A Little Personal History – Part 1 (long post, no pictures!)

I’ve been meaning to post a little more on my wargaming history for a while. It’s been touched upon in other posts but not in any chronological/structured format. So here goes…

In the beginning…there was Airfix. I had hundreds and hundreds of them. 20mm, 54mm. All periods. I can’t even remember exactly when I started playing with them. Very young anyway. Most ‘battles’ were fought with my cousin Stuart (pretty well grew up together as there was a 16 year gap between myself and my older brother). For a long time we did the usual massed battles on table, floor and in garden with lego fortifications and assorted missiles for combat resolution! We even fought a fictitious campaign as we created a global military power call the Worldist Party who had massive armies and resources secreted throughout the world and would step on to resolve wars and disputes and depose dangerous governments! One of our hardest fought campaigns was the little known Danish Civil War!

Things progressed in like manner for years until I hit secondary school and started my History classes with Mr Smith – or Uncle Derek as we called him. You could not have wished for a better teacher. He had us doing musket drill as part of our look at Wolfe and Quebec and many other things. He really brought things alive. It was through him that I met a couple of older boys – David and Michael Drage – and through them was introduced to Shrewsbury Wargames Society (c.1976/7). Meeting at small hall near the Priory School I began my first forays into metal figures. The model shop in Shrewsbury, on Castle Foregate, stocked Hinchcliffe 25mm figures and I began collecting the first of my Russian Napoleonics at 9p a figure!

Then, as now, I was a low painter and it took me a long time to pull things together but there was always games to be had at the club and figures to loan. Over the years figures and periods came and went. The club moved in to medieval games and I started putting together Hinchcliffe and Lamming armies with my mate Mark. Campaigns were fought using the Lamming rules as the club did battle over a developing landscape. I still have these figures somewhere and one day I’ll post pics. My Russians grew slowly, adding some minifigs, but never really got to full strength. Another shop had opened in Shrewsbury as well. In the back of Chris Foulkes hardware store were a wide range of figures and the new Heritage 15mm Napoleonics which for the time were stunning little figures. I had Peter Laing WW1. Minifigs 15mm Trajanic Romans. All little projects that never got completed. The title of this blog was even more apt then! With two shops in Shrewsbury, a Minifigs shop in Birmingham, a small shop in Wellington, the choices were endless.

Inspiration often came from the pages of Battle for Wargamers. I still have these from 1976 to it’s end and still read them. Charles Grants articles, Hyboria. Lots of excellent stuff.

At age 16 I went to one of the first Wargames Holiday Centre weeks with Peter Guilder near York. I’d been working that summer in a local Oil Works and had some cash so it was my reward before I started A-Levels. Our games were a mix of periods but I can remember a Late Roman game where we playtested the upcoming WRG 5th Edition Ancient Rules! Again, somewhere I have a box of slides and some B/W (don’t ask!) photos to post.

It was around now that wargaming started to take a back seat as I discovered wine, women and song big time! Unfortunately too much of the former and latter and I made the club less and less and painted less and less, eventually moving to Telford with my then fiancee (which didn’t last) and entered the world of work.

Although wargaming was pretty dead for then I had a great group of friends for Role Playing which was continue throughout and beyond this period – the subject of another post, maybe.

That makes a suitable break. Major life upheavals, university, some minor ventures back into figures were to follow. As was the time, wallet and life consuming passion that is Advanced Squad Leader! More on that lot to follow…