Maybe it is an odd thing to admit to, but I can't remember a time in my life that didn't feature model soldiers. The first "little men" in my service came from my aunt who sent me some Britains 54mm guardsmen in 1966 either for my birthday or Christmas and from that moment on I was hooked. The next defining moment in my magnificent obsession came in 1968 when I saw the film "Custer of the West". The Civil War scenes at the beginning of the film started my life long interest in the American Civil War - although when I bought a DVD copy of the film a few years ago I was bitterly disappointed that it didn't live up to my childhood memory!
What kicked off this line of thought was reading this article on the BBC news site a while ago about H.G. wells and his book "Little Wars" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22777029. I suppose all of us who have suffer from this obsession have a trigger point that moves us from playing with toy solders to gaming with model soldiers and for many it was H.G. Wells' book. But for me that moment came in 1972 when my parents gave me the book "Charge!: Or How to Play Wargames" by Peter Young and J.P. Lawford. I still think this is the best wargames book ever written - and my copy is still in near mint condition. At least once a year I break it out and read part of it again. .
What makes this book so great for me is the stories told in the examples. There are the two players, Smith and Jones, who have a banter between them. "Oh bad luck, old chap"' says Smith with a wry smile as Jones removed the five casualty figures... In many ways that same, or similar, banter is present in the groups of people I have gamed with all my life, so there is ring of truth in it and I love it.
Other books have had an influence on my obsession with model soldiers such as, Terry Wise's "Introduction to Battlegaming", Charles Grant's "The Wargame" and Donald Featherstone's "Wargames Campaigns", but "Charge!" still holds the prime position.
Not only was "Charge!" my first wargames book, but it also inspired me to write my first set of rules. This was by necessity because while Charge was written for Seven Years War battles, I wanted to play American Civil War games, so there was a need to customise. Since that time I have rarely used a commercial set of rules, and when I did they were heavily customised.
Oh well, enough reminiscing...back to the painting. I have decided to expand the Russo-Japanese armies by adding another six Japanese infantry regiments and two more Russians, plus eight Japanese and two Russian machine guns.