I started my hobby, like probably most tabletoppers of my generation, with Warhammer Fantasy. In September 1997, I bought my first miniatures at Games Workshop Oberhausen in the shopping mall “Centro”, from the bearded and of course long-haired Heiner. Why do I remember that so well? Of course, I was immediately talked into buying the White Dwarf, which immediately overwhelmed me with its very broad and very specific selection of themes: What are Tyranids? Aha, Space Marines Scouts are new. Cool, cardboard fortification walls are included (my first terrain!), aha, the Maiden Guard of the High Elves is new. But where does it say anything about the Bretons??? Anyway, with the White Dwarf, I can of course still pretty much tell when my entry was.
Shortly before, I had seen Warhammer for the first time ever. I was visiting a classmate and casually saw a large game table at his place, with a classic railroad lawn mat, a few railroad trees, and a few regiments. He was collecting High Elves, his older brother Wood Elves. I was curious, he tried to explain everything to me as best he could, and when I saw the Bretons, I was blown away. Knights! And they fight monsters? And you collect all that and paint that and then play against each other according to rules? Coool.
I was 11 years old at the time and knew only a little bit of classic model building – I had assembled 2-3 Revell light airplanes and had failed at a too difficult destroyer battlesip model (the Bismarck?) that my uncle had given me.
Completely naive, I went into the GW, was struck by all the inexplicable blisters on the walls, in which you could not see anything and probably stood around for a long time and indecisively in front of the display cases. Game tables were also there, it was played in any case, no idea whether I dared to watch. Heiner approached me and quickly determined what I might want. I had come to buy Bretons and then left the store with a small box of Space Marines (this squad of six in monoposes) and a box with a Space Marine Bike. No idea why I had ended up with 40k and Space Marines, and no idea why Heiner thought that combination was a good place to start. I was out with my mom and sisters who wanted to do some more shopping, so I stood around with my new purchases and opened the boxes already. Huh? Molding frames? No glue, no colors, no painting instructions, no idea of anything.
Obviously Heiner had presupposed more than I knew or I had simply nodded off everything he asked me. Probably the latter. Oh boy.
I ran out of pocket money and my mother graciously went back with me to find out what was needed now. Kindly she bought it then. There came then together what one needs when you are a beginner, but it should not be too expensive. Primer spray (absolutely!), plastic glue (I already had that), craft knife /side cutter (thanks, we have that at home …), brushes (yes, one is enough for now), at least this color set (we prefer to take 4 individual colors for starters), grass chaff and glue (may not be necessary for now). The colors were definitely Blood Red, Chaos Black, Goblin Green and Boltgun Metal. I was able to roughly paint a Blood Angel with these. Probably some yellow was still there. It was a pretty simple start. I remember putting it all together and painting it, unfortunately I don’t have any of it anymore. The painting was a disaster, of course. I had no idea of any painting technique, knew nothing about thinning paint or how to use the brush sensibly. The result was quite a smear that roughly matched the paint application on the intended parts. As a hobby starter, none of this was super motivating, but I was still on fire. I bought another Space Marine Sergeant with power fist after that – which was the conclusion of my private hobby experience with Space Marines (later as a GW employee I painted some Space Marines, of course).
I also picked up White Dwarf 21 on my first visit, and it was probably sold to me as a useful introduction to the hobby. I had several White Dwarfs before I even had an army book – not the best order.
Unfortunately, I have no miniatures from my early days left and can not show any photos. Too bad, those were other times, you didn’t take pictures all the time.
After these first experiences, I finally switched to Warhammer Fantasy. Meanwhile, Christmas 1997 was approaching, which promised promising things for the base box. More about that next time!
How did your start in the hobby go? Was it similarly glorious or did you actually end up directly with your first army? Feel free to tell me in the comments!