Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What is the point of little soldiers !

 Bearing in mind all the recent hot- air that is being expended upon "The Future of the Hobby" (and indeed is still being expended)  it comes as a bit of a surprise to realise that little of  said hot air has mentioned  what used to be - back in ye olden tymes  considered by many the most important  part. The actual toy soldiers . Few if any questions have been asked about this since the late 80s/ Early 90s - there was a pretty fierce debate in the pages of the old WI as I recall involving no less a figure than Paddy Griffith amongst others suggesting that toy soldiers were largely irrelevant.
  Now as it happens my version of this hobby has always been toy soldier  driven- or miniatures  in  the correct NEWSPEAK terminology.. So my question is how important are the toy soldiers to you.
 I know MY answer- without them this  hobby would be  even more pointless than it sometimes seems .
 The  little lead dudes give you something to look at during the tedium of the dice rolling- during those few seconds when you don't have your face in your pint!
 Jesting apart- the modelling and collecting part of this hobby has ALWAYS been as important if not more so then the mere gaming. At their best toy/model soldiers  are a minor art form and even at a lower level give a visual impression of a battle that only recently- and then not always- has been surpassed by computer games. This is especially true now when  as  general rule the "gaming" for many  means another pointless and rather futile skirmish game of one sort or another where period knowledge is not only non-existant but actually denigrated in favour of "2970 WAYS to Roll a 3 sided dice " or similar twaddle.
 The most recent issue of WSS had a couple of articles germain to my subject- though it may not have seemed so.
 Sam Mustaphas piece on Rules writing - this told me more about the dismal knowledge of a certain breed of games players than I wished to know.  Frankly I was appalled- not by Sam's article-  but by the frankly dumb- assed, dick-witted ,shyte- brained questions he claimed to have been asked by "wargamers" - "Can Cavalry form square !!!" "Can you fire through a line of troops to hit a line behind them!! " . What sort of  thick  pillocks ask such dull witted questions?
GAMES players- i.e. those who want no knowledge of  history or period but only seek to manipulate the game to their advantage . Since Sam's article pertained to his ACW "game" Longstreet  you'd have thought that some knowledge of the ACW was a perquisite.  but no,  games players have to be reined in  or they will do all sorts of silly things to win their silly games. THAT is why many rules are written in such a turgid technical fashion . You know what , I see his point. You'd think the toy soldiers would help . The LOOK of and ACW unit should give you some infromation  but the gap between "Game designer dudes" and the actual toy soldiers is now so immense that I wonder if it can ever be closed.
 The second article looked at the death of shows- one of the authors remedies was to ban display and demo games and make all games PP- talk about short sighted- alienate hafl of your volunteers why don't you ? Since he also wanted to invite dolls houses and assorted craft stall in as well  it makes you wonder.
 Losing demos at shows would  inevitably drop the quality of  games. I've already seen this with the awful rash of boxed games at Battleground and to a lesser extent at Derby . I'm far from anti- the craft stuff coming in - always need at least some craft items- and some traders already provide such but doing away with volunteer demos will kill the historical part of the hobby.- Bear in mind that half of last years games at Salute were Fantasy types and almost ALL of those were put on by GW wanabees each carefully narrowing the once wide spectrum of our once open -ended hobby . And all of these GAMES driven rather than toy- soldier driven.
 There is an argument that says that the toy soldiers are mere counter decoration- and lots of rules follow this precept. Its not with out some merit - sometimes for certain types of game it works well but - and its a big but - the toy soldiers at least hint at the human side of what we do. Which IMHO we for get at our peril


  1. Figures/miniatures/toy soldiers, we've all called them one or the other at some time. I guess they're there because firstly we played on the carpet with them as children and never really grew up. As out disposable income increased we wanted better, as is the norm (buy a banger, then a second hand carm, then a new one). It's the same with figures (or was), buy cheap plastics, intermix with leads, then just leads - (Now add go back to buying plastics !). We want imroved (and more expensive) sculpts mainly for the athetic appeal and no doubt for those that like painting the little sods the joy ofbringing to life a lump of lead!

    I once read on a forum (concerning a global WW2 game) why the USA couldn't build Battleships and Aircraft Carriers on the great lakes, it's not just history that's a problem.

  2. Without the little metal men (and vehicles, and ships) we're just board gamers.... counter pushers...

  3. Yep. For me it's painting and collecting the figures -- the "look of the thing" to quite the late Charles Grant Sr. -- as much as it is reading history and playing the occasional game. Cardboard counters just aren't the same thing. Likewise, fantasy/sci-fi, while I dabbled in both 30+ years ago, haven't done anything for me in many, many years. Give me a bunch of 30mm toys in mitre caps, busbies, shakoes, and/or tricorns any day.

    Best Regards,


  4. P recisely my views chaps. Though I don't mid some 15mm-
    (That would be 18mm Steve !) I now actually have 3 periods in 15mm WW2 - Moderns and Ancients- still not enough Malburians for a game so they don't count.

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