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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Susan Boyle the next big thing in wargaming?

                                                            Susan throws a six!


I hope not to finish this year on a negative note, so I will endeavor to write another post before the New Year. However before I return to a more up beat tone,I am beginning to wonder about the latest book releases titled Mega Wargaming from Wargames Illustrated, price £30.00 and Masters in Miniatures from the Perry twins also retailing at £30.00.
 When it was decided to publish these two books, who was the audience that they were actually aiming at?
I could understand when Henry Hyde released his book Wargaming Compendium, it actually had a purpose which I think it achieved.
 I could also understand when John Ray published his book, A Military Gentleman. The book was clearly a labour of love. I was actually in the enviable position to be able to buy it, and the reason I did so was because I admire the artistry of John Ray and I personally know Dave Jarvis who painted a lot of the figures. I knew it would never help with improving  my historical knowledge but it would inspire me to hopefully paint a tad better. It was never meant to move the hobby on.
 I suppose the same could be said of the other two books, but does it really?
 Clearly Ron Ringrose is a talented chap, and has sufficient financial clout to be able to exhibit some lovely large diorama like terrain pieces in a very large wargames room, but it is hardly a typical set up,  and lets be right, the setups that he has created have been published with regularity by Wargames Illustrated ad nauseam.
 Again with the Perry twins, they are clearly very talented figure sculptors, but filling 160 pages with photographs of their ranges is hardly going to inspire many new wargamers, especially when their ranges are invariably on show in the wargaming press every month.
 So what is the justification for the release of these two books?
 Personally, and its hard not to be cynical about these releases, it has to be money, what other justification can there be.
 Will either of these two books be classed as wargaming classics in the future?
 I very much doubt it. Once purchased and looked at, the books will be filed away and left.
 Perhaps in some way similar to a record release by Susan Boyle, at the time a novelty, and then an embarrassment.
 One of the things that bothers me is the price, again the magical figure of thirty quid!
  I have just bought The Black Bands of Giovanni concerning the history of the famous black bandes in the Italian Wars. This softback book was £25.00, but it contains an awful lot of factual history, and is well researched. It is a book to return to should I want to check on some part of the make up of those units. That book is a well researched history book, Mega Wargaming and Masters in Minatures are really just pretty fluff.
 My gripe, wargamers deserve better than this.
 We all like pretty painted soldiers but please give the average wargamer some credit instead of looking to make some easy bucks.    

16 comments:

  1. This is very interesting and, certainly where pricing is concerned, has something in common with music equipment. Younger wargamers and musicians, who depend on pert-time jobs or pocket money, surely have a difficult time affording stuff like this, whereas it's adult gamers and musicians, those with 40+ hour-a-week jobs have an easier time of it. In both hobbies, things have become so expensive in recent years, it's no wonder that few teen-aged guys seem to go in for historical gaming. . . or a Gibson Leps Paul and an amplifier anymore. There's no realistic way to afford them when even used gear, depending on what it is, commands a high price. Very sad.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Ah Stokes, You are showing your age, a Les Paul was always something to aspire to, even now I have friends who still opt for a Les Paul copy just through cost. As regards these books, even wargamers with some disposable income should think twice before buying books that do little to further our hobby. Buying the magazines is expensive enough.
      Happy New Year anyway, Robbie.

      Delete
  2. Rob, I agree wholeheartedly with you.

    Colin

    PS have you still got my Susan Boyle CD?

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    1. No, but I did like her version of the Rolling Stones, Wild Horses tho'.

      Delete
  3. I would bet that neither book will turn a profit or at best break even. Both books seem to be backed by individuals with Deep Pockets, which kind of puts them in the vanity press category. Given the small size of the target market, there is probably a lack of volume that would cover the production cost. This is all speculation on my part though.

    Anything with the name Perry on it will likely draw interest. Just look at some of the trade announcements that they post on TMP -- some get over 3,000 hits. Hopefully the print quality is better than the poor quality of their castings ( lots of flash and venting sprues still attached to the castings). The public doesn't really care; if it says Perry on it, they will buy it.

    I looked at the Mega Wargames book in a store : lots of nice pictures, but after awhile they all seem to look the same, so I decided to take a pass. I did buy John Ray's and Henry's books (in fact, I bought two copies of John's book), so I am not averse to spending money on a good, but expensive book if it ticks all of my interest boxes.

    All in all, an interesting topic. I suppose that the short answer to "why £30", is high production cost and short production runs.

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    1. I can understand buying both Henry's book and John Rays. I bought both, and I thought Henry made a decent fist of explaining our hobby. To be fair its a perfect book to leave on a coffee table. John Ray's book is just a wonderful thing to own, because it has a charm to it as well as wonderful photographs.
      As for the to books I have been bleating about, I just dont see how they help the hobby and why there was seen a need for them. Also £30 quid is a lot of money. For a few pounds more you can buy the new wargaming in history volume, much better value.
      Thank Robbie.

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  4. Nice one Robbie. It's good to see I'm not the only one who occasionally gets fed up with the pointless consumerism invading our hobby.

    Happy New Year, Keith.

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    1. Afternoon Keith,
      When Miniature Wargames was first published, the big selling point for me was the wonderful photographs of the figures, in particular the Peter Gilder ones.
      They were inspiring, and made me want to copy what he could do.
      Eventually I could copy the style, but by then things moved on, and with Wargames Foundry being the must have figures, the painting styles changed, exaggerated knuckles, massive heads, short stumpy bodies. After that things seemed to get a bit out of hand. Its okay to have some professionalism in the hobby, and its better for it I suppose, but I feel something went from the hobby to be replaced by dare I say it an almost Games Workshop ethos. Some will say that's for the better, for me I think the jury is still out.
      Anyway have a happy New Year, Robbie.

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  5. I think you've struck home well there Robbie. Although I admired, couldn't justify buying, the John Ray book, it was never marketed as anything but a top end niche interest publication and fair play for that. However, I was never even mildly motivated by the other three books you mention and that was caused equally by price and utility. I'm not a fan of HH's style so a whole volume would be too much for me and the other two seem to be pure eye candy.

    There does seem to be an almost mystical £30 mark in the heavens about which many books and rules seem to orbit. I guess that's become the standard of publication the readers expect nowadays and it's the price the market will stand (for now anyway). Like Jim P., I'm not averse to spending, but I'm judicious about what I spend it on.

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    1. Afternoon Gary,
      I have tried to describe how I feel in my reply to Keith.
      In fact I can feel a sort of rant coming on. I bought Henry Hyde's book because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I mean it was delayed that many times that there must have been something to wait for. I must admit I did like some of the chapters, especially the first few, as for the rule part I never bothered with reading them.
      I do know what you are saying about his 'style' of writing. I must admit that I thought the Miniature Wargames edited by Andrew Hubbeck was far better than the magazine under Henry. That's just my personal opinion, things may get better.
      Regarding the £30 cost for rule books and these books. I have just obtained a copy of Duffy's By Force of Arms,for Christmas, I was able to get it cheap! at £52, now that book is worth the cost.
      I would rather have a less glossy book full of well researched information at a fraction of the cost, than a load of pretty photographs. I don't think many wargamers are that shallow. I think the current group of shakers and movers are being a tad cynical and pushing this level of standards of production on wargamers almost in an effort to deter other wargamers from publishing their ideas.
      I probably have only half explained what I am thinking, but hopefully what I want to say will evolve eventually.
      Anyway Happy New Year, Robbie.

      Delete
  6. Robbie you beat me to the punch here I was going to have a bash at "More Pretty Rich boys showing off books" - and still might but you've said most of it. The Ringrose book gets a bit of a spanking in the latest WSS for a collection of historical blunders (using 1944 French buildings to represent Mogadishu springs to mind)
    This is not cynicism Robbie thats the way it is in todays world- lets face it Black Powder Hail Caeser FOW on and on ad nauseam all laregly useless.
    Frankly the price means nothing IF very big IF the content is useful and worhtwhile. I can't think of a single "Wargaming " book in the last 10 years that has fulfilled those criteria for me.



    Oh by the way you owe me for having to wipe the Barf off my computer screen- you headline pic is frightening !!

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  7. There is one book Andy, and for me that's Achtung Schweinhund. I have followed Harry Pearson ever since he wrote A Far Corner.
    Achtung Schweinhund could have been about me, but apart from that, I think you may be sadly right.
    Anyway Happy New Year, and see you at York.
    Robbie.

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    1. Robbie I have Pearsons book and bits of it ring very very true but its not a "Wargamiing " book but a book about Wargamers- and thus a very different animal

      Delete
  8. Robbie,
    Another erudite and spot on comment, and one I have to agree with in that they are nothing more than a money making enterprise.
    Main difference being at least the Perry photos will contain accurate models etc. looking at the other publication and photos from WI frequently contain wrong models and fillers, a lot of us can do that sure. £30 for a bunch of tabletop pics that in many ways are not a professional product is not good value and certainly something I can do without.
    There appears to be a growing number of individuals who appear to be full of their own importance and love to promote themselves and not the hobby

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  9. Afternoon Graham,
    I see you've been expanding your empire again. How about locating the old Campaign Miniatures range of renaissance figures and reselling them.
    Anyway thanks again and a Happy New Year.
    Robbie.

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  10. Robbie,
    Not really an Empire I just hate to see good ranges of figures disappear and not be made available.
    You're a better detective than me if you can find them then it may be something worth looking at

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating