Saturday, 4 March 2017

A blast from the past

My grandmother is having a clear out of the spare room and happened to find some magazine binders from the 1970's. Whilst I have not yet plunged into the seven years worth of Airfix magazines my late grandfather had purchased, I have been given three binders of Military Modelling (one issue from '73, one from '76 and the remainder from '77 to '79) as well as a half dozen issues of Battle magazine from 1977.

I remember reading these in my early teens, and they were of an age back then, but having a quick perusal brought back some very fond memories and also got me thinking (yep, thinking!).

35p! Ah, those must have been the days...
There have been a fair few articles in various blogs about the current state of the wargaming magazine market and more than a few posts on TMP, yet looking through the admittedly small number of issues of Battle, I feel that the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same.
By that, I mean that whilst today's publications are certainly less wordy and more picturesque, the topics haven't changed much. Indeed, the letters page of one issue is filled with the discussion (conducted by post, no less - POST, having to write or type a letter and have the Royal Mail deliver it. If you don't know what that is, Google it...) of the merits of rulesets and their accuracy towards the reality of battles, and whether "Britain's most popular indoor activity" (honestly, that's what two of the participants called wargaming!), can be classed as gaming first or historical re-enactment. 
The letters page from November 1977 has a corker of a topic: Fantasy gaming.
The debate, it seems, continues...
Apologies for the poor photography, the paper is rather shiny and artificial light is a necessity this time of year, but anyway, there is a divide here that still exists to this day. This is helped along by an introduction to fantasy by a little known gentleman, Mr S Jackson:

Whatever happened to him or GW???
I know that comparing these issues to modern day publications is like comparing apples to oranges, with an added difference of forty years, but I was struck with how much content you got in these. These are not the biggest publications and most of the pictures are black and white (with colour seemingly reserved for the cover pages and the odd plate), yet as you can see, they pack the writing in. Compare that to a modern mag where there a swathes of white space on most article pages and, depending on the magazine, a disturbing low word to picture ratio. No, these are not clean, glossy magazines as most youngsters would recognise but, by gad, they aren't half useful. And not just for the contemporary news (the Briefing section for military enthusiasts is a goldmine of late '70's news, projects and skullduggery!), but also for the adverts. There are loads of them, from Hinchcliffe to Skytrex to Heroics and Ros, all a little time capsule to an age long gone. 
I shall be keeping these in a safe place and will be having a read through the MilMod binders in due course.