Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Painting and modelling as part of Wargaming.

Now I've always been of the opinion that the modelling side of the hobby was just as important to me as the dice rolling - indeed up to a point more so as I started out as a model soldier collector and modeller and in a roundabout way it was what to do with those Airfix tanks once you had built them that got me into the actual wargaming..
 Back in the day when all you could afford Airfix you did the best job you could with what you had to hand. On 70s  pocket money metal troops were rare and precious and were assiduously saved up for.
 Whatever you had you did the best job you could - for your own credits sake as much as anything else. You WANTED to be better at what you did as you gained skills and knowledge that was (and for me still is) part of being a wargamer. Dice rolling and counter pushing simply is not enough.

Some recently finished Foremost ECW- designed by Gilder in the 1970s. If we could afford it we didn't HAVE to use Airfix.

The Harman Syndrome.

Arthur Harman's piece in MW  hasn't half caused a stir. That he is  mostly wrong on so many levels is pretty obvious. However Robbie Roddis' point about being given the "oxygen of publicity"  is also in my view wrong. Of course he should. It's called Free Speech dude !  You can't make an arse of yourself if you can't utter a word now can you .
 What I found particularly galling about Mr Harman's piece was simply the idea that you should do something badly as shoddily as those penny plain tuppence coloured engravings of the Napoleonic Wars he cited. In their day they were the equivalent of a cheap paperback, sensationalist and often fictitious. Now there is nothing wrong with using them as a source but you should make it clear what they are  rather than use them merely as an excuse for doing something that is not the best job you can do.
 Is Mr Harman honestly trying to say that people of today are lazy, useless, feckless cretins who can't be bothered with anything that requires a little effort? Now there may indeed be evidence to support this assertion but I'd like to see it.  Simply asserting that good quality modelling and painting in our world puts people off is not good enough weather coming from Mr Harman or Mr. Shuck. Any evidence is bound to be anecdotal  so I can present the opposite case supported by equally anecdotal evidence. For example Paul our newest member has been a wargamer only a  couple of years  or less yet has painted respectable 28mm WW2 forces and has a good start on 15mm Napolenics (at which last he is a bit tasty). Equally some chaps in our small group don't paint or model at all  Floating Jeff buys most of his stuff off ebay- when he buys which is rare these days as he has a biggish collection. Andrew the Tekkie is just starting to paint a bit . None of these chaps are put off by others better standards/ It is the same in other clubs I know. Painting and modelling standards vary wildly from the fantastic to the simply adequate but none of these blokes deliberately do a crap job in case others are put off . The whole idea is utterly laughable..
Recently had a couple of good scores off ebay including these 4 "Willies" .
All I've done is rebase for my "Shinyloo" project.
more from the same ebay bundle. Again only rebased. Not everyone in the 1970s was painting badly.
Foremost French Cuirassiers from an earlier ebay score- but painted in the same 1970s style.

Meanwhile back on planet Earth.... 

Of course when it comes to non- Historical games then quite frequently the modelling standards are even higher as Fantasy and Sci- Fi don't have "history" to lean on . It's not my thing  any longer but by  gum some of these  people  can really model . Are the rest put off? I think not judging by the pandemonium in most GW stores of a weekend. Do the Workshop staff do a  deliberately crap job for the kiddies- of course not  no they do a sterling job teaching the noisy fractious  little brutes, me, I'd have laid about me with a handy  Chaos Doomblade years ago .... but then I don't thanks the Gods work for GW.

A superb Hinchliffe Carabinier. Again from the same lot as the Willies.
Rebased but thats all. My painting standard even at my best can't touch this.

Minot 30mm Brits backed by a single Stadden Dragoon Officer.
 All of the Napoleonic in this post are headed for "shinyloo".

Speaking for myself.

The fact that other blokes are better modellers than I has never put me off and in some ways my poor eyesight gives me more excuse than most- but bugger that! . There are chaps who are not as good at it as I also- never put them off either. Look at the photos on this post. Only the British Napoleonics and the ECW cavalry were painted by me. All the rest by chaps who knew what they were about. Most of the figures were painted some years - perhaps decades ago. There mere fact that they exist shows that "Lets be craps to get the newbies in is simply a load of b""""""s..

So its quite plain that for much of our hobbies recent history- say the last 40 years or more most chaps have been painting their models to the best of their ability. More recently the well heeled simply order it done- perhaps they always did. Nevertheless what IS abundently clear is that deliberately being crap at something- in wargaming as in most of life is not a realistic option .
Thank you and Goodnight !!

Later- a small postscript.
 When it comes to recruitment I'm not sure the emphasis on quick , simple games is always the way.
 At various times I've had to explain what I do to various non- wargamers . These range from courier drivers picking up parcels to chaps down the pub and even bankers and insurance men.
 I never had a real problem explaining the history or the modelling- indeed I've had the modelling part referred to as a "craft" . However explaining the gaming part  can be a bit difficult- even today . Even when they've heard of Games Workshop - which can be a two edged sword with a vengeance
 "What you mean with dice and stuff like that Games Workshop!? Isn't that for children?"

Batting on a sticky wicket or what Old Chap !!


  1. Gorgeous figures pictured with this post! My favorites are the ECW cavalry at the top and the French Napoleonic Carabinier. To some extent the instant gratification mindset of our times might act as a deterrent, but I do not believe that figure prices and painting/modelling skill necessarily keep people from diving into the hobby either. Let's face it. Even teenagers nowadays (in the Global North at least) have expendable income, and doing something well (like figure painting) has never stopped lots of us, regardless of age, from having a go. If anything, well-painted figures and skilfully modeled terrain are an inspiration to young and old alike. I cannot really believe that they, instead, turn people off from the wargaming hobby as Mr. Harmen seems to suggest.

    Best Regards,


  2. This Mr Harman sounds like a self apologist! The mind absolutely boggles that there are people still spouting this rhetoric! Absolute clap trap I believe... and by the way Andy; nice figures! 😉

    1. I had considerable respect in the past for Harmans rule and scenario writing- he knows his period. Also he has always downplayed the visual element. Yet this is the first time I can recall where he has actually said do a crap job r to get the newbies in ....

  3. Another thought occours.. if you are not interesting the miniatures then there are plenty of other ways of wargaming- computers and boardgames for a start.
    So if you do like the minis why the hell would you deliberately paint them badly.

  4. I hate to admit it but I am partially in agreement with you. High standards of painting and modelling can actually attract some people to the hobby and the fact that some people have never painted a figure doesn't mean they don't get an urge to try it.

    That said I also partially agree with Arthur. I have met people who are put off by the thought of painting figures or who have tried it and hate it but still enjoy playing. Many of these would be quite happy to buy painted figures if they find them. Companies like Forces of Valour are an in for them into WWII while various ranges of painted 54mm toy soldiers are another in for those with the tin. Or if they like wargames but find painting an unpleasant chore, why shouldn't they play with basic figures if they're willing to do that much? Who are they hurting? The sensibilities of the observer? I'd rather have a person enjoy the game with basic figures than not play at all.

    What I have seen put people off painting is rude and ignorant, often scathing, disparaging comments on their work should they dare show it in public. The same is often heard about lack of period or rules knowledge as well. Obviously this does not apply to all of us there are a lot of gamers willing to encourage others but there are far too many don't. There may be other hobbies which attempt to discourage newcomers but it doesn't help.

    As for big and small games, they both have their place and I don't understand why it should be one or the other. Both have their place. Small games are a great way to introduce people with an easy to build force but also a way to attract people
    who have limited playing time due to poor choices about what is really important in life.
    But big games are also a great way to inspire and attract newcomers, especially if we point out that one can build up to it playing small games with a few units and then adding more and more units. Assuming you choose a sensible set of rules that allow you to play games of various sizes that is.

    Long live variety and choice.

  5. Ross- Agreed my big problem with Hsarman is the we should be DELIBERATELY crap. There are plenty of painting services about for chaps who hate painting and not ALL of them cost the earth. You can use pre-painted 54mm toys if thats your thing.
    I don't for erxample go to painting websites or fora because I don't give a stuff what these rude ignorant gits think- and lets face it they don't usually have the stones to say anything to you face as a knuckle sandwich can ruin their painting !
    As it happens the way our games are organised tends to mean that the Gamesmaster provides all the troops for both sides so it would never happen that a well painted army would come up against a bunch of bare metal- or plastic. I have seen it done in the distant past in tournaments but not these days.