Saturday, 27 April 2013

All Fur Coat and No Knickers....

Amongst the Bloggerati of this hobby you find many opinions about almost anything. Many are well informed and erudite others narrow and purely personal.
For myself I have little choice but to approach what I ramble on about on at least 2 levels.
1/. The Business view.
2/. The Personal View.
It's no surprise that sometimes these do not coincide.
Take Magazines for example. There are now 3 glossies on our newstand shelves. On a professional level that means 3 chances to advertise my wares.3 chances to enviegle your hard -earned into my sky- rocket in exchange for soldiers.I can choose which of these mags I advertise in - which best suits my product profile or which is probably the most read by my probable customer base.. On the business level the actual content is of only marginal interest sufficing perhaps to sway me a little but not , on the whole, too much
Paper advertising isn't what it once was, the internet has changed all that quite dramatically.Yet it still has a place. Its still IMHO pretty essential to have some magazine presence..
Now to the more personal level. Most wargames mags have little of direct interest. After all its all been said before many many times.
I have before me a selection of recent magazines. The New MW , The most recent WI and recent copies of WSS- my latest one of this last has not yet arrived.
However to begin - the most obvious target is WI so I'll begin there. Big Glossy and full of pretty pictures by companies or rich middle class gits- probably retired early on a civil service pension(Yes I'm being waspish again) which comparativly few of us can match. What this mag does teach is the obvious- you too can do this if you throw enough money at it
Yet having said that there were actually a couple of articles worth reading. One on the Frnch assault on Jersey in the Channel Is during the AWI- tells us about the action but gave us no French OB- perhaps its not known. The article then descend sharply downward as it groans on about "Sharpe Practice" and presents 2 scenarios for that system but still better than nothing. The second article is about the Partitions of Poland again of some interest. Finally an article on early armoured trains and cars by Nick Buxey. Now Nick knows his stuff but this is not my area of interest so I'll not comment further except to say that there were many pics of models I'd have prefered pics of the real thing is available.
The rst of the mag were simply photo essays . No reviews(thats unstandable being that a minis company owns the mag) No opinion No colums .- All fur coat and only a very small pair of Knickers. It will quite probably be a good while before I buy another copy - but at least I'll keep an eye on it. In terms of personal taste its style is simply too narrow for me.
Next the new MW- well first impressions were not good but having said that its a bit like the curates egg. Its pretty obvious that Henry Hydes Editorship will be much more heavy handed than Andrew Hubbacks was. Its pretty clear from the Editorial that its all Henry's show- mind you the idea of not Ghettoising Fantasy and Sci- Fi is a good one after all Dwarf-fiddlers are people too!! . As for articles only one took my interest- that on the Armada campaign but the colunms and reviews are there in strength so whilst the artilce lack a certain something- and most are very BG in style- the columns and reviews do go some way to redressing the balance. I also learned why I 'll stick to my metal 15mm WW2 and not go plastic- It will be a COLD DAY IN HELL before I stick bloody arms on 15mm figures. Also -assuming I understand correctly- these littlec sods are no cheaper than metal.
. This leaves WSS- a bi-monthly as the "other mag" . To address it this way is to do it an injustice. It holds its head up in the others company . Indeed the more I see of it the better I like it. Again its the reviews and columns that stand out rather tan the samey-gamey stuff which seem to be meant and drink to some. Yet having said that the style of the articles seems to me a tad more in depth than the other mags. There is more "how to" here than in the other mags- though MW is not devoid of this- now I don't need how to - well not much - been there done that - several times but you can still pick up a wrinkle ot two. Unlike the others it doesn't patronise.
Now to be fair we've only seen one issue of the "new" MW but on this evidence MW is almost dead but there are other issues to come One mag is hardly a fair judgement.
All in all then currently my favourite mag is WSS with MW - being a monthly giving me a bit better bang for my advertising buck. On a personal level there simply isn't a lot in mags for a chap who isn't a rules junky- and I'd rather drink flat lager - other than the opinion pieces. There are no new ideas- an example- there is an article on hidden movement in WI- nothing wrong with it except that its all been said before by Featherstone or Asquith or Grant senior and others. This time it was said shinier and with computers but who cares if you have a brain
One thing I have noticed is that- Some WSS articles notwithstanding Narrow is the word. Scales- mostly "28mm" unless its WW2 or after. Litlle on minority scales or periods- thogh a brief and incomplete gallop though ariel games does appear in WI- . The assumption that "It's only a Game" is now the norm- though Neil Shucks voice cries faintly otherwise in MW. What I find odd is the idea of the "Corporate Game players" that you don't need to know anything other than that with which they spoon feed you.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised after all the indutry has passed into the "professional phase" so its all about the loot. Frankly -even though I'm in the biz I hope I have more respect for my customers than that.


  1. Interesting read Andy... In fact, more interesting than the glossy, professional photograph- filled mags that I once bought.
    In my own opinion I don't really see a place for these mags any more, I find the blog World (where the 'real' gamers live!) far more interesting and inspirational.
    Good write up mate and thanks for posting.

    All the best,

  2. Yep, I agree and that's purely from a consumer's point of view. I suppose we ought to spare a thought for the newer chaps (and chapesses) who've entered the hobby more recently. Old gits like me had the benefit of the Feathersone/Grant/Young wargaming primers which don't seem to be fashionable these days, except, maybe, for Henry Hyde's forthcoming 'Wargaming Compendium' (a snip at the published price of thirty quid - but it is 502 pages).

    While I agree with Steve's point about the blogosphere, not eveyone has regular access to the interweb (or even access at all) and we (that's we three for example) have a wealth of knowledge and experience trapped between our ears which we tend to take for granted. If the hobby is to grow and attract young blood (or even new, old blood) it needs to be marketed cos you can't attract them as know nowt about it. This is where the mags could play an important role in generating interest; they're accessible and reasonably cheap. However, they tend to pander to the cognoscenti and, so far, only WSS seems to be making some attempt on a broad front (though Henry H promises to). The 'other' magazine/monthly catalogue is pretty narrow in scope, but will probably be more appealing to the average young teenager.

    Maybe the mags should promote bloggers and vice versa? How you would choose is another matter . . .

    1. Joe Yes I see your point- and I do still see a place for the glossies- not everyone has access to the net- I gather I'm pretty unusual businesswise in that I still talk to my customers when they phone and I'm happy to take phone calls- one of the reasons why our"6 for5" deal isshow and telephone orders. The other being that it won't work on the net so we make a virtue of neescessity and it has worked.
      On one level I don't expect the mags to cater to me- nor do I expect the blogger to either.
      I get my inspiration from my historical library but don't expect all to have the access or collection I do so again the mags have a place it's merely that much of the glossy product is soooooo narrow in outlook and lightweight in content.

    2. Evening Andy,
      Nice new format by the way.
      I think you know my views about the magazines at the moment. The WSS,is by far the best wargaming magazine at the moment.
      I had a lot of time for what Andrew Hubbeck did to Miniature Wargames, and I would love to know what happened to oust him from the editors role.
      I have very mixed views about Henry Hyde, and I will hold on these opinions until a few issues of the new MW have been produced. What none of the magazines have is a letters or readers topic page.Where is the debate, where the views of wargamers.
      As for WI,well the best you can say is that it has pretty photographs.The worst is that the articles? are inevitably produced by a cabal [ good word that] of interested parties, usually touting some set of rules, or figures etc.Very little mention is made of other scales, what happened to Irregular Miniatures 6mm ranges, and the 10mm ranges, these might as well be on the moon.Not really what you need. Although I did like the two pages on the Polish civil war.
      Anyway I wont drone on.
      Thanks Robbie.

    3. Robbie I spoke to Andrew Hubback at Salute and know why HE thinks he was shafted but its not the sort of thing I can write here so I'll wait until I see you . What I can say is that his thoughts on the new issue ran to "Well its just Battlegames now" and so far after one issue I agree.