Thursday, April 25, 2019

My Trip to The Emperor's Headquarters

Shangri La for the historical wargamer! The sun of Austerlitz always shines on the Emperor's Headquarters (EHQ) - until it moved then closed a few years later.

I'm from California, had gone to school in Michigan, and as a graduation outing in May of 1994, my Mom, sister and I decided to take a week long tour around the Great Lakes. I had sort of planned on getting to EHQ if we were near which was at this time a legendary place. They were the hub of Napoleonic research in North America, home of Emperor's Press, and involved in wargaming and Napoleonic societies of all kinds. Plus I knew they carried a ton of Napoleonic miniatures and books. If we were near I was gonna stop in.

Except. Mother and I had competing agendas as I recall and EHQ was out of the question. After much pleading and assurances of my haste, I was granted five minutes - five minutes and then she's taking off. I was convinced she would, so I began a breakneck tour through the place with my sister in tow covering it all with the camera.

Yup, yup - I'm hurrying.

In recent years this kind of thing was common but it is nearly always filled with some other supportive product, be it Games Workshop, comics, RPGs, CCGs, vehicle models, board games, Fantasy, Sci Fi - what made EHQ great was is it was exclusively historicals and huge.

Honestly, the whole thing is a blur, I couldn't quite get my rushed mind around the whole place. I darted up each and every aisle like a loon trying to absorb it all.

Another bummer: I had no money to speak of so picking up anything was out of the question.

Rows and rows of Minifigs!

Scenic Effects (now defunct) buildings up top

I can't make out who made these Napoleonics on display - Front Rank?

The whole thing is just too much as the clock rapidly winds down.

Ah - the painted counter - always fun to peruse. At this time I had not yet been to the Last Grenadier in Burbank, nor Brookhurst - they were comparable in scale, but still had a mix of Fantasy, Scifi and other games by the time I got to them years later.

Not sure what I was trying to explain here ...

What's over here?

Ah - and a huge gaming area - how many games of Empire V were thrashed out on these tables? (None, by the look of them. Saturdays only?)

Times up! Never been back to the EHQ before it shuttered, nor Chicago sans layovers at O'Hare. But I did cast a shadow on the place, got a few pics and can say I was there.
Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!


  1. I had a similar but slightly happier experience - I was in NYC on business before heading down to Florida and then on for a conference so I went via Chicago - pretty sure I flew in and out in a day. I was not quite so pinched for time but had to keep a weather eye out. Marvellous place - got to meet the man himself and visited the cellar where he had stored the incredible Paris revolutionary lay out - Tuileries and all. As you say - mad amount of choice. I remember I picked up a couple of books - happy to find things published in North America - and half a ton (although I should still like to get some more some day) French Revolution figures.. and I seem to recall a piece of scenery or two. Other memories - repacking my suitcase with the loot on the shop floor - and a quick walk to the McDonalds just down the street for something to eat. I echo your sentiments - so sad that it is no more, but like you at least I can say I have been there (and all the way from Europe!). Regards Chris aka the Auld Yin
    P.S. Apologies for the "Anonymous" - I could not figure out any of the other options!

  2. Great story Chris!

    Funny, if my sister hadn't come in with me there'd be no evidence whatsoever. That whole trip was ridiculously photographed.

  3. Very cool! Hard to imagine seeing a game store with that many miniatures now.

  4. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I lived about 20 or 30 minutes away and took advantage of their open until midnight hours to make some spur of the moment purchase.

  5. Never made it there, but still ordered some items. It is a shame there are so few retail shops left. And yet, we are spoiled for choice online, at least.

    (handsome chap there, by the way!)

  6. Great post. Wish I'd taken pics over the years.