Sunday, 2 May 2010

Bob O' Brien

I was sad to hear today of the death of Bob O Brien, one of the movers behind the Wargames Research Group.

Thanks to Dave for permission to reproduce here a post he made elsewhere:

Bob O'Brien died this morning peacefully in his sleep after a short illness and a fall. He was 92.

He was one of those responsible for WRG and many Airfix Magazine article of converting soft plastic figures; articles that have influenced many of us even if we still have no idea where to get Banana oil!

Bob intoduced me to wargaming Seven Years War using the WRG 1685-1845 set (naturally) with a raft of home mods so was my first opponent. A couple of weeks ago when a friend umpired an Russo-Japanese war naval game, which I lost badly, I had the honour of being his last wargame opponent.

Bob's interests covered wargaming from earliest recorded history onwards and on land or sea and in the air. His impact on the hobby has yet to be fully assessed but he will be missed. As a veteran of WWII both with the BEF in 1941 and later in North Africa his store of ancedotes could both enlighten and distract. When telling him about our BattleAxe game 2 years ago I mentioned Halfaya Pass, his response 'I know it well'. Few men have driven the along the whole of the coast from the southern border of Turkey to Tunis. Much of it more than once.

Gentlemen if you knew or were influenced by him then, at your leisure, raise a glass to what Bob described as the wargamer's toast: 'Confusion!'


In tribute here is one of his many articles on modifying Airfix plastic figures for wargames, this time from Military Modelling October 1972.


Xaltotun of Python said...

He will be sadly missed. Most of my early armies were Airfix conversions based on his Airfix magazine articles.

Ross Mac said...

Sad news. I had the pleasure of meeting him once very briefly at a wargaming tent at Aldershot in the 70's.

A nearly unsung hero of the hobby's early days. Thank your for remembering him to us.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I thought this was nice - a clear indication of the calibre of the man...

Michael said...

He was a proper gentleman

Benjamin of Wight said...

Sad news indeed, one of the best.

Ian said...

I never met Bob but like many a wargamer was influenced by his modeling and wargames articles. A sad loss to our hobby and I am sure to his family. Rest in peace!

Tone said...

I had the pleasure of demonstrating the new and exciting 'Kingmaker' at the Model Engineer Exhibition at the Seymore Hall with both Bob and his great friend - the late Hugh Walters. I also remember him at the Society if Ancients with Huns, and the wargames shop at the back of Victoria Station in the early 80's. How very avant garde it all was then. He always had a merry quip - and now Hugh will have a friend and wargame opponent again.
I still have my copy of Kingmaker from all those years ago, and still enjoy it, and always fondly recall those days.

Dave Church said...

Back when I gamed with Hugh Walters and Paragon, I had the... honor? Something similar, to be soundly thrashed on 3 separate occasions. Once at Aldershot and twice at Mil Mod. The last one being where I ran a city state Greek army straight into his Sassanid meat grinder. And Bob just smiled and smoked another cigarette. A mellow man with some amazing stories. I've been away from wargaming for 15 years of more, just found out about this as I sit on the banks of the Caspian Sea. And another piece of my youth disappears.

Dave 'Egg' Church

Darklinger said...

A legend.

But tell me: 'The war games shop at the back of Victoria station'. - I used to pilgrimmage to that shop,secretly spending hoarded paper-round money,I think in the late seventies, to buy Hinchliffe figures - and this seemed to be the only alternative to the shiny polythene of Airfix at the time (although I am sure that as an adolescent wargamer of the era, I was ill informed). Was that shop Bob o'Brien's? Am now wondering if I ever met him. Sometimes I have wondered if I dreamt that shop, and my excitement at getting there.
Oh, the era of hot pins and seeking Banana oil!


Narratio said...

@Darklinger. That was Minifig-Skytrex in Gillingham road. Run by Dave Rotor and assisted by Ian Leek.