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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Defining Hobby Moments

Hi all,

I recently read this article  over on Frontline Gamer, and it got me thinking about how I ended up involved in this grand old hobby? I know it's different for everyone- whether you define it as Jervis' "Hobby Pie", or the GW "Hobby Journey", or whatever else your favourite metaphor might be, we all get here along different paths (or at least, we used to.) So rather than talking about 10 defining games, this post is about my 10 defining moments as a gamer. So, to start at the beginning...

10) The modelling bug.

The hobby bug, captured in pencil...

This is where it all began. I was around 5 years old, and I was interested in making things and art. Apparently I kept making card and paper models (what of, I have no idea, and none have survived.) This was when my Godfather introduced me to model planes and cars (the Airfix range.) I was just mesmerised by the collection, and on the way home my Dad stopped off and bought me one of the basic Harrier kits, complete with glue and paint. It's the first model I really remember building, sitting down with my old man and puzzling through the instructions. Looking back now, it was a shockingly poor job by us, with glue leaking out of every joint and enamel paint slapped on in various places. However, that was it- I'd got the modelling bug, and although I only stuck with non-wargames models for a short time (until recently) it was really Airfix and similar companies that opened the doors for me. Of course, then I was given the keys to the house and the car by Games Workshop...

9) My first toy soldiers.

classic Orcs

Roll on 18 months. My Mum was working as a YTS trainer, and one of her placements was at the local model shop. Of course, she mentioned to the owner that I made models, and he gave her some samples of a new range they were selling at the time. These were 28mm Fantasy figures (some of the original Orcs, complete with goofy grin.) These were so different from what I'd seen before, that they immediately got my interest- and thus started an infatuation with 28mm metal and plastic toys. By the end of that year, I'd borrowed a copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay from the guy at the local video rental store, introduced it to a few of my friends (who really didn't get it) and I was avidly reading every copy of White Dwarf I could lay my hands.

8) My first Wargame.

Ah yes, the first wargame I bought and collected models for- Adeptus Titanicus. This is the edition before Space Marine, when units had true arcs of fire, infantry and tanks were secondary to the mighty behemoth Titans and block-polystyrene buildings hadn't yet been replaced with cheaper card. 2 other guys I knew bought into it (both called Peter, confusingly) so most of our games were overly-complicated confusing 3-ways. It was the first time that I had the full experience- painted models (Pete 1 painted his, at least), books under the mat for hills, the buildings from the boxed set, trying to hide the fact that I'd broken the end of the tape measure from my dad...

This, I think, is where my love of the spectacle comes from, and the idea that collections should be hugs. The fact that a unit of Space Marines is 30 men has never really left me (6 stands of 5 men each- anyone else remember square Epic bases?). When I'm thinking of building armies, subconsciously they are 3 times the size in my head. In addition, I never painted those models- there was no need. Neither Pete really minded about painted figs, and there was no local GW to complain at me. Neither of my parents really got the hobby, so I never got the painting bug. More on that in a second....

7) Hero Quest and Space Crusade.

I was already into the hobby at this point, and I was more than aware of the model range. My collection was growing, regular games were happening- the addiction had fully set in. So why mention hero Quest and Space Crusade? Because this was when lots of friends realised that this wasn't just 3 guys they knew playing with toy soldiers- this was a bigger scope. For the first time, I had lots of people to play against- over a board game. I think at this point I was 10 (maybe 11?), and it really drove home the community aspect of the hobby for me, and the fact that board games were something I could enjoy with people that weren't called Pete. It also marked the first time I really tried my hand at painting 28mm models- not very well, it has to be said, but it was a start...

6) My first Store.

Roll on another 3 years, and the first Games Workshop store opened near me. this was an Event- like going to a Theme Park, or the cinema- I spent the whole day looking at the wonder that was a GW store, and having other hobbyists to chat to. All the toys, all the painted models, the cabinets... This moment definitely made an impact, even if my parents didn't realise it at the time. Firstly, it made the hobby accessible for me and my friends for the first time (even though the store was 17 miles and 2 bus changes from where I lived- the downside of living in the country.) We had somewhere to play. it also taught me that I really hadn't playing the game- the number of rules, bits of fluff, scenery ideas- most of I'd misunderstood, or just plain ignored. Having a store meant that I was exposed to tactics, what different units were for, the importance of terrain- the game really changed for me at this point.

5) My first purpose-built Army

Ah, my first planned and built army. This was Space Wolves, back in the days of 2nd edition 40K. there was an event in the local store to celebrate.... something. I think there was a sale on? Anyway, the staff had built a huge table "16' by 6' ) with Fortifications all along it, terminating in a 12" high tiered hill at one end, replete with bunkers and hatches. The idea was that they provided the Ork Army (which largely consisted of Trukks, Trakks, Battlewagons and the like, with a Horde to occupy the hill) and everyone else had to provide the Imperial forces to take them out. they advertised this for 2 months, and it was a great day- the important bit, I suppose, is that this was the first time I sat down and worked out an army then went out and bought it. This was my first Imperial army (up until then, I'd been pretty exclusively an Eldar player) and it was my first attempt at conversions as well. Unfortunately, my youthful vim and vigour was still in full flow, so it did consist of 10 Wolf Guard with Cyclone and Assault Cannon... which in 2nd was even more disgusting and broken than it sounds....

Well, that concludes my gaming life up until the age of around 17- all 10 years of it (I only count from Adeptus Titanicus), and it basically shows my evolution from dabbler to hobbyist to full-fledged GW fanboy. A lot of this I still carry around with me- I'm a huge fan of the benefit a good gaming store can provide, I love board-games, my Tinboy habits lasted up until the last 2 years and I still prefer building new toys and playing the game to painting. (As a quick aside- does anyone else get excited at the thought of building a model they've never put together before? I'm an absolute sucker for new releases as a result!)

I'll put up part 2 tomorrow- in the meantime, comments, as always, are welcome.


  1. Great blog. It is really interesting to read about the journey that others took getting into the hobby.

  2. Thanks fella- when I was reading the post on Frontline, I realised that I'd never really covered it on here, glad you like it