“Pushing Product?”

Well first off I have to say it feels rather strange writing a blog post as I haven’t done one for a while, and no this won’t be the start of a new weekly posting regime for me, but like so many of us around the world at the moment I have been sent home for at least the next two weeks due to this virus that is sweeping the world (this I hasten to add is preemptive on my companies part and not a case of self-isolation). So to help pass the time in-between working my way through all the terrible “B” movies available on “Amazon Prime” (and believe me there are a few!), I have also been working my way through a large pile of old issues of “Miniature Wargames”, Wargames Soldiers & Strategy” and “Wargames Illustrated” that a friend at work passed over to me during his last clear-out. Now I have to say that I have never been a big buyer of the wargames “Glossies” though I have bought the odd issue of all of them over the years (too blooming tight I guess) and to be brutally honest this playful skip down “back issue” lane has done little to prove to me that I’ve been wrong all these years. Though some issues have had some very good articles on various aspects of the hobby (painting, model building, period backgrounds, and reviews (I do love the reviews, always have) etc…) and some issues have five or six articles I’ve read, just as many have had nothing but a quick flick through the pretty pictures before being consigned to the bin with a “Glad I never paid for that one!”

Anyway ranting aside (though that is the title of this blog after all) what is it that has compelled me to put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard), well to be truthful, it was a couple of adverts, or to be more exact “adverts masquerading as information”. Now I don’t normally have a problem with these, as Mike Brooks the old owner of “Ainsty Miniatures” used to say to me back when I was doing the review columns in “Valkyrie” and “Ragnarok” “As long as you say nice things about my stuff, it’s cheaper for me to give you a load of samples than it is to pay for an advert!”. Likewise if you write a scenario for ACW that just happens to coincide with your new Unionist Cavalry going on sale, well more power too you I say, but these two “features” just seem to be so naïve and badly done that they had me laughingly shaking my head with thoughts of “what the hell were they thinking!!”. That I thought I’d have to share them with you lot.

The first one comes from way back (seems like only yesterday to an old fart like me!) in 1988, and issue No62 of “Miniature Wargames” which apparently only cost £1.15 (not really relevant but even so £1.15!!!). Anyway David and Geoffrey Lacey of “Fortress Models” had submitted a piece on “The Siege of Sebastopol” during the Crimean war, interesting enough stuff but turning to opposite page we are treated to the true reason for the piece as the two gentlemen in question appear to produce figures to re-enact said conflict, surprise surprise! I say appear as the tiny “blobs” that can be seen if the three photographs could just as easily be Napoleonic riflemen or even commuters waiting for a model train, this is not a swipe at the figures themselves but the pictures that seem to contain vast quantities of the (frankly) less than inspiring surrounding scrubland! Now I know the authors wanted to show what the battlefield was like, but if this is how many men fought it, battle is a bit of an exaggeration! (I’ve seem bigger battles for toilet rolls in supermarkets this week!). Now I have to applaud the chaps for not using these images as shameless chances to show off their own wares, but I think we could have forgiven them at least one close-up of the figures in question, as these wouldn’t have inspired me send for their catalogue (or probably lists back then), play out the scenario or even read the attached piece. Just a sadly missed opportunity. I have had a bit of a trawl of the net to see if “Fortress Models” is still going or not and though there a couple of companies with this or similar names none seem to match the address, so sadly I can’t check to see if they have improved their sales techniques of not.

The Second and in my opinion much less forgivable one comes from 2012 and the really “thick” 300th special edition of “Wargames Illustrated” (we are up to £6.00 by now by the way), and is by “Flames of War” and consists of ten (yes ten!) pages of fluff and pretty pictures promoting the (then) new “Open Fire!” edition of the game, as you can imagine all the paintings, maps and painted figures are all beautiful, but it is the photo on the ninth page that had me snorting my tea.

Here we were presented with what looks to my fifty something eyes as a mid-teenage “army” girl clutching said game to her naked chest (I guess she must have used her shirt for bandages), exactly which of the allied or axis forces used highly made up 14 year olds with lacey fingerless leather gloves I can’t tell as she seems to have also lost her cap badge! Now who this is supposed to appeal to I really can fathom, as a lot of the gamers I know actually have children older than this and so would have to be rather “creepy” to find this appealing, in fact I think most of us would breathe a sigh of relief at the legend “*Girl model not included”, as we’ve had more than enough teenagers at home to last us thanks! (As an aside she must also have extremely long thumbs or the box is only 20mm thick).

Perhaps the idea is young teenage boys would rush out to buy it in the hope that theirs will be the box from the advert (you know when they aren’t sniffing bicycle seats, sorry). I’m sorry but I really just don’t get it! If they had used a “grizzled” looking chap dressed in US marine or Wehrmacht fatigues, or even a “Helga” or “Michelle of the resistance” lookalike from “Allo Allo”, I would have understood (in the latter cases probably even chuckled), but something about this just seems wrong and to my mind cheapens the product. I would be interested to hear your opinions.

Anywhoo’ that will do for the moment, time to go and watch “Spawn of the Slithis” on Amazon, but you never know I might post again in the coming weeks (months?), and if I get really bored I might even get the paintbrushes out!

Till then, cheers Roger.

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16 Responses to “Pushing Product?”

  1. borderguy190 says:

    I agree on the many mags not worth their $ or £ or €. Though I do get hobby-inspired by pretty pictures. So as long as there are plenty of those, I don’t mind spending a little money. Though, to be honest, i haven’t bought a hobby mag in quote some time.

    Battlefront had obviously been spending too much time at shows that use pretty girls to lure customers in. They had a slightly older, but tartier gal at the trade shows for a while. No diffetent really, than Cons hiring cute Cosplayers to come roam the halls. Or auto shows and the models they have standing next to the latest cars. Its just eye candy. I agree though, a nod to ‘Allo ‘Allo would have been waaay cooler.

    • Hi Harry, mags just seem so expensive these days, especially when you can find nearly everything you need out on the web, I do like to have a hard copy of things though, so I guess you pays your money you makes your choice.

      I really don’t want to come across as one of the “woke” generation here, anyone who knows me or has seem my blog knows I’m a sucker for a pretty face and feminine form, but the above model just seems too young (to my old eyes) and not particularly well realised conceptually wise, the costume is too slap-dash for me, I think with a bit more effort (e.g. the Allo Allo, thing or something similar), the picture could have still had the “sexy” edge but with being more “tongue in cheek” less offensive or creepy.

      Haven’t ever noticed many “pretty” girls to entice customers at wargames shows myself (though I tended to frequent smaller shows apart from Salute), I hope the trade show gal was wearing more that the one above! To paraphrase Bernadette and Penny from “Big Bang Theory”…

      “Slutty army girl?”
      “Sexy army girl, Slutty Army girl just came with a ammo belt and two badges!”.

      I have of course noticed the “sexy” cosplayers at the cons I’ve been to, though I do wonder how much of a draw they are to attendees, I know they get a lot of attention in the press and web announcements but it would be interesting to know where many people place them on there lists of reasons to go, after guests, cosplay comps, traders (my favourite part) etc…

      Cheers Roger.

      • borderguy190 says:

        Trying to remember what BF’s con girl wore. I wanna say some weird “sexy” dress rather than a tarted up military costume.

        Reality? Just yanking your chain. Its silly. I expect better from a company trying to sell a product representative of serious history. If the costume was a little realistic, and she went “army girl” versus “sexy army girl” I would have noticed less.

        Con girls? I think a sizable portion of the con crowds are there for the girls. Not folk that you or I have much to do with. Just the neck beard, mouth breathing basement dwellers! And at comic cons, there were A LOT of smelly fan bois.

      • So I guess what we are saying is that to appeal to the majority of their target audience that should have been a over weight chap with a beard, rucksack and an osprey book poking out of his top pocket clutching said game to his sweaty (bare?) chest? Perhaps not.

        Would have been funny in an ironic way I guess.

        I always get the impression that the majority of these “sexy” cosplayers have such high opinions of themselves (why else would you walk around half naked at a con?) that they generally turn me off more than on. There is nothing more attractive than a beautiful girl who doesn’t realise she is.

        Cheers Roger.

  2. Great to see you posting again, Roger, no matter what the motivation, nor content for that matter. I don’t remember the first article, but I distinctly recall the second and at the time thinking wtf!?! Spookily, it did make me look to see what was being advertised – which I suppose is the point – but it didn’t make me want to buy it. Was that really eight years ago already…!?!

    • Hi Simon, yep it really was eight years ago, and yes it did make me look to see what she was holding across her bosom too, but likewise I didn’t inspire me to part with my dosh.

      I do think that this is a strange hobby in some ways as I think in general punters especially at shows are more attracted to “knowledge” than “nookie” from the sellers.

      Cheers Roger.

  3. Azazel says:

    I was going to read the whole article, but while glancing I was suddenly filled with an unstoppable desire to go dig out my half-built flames of war starter box.
    And mail order a tube of astroglide from amazon.
    For some reason.

  4. Carrion Crow says:

    It is interesting to look back over gaming mags of yesteryear and see exactly what was considered ‘acceptable’ back then, especially when it comes to artwork. Of course, those of the current entitled ‘woke’ generation would not only take up arms against this kind of thing, they’d consign said magazine to the fire, purely because they have no context and were not there at the time.

    I agree with both points, Roger. The first is a missed opportunity and the second is gratuitous cheesecake which actually detracts from what they’re peddling. Your eye is drawn to the exposed mid-riff, rather than the product.

    • Hi Jez, I do enjoy looking back over the old mags, if only to see how the figures and photography has improved. I’m glad you agree with me over the second image I was afraid it was just me being over sensitive and god forbid “woke”.

      There is of course a place for women in wargaming (some of the best painters sculptors and gamers are women) but I don’t feel it is topless with a box of plastic figures across their chest any more than it is flying the TARDIS!

      Cheers Roger.

  5. Dave Stone says:

    Great to see a post from you Roger, I’ve missed them.
    The advertising dilemma, Pretty girls advertising toy soldiers, has always been a huge no no for me, as it has nothing to do with toy soldiers, but that’s just me, there’s probably many who would be drawn in by this.
    As for bad photography, can’t really pass judgement as I struggle with getting my own right yo highlight my product.
    Hope we see more posts from you mate

    • Hi Dave, as the father of a teenage daughter I would have been shocked for you to have any different opinion to be honest, I do feel it’s the wrong way to go in a hobby like this as we need to be drawing more fresh blood of both sexes into it. A lot of modern games are definitely more appealing not only to women but those of us who prefer fun games, as the roleplaying elements and humour increases and the stuffy military elitism and emphasis on actually killing people reduces. Especially amongst the pulp and sci-fi communities.

      As far as photo’s go I have never seen anything on you blog or web-site that wasn’t top notch to be honest, and certainly nothing that you had top squint at to see what it was!

      Cheers Roger.

  6. Roy says:

    I can always remember an advert that used to run in Wargames Illustrated that featured the image of Jennifer Aniston (from Friends TV show – at the time). Can’t remember what the ad was about – possibly a wargames show?! But it contained some line like “We’re not as beautiful as Jennifer Aniston but,..”

    At least I’m sure there used to be such an advert. Chucked out all my wargames magazines years ago, and have never bought a copy since, so can’t check. I obviously missed the FOW ad’, so missed the opportunity to be nonplussed at the time … I am making up for it, now, however.

    • Great to hear from you Roy, hope you are keeping well and safe, I don’t remember those Jennifer Anniston ads myself, but at least they sound like they had a commedy element to them (and I’m geussing they weren’t as overtly “sexual” as the above.

      I must admit I’m chucking these ones my mate passed me as I go through them, I did think of taking them to a show and seeing is anyone wanted them (free of charge) by leraving them on the “bring and buy”, but the weight of them and, well quite frankly god knows when there will be any shows to take them too has put paid to that idea.

      Cheers Roger.

  7. Look who’s back hehe. Your ranting a made me chuckle. For some reason, as I was reading, all I could hear was Alf Garnetts voice haha. Did you know WSS magazine have a podcast too? It’s pretty good actually.

    • Hi IRO, I like to think my voice has more of the timber of a cross between Richard Burton and James Earl Jones!! well to me anyway, to others its probably more like Pee Wee Herman meets Barney the Dinosaur!
      We’ve been through this before I don’t (cant) do Podcasts, if I could I be listening to yours 🙂

      Cheers Roger.

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