Oldhammer USA 2014
I mentioned the first-ever Oldhammer USA event in a previous post. It took place over the weekend of October 25th-26th at Dropzone Games in Glen Burnie, Maryland – fittingly, on the site of the old Games Workshop Battle Bunker.
The Oldhammer movement was started a little while ago, as fans of Games Workshop’s “golden age” in the 1980s found each other online and began discussing their favorite games, their latest finds on Ebay and elsewhere, and their various painting, modeling, and gaming projects. It’s flourished in its native UK, with Bryan Ansell’s Wargames Foundry hosting its second Oldhammer weekend in August. Here in the United States, where distances are greater and fans are more widely scattered, it was more of an undertaking to bring the community together in the same space.
But at last it happened. Thanks to the dedication and determination of Blake Shrode, Rusty Gouldman, and others, Oldhammer fans converged on the former Games Workshop US headquarters bringing a treasure trove of old lead and piles of old and well-used books. Because Glen Burnie was only a couple of hours away, I went to see. Phil Gallagher lives even closer, and he popped in too. It was the first time we’d met since I left GW in 1990.
As a first-year event, I think it was a resounding success, and I’m hoping for even better things in 2015. People came from as far afield as Maine and Michigan, driving 14 hours and more to meet other members of the various online groups and spend a couple of days wallowing in nostalgia.
And there was plenty of nostalgia. One of the first things I saw was a pristine, boxed Skull Crusher Goblin trebuchet. The silly story on the back was just about the first thing I wrote after joining the GW staff in 1986. There were games of Space Hulk, 40K, and a massive greenskin attack on an Imperial city (and when I say massive, there were 400 Orcs in just one of the attacking units). I got to roll some dice, help judge the painting competition, share some of my memories of Games Workshop in the 80s, and sign some books.
Signing books is a strange experience for me. It always has been. Perhaps it’s because of the first two times I was asked to do it.
The first was at a Dragonmeet event in 1986. I had been at GW just a couple of weeks, and I was completely unprepared for the hordes of fans who burst the doors open and poured in like an invading army. At one point a young boy planted himself in front of me and demanded to know if I was famous. I was still pondering the question when he impatiently thrust his programme under my nose. I had to use my own pen. I watched him carry on down the line of tables, getting signatures from two of the Citadel sculptors and one of the hall’s janitorial staff. He didn’t seem to care who signed the thing, and it occurred to me that he was probably going to sell it at school within the week.
The second time was later. I was hanging out in GW’s Nottingham store on my lunch break when a teenager called me by name and came up to me with a copy of Warhammer Siege. Normally I don’t like to sign things if I haven’t worked on them, but I did have a couple of snippets of color text in Siege so that was okay. I signed the book and then watched as he took it to the register and demanded a discount because it was now soiled. Enterprising young man, that. I still wonder whether he went on to become a successful entrepreneur or a criminal mastermind.
But I digress. This and many other memories came up during the course of the day, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
And if you’re interested in the Oldhammer community, here are a few links to get you started:
Realm of Chaos 80s – one of the best Oldhammer blogs, updated regularly and featuring lots of news and interviews with old GW types, including me.
Oldhammer in the New World – the organizers of Oldhammer USA.
The Oldhammer Community on Facebook – a good place to discuss vintage Citadel miniatures and see other fans’ work.
Oldhammer Community Plus – the Google+ Oldhammer group.
Gaming in the 80s – links to various interviews I’ve done.