Star Wars-ing my son

When I started this little blog it was with the intention of documenting my experiences as I got back into the gaming hobby that I loved so much as a kid, but also my adventures in being a father and sharing my childhood toys with my son. I’ve not posted on the latter for a long while and given that it is the boy’s birthday soon I though this was as a good a time as any.

One of the toys that I loved so much growing up was Star Wars. I was born in ’77 when the first film came out and by the time I was old enough to really get into toys and action figures the Star Wars merchandising machine was in full swing. I don’t ever remember seeing the original films in the cinema but do recall them being on TV every Christmas and that was in an age when the UK only had four TV channels. Therefore I don’t know how I got interested in Star Wars it must have been one of those playground crazes that every child of the time got caught up in along with Yo-yos, marbles and Panini football stickers.

Anyway I digress. Now that the boy is close to 3 he’s at an age where he can make up games with action figures along with his usual playtime that consists of books, puzzles and construction (more on that another time). When I was shopping recently I saw some Hasbro Star Wars figures on the shelves and couldn’t resist. £6 for a 2 character pack was price was really good and would be a welcome relief from the world of Play Mobil and Duplo.

The figures themselves aren’t too bad, with the exception of the droid which doesn’t properly stand up and is really soft and flimsy. The other figures are as I remember them with rigid arms and legs that rotate around and hands in a fixed position to clasp weapons. They are very detailed for what they are but seem to lack the charm of the originals, but then I think most toys of that era seem more charming than those that I see today. They are also softer to the touch than I remember. I think the plastic on the old ones was much harder and tougher.

Hasbro Star Wars figures

Hasbro Star Wars figures

I used to have a lot of stuff. I collected everything and had figures from both sides, but mainly collected the Rebel vehicles. I certainly had the Millennium Falcon, X-Wing and Y-Wings. I had some of the laser guns that explode in the Empire Strikes Back as the Rebels are under attack on Hoth. I also had what I think was a Storm Troopers gun that opened up and was a figure carry case. My brother and I played with them all the time and loved every minute. Growing up, we used to fight quite a bit over the years, but toys and playing always brought us together.

If you want to take a look at the old figures (or see them for the first time), then this site has some great pictures – http://www.rebelscum.com/vintage.asp

Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon

I’m going to keep buying the odd set of figures as I see them and as the boy grows up. When the time the new film comes out next year, he will be in school (wow that comes around quickly) so I’m hoping Star Wars will be sweeping the playground and he’ll have a head start on the rest 🙂

Now the keen eyed among you will have spotted that I said ‘remember’ there when comparing the new figures to the old Kenner ones. I have to remember as I have none of my old collection left. None of it! Now I may have told this story before, but I’m going to tell it again as a lesson to us all…

I was a teenager. Star Wars represented me as a kid, and teenagers don’t want to be associated with being kids (or at least I didn’t). So I did what everyone did back then (this was pre-eBay of course) and went to a car boot sale with my mum on a Sunday morning to make some money for my new teenage hobbies. It may be that those hobbies were Blood Bowl and Warhammer Fantasy but that is besides the point. Anyway, I sold my entire collection for £50. My. Entire. Collection. For. Fifty. Pounds. Sterling. The money felt great in my pocket, it was a lot of money to me back then, but it’s something that I’ve regretted ever since. Of course I wasn’t to know that this stuff would be worth lots of money, it’s not their current value that bothers me, more that I had a great collection of toys that represented a big part of my and I just got rid of it all. Nothing was spared.

The moral of the tale? Buy a house with a loft and keep stuff in it. Or use your parent’s loft. Doesn’t matter, just keep hold of things that are important to your kids longer than they want you to and don’t let them do anything too silly like selling them at a car boot sale.

Keep hold of your own stuff too. That goes without saying 🙂

The Force is strong with this one

xwinglogo

Not that long ago, in this galaxy, I became slightly obsessed with the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game.

I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and as a kid had a LOT of Star Wars toys. I was the goody-goody Rebel and my brother (as always) chose the Dark side. It seems that we had every toy going for a long time, including many that we at least thought were only available in the US. My dad was in the Navy and used to bring us back presents from his travels. A storm trooper gun that opened up and doubled as a figure carry case was pretty special. I’ve always enjoyed the films, but as with most things I’m on the geeky side of this rather than the nerdy. In a fit of teenage rebellion I sold ALL of my Star Wars stuff for £50 at a car boot sale…something that I regret to this day.

In the days of the Intel 386 and 486 processors, I used to play the X-Wing and TIE Fighter PC games quite a bit and they were some of my favourite games at the time. (As an aside, my recent adventure back into the Star Wars universe seems to suggest that I may be able to get these games running again, more on that another time maybe.)

Anyway, I’d heard of the X-Wing Miniatures game. It’s booming on Twitter and gaming podcasts and featured heavily in lots of end of year review shows. I’d had it on my ‘wish list’ for a while but it could never bubble to the top when vying for attention with Blood Bowl and Warhammer Fantasy. The catalyst was for change was Christmas when I was given a Star Wars bag (in fact I was given two after a wishlist mismanagement problem by the purchasers) and I decided shortly afterwards to take the plunge and buy the game.

It sat on the shelf for a week or two while I prepared for the local Blood Bowl league, but earlier this week I got everything out and set out to play a demo game against myself. First thing to say is that the contents of the core box are brilliant and at about £25 give you enough to get started and certainly enough to see if the game is for you or not. I’m not going to write up a battle report here, suffice to say I really enjoyed it.

Certainly the important role that Star Wars played in my childhood is part of my enjoyment and is one of the reasons that I am so fascinated by this game. Piloting star ships on their missions to protect or destroy the Empire is wonderful, but the game mechanics and simplicity of the rules play their parts too. The selection and then execution of the ships maneuver followed by action and combat based on the capabilities of both pilot and ship is done really well and manages to capture how I imagine space combat. The rules and FAQs are freely available on the Fantasy Flight Games website and I encourage anyone interested to take a look. There’s also a video tutorial there which is good.

The only negative aspect to things so far is that on my very first game, the peg connector on one of the TIE fighters broke. The models stand up off the playing surface on plastic bases with one or two pegs in-between and the joins are very fragile. To FFGs credit I went through their faulty/missing parts channel and a new one is in the post to me already. I’ve already decided to add some weight to the plastic bases and to magnetise the connections as a future project, so look out for a post on that shortly.

ships

Since playing my first game, I’ve been trawling the internet looking for information and resources; sites that I’ll add to my daily list of must read pages. I’ve also gone a bit crazy and bought a second core set, a Millennium Falcon, Y-Wing and a TIE Advanced. On top of that I’ve been looking at game mats, storage solutions and the other obsessively organised, structured elements that I like to bring to all of my hobbies.

Even better, I’ve got the playing bug with this game. With so many games I like the concept, the minis, some aspect of the rules or even the ‘hotness’ of the game but don’t get the urge to play that much. With this it is different. I want to collect the ships and I want to play with them. I’m lucky enough that it seems to be played at both of my local games clubs and I am really looking forward to going down and playing a few games in the coming weeks and months.

All in all, I am very pleased to have finally experienced this game and I am excited about the new wave of ships and to getting some missions under my belt. I’d recommend it to all gamers, but if you’ve got any love of Star Wars then I’d say that this is a must.

The cupboard is open! First reactions.

So the cupboard is open and I have mixed feelings really. Part of me is disappointed that more of the action figures and cars weren’t there. But I am the guy that sold his entire Star Wars collection for £50 at a car boot sale, so that chances are that I got rid of these many years ago and have since blanked it. The bigger part of me is really pleased with the haul. Blood Bowl is my new fixation and there is loads of it. I’ve now got metal teams of Elves, Orcs, Humans and Halflings(!) as well as several assorted Skaven, Goblins, Dwarves, Snotlings, Ogres, Trolls, Treemen, Chaos, Star Players, Mutants, Referees and Fans. I think that I must have had a chainsaw fixation too. Then there are the complete Human and Orc teams from both the 2nd and 3rd editions. I’m really pleased. Add to that a big box of Lego and a well stocked Hornby train set and Frank and I have hours of fun to come in the years ahead.

I’ve decided that a life rule is the more dice you own the bigger the geek you are. I am a massive geek 😉 I also found White Dwarf 173 which is the issue to go with the release of Blood Bowl 3rd edition. There’s a great turn-by-turn match report of the Orcs versus the Humans using the then new rules. I had forgotten that they used to have mail order pages in the back of the magazine. Mail order?! You were meant to cut out the pages and hold punch them to make your own catalogue. Mail order?!

I have a feeling that there is some stuff missing and that there may be another stash of toys somewhere. I’m basing this on that fact that only the red Blood Bowl Companion is there and not the yellow Star Player book. Both were equally loved and well-thumbed so to have one and not the other is a puzzle.

For now I’ve got several busy days ahead of me sorting, recording and photographing everything that I got. Then there’s going to be a lot of paint stripping as the paint jobs aren’t very good; which I did expect. I’ll post pictures and details when I have them.

Must get back to it now as I’m too excited.