Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hitting the nail on the head!

In his most recent blog entry, Ross Macfarlane wrote something that summarises my own thoughts and feeling about gridded wargames and toy soldiers ... and expressed them with greater clarity and more succinctly than I ever could have done:
'Why I am so attracted to the combination of grid and toy soldiers (in a technical sense vs. miniatures) has been a bit of a mystery to me. I think partly that it is because a gridded game is so obviously a game rather than a form of diorama and toy soldier style figures are so obviously toys not serious models that the two complement each other, but that's not all of it. In some fashion the grid seems to enhance our ability to distance ourselves from the direct, literal interpretation of what we see and to accept a higher level of abstraction. In my own case that distance makes me more comfortable with smaller units and shorter ranges so that actually makes it ideal for larger figures.'
I think that in this paragraph, Ross has well and truly 'hit the nail on the head'!

8 comments:

  1. I've argued that figures are "Gonks' in that what they add is never as much as what you think they do, but I like my 'Gonks', and you can take them out of my cold dead hands.

    http://tinyurl.com/kp2pw7t

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  2. Ashley,

    'Gonk' is as good a word as any other to describe the figures used in a wargame. I just call mine toys ... hence my description of the room I use as my toy/wargames room.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Bob,
    I agree - Ross summed up his - and my - position admirably.

    Gonks, IIRC, were a sort of soft toy, briefly popular years ago, that had a face and limbs but no body. I would never insult my toy soldiers by using such a disparaging term!

    Regards,
    Arthur

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  4. Arthur1815,

    Judging by some of the comments made about that particular entry on Ross's blog, it hit a chord with a few wargamers.

    I also remember 'Gonks' ... and always thought that they were rather ugly (but not as ugly as Trolls!) BUT whatever we call our figures, they are essentially things that we play with.

    (Some modern 15mm-scale figures have oversize heads and hands and stunted bodies and limbs, so perhaps calling them 'Gonks' is not that unfair!)

    Interestingly, if you look at the glossy magazines devoted to collecting toy soldiers (e.g. TOY SOLDIER AND MODEL FIGURE and TOY SOLDIER COLLECTOR), their ‘toy soldiers’ are usually not toy-like at all and infrequently gloss painted or varnished.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Hi Bob,

    I absolutely agree with that paragraph - as you rightly point out, Ross has truly hit the nail on the head!

    All the best,

    DC

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  6. David,

    You can always rely on Ross to say it the way it is.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Bob, you are quite right about the 'toy soldiers' featured in the eponymous magazines, which I often peruse in WH Smiths.

    I would contend, however, that many of them, such as the modern Britains figures, are really 'models' aimed at adult collectors who have no desire to paint their own figures. I don't suppose that any one buys these for children to play with them; they are simply display pieces.

    Whereas many even more exquisitely painted 28mm figures are definitely 'toys' because their owners actually play wargames with them!

    The genuine 'toy soldiers' today, in the true sense of the term IMHO are what the Americans call 'Army Men' - soft plastic figures of modern soldiers, often Far East 'knock-offs' of dubious copyright, that are deployed unpainted and are bombarded by air gun pellets, BB and NERF guns.

    I have a box of such grey and green fellows with whom my children and I used to play 'Little Wars' with a Playmobil 'Napoleon' gun-howitzer that 'fired' plastic slugs. Later I also acquired a Britains 4.7 inch gun that could shoot matchsticks.

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  8. Arthur1815,

    I own some larger painted military miniatures ... but they are purely decorative. My Britains are all proper gloss-painted 'toy' soldiers ... and are intended to be played with.

    I have given serious consideration to investing in some 'Army Men' for fighting FUNNY LITTLE WARS set during the 20th century, but for the moment it is only on my list of 'possible' projects.

    All the best,

    Bob

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