April 3, 2015 by crew
One of my favourite things to do lately is spend my time at my favourite gaming club writing for my favourite Wargaming website! Firestorm Games is not only a well stocked one-stop shop and gigantic gaming space, it’s also the HQ of Annie of The Dice Bag Lady! I interrupted her busy day to poke my nose into her business and her views on gaming!
Dani: Hi Annie! Let’s crack on: why don’t you tell us who you are and what do you do?
Annie: I’m Annie, I run The Dice Bag Lady which is custom crochet dice bags, template and gem bags! I’m also currently expanding into gaming accessories, rulesets and gaming miniatures. There is also my own range of dice and gems, and growing merchandise featuring DBL mascot ‘Baggy The Bag” from badges to mugs and soon – notebooks!
I only sell things I really like personally in my own gaming, which is why stocking SAGA and the female miniatures were no-brainers. I operate the web store every day from Firestorm Games in Cardiff and also travel to trade shows and gaming conventions and tournaments too!
I’ll be launching my own range of models at Salute next month, firstly continuing with the line based on my original characters Baggy and Squiddo! Who doesn’t love squid launchers!? And also have four female Viking models on sale that I have designed, which you can sub into any forces, these will be the start of a large range…
What games do you play?
I started with purely Warhammer but now my main game is SAGA. I’ve also been dabbling into Sword and Spear, Clash of Empires, Freebooters Fate and Lion Rampant! I’ve definitely been entering into more historical games.
I’ve really started to find the historical games more appealing than Fantasy games because learning the fluff means actually learning history! I’ve been doing so much reading and research. Maybe too much…Wars of the Roses is on hold because I’ve been doing too much reading and not enough painting!
What do you look for in a game? What appeals to you?
Currently, it’s something that you can pick up quite quickly but take a long time to master! Since running The Dice Bag Lady takes up so much of my time, I need a game that’s not as life consuming, but still fun!
I used to spend so much time keeping up with the “meta” of Warhammer, which I can’t commit to anymore. I’m mostly into table top games, not so much card games or board games. Right now, it has to be historical too!
When did you decide to make your passion your business?
It started about five years ago, but I have really seriously been concentrating on it full time for the last 2 years. I made a dice bag for myself in Firestorm years ago and lots of players wanted one too! They started becoming popular through the tournaments and in the clubs I played in, and now they’re all over the world! It has been lots and lots of hard work setting up and running DBL.
I suffer an increasingly diminishing social life but ultimately it has been so worth it for me! I felt like I was just existing before in regular office work, working long hours for little return….now I work even longer hours but for way more return! It’s not unusual to be 6-am-11pm, 6 or 7 days a week! I’ve learnt so much about running a business, something I had little knowledge of at the start, it’s just been the tricksy “learn as you go”. Very rewarding.
I’ve learnt so much about the Wargaming businesses in general and the industry as a whole! For example, as well as Firestorm Games, I share a building with Model Display Products and Great Escape Games, so I’ve learned so much about the model making process! This means I arrange the meetings with the sculptors here, we can then chat to the other guys about the process each step of the way, until they are ready to be cast on site. As time goes on I’m able to look at a model and think “that’s too thin, that should be cut there, etc”
You’ve recently, and rather uniquely, started stocking a large collection of, in your own words, ‘Non-Ridiculous’ Female Miniatures – can you tell us why this is important to you?
I noticed that when I was looking for female Vikings for my SAGA warband, I couldn’t find ANY without chain mail bikinis – and I couldn’t find any with realistic armour. Female models that are not overly-sexualised are actually the niche – you’d think it would be the other way round! I have spent ages scouring the Internet looking for female miniatures that I think fit into my army – it’s become a bit of an obsession – I decided to collect them all together to offer others the same choices.
I’ve been learning so much through this process. With some of the historical figures I found, I was looking up the real life versions and reading about these amazing woman in history that have been kept out of history books! I’ll be including my findings in write ups to go along with my female model shop. I’m sure other people would find it as interesting as I have.
I’ve received way more support than I initially expected – I thought people would think I was the frump police or something – I’m not against sexy female models – my issue is that it’s so hard to find non sexy ones, ones that just want to go to war.
It’s been quite fun endlessly going through catalogues of models searching for my favourites – I’ve had to come up with my own criteria! They might be a really cool, really lovely sculpts but then have a boob window! Cool, that armour is now basically useless! It would be ridiculous if a male model army had, erm… windows… but there are barely any female models that don’t. It’s become so normal that it’s easy not to see.
What, if anything, do you think can be done to encourage women in Wargaming?
That’s so hard to answer, because speaking for a huge amount of people is nearly impossible and I can only speak from my own perspective.
I definitely think that more women would play Wargames if they had the choice of real female models. I think this would make more women feel included, rather than “other”. Most people want to see themselves represented on the table.
There doesn’t seem like there is one huge “easy fix” reason why there aren’t more women playing games, there are so many factors you could argue. In the last few years it has definitely gotten better, but no where near the same speed as online gaming or even card games!
I set up the Woman Wargamers Facebook Page to try to find more women in the hobby, inviting people I knew from forums and tournaments and encouraging others to do the same. Lately we’ve had loads of people join (send a message if this would apply to you)! We currently have over 100 members and this is still a tiny amount of the total out there!
Whilst there is no one answer to get more women gaming, but there are definitely things people can do and not do to help. If you run a gaming centre or an online forum, make sure it is a place where if anybody is having a problem, they are comfortable enough to know they can broach the subject with somebody in charge. They should be approachable. As much as it shouldn’t need to happen just “keep an eye out”. Something that may be disguised as banter may put that person off returning.
I’m very grateful to have Firestorm Games to play at, as the staff are awesome. Not everyone has this luxury! Most issues I’ve had have been online, so I’m hoping that women don’t get put off by the attitude of a few, because from my own experience, it is so much different, for the better, in physical places. Idiots are few, but always the loudest. So for any women (or men) currently in the pool of being too shy to go visit the local gaming place, go do it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t sooner!
What does the future hold for The Dice Bag Lady?
Miniatures! I plan to expand my range of miniatures to include way more cool and believable female models, as well as keep finding other manufacturers excellent models to stock alongside. I’m finding it so fascinating to learn about these historical figures, and educating people on what actual female chest plate armour looks like!
I want it to be the place you immediately think of when somebody mentions they need some women in their army. There’s a few cheeky secrets under wraps as well that I’ll slowly “leak”, and of course continuing with the main hub and soul of the company – the super dice bags.
Then, world domination with an army of squiddos.
Thanks so much Annie!
You can follow Annie on…
…or visit her awesome webstore at http://thedicebaglady.net/
By Dani Abram
She also visits many trade shows including Salute 2015! See you there!
"I’ve learnt so much about running a business, something I had little knowledge of at the start, it’s just been the tricksy “learn as you go”. Very rewarding"
"Female models that are not overly-sexualised are actually the niche – you’d think it would be the other way round!"