You can tell a lot about a wargamer from his/her study. Whether the ‘study’ is just a painting table in a living room, or a dedicated room (as I’m lucky enough to have), the books, clutter and decor all build a picture of that particular wargamer’s personality.
So, join me on a tour of my study and find out a bit more about me … (oh, and by the way, if you want a closer look at anything, all the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them)
Just past the painting of a pukeko bird, a discreet door behind the stairs leads into my haven of relaxation (or sometimes my room of labour, as I do have to do business-related work in here on occasions too). Welcome, come on in …
The first thing you see as you enter is my desk. Of course, like most wargamers these days, a computer takes centre stage, with a bookcase filled with military tomes close to hand.
Sorry the floor isn’t vacuumed – but, hey, this is a male enclave …
That big office swivel chair is nice and comfy, which is important as I spend a lot of time in it! There’s also an old red leather chair, which is where my wife sits with a cup of tea when she’s chatting with me, or I sometimes nestle with a good book.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s in the bookshelf. Well, a load of assorted military books, including the obligatory Ospreys, Funckens and Blandfords, of course. But there are also lots of bits and pieces, including:
- headgear (British police helmets, a Napoleonic French pokalem that I wore at the Waterloo reenactment in 2005, and a Confederate kepi from the Gettysburg reenactment in 1998)
- a few diecast cars (mainly police cars – so already you may be able to guess what most of my career has been!)
- a black-and-white photo of my wife when she was in her teens
- some pirate ship models I converted out of plastic toys
- various pieces of wargames terrain.
Hmm, my desk is a bit untidy at the moment. But amongst the detritus you can see:
- my lovely Tiffany-style lamp (a gift from my family, which gives the room a nice cosy feel at night – see photo at the bottom of this article)
- some plastic Papo toys of Napoleonic subjects, including the Emperor himself
- my desktop wallpaper made from a painting by my favourite maritime artist , Geoff Hunt – I think this particular picture really portrays the imposing bulk of a ship-of-the-line
- a fake bookshelf of antique volumes, that is really just a poster (a gift from my teenage daughter) – I like it because it adds some extra character to the room and makes me look more erudite than I really am!
If I get tired of staring at the computer screen, my study is fortunate enough to have a wonderful outlook over our pony paddock. In fact, you can just spot Sammy, our pony, as you look out (excellent reference for when I’m painting horses!).
OK, casting our eyes to the left (we’ll go around my study in an anti-clockwise direction), we see my painting station and the first of my display cases.
The pictures on the walls are worth a quick look as well. They include paintings and drawings done by my father as a young man in the 1930s, some old New Zealand prints given to me by my sister-in-law, and a lovely old lithograph of police uniforms in the late 1900s.
And, yep, that is a French policeman’s kepi sitting there on top of the books.
A closer look at my display case reveals a hodge-podge of mainly horse-and-musket figures: 18th century Minden figures, Napoleonics, colonial New Zealand Wars etc. Some of them are in open-top boxes, as I get lazy taking out and putting back figures when I game with them.
The top of the display case carries my ever-increasing overflow of books, mainly military, but also some other titles, including a history of Antarctica given to me last Father’s Day as a memento of when I worked ‘on the ice’ at McMurdo Station as a young man.
You want me to open up my painting desk? Well, only for a moment, as it really is a mess. Thank goodness I can shut the desk each time I finish! But, yes, this crammed desk is where I do all of my painting.
Oh, you’ve spotted my latest project sitting on top of my desk. Yes, I just finished these ‘Foundry’ French Foreign Legion last night. They’re for a Victorian Science Fiction project, which explains all the odd steam-powered machinery sitting behind them … though the Maori pa fencing in the background is coincidental and has nothing to do with that project.
Right, time to move on. Let’s swing our gaze past the door we entered by, and look at the back wall, where you see my second display case.
The three framed prints on the wall are of Lufthansa aircraft – not sure why I’ve got them, but I do like them! One of the pics is of a Lufthansa Constellation – my father-in-law flew these beautiful three-tailed airliners when he was a pilot for a British airline in his younger days – Skyways, I think the airline was called.
The other two prints by the door are old maps of the English counties of Kent and Sussex – my wife was born in Kent, and she spent several years in Sussex when she flew out of Gatwick (like her father, she was also - and still is – in the airline industry, though as a flight attendant rather than pilot) .
Sorry about the messy pile of papers on the floor at the left – they are household bills and statements, piling up until I get round to filing them (one of my most hated and therefore continually procrastinated jobs).
This display case also includes quite a few Napoleonic troops, but on the top shelf you can see the armies I first painted when I returned to the hobby of wargaming in my 40s – a ‘Games Workshop’ Empire army. My son also painted an orc army at the same time, which is also on display here, despite him having long since lost interest in the hobby.
And here again are some toy police cars (Russian and Dutch in this case). I used to collect these as a hobby, and had hundreds of miniature police vehicles from all over the world – only my favourites are now still on display, the rest packed away in their boxes as my interest has waned somewhat.
Ah, your eye is caught by the little handmade balsa ironclad ships on top of the display case. I made these during my 20s, and have brought them out of their box as I think they’re actually quite attractive, even after all these years.
But I must admit, despite their age, these ships (lijke many of my figures) have never seen a shot fired in anger over the wargames table. Even back then I had the same problem I have now – I’m more a modeller and painter than an actual gamer. Yes, I do play occasionally, and enjoy it when I do. But time and commitments mean that this doesn’t happen as much as it probably should. I keep saying, “One day, when I have a wargames room with an actual gaming table …”
And, yes, the baby in the multi-pose photo on the easel is me, some … um … 50+ years ago. Cute little character, aye?
Right, moving on … let’s look at the south wall, our last stop before we come to my desk again. Another display case, and also a large wardrobe (which I won’t open in case everything bursts out!).
I like flags, as you can see – I have a New Zealand ensign, of course, but also a large American flag and my latest treasure, a replica French standard from the Napoleonic wars.
On the printer you can see my old New Zealand Police helmet that I used to wear when I was a young constable. Above it you can see some more of my taonga (treasures):
- another painting by my Dad that he did as a kid in the 1930s
- a really heavy brass picture that was a gift from the people of his village in the Netherlands for fighting in Indonesia in the 1940s
- a lovely heart made by my wife out of broken china.
You’ll see that the display case on this wall contains a bit of a mish-mash, including:
- loads of single Napoleonic figures based for Sharp Practice
- my small collection of 40mm Napoleonic figures
- various scenics and vignettes
- some of my homemade Spanish terrain piled on top of the display case
- some commercial buildings and more of my books on the shelf below the display.
There’s some artificial poppies there too (I don’t know why?) and even an old tin toy robot, an antique police torch and who knows what else.
Well, that’s my study folks! I hope you enjoyed the tour, and have learned a bit more about me as a result. If you’re ever in the vicinity, feel free to pop in one evening and take a proper browse through my books or examine my miniatures in real-life in their display cases.