Meet the geek: 2 Marcelis van Holst

We’re back with another short interview with one of our favourite geeks and member of the Cowabunga family. Marc has been a part of the 40k 2nd challenges since the very start, and has even occasionally helped out behind the scenes, facilitating the smooth running of the show. Please take your time and read about this awesome dude!

Cowabunga Journal: Could you tell me a bit about yourself and describe your background in brief?

Marc: I live in Sandy Point, which is just south of Sydney, in Dharawal country. I am currently the head Science teacher at a local school and have a background in medical research. I have a close group of friends who love gaming, in all its forms. We still meet up regularly (often weekly) to play tabletop and roleplaying games.

Marc in some PPE

Cowabunga Journal: What got you started in this hobby? 

Marc: My introduction to the 40K hobby was playing Space Crusade and Epic 40K back in the
early 90’s. A little later, some good mates taught me how to play 40K on a camping table at the beach. We used little folded cardboard miniatures to represent the models, making armies from the Angels of Death, Eldar and Space Wolves lists. By the end of the holiday, I was hooked. I spent the whole last night copying the Angels of Death Army lists by hand!

The day Marc learned that 40K was a thing; eating a Mars bar and reading about Howling Banshees

Cowabunga Journal: Are you mostly a Oldhammer, Middlehammer, Anyhammer kind of guy?

Marc: I have enjoyed all of the editions of 40K from 2nd to 9th, each for different reasons. Given the choice, however, I would prefer to collect, paint and play 2nd Edition. Nostalgia plays a big part in that, I think, but I also find that the artwork and the sculpts resonate with me more than the newer aesthetic.

Cowabunga Journal: Of all this… What is then your favourite game?

Marc: That is a tough question, because I appreciate variety. I really love playing Space Hulk. Terminators and Genestealers in a confined space with a time limit, exhaustible ammo and jamming weapons; so much fun! I find every aspect of it enjoyable, except perhaps trying to pack it all away properly at the end. Talisman is also worthy of a mention. I bought a copy of 2nd Edition for my son’s Birthday last year and we play it every school holiday!

Marc’s Brother Calistarius from 4th Edition Space Hulk. Just wow!

Cowabunga Journal: Do you consider yourself a gamer, a painter or a painter-gamer?

Marc: I would describe myself as a painter. Being both a parent of young kids and a teacher, I am the very definition of “time poor”. Gaming opportunities are few and far between, but 30 minutes of painting is my daily tribute to mental health. I still love playing the game, though.

Cowabunga Journal: what is your best ever painting/gaming moment?

Marc: Gaming: Killing Kharne the Betrayer with Dante. After weeks of debating with my regular opponent about who would win, they finally met on the field of battle. I managed to get a shot in with the Inferno Pistol, which did a lot of damage. The combat was brutal, with Kharne winning several rounds but unable to land the winning blow. With one wound remaining, Dante finally managed to kill Kharne with a flurry of critical hits. I can still feel the elation I experienced in that moment.

Painting: Last year I finally painted an old Wood Elf Forest Dragon I have had sitting around for decades. It is a fantastic model and the colour scheme was so much fun to work with. I focused on it as my project for an annual painting challenge called Monster March, which is organised by Swordmaster ( Gav Thorpe saw one of my posts on social media and decided to join the challenge as well, which was really cool!

Forest Dragon with Wild Rider

Cowabunga Journal: Haha Dante vs. Kharne – that sounds like a classic. And that Dragon sure is a beauty. This speaks to a lot of time spent on miniatures – does this even leave time for anything else? Do you have any hobbies other than hammering?

Marc: Too many! I play BattleTech, Magic the Gathering, Infinity, Aristeia, X-wing, Test of Honour, various boardgames and gaming books (especially Lone Wolf). I am playing in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign that meets regularly* online. I have also been involved in martial arts since I was a child and sailed competitively for a number of years.

Sailing in a 16ft Hartley on Sydney Harbour

*Well, whenever 5 adults with busy families can actually get together at the same time, to be honest.

Cowabunga Journal: Oh wow! That is quite a list of hobbies all in all. Who do you consider your “hobby heroes” in all of this then?

Marc: From an official point of view, I would say my heroes are Jes Goodwin, for consistently amazing miniature design, and Mark Gibbons for artwork. They have played a massive role in creating the universe that I spend so much time exploring.

I was greatly inspired by Victoria Lamb’s Golden Daemon entries back in the day. Whilst I don’t use OSL painting effects with my 2nd Edition figures, I do use them with my more modern projects. More recently I have been painting some of her sculpts, particularly Van Diemen’s World Veterans. She continues to be a positive and supportive member of the 40K hobby community.

A Van Diemen’s World Veterans autocannon team from Victoria Miniatures painted up by Marc

Within the hobby community itself, Dave Weston from Confessions of a 40K Addict is one of my hobby heroes. His blog posts and yearly “To-Do list” events have kept me motivated during some very rough times and brought together many good-hearted 40K enthusiasts. I would also salute D Power, my mate across the ditch (New Zealand). He is a prolific converter and painter of 40k miniatures in the Blanchitsu style. We have collaborated on a couple of little things, and I have commissioned a model from him in the past. He is a great talent and I wish him all the best.

The White Rose, by D Power (shared with permission)

Cowabunga Journal: If we would like to follow your endeavours and know more, where can we find your stuff online?

Marc: I have a blog that has been running for 8 years now, aptly named Old School Gaming:

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @m4cr0dutch

I am known to haunt several Discord servers under the name Marcelis (The Crown of Command Podcast, Warhammer 40K 2nd edition, The International Society of Brush Lickers and ANZ Hobby Group).

I am also an admin on the Warhammer 40K MeWe group, where I post regularly and generally keep the peace.


Cowabunga Journal: Now let’s talk a bit about the 40k army challenge that you have been part of. How did you hear about the 40k2ndAC?

Marc: Dr. The Viking put out a call on the Warhammer 40K 2nd Edition Facebook group and, after a bit of soul searching and garage bitz box diving, I sent him a message expressing my interest. After seeing the horrible state my old models were in (just parts, really, in all different colours and in all different boxes), I knew it was going to take a lot of commitment to achieve a result I was proud of.   

Cowabunga Journal: And it is all history from that point! What’s it been like to be in the challenge for 3 seasons?

Marc: Oh gosh… what has it been like?! The other challengers have been incredibly supportive and fun to chat with; the social aspects of it are very cathartic. Working with the vintage models has been challenging (particularly when they require restoration) and highly enjoyable. Like most people, I experience a huge amount of nostalgia when I work on these projects. It certainly brings the old joys and frustrations back again; Space Marine Landspeeders are still a pain to construct!

At times it has been very emotional. Some of the models I am working on were gifts given to me by my mother, who passed away in 2001. They are amongst a very small number of things I have from her, which I had put away in boxes to limit my grief when I was younger. Cracking it all open again and working on it creatively, often late at night, is a real psychological witch’s brew. Meeting the deadline every month can be grueling and exhausting, but nothing beats the feeling of seeing those finished models on the shelf!

“A Deathwing Squad my mother gave me for Christmas back in the day”

Cowabunga Journal: You have actually been a part of all 3 challenges so far! This speaks to a methodical approach. How do you motivate yourself? Any tips/tricks for those who have a hard time getting the brushes out of the paintwater?

Marc: Keeping in touch with the other challengers and sharing progress has been highly effective. That is the great strength of these challenges, you get a group of like-minded people spurring each other on and holding each other accountable (in a friendly way). I have also reflected on my very real wish to show these models the love and respect they deserve. Some of them have been through an awful lot! I am also not one to withdraw from a challenge, so reflecting on my original commitment also tends to put a rocket under me.

In terms of tips, I would encourage people to think carefully about their reasons for doing this hobby. I think sometimes we just need to remind ourselves how cool these little models are. If you are having trouble seeing that, a break from the hobby can be a very healthy thing.

If that is not what is holding you back, get your hobby space organised today and decide on something achievable you could get done tomorrow. Do it, even if it is tiny, i.e. a gun barrel. Do it no matter how bleurgh it feels, then put it away. Repeat this every day*. I have pulled myself out of many hobby nose-dives this way.

*Or whenever you can; life happens.

How not to do it according to Marc!

Cowabunga Journal: So between all these painted miniatures. Do you have any favourite entry/unit from the challenges? Anything you’re particularly proud of?

Marc: My favourite unit is the Predator Annihilator I painted for my Dark Angels in the second season of the challenge. It was a gift from my sister back in the mid-90’s and has been used in many games through the years. During a house move about 10 years ago it was badly damaged, so restoring it for this challenge has made me incredibly happy. I can’t wait to use it in a game!

I am most proud of the Dark Angels characters I painted at the end of that season. I have always used the Asmodai model to represent Sapphon, the Dark Angels Grand Master of Chaplains, which left me with the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for Asmodai himself. 

Dark Angels characters, including Sapphon, Asmodai, Azrael and Ezekiel from Marc’s 40k 2nd army challenge entries

Cowabunga Journal: The point of the challenge is more or less to get people gaming with their colourful armies. Have you had a chance to play with any of your stuff yet?

Marc: Sadly, no. COVID-19 has caused all kinds of disruption to my gaming habits. Life, in general, has required me to prioritise other things. I am hoping to get some games in really soon, though.

Cowabunga Journal: Do you have plans for any coming 40k challenges?

Marc: I have a lot of Tyranids to do next, which has always been a hobby dream of mine. I don’t think I could do the classic scheme justice, so I am experimenting with alternative colours. The army list will include a bunch of the classic Armorcast figures, which I am really excited about. I have also been making some strategic purchases that would allow me to do Blood Angels at some stage. Having chosen Dark Angels all those years ago, Blood Angels have always been “the road not taken” for me. A 3rd Company army led by Brother-Captain Tycho sounds interesting…

Cowabunga Journal: Thanks for your time Marc! We look forward to seeing you on these pages in the future and following your miniatures activity everywhere else across the net.


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