"When you were young and your heart was an open book"
(and you may have worn a Mullett or Flares- or .....(Quelle Horreur!!) BOTH at the same time )Of late I've seen a few blog posts about how nice the past was- both in terms of our hobby and in other ways too. I've checked out those of the "Wargaming Classics" that I own -3 or 4 Featherstones and a couple of Grants- plus a few others. I've never held copy a of Wargamers Newsletter in my hand but I do have a couple of Issues of Table Top Talk and the 3 issues of the hardly noticed Miniature Figurines magazine somewhere and frankly they are all pretty poor- but then if that was all there was ... So how come to some this was some kind of "Golden Age" of Wargaming. I really don't get it. Figures were fewer and FAR FAR FAR more expensive than they are now- at leas in proportion to the amount of money that all but a few could spend on them. Most of us made do with Airfix- or perhaps a few Marx. "Proper" figures- i.e. those in metal were rare.. Spencer -Smith plastics were awfully crude and hard to get. I was terribly disappointed when first I held one in my hand - I much preferred Airfix. Yet you still get the nostalgia junkies telling you how much better is was back then - Cobblers ! But even nostalgia moves on - depending upon how old you are and of course how well heeled. So when was the Golden Age? How long did it last and are we still in it?
Now I'm not without guilt here- much of the stuff that was beyond my reach in my younger days - Tradition Magazine, Stadden ,Suren and Higgins 30mm figures , a decent library of proper military history books, can now be purchased- with care - for not unreasonable prices- though some items have become rare and command silly money- I can't afford to collect- for instance Indian Army regimental histories any longer and even some British Army ones are getting a tad on the dear side- even the reprints are not exactly cheap. Yet having said that I'd much rather drop a pony, nifty or a ton on stuff like that than on rich- boys showing off books. The former will increase my knowledge the latter only their ego.
Perhaps part of this is because my own sources of inspiration are vey rarely other Wargamers or wargames -they may have helped in days of Yore- but not now or for some decades. Lets face it the photos in many of the "Classics" are pretty poor given the 1960s technology but equally so were some of the models themselves. Those of larger models by such makers as Courtenay or Desfontaines or Stadden or Dilley or Longhurst were significantly better and indeed more inspirational in my early days. I suppose I got into the actual gaming part because I wanted to do something with the models I made. To, if perhaps it was possible, make them act in some fashion - even if only a little- like their historical prototypes. This idea is now well out of fashion - assuming it was ever IN fashion games geeks being no new thing - but is still one of my prime movers.
Perhaps more so now than then - since I can command more intellectual resouces now than I did when I was 12 or 13 (True despite the rumours!!!)and at least a little more cash than 5 bob a week pocket money- if I was lucky . Now of course, it is fashionable to denigrate anything making even a minor attempt at any kind of realism with the whine that "It's only a Game" but if its "only a game" what is the difference between it (of many different its) and say risk or Diplomacy or chess or draughts or tiddly -winks. the end result of the game is the same somebody wins somebody loses of itself pretty futile- and if your main concern is results rather than methods then why pick wargaming as against chess or scrabble?
Riddle me that one Dudes!
It may be that just a tiny reactionagainst the "its only a game" whiners is in progress to judge by Richard Clarkes excellent piece in the latest WSS, Its nice to hear one of the current "glitterati" agreeing with stuff you said publicly in the 1990s- in an interview for Military Illustrated as it happens- doesn't occur that often .
So the "Golden Age" may be now or perhaps the 1990s before we were all but drowned in low brained overpriced (because over produced eye candy heavy) gamsey crap with the average intellectual content of a backward kindergarten class and all in the name of "FUN"- without actually having any idea of what "fun" actually means. But at least now you have the choice. Back then the product range was very small indeed- mostly you made your own- you had control over your own idea of "Fun"instead of having it handed to you on an overpriced plastic plate. But contrairywise the hobby was smaller there were far fewr products of any type- I recall using Airfix farmhouses with 25mm figures because that was all we had and Faller houses with Hincliffe french Grenadiers firing over the roof- both needless to say in entirely the wrong scale and offensive to the eye- well MY eye-and mostly nobody cared- many still wouldn't.
Yes I'm rambling a bit - mainly to show that the Golden Age changes with the person you ask. How old they are and how long they have been in the Hobby and indeed what they DO within the hobby. For games Dudes the Golden Age must be now after all there are more daft games about than ever requiring more dice rolling and assorted mumbling round a table full of introverts, with no modeling, or any other work - either of the brain or of the hands required.
Of course the idea that the actually is something as singular as "The Hobby" is very much open to question- much more so now than back then - so there another riddle to sort out.
Nevertheless admit it or not for many the "Golden Age" is now all those retired Civil servants and apparatchiks of the Government- they might have the age but they also have the gold to indulge their whims- publish a showing off book- lap up the grovelling of "lesser mortals" or not as the case may be- whatever blows your skirt up !
One good thing about the past though- nobody had decided public Dwarf Fiddling was legal and normal !(at least not until the mid-70s )