Warhammer is the retail branch of an online British company that has been providing its unique gaming service for thirty years. The 8th Street location is New York's hotspot for miniature table-top war gaming. Eager workers will walk customers through every step - how to assemble the models, paint the pieces, and how to play the game itself. It takes a certain kind of patience and skill set to contract one's army and may appeal to a customer who enjoys strategy games such as chess. While it is recommended that kids begin learning the game at age twelve, we met a half a dozen men from ages eighteen to fifty who were sitting around the large table, chatting and toiling away on their magnificently detailed pieces.
Established in 1923, the Blatt family has been collecting, designing and manufacturing custom-made pool tables for eighty-eight years. Little did we know that we had stumbled upon such a quality and long-standing institution when we found Blatt Billiards preparing for their grand opening on 38th Street. After seventy-one years at 809 Broadway, the family business found a new home in the early part of 2014. Their new space lets the tables do the talking with its white walls, good lighting and high ceilings. Pool tables can be custom designed with impeccable craftsmanship of intricate carvings and wood inlay and made to order in their factory. In addition, Blatt sells foosball tables, poker tables and many other items for grownup games. We spoke with Jeff, the nephew who is in training to one day run the business. He explained how their tables showcase the rich history of billiards and the game of pool. We saw the detailed artistry of the “four seasons” table, which has four mammoth legs and ornate carvings, as well as the Gatsby-esque tables, which have clean lines and portray that iconic jazz-age elegance. Indeed, maintaining in-house quality seems like a priority. As the company has evolved, they moved their manufacturing operations to New Jersey to better accommodate the needs of modern production. There, they also have a warehouse for storing their collection of antique billiard tables. What impressed me as I engaged in conversation with Jeff and his uncle, Steve, is their ability to find a balance between remembering their roots and thinking about the future. They are both businessmen and craftsmen, seeking modern convenience while also maintaining high quality.
“Compleat” is an archaic way to say “expert, ” and wow do these guys live up to it. Opening in 1975, two brothers and their dad originally sold military and travel books, but this was because “There weren’t that many games at that point in time, ” according to owners Mike and Danny Kilbert, “So we grew up with the industry. ” They dealt in Dungeons and Dragons, mastered Magic: The Gathering, peddled Pokemon and greeted gamers with gusto. Certainly Candyland, Monopoly (in a variety of versions), Scrabble, and so many other wonderful classics line the shelves, but it is the role playing games, cards, and European-style board games that dominate. Stacked to the ceiling from chess to Catan and so, so far beyond, “Anything you might call a game, ” said Mike, “we have. ” Indeed. In addition to strategy and tact, all of their wares, unlike video games, require social interaction. They are out to build minds and communities, too. The sideways team walked in and was instantly brought back to another time - childhood has to end, but, for us, and certainly for Mike and Danny, imagination never will.