23 February 2018

Planning for the Weekend Ahead. . .

 Ok, maybe not quite this formalized, but you get the idea.

Having dug myself out from under the first stack of student papers and team projects at last, my mind can turn to a long overdue open weekend!  Our snow here in mid-Michigan is now gone, replaced by flooding from recent heavy rains and snowmelt (no more skiing for now sadly), so free time this weekend can be spent down here in Zum Stollenkeller.  What's on tap then?  Glad you asked.

1) Apply any final touch ups to all of those replacement infantry standards and standard bears.

2) Apply two, or possibly three, coats of acrylic gloss varnish to everything.

3) Cement the finished figures and flags into the spaces left for them back when I rebased everything in September of last year.


The Grand Duchess and I also have plans for dinner out Saturday evening, following the babysitter's arrival, at a place that is supposed to be quite nice.  Might that actually mean tablecloths and actual place settings in a quiet, non-cavernous setting with waitstaff who actually know what they are doing?  Oh, perchance to dream! So, dress pants and shoes, navy blazer, and necktie are in order given the rare occasion.  

A jazz concert, for which the Grand Duchess purchased tickets in late November, follows.  We have not been out alone for an evening by ourselves since, oh, maybe last summer for our June anniversary?  But I really cannot remember with any degree of certainty.  I generally have a good memory, but smaller details like when we were last out alone tend to get lost in the daily hubbub of family life. 

Fortunately, I have student learning team-led discussions beginning next week just ahead of Spring Break (something akin to the half-term break in the U.K. I believe), so there is no lesson planning or class preparations to take care of Sunday, which means I can finish whatever I don't get to this evening or Saturday afternoon/evening where hobby activities are concerned.  Watch for some photographs in the next several days.  I feel a small parade coming on.


Otherwise, there are a few cavalry standard and guidon bearers to add next to my existing cavalry regiments, and then, as I have mentioned here before, I can return to that mass of unpainted cavalry purchased in late 2016, to see if I can make an appreciable dent in it.  I wouldn't exactly say the lead pile here is huge, but it grew somewhat when said cavalry castings were added, and then in February 2017 I purchased a bunch of unpainted Minden Prussian and Austrian infantry castings from a friend in Belgium.  

Besides sorting these into batches of 60 or so privates, officers, ensigns, and musicians and putting everything carefully into plastic parts boxes with little compartments inside (60 or so figures being the size of my line  infantry units), I have, obviously, done nothing more with them.  A plan of some kind is necessary for getting all of this stuff painted in the next few years.  All of these figures won't paint themselves.  Sadly. 

Maybe the answer is to plan some sort of tabletop encounter?  A specific target to aim for in other words.  This seems to be the answer rather than waffle and wallow endlessly without getting much painted.  Sadly, that has been the case for a litany of reasons, let's call it "real life," during the last three years.  The problem is that real life has never let up in all of that time.  Grumble, grumble, grumble. . .  

But it's high time to get off this seemingly endless boulevard of interrupted wargaming dreams and take a more direct route to hobby nirvana.  And if not hobby nirvana, then at least reducing the number of unpainted figures in the drawer to my left.  


One final thing.  I have managed to track down issues #13-24 of Miniature Wargames, at very reasonable rates, from sellers here in the U.S. and in the U.K.  These are winging their collective way to me from their respective points of origin as we speak.  

Why on Earth whould I do that?  Well, and I am speaking very generally here and from a reader's point of view, it seems that the first dozen, or maybe two, of any wargaming magazine are the most focused, most interesting, key issues.  Battlegames was largely great throughout its run being consistently interesting (most issues) with lovely photography throughoutMiniature Wargames with BG, during Henry's tenure as editor, breathed life once again for a short while after years at sea.  

The current rendition of the magazine is hit and miss in my view.  Given the editor's strong fantasy focus over the years, I have always felt like he was not quite the right fit as editor of a magazine ostensibly about historical miniatures wargaming.  Just my two pennoth.  MW ain't Dragon Magazine, The White Dwarf, or whatever the current Games Workshop or Citadel monthly advertorial might be.  I lack the facts, of course, not being part of those conversations at the corporate level once MW was again purchased a couple of years back, but I do have my suspicions as to why this particular decision was made.  Take that as you might, but no hate mail, please. 

But back to wargaming magazines.  Most of the first three years of so of Wargames Illustrated weren't bad under Duncan MacFarlane's leadership, but the magazine lost something under subsequent editors as we moved ever further into the Grunge and Goth inflected 1990sThe first dozen issues of Practical Wargamer that I have procured are quite good, but much (though not all) of the photography therein is poor, harking back to what you might see in the late 1970s and very early 1980s.  Small, black and white, in other words, and not always in sharp focus.  The articles themselves were top-notch.  Stuart Asquith nailed it with every issue in my view, whatever the particular focus of, or variations between, the different articles within might have been.  And I say that as a confirmed 18th and 19th century, horse and musket man.  Sounds like a song by The Kinks, doesn't it? Or maybe Iron Maiden.

Again making very general observations as someone unfamiliar with the (hobby) magazine publishing industry, just a reader mind you, my thoughts are this.  The overall focus, tone, and quality of a hobby magazine are affected by and changes gradually (or abruptly) due to periodic shifts in editorial personnel, publisher demands and dictates placed on an editor, the quality of article contributions, ever more space devoted to advertisements, in some cases articles that read more like extended advertisements for a particular rule set or line of figures, etc.  How is that for an overly long, almost academic German-style sentence?  Sadly, I was unable to think of a string of verbs to tack onto the tail end, which might change the meaning of everything that came before though.  That's a grammar nerd's joke.  Sorry!

The point is, all of these factors, and presumably others too, take a toll on whatever a publication was at the outset when it first appeared on the shelves of our local news stand, hobby store, or in the mailbox, many years ago until it becomes something it never was way back when.  The past is a different country, or something like that.  A realization that might be old news to you, but sometimes it takes yours truly a while to formulate a coherent thought.  Decades even.  You know.  Slow normal and all of that.  Or as my maternal grandparents used to say, with a chuckle and a wink, about as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich. 

But once again, I digress.  Back to the subject at hand!  Although now well over 30 years old, the very early issues of Miniature Wargames nevertheless continue to hold up well, in my view, and as such have been my hobby magazine touchstone for an equally long time.  It was never quite the same after Duncan MacFarlane left to start Wargames Illustrated in 1987 though.  I'm eager to see how the second dozen issues of Miniature Wargames compare to the first twelve once they arrive.

Ok, enough blog blather.  Time to touch up some flags!

-- Stokes


Paul Robinson said...

Interesting view on magazines. I was prepared to give John a chance with MW and remain unimpressed with the change. The last few have definitely had a SF feel spilling over into the purported historical pages. This may well be what Warners (the owners) want but it's not for me.

david in suffolk said...

I am fortunate enough to have a set of those early issues of 'MW' which I've been looking at today, and I think you will enjoy them no end. Many familiar names contribute articles: Andy Callan, Bob Cordery, Paddy Griffith, Arthur Harman, Donald Featherstone and Phil Barker ( in order of appearance ) included. Paddy Griffith's article 'The Case Against Toy Soldiers' triggered several passionately-argued responses! Although Duncan emphasised good quality photos ( something quite new at the time ), what comes across to me now is the amount of good writing - often in fairly short articles, but fizzing with great ideas. I think there had perhaps been a lot of pent-up energy and ideas since the demise of 'Battle for Wargamers' in the UK a couple of years before, and Duncan tapped in to that - it felt very much the magazine for and by the wargaming 'community'. Also, maybe this was the crest of the 1960s-1980s wargaming 'wave' ?
I'd like to defend the current 'MW' too, though; I miss Henry, but I reckon John Treadaway is finding his feet, the last few have been pretty decent ( I too am not a Sci/Fant fan, so I do tend to skip the middle section!). Conrad Kinch continues to shine, and Arthur and Bob's 'Portable Kreigspeil' in the last issue could have fitted right in to one of those early issues. As ever, they can only publish what people (thats us, folks ) send in..
Can't finish without saying, of course, that your 'Wargamers Quarterly' is pretty good, too, do keep it up!


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