Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Stephen Barrington

STEPHEN Barrington, 26, has just opened a new table top war gaming shop called Frontline Models in Castle Street. From a young age Stephen knew he wanted to run his own business and is delighted to have turned his hobby into work. He is hoping fans of table top war games in Lisburn will go along and see what his shop has to offer.

The shop is open seven days a week and I run it with the help of my brother. I still work full time in another job so I am leading a hectic life at the moment until the business is established. I open at 10am and make sure it's tidy. It's small so it is easy enough to keep clean. I usually spend the early hours sorting out change, placing orders and putting out stock. A lot of people don't really know much about table top war gaming. It is a recreational hobby where players simulate a battle, which is played out using small figurines. Many miniatures games are played on a tabletop which I have in store, with terrain represented by miniature scenery (hills, forests, roads, fences for example). One of the main reasons for playing miniature war games is because it offers players more freedom of play and a more aesthetically pleasing tactical element over traditional games or computer games. Additionally, many hobbyists enjoy the challenge of painting miniatures and constructing scenery. I have a specially dedicated painting area for my customers.

In many ways, miniature wargaming may be seen as combining many of the aesthetics of tabletop train modelling with an open strategy game predominantly, though not exclusively, with a military theme. There is also a large social component to war games as very often games are played with several participants on a side.

The miniatures and scenery used vary greatly in scale, from 2mm figures up to 32mm or larger. The miniature figures are typically plastic or metal and are often sold unpainted. Scenery is often home-made, and figures are painted by the players, who will sometimes even "convert" shop-bought figures to better represent the units they are trying to depict. I have a great range of stock to choose from and if there is something they want I can place an order for it.

There are any number of sets of miniature wargaming rules. Scenarios may depict actual historical situations and battles, or they may be hypothetical "what if?" situations. There are also fantasy and science fiction games with attendant wizards, spacecraft and other genres. Rules also vary in the scale they depict: one figure to one soldier is the most common for fantasy and some historical rules, but many historical systems presume that one figure represents a platoon, regiment or even larger formations on the tabletop. If people come in and they don't know much about the games then myself or my brother will help explain it. There are starter packs available for the different versions of the games which people often find helpful.

It can become an addictive hobby. The good thing about my shop is that people with the same interests can come together and play the games and paint the models while chatting and listening to music. It's a very relaxed environment.

What time I leave the shop depends on when the last game finishes. I don't like my customers to feel under pressure to hurry up or quit a game. I am prepared to go that extra mile. I am really enjoying the opportunity to turn my hobby into a business and I hope local people will benefit from something different for the city.

Ulster Star