This is the closest I have to a King Charles III figure, bought at some expense from Hamley’s recently in January from an underwhelming display of toy soldiers. It’s really a mounted Scots Guard Officer.
It obviously will replace the Young Queen Elizabeth II riding figure on parade.
Amongst my uniform books I have a 1937 Players album of cigarette cards of the 1937 Coronation. The album I think was a gift from my late Dad. It gives a glimpse of how things were done and how the various coronation staff dressed just over 85 years ago.
One of the roles shown are the Royal Regiment of Archers; coincidentally this week amongst a small parcel of figures which arrived from Alan ‘Duchy of Tradgardland’ Gruber was a battered Britain’s version of one of these archers to repair and restore or make new. I shall post pictures of this figure and the album when completed in the next few weeks.
I have seen almost no Royal / Coronation TV programmes so far, having been somewhat over-Royalled last year with parades and programmes for both The Queen’s Jubilee and her Funeral.
However I did enjoy Coronation Tailors: Fit for a King on BBC2 and BBC IPlayer, this week, tailor Patrick Grant’s look behind the scenes of military tailoring for the Coronation, amid the pressure of work cutting new or repairing old uniforms, replacing the QEII cypher with CRIII in time for the Coronation:
Following up my previous post on the influence on Donald Featherstone of H.G. Wells’ Little Wars rules of 1913 and how the worlds of fantasy gaming and historical wargaming developed and occasionally overlapped through the 1960s and 1970s, I wanted to read again and think about Gary Gygax’s 2004 foreword to a reprint of Little Wars.
Gary Gygax’s origin story as a miniatures gamer seems similar to many of ours of the Airfix generation that I have read online or Harry Pearson’s Achtung Schweinhund. However not many of us would go on like Gygax to co-author and develop Dungeons and Dragons!
His Wikipedia summary biography mentions:
“In 1971, he helped developChainmail, a miniatures wargame based on medieval warfare. He co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with childhood friendDon Kayein 1973. The next year, he and Dave Arneson createdD&D, which expanded on Gygax’sChainmailand included elements of the fantasy stories he loved as a child.”
Gygax, Arneson, Kaye – all have Wikipedia biographies and their role in the cretinous of this game is widely covered in many of the footnotes to their Wikipedia entries. US Games designer George Phillies was also somehow involved. https://users.wpi.edu/~phillies/
If you don’t own a copy of the 2004 Little Wars reprint, the Foreword text by Gary Gygax can be found at:
Here is the Foreword written by Gary Gygax, creator of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, for the Skirmisher Publishing LLC edition of H.G. Wells’ Little Wars 2004.
Gygax writes: “Being offered the honor of writing this introductory piece was something impossible for me to refuse. Not only am I a fan of the science fiction works of H.G. Wells, but I am also a military miniatures buff familiar with his wargaming rules, the material contained in this book, Little Wars.”
I remember seeing this curious and striking photo cover design of the 1970 reprint featuring a vintage Britain’s style cavalryman, similar to ones that Wells would have used in Little Wars.
Gygax wrote about the Isaac Asimov foreword to this 1970 Little Wars reprint. I only saw the 1970 reprint once in a local branch library (it always seemed to be borrowed and out) but I was very taken with its charming marginal line drawings by J.R. Sinclair. I don’t remember noting the Asimov foreword (mentioned in the front cover) and hadn’t read his work at the time, but it must have made sense to have such an endorsement by one famous science fiction author to another.
With no easily available Little Wars originals or reprints in the 70s and 80s, I picked up the background rules to Little Wars when it was covered in the 1982/83 Wargames Manual article in Brian Carrick’s Big Wars article. The only further reference to Little Wars that I could find in Featherstone’s War Games which I could find in the branch library as a youngster. It was also the background to F.E. Perry’s Second Book Of War Games which I bought, but didn’t find the Little Wars based First Book Of War Games.
Gygax: “Furthermore, and as icing on the cake, is that Isaac Asimov, an author I much admired, wrote the forward to the 1970 reprint of this book. Isaac and I were going to be collaborators on a series of books based on a science fiction feature film, but the movie never got into production. By writing this prefatory essay, I am following in Isaac’s footsteps, so to speak, and paying him homage in posthumous fashion.”
Wells’ thoughts on Big Wars and Little Wars on the ethics of wargaming, something that I remember was around in the Cold War 1980s, resurfaced in the first response by many gamers to the Ukraine conflict in 2022.
Gygax: “When defending the hobby of playing military miniatures games, I have often quoted or paraphrased Wells’ statements — as I do now — regarding the fact that miniature soldiers leave no widows and orphans, and that if more people were busy fighting little wars, they might not be involved in fighting big ones.”
Gygax: “There is no question that Wells wrote a ground-breaking work when he penned Little Wars, which started the hobby of military miniatures war-gaming. Had World War I not come hard on the heels of its first publication in 1913, military miniatures game play might have gained a far larger audience than it did back then.”
“As it was, the big war made interest in the book about little ones virtually disappear. For years, Little Wars was known only to a select few, mainly military miniatures gamers in the United Kingdom. Their pursuit and development of the hobby was considerable, but details of that activity remained relatively obscure elsewhere.”
Gygax goes on to describe how he emerged from the childhood soldier “shoot em up” games that we probably all did – matchstick guns, marbles, etc. – then made the discovery of rules.
Gygax: “My own experience with creating rules for wargaming began inauspiciously. I had no idea of the existence of Little Wars or the military miniatures gaming hobby back in the early 1950s, when my friend Don Kaye and I thought we could devise rules for playing with toy soldiers — my extensive collection of World War II figurines and tank models, and the many 54 mm Britians figurines from varying periods I had collected since that war had ended.”
“Unlike the wise Wells — who used toothpick missiles when he fired his miniature artillery pieces — we employed ladyfinger firecrackers, fuses lit, and those explosives proved to be detrimental to the toy soldiers. Casualties were high!”
Insert your own memories of decimating Airfix figures and planes with air guns, firecrackers and flames. Nothing so sacrilegious happened in my house!
Gygax writes about his childhood dissatisfaction about the randomness of coins rather than dice to resolve combat or Melee:
Gygax: “Worse still, our combat system — a coin flip — turned out to be even less satisfactory. It was boring. As typical of teenage boys, we gave up on the idea rather than trying other methods of resolving small arms fire and hand-to-hand combat. The toy soldiers were stored away, and we went on to other games.”
“What a revelation it was when another friend loaned me his copy of Little Wars in the late 1960s. By that time, I was a board wargame devotee and I had played a few tabletop games with military miniatures. To read the rules the author had established for resolving combat made me want to slap my forehead because we had not thought of them. What a joy it was to see the pictures of grown men in suits, with collars and ties, crawling about on the floor amidst toy soldiers as my friends and I had done as boys.”
“No wonder, then, that the book Wells wrote managed to create a whole new hobby in the face of the Great War and its aftermath. Nothing would do but playing the original wargame as set forth in the book. This was accomplished with fellow game hobbyist — and thereafter a two-time co-author with me of military miniatures rules books — Jeff Perren. Jeff and I fought several battles, and his accuracy with toothpick artillery rounds proved devastating. Even in defeat I loved the game.”
Published in 1971, the Wikipediaentry mentions: “The first edition ofChainmailincluded a fantasy supplement to the rules. These comprised a system for warriors, wizards, and various monsters of nonhuman races drawn from the works ofTolkienand other sources“. Chainmail is still available online.
Gygax: “Consequently, Little Wars influenced my development of both the Chainmail miniatures rules and the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. For example, it established the concept of a burst radius for cannon rounds, an idea that was translated into both the Chainmail catapult missile diameters and the areas of effect for Fireballs in D&D.”
“Wells’ shooting/melee rules were simple but not particularly realistic, however, so wargamers soon developed more detailed means for resolving such combat, and I used the later developments in the hobby in those regards.”
H.G. Wells’ influential role on Gary Gygax is acknowledged, not just in Little Wars, but as a pioneering science fiction author of The Time Machine, The War Of the Worlds, The Shape Of Things To Come etc., along with Jules Verne.
Gygax: “Beyond Little Wars, Wells’ treatment of subterranean humans in the Time Machine certainly reinforced my concepts of underground adventure areas other than dungeons (as did Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and a number of later works of imaginative fiction).”
“While military miniatures rules have come a long way since Little Wars was first published in 1913, the simple game presented in this book remains an unquestionably enjoyable one. Furthermore, when you read the work you will see that its basic concepts remain in many of today’s games. This book will give you the knowledge that there is strong fellowship between Wells and his wargaming companions and the military miniatures gamers of today. I predict that 100 years from now, readers will experience the same warm feeling across the centuries.”
“There is nothing more I can say — other than to enjoy your ride in this gaming time machine!”
Gary Gygax, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, March 2004
Gygax died in 2008 aged 70; both Dave Arneson and Don Kaye have also passed away. Gone but definitely not forgotten …
In a year that has seen Chinese spy balloons and strange ‘alien’ shapes being shot down over the Americas, I stumbled at breakfast upon the secret behind the design of the enemy Cylon raider ships in Battlestar Galactica …
The toy soldier motif throughout the card links to some of the home cast toy soldiers I had made and painted for her collections cabinet full mostly of bears and tiny Lilliput Lane buildings. Hopefully she understood the whole collecting thing.
My Man Of TIN avatar or profile figure salutes some other Prince August 54mm homecast figures made and painted by me for my Mum’s display cabinet, along with a silicon cake decoration mould Fimo Royal Guard bear that I made and painted for her. Maybe more in theme with her collection of bears?
Quite often on blog posts for Father’s Day or at other times, many gamers and bloggers talk about the contribution played by their Dads to their gaming hobby.
I wonder what we would write on the same topic about our Mum’s contribution to our gaming lives?
Besides the obvious contribution of keeping us fed and watered, alive and well, washed and clothed, my late Mum encouraged my gaming hobby in lots of different ways.
Andy Callan’s Hair Roller Armies claimed some of her stock of spare or damaged plastic hair rollers in 1982, her hair rollers still being in regular use as a trained hairdresser throughout much of her life.
The knitted Action Man jumpers and leggings, welcome at the time, are all now sadly gone.
The dark green baize felt underlay on the dinner table which was supposedly to protect the wood. It was also excellent as a games mat with chunky books below for hills, but all due back in place at mealtimes. Short gaming scenarios were obviously the thing!
The mud and muck of garden wargaming, crawling around on hands and knees must have taken its toll on the knees and elbows of our clothes, as well as the washing machine.
I was usually a careful painter, without too many painty accidents on furniture or clothes.
My Mum was fairly good at tolerating the amount of dusty stuff that you accumulate or make as a young gamer, although you did learn to tidy up and stow away to counter the threat of the uncaring Hoover. Hopefully not too many of my tiny Airfix heroes ended up emtombed in a Hoover dust bag. The same Flymo lawnmower rule applied to untidy garden wargames.
One of the best storage items that I gained from my Mum’s time working in a haberdashery department (naturally, being an excellent knitter) was a surplus display storage cabinet for sewing threads or cotton reels, very like this one below but in plastic.
Imagine a clear plastic version of this wooden cabinet, whichever brand it was. This was my childhood storage for many of my ‘heroic’ Airfix, Matchbox and Esci 1:72 / 1:76 figures and probably some of the smaller vehicles that I had.
Heavy plastic as this cabinet was, it solved the problem of having to sort through many mixed up figures before a game.
I remember this clunky but useful cabinet as I sort through some of those same loose painted or unpainted figures in my Really Useful Boxes today. It is probably why so many of these childhood figures survived.
Being see-through plastic, no labels were required, as you could see what figures were there in each of its narrow storage sections on each drawer. However I think I may later have borrowed one of those Dymo handheld signmaking labelling printer devices to label the shelves.
My Mum had an eye for a bargain and she enjoyed shopping and making up birthday boxes or rainy day surprise parcels for her overgrown children like me and for the genuinely younger members of the family. I still have unmade for a rainy day the odd Airfix plane kit that she found at knockdown prices.
I’m sure we can all list some of the excellent and inspiring books we borrowed from the Branch Library on regular shopping trips or those odd soldier books we received for Birthdays or Christmas. Not sure if it was my Dad or Mum who bought these, but as books seemed very expensive in my pocket money eyes back then in the 70s and 80s, I still have many of them to this day.
I’m sure to my late Mum and Dad, there was some value to me having an indoor hobby such as model making or wargaming. They knew that I was busy at home, warm and safe, albeit probably slightly high on paint and model glue and with occasionally lacerated fingers. Instead of which I could have been out of the house, out on my bike and up to mischief …
I’m sure there are many other things that will come to me over time about how my Mum and my Dad encouraged my gaming and modelmaking.
Anyway, thanks Mum and Dad.
So, treasure your Mum if you still have one or treasure her memory if you don’t.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, Mother’s Day UK, 19 March 2023.