Five Questions with Howard Fielding
Howard Fielding produces truly amazing miniatures for Tékumel. You don’t have to take our word for it: just go visit the website for The Tekumel Project, and see things come to life through 28mm cast figures. Here is a modest introduction to the man running the foundry:
Tell us a bit more about yourself – who is the creative spark behind the Tékumel Project?
My name is Howard Fielding. I started out in the “rag trade” [ed. garment industry] then went back to college for computers studies and did a few years of IT Support before deciding that was like being on a learning treadmill all the time. After that I worked as an Industrial Analyst auditing Aluminum Extrusion plant and Aluminum Scrap Recycling facilities in North America and the EU. Currently I am employed by the Department of Defense. I have a business partner but I think he would prefer to remain anonymous.
What is the Tékumel Project, and how did it start?
The Tékumel Project is devoted to producing 28mm scale miniatures for MAR Barker’s World of Tékumel. It started back in 2005, if I have my dates right. I had corresponded via email with the Professor about 3D Poser computer graphics for Tékumel but that didn’t come to much. I did get a preliminary 3D mesh of a Yan Koryani Khil done but it still needs tweaking before its perfect. Anyway, I had a previous association with Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures as a customer and a sponsor for some of his “100 Club” figures. It occurred to me that we might be able to do a range of Tékumel-related military figures. The idea was that my business partner and I would commission the “greens” and Eureka would handle the manufacturing and sale of the range. Without going into the details, I approached Nic about the idea and he agreed. I then approached the Professor got his permission to go ahead.
The project started as a military-focused range. It has changed a bit over the years. One thing I found was that everything took so long to accomplish. Part of that is my fault, I admit but some was just fitting into the schedule of the sculptor and manufacturer who, of course, had other things to make and do besides our stuff. I think it was 2007 or 2008 that I decided to try going it on our own. I started investing more heavily in sculptors and artists to try and get ahead of the production – so we would always have something ready to come out. Of course, this also meant we had to purchase the molds from Eureka and this has taken a while to do – primarily because I was focused on “moving forward.”
We’ve made some good progress. Our ranges now include civilian and role-playing subjects as well as combat units. We have a pool of 7 or 8 sculptors who have done, are doing, or are scheduled to do stuff for us. We have resin models as well as metal figures – and more recently we have creatures made through the 3D printing process (though not yet in general release.)
We formed the Tékumel Club and enjoy the support of many loyal Tékumel fans. They provide vital financial and moral support, as useful suggestions and comments which we do or best to take into consideration. Some have even “sponsored” legions! In return we try and provide the most authentically Tékumelani miniatures that we can. The have been Tékumel miniatures in the past. Our goal is to provide a broader range. More poses. Better sculpts. Subjects that haven’t been done before. If I had the money we would strive to recreate all aspects of Tékumel in miniature! 🙂
How did you get interested in the World of Tékumel?
I first encountered Tékumel via the “Battle of Ry” account that appeared in the March 1976 issue of Wargamer’s Digest. I was hooked! Later I spotted Swords and Glory on the shelves of Fandom II, Ottawa’s premiere gaming store, and as soon as I realized what they were I snapped both parts up immediately. I think about the same time the Man of Gold came out. Unfortunately at that time I didn’t know about the other Tékumel publications, and living in Kingston, Ontario, in the age before the Internet and email one was pretty cut off from the hobby. In 1991 I started wargaming regularly. I picked up any Tékumel product I could find. With the advent of the Internet I started following things online until eventually I ended up in email correspondence with Professor Barker himself.
What has been your biggest success so far with the Tekumel Project?
Not sure. What does “success” mean? I like that we finally got the Ahoggya released, and am very excited by the upcoming Swamp Folk and Tinaliya, which have never been made in miniatures before, IIRC. Certainly not the Swamp Folk anyhow. I think my favourite releases have been the “Puppet Master” vignette and the “Sacrifice” set – and the new Qol palanquin which is really, really cool! The puppet master is based upon some art by Dave Maggi – one of the few artists who really “gets” Tékumel, while the sacrifice set is based upon art from the original Empire of the Petal Throne role-playing game. Both sets really capture their subjects I think and I’ve always liked to have “entourage” for my table-top games. Cows in the fields, baggage, civilians to get in the way, that sort of thing. I envision our figures being used in both pure set-piece battles and also table-top skirmish games set in a market place or temple precincts. I’m working on a scenario inspired by the tale of the 47 Ronin. Its tentatively called “the Vengence of Grai” and involves an assassination attempt on Karin Missum by survivors of the Grai massacre. It would basically be an assault on a pleasure palace owned by the general…
What do you hope to do with the Tekumel Project in 2013?
Lots and lots of stuff. Bring over the rest of our molds from Eureka and put them back into production. Get our huge (and I mean huge) backlog of unreleased miniatures into production. Release the Swamp Folk and Tinaliya – both are on the verge of release. For the Swamp Folk it is the start of a more expansive range, while the Tinaliya are pretty much complete. I just took receipt of a 50lb box of Qol, constituting the the completion of that range. Ssu and Pachi Lei are planned plus about a dozen legions have been commissioned. As always, everything takes so very long to come to fruition! 😦