HOF74 Cultist Heavy Weapons
First off, how did you get into Table Top Wargaming?
I have been involved with the wargaming hobby on and off for most of my life. Aside from breaks for university and jobs outside of the hobby, I have been playing since I was a wee lad. I lived in Nottingham in the 1980s and got into it through my father so, in addition to Citadel and TSR games and figures, I had a lot of smaller scale ancients and fantasy from other makers. You could say I was steeped in the hobby and I have been penning rules and other materials since then.
Can you tell us how 15mm.co.uk got started and how running the business has changed over the years?
Back in 2005 after some discussion I decided that taking Alternative Armies sizeable 15mm ranges and moving them into a separate space of their own was the right thing to do. Hence 15mm.co.uk was born. It has subsequently been proven that this was the right thing to do since 15mm.co.uk has grown and grown over the years and gamers like the focus on one scale. How has running the business changed? Well we have started publishing our own titles away from Alternative Armies and we are doing more and more direct business with customers rather than through retailers. The evolution of the internet and blogging has changed our approach as well. Excellent blogs such as this one and sites such as TMP have allowed us to actually 'speak' to gamers and now we get much more feedback than we used to. Even five years ago this technology did not exist and I for one am really enjoying being able to speak to customers who have invested in 15mm.co.uk.
What are your general plans for 15mm.co.uk in relation to Science Fiction and your sci-fi ranges like HOF, SHM and Laserburn?
We intend to keep on trucking! Our general plans are to make more miniatures for our science fiction ranges and also to offer more content for them on www.barking-irons.co.uk our online magazine site. Our biggest 15mm science fiction range is HOF which is known the world over and now has about one hundred different packs in its ranks. We are going to focus on infantry and aliens in this range just as we have been doing with the Octopods, the Zidhe and specialist packs like our Starfighter Crew and Droids. We currently have no plans to produce more miniatures for the classic Laserburn range and from what our customers tell us they are happy with the large selection of types already in that range. The SHM range was my own idea and its sole ambition is to give designers who are starting out the chance to get some of their designs into production - Designs that most makers would not consider as single miniatures. I have hundreds of messages of support in this, and yes we are producing more oddities for your sci-fi armies this year!
SHM Krators group shot
What are your general plans for rule sets such as Alien Squad Leader (ASQL), USE ME and Laserburn?
I think that rules systems are the heart and soul of 15mm science fiction gaming. We all love miniatures but some of us really love rules too and since 2005 I have been trying to get more and more titles released on to our site. Alien Squad Leader (ASQL) is one of the finest honed rules sets on the market, unique in its mechanics and in its approach to gaming too. Alex Self, author of ASQL, and I have discussed the future of the game and while I cannot go into details he is still very much behind his 'baby'. You can get into ASQL on its own yahoo group here. Currently we have no plans to produce more material for Laserburn but this might change in the future.
USE ME stands for 'Ultra Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements' and it does what it says on the tin. I am very grateful to this blog for supporting us in the launch of USE ME 15mm Science Fiction, and being in part responsible for its print run selling out twice last year and this year. In addition to the free files I have produced with optional rules for everything from hive minds to droids to the weather we have more USE ME files coming this year. While I'm focusing on sci-fi I can say that in addition to UM006 Starship Battles we have my own Zombie rules set coming and Omer Golan's Post Apocalypse rules set too. More on these on this blog when the time comes! As an additional bit of information, the playtesting of mine and Bob Minadeo's HOF Fire-Team rules went very well and after a hiatus 15mm.co.uk intends on putting these unique grid based sci-fi rules out after the next few USE ME titles.
How do you think the hobby looks now compared to when you started out?
The hobby has changed a lot since 15mm.co.uk began and even more since I got involved with Alternative Armies in the 1990's. Wargaming was and still is a social hobby among friends at clubs and in private homes but the means by which we play has changed. The wide network of gaming stores has largely gone as have the distributors; replaced with the internet. The hobby is now more direct. Ten years ago I virtually never spoke to customers directly except at shows like Salute, now its a daily occurrence. Blogs, forums, groups and so on now occupy some of my time and they never did before. More recently the movement towards electronic publishing has made big inroads to the printed book part of the hobby. Indeed while we primarily publish in paper we have begun issuing e-books (currently the first few USE ME titles with more to follow).
A special mention must be given to the whole revolution in 15mm science fiction gaming that has taken place in the last few years. I think that 15mm.co.uk had a hand it in but its a lot more than just us. From a sub-set to a genre of gaming in its own right 15mm sci-fi has gone from strength and shows no sign of slowing. It has way more miniatures and sets of rules than it did in 2005.
So in conclusion I would say the hobby is a lot more open and fun now.