Mad Max In Miniature

MadMaxOriginal Just as my early-1980s adolescent brain was feasting on a steady diet of Dungeons & Dragons, comic books and all things Star Wars, Mad Max raced out of the Australian wastelands and into my world. I caught The Road Warrior at a local theater, only to realize there was an earlier film which I tracked down on video cassette. In the years to come, the Mad Max movies and their sequels tucked in nicely with my other adventure film mythologies. The Conan movies held the sword-and-sandals spot, Star Wars filled the sci-fi niche and Indiana Jones was the retro heroic adventure serial.

It was the the Mad Max films which brought the genres together in a barbaric, sci-fi tale led by a charismatic hero who always seemed to be losing right up until the final moments of the film when you realized he’d just won. The Mad Max movies also held a certain raw immediacy to me, especially in the final dangerous decade of the Cold War where a Road Warrior-esque post-apocalyptic future seemed like a possibility. Thirty years after the third film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, I (thankfully) am not surviving in a souped up car on a murderous desert highway, but I did get another new Mad Max film that thrilled my inner teenager while satisfying my now more adult brain with story and message.

I’m also thankful for being a part of Metropolitan Wargamers which is filled with passionate, creative gamers who put together stunning games like the Road Warrior miniatures event this past weekend at the club. IMG_6151 The game was based largely on a modified set of rules available at the Third Point of Singularity website which have been popular during late night games at some conventions the past year or so. The basics of the rules were maintained with simple sticks for movement, and combat and damage results resolved with D20s and D6s cross-referencing tables. The tabletop itself  used an extra large canvas desert mat, rocky outcroppings and some custom blacktop roads made from roofing material. Dust, smoke and fire markers all come in handy as the carnage builds rapidly. The pics below give a pretty good feel for what the game looks like as the cars race and battle across the table. IMG_6156 IMG_6150 IMG_6162 IMG_6160 IMG_6161 The really wonderful aspect of the game is the cars, made for the most part from Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy vehicles. Cars are tricked-out using bits left over from other military models plus a lot of special 20mm parts and figures made specifically by Stan Johnson Miniatures for post-apocalyptic gamers. Each of the unique cars gets its own stats card and name, as shown in some of the examples below. IMG_6159 IMG_6153 IMG_6152 IMG_6154 IMG_6155 IMG_6158 IMG_6157 With a couple dozen cars, trucks and vans, bunches of good guys and bad guys, and a raucously absurd game, there’s going to be a lot of Mad Max-style roadside carnage in the weeks to come in Brooklyn.

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Downloading: A Century of British Pathé Newsreels

pathe_6da6dceb176b5785e86615b8619ffb28With today’s constant digital feed of news both major and minor, it’s fascinating to think back to an era where newsreels supplied much of the world’s news in motion. In an era still ruled by newspapers and radio, newsreel series from The March of Time, Fox Movietone News, Universal Newsreels, British Pathé and others brought events from far corners of the world to local movie house audiences. Presenting news in motion with dramatic music, voiceovers, selective edits and even reenactments, newsreels provided important foundations for how people would eventually consume video news via television in the latter half of the 20th-century and online in the 21st-century.

British Pathé announced this past week the availability of much of its archive of some 85,000+ HD videos available via YouTube. Some videos appear in their original full newsreels including iconic opening titles, graphics and voiceovers. The A Day That Shook The World series offers more modern edits of pivotal world events from a UK perspective. Other videos are mere snippets, often presented without sound or much context.

Topics covered in the British Pathé newsreels range from celebrity, politics and British royalty to industry, disasters, contemporary slices of life and news from the British Empire worldwide. From the historical to the humorous to the downright bizarre, the newsreel collection paints a wide picture of nearly 100 years of life on Earth.

For people with an interest in armed conflict of the 20th-century, the British Pathé collection has some gems. The Second Boer War gets a little coverage in some amazing footage from the years around the turn of the 20th-century. World War I is covered in major battles such as the Somme and Verdun, but also short features on new technologies like tanks and news from the home front.

Second Boer War

World War I

World War II coincided with the peak era of newsreels, and the British Pathé collection provides an amazing document. There are full newsreels covering the Battle of Dunkirk and the Battle of Arnhem from Operation Market Garden. The brutal siege and liberation of Stalingrad gets a lot of coverage, as does the major battles of the Pacific like Iwo Jima. Nail-biting aerial and naval combat from throughout the war is also documented in some stellar footage.

World War II

There’s a ton of additional military-themed footage in the post-WWII era covering the Cold War events, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Six Day War and the Falkands War. Seeing history come alive in video vignettes from British Pathé, often with more than a glint of heroic propagandist presentation, is just another opportunity to view history as contemporary audiences once saw it. With more and more archives enabling wide distribution of their photo, film, map and document collections online, armchair historians everywhere can tap into a wealth of information painting an ever-widening picture of our past.