Friday 28 July 2017

The End of the Dinosaurs. [ Discuss]

                                             Image; The End of the Dinosaurs.

I visited my grandchildren last weekend and after recovering from their full on, non stop demand for entertainment from Grandad. [What happened to telling them to bugger off into the nearest wood to play?]
  I got to thinking about the toys and education that children have nowadays and the impact this will have on wargaming.
 Before everyone [one?] clicks and moves on. Take the time to think about the social experiment that has been happening in this country for the last forty or so years.
 I can remember Featherstone railing against the Scandinavian ban on 'War toys' and how West Germany viewed such toys as 'problematical', whilst we young wargamers shook ours heads in pity and carried on researching and collecting our armies. It could never happen in the United Kingdom, could it?
 Well like those poor dinosaurs in the image who probably thought their idyll would go on forever I think wargamers from 5 to 80 years should wake up and give some thought about the progression that is taking place in the home of Wargaming [ ie Great Britain]
  I was of a generation whose parents had lived and fought through the Second World War. Fictional programmes, books, Comics for children and films were readily accepted as entertainment of that terrible event.I ate them all up.
 I could easily buy toy soldiers at my local shop, and buy every type of toy gun known to man. Ah yes, the Johnny Seven, the ultimate Jap killer [ one could use that term back in the 1970's. There were no Japanese children in my village then. Funnily there are still none even now, but I cant say such a derogatory term apparently]
                    The ultimate Christmas present of any right thinking boy in the 1970's.

 Now move forward to this 'enlightened' age. Yes you can still buy toy soldiers, albeit it is becoming increasingly difficult, but certainly parents [ I am generalising here] seem to be avoiding the buying of such things and instead buying Super Heroes, Fantasy figures space men etc, basically anything that doesnt appear to glorify [ in their eyes ] historical warfare as such.
  I mean its very wrong to encourage such violence isnt it?
   Move onto education and we are into something that is in my eyes a little more sinister. Our history has been carefully sanitised over many years and now bears very little resemblance to the country that Great Britain evolved into.
A couple of examples;

  Even the Second World War is now a struggle between the democratic nations and the 'Nazis.'  Not the German Nation, but some new creature, that has carefully shifted those terrible events onto the shoulders of a mythological evil race. The Nazis.

I watched a BBC 4 history programme the other night about the Vikings.
  I was looking forward to it, expecting a well researched programme, until the presenter,  A History Professor, likened the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne to the policies of Mrs Thatcher? Proof of the BBC left wing credentials? Probably. But also it showed for me the thinking of the educational establishment as regards how they present our history to young people.

 One has to look no further than the regular demands to ban white historical figures of our history from the walls of our Halls of Learning. The latest one being the demand that a psychiatry course in Oxford should contain only sources from non white psychiatrists because well, its 'wrong and exclusionary'. Never mind that these white people were the founders of that science.

In the 'Land of the Free' the trends are even worse, and lets be correct  this country inevitably follows the USA.  Statues of General Lee and other rebel Generals are disappearing from public vistas, and of course the Confederate flag is now effectively banned. A bit like the Swastika was [ is ] in Germany, because banning something is the answer?
 I really am waiting for the first instant of complaint from some distraught person who goes to a wargames show and sees an ACW game in progress. God the upset.

   Most history fed to children and young adults focuses upon more social events and struggles, which is fine to a certain extent. I suppose to learn about Mandela's struggle can be enlightening but hardly relevant to a young person looking to understand their own country, and certainly not a good way to fire the imagination of any would be wargamer of the future.

  So what am I attempting to say in such a badly formed way?

At the present time the trends in wargaming are towards smaller table games involving a few figures. It can be attributed to many things from cost to simply not being arsed enough to paint up an army.
 In the main these games concern some other worldly race, or zombies, or of course the latest trend, pirates. Everyone loves pirates, look at Johnny Depp, he's a pirate, so it must be okay to buy some for the kids. Its non violent, isnt it?

 If one reads any of the current wargaming press, or follows the internet, most wargamng companies who are struggling to make some cash have followed the trend to supply non human, or non historical figures in the hope of cashing in on the changes.But what happens if their new 'race' doesnt catch on?
  So where does that leave future generations of historical wargamers?
  Well I expect the most common response will be, 'I dont care, I'll be dead by then, so crack on.'

  Other responses will give examples of how clubs are attracting younger people into the hobby, except of course they will be using, non historical zombies, fantasy pirates or whatever is currently popular. The hope, and it is a hope is that some of these younger players just might make the step over into historical wargaming.

  The problem will be that these acolytes will have very little knowledge about the tactics, units and probably the reason for the war. So in point of fact they might as well go back to shoving Space Marines around a table. At least they have read their latest Codex and know the background story as to why they are fighting.

 I wish I could offer a solution to what appears inevitable, but historical wargaming as we Dinosaurs know it will have disappeared like our namesakes in probably one or two generations.
 So whilst I will continue to push around my lovely armies and read history books until I'm nailed in a box, I would suggest that all wargaming fathers of young children consider just what they can do to sustain this wonderful and harmless hobby and take action now.

               And on a happier note, my best ever Christmas present; Mighty Joe.



Thursday 20 July 2017

The VMI. Cadets.....

 Well progress has been slow since my last post, I suppose its a combination of good weather, other distractions and other issues. All wargamers hit a wall now and again, for some that is the end of their hobby and they move on to other things, such as a new job, a partner or golf. God forbid.
 For me, hopefully its a hiccup on the way. I think its too late to discover a new hobby, I've invested far too much life into the 'thing', and the 'thing'  has tended to take over at times. Anyway, I'm pleased to say I have completed this unit, the Virginia Military Institute Cadets. Another eclectic choice, but to be fair Redoubt Miniatures made a decent fist of sculpting this unit.
 I am half way through the 79th New York Volunteers, resplendent in tartan and such frippery.At least this unit had a lengthy war record.Again Redoubt sculptured a decent figure, and any unit wearing epaulettes and beards is a must in my eyes.
 John and I have finally mastered Picketts Charge and I think we understand the rules well enough to have a great game with them. My painting progress will stop again as I travel to a wedding of a friend and grab a holiday at the same time, so life interferes in my aim to complete these two armies sooner rather than later. Hopefully the enforced break will give me the necessary kick up the Khyber I clearly require.
 I have checked just how many units I have painted for this project, and was surprised when I found I had painted 43 infantry regiments, not counting skirmishers and such like.One would have thought as I got older I would have put a bit of planning into a wargames project and not just put my head down and lash the paint on, who says older and wiser? Now then where's my suntan cream?

Tuesday 11 July 2017

When your bucket list is ticked.

 Well its been a while since I last posted, for which there has been several reasons, some I can comment upon, some I cant. I have realised that I am near the end of this ACW project, and have only the Union cavalry and Union extra artillery to paint. It came to me that perhaps that should be it as regards starting a new project. I know that there have been some recent postings about such a thing, and I don't doubt there will be many posts more given how there are many wargamers who probably started at about the same time as me.

 I specifically started a ACW project initially because of the Glory Halalujah rules, but since the release of Picketts Charge rules, John and I have embraced these rules as the ones of choice, and the more we use them the more I enjoy them. Last weeks refight of Donald Featherstone's scenario Plattville was a corker. I must admit Dave Brown is on to a winner with these rules, and boy do you need to think about what you are doing, a great cerebral exercise and fun too.

 But I digress. So I have nearly finished the project and I have pondered about what next. I just dont think I have the appetite to start another period and army, the way I am viewing it at the moment is I would be painting units that would probably never see the light of day. As I have cited before Peter Young was on the money when he called collecting armies from various historical periods as madness [ I paraphrase] and after all my wargaming years I have finally understood what he was on about. 
One of the problems I have is that not only have I virtually completed this project, I have also virtually completed writing my first novel, [ just some editing to complete] which has now provided another loose end that needs tying off. My aim in this case was to write a novel that had been in the back of my mind for many years but I never got around to starting it. Well I have now ticked that box, so again what do I do now, because I'm not even certain it is any good, although my tutor has been very positive, but one expects that nowadays, no tutor ever seems to tell the full truth anymore, unlike my former school days, when a spade was a spade. [digging implement to any would be devastated reader]

 Like other mature wargamers, one realises that you need to shrink some of the collections that you have put together over many years. In my case my biggest concern is regards the 120+ terrain boards that I no longer use.These were made for the many 6mm refights that John and I staged at various shows. To be honest I am loath to scrap them at the local tip, merely because they are in very good condition and also are frankly better than most boards I have seen at most shows. So that's one thing I feel must be given a priority. The second concerns my collection of Napoleonic books, EBay rarely works as regards books, and I am loath to give these away, especially as some have been my companions for many years, but go they must.
 As for my collections of wargaming magazines, I think Bonfire Night beckons early, given that at the last show I couldnt even give them away.
 On a more positive note, and which proves I am still involved in this wonderful hobby, I have bought a box of Warlord's new landsnects, the original Pro Gloria ones. Do I need them? No of course not, but I had to have them. The images in this post are some things I have managed to complete, but again they were a struggle to tackle, it must be an age thing. So I apologise for the lack of enthusiasm, hopefully I will survive, as Gloria whatshername sang and bounce back soon.

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