Wednesday, 21 September 2011

And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it..

I haz a hat.

One of the things I particularly wanted to pick up from The Asylum weekend was a pickelhaube, and I was delighted to find one for a not unreasonable price - I could have had the same for £9 cheaper from eBay, but I'm not going to quibble.

I understand that the wearing of hats remains a deeply divisive issue amongst the wargaming community.

Some may consider it to cheapen or demean the serious competitive sport that is modern tournament-level wargaming. How can outsiders take our game of toy soldiers seriously, they say, if you're wearing a silly hat?

Personally, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to command my Germanic legions in the invasion of England if I don't have a nice spiky helmet to get me into character as General Manfred von Rumpelhoffen. That's just crazy moon talk.

Joking aside, there is something about wearing (in)appropriate headwear to a game that says "I'm here to have fun, first and foremost." I just can't imagine myself getting into a heated rules argument while wearing a pith helmet. If you're umpiring a game, wearing a silly hat can also serve to set you apart from the other players and through some subtle subconscious cues help reinforce your authority in some ways.

It doesn't need to be expensive. Unless like me you're cursed with a freakishly capacious cranium, fancy dress hats for as little as a few pounds can be useful. eBay is full of military surplus headgear in various styles, along with historical reproductions like my Pickelhaube. sells pith helmets in several styles, along with helmet badges for the 24th Foot if you want the full Zulu war look (mine has been adorned with a pair of carting goggles for less than a fiver). Remember you're not looking for something to satisfy the Historical Accuracy mafia, just something that makes you feel a little bit closer to the era of the game you're playing. My pickelhaube is based on an 1891 pattern, but that won't stop me wearing it for the next battle in my 188x invasion of England.

Which brings me round to the upcoming wargame calendar. The GASLIGHT game planned for last Sunday obviously got canned as I was tied up with family duty, so I'm going to try to re-arrange something for the next MAWS Sunday which will be in two weeks time. Whether it's GASLIGHT or another try at Force On Force (now that we think we understand what the authors were trying to say) is undecided.

PS.... I've just noticed something... see that photo above.. you know the one of the dashing fellow in the helmet. Look right... see the old guy talking to the girl in the black dress. See that old guy? That's Wilf Lunn, ladies and gentlemen, who was one of the guests of honour at the Asylum weekend in Lincoln. If you're British and of a certain age like me, you'll remember him from vintage children's TV shows like Vision On and Jigsaw, where he was always portraying the Mad Scientist demonstrating his latest inventions. Despite being... what he must be about nine hundred years old now... Wilf was still active and spritely when he appeared at The Asylum and I'm terribly sorry that I wasn't able to attend his lecture/presentation.


  1. I absolutely agree about the wearing of hats when wargaming. They do help one get into the right frame of mind for a game. I have a picklehaube, two different styles of tropical helmet, a Russian fur hat, several Russian WWI Budenovka, a Russian WW2 Pilotka, a Spanish Civil War helmet, and a German WW2 Einheitsfeldm├╝tze.

  2. Hey you get my vote! Silly hats are in, I just need to get a few, thanks for the tips. Jeez, Wilf Lunn!, cor lumme, that takes me back a bit...fond memories of Vision-On ;-)

  3. I salute you, mein herr! I totally agree about silly hats. Among my collection are a pith helmet, a French Foreign Legion kepi and an Aussie Akubra (with the brim that clips up on the side). But more hats is always good.

  4. Great photo, I nearly didn't recognise you. Takes me back to 'Those Magnificent Men in their Fly Machines' and the German general that made the sound of a brass band when he marched. I'm sure their was a humourous balloon related incident featuring a similar splendid hat.

    Excellent beard/sideburns too, but boy do they age you!! Thanks for the great post, been waiting all week for it and it lightened my morning.

  5. I think we've found the hot-button topic for AoN followers. All those posts about wargames rules and figures and buildings... no response. Post about silly hats... four comments in 24hrs.

    Clearly I need to include more hat-related discussion on the blog.

    There is something about wearing a silly hat that can't help but bring a smile to the face. The pickelhaube's sitting on a table next to the computer, and it's hard to resist the temptation to reach over and pop it on for a few minutes just for giggles. Even saying the name sounds funny... pickelhaube.... pickelhaube.

    My current hat collection - the pickelhaube, the pith helmet, a cheaper bamboo sun hat, a russian fur hat (with soviet hat badge) an amish hat (good for westerns) a sombrero (ditto), various pirate hats and a cheap plastic horned viking helmet.

    BTW the mutton chops were grown solely for the Asylum event and have already been given the axe.

  6. Absolutely bang on old boy re the wearing of suitable cranial adornments. I wouldnt dream of taking on my opponents fuzzie wuzzies without my trusty foriegn service helmet securely fastened at the chinstrap or my kepi set at a rakish angle when thrashing those damned secessionist rebels.
    Im thinking a Meersham pipe might add to the sartorial splendour as well