Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging - Anniversary



Lady Emma versus Lord Paddington in one of our Teddy Bear games.


It nearly escaped my notice that on August 28, 2007 I created the Der Alte Fritz Journal and published my first post. Accordingly, I have recently hit the Ten Year Anniversary of this blog, which is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself... and I do say so.

I was checking out some of the statistics that Blogger keeps for my blog and it indicates that there have been 1,133,081 visitors since its inception and 1,068 posts have been made to this blog, or an average of 107 posts per year, or approximately one every 3 or 4 days. It has always been my goal to post 100 threads or more to this blog each year. There's no particular reason for one hundred as the magic number, but it just seems like a good target to reach for each year.

Teddy Bear Wars with my daughter: probably the most popular posts on my blog.
The Winner!

The Grumpy old loser!

When I started the blog back in August 2007, we were still in mesmerization of Old School wargaming and the creation of imaginery states in the 18th Century, or "Imaginations". The Old School fad seems to have run its course, but a number of war gamers continue to be influenced by the likes of Peter Young, Charles Grant Sr., Don Featherstone and Jack Scruby. I do not include Peter Gilder in the Old School ranks, but he has certainly left his mark on the hobby and continues to influence it too.

Some Thank Yous
I want to thank Greg Horne and Stokes Schwartz for giving me the nudge to start this blog. I wouldn't have done it had they not blazed the trail of wargame blogging. Another shout out goes to Henry Hyde for his help in some of the technical aspects of blogging and social media. Henry's Battlegames magzine seemed to bring everything together into an enjoyable read every other month. I miss Battlegames, but I would imagine that Henry is happy to escape the hectic, never ending pace of monthly or quarterly publications. I know that it eventually burned me out after seven years of publishing the Seven Years War Association Journal back in the 1990s.

I also thank my war gaming partner in crime, Bill Protz, for all of his encouragement and sharing of ideas on gaming with an emphasis on the socializing aspect of wargaming. Bill created his set of big battalion (1:10 figure ratio) rules, called "Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime" or "BAR" for short. Bill and I have crossed swords, figuratively, on the field of Mars as his Gallia (France) and my Germania (Prussia) nations fought all over Europe in the 18th Century and continue to do so to this day.

I would also reach out to Hal Thinglum, who published MWAN for many years and provided inspiration for my blogging efforts. Bill and Hal are two of the nicest people that you could ever hope to meet in this hobby. Their courtesy towards others, a belief that there is no such thing as a bad wargamer, their enthusiasm for the hobby and their belief that war gaming should be fun are standards that I have tried to adopt to my own efforts on my blog, my wargaming forum, and in my personal encounters with people at games and wargame conventions. It is one thing to call yourself a gentleman, and quite another to actually be one.

Some Benefits
One of the great bonuses of blogging and the internet is the number of people that I have met (both in person and in a virtual manner over the internet) in all corners of the world. I have the feeling that I could travel all over the world and find a place to meet one of my blog readers and to have a game or just sit down and have a drink and talk our brains out over wargaming.

A recent example of this the annual wargame weekend in Kenilworth, UK that is an outgrowth of the A Military Gentleman forum. The event started as a gathering of the AMG members in 2015 and continued in 2016 and 2017. With a number of book purchasers of AMG getting kicked out of the forum for God knows what reasons, the conclave in Kenilworth has morphed into its own enterprise that is independent of AMG. I had the opportunity to attend in both 2015 and 2017 and really enjoyed the opportunity to meet, in person, the many people who I have come to know in a "virtual" way over the internet as acquaintences or Fife & Drum/Minden customers.

And Then Along Came Fife & Drum
I never dreamed that I would ever get involved in the hobby from the business angle. That all came out of left field one day in 2010 when my nephew, Alex, let me know that he had been in contact with Richard Ansell about commissioning a range of American Revolution or AWI figures done in a style similar to that of the Minden Miniatures range, created by Richard as a private enterprise of Frank Hammond, for his own SYW collection.

I had no idea that one could start a figure range by commissioning a sculptor to create the figures for oneself, assuming that all figure sculptors only made figures for their own figure range companies. Later I realized that many sculptors do this for a living and are in the business of finding commission work.

So being an admirer of the figures that Richard was then making for Frank's Minden range (and having bought and painted a lot of Mindens) and liking anything that had to do with the 18th Century,  it didn't take much of a push from Alex for me to jump head first into the waters of the miniatures business. Oh dear, what was I thinking?

So we established the Fife & Drum Miniatures figure company to produce 1/56 scale AWI figures. I quickly learned that producing and selling miniature wargame figures involves a lot of time, effort and work. It is not something that one just does on a lark. I found that the business was consuming nearly all of my spare hobby time and then some. Mrs. Fritz was not particularly happy about the time commitment, but we were eventually able to work out some accomodations in this area; thank goodness!

A part of the business is the research that is required to build the figure range. I had not studied the American Revolution in quite a number of years, so while I knew more about it than the average American, I quickly realized that there was a lot of the history that I did not know. As a result, my library of military history books grew exponentially as I acquired every AWI military history book that I could get my hands on. I don't claim to be an expert these days, but I certainly know a lot more about the American Revolution than I did before starting the F&D venture.

Followed by Minden Miniatures
In 2013, I had the opportunity to acquire the Minden Miniatures SYW figure range and closed the deal with Frank. The Minden figures were (and still are) my favorite wargame miniatures of all time and so I was excited to bring them under the wing of Fife & Drum Miniatures. Talk about time commitments, this probably tripled the amount of time that I was devoting to the business. Yet somehow, I was able to keep on blogging, painting and to a lesser extent, gaming.

I quickly realized that this enterprise was morphing into a full time business and that I needed to do a number of logistical things to transfer F&D/Minden from a hobby to a business. This included things such as setting up an internet page for on-line ordering, creation of logos and marketing pieces, and most importantly, inventory management and financial record keeping. I am retired now and have the time needed to run a figure business, but there is still much work to be done to professionalize the business (which in turn, makes it easier to handle the business side of the enterprise).

While it can be hard work and very time consuming (something to think long and hard about if you every get the bee in your bonnet to enter the commercial market for figures), there are a number of gratifying aspects, chief among these being the customer relationship that I have developed with wargamers all over the world. My local post office looks at me in dread whenever I walk in with a tray full of packages, hoping that they are not all international deliveries. The paper work for customs forms is time consuming as they have to enter all of the information at their terminals. However, I have worked out some protocols with my post office friends, who know me on a first name basis now.

Creating the Fife and Drum Minis Forum
In February of this year, I took the step of creating a talk forum to promote the Fife & Drum and Minden Miniatures figure ranges. Another forum objected to me posting pictures of my figures on their forum, which I can understand. So I decided that having my own forum with my own rules of conduct, etc. would be a good idea.

If you are interested in checking out the fifeanddrumminis forum, then click on the link below and give it a look - no obligation to join:

Fife and Drum Minis Forum

The forum quickly morphed from a My Figures site to something that has taken on a life of its own, relative to talking about anything that has to do with 18th Century military history. I like the direction that the forum has taken and encourge members to post pictures of their projects, regardless of which figures they are using. And best of all, there are no rules on my forum -- you won't get black balled for lurking (an internet term for reading the threads, but not actively participating in the conversation) or not making enough posts each month.


What Is Next?
So what does the future hold? I don't know, probably more of the same because I still enjoy blogging and posting pictures of my toy soldier collection and the after action reports of their battles. My interests include periods such as the Late Roman, Hundred Years War, War of the Roses, Great Northern War, WAS-SYW, AWI, Napoleonics, ACW and 19th Century Colonials (particularly the Sudan), so there is no dearth of topics that I can touch on this blog.

The Management.
I would imagine that in 2027, God willing and I am still breathing, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of blogging. What with the rapid rate of technology advances, there could well be something that replaces the internet and blogging. Whatever it is, I shall be doing it too.

Finally, I want to thank my many readers for your continued support of my blog. Your participation, both the lurking and comments type, give me a lot of inspiration and I enjoy the relationships that I have developed with so many of you over the years.

I am having so much FUN DOING THIS!!!

Cheers and best regards,

Jim

37 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I am looking forward to many more posts from you in the future.

    Greg

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  2. Congratulations Jim,
    I'm looking forward to the next ten and seeing you again next year at Kenilworth. Meantime, keep having fun!

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  3. Quite a milestone, congratulations. As always a great read and long may it continue.

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  4. Congratulations to you and thanks for the entertainment and inspiration you have given us.
    Alan
    Duchy of Tradgardland

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  5. Aw, shucks. . . Well done and congratulations, Jim. You are a leading light in the hobby and have certainly influenced my own painting, collecting and (occasional) gaming these last ten years. Here's to many more. I'll have a post-dinner nip of single malt this evening and raise a toast to you.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  6. Congratulations Jim for all your efforts. It was great to finally meet you this year.

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    1. Robbie: likewise for me too. I enjoy reading your blog and your opinions.

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  7. Well done Jim! Here's to many more years blogging!

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  8. Congratulations on a decade well spent. Over a million visitors is significant. You have inspired and entertained many individuals and had an influence on the hobby!

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  9. Congratulations ! here's to the next ten !

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  10. Congratulations Jim, it's been a pleasure to meet you and i look forward to the next 10 years and hopefully a trip States side in the not too distant future.

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  11. Congratulations, ten years and a good quality blog that is always a pleasure to read.

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  12. Congratulations on such sustained achievement!

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  13. Congrats & thanks on contributing so much to the hobby
    Miles

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  14. Congratulations, Jim!

    In another ten years, you will have solidly planted yourself as a foundation upon whose shoulders the next generation of gamers stands.

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  15. Congratulations Jim. It has been a great pleasure following your blog and enjoying your exploits both on and off the table. I look forward to sharing a beer and chat about all things wargaming one day...

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  16. Congratulatons Jim! Keep on blogging and see you next year in Kenilworth.

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  17. Happy blogging aniversary !

    Always a pleasure to visit your blog and see what you've been doing and what your planning

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  18. Congrats on on a job well done and may it continue so!

    Christopher

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  19. Your blog is a masterpiece Jim,
    So very well done, interesting and genuine.
    I appreciate it very much and thank you sincerely for your kind remarks. Let's get in a next game real soon.
    Applause and bravos,
    Bill P.

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  20. Congratulations, Jim. I'm truly looking forward to the next 10 years of one of very best blogs out there. One can only imagine what treasures, photos, battle reports, and musings will be coming our way.

    Bill O.

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  21. Congratulations! I do enjoy stopping by and reading your posts.

    Rod

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  22. Congratulations, Jim. I hope the hobby and the business continue to flourish and bring you joy. I've got a lot out of following your blog over the years and wish you and your family well for the future.
    sincerely,

    Stephen Caddy

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  23. Congratulations on your ten years of blogging... I lift my cup for another ten years as well!

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  24. Congratulations on the anniversary and here's to many more!

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  25. Many congratulations! And many thanks too - for a wonderful blog and developing wonderful ranges of figures. Where would we all be without you?

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  26. Jim

    Congratulations - I have only manages 65 posts in over 3 years -never mind.

    It was good to see you at Kenilworth and hope you can make it again.

    Steve

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    1. I hope that you will be able to host a game with your Prince August SYW figures - lots of new figures that you have added to the range recently.

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  27. Many congratulations Jim. You have a great blog, which is always full of interest.
    Simon

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  28. Also congratulations. Meanwhile i search more the 'forum' than the 'Alte Fritz Blog'.^^

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    1. Thank you for your participation in both venues. There are a lot of interesting topics in the forum so it is worth the time to take a look.

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  29. Thank you for posting this summary of your last ten years. You are indeed an inspiration, and you've supported my blog from my beginning it in 2011 so thank you for everything. So much to get excited about, especially those occasions when you did parades of all your SYW armies. It was great to play along side of and against you at Kenilworth and I can vouch for your easy going blend of humour, gentlemanly play, but also steely determination too - along with enjoying a sociable drink together, a perfect combination. Please keep it up - lots more good things to come no doubt - and Kenilworth 2018. Chris G
    http://notjustoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/

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