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"40 years a wargamer(ish)" Topic

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4th Cuirassier16 Aug 2017 4:42 a.m. PST

Just about 40 years ago – it was probably in July 1977 rather than August but hey ho – I became a wargamer.

I was 13 and leaving one school to start at another where my brother, then 15, already was. We were both into building and playing with Airfix models – and Revell and Matchbox and whatever – but once you get past about 11 or 12 you don't really "play" with "toys" any more. So we over-attended to the building and painting of them as displacement activity, and wondered to what more grown-up use they might be put. My brother briefly excursed into flyable balsa planes – but then he discovered this school had a wargaming society organized by one of the history teachers. He went along to see how you used Airfix tanks in a game, and reported back that tanks were boring, the real spectacle was Napoleonics.

So it started, with Quarrie rules. I played WW2 as well, in 1/76th and 1/300th scale, and WW1 and WW2 naval, because there were opponents for all of those. I would have given anyone a game in any era though if they had a set of rules and two armies. Probably still would.

This cheery period lasted about 5 years and then I went to university. There was no wargaming club there and this twit never thought to start one even though I was where Bruce Quarrie had been at university (doh!). So aside from the occasional game with my brother and former schoolmates while they were still about, it sort of fizzled a bit. I still read in the subject, I repainted older paint jobs and I painted and based the entire lead mountain. I still had the miniatures until 1998, when 700-odd metal Napoleonics were stolen when I moved house.

I started thinking about gaming again around 10 years ago and found this place and some old 1/32 Airfix WW2 which I have painted. Painstakingly and with many digressions I am accumulating the armies I wanted back then.

Then as now, painting figures is therapy and R&R. I drafted complete A-Level essays in my head while painting Napoleonics. Your hands and eyes are pleasantly but mindlessly occupied so you can be thinking about and solving problems without noticing the effort. At the end of it all is something better than your previous attempts.

I see this as at least three hobbies – reading in the period, assembling and painting armies, and gaming with them. The latter requires commitment to turning up for games it's difficult for me to make. But you can do the others in odd hours here and there, plus there's a new one now which is arguing with people on the internet.

Standards of painting now versus 40 years ago are higher, but also more homogeneous. Most well-painted miniatures are now painted to look like other well-painted miniatures – black undercoats, horses as butcher's diagrams, elaborate bases that often upstage and thus detract the figures, etc – without necessarily taking much notice of what the actual subject would look like (all modelling is cursed with this). Rules are still noticeably faddy and cyclical (and so are their adherents, so it's all a bit People's Front of Judaea / Judaean People's Front at times), but not objectively better. They just abstract and cartoon different things. 40 years ago you had battalions and companies; today you often just have "stands", a term not found in the memoirs.

I read two letters in the press a long time ago that make me smile now. One was a letter in Military Modelling in about 1980 from a disgruntled modeler sniffy about the space taken up in the magazine by stupid wargamers. He claimed that no stupid wargamer ever acquired a deep and abiding interest in military history from his stupid hobby. The other one was a letter in Record Mirror about the same time that claimed nobody would still be listening to Depeche Mode in 30 years' time. In my case and many others, completely wrong on both counts. If I hadn't had Napoleonics I'd have been short of stuff to think about these last 40 years…

Piquet Rules16 Aug 2017 5:06 a.m. PST

I like Depeche Mode.


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 5:12 a.m. PST

This is great. A marvellous nostalgia trip for the more senior of us. A Wargaming Soc in a University of the 1970s/80s? That would have been brave…..the lefties would soon have seen to that.

I love the "homogenous" comment re painting. Yes, the blackcoating showing through for edge definition is almost universal. Overdoing the bases is still my biggest mistake even after recognising it. Best is your phrase re the horses and butcher's diagrams. That I really do resist, togethere with whites in their eyes and overpink muzzles.

On the positive side, acrylic replacing enamels or oils. Great ranges and drying in minutes, not hours or even days. Washes, which are rarely mentioned, to aid shadows and highlighting.

Although we have lost the marvellous shops, we do now have the internet for access to vast ranges of figures. Consider the quality of reference books you had in the 70s 80s. I still have my Renee North's Uniforms of Waterloo in both hard and softback and the Funckens' two vols. But that was all I had back then.

grecian195916 Aug 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

Happy anniversary and keep the faith

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

Depeche Mode, blech. Still listening to Iron Maiden while I game after 35 years.

4th Cuirassier16 Aug 2017 5:46 a.m. PST

@ deadhead

Yes, acrylics are terrific and I now also know not to give a monkey's about "accurate" colours. Shading and highlighting were unknown then, although Quarrie wrote that "I confess I do it on my personality figures". This may be a gloss paint thing, where the shine drowns any shading. For me black undercoats look muddy. I still use white. I never use actual black anywhere on any figure. Blacklining makes figures look like cartoons, IMHO.

The school was 700 boys and had about 10 to 15 members at various times. In a university of 12,000 undergrads and post-grads, it thus ought to have been feasible to muster a club of about 50, looking back. Space would have been easier. Of course between the age of 17 and 20, certain interests, such as the opposite sex and drinking, tend to squeeze out the others and you have limited time for all of them. With hindsight I regret not trying.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

I began later in life, but if it were not for "lead" miniatures wargaming I would still just be reading military history and setting up Airfix ACW unpainted figs on a folding table. Or maybe I would watch a ballgame once in a while.

marshalGreg16 Aug 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

Yup sounds about right!
Same age, and cut from same cloth as your Bro.
I started in 1975 at 13 with my first game run by the author of Column, Line and Square. Had a find airfix collection to play with neighbor and high school mate.
Hadn't come across Bruce Quarrie's book till some 7 yrs later.
Did join/help run a University club. Mostly system seven, since Figs were hard to have and store in the college dorm environ.
Yes it seems there was some to play any of those games. I didn't visit the navel seen and have it on the bucket list now.
Still have my 1/300(IIRC) German tanks….somewhere.


GurKhan16 Aug 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

Congratulations, and keep up the good work, youngster.

deephorse16 Aug 2017 6:57 a.m. PST

Only 40 years ago? Part-timer!

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

Your story sounds very familiar to me. I am 49 now, I switched over from "toy" soldiers to models when I was around 11 and then discovered lead miniatures when a hobby shop opened up in the town next to me when I was 14. Ever since then I have spent countless hours of joy in the hobby. And like you, most of this time has been researching the period (which I love) and assembling and painting miniatures (which I find very relaxing). By the way, my kids seem to be on the same trajectory. In July I gave them a set of American Revolution plastic toy soldiers. They have been playing with these, along with the knights and castle that I gave them for Christmas, almost every day. Also, they stop by and watch me as I work on preparing my own miniatures. So this hobby has also given our family something enjoyable to do together.


VVV reply16 Aug 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

47 for me with probably my greatest time wargaming in Tunbridge Wells at a club with George Gush. Also there was Duncan Head with his beautifully painted Macedonians.
Later I got to go to Scarborough and play with Peter Gilders thousand upon thousand of 25mm figures.
Another mention should go to Geoff Curran who wrote the best set of ancient naval rules I have come across, Diekplus

nickinsomerset16 Aug 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

1975 in Arborfield, where my father was Chief Instructor at the REME Apprentice college, I was turned away from the wargames club as I was too young! Been Wargaming ever since!

Tally Ho!

Fred Cartwright16 Aug 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

There were wargaming socs at universities in the 70's. The lefties tended to spend all the their time in meetings voting on this house condemns this or that!
Marvellous shops? Where were they? Only place I could buy wargames figures in the 70's was the Minifigs factory in Southampton. Now I have a wargames shop 10 mins drive from my front door.
Washes were used in the 70's, but we used oils, which had the twin disadvantages of smell and long drying times. That was mainly on 54mm figures though. I did quite a bit of 54mm back in the day with Tamiya kits and figures. Most people didn't bother to shade 25mm figures and basing was plain green. Fancy basing was for dioramas. What we really lacked in the 70's was a decent matt varnish. Humbrol matt enamel varnish was evil stuff. Unless you warmed it, stirred it vigorously and recited the correct incantations over it you ended up with the dreaded white in all the folds and crevices when it dried, so gloss varnish was the norm.

Buck21516 Aug 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

Marilyn Manson's version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" is far superior to the original…

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 8:17 a.m. PST

A bit over 50 years in the hobby, myself.

'gratz to those of you who have stuck it out and

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 8:29 a.m. PST

38 years for me. But you're all wrong about the music. Castings are best painted to the great Hollywood composers--from Korngold and Roscza through Newman Tiomkin and Bernstein to Goldsmith and Williams.

Marches may be substituted in an emergency.

4th Cuirassier16 Aug 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

In Watford I had Beatties for model kits, paints, and plastic card; a Watford toy shop stocked Matchbox; and even W H Smith there stocked Airfix 54mm kits, and books like Operation Warboard.

In St Albans, there was a shop called Cavaliers that sold Hinchliffe 25mm metals and much else. In Harrow there was the Model Shop that sold the same (but was 10 times the size of Cavaliers).

Even my local toy shop in little Rickmansworth sold Airfix Napoleonics and Prince August moulds and metal.

Slightly further afield, in London there was a tiny shop at Aldwych tube, where I bought Uniforms of Waterloo. W E Hersant was in Highgate (Mercer's Waterloo Journal) and Under Two Flags was in Kilburn (Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow); Tradition was in Shepherd Market; and the modelling branch of Hamleys in Wigmore Street sold Hinchliffe, Calder Craft and pretty much everything else. Once a year you could also buy at the Model Engineer Exhibition at Wembley.

Every last one of those has gone, either altogether or in W E Hersant's case from that location (aren't they now Caliver?.

The shops have largely all gone yet the choice has massively proliferated. So far as I can tell, the prices are the same in real terms; a Hinchliffe 25mm foot figure was 14p and most similar figures today are now £1.00 GBP, which is about the same

I should emphasise that when I say I still listen to Depeche Mode, I mean that I still listen to 1981-5 Depeche Mode. I just wanted to clear that up.

Vigilant16 Aug 2017 9:00 a.m. PST

Started at home in the early 70s, then at school and Liverpool University from 1976 to 1979. Not a heavy leftie presence there at the time, though I was on a course with a guy who treated Marx as if he was a god and started every debate with "Marx says". The rest of us joked with the response "but Simon says". At Liverpool we had a couple of really good model shops, and of course we had Northern Militaire every year back in its heyday. Still gaming now and enjoying the ever greater quality and variety of miniatures and accessories we now have.

christot Inactive Member16 Aug 2017 9:19 a.m. PST

40 something years in now… currently I think we are in a golden age, great as it was way back when, compared with the wealth of figures, rules, information and THE INTERNET we were in a Wargames Stone Age in those days.

Fred Cartwright16 Aug 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Yes there were model shops around, but they mostly sold plastic kits and model railway stuff, they weren't wargame shops. Any wargaming stuff was Airfix, Matchbox and later Fujimi and Hasegawa. Scenery was Airfix trackside. That semi detached house must be the most fought over building in wargames history. Minifigs was the only place I could get metal wargames figures in a 50 mile radius of home. It was like an Aladins cave for young wargamers. If they didn't have the figures in stock they cast them up while you waited. They also carried WRG books and rules. Most of my purchases were mail order which meant sending off a SAE and waiting for the list to arrive, mostly done on a spirit copier apart from Minifigs and Hinchliffe which had proper printed catalogues, no pictures though apart from a few sample ones scattered throughout.

jwebster16 Aug 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

@4th Cuirassier

Well I grew up in Watford – remember all those places – particularly Model Engineering Exhibtion and Harrow Model Shop. I remember buying Airfix Napoleonics in Woolworths of all places.

I also remember a small but friendly shop in London close to Ravenscourt Park tube station …


Wolfhag16 Aug 2017 10:20 a.m. PST

I'm up to 54 years myself. Started with toy soldiers and plastic vehicles using rubber bands, sling shot, and BB guns. Dice was for sissy games like Monopoly. I "graduated" to Panzerblitz in 1970 which I thought was great because I had never seen the data and OOB's.

Then I got into naval warfare with Alnavco Seapower rules which I really enjoyed using the Avalon Hill Jutland cardboard counters on the floor. Great fun!

I switched to board games mostly WWII East Front until the mid 1990's then took up WH40K with my son. We then got into miniatures games at conventions. That led to my WWII tank/infantry interest in miniatures with a sidetrack into WWI naval.

Lately, I've mostly been tweaking and developing rules rather than playing mostly at conventions as my group mostly moved away. However, my son comes home from his enlistment so we'll get back into the swing of things. He'll bring a good 1st person perspective of urban close combat and infantry tactics for the infantry rules.


Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 10:22 a.m. PST

I remember buying some Hinchcliffe ECW in a shop behind the Grand Hotel in Scarborough in about 1975. I grew up in Manchester where there was the Model Shop and Beatties for kits. I also remember the beginnings of a Games Workshop, I think, where you could buy Traveller figures and whatnot but that was a bit later.

I would take a train to Liverpool where there was a shop that sold chess sets and games upstairs and Table Top Games and other figures in the basement but, like others, I would buy Airfix figures from Woolworth's too.

About 1978, I got my Dad to write me a cheque to send away for a lot of Mike's Models 100 Years' War stuff. I've still got them somewhere. Not sure if it was better but it was certainly simpler. Bloody hell!

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

This is great. A marvellous nostalgia trip for the more senior of us. A Wargaming Soc in a University of the 1970s/80s? That would have been brave…..the lefties would soon have seen to that.

I was a member of the Bristol University Wargames Society 1974-79, staying on a couple of years after graduation since I lived in the city. BTW Dick Bodley-Scott was the president during that period since he was reading medicine.

Once we got queried us back in '74 but after that we were given space in the Students Union and an annual grant.

Elbow Mac Inactive Member16 Aug 2017 12:09 p.m. PST

Sound like me, started early 70s with airfix plastics, had thousands. Beatties in Southgate where they had three shops.
Had Michaels Models in Finchley near my school so soon moved on to Bruce Quarrie and Minifigs/Hinchcliffe (still have them all somewhere).
Humbrol was the thing but I tried oils and artists acrylics.
Uni had a club though, after that I more or less drifted away – marriage, family kids etc did play a bit of 40k.
Now looking at a new napoleonic army so have come full circle (or gone back to my childhood) have even found a club nearby

14Bore16 Aug 2017 12:17 p.m. PST

I actually started in a Wargame group in the USAF beginning 1980.
Holy crap I'm getting old

Murvihill16 Aug 2017 12:40 p.m. PST

Mid 70's for me too. I played CLS with people who played with the author, and remember Fletcher Pratt's Naval Rules fondly, although I don't think I could get on the floor anymore to use 1/700 ships. I didn't play much while in the Navy (but painted my Ottoman army in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm) and found WW2 in the 90's. Now I play once or twice a month and paint weekend mornings.

Trajanus16 Aug 2017 12:59 p.m. PST

Ah, nostalgia isn't what it used to be! (A mere 46 years)

Timbo W16 Aug 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

Not often I get to feel like such a newbie, only 39 years wargaming (at least I think I remember it was '78 I started, maybe it was '79).

Airfix, Matchbox & Operation Warboard at the beginning, followed by D&D, Minifigs & Citadel, then WRG Renaissance, Minifigs in 15mm this time…

Elbow Mac Inactive Member16 Aug 2017 2:16 p.m. PST

Harrow Model shop was superb, still there until fairly recently. (probably gone over 10 years though)
I remember going to the Model Engineer before Wembley. I recall a hall with a swimming pool where they had boats and wasn't there a military model section. (just done a search – Seymour Hall)

War Panda16 Aug 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

40 good years I hope :)

evilgong16 Aug 2017 4:08 p.m. PST

I have perhaps two years on the OP, but my journey is similar, but includes a D&D and fantasy battles component.

I use black undercoat.

David F Brown

pbishop1216 Aug 2017 4:21 p.m. PST

Setting aside the years as a child and teenager, I started in 1976, age 26. I bought the Airfix Waterloo game at a ship in Pontypridd Wales during a leave from the service when stationed in Greece. That got me hooked. I played constantly with another GI friend from Seattle during the rainy winters. During the same time I saw an article in Military Modelling for Minifigs. Ordered some British Rifles, and found the old Airfix Bruce Quarrie rules.

I was done. 41 years now. I play mostly solo these days on a 12x6 table in my gameroom here in Houston. General de Brigade. Dabbled in a lot of hobbies, but always came back to wargames.

donlowry16 Aug 2017 5:26 p.m. PST

Welcome to the hobby, all you newcomers!

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 5:36 p.m. PST

Never thought of tracking my wargaming anniversary before, but if I think of it I might identify as coming up on my 44th or 45th anniversary.

As with 4th C it was for me also about 13 years old, and getting to the point where I was a bit too old for the level of imagination required to derive pleasure from pushing toy soldiers around going "pew pew pew", but still wanting that pleasure that I had so long had from that activity. So … seeking a new way to play with all my toy soldiers (and tanks, more tanks, and even more tanks). Many were pre-made HO scale Rocco tanks, but from about 10 years old on more and more were Airfix, Revell or Monogram 1:72 or 1:76 models.

I started my own proto-wargaming in the back yard, creating rules for my friends and me to use as we played with the tanks. Tossing pebbles to "hit", and a Pz III needed 2 hits to destroy at T-34, while a T-34 needed only 1 hit to destroy a Pz III, but needed 3 hits to destroy a Tiger.

Of course the other path was to use my BB gun, but it was hard to build tanks (and more particularly BUY tanks) fast enough to match how quickly I could destroy them.

I was already obsessive about reading and learning about WW2 history, and military history in general. For me it was (and still is) all about being able to "play" the stories and the ideas that come out of my reading … to experience and examine "why" or "how" they did things that way?

Coming up on my 14th birthday in 1974 I found the board game PanzerBlitz on the shelf at my local toy store. After some begging my mom bought it for me as a birthday gift. It was SO expensive to my eyes in that era (more than $8 USD IIRC!). And I was so bitterly disappointed to open the box and find it was only little punch-out cardboard counters.

Then I found 1/285 GHQ and CinC micro scale tanks at a somewhat distant hobby shop (Valley Plaza Hobbies in North Hollywood). I started buying them to replace the counters in my PanzerBlitz game, and eventually also bought the WRG Armor and Infantry 1925 – 1950 ruleset that the same hobby shop offered.

My enthusiasm mushroomed. I started gathering friends and distant acquaintances for micro armor battles, both in my junior high school (now called "middle school") and after that in my high school. I even managed to get one of the cast members from "The Waltons" (he played Jim-Bob) into micro armor, but then found I had recruited a 15 year old opponent who quite frankly could buy more micro armor one week than I had managed in three years of collecting … and by several orders of magnitude!

And as with 4th C it also fell off for me when I went away to college. Firstly though just because the whole process of moving away, moving back for the summer, then moving away again made it hard to keep up with all the wargaming paraphernalia I had collected.

I did continue scratch-building micro-scale aircraft while I was in college (until I figured out that I was allergic to the plastic putty).

But contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I managed to find wargaming buddies, even in the 1970s, and even at Berkeley! It's just that they weren't WW2 wargaming buddies. We did Star Trek gaming, using Star Fleet Battle rules and miniature Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Tholian ships. Our terrain consisted of one 60lb rock, which served as a star, and several smaller stones scattered about as planets. Oh I have fond memories of pushing star ships around our apartment livingroom floor until 3 or 4am, and the hilarity that ensued when the one guy who was a budding rules lawyer (and went on to become a personal injury attorney) miscalculated his speed and turn, and flew his Federation Dreadnought (the biggest, baddest ship in the game) right into the sun!

After college I returned to the LA area for a year. Managed to do some pick-up games at a hobby shop called The Last Grenadier in Tarzana. At that time I was more focused on moderns than WW2. Managed to game with one guy who was a professional model-builder for Universal Studios. Boy I'll tell you HE had some amazing and interesting scratch-builds!

Then I moved away for work, and over the years my "toys" went into boxes the traveled with me when I moved, but seldom came out. Did a few games, mostly moderns, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Expanded my reach with mail-order from Herioics & Ros and Scotia. Actually bought some wargaming mags at hobby shops, and read about how other guys did things. Did less gaming, almost no scratch-building, and more and more collecting.

Started exploring web-based fora in about 2001. Got in early on GHQ's forum, where I have been a moderator for some 12 years or more now. Learned about 200% more on painting my tanks, and probably 500% more on painting and basing infantry. Met more gamers through the online fora, and attended my first gaming conventions. Got a reasonably active circle of gamers going, many of them veterans who had driven tanks in exciting foreign locals, and had many great games in my garage and at the homes of others.

Then after the crash of 2008, and the tech start-up company I was helping to start … stopped. I went from a salary and options, to hourly wages and diminishing prospects. Within a few years I had to sell my 4,300 sq.ft. house, and downsize to a rented 1,200 sq.ft. duplex.

My wargaming stuff has been in boxes in the garage ever since.

Last year I managed to get a job, for the first time in 9 years, in my chosen field (tech marketing). This summer I started painting and basing some of the infantry that's been sitting in my "to-do" box for mumble-mumble years. It's like spending time with old friends that have only been seen in photo albums for years. A bit hard to get back in the swing … should probably have chosen some tanks to get me re-started. But I'm enjoying it, and yes it is very therapeutic.

When I get enough time I know how and where to get plugged back in for gaming. Couple of hobby shops, a miniatures gaming club in my area (I'm still on their email list after 12 years of never attending), and multiple conventions in the area, not to mention personal contacts. Just a matter of getting far enough ahead in my work, which ain't likely to happen for a while…

These little toy tanks and army men have been with me for almost 45 years, patiently waiting for my return each time I get pulled away. I can't even imagine parting with them.

(aka: Mk 1)

huron72516 Aug 2017 6:59 p.m. PST

Wow, similar experience here. 53 yrs old been gaming for 40+. The detail on some of these sculpts is just great. Remember starting out with Airfix plastics then on to Minifigs metals. Now I look back on those minifigs, of which some I still have, and am amazed I thought they were so detailed!

Bravo to you 4th Cuir., and happy gaming.

John Miller Inactive Member16 Aug 2017 7:13 p.m. PST

Started in 1954 with 54 mm Britain's, then 30mm Staddens in 66, then, then, then,…….. I could never have imagined that war gaming would become as popular as it is now. My family is continually astonished that there are that many other eccentrics out there as myself.

Mark1: Reading your mention of Valley Plaza Hobbies brings back some very fond memories of my clumsy efforts with Historex, (which they carried). They also carried some very fascinating & beautiful books on the French Army uniforms of the Napoleonic era. Don't know if anyone from LA remembers a little shop on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood called "L Ancien Regime", toy soldier heaven it was. Great fun looking back like this. Thanks 4th Cuirassier. John Miller

LostPict Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 8:44 p.m. PST

I started jn 73 at the ripe old age of 13. Airfix men and Roco tanks – graduating to GHQ & CinC before twin devils of D&D and Star Wars swallowed me in '77. Wargaming returned with me finding the TSS (led by Ed Mohrmann a few posts up) around the millennia and now I am between the rock and the proverbial hard place with too little time and too many minis to get them all done. Who would have thought that playing with little lead mean would create so many great memories and even better friendships.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2017 12:04 a.m. PST

Best new topic in ages. I hope it runs and runs

Richard Baber17 Aug 2017 1:57 a.m. PST

I`m at around 40yrs too (but played with soldiers for yrs previous), discovered Charles Grant, Don Featherstone and Terry wise books in our town library when I went to grammar school at 12 (`76) and have never looked back.

I should add (on rules) we still use Charles Grant`s "Battle" set, abit with field mods over the last 40yrs – still does what i want out of a set of rules for C20th gaming without any fluff and rubbish. easy to teach, easy to learn, quick and neat to play and the results in historic scenarios are mostly what happened :)

Fred Cartwright17 Aug 2017 2:22 a.m. PST

I think I might have bought some plasticard and other bits from the Harrow Model Shop back in the 70's. That was mail order from an ad in Military Modelling. I also went to the first Southern Militaire organised by Don Featherstone I think in 1974 or 75 where there was a small stand with the first edition D&D, the 3 books in the white box. Somewhere also have the first edition of White Dwarf, back when it was a general RPG magazine and not a house mag for GW.

Silurian17 Aug 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

The piles of Airfix soldiers and (progressively better built) models have been with me for as long as I can remember.
My first attempt at a real war-game, rolling dice with my brother, after I saw a demo at Crowborough Scout hall, probably occurred when I was 12, meaning my 40 anniversary comes up next year!

VVVreply: do you remember the wargaming store down the Pantiles in T. Wells?

Andy ONeill17 Aug 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

I'm not sure exactly how old I was when I started.
It would have been roughly 1970.
I was making airfix model tanks and someone told me he had a game you could play using them.
I've played all sorts of genres and scales over the years but 20mm ww2 is the one I always go back to. Regression or something :^)
Along the way I did fine scale modelling in 1/35, role playing games and numerous others.
Somehow fitting work and "life" inbetween.

When I was a callow youth, there were several wargaming shops and numerous model shops in Liverpool. I think at one time 5 model shops in the city centre.
Every boy I knew used to be making models or playing football (not American football) or other hi jinks. I liked projectiles and flying things so I did archery, made a boomerang, French arrows ( kind of dart ) and card + paper gliders.
Now they wear their thumbs and spines out on console games
and "hang out". Seemingly no rope involved though.

Silurian17 Aug 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

Lol. Indeed Andy, as a kid the standard 'go to' birthday present, at least among all my friends, was an Airfix model kit!

4th Cuirassier17 Aug 2017 10:09 a.m. PST


Oh yes. Me too. A frequent birthday present from schoolmates was an Airfix kit that was beyond routine pocket money price. I was entirely indifferent as to what kit it was. Any was extremely acceptable.

That's where my 1/32 WW2 figures came from. Well, I say 'my' but they could as easily have been my brother's – 45 years on I can't remember. But neither of us had Airfix Series 3 pocket money – which is what the 1/32 figures were – so for sure the three sets we had came as presents. Russians, Japanese, Eighth Army. We thought they couldn't be opponents because we'd never heard of the Malayan or Nomonhan campaigns.

Were I not accumulating bits of 1/32 kit now, to complement those figures, I'd seriously consider amassing an 'army' entirely of Airfix and Matchbox 1/76 vehicles, just for the nostalgia. My two proudest modelling achievements as a kid were getting the wheels and tracks to work on an Airfix StuG III, and completing a Handley Page O/400. Probably couldn't do either now!

My first Napoleonic campaign was an utter blast. We had three players and about 250 figures a side (which was all the table space we had room for), and it was a French invasion via Eastbourne. We quickly worked out from Quarrie that the Airfix British needed but lacked heavy cavalry, and the French needed lancers. So the players frantically bought Hinchliffe Scots Greys and French Guard lancers in 25mm from the Harrow Model Shop. They were too big, but hey. We chose those simply because back then, there was no free uniform info. There were built-up 54mm models of those troop types in the Airfix catalogue, however, so that's what we relied on…

Guthroth17 Aug 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

Close to 50 for me. My early memories of how I got started are a bit hazy. I remember my brother and I playing with Airfix Napoleonic's in the early-mid 60's but I didn't start Wargaming until about 1970. I joined the local Air Cadets at High School, and I'm sure it was someone there who told me about the club in Heston. It was definitely before I learned to drive because I remember my mum taking me on a Friday evening.

That quickly lead to Hinchcliffe metal 25s and I carried on with them for some years, before switching to 15mm by about 1980. I did dabble in 15mm Ancients but my first two armies (Han Chinese & Agincourt French) were stolen from my car so Napoleonic's was about it until I started playing 1st Edition D&D with other Heston club members. I got my own set from Steve Jacksons own hands from the little office behind an Estate Agents they had on the Uxbridge Road before they moved into their first shop on Dalling Road. White Dwarf followed and then Rogue Trader and those three kept me entertained through to about 1986. At that point I took a bit of a break and our son was born in 1988.

I didn't do a lot of gaming in the 90's, but I kept on painting at a very low level and when he was about 9 or 10 we started playing 40k together, and that lead to us finding a new club in Staines in about 2002. He got into 40k and Warhammer as well as ‘regular' wargames, but I diversified massively over the next 10 years. Mostly 15mm but covering everything from Chariots to Sci-Fi. Most fun was had with mid 19thC Prussians, Danes, Austrians, Saxons and French using Principles of War, and the Napoleonic's took a back seat. Sadly the boy's hobby was destroyed for him the day the local GW manager denied him access to their gaming room because he didn't have the latest rulebook. He doesn't play anymore and his Marines, Imp Guard, Marines and Dwarfs are all sitting in the loft. He has no interest in them so if I get really bored I paint a couple more Black Templars. I will end up with a saleable army one day. Maybe in time for 10th Edition ..…

Their treatment of my son left me with a loathing for GW that is almost physical. I buy paint from them when there really is no other option, and sometimes I get a kick out of winding up shop staff young enough to be my grandkids about how WD used to be a real gaming magazine and waving issue #1 at them. I still despise the company and regardless of how many people would lose their jobs, I will raise a toast the day they go bust.

Having turned my back on GW, my gaming has spread across the periods but all 15mm. I've dabbled in Competition gaming (DBA, FoG, HoTT, FoW) but a firm commitment to family and home – and some health issues – means that I have never been happy with the 2-Day, 4-Game slog that goes with the larger games, and DBA is far too finicky for me to enjoy. HoTT is a lot less serious and remains a firm favourite however. I play at a minimum of two events each year and help to organise the local GB'nU tournament.

About 5 years ago when I started painting 28mm stuff again. I've become very keen on smaller skirmish games like 7TV or IHMN, especially if there is a VSF or Pulp Sci-Fi involvement and I'm now up to about 300 painted figures not counting Zulus …. The big problem now is that my local club has badly stagnated. I've tried to resurrect AK47 at the club, but only one person is interested. My attempt to generate interest in Congo, GASLIGHT and Cold War games has also fallen flat. They still want to play Napoleonic's, but only when I set up a game and provide most of the figures.

So, at 62 I'm at a crossroads. In the next few years we will be downsizing and moving away, and no-one at the local club is interested in any of the modern skirmish-type games that currently grab me. I'm not especially fussy, I'll play pretty much anything but I know where my gaming future lies and I have recently invested in Frostgrave, Malifaux and Blood & Plunder. Carnevale and Drowned Earth also look appealing. Future storage is also an issue, therefore apart from my HoTT armies, unless a figure or army can be used for more than one ruleset, it is at risk.

Since I can't get games of the type I like, I've started going to a new club where at least three of those newer games are played and already have my eyes on some one-day comps within easy driving distance. I've found some figures from my lead and plastic pile, and by the weekend will have two Warbands for Frostgrave table ready. These fit the new criteria very well since they will work for Blood Eagle, Frostgrave or Saga.

No plans to stop playing, but the sort out and downsizing must continue.

Frontline Tim17 Aug 2017 12:48 p.m. PST

Started in 1971 when I brought a copy of Introduction to battle gaming by Terence Wise.So that's 46 years,how many figure and pots of paint have moved through my hands don't bear thinking about and no plans to stop until they pry the dice from my cold dead hand.

Noll C17 Aug 2017 12:50 p.m. PST

Looking back it seems a 'golden age' back c1970 – The Waterloo film was out, giving my 12-year-old self the chance to go on about its inaccuracies, followed by BBC Anthony Hopkins War & Peace. Awaiting the new Airfix catalogue to see what the new releases would be; inventing our own rules to make playing with soldiers into a more realistic game. Then the Shire 'Discovering Wargames Rules' (known to us as the 'Massacre Rules' due to extreme lethality of every weapon…

Le Breton17 Aug 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

Started in about 1969 (age 9 or so) when my father brought me Avalon Hill Jutland from the USA (we were living in Brittany then). None of the other kids wanted to play (or read the English language rules!).

The caretaker of our property was an retired adjudant of the Goumiers (Moroccan infantry in French service) who had fought with my father in Italy and then was pensioned out of the service after Indochine. He had no family left in Morocco, and settled in France when Morocco became independent.

The old Goum (who always seemed so pleased when I addressed him as "mon adjudant"), took pity on me and we made the train trip to Paris. We went to bookshops, museums and little hobby boutiques. We stayed a couple of days in the little apartment of a retired sergeant of the Légion who had lost an eye at Dien Bien Phu. He had the most fearsome aspect, a deep scar showing above and below his eye-patch, and a deep harsh voice. I drank wine without it being watered and smoked for the first time. I thought myself a proper young man, fit to be an apt soldat and a bon homme.

During the trip, the two old soldiers narrated all the story of Napoléon and the 1er Empire. We bought a bunch of books and child's backpack full Historex and painting supplies. The other kids back home thought Austerlitz was more interesting than British battleships.

And I have been hooked on Napoleonics (gaming, figures, history) ever since. It has been about half a century now.

Where did the decades go ? Wasn't it just a short time ago that "mon adjudant" and I took the train to Paris? Whatever happened to that world of my childhood?
Where did it go?

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