Monday, January 1, 2018

2018: "Plan? There ain't no plan!"

Welcome to 2018!
All pictures except the Marx WW1 picture  were selected from 2017 posts.

The last few years have seen unrelenting  plans to reduce, consolidate and complete collections (not "complete" complete, just "completed to usable, presentable, minimal opposing forces" complete). On almost every front these plans have been a dismal failure again this year despite a very enjoyable hobby year where every single "Keeper" collection saw action as did several "dropped but not disposed of" collections.

(Aside: I use "collection" rather than "project" as they have no planned "final state" but are intended to be ongoing, "living" collections. )

It did not escape my attention that several of the supposedly "to be disposed of if some suck..errr.. umh..helpful person!... should volunteer to adopt them" collections also saw action on the table. It has also not escaped me that the clutter is worse not better and the cupboards are overflowing.

Rather than reinforce failure, I am going to switch my plan to an attack on several fronts.

Recast and new 54mm Britain's

The essential end goals remain the same although I have honed them:

1) I want everything to "fit" in the available space without excess clutter so that my hobby room is a comfortable place to be and a suitable place to invite guests into, including chairs and a place, other than the gaming table, to put a coffee mug.

2) Every collection I keep must be of sufficient interest to me to see action at least once every three years. The rather rare collections that are complete but no longer of interest ( "Been there, done that, don't want to go back.") or were abandoned before being table ready, as well as all the remaining flotsom of figures without a home, will be disposed of if possible. A very few items might be able to hang on for "sentimental" reasons even if not having serious gaming potential. (Anyone for Marx 6" WWII wargames?)

3) At least some parts of the collection must be large enough to stage a multi-player convention game without using the same collection year after year,

4) Many, if not most, of the collections should be aimed at small, quick games,

5) The drain on finances, including infrastructure, must be minimized and room for imagination and creativity maximized.

4cm Elastolin "Vikings" 

As part of this consolidation I have increased the maximum number of authorized collections  back up to a possible 12 from 8. The current list of active collections (See: My Active Collections Pageis now 10 in 4.5 scales (25mm/30mm being 1.5). When I compiled my first 'White Paper on Defence' ,around the turn of the century, it was in excess of 20 collections in 9.5 scales so this is still progress.

Our combined 16thC Anglo-French game at Huzzah.
The major activity, which I hope to start this winter and finish in late spring, is to carry out some simple games room renovations to make the atmosphere less clutter friendly by rearranging/reducing furniture, adding more shelves, gutting the cupboards to improve use of non-display storage, and ditching anything which is being kept "because" or with a view to one day painting and selling it. It also involves a repaint in lighter colours.

The tricky part is that I have not found the 4'x6' table particularly suitable. Its bigger than I need for small games but not as big as I'd like for bigger games while being more awkward to manoeuvre around than a smaller table and having more room underneath for "stuff" to hide in. I am 90% resolved to reduce the top to 4'x4', a size that has worked well over the year. In the short term, I will be able to temporarily re-attach the missing 2'x4' piece  but the plan will call for a larger temporary top for occasional bigger games when funds allow.

Homecast 40mm early 20thC figures, mostly Zinnbrigade.

Postage rates and oversupply have made most of what I have or could have available to sell not worth the effort so I have only been selling things that I care about but don't have room for. Most of what is  left are bits and pieces, left over plastics, kits and miscellaneous painted units which need a home but also need work. As the clean out progresses, I will add a "Surplus to requirements" blog page and post things from the cupboard, both unpainted and old painted figures available on a first come basis for the cost of postage.   Eventually, unclaimed items will be melted down and recast if metal or reluctantly sent to the dump if plastic unless one of the used goods for charity places will accept military themed toys. (None of them seem to sell any, even the Dollar Stores and toy departments rarely carry any here these days).

I'm not sure what to do with my handful of old small, skinny, 30mm Marx figures, both the hard plastic WW1 "Over the Top" figures and my remaining WWII Battleground soft plastic figures, but they are all more than 50 years old and rather fragile. It is probably time to let go of them while there are still collectors around but then again, maybe their own dedicated display shelf might be enough to reduce the temptation to clone them, add machine guns, artillery and diecast tanks and play post WW1 games with them. 

I am finally pretty comfortable where each collection is heading and what its unique contribution is except when it comes to the 20thC. All three of my post WW1 20thC collections had been moved to the "inactive, consider for disposal" column, however, all three saw action this year.

They were all used to play Portable Wargames so I know who to blame for my starting to think about keeping them again! (Thanks Bob!)

My small 1/72nd Russian Civil War collection is a problem. This is partially a matter of being somewhat uncomfortable about handling the politics, history and the carnage fairly when its not MY history and I'm always reluctant to turn anything with high suffering into a 'game', especially when there are civilians involved, hence my no longer playing Indian or Viking raids with VP's for rape, pillage and etc. I'm pretty comfortable about misrepresenting and cleansing my own history and culture, less so about those of others.

There is also the matter of 20mm figures not being nearly as large and fun to paint as they were even 5 years ago! This issue will be quietly left open for now.

RCW Portable Wargame in progress in September. 

Every now and then I get an urge to play with tanks but I don't really enjoy making model vehicles and its a rare itch anyway. The history is a bit close for comfort, more current events than history in my mind for anything in the last 100 years and the attraction is more movies and newsreels than a genuine interest in armour penetration, section tactics and the like, and my interest in the operational level is even lower and my interest in reading up even lower again. I didn't want to do the cold war but haven't been clever enough about a fictional setting for my mind's satisfaction. The armies are also incomplete, in a disorganized mess and need teeny, tiny, fiddly reinforcements.

Various 1/72nd models and figures in a fictional setting.
My 54mm post WWII thing was based around a Britain's B.A.T. gun that was a present when I was a kid and a handful of well played with toy soldiers.

No decision has been made yet but I'm not sure I have the energy and interest to bring up to scratch either of my two battered, "off the active list", post WWII collections.

Since I periodically get to play WWII games with my friends using their stuff, I'm seriously thinking about purging everything post 1940. (54mm tanks take a LOT of storage space.)

Atlantica already has one clunky pre-WWII tank......

I still want "something with tanks" so it would make sense to just add some relatively accessible 1/43rd diecast Renaud, Somua M13s or 35t tanks to my fictional, early 20thC, 40mm forces for fictional post Great War games.

Time will tell!


  1. Ross, that sounds to be a comprehensive and sustainable plan, perhaps the direction you have been travelling has got to a point in which a little acceleration and fine tuning is now possible. Almost certainly making the game room environment a 'working success' is integral to your overall goals.

    Thanks for a year of visual pleasure, your gentle blog reminds me to put 'the game' at the centre of everything. Best Wishes for the New Year.

    1. Thanks Norm.

      There was a time when I might have taken offence at a suggestion that I was putting the game first but you are right. History and the look are also important but in the end the game is why I'm a wargamer rather then a model-maker or an historian.

  2. Ross this is impressive how organised you are! I must start to rationalise my own collections...

    1. The extra time provided by retiring early really helped......

  3. An inspirational post for me. I will look to my own goals as well. I hope to increase the social side of the hobby this year. This includes a visit or two to your game room so keep the extra chairs!

    1. With one thing at another, its been about 6 years since I had room for guests, I think that 2009 40mm AWI game was the last group game, back when there was just a table and no full time residents!

      I should have room for another chair by spring.

  4. My view is to put enjoyment and satisfaction first - and which aspects produce the most enjoyment and satisfaction tend to change on a regular basis.

    1. Agreed, that's why I cover various periods and styles. It was very unusual last year to have visited them all in a single year.

  5. I dunno, seems to me a pretty comprehensive plan--surviving contact with reality, well, that's another thing! A shared item for me is to clear out space in my gaming room so that everything actually fits (the clutter monster keeps on getting larger, stronger, and harder to overcome each time I try to use the space).

    1. Yeah, just a favourite line from a movie that slips out now and then.

  6. That seems to be a well thought out Non-plan. The great thing about a hobby is you can change the plan as you wish.