You're gone but your collection lives on. Once this realization sinks in, what is a fella to do?
A number of recent events have hit me in rapid succession. With this barrage of reality checks, my usual thoughts on wargaming turn towards reflection and introspection rather than project planning, painting, reading on military history, and gaming. Is it a coincidence that four independent events converged within a matter of a few days? Is someone, somewhere trying to tell me something? Is this a conspiracy against my wargaming psyche? So many unanswered questions.
All of the four incidents considered seem to relate to the life cycle of a hobby. Not just any hobby; no, my wargaming hobby. As with most activities or processes, a definite life cycle is in action. Three of the incidents in the following discussion will bring me to the fourth and most puzzling of the incidents.
The first incident was marked by the recent passing of a wargaming acquaintance. D. was not the first wargame acquaintance to pass over to the other side. He certainly will not be the last. Left to the survivors was the task of liquidating his wargame collection. As for many of us, his widow did not know what to do with his lifetime passion of collecting wargaming detritus. "Detritus," that is, to those unfamiliar or uninterested in the hobby. To those in the know, estates sales can be a gold mine as well as a time for mourning.
The task of liquidating D's main gaming project, a large 15mm Napoleonic Peninsular War collection, fell upon another gaming friend. From memory, the collection consisted of at least 1,000 15mm old Heritage Napoleonics; all nicely painted. The figures were all based similarly but no one knew the rules D. used to game. I wish I would have snapped a photo or two of the collection before it marched off to a new owner. Had I not already possessed a Napoleonic Peninsular War project in 15mm, this collection would have been given much consideration. After some consternation, the entire collection was sold to the great relief of the executor. Not relegated to the waste bin of history for those fine soldiers!
Note to self: Annotate for which rules a collection is based.
The second incident was a recent post by blogger Robbie on his The Independent Wargames Group blog. A very fine blog to add to a Reading List if not already discovered.
As I shared with Robbie,
it is not the ultimate destination (we all know where that ends!) but the journey that is important. If the hobby provides enjoyment and friendship along this path, that counts even when all aspirations have not been reached and we are pulled away too soon.The third incident was a recent discussion thread on The Miniatures Page soliciting opinions on when to stop collecting (see: TMP: When to Stop Collecting). The gist of the original post was determining the point at which one stops buying and fielding new armies and switches to solely enjoying the gaming aspect of the hobby. Does that regime switch ever materialize? For some, it must. If it does come to pass, how does one identify and make the switch from buying/painting to gaming? Is this a gradual transition or does one make the change "cold turkey?" As expected, the responses vary but many seem to hold that buying new armies late in the life cycle (and life) is quite acceptable.
While I have entertained thoughts of downsizing the number of periods and figure sizes I collect, those thoughts do not survive contact with reality. When I do reluctantly jettison one project, two or three step in to fill the gap, cheerfully. For me, downsizing seems not possible.
Finally, the incident that really prompted this reflection is, to me, the most puzzling and difficult with which to come to grips.
Our one-time painting and gaming comrade moved away several years ago. Since then, very little painting, modeling, or game reports have come out from his part of the world. Through second-hand reports, he has thrown in the towel on the hobby and wiped the slate clean. He indeed has gone "cold turkey" and discarded the hobby that he once enjoyed. Oh, he did often remark that "this would be a great hobby if not for the people in it" but I always took that as a tongue in cheek statement. A by-product of his decision to abandon the hobby is that Scott was the happy recipient of 73 pounds of lead. Wow! He really is wiping the slate clean with no plans to return to either miniatures, modeling, or gaming. Seems a drastic step but everyone makes their choice.
Lucky for me, Scott is a generous bloke and passed along a bit of this windfall to yours truly. What benefit did I get out of A.'s lifestyle change-up? As seen in the leading photo, a small stack of books (one of which was a book I gave to A. years ago), several packets of Battle Honors Austrian Napoleonics, a bag of Langton Anglo-Dutch Wars ships, and about two-dozen packs of TAG TYW figures. I am quite grateful to receive such a handsome windfall. No doubt they will see action on the painting desk one day.
Whoops. I digress from topic by the joy of new lead!
Could I change direction so abruptly and put an end to my nearly 50 year relationship with toy soldiers, gaming, and the study of military history? I doubt it! I have always been drawn to these activities long before I knew there was such a formal hobby. This hobby, while certainly still a hobby, has become a part of what defines me. I am a wargamer. For now, I continue to plan projects, paint figures, study military history, and game.
Enough for the introspection. Attention must now turn towards thoughts of how to employ the newly acquired TYW lead. Should these be additions to the existing ECW project or will these figures become the seed to a new, TYW project? I am not too old to begin a new project. Back to project planning, painting, reading on military history, and gaming for me.