In all walks of life there are asshats, dicks, tossers, wan... you get the picture. That guy who shoves past you to get on the train, even though everyone else has queued properly and he's just got there. The arse who plays his iPod just loud enough so you can hear the tiny sound of his rubbish dance music grating on the inside of your skull after a hard day at work, you ask him to politely turn it down... he turns it up! Minor transgressions I know, but these sorts of things happen so often that it all just lends credence to those who argue that are becoming more self-centered and selfish, or just a little less tolerant... you know... depending on whether you are one of the many asshats who frequent this globe we call earth or not. Real life sucks, especially so in these harsh economic times, most of us will have a 'release', whether that's watching your favourite soap opera, reading trashy novels... or collecting little toy soldiers. It's these little pleasures in life that make what we have to put up with bearable.
In our little hobby we have to really be decent to one and other, or it just wouldn't work. So what happens when your haven or hobby is turned upside down or violated? Well there's one such story that's sort of doing the rounds right now over at Dream Pod 9. For those of you who haven't followed the link, or don't want to, one of Dream Pod 9's Pod Squad, or their volunteer games demo guys actually had a case full of his miniatures stolen... while he was at a store running demo games. Now, I don't know about you guys, but I have a strangely personal relationship with my painted miniatures. I feel a love for my little toy soldiers that I really don't feel for any of my other material possessions. Is it a little strange? Maybe, but the reason for this is obvious, we put so much of ourselves into our miniatures don't we? It's not just an object with a monetary value, it's something personal. So having them stolen hurts just a tad! Now on a happier note the awesome chaps at Dream Pod 9 swung into action and did their best to replace the stuff that went missing, plus Dream Pod 9 painting studio Blue Table Painting offered to paint them up at a very small fraction of the cost they'd normally charge.
|The Punishment of Thieves - William Blake - 1824-7|
In a way that makes the theft doubly galling though doesn't it? Here, let me explain why that is. We are all such a close knit community us gamers, we sorta have to be. We can't just walk into any old place and strike up conversations with strangers about Corvus Belli's latest release, or whether Colossal's are OP must takes or not, or whether 6th Edition 40K is for us or not. OK so maybe we could, but it's not normal to do that and you'd more than like be socially ostracized for doing so. Truth is we know each other, because we have to socialise, and when something like this happens we all dip in our own pockets, or miniature collections to help out. Why? Because we're a community, and we rely on each other, and we trust each other. So when someone from this community commits an act of theft it is doubly disturbing and upsetting. We don't like to think that there is someone amongst us who we know and trust who would be capable of screwing a fellow gamer over in such a scummy way. It's really not nice is it? Because the only sort of person who would steal a case full of miniatures is a fellow hobbyist.
|The Cherry thieves - Zuber Buhler Fritz - 1870-5|
I myself have been the victim of multiple hobby thefts. I've had my Necromunda gangs stolen from a tournament where I knew a huge swathe of those there. The fact they left the larger case of Battletech stuff next to it tells me they knew what it was they were stealing, and therefore most likely knew me, no matter how briefly. That hurt! I've also had my Blood Bowl teams stolen from a friends house, and that was rubbish too, because there really was only a very limited number of geeks who had access to pinching that stuff. I also lost an Eldar army from the store room of the Birmingham Games Workshop after I left working there. I went back to pick them up and they were gone. That was probably a fellow staff member, someone who I'd been to the pub with most likely and shared a pint with. Each one of these incidents has made me more wary and cautious with my stuff, because I know only too well through painful experience that there are some especially low scum sucking pigs around in our hobby.
I have no idea how widespread such behaviour is, but I do know of others who have suffered similar fates, and I hear of other tales like this one. I don't know why it shocks me so much when I hear these stories anymore, but it still does. Because I really can not understand why someone who is part of a tight knit gaming community, someone who knows how much love and effort we put into our armies could do this sort of thing. Most thieves in the rest of real life actually pick on random victims, people they don't know, there is a separation between them and the person they are ripping off. In a way they are removed from the impact and consequences of their actions. It doesn't make what they do any less vile, but it does make it easier I guess to perform their crimes. So what does that tell us about a 'hobby thief' who most likely knows their victim? I guess what I'm trying to say is the fact that this person who stole the Pod Squad members army had no doubt met the guy, smiled at him, maybe even shook his hand and played a game, makes what they did even worse in my eyes. This theft was personal, and they knew the sort of anguish it would cause. I'm sure they probably know the anguish it has caused, certainly if they frequent Dream Pod 9's forums, or Facebook page they must be aware of the hurt and shock they have caused.
Perhaps in their own minds the fact that the Pod Squad member has got new mini's means that there's no harm, and therefore no foul going on. Perhaps that the guys a Blue Table Painting are going to paint his miniatures means he'll have a better collection, and makes it all OK! Right? Well if you think that is the case then let me put you straight. You are WRONG!!! You not only stole the miniatures and their monetary value, you stole the guys time putting them together, you stole the guys time painting them, but worst of all you stole his memories. Each army we have takes on a personality through the games we play with them and the paint we put on them. We develop favourites don't we? Miniatures that just seem to stay alive no matter how bad things get, or always seems to hit no matter what. They develop a history with us. The thief took this from this chap, who I might add selflessly devotes their free time to help spread the word and improve hobbyists hobby time. So there is harm, and there is a foul and if anyone knows anything about this, or any other theft of miniatures, fess up, come clean or shop the person, because communities should stick together and just because in every walk of life there are complete and utter dicks, it doesn't mean we have to put up with them. Peace out!