Thoroughly Modern Minis: an Interview with Tim Spakowski

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, the future of hobby and tabletop gaming blogs.

Today we bring you an interview with Tim Spakowski. The founder of Special Artisan Service Miniatures, Tim is—in more then one sense of the word—a veteran. He’s been the driving force behind SASM for three years, and, before that, he toured Iraq in a Personal Security Detachment. Now, with SASM a part of the War Banner family, I spent a little time chatting with Tim to learn more about him and his miniatures.

Paul: Hi Tim. Could you begin by introducing yourself?

Tim: Hello Paul. My name is Tim Spakowski, and I founded Special Artizan Miniatures Service LLC in 2016.

Paul: And what inspired you to create the company?

Tim: Modern wargaming is just one of the periods that I play. I own a lot of 20mm modern miniatures, but as I got older and my eyes changed, I quickly grew to love 28mm miniatures. It’s now the scale in which I mostly game and paint. I own lots of 15mm and 6mm (otherwise known as micro armour), but 28mm is the scale for me. That interest led to my wanting to create a line of 28mm moderns and offer something to the community that wasn’t done before.

Paul: Was there a specific reason you chose to create a line of moderns as opposed to another period or periods?

Tim: I’m particularly keen on wargaming in the modern period having been a contractor in Iraq as well as a weapons instructor for a US company. I wanted to bring that experience to the gaming table.

Paul: Sorry, did you just say you were a contractor in Iraq?

Tim: Yes, I worked in Iraq in a Personal Security Detachment (also known as a PSD). I also worked for a training company here in the States which trained contractors and worked with various SWAT teams throughout the country.

Paul: How did you get into that one of work? Are you ex-military or police?

Tim: No, I’m not ex-military, but my business partner William Nardin—or just ‘Bill’—had been in the military as well as a three letter agency.

Prior to that, I was part owner of a company called Command Operations Center, which was also owned by a guy called William Nardin. We built terrain in 1/300 scale and did training scenarios with various military units.

Paul: So, using 1/300 scale models and wargaming tables on the training scenarios with military units…

…Do you mean the units would use miniatures and terrain to simulate specific scenarios? As in, they’d play a miniature wargame?

Tim: Yes. We created a city in 1/300 scale that was modelled after a city in Bosnia. Using 1/300 scale miniatures we created scenarios and put on games for the military. Sometimes those miniature wargames would result in force-on-force training using simulations or Airsoft.

This is one of the tables Bill left me in his will, as well as all his miniatures:

Paul: In his will?

Tim: Yes. Bill was killed several years ago.

Paul: Oh no! That’s awful!

Tim: He was my main painting teacher and the reason why I became a miniatures enthusiast. He was like a father to me. He was my inspiration. I do my best to be like him and help inspire others in the hobby. If he was only here now to see where this has taken me. He would be right next to me. Well, he is, but not in the physical realm.

Paul: That’s a lovely sentiment. He clearly meant a lot to you. I’m sure he’d be very proud of what you’ve achieved.

Tim: Thank you. The whole experience taught me this really isn’t about me. It’s about the hobby and the community and what we can give back to it. All for the purpose of its growth.

Paul: Nicely put.

Tim: I think a lot of people forget that. We don’t take any of this with us. We are here to have fun and help others so they can grow.

Paul: So, forgive my ignorance, but I am I right in thinking you don’t sculpt your range?

Tim: That’s right; I hire sculptors

Paul: And when you brief the sculptors, do you provide concept art or just a lot of reference material?

Tim: Lots and lots of reference materials. I take photos of my own kit. Sometimes I pose here and there, but I generally use pictures that are readily available to the public.

Paul: And what dictates the lines you make? Gaps in the market, or just the desire to create cool miniatures?

Tim: In a lot of cases real world events dictate what I do. I also build what I like regardless of what has been made already. Follow your heart and move forward. That is the motto I go by.

Paul: So, with War Banner introducing you to new customers, what can they expect from the SASM brand

Tim: The main goal for me is to continue to bring realistic and fun-looking miniatures to War Banner and their existing customers. I want to inspire gamers who aren’t currently into moderns and show them there is another option. Most importantly I want to follow our brand, by which I mean producing miniatures with the look and feel of a War Banner product, and to do that I hope to utilize the current crop of War Banner sculptors and continue that lineage.

Paul: Thank you, Tim. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for War Banner Modern. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

Tim: You’re welcome, Paul.

The entire range of Special Artisan Services Miniatures will be available on the forthcoming War Banner page. In the interim, you can find his expanding range at Kings Hobbies and Supplies.

We’re currently open to submissions, so if you have an article about sculpting, painting or gaming, then please do send it our way. From historical to sci-fi, battle reports to painting tips, modelling to terrain and all points in between, we’d love to hear from you. See our submissions guidelines for more details.

About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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