Pages

Friday, 29 September 2017

A trip down memory lane

Although I have been very busy for the past few days, I have managed to spend some time reading old copies of MINIATURE WARFARE. They were given to me by David Crook, who recently bought them at a boot fair. The magazine's came ready-bound in green binders with the name of the magazine in gold lettering on the spine, and include all the issues in volumes one to three.


The magazine was published and edited by John Tunstill, who lived less than two miles from my present address, and who later owned a toy soldier shop near the a Imperial War Museum. It is interesting to note that in the first editorial he wrote in February 1968 that expected to initially reach a world-wide audience of about five thousand.

The names of the writers of the first articles published also make for interesting reading, as do the subjects they wrote about. They include:
  • Ed Smith: Fact or Fiction in Early History
  • Malcolm Woolgar: Cavalry Training: Horsed
  • John Tunstill: ACW Campaign Part 1
  • Anthony Anderson: On Naval Matters
  • John Davis: Napoleonic Fighting Formations
  • Jack Scruby: Letter from America
  • Phil Barker: Modern Rule Proposals
  • Bish Iwaszko: Modern Warfare
The advertisers in the first issue included:
  • Historex (from Historex Agents of Dover, Kent)
  • Hinton Hunt Figures (both direct from the manufacturer in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, and from the Model Soldier Boutique, Camden Passage, London)
  • Minitanks (from Model Hobby Products, Halifax, Yorkshire)
  • Jack Scruby Miniatures (direct from the manufacturer in Visalia, California)
  • Edward Suren/'Willie' Figures (of Ovington Street, London)
  • Bellona (based in Bracknell, Berkshire)
  • Morgan-Grampion Books (of The Strand, London) advertising CHARGE! OR HOW TO PLAY WARGAMES by Brigadier P Young and Lt Colonel J P Lawford [The book was also reviewed in this issue of the magazine]
  • Airfix
  • René North Uniform Cards (based in Blackheath, London)
  • A A Johnston Military Books (of Langport, Somerset)
  • The Garrison (W&P [Militaria] Ltd., based in South Harrow, Middlesex)
The first three issues were printed on ordinary paper, and the quality of production seemed to improve with each issue. By May 1968 the inside pages of the magazine were being printed on glossier paper which allowed for photographs to be used (previously the magazine had only included line drawings), and by July 1968 the thin card plain cover was replaced by one with a coloured title banner at the top and a black and white photograph below.

Amongst the more iconic issues was that of May 1970, which featured a picture of Edward Woodward in the role of CALLAN on the cover.


It also featured two pages of photographs taken during the production of the episode where Callan goes to a Wargame Convention and takes part in a number of tabletop battles with Heathcote Land (played by actor Anthony Nicholls) in a magnificent wargames room. I don't think that I was alone in drooling over the latter ... and hoping that one day I would have somewhere similar in which to fight my wargames. It is now nearly fifty years later, and I do have a toy/wargames room of my own, even if it is not quite as luxurious as that featured in the TV programme!

26 comments:

  1. I still have most of my copies up to volume 6 and quite often leaf through them for a bit of nostalgic inspiration. The first three volumes are the best as the magazine went downhill quite rapidly after that. My favourite ones have the photos of Peter Gilders Waterloo terrain!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stryker,

      My memory about the decline in the magazine's quality is somewhat similar, and I certainly stopped buying it towards the end of its life.

      I have a memory of Peter Gilder writing about the problems he had trying to reproduce the effect of cobbles on his Waterloo terrain. He first tried using pearl barley and water-based wood glue, but overnight the water caused the pearl barley to expand and the whole lot had to be junked.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Crikey. What a find and what a gift. Would love to go through all those old magazines!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keith Flint,

      It was a very much appreciated gift that will continue to give me enjoyment for years to come.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. I remember them fondly, but in reality they rapidly becaame dated. I don't regret disposing of my old copies many years ago. But there is still a nostalgia value, like looking at old WRG rule sets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will McNally,

      I also got rid of my original copies of MINIATURE WARFARE because the later magazines seemed to be better. That said, looking at them anew has brought back fond memories about the hobby in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. I remember buying copies of this magazine in the late 60s - early 70s from my local model shop - waves of nostalgia ! , Tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Good Soldier Svjek (Tony),

      Not wishing to sound too much like a boring old wargaming f*rt, I don't think that a lot if newer wargamers have any idea what it felt like to go into a local model shop (now an endangered species!) and buying a copy of the only glossy wargames magazine available in the UK.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. I recall watching Callan in 1971 - a classic of its genre. At that time, I still didn't know that war gaming was a thing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I have all the later episodes of CALLAN on DVD ... and watch them every year or so, although the wargaming episode gets watched rather more often than that!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. Great find! Even though old magazines are dated content-wise, they offer a true glimpse into the history of our hobby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Phil Dutré,

      Although some of the content is a bit dated, some of it is still quite current ... and as you comment, it does give a wonderful insight into the history of wargaming during the late 1960s/early 1970s.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  7. It was only when I got into 54mm Toy Soldiers that I heard of John, first from the Toy Soldier angle and only later of his wargaming past. That list of articles and authors is tantalizing.

    I do remember the hunt for the latest hobby magazines in shops though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      I first came across John Tunstill due to his editorship/ownership of MINIATURE WARFARE magazine. I then bought his wargaming book, and finally met him when I visited his shop in Lambeth, London.

      If the opportunity arises, I hope to describe the contents of all the MINIATURE WARFARE magazines I now own.

      I can still recall the anticipation I felt when I knew that the latest issues of AIRFIX MAGAZINE, MINIATURE WARFARE, and WARGAMERS NEWSLETTERS were due. It was a great feeling!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  8. I still have my magazines I bought from Teddingtin Model Supplies. I do occasionally peruse them. The article on using wood screws as figures still makes me chuckle as do many articles and letters on the 50% rule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark Dudley,

      In retrospect, I wish I had kept my magazine collections as looking back through the ones that I now own has been a very pleasurable experience.

      I well remember the wood screw armies article and the apparently never ending discussion about the 50% rule.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  9. John Tunstill is still active and living in Italy.

    http://www.soldierssoldiers.com/index.php

    I've got a few of the magazines including the Callan issue. My own favourites at the time were the John Saunders WW2 articles (memory - could be wrong name!) and a WW2 campaign - can't remember who by, might have been John Saunders as well. Also had a good laugh at the wood screws article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rob Young,

      I had heard that John Tunstill was alive and well and living in Italy, and it is great to have that confirmed.

      I have copies of many of John Sandar's articles as well as a copy of his book. His Western Desert wargames inspired me, as did his scratch built and converted models military vehicles.

      Wood screws for wargaming? ... well it's no sillier than Andy Callan's air roller armies, is it?

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. I have all the issues from #1 safely stored in my loft. I fondly remember the monthly trip to the shop in Kennington to buy the latest issue & then on to the Imperial War Museum around the corner (in the days when it had a decent display of military kit & wasn't just a social history museum). John Sandars's Desert War articles were my favourite, too. I also remember looking longingly at all the metal figures on display in the shop (Minifigs & Garrison mostly) wishing that I had the pocket- money to buy some.
      Regards, Terry

      Delete
    3. Terry,

      Although I lived in London at the time, I only went to John Tunstill's shop on a few occasions ... and like you, included a trip to the IWM at the same time.

      The latter seems to have followed the same 'dumbing down' path of so many other modern museums in the hope that it will attract more visitors. In doing so I think that it has lost some of its attraction for the more serious student of military history.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  10. Cover price only 4/-! Certainly inflation has increased the cost of Wargaming magazines over the years. I think I recall a regular feature being an American Civil War campaign being fought over a map of Ireland. I also seem to recall that in that first issue "Bish" Iwasko and Phil Barker were discussing the advantages /disadvantages o the use of a "log scale" in modern wargames. Enjoy your trip through wargame nostalgia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David Bradley,

      I'll have to check, but I think that it actually went down in price at one stage ... something that would never happen today.

      I am reading my way through the ACW Campaign in Ireland articles, remembering how I'd unsuccessfully tried to copy the idea using a map of Ireland and my Airfix ACW armies.

      I have yet to read the articles about the use of the 'log scale', but can certainly remember using Bish Iwaszko's Modern rules, which incorporated their use.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  11. I remember when John first opened the shop he got a mention on the radio, the announcer said that there would be wargames played in the back of the shop all day long for anyone that wanted to join in. I was only about 14 at the time but set off on the tube to Lambeth, when I got there the table was set up for a game but the shop was very busy and nobody was playing. In the basement a very young James Opie was selling old Britains and Elastolin toy soldiers, which was more my kind of thing, it was the first time I met James and we have been friends ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brian Carrick,

      I never knew that John Tunstill had a wargames table at the back of his shop.

      What an interesting way to make a long-standing friendship! The nearest I get to anything similar is the way I met (and later re-met) David Crook. We first met in the late 1970s/early 1980s in the wargames room Eric Knowles had in the basement of his shop - NEW MODEL ARMY - in Manor Park, London. We lost touch when Eric retired and sold his shop ... and met again when David bought some figures from me on eBay and I delivered them to him!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  12. Only just found your blog with these comments. John Tunstall now lives in Rugby in Warwickshire and is doing fine. As to the infamous Miniature Warfare magazine article on screws for war gaming, look at "thewoodscrewminiaturearmy.blogspot.com". I would be very interested in your comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tony Adams,

      It's good to hear that John Tunstill us still alive and well.

      I remember the article about using screws, and will certainly pay a visit to the blog.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete