Hello. After endless login problems with this blog’s previous incarnation, Suburban Militarism has moved to WordPress. Which at least gives me a chance to start anew and begin by offering some self-reflection. In essence, what is “Suburban Militarism” all about?
It is a record of my hobby, which is to say in essence the painting of 1/72 scale plastic soldiers. Military history, particularly of the 18th-19th centuries, was a topic that always engrossed me as a boy and captivated my imagination. I recall at school one day when the class was given the opportunity of writing an essay on any subject they liked. I chose ‘The Battle of Waterloo’, which I wrote about with gusto. It was to my surprise that nobody else seemed to share an interest in an even remotely similar topic! This was the first indication that my great love was potentially an odd or even uncool one and therefore something that might have to be kept secret.
Quietly, I amassed a collection of plastic soldiers (mostly Airfix and Esci) numbering into the 1000s, which was not a bad achievement for someone relying on pocket money, Christmas and parental generosity. I sorted and paraded them regularly. Although I had figures spanning a variety of periods, my first and principle love remained with the 18th/19th century European armies. There was something about all that riot of colour so neatly aligned in elegant lines and squares that appealed to me in some romantic way.
Unfortunately, all that ‘riot of colour’ didn’t extend to my own armies. Quite simply, I didn’t have the patience, knowledge or skill to paint them. I didn’t know where to begin and I certainly didn’t know anybody else who shared my esoteric interest who could advise and encourage.
And so, tragically, all the neatly arrayed ranks of Airfix Waterloo British and French Infantry, and the wildly charging Napoleonic Cuirassiers or Scots Greys, remained sadly monochrome…
Until one day, decades later when, well in to my thirties, I rediscovered the old troops in my parents loft. Initially, I had a go at casting and painting up some 25mm Prince August figures with some moulds I’d found. The results were encouraging. These sporadic attempts at painting them continued for a few years until I entered a local hobby shop. There before me were endless boxes of Napoleonic plastic 1/72 scale troops. I was like Augustus Gloop seeing the inside of Wonka’s chocolate factory for the first time. Pure heaven! I was astonished that there was so much variety as I’d never seen anything remotely like this when I was younger. I was lucky to find a box of French Imperial Guard! In that shop, I fell in love all over again with the little guys and immediately bought a couple of cheap boxes of Prussians.
And I never looked back. Making up for all those years as a boy with troops without any colour, I now paint them in every hue. This blog is a record of that renaissance. A little bit of militarism tucked away in Suburbia. Few know of my hobby outside of my immediate family. Behind those net curtains, one man builds an army.