war and pieces Below my apartment building in the shopping district of West Hartford, CT was the coolest store a kid or kid-at-heart could possibly want to live near. War and Pieces opened in 1974, catering primarily to scale models of wartime ships and aircraft. Through the years it tackled other rising interests such as tabletop role-playing games and miniatures, garage kits, radio-controlled vehicles and collectible card games.

 The biggest impression I had walking into the store were the narrow paths between walls and shelves full of plastic kits and books stacked from floor to ceiling, some which blocked the overhead fluorescent lighting, all threatening to tumble upon me if I bumped into them. This was amplified by the fact that initially the shop was squeezed into half a storefront, with the other half being a vacuum cleaner repair shop. Later at it’s most prolific time, the shop’s space was quadrupled by the owners renting the adjacent storefronts; eventually the shop was scaled back into one whole storefront.

After moving away from West Hartford, I always took the opportunity to stop by and browse the shelves in hopes of something catching my eye and opening my wallet (remember kids, this was before everything was knowable on the internet!). It was still the best shop in the area, if not the state, that had what I was looking for.  But moving out-of-state had since diluted the ritual.

For ages I haven’t touched a gooey tube of model cement or dipped a decal to water for application, but once in a while I reach into my closet and dig out some old stuff I bought at War and Pieces, like Fasa’s Doctor Who role-playing game (bought it as a collectible but never played it), or Steve Jackson Games’ Car Wars (which was pure joy back in college!). Just a few days ago, I thought “Hey, maybe the shop is on the ‘net by now.” After a few keystrokes I discovered to my dismay that high rent and competition from internet business had forced War and Pieces to close shop before the summer of ’07.

Other disappointed patrons on message boards have suggested alternate shops that might fill the gap, but that won’t gloss over the good memories I had of living next door to a shop that had all that I dreamed of.