut and paste' many images of flats to make up the front covers of the Jour­nals, though the header and borders were done in the good old-fashioned way, using rub-down transfer letter­ing and border designs.

Somewhere along the way, Jacques Vullinghs relinquished his active role in the Society and the day to day running fell to Carole and myself. I still have visions of her sitting down for half-an-hour or so before going to work each morning, answering letters, posting off catalogues, sorting out cheques, etc. I also remember her sit­ting on the settee in the lounge, at Journal time, with great piles of envelopes, sorted according to destination, sticking the address labels onto them, which I had run off from the member­ship list, the latter being stored on an old Amstrad CPC464, using a dot ma­trixprinter. As I write this contribution for the 10th Armiversary Journal (February 1996), I am using Microsoft Word 6 on a 90Mhz multi-media Pentium machine - and am I achieving anything more with all this technology-not as I write I'm not!

May I thank you all again for that support. I am happy to see that that degree of support is obviously being continued and that today we have a strong and healthy Society.

Long may it continue.

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