For whatever reason, I nearly always find myself out of step with current tastes. I do certainly fall prey to “shiny objects” dangled by miniatures companies. In general, however, I have definite interests — as well as strong dislikes — which do not align with what I find in game stores or discussed online.
It was twenty years ago I first encountered Games Workshop and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I had been introduced to fantasy twenty years prior to that via The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. My taste, therefore, had always leaned towards the Serious and Epic.
I hadn’t yet acquired any fantasy miniatures; I began my adult era collecting Old West and Darkest Africa figures. The initial draw of Warhammer stuff for me was the terrain — GW provided some of the first “how to” tutorials that I encountered. (Following those by the beloved Major General, of course).
The Warhammer “Old World” fluff left me cold, however. I mustered a bit of appreciation for the Vampire Counts, but green soccer hooligans screaming “Waugh!” was just silly… “Squigs?” … Really? Now, I loved Victorian Science Fiction and its Rube Goldberg-esque technology. Warhammer, though, just didn’t speak to me. Compounding my aversion was the cost —Games Workshop / Citadel miniatures were breathtakingly expensive.
Forwarding fast to the present day, I have experienced a profound change of heart. I wrote awhile back how I had spied, perched atop a dusty shelf in my Hobby Shack, one of my few GW purchases —The Battle for Skull Pass starter set. I brought it down and set in to complete a painting task begun 13 years previous.
In doing so, I have become hopelessly and inexplicably enamored of the aforementioned greenskins — goblins in particular. And apparently, experience has finally forged within me a sense of humor. It is precisely grottastic ridiculousness that appeals to me!
As I started combing the internet for vintage miniatures I could finally afford, I discovered perfection such as fanatics. These people spin a huge metal ball around to launch themselves into the enemy? Could this really work? No need to care, as I can’t imagine a general who wouldn’t want his troops to do this…
Part of my “Out of Time” bit was the GW decision to kill Oldhammer in favor of the Age of Sigmar. If I already didn’t like elements of the Old World, the new, gossamer-warriors appealed even less.
I had misapprehended, however, that GW had replaced all the old models. I didn’t realize that they had simply renamed (and rebased) many of them. Humans and undead were new, but many greenskins and the Skaven were just in new boxes and on round bases.
So, I bought brand-new fanatics. I even bought brand-new squigs and their herders. (One of them playing bagpipes — looking forward to painting them!) I now see that the Skaven wield extremely VSF-style gadgetry so I will likely begin another army.
As I have pressed on with employment throughout the intervening years, I’m now financially secure enough to approximate the GW demographic. Should I admit this? — I recently purchased a charming wee “Loonboss” — who set me back nearly $30 for one plastic figure (?!)
I’m eager to share some of my recent adventures. For example, I have begun wielding the power of eBay. Being conveniently “Out of Time,” not that many people are “into” what I now find irresistible, so I find unearth bargains and sometimes win auctions.
I had my own epiphany some thirty or so years ago. My major wargaming practice involves 54mm mass battles, medieval, Western, 19th century, Funny Little Wars, fantasy and SF in various combinations. I didn’t come from ‘serious’ small scale gaming – and to me 25mm is small scale – although I had a brief introduction to 20km games with Airfix in my teens. Basically I had a long ‘wargaming’ period of childhood with marbles and various made in England and Hong Kong or cereal plastic 54mm toy soldiers to discovering 54mm collectors and wargamers in my mid 20s and then collecting massive armies.
As a school teacher, to gain brownie points, spread the hobby, and incidentally to plausibly claim tax rebate on my collecting I had a fortnightly, sometimes weekly lunchtime wargaming session and end of year activity.
In the course of introducing students to miniatures some of them introduced me to Warhammer. Actually, it was Warhammer 40K, the futuristic SF game. I thought, just to show my flexibility and respect for the students interest I would paint a few figures. I had bought, at a very cheap price, a few second hand boxes of Space Crusade and also Hero Quest. I painted some of the Space Marines in camo – no reference to actual ‘chapters’ of Space marines.
I thought the orks looked ridiculously comical. Then I had a change of heart. My rebellious, crazed inner green self went ork crazy. At first I converted toy tanks and Mac Donalds toys and then I actually started buying new models and attending the local shop games.
The local popularity of the game has subsided and now I also have 54mm orc units I use in my 54mm medieval fantasy and renaissance (and other) era games I play with my friend Mat.
Many thanks for your comment! I’ve long admired your scratchbuilding skills as documented on your blog.
Sounds like we have very similar histories, though my “gateway” came less through 54mm toy soldiers as skirmish or rpg-like imaginings with 12″ GI Joe dolls. I also am a teacher â€” kindergarten â€” so not much opportunity to introduce wargaming.