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Chatham's Historic Dockyard to hold War Games exhibition featuring Call of Duty

Before parents worried about the rights and wrongs of giving children toy guns, war-related playthings prospered: now a exhibition looks back at the nostalgic games that were forerunners to modern-day phenomena such as Call of Duty.

Adults and children will both be defeated by the charm offensive of the exhibition War Games.

Tin soldiers, Action Men and board games such as Risk are testament to the influence that conflict exerts even in the world of children’s toys, as illustrated by this show at Chatham Historic Dockyard, which has appeal for every generation of the family.

War games exhibition at Chatham's Historic Dockyard
War games exhibition at Chatham's Historic Dockyard

The thought-provoking touring exhibition opens this weekend in Medway and originates from the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

“It’s a real eye-opener for children, and parents and grandparents can enjoy showing their families the toys of their youth!” said the dockyard’s collections and galleries manager, Alex Patterson.

“It is highly interactive, encouraging children to dress up, play at espionage and engage in other activities such as Morse Code breaking.

“One of the many brilliant things about this nostalgic yet provocative exhibition, which has received rave reviews from critics and visitors alike, is that it appeals to all generations across the family.”

The Historic Dockyard
The Historic Dockyard

It features a vast collection of classic and retro toys and games spanning 200 years, with tin ships, action figures, toy weapons, ‘anti-war’ toys, and strategy board games.

Bringing it up to date are examples of science fiction and space-adventure toys and computer games including Call of Duty.

War Games, which is housed at No 1 Smithery, provides an insight into the ways toys and games have been influenced by warfare over the past two centuries through four different sections – Playing at War, On the Battlefield, Reality to Fantasy and Secret Weapons.

Generals, 1985. Picture: John Heywood
Generals, 1985. Picture: John Heywood

One of the centrepieces of the exhibition is a three-dimensional action scene, featuring familiar space fantasy toys, iconic green toy soldiers and action figures, as well as many other recognisable characters.

War Games runs until Sunday, September 20, at No. 1 Smithery: The Gallery at the Historic Dockyard Chatham. Entry to the exhibition is included in the normal admission price of £19 for adults, £16.50 for concessions, £11.50 for children, or £49.50 for a family ticket for two adults and two children or one adult and three children.

Tickets last 12 months, allowing you to repeat visit as many times as you wish. Visit www.thedockyard.co.uk.

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