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Friday, 28 July 2017

The End of the Dinosaurs. [ Discuss]

                                             Image; The End of the Dinosaurs.

I visited my grandchildren last weekend and after recovering from their full on, non stop demand for entertainment from Grandad. [What happened to telling them to bugger off into the nearest wood to play?]
  I got to thinking about the toys and education that children have nowadays and the impact this will have on wargaming.
 Before everyone [one?] clicks and moves on. Take the time to think about the social experiment that has been happening in this country for the last forty or so years.
 I can remember Featherstone railing against the Scandinavian ban on 'War toys' and how West Germany viewed such toys as 'problematical', whilst we young wargamers shook ours heads in pity and carried on researching and collecting our armies. It could never happen in the United Kingdom, could it?
 Well like those poor dinosaurs in the image who probably thought their idyll would go on forever I think wargamers from 5 to 80 years should wake up and give some thought about the progression that is taking place in the home of Wargaming [ ie Great Britain]
  I was of a generation whose parents had lived and fought through the Second World War. Fictional programmes, books, Comics for children and films were readily accepted as entertainment of that terrible event.I ate them all up.
 I could easily buy toy soldiers at my local shop, and buy every type of toy gun known to man. Ah yes, the Johnny Seven, the ultimate Jap killer [ one could use that term back in the 1970's. There were no Japanese children in my village then. Funnily there are still none even now, but I cant say such a derogatory term apparently]
                    The ultimate Christmas present of any right thinking boy in the 1970's.

 Now move forward to this 'enlightened' age. Yes you can still buy toy soldiers, albeit it is becoming increasingly difficult, but certainly parents [ I am generalising here] seem to be avoiding the buying of such things and instead buying Super Heroes, Fantasy figures space men etc, basically anything that doesnt appear to glorify [ in their eyes ] historical warfare as such.
  I mean its very wrong to encourage such violence isnt it?
   Move onto education and we are into something that is in my eyes a little more sinister. Our history has been carefully sanitised over many years and now bears very little resemblance to the country that Great Britain evolved into.
A couple of examples;

  Even the Second World War is now a struggle between the democratic nations and the 'Nazis.'  Not the German Nation, but some new creature, that has carefully shifted those terrible events onto the shoulders of a mythological evil race. The Nazis.

I watched a BBC 4 history programme the other night about the Vikings.
  I was looking forward to it, expecting a well researched programme, until the presenter,  A History Professor, likened the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne to the policies of Mrs Thatcher? Proof of the BBC left wing credentials? Probably. But also it showed for me the thinking of the educational establishment as regards how they present our history to young people.

 One has to look no further than the regular demands to ban white historical figures of our history from the walls of our Halls of Learning. The latest one being the demand that a psychiatry course in Oxford should contain only sources from non white psychiatrists because well, its 'wrong and exclusionary'. Never mind that these white people were the founders of that science.

In the 'Land of the Free' the trends are even worse, and lets be correct  this country inevitably follows the USA.  Statues of General Lee and other rebel Generals are disappearing from public vistas, and of course the Confederate flag is now effectively banned. A bit like the Swastika was [ is ] in Germany, because banning something is the answer?
 I really am waiting for the first instant of complaint from some distraught person who goes to a wargames show and sees an ACW game in progress. God the upset.

   Most history fed to children and young adults focuses upon more social events and struggles, which is fine to a certain extent. I suppose to learn about Mandela's struggle can be enlightening but hardly relevant to a young person looking to understand their own country, and certainly not a good way to fire the imagination of any would be wargamer of the future.

  So what am I attempting to say in such a badly formed way?

At the present time the trends in wargaming are towards smaller table games involving a few figures. It can be attributed to many things from cost to simply not being arsed enough to paint up an army.
 In the main these games concern some other worldly race, or zombies, or of course the latest trend, pirates. Everyone loves pirates, look at Johnny Depp, he's a pirate, so it must be okay to buy some for the kids. Its non violent, isnt it?

 If one reads any of the current wargaming press, or follows the internet, most wargamng companies who are struggling to make some cash have followed the trend to supply non human, or non historical figures in the hope of cashing in on the changes.But what happens if their new 'race' doesnt catch on?
  So where does that leave future generations of historical wargamers?
 
  Well I expect the most common response will be, 'I dont care, I'll be dead by then, so crack on.'

  Other responses will give examples of how clubs are attracting younger people into the hobby, except of course they will be using, non historical zombies, fantasy pirates or whatever is currently popular. The hope, and it is a hope is that some of these younger players just might make the step over into historical wargaming.

  The problem will be that these acolytes will have very little knowledge about the tactics, units and probably the reason for the war. So in point of fact they might as well go back to shoving Space Marines around a table. At least they have read their latest Codex and know the background story as to why they are fighting.

 I wish I could offer a solution to what appears inevitable, but historical wargaming as we Dinosaurs know it will have disappeared like our namesakes in probably one or two generations.
 So whilst I will continue to push around my lovely armies and read history books until I'm nailed in a box, I would suggest that all wargaming fathers of young children consider just what they can do to sustain this wonderful and harmless hobby and take action now.

               And on a happier note, my best ever Christmas present; Mighty Joe.



 















 

44 comments:

  1. A Johnny Seven! That takes me back 😁

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    1. Never had one, my parents couldnt afford it, thats why I usually played a Japanese officer armed with a length of broom shank. Its made a great samurai sword, plus being a fanatic, I couldn't be hurt by bullets. Well that's what I used to tell the other kids.

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  2. This sums it up...
    http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/6fcc59ed533c4c37cb34ae4f4873bb09.png

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    1. Thanks Ben, I looked at your link and it backs up what I have been burbling on about.Maybe I have been reading too many Facebook sites where paranoia is king,but there is for me a clear social agenda.It probably goes someway to explain the Snowflake mentality of young people.

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  3. Errrr.... yep to all that... :o)

    We sow what we reap???

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    1. Iagree Steve, but who decided that this was the correct way to proceed. All I know is that Wargaming, and definately Historical wargaming which lets be right has always been a hobby for the minority will eventually disappear through various forms of covert social engineering and education.It is very sad.Well it is for me anyway. Maybe Im just out of step with modern thinking.

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  4. I think the removal of the swastika was more about removing an abhorrent symbol and not giving anyone a focus point to coalesce around rather than sanitising history. But the sanitising of history has been going on for the last thirty years as the morale minority rise and beleive that everyone has the right not to be offended. I like Stephen Fry's take on it: “It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

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    1. Yep, I thought of the Stephen Fry comment too

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    2. Paul, I can understand why the Germans in the 1960's found the symbol problematical, but if you look at the new box art for the Colditz game Im pretty certain that the Swastika artwork has gone.Now clearly the publishers didnt want to face some ire from the Guardians of our moral compass. Except my compass is not dictated to by some self appointed dick with access to the internet. Because there are many sad people out there looking to scream at any perceived injustice I can foresee some wargames show or club finding itself the subject of the full wraith of these custodians eventually.

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  5. An interesting post and you're right, rather odd that it's ok for kids to fight 'future' or 'fantasy' wars but not refight the real ones!

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    1. I deliberately wrote it to see whether it was just me. I can have some views that are out of step with today's thinkers. Does it not stick in ones throat the absolute hypocrisy of what parents are choosing to do.The current trend for table sized games with non historical subjects is just a cop out. I was de friended? by a local wargames club because I questioned the ridiculousness of deliberately not calling their club a wargames club, but a three dimensional club? Now whats that about? Or perhaps the members saw what I have just written about and got ahead of the game to disguise their true intentions.

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  6. Once more I find myself in sympathy with your comment. But I may have a measure of hope, just a small measure. Having staged living history displays for the last 24 years I have found many of the millennials that have attended our events (including pirate displays where we provide the Crown forces) are much more independent and inclined to enjoy British history. This is despite everything our school system and the BBC tries to throw at them.
    Michael

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    1. Micheal, I can always rely on you to offer some hope. Children and young persons have never changed, give them blood and gore they will lap it up. Give them tales of bravery and sacrifice they will dream of being the same. Attempting to sanitise and eradicate these is wrong. Im not advocating that we glorify murder etc, but find a balance, and not simply turn our backs on our history. Good or bad.

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  7. Johnny Seven, oh, how I wanted one of those! A neighbor had one. I was so envious.

    Good, thought provoking post. Concerning current events, in the "Land of the Free," I am afraid the Thought Police firmly have the upper hand. If there is any doubt tune into USA's Main Stream Media or National Public Radio. Listen and you will be convinced. My hope is that resistance is not futile.

    In the wargaming ethos, I am a HISTORICAL wargamer, tried and true. Large tables and thousands of troops don't intimidate me!

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    1. Jonathan, I seem to spend a part of every day reading the latest 'idea' or 'dicktat' that arises from the internet, media or latest victim who is upset by some view or comment from some poor sucker who foolishly is caught actually speaking their mind. The last twenty years of my former working life could only be likened to walking on eggshells. I hated every time I met some new work colleague. Could I trust them? Did they have their own agenda? Were they a plant? [ and not a green one] it didnt bode well for the future. It finally led to a new code of ethics, which if you failed to report on a colleagues transgressions you were as culpable as them, no one seemed to see the irony of basing this code on a former Nazi law. So what has this to do with wargaming, probably very little except, each week a new range of non historical figures arrives via Crowdfund, a new set of rules or codex arrives that has nothing to do with the hobby started by Stevenson and Wells. Military history is drowning slowly in a sea of bollocks.

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  8. My mother banned me from war toys for years... she gave up after I made a sten gun from Lego...I am sure that is a major reason from why I am still so interested in the subject

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    1. Dave, I can only sympathise with your childhood experiences. Ban something and immediately one is creating an instant interest. Oh its bad for you. Right I'm having some of that. Unfortunately its easier to demand banning something than actually educating someone about why its not right to do or say something.Education is everything, but only if two sides are allowed in the argument.

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  9. My daughter is doing history at school, WW1 and 2 ,Henry 8 ,ECW plus a bit of social medical /sanitation, all pretty good and frankly better than my school history of how we won the Spanish civil war, what a great leader Benito MussolinI was and the stalinist show trials, I've got no problem with what she's learning I started of on fantasy and moved over to historical, so have my nephews, their sons are doing fantasy /sci fi mostly at the moment but playing a bit of historical stuff. I don't think pc has gone mad, just a little bit too far. Having said that I wouldn't want to go back to the attitudes that were general in the 1970's I'm much happier where we are now.
    Best Iain

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    1. Iain,
      Clearly there are schools in this country that still attempt to provide a broader historical education, although I still cant understand this fascination with Henry, who in my ill educated opinion was a complete failure and a twat to boot. As for the 1970's. Attitudes were perhaps harsher, I like to think they were more honest. If you didnt like something or someone, well it was said and damn the consequences. Not easy if you were on the end of the criticism, but at least one knew where you stood. Now everything just seems so 'safe' and frankly 'grey'. Life isnt about risk aversion, its should be about learning from experiences and grabbing it with both hands. It can be tragic but that is also a learning experience. Wargaming is about war. War is a terrible thing where men [ yes mainly men] can die awful deaths. But show me a historical wargamer and I bet they can bore for England about the whys and wherefores of the causes of the event, but also appreciate why it was a terrible thing that shouldnt happen again.

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    2. I entirely agree with your point of view and the way you have expressed it. No it isn't you. Many of us feel exactly the same, but will probably be written off as right wing dinosaurs who are obsessed with the past and a bit weird because we play with toy soldiers.

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  10. Couldn't have put it better myself! Your version is more eloquent!

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    1. Thanks Dennis, I clearly have too much time on my hands.

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  11. Thanks for a lot of useful thoughts Robbie. I don't think it is really as bad as you paint and there are an awful lot of historical wargamers on the blogosphere giving far more stimulation than I can manage. I suspect it's just a matter of giving a spark to the youngsters imaginations and showing them the way to go when they are at the right age. I started my son off on fantasy/SF at age 6 and within a few years he was also enjoying WW2 and FIW and Darkest Africa, all with a historical angle. Hopefully I'll be able to do something similar with my young grandsons.

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  12. I suspect that the miniature (historical) gaming hobby will be essentially gone inside of 1 generation. Generations raised on instant gratification and digital engagement will just not spend the time investment needed to create armies. I think a safe assumption is that digital gaming will thrive, with options to custom "paint" armies, with flags of your choice, figures in the "painting" style you wish, etc. to allow for a more personal ownership of the digital armies. Those digital bits and bytes then become the wargamer's collection.

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    1. Brent, what an awful vision. Yet I sat with my Grandson for over two hours building some complicated Lego car. I thought he would stop after about ten minutes, but he unfortunately insisted we finish the damned thing. Children, and this is only my poor opinion enjoy challenges that involve their mind and hands, obviously some more than others. Surely there can be nothing more soul destroying than pressing the Like button every few minutes about someone or thing that in the end means absolutely nothing to you.So why cant historical wargaming not be a great outlet for this natural desire.

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    2. Yes, sad and awful. There is the same generational shift going on in other areas - for example, Harley-Davidson sales are down 25% or so from 10 years ago - the new rider generation has other interests. All I know is that when I see photos from conventions, either UK or US, its a bunch of old guys with gray and white hair (an exaggeration, but true to a large degree). Trust me, I LOVE the hobby - but I don't see that it will ever be as strong as it is now, populated with every figure type and scale you could possibly want.

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  13. Cheer up everyone, too much doom and gloom I fear. I speak here with the absolute authority of once being a Johnny 7 owner.

    I doubt there has ever been more gaming going on than there is today. Many youngsters do like historical gaming, it's just that theirs is set in the 43th Century :-)

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    1. Well its good to have a wargamer put a positive spin on things, however you may have missed the point of my probably badly written post. Wargaming, especially if it is to be fulfilling has to have a backstory. Now as you mention the 43rd Century, well no doubt if this is what was being fought, the gamers would at least have some idea why their figures were on their three foot square table. They would probably have read the list, provided by the manufacturer, and then read the two sheets of guff about the history.Which is fine. However put the same player in front of a ten foot table with hundreds of lovely painted figures on it, and then said right this represents the Battle of Talavera, crack on. What do you think would be the result? The British were fighting in Spain, why? The French were in Spain why? Why are the white troops hiding behind that ditch? Whats the Peninsular War? Do I really need to go on.

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  14. Worse than that, in the UK ask a goodly number of people (and I mean the wider population) about 1066 and look at blank faces, but then apparently only 40% of people from cities can name more than three species of wildlife! But that is real life and its not just a youngster thing.

    I didn't really miss the point about 12 foot tables etc, I wrote a massive response, but the blog would not allow me to post more than 4000 characters, I tried trimming and just wiped it out in the end and threw down a few words.

    I still feel the glass is half full. The truth is a huge percentage of our own generation have no idea about the Peninsular war, or about 12 foot tables or even care and we have always been thought of as strange creatures with our soldiers.

    So no big surprise that there is not a ground swell of youngsters following our ilk. We had WWII movies, westerns and airfix soldiers by the 1000's and Featherstone (an army officer) to show us what to do with them. The generation that followed had Sci-Fi, great graphics and Games Workshop and the generation after them had Magic the Gathering - it has created different generational approaches to gaming, each totally immersive to their generation.

    I go in to my hobby shop and I see loads of young people with raw enthusiasm for painting and playing and spending on their hobby. I just can't make an association that makes their passion any less real or important as mine. Their 4' tables seem a good fit for modern homes and lifestyles and they are the geeks of their generation as we were / are of ours.

    I just think we are seeing different people doing different things as has always happened between generations. My own hobby is probably richer than it has ever been, it is so well supported in a way I would never have thought possible 40 years ago when I was making my own trees out of cotton wool.

    My greater worry is that history has a habit of repeating itself and the public at large (not just the young) in our cotton wool world, do not have an interest or true insight in either history or current affairs and that I believe will at some point be to our detriment.

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    1. The current generation is hooked on superhero movies and pirate movies. I'm surprised that Dunkirk opened with such strong sales, but I suspect that won't be sustained. I'm personally soooooo tired of superhero movies - little drama, no character development. But - we see the superhero and pirate trends in gaming: small figure count games, terrain intensive, as much RPG as wargame. Fun for those who like that sort of thing, but I'm not that sort!

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    2. Thanks for that Norm,its very hard not to morph into an old git when one has some time to lift their heads up from making a living. Wargamers have always been viewed as, well different, and the nature of the hobby will never change this. Lets be right how do you broach how you spend your spare time with some hairy a@@@ed cops, difficult.The history element is a big deal for me, but lets be right we cant do anything about that,unless you become the Minister for Education and even then, Micheal Gove was pilloried when he dared suggest to the Teaching authorities that our history should be on the curriculum.Yet they teach Welsh? which is viewed as preserving a culture but somehow telling people about how this country evolved into what it has become isnt classed as a cultural thing.But then no one can decide what Britishness is.But I digress. I think the Living History idea is a good one, and many moons ago I helped stage a game at a weekend Napoleonic affair which I thought went pretty well. Anyway I couldnt help posting my observations and I am pleased it has elicited some responses to think over.

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    3. Brent,
      When I was young I loved the 'new' Marvel comics, the colour and stories were fascinating to a boy brought up on the Victor and Topper. Unfortunately its too easy for film makers to produce a series of superhero films that they know will make some cash everytime. Plus the violence is like watching Tom and Jerry, violent but the people just keep getting back up, unlike reality.I understand Dunkirk is very violent and realistic which makes it very interesting. I always think of a man I used to work with many years ago, who was captured at Dunkirk. He was very very bitter naturally. Poor Tot, had a long scar down one side of his face where a young Waffen SS soldier had left his mark when he surrendered.He always said it was men with broomhandles led by children fighting aeroplanes and tanks.I have paraphrased that, because poor Tot always split up the phrases with a lot of expletives, God bless him.A great bloke though, especially when I got him talking about his march from Czechoslovakia to France at the end of the war.

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  15. The Boy living nextdoor had a Johnny 7. I remember us playing with it under an apple tree at the bottom of the garden. The next summer he had died of leukemia :-(
    My biggest bugbear..People who say "ya know" and "sort of". Nothing seems definate anymore except for the undefined..ie "the Nazis"

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    1. Sorry for the delay in replying Paul, I have been away on holiday.The modern term I find sad is awesome,to describe everything.

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  16. Robbie,going back to that bit in your "article" about being nailed into a box-presumably that would be AFTER they had put a stake through your heart!!
    See you at Border Reiver,
    johnc(william)

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  17. Enjoyed your post Robbie, thought provoking as always mate.

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    1. Good to hear from you Stuart.Its good to think.

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  18. I wonder what will become of all our lead, plastic, resin ?

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    1. Probably a skip will sort the problem. Sadly.

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  19. Robbie, I have the greatest respect for you as a wargamer but I wish you would stay off the politics!

    I disagree with most of your post, unlike just about all the other responders. I'm afraid my worries centre around civilisation going into reverse under the neo-conservative, corporate elite that now rule the roost in the USA, and increasingly in this country as well. The main thing that gives me hope are the many concerned and clever young people I meet, who are thankfully discovering alternative views and sources of information online, away from the mass media.

    Just for the record, I too owned a Johnny Seven and had loads of fun with it. Despite which, I worry about the increasing militarism in this country where everyone in a uniform is an automatic hero. It is way past time this country's history was critically reviewed, and people appreciated the reality and continuing consequences of our past actions worldwide. Our history has not been 'sanitised' over recent years - rather, the santisation bordering on propaganda that sometimes passed for history in the past is at last being questioned. Our historical understanding continues to improve.

    I guess we will never agree, but best wishes to you in your continuing wargaming endeavours - and long live free speech.

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating