I've known this was coming and the group hasn't been as active in the last 10 or more years as it was 20 years ago but.......its hard to over estimate how important the group, and the friends I made through it, have been to me. It all goes back to the 90's and the rec.games.miniature.historical message board followed by Onelist email groups, later taken over by Yahoo. Bits of this have appeared in past blog posts but its a nostalgic moment and this was a big part of why this blog is here, so, please bear with me.
|Cold Wars 1997. A colour photo taken in poor light then later scanned. |
My first exposure to sharing my hobby on line came during the early/mid-90's. I forget now, who or what got me started, but there I was dialing into (yes dialing) the news group rec.games.miniature.historical. It was around this time that some articles in Wargames Illustrated (or was in Miniature Wargames, or one in each?) about 54mm miniatures appeared and after having scoffed a few times, and reread the article 100 times, I some how found myself picking up some boxes of 1/32 Revel, Accurate and old Airfix, figures, and thinking about a War of 1812 skirmish game. Then I met a local guy who collected and painted 54mm plastics but hadn't wargamed..yet.....suddenly a group of us were playing Rapid Fire in 54mm and I was building War of 1812 armies and fiddling with some rules.
I don't remember what made me to decide to do some Yugoslav partisans but information was scarce
and I turned to r.g.m.h and asked if anyone had information to share. The first response was from a gentleman in the US and started :"When I joined the partisans as a boy in 194........ " suddenly the world seemed smaller. A later response was from a Yugoslav wargamer whose father had been a partisan and he shared pictures and resources with me as well as pictures of his wargame figures, mostly Foundry iir. The last time I heard from him was during the NATO bombing . He and his friends were determined that the bombing would not beat them and he was venturing out for a game, as a mark of defiance I think. A little awkward since Canada was part of Nato. I still wonder sometimes if he made it through all that followed and hope he did.
In the meantime, my friend Ron and I had been playing Armati and One List had come along, an email list rather than on line message board and I joined Arty's Armati mailing list. In 1996, many of the members got together to play Armati at Cold Wars while the rest of us just got to read about how great it had been. I had been to Cangames in Ottawa a couple of times and in ..hmm..81? went down to Philadelphia with 3 friends to a multifacet wargaming, rpg, boardgames,miniatures etc con but had not yet flown down to the states to go to an HMGS con. I decided not to miss Cold Wars 1997. Then Pete Panzeri put out a call on r.g.m.h for help, he needed more troops for a 54mm La Haye Sainte game he was running at that Cold Wars. I was building up a War of 1812 54mm army and volunteered to bring about 100 figures, British, Canadian Militia in green subbing for rifles and US as Dutch.Belgians. I had also picked up a clearance on 54mm Airfix figures but had no immediate use for the Highlanders or WWII Russians so offered them for sale on rgmh. Pete offered to buy the Highlanders and a chap named Rob Dean expressed an interest in the Russians for a skirmish game he was considering. I packed my bags, boarded a plane and was off!
|Cold Wars 1998. I dragged Ron down to help me run the games.|
(Graham and Eric from our old Montreal group from the 70's stopped by, Eric being behind the camera.)
I had a great time at both events and met some great people but of relevance here, I met a number of 54mm and homecast 40mm gamers and we did a lot of talking. We resolved to hold a special 54mm event room in 1998. Well that needed more organization in advance, some of the games were held elsewhere, some were cancelled and there was no official mention anywhere but some 54mm games went ahead including my two War of 1812 ones using the recently published With MacDuff to the Frontier and I got to play my first full game of Charge! with semiflat 40's which the HAWKS were running. Rob who I had met briefly the year before and Chris Palmer had been building a homecast 40mm French & Indian war game using MacDuff so I had to sign up and somehow ended up sort of helping run it. (always awkward having the author sign up to play.) We've been running games together ever since but he never did buy those Russians.
|Cold Wars 2000. The Littlewars email group's "Bring your own" 54mm battle of Chippewa. |
An awful lot of people stopped and looked and some even talked. A comment of "I didn't know we were allowed to play with big figures" really got to me. Its a hobby! Who's going to stop you? Talk got going on having an email list for wargaming with bigger figures (some of it may
have happened in the bar in the evening...) When I got home I floated the idea on rgmh and the response was quick and enthusiastic and the Little Wars email list was born to be transferred to Yahoo when they took over the one list groups.
By 2000, the Little Wars group was buzzing and we had .. 6-8 people all eager to bring a unit of two to stage a "bring and play" 54mm Wargame. (Troops provided for those without.) We had similar events over the next few years but with the new century the world seemed to change a bit. Technology exploded and there were so many social media options for people to choose from that things seemed to splinter. At that same time it became easier to find like minded people for just about any niche and to find almost any miniature in any scale that you could think of that playing with bigger figures had become just another routine option. Slowly the group dwindled and activity died down to sporadic chatter, often about new releases.
Still, I will miss it and am ever grateful for those years, the companionship of those on line friends over the years and all the tips I picked up from them. Here's to the even richer electronic community of today.
ps Yes Charley, you're still right, when it comes to toy soldiers, "a shako is a shako" and we shouldn't let details spoil a good game.