I was talking to Tim Gow of Megablitz fame last night. On the phone, you know, as he lives just outside Sheffield and I don't.
The conversation turned to commemoration of the Great War and we went over ground previously covered in this blog. Tim remarked that so many games at shows this year will be based on 1914 and he was pleased to have got his in last year. Here we are, one month into centenary year, Paxo's done his first programme, and we're seven months before the actual anniversary of the outbreak. Are we getting commemoration fatigue already?
I mean this will be a big deal for wargames manufacturers. I haven't been paying that close attention to what's being manufactured, but I'm sure there's loads of stuff in the pipeline. I don't know whether any release schedules are being done to coincide with the development of the war or whether you'd release the whole lot all at once from BEF to New Army to Grizzled Veterans.
Next year, however, will be an interesting one, with a significant other military anniversary. I'm talking about the bi-centenary of the Battle of Waterloo. An iconic battle if ever there was one, so much so that Airfix never released Napoleonics, but "Waterloo" figures.
We have a chance to do a proper job of it this time. The centenary must have been a shade awkward back in 1915, commemorating a battle in which the British & Prussians defeated the French. In Belgium. I accept I might be a little behind the curve on this one. "Waterloo 200" is up and running, and David Cameron is backing it. We're even coughing up money to restore Hougomont.
The Battle was commemorated in 1915. At least I assume so. The Royal Artillery Regiment published a book in 1916 recording how they had marked the centenary the previous year, and I have no reason to believe they'd make something like that up. Wills, on the other hand, produced a set of cigarette cards in anticipation of the event and apparently never issued them.
Waterloo, as I said above, is one of "those" battles, and it loomed large over my early wargaming career. The release of the film in 1970 when I was still at primary school was a major event. Derek & I were allowed to go on our own, and we both bought programmes (still got mine somewhere). The cinema was the Granada in Rugby, later a bingo hall and now defunct. I think we were in the front row of the upper circle.
Airfix must have released their Highlanders in anticipation of the film, followed by the French Cavalry. Those Highlanders were the main stay of so many armies. Three years we had to wait for the release of the British infantry! What a frustrating range as figures were released in drips and drabs, but central to my early wargaming life.
I had quite large British forces. Derek collected the French, mostly. We augmented the battalions with command figures bought from Minifigs, and added other units to fill in the gaps (Polish Lancers and Heavy Dragoons and Riflemen).
I eventually dropped out of Napoleonics and let Derek have my metal figures. The plastics got modified and passed on. Some (the French Cavalry) were head swapped into my WSS armies. Others were turned into a Prussian Division, which I think my brother has now.
So here's the thing. I have no Napoleonics left. No one in our group has the late period figures (Phil has some early Bonapartist stuff). I don't even know where my copy of SPI's "Napoleon at Waterloo" is.
How am I going to mark this bi-centenary? Even with my ninja level project completion skills I'm never going to finish two armies in the time required.
Answers, please, on a postcard.