Friday, 22 May 2009

20th Century Imagi-nations - a memory stirred

A recent discussion on the Old School Wargaming group about 20th century imagi-nations stirred a distant memory of some wargames I fought many, many years ago.

At that time plastic models were relatively cheap ... and I had lots of them. I had created a couple of what would now be called imagi-nations – Opeland and Upsland – who were in a constant state of war. Their armies were equipped with whatever I had available at the time, although the Opelanders were vaguely Russian-looking (their main troops were AIRFIX Russian infantry) and the Upslanders were more a mixture of Americans and British (AIRFIX US Marines for the infantry; most of the vehicles were American and British, with the occasional German AFV).

Being a bit of a ‘tinkerer’, I did a lot of conversions. For example, the Opelanders has self-propelled anti-tank guns created from the AIRFIX Bren Gun Carrier set. The resulting vehicle looked a bit like the Russian ASU57.

The Upslanders had a group of assault guns that combined Sherman tracks (from some damaged ROCO models that I had been given second-hand) with AIRFIX StuG III superstructures. The results looked something like this:

The vehicles looked vaguely like one of the Swedish self-propelled guns that were built in the 1950s, and served for some time in the Upslander Army before I moved on to ‘proper’ historical wargaming.

Ah! The joys of youth when I didn't know any better ...

6 comments:

  1. I've a strange ambition for fictional WW2 countries too, but I've been thinking along the lines of some board games.

    If you've not come across them, I'd recommend Columbia Games' "Victory" block game (generic strategic-level war on fictional maps between the Red and Blue armies) and Fantasy Flight Games' "Tide of Iron" (half wargame, half boardgame for tactical combat.)

    I've often pondered how to fuse them together into a campaign, but I think I'd want to blog it separately - I can't really turn my Konig & Kaiser blog to anything non-18th C! All the same, I'd recommend the games for a look and will follow your own efforts for inspiration/encouragement!

    Cheers,
    Craig

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  2. When I was a lad my cousin and me invented an entire secret global military organisation call the Worldest Party. They had secret bunkers and barracks everywhere (we would often wander round our town in our 'uniforms' pointing them out) and instigated and controlled wars throughout the world. We would then play out the campaigns with our large collection of Airfix figures! I still have memories of the little known Danish Civil War, fought over a long back holiday weekend. For years afterwards my dad would uncover 'bodies' while gardening.
    It was discussions of this that lead our history teacher to point us to the local wargames club and the rest, as they say, is (often alternate) history!

    Andy

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  3. Craig,

    I wonder how many wargamers started out with fictional imagi-nations before they migrated over to more historical wargaming? I will have to have a serious think about this … I feel blog entry about this might be in the offing!

    I have never heard of either game, but I will try to find out if they are still available as sources of maps and back-stories are always useful.

    If I were to go down the route of blogging about 20th century imagi-nations on a regular basis, I would certainly do it on a new blog, but with some crossovers from my existing blog. I already have Laurania (which is likely to suffer a civil war c.1935 at some time in the future) but I need to create at least a couple of larger imagi-nations if I am to produce a simulacrum of World Wars I and II.

    I need to do some more serious thinking about this …

    Bob

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  4. Andy,

    There seems to be a thread developing here. I wonder how many of us started our wargaming in a similar fashion?

    We began of with our own imaginary worlds – imagi-nations as they are now known – and then fought our first ‘primitive’ wargames before migrating onto historical wargaming. I suppose that this is what we hope all those who play one or more of the Games Workshop products will do at some stage. The big difference is that we created our own worlds and did not need to ‘buy’ a ready-made article; instead we used our imaginations.

    Your brief mention of the Danish Civil War is intriguing; do you have any other information or has it disappeared into the mists of time and youthful memory?

    Bob

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  5. In the interests of continuing a thread, I'd add to the last post by Andy above - I was recently visiting my grandad (Age 85, and still gardening) and was handed a figure he'd disinterred from a flowerbed the other day - a plastic US Paratrooper figure, probably buried there by me about 20 years earlier - or possibly my uncle about 30 years earlier! Made me smile, and the old veteran is currently above my monitor on a shelf.

    C

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  6. Craig,

    Your story of a model soldier being found after being ‘lost’ for so long is very reminiscent of the stories about Japanese soldiers being found alive in the jungles of South East Asia years after World War II had ended.

    It is nice to know that such a veteran occupies a place of prominence in your home.

    Bob

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