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HISTORICON 2018 Special Guests –

The Perry Twins

Alan Perry and Michael Perry

 As teenagers in the British Model Soldier Society during the 1970’s, Alan and Michael entered competitions with their scratch-built 80-90mm figures. In 1977, whilst still at school they started freelance sculpting for Citadel Miniatures (Games Workshop) and became full time designers in 1978 sculpting for nearly every GW range (including Lord of the Rings) for 37 years. The Perry Twins took advantage of their GW success to dedicate their efforts toward their personal passion for historical miniature gaming. 

By 1983, the Perry bothers became the first creative design-force under which Wargames Foundry Miniatures was launched by Bryan Ansell. The Perry brothers' Foundry figures have been produced, now for well over 30 years.

The Perry brothers also founded the company Warhammer Historical with Jervis Johnson and Rick Priestley and helped on the first four Warhammer Historical books. 

In 2001 after leaving Foundry they set up their own company "Perry Miniatures" which to date produces 42 ranges historical ranges (totaling over 10,000 figures) including AWI, ACW, Napoleonics, Wars of the Roses, Crusades, ECW, Agincourt to Orleans, Zulu War and Samurai. They were the first to add historical 28mm hard-plastic figures to their metal figure lines, with other companies following suit.

 In 2014 they left Games Workshop which allowed them to indulge in their main interest, Perry Miniatures, full time.

During their time working on The Lord of the Rings range, they became good friends with Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor. In late 2014-15 they were asked by Peter if they would like to make large amount of 54mm WW1 figures (in a very short time) for a Centennial ANZAC diorama in New Zealand. Although, since 2002 they had been making hundreds of 54mm WW1 figures for Peter’s private collection, this was something on a different scale! They of cause said yes! At the time they were also working on the Agincourt diorama for the Royal Armouries. The figures for this diorama were to be 28mm so most of these were already in the range but many conversions were made too.

They very are keen collectors of militaria which all helps in designing figures.

They've published seven books themselves, plus countless hobby-related articles. They've also been avid historical re-enactors (Michael lost part of his right arm to an artillery mishap at the "Battle of Crécy" in 1996, although this did not hamper his sculpting!).


"The SPI Guys"


Albert A. Nofi – “Al”

A native of Brooklyn, I attended New York City public schools, graduating from the Boys' High School in 1961. There, I was introduced to wargaming by a friend’s copy of the venerable Tactics II. Already interested in military history, that hooked me on wargaming. 

After attending Fordham University for my bachelor’s (1965), I taught in New York City public schools, eventually rising to high school assistant principal, until I retired in 1995. My service was primarily in alternative programs, such as the Harlem Preparatory School, Park East High School, and Unity High School at the Door. I often made use of board gaming, computers, and other innovative techniques to teach history, economics, and creative writing.  In 1991 I received a Ph.D. in Military History from the City University of New York,.

Unlike Jim, I was 4-F for the draft, but did my bit in the New York Guard, the state defense force, rising to major.

During these years, I also worked as independent historian, defense analyst, and wargame designer. I had met Jim Dunnigan in 1966, when I was invited to playtest 1914 on his roof in Bay Ridge, and we began working on several projects, while contributing to Chris Wagner’s. Strategy & Tactics magazine. In the spring of 1969, Jim borrowed $100 from me as I was leaving to work for the summer as a sea cook on a cruise yacht in the Mediterranean. That autumn, after sundry adventures, I found that Jim had bought S&T and I was now the “associate editor.” Soon afterwards, when we were discussing ideas for new games, I said “Maybe you should do a game on the revival of infantry during the Renaissance”. Jim replied “Maybe you should.” The result was Renaissance of Infantry, the first of several games I did for SPI, including Centurion and Caporetto, while working as research director for many other SPI games and regularly contributing articles to S&T, as well as “F.Y.I.”, a regular column of military history and triviaAfter the collapse of SPI, I did several games for other companies, notably Great War, Wellington in the Peninsula, and Imperium Romanum, which is about to go into a third edition, courtesy of Decision Games.

In 1999, I became a research analyst with the Center for Naval Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia. There, I worked closely with game maven Peter Perla. For several years I served as CNA representative to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group at the War College in Newport. I retired from CNA in 2006.

I’ve authored, co-authored, or edited more than some 30 books on a wide variety of topics. My last book, To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy's Fleet Problems, 1923-1940 received awards from the North American Society for Oceanic History and The Navy League.  In 2013, Col. Robert Bateman included my The Gettysburg Campaign in a recommended reading list in Esquire, calling it the “entry level book” on the campaign.[1]



James F. Dunnigan – “Jim”

Back in 1943, with World War II dominating the news, I was born in Rockland country, about 25 miles north of New York city. It was pretty rural up there back then. Coming of age in the 1950s wasn't too bad, but as soon as 1960 rolled around, I headed for "The City." Been there ever since, except for a three year intermission to take care of the then-mandatory military service.

The Draft:  In the early 60s, you were eligible for the draft at 18. You could wait around until they called you in your early 20s, or you could volunteer and get it over with when you wanted to.

So I volunteered. Even then, I was prone to looking for a better way to do things. I knew that if you just volunteered for the two year draft obligation, you were likely to get a crap assignment. So I volunteered for three years and, sure enough, got turned into a rocket repairman (a repair technician for the Sergeant ballistic missile, sort of a high class Scud, designed for a nuclear warhead).

First, though, I took care of another problem I had heard about military service. Namely, basic training.

Guys in my part of the country went to Fort Dix in New Jersey. Not a very pleasant place (Fort Dix, not New Jersey.) Plus I was planning on joining up right after my birthday in August, when the weather was either too hot or too cold in New Jersey. So I went to the library to check out the weather in the other places where the Army did its basic training. Fort Ord in California seemed to be the most pleasant of the lot. So I got on a bus, went cross country (and saw the country for the first time) to LA. I joined up, was assigned to Fort Ord (in scenic Monterrey) and became a soldier.

Korea:  It was interesting. I had never paid much attention to the military before, but here I was. So I took notes. I also ran across wargames while taking technical training at Redstone Arsenal (Huntsville, Alabama.) They shipped me and my artillery battalion off to Korea, where I spent an interesting year finding out why it was good to be an American.

The Army let me go in July, 1964, about two weeks before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the official beginning of the Vietnam war. Who knew? What luck, I was home free. No getting shot at.

Actually, I'd already had a brush with combat in Korea. When we got there in June, 1963, the North Koreans had started sending over suicide squads. These guys would get across the DMZ, set up ambushes and try to kill as many U.S. or South Korean troops as they could before getting wiped out.

Since my battalion (the 3/81st Artillery) was a high priority combat unit (we had missiles), we spent a lot of time in the field. For a while they sent us out on these field exercises with live ammunition. Just in case. This made for a lot of nervous teenage G.I.'s. Too nervous, it turned out. They took the live ammo away from us when the brass figured out we were more likely to create a friendly fire incident than run into the North Koreans.

Accounting and Wargames:  I decided it was time to grow up and went off to Pace University to become an accountant. I was young and foolish and what did I know. By 1966, the G.I. Bill had been restored and Uncle Sugar was now willing to pay a large chunk of my college tuition. I also realized that, while I had a taste for accounting (I even caught an error in a final exam once) it was better (as one recent Pace grad had told me) "to count your own money than someone else's." I was on the dean's list and figured it was time to move up in the world. So I applied to transfer to Columbia, New York City's own chapter of the Ivy League. I was accepted and finished my college career at Columbia.

Before I graduated from Columbia, in 1970, I got involved in wargames again. In 1966, the then sole publisher of wargames, Avalon Hill (which was later absorbed by Hasbro), asked me to design a game. That game, Jutland, came out in 1967. Meanwhile, they asked me to do another, 1914, which came out in 1968. A year later, I began my own game publishing company, which became Simulations Publications, Inc., or SPI. I did it because I thought there was a better way to do these things and, what the hell, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Writing and Wargaming:  What I really wanted to do was write books. I was a history major up at Columbia and graduated with honors in that subject. But SPI took off.  I ended up running it for eleven years. I found this to be a great experience. My father ran a saloon for half a century, so as a kid I picked up the basics of running a business. But during my years at SPI I developed a lot of additional skills. I learned how to set up computer systems and manage software developments. And then there was cost accounting, project management in general, advertising marketing and promotion. I also found I had a knack for public speaking. It was also during that time that I began to appear on television and radio as a news analyst. I also came to realize that there would never be much money in the wargame business. My market research revealed that, while our actual and potential customers were well educated and upscale economically, there were simply not very many of them. I could see that eventually the personal computer would be able to handle wargames, and widen the market, but that would not happen until the mid or late 1980s. Then in 1979, I was asked to write a book on wargames (The Complete Wargames Handbook). and I did. In 1980 I got a contract for a book on warfare (How to Make War). I also got to know some gamers who worked on Wall Street in the late 1970s. One thing led to another and I left SPI in 1980 to write more books and get into modeling financial markets and all manner of interesting projects. Been doing that ever since.

I was not able to get away from wargaming, though, as much as I tried. I had made a bit of an impression while I was at SPI and kept getting requests to do more wargaming type stuff through the 1980s and 90s. I gave in from time to time.

From 1982 I through the end of the ‘90s I gave a lecture at Georgia Tech’s annual course on wargaming, and have lectured at a number of other institutions as well.

In 1985, Ray Macedonia (who had called me in during the late 1970s and early 1980s to help re-establish wargaming at the Army War College) asked me to build a tactical combat model to see how robotic mines would work. Ray had since retired and was working as chief scientist at AVCO (now Textron). So I did that one.

Various Department of Defense and State Department agencies called on me to give lectures or just have a chat. In 1998, Ray Macedonia's son Mike, a West Point grad and now chief scientist at STRICOM (the Army's wargame development operation) asked me to join their Technical Advisory Board. In 1989, I got involved editing a military history magazine (Strategy & Tactics) which was the one I ran while at SPI and did that, remotely from NYC, for 18 months. During the 1980s I got several job offers from these outfits. But moving to Washington DC was not my idea of a good time and the financial modeling business in New York was good.

New York, New York:  Being in New York also got me on television and radio a lot. There weren't many retired generals in the New York area that could explain military affairs in plain English. I could, and starting in 1976, I got called on to do a lot of color commentary on military affairs.

In 1989, I got involved in developing online games, and was writing books at the rate of about one or two a year.  And whatever else I can get away with.

I live in Manhattan, one of these years, I'm really going to plant a garden in my back yard. Scotch ivy and an evergreen tree just don't cut it. Sundry girlfriends have volunteered to come over and show me how, but I find that just interferes with my writing.

It also dawned on me several years ago that I had never bought a TV set. Gotta do that one of these days. And get a driver’s license. I had one in the Army and it was pretty neat. But I tended to get lost in thought while driving and almost came to grief because of it several times.

What were you expecting, autobiography?

Howard Barasch – “Howie”

Howie was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.  He worked for SPI from February 1973 to February 1979 as Operations and Marketing VP.  His design credits include: Freedom in the Galaxy, War of the Ring (co-designed), and two quad games: Cauldron and Chinese Farm.  He was also was managing editor of Moves magazine and authored a column entitled “the Insider” in S&T magazine. 

Howie later worked for Heritage Models in Dallas, abecame a game distributor and then owner of Games Unique, a mall-based chain of game stores in Texas.  He was the first Executive director of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

Howie currently works as Operations Manager for Clayton Homes. He lives in Austin, Texas.

David C. Isby

David Isby worked at SPI (and its predecessors) in 1970-79. He has designed and published 21 conflict simulations and contributed to many more, including: Air War (air combat tactics), To the Green Fields Beyond (Cambrai 1917), C-CAM (analytic simulation on a European security issue for a government client), and CAPS (first user manual of SPARTA’s Computerized Analysis and Planning Simulation). He received two Charles Roberts awards, one for To the Green Fields Beyond and one for the Hall of Fame.  He is the author or editor of 26 books, including: Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires, New York, 2010 and 2011 editions, Pegasus.  Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army, London, 1981 and 1988 editions, Jane's.  Armies of NATO's Central Front, London, 1985, Jane's. War in a Distant Country. Afghanistan: Invasion and Resistance, London, 1989, Cassell.  Leave No Man Behind, London, 2004, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (US special operations).  He has testified before Senate and House committee hearings as an independent expert.  His media appearances include: PBS News Hour, MacNeill-Lehrer, The McLaughlin Group, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox & Friends, Voice of America, Nightline and New York Times.  He has lectured at the National Defense University, US Army War College, US Army Command and General Staff College, Air Command & Staff College, US Marine Corps Command and General Staff College, Naval Postgraduate School and other institutions.  He holds a JD from New York University Law School, an MFA from Goucher College and a BA Columbia University.  A native of New York, he is currently based in Alexandria Virginia.

An Informal History of SPI

In addition to designing games for Avalon Hill, by the late ‘60s Jim Dunnigan had formed Poulton Press, to publish games and game-related materials, such as Kampf, a series of short, data-packed pamphlets on the Battle of the Bulge, Guadalcanal, and Normandy, with the idea of marketing them through the pages of Chris Wagner’s Strategy & Tactics, which had a circulation of about 1,200.   But in early 1969, with circulation down into triple digits, Wagner decided to fold S&T. By summer, Dunnigan, who had been contributing articles to the magazine, took over Strategy & Tactics and with the help of Redmond Simonsen began publishing the magazine. Although originally essentially a fanzine about the game aspects of wargaming, Dunnigan recast it as a magazine about military history and wargaming. Soon each issue featured a major historical article, with a wargame on the same subject, complete with map, rules, and counters, plus some additional articles and columns primarily of military historical interest, often tied to new games published separately.

The new formula worked. Though it took about three years for circulation to reach 3,000, it then began to take off. This growth was due in large measure not only to increasing sophistication in game design and the physical quality of the products, but also to continuous polling of the responses to a mail-in feedback card that was included with each issue and game. These not only asked customers to evaluate the existing product, but to evaluate proposed future subjects for games. As circulation grew, several new publications were developed, such as a newsletter, Game Design, The S&T Guide to Wargames in Print (an annual listing of existing games), and a staff newsletter, which eventually were merged into MOVES, devoted to the discussion of games, gaming, game theory, and game design, which was later joined by Ares, for fantasy and science fiction gaming and more specialized newsletters.

SPI had a unique “culture”, reflecting the times. Business hours were flexible, so long as everyone made scheduled meetings and deadlines. Friday night open invitation game testing sessions appeared chaotic, but were essential not only for insuring accuracy of rules and game concepts and were also valuable for recruiting young gamers who might become game developers or even designers. Staff morale was bolstered by periodic water pistol fights, pastafests, or breaks to hunt down gerbils escaping from Dunnigan’s office.

In the mid-late‘70s S&T circulation had reached about 39,000, with a readership based of about three times that. But that peak coincided with demographic change (no more 13 year-old baby-boomers who had been the prime new recruits) as well as the start of the rise of role playing and computer gaming. By the late 1970s, rising costs and serious inflation were creating financial problems for SPI. Attempts at reorganization were unsuccessful, and in early 1982 SPI’s principal creditor called in its note, and essentially closed down the company.

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