Monday, 31 January 2011

Early Beginnings

Well after much badgering from the blogging members of Kirriemuir Wargames Club, like the sheep I am, I follow and so here are my musings on the hobby that I love but which I appear to be inherently bad at.

So where did it all start?

Well I guess like many blokes of my generation - no you don't need to know what generation, work it out for yourselves - my first toy soldiers were from Airfix, initially the HO/OO scale and latterly the 1/32nd scale figs as well. And like many, the wargames I would play with my pals and my bro would involve setting the figs up and then trying to knock themdown with either marbles or the projectile firing diecast tanks and cannons that Dinky used to make.

Then while on holiday during the summer holidays of 1979, I asked my mum and dad to buy me a magazine that I had seen in a newsagents, the September Edition of Military Modelling. I had started to build up Airfix kits by that stage and painting them up and figured this mag would be an interesting read while sitting in the caravan during the pouring rain. And indeed the articles were interesting but even more so were the adverts. Here was being advertised figures and ranges that I had never heard of before, Hinchcliffe, Skytrex, Minifigs, Garrison & Ball and so it went on. And they were metal, not plastic like the Airfix ones.

Then one advert caught my eye, it was part of the Skytrex advert and was for a range of imported figures from the United States based on the "Lord of the Rings". I was intrigued at the description of the figures, "Orcs of the White Hand, Orcs of the Eye, Men of the West, Elves of Lothlorien". What was this all about????

On return from holiday and back to school I immediately went to the school library and found the aforementioned Novel. And started to read.... I couldn't put it down and by the time I was finished my life had changed for ever. This was like nothing I had ever read before and the imagery and the scope of the tale had my imagination running riot. And the fact that I could buy models that represented characters from the book was beyond my wildest dreams. Mind you not that I was in a position to those particular figs which for the time were expensive and I had to rely on my mum and dad to buy them for me being too young at that time to have a cheque book.

But reading the Military Modelling magazine from cover to cover again and again (and by this time I had ordered through my local newsagent) I started noticing adverts for another figure manufacturer - "Citadel Miniatures". In those days you could send off a SAE for their lists and a free sample figure. So I did and this is what I got back:-

This is "Jimmy" at least that was the name he was given though he is actually a Bard from Citadel's Fantasy Advenurers range (FA6). He may be short, squat and crude by today's standards but when I opened the envelope and and out he fell he was the most incredible thing I had yet seen. That's not his original paint job - originally he was painted with Airfix enamels and had a crimson jacket - the paint job that he is now wearing used paints from when the original Citadel acrylic paints came out, but I digress.

Christmas 1979 was a joyful time when Santa brought many, many little plastic bags with the Citadel and Ral Partha (which Citadel produced under licence at that time) cardboard labels containing such wonders as "Red Orcs", Wood Elves, Dwarves of the Anvil, Southron Heavy Spearmen, Goblins of the Night and many many more. Alas it has to be admitted here that many of them still remain unpainted to this day.......

But some eventually got a coat of paint:-

The Orcs of the Red Eye with some later additions from Citadel's Goblin Raiding Party. They were eventually finally all painted in August.......2010.

But although I now had the figures to play the battles I had read about in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and such other fantasy novels that I was now reading such a Stephen  Donaldson's Illearth Trilogy and the various Eternal Champion novels by Michael Moorcock there was no way I was going to be lining these wonderful metal figures up in a line and throwing marbles at them. What I needed was a set of rules. Another advert in another magazine, I forget which, led to the purchase of the SELWG's Middle Earth Wargames rules but when they arrived I was totally flummoxed, didn't understand a word of them and to this day they remain on my bookcase shelf, unplayed.

Something had to be done, what was I going to do? University beckoned, and so with it Dundee University Wargames and Role Playing Society. But that my friends is a story for another day.......

But in the meantime and for Gordon's benefit:-

The Brits are coming....................


  1. See I told you painting the wee stars was easy :p

  2. I think I will be totally sick at the sight of stars by the time I'm finished.....

  3. Also think I need to sort out the time clock on this blog. I certainly was not commenting at 3.19 in the morning!!

  4. I think thats standard the clock thingy, mine is way out as well.

  5. If you go into settings on your dashboard Gordon you can change it to GMT there