Saturday, 25 February 2012

How I got in to the hobby

Well then, Warhammer 40,000 is 25 years old. Today is its official birthday. A very happy birthday 40k, you changed most of our lives forever. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to talk about the birth of my own wargaming hobby as it is almost as old!

22 Years ago I was a tiny wee 10 year old Jeff living in a market town called Wisbech in Cambridgeshire in the UK. I had always liked putting models together - a Lego fanatic - and had played about with Airfix stuff. I had heard some of the older kids in the playground talking about this game with Chaos and Orcs and dragons. Then a guy called Daniel Norman gave me this:

White Dwarf 139 has a special place in my heart. I must have read it thousands of times over the years. It had the background for the ancestor of Battlefleet Gothic - Space Fleet - in it, suddenly there was this world of kilometers long starships and space travel in a hell dimension all illustrated with twisted gothic artwork. It contained within it a complete step by step guide to how Mike McVey chose, created and painted the studio's brand new Blood Angels army. This was where they decided that devastators would have blue helmets, that sergeants would have reversed shoulder pads, everything. It was also where a generic blood angels captain got his name. Tycho. 21 Years later I would finally realise the dream I had then of owning that 3rd company army. The nostalgia almost puts a lump in my throat.

We didn't have a proper Games Workshop in Wisbech (still don't) but there was a shop called Prams and Toys that stocked various bits and bobs. Amongst them was this game. Heroquest. This was the first miniatures that I ever legitimately owned. My others had been scrounged from friends. Oddly enough Wisbech was the site of the old Games Workshop plastic manufacturing plant down Weasenham Lane - now Renedra plastics. There was a sort of tradition of "Urban Scrumping" of miscast sprues out of the bins of this place and most hobbyist kids in Wisbech had a few "hot" RTB01 marines in their collections! Heroquest was an odd game, slightly larger in scale miniatures than 28mm and designed by MB and GW together. I enjoyed it but sensed that there was more out there. Then came the day when we were going to London and we would be in Oxford Street. I harrassed my parents until they agreed to find the Plaza store and I saw my first GW. This place was an Aladdins Cave to an 11 year old Jeff. Wonderful. As luck would have it they were having a shop soiled sale and I picked up a copy of Waargh the Orks! cheap and this:

The third edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. This was when it was still essentially a way for Roleplayers to use all their models at once. The rules were complex and full of exceptions but the book was magical. It was full of pictures of huge (for the time) armies fighting over actual modelled scenery rather than a dining table. There were stories of dark and terrible things creeping in the hidden places of the world and there was a treasure trove of wonderful, twisted, gothic artwork. I had never seen anything like it. I was hooked and 21 years later I still am.



  1. This is very cool. I like reminiscing about old hobby stuff. I just painted a Plastic Librarian from Tyranid Attack.

    I might do a similar post like this on Tale of Painters. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. WD 139 was I think the third or fourth WD my pops bought me. I read that BA painting article dozens of times. In fact I think I recall reading it in january! :)

    nice article!

  3. My hobby started with Space Hulk/Deathwing, continued with Heroquest and Tyranid Attack. But these belonged to my brother.

    My first model was the Screamer Killer.

    This was followed by the power armoured Marneus Calgar and first Tigerius model, along with the first ever Hive Tyrant and first ever Lictor.