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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

In Answer to Staying Alive, PART ONE.

Before I go off on one, the photographs are from the wonderful new Cran Tara range, well the fusilier is. A great range in the making and at a very good price. Give them a go, you wont be disappointed.
 Right onto other matters;
I finally got around to reading the latest Miniature Wargames magazine [which didnt take very long] and paid particular attention to Barry Hilton's article Staying Alive. Andy of Old Glory fame had posted earlier last week about the article, and kindly mentioned that I had been posting about most of what Barry was writing about. Its a bit disconcerting that every time I think Ive had an original thought I find at least ten other people think the same. I suppose that's because I am the typical average man in the street in most respects.
 Anyway I digress. Barry writes about the state of the hobby and his concerns for the future. Well Ive thought a lot about this, perhaps too much really, especially as I cant see me leading the wargaming public into the next century or whatever. Regarding the question of young blood which Barry started with, this is a concern for most wargamers I think.
Hell who is going to get my collections when I shift this mortal coil? There are many problems regarding the lack of youngblood coming into what is essentially a niche hobby.
Firstly its a hobby, so its not cool for a lot of young people.
Secondly there is the question of education and I mean at school. I dont know what is taught in British schools anymore. I get the impression that our wonderful history and achievements are underplayed, probably as being too imperialistic. I know there seems to be a fixation with the damned Tudors, and the Second World War, where we fought the Nazis [ notice its no longer the Germans] Hardly a good grounding for a wargamer.  If there is one king who should have been shot at birth it is Henry Viii, what a disgusting individual he was, and what a mess he left our country.
 Thirdly is the basic interaction of young people playing board games with other people. I can still remember playing Diplomacy with other school friends, and  wishing that we had real armies to carry out the action parts of the game. And then of course there was the fact that we had parents and relations that had actually been to war and experienced the fear etc. There was nothing wrong then as we played Japs and English [ stand by for someone taking offence at the word Japs!]
  Our comics were awash with violence and heroism, and boy did I love reading the magazines. Its never going to happen nowadays, I can see Mumsnet now [ and of course that twat Vine] .
  Fourthly is the fear of being classed as [strange or worse] by actually engaging with young people, and encouraging them to attend clubs to wargame. This is clearly a problem now that such clubs need character checks etc. God help any genuine Scout Master.
 I know a lot of clubs have introduced age limits to get around the need for the CRB checks.
So discounting the negatives, what are the positives. Well I think children are still interested in all things military and if given the chance history.
Also there is still Games Workshop. I know a lot of kids pass through the Games Workshop phase, which can lead to greater things.Although as that company tears itself apart in the pursuit of profits, I think their influence is going to be less and less.
 Through the internet, there is greater access to blogs, etc which if they are interesting enough would perhaps capture some would be junior wargamer as they trawl the net looking for porn.
 By the virtue of actually being grey, we wargamers now have grandchildren. Well use this asset, engage with them. After I saw the Westerhope display at Newcastle, of cheap plastic soldiers, a little light came on. What a great way to engage young children in a war GAME. Simple rules, a simple but fun scenario, big figures that can be dropped and knocked over, what a great way to spark a child's imagination. From little acorns and all that.
 Which leads me on to where I was at odds with Barry. A central governance as Barry termed it.
 In this age of rules and more rules I am set against this idea. Bearing in mind I have enforced the law for well over 30 years, I know that more laws do not necessarily make for a safer society, similarly a central committee with rules does not guarantee a healthier wargames hobby.
 What I have seen of certain wargamers who have attempted to create such bodies at club and national level,  I wouldn't let them near my hobby. Years ago WRG looked like they were heading for wargaming domination, with all their tournaments, rules etc [ funny enough that was why John and I formed the Independent wargames group] and we all know what happened to them [thats WRG ].
A marginalised, forgotten group.
 There was the World Federation? and other well intentioned attempts to create one voice. It was never going to happen in Britain. I know the USA have attempted this feat, but there seems to always be a lot of discord if one reads the letters pages of various magazines of old. The beauty of wargaming is that most people have a different idea of what they want, how they achieve it and basically a different view on the history they enact.
   I can see why Barry would want a central organisation and logically it makes some sense, but being a Scot I thought he would have held the opposite view, of less control. But what do I know.  Perhaps its time for a conference of wargamers,to sit down and debate the future and the need for an organisation. A pound to a penny however that it would end in tears if not real violence.
We are a pretty diverse group, and actually I'm proud of that.
  Who else would play with toy soldiers,and risk ridicule and sometimes even disgust for daring to do so.
 Lets just celebrate our differences and instead talk more to each other, invite other groups,clubs and wargamers to play a game, interact at more shows and generally put ourselves about a bit more. Insularity is the one thing that will kill this hobby dead.  



13 comments:

  1. Interesting and engaging ideas you present. Certainly food for further thought and discussion. Oh, and the vignette is nice. I like the officer atop the horse especially. The latter's coloring and white markings are very convincing.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  2. Thanks Stokes,
    For some reason Im going for lighter coloured horses at the moment.
    Must be my age.
    Robbie.

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  3. Some insightful observations Robbie.
    The vignette is a 'peach'. That horse colour is superb. Must use it myself! Like the Cran Tara range very much and I'm set on doing the 'Berwick Regiment'. Irish Redcoats AND white gaiters. Can't fail surely?
    Dave

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  4. Dave,
    You do know that the French Guard are due very soon.
    Graham hopes to have some interesting poses amongst the figures, so these may also be of interest for you.
    Thanks Robbie.

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  5. Oh Ta Robbie; that's very handy news. Will keep me eyes 'peeled' for these :)
    Dave

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  6. Robbie,
    like the vignette and thanks for the plug re,the figures - lots more to come and so far no big boys are stealing my thunder, must be because 18th century is still in the minority if you discount AWI.
    What can I say re your thoughts, firstly I thought the mag this month was poor, I agree with all your comments and to be fair the days of WARCON were some of my fondest times in gaming. There's still lots of youth out there, the Martian Front game I put on at Partizan had youngsters playing and enjoying all day ( i was knackered at the end of it) but like you mention its how we play and sell the hobby, not necessarily the hobby itself.
    So as usual I think you sum things up pretty well, maybe you should give some thought to a weekend bash? But i guess the furthest North you would get is Nottingham :)

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    Replies
    1. Evening Graham,
      and thanks for adding to my metal pile.
      Nottingham would be a good city to base an event from, especially as there is a lot of wargaming talent around that city. Can you imaging the Perry twins giving a talk on some aspect of their business, that would be good.
      Anyway, keep racking up the figures.
      Robbie.

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  7. Robbie you certainly raise some valid points that the hobby does need to address. The age of members is a critical factor for many and, as you point out, many of us have limited the age of membership to 18 to avoid the need to comply with the regulations regarding children and young adults (god I hate that phrase). However, there is a bigger issue here and one that might b overlooked at wargame shows - technically anyone running a game at a show involving anyone under 18 where that persons parent or legal guardian is not present should have a DBS check.
    Regarding education - there is a left wing bias to avoid any mention of the old Empire and the world wars as nation against nation. Equally a lot of history is sanitised and interprested through a modern viewpoint forgetting the reality of the situation. This has been happening for decades and is now at a point where some subjects are unteachable.
    It's a conundrum where the wargame club has the tools to help educate and involve the young but are restricted because of regulations.

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    Replies
    1. Evening Paul,
      Its great to hear form you twice. I really despair at the state we have created, I never realised just how dangerous our lives were growing up.
      Dont get me started with the left wing bias, I remember years ago, when there was discussion about following the Scandinavian route of banning war toys. It didnt happen, but the creeping left wing view still managed to permeate into historical education. How can we know ourselves if we dont know where we came from.
      Anyway, good to hear from you.
      Robbie.

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  8. Inreesting that Mr Hilton obviously read some of the stuff we'd already written and like you I'm dead against one voice- as I siad in my recent post-
    Frankly these days I'd run a mile rahter than have kids at our pub-based group- some of the occaisional memebers want to get away from such things for a few hours. Certainly thats true of a lot of bloke I speak to who come to shows- you should see the downtrodden careword poor sods - fair make the'eart bleed so it does !!!
    As for what happens to my collection when I've snuffed it- why would I care I'll be dead and no-one will give a monkeys anyhow BUT I'm not dead yet by a long way.
    Despite all this soul searching no- one has actually said so far WHY we should turn thisw hobby into a kids game- Let GW do that I'll happily take in the over 18s who are tired of being workshop drones and yes it does happen- quite a bit.

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    Replies
    1. Andy,
      I can always rely on you to write what most wargamers secretly think.
      Still its nice to get some eager new talent into the hobby. Enthusiasm does rub off on people. I was always hoping that Cheryl Cole would want to become a wargamer. [Sorry thats another story]
      Thanks Robbie.

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  9. Off topic question
    In 2010 you posted that you watched the 1978 Battleground Series on DVD (four episodes)
    Does such a DVD really exist?

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  10. Better late than never I suppose.
    I don't read MW so I missed the article, but I'm horrified (OK, I dislike) the idea of any kind of central control. Just a quick scan of all the blogs confirms my view that if you put ten wargamers in a room and ask a question you'll get ten different answers. That's what makes this hobby so rich. If a centralised approach was adopted I'd simply ignore it or go out of my way to avoid it.
    Lovely figures, by the way. The Cran Tara range is certainly at the high end as regards quality and temptation.

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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