Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop – an interview with The Cage’s Echo Charlie
… let’s rewind back in time to when I first got involved with Plastic Deth …Some eight years plus, having been inspired by both a chance meeting at the War & Peace show with some re enactors, who also happened to be Airsofters, and now very dog eared copy of the venerable Airsoft International magazine and a set of USGI UCP cammies and I was making my first tentative steps into the wider world of Airsoft and, subsequently MilSim …
This interview serves somewhat as a bookend to a soon to be published article, my fourth installment for Airsoft International and as such is trip down memory lane …
So, if those Cammies, magazine and that conversation at the worlds largest Militaria show with those re enactors was the catalyst – I was to be enabled and encouraged by those very same Airsofters, at a certain renowned Airsoft Store which they Staff and I frequent to this day …
So, without delay, we welcome aboard one of those very ‘Airsofters‘ – Echo Charlie from CAGE Airsoft …
GM75: Firstly, thank you for taking the time out to do this, been a long time coming …
Now, I’ve recently penned an article on the ‘Venerable’ Load Out. I clearly recall discussing with you and the rest of the guys, gear, load outs and everything in between. Both in store and online, particularly the sorely missed ‘Wannabe Forums’ – do you think the days of detailed ‘screen accurate’ load outs are dead ?
EC: No problem thanks for having me. To be honest, I did spend a number of years away from the Airsoft/MilSim scene. Coming back, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the ‘spirit’ of Wannabe very much alive. If anything, I think it has grown and with the explosion in replicas it seems easier than ever for anyone to put together a load out which looks the part.
GM75: Now, as we’ve featured here, you’ve probably got some of the most screaming up to date gear out there right now. You’ve long been an inspiration for new ideas, or even just seeing what’s new or innovative – do you miss your more ‘real world’ load out builds or was all of that an evolution to where you are now?
EC: Indeed, when I stopped playing Airsoft, I still kept my newsreader subscribed to Soldier Systems to keep half an eye on what was going on in the world of cordura. When I picked up Airsoft again I did tell myself that having a family, I should probably be sensible. I put together a simple load out based around the First Spear Strandhogg and duly went to my first comeback game. Shortly afterwards, Tangman spotted me on Arnies Forum and invited me onto the Grayfox Forum. Once I registered I guess the force influenced my weak mind! I had barely been playing again for a month and I became hellbent on building 2013 era CAG kit. So I’ve probably undergone more of a revival than an evolution.
GM75: The Wannabe Forum was a treasure trove of gear, blasters (gun porn was the popular term) and load outs running the gamut from UKSF inspired ‘Black Kit’, a plethora of NSW gears, 75th Rangers, MARSOC and more … do you think its demise is a sign of the times, and perhaps a shame we’ve evolved away from the traditional load out ?
EC: As I said earlier, I think the spirit of the forum is very much alive. Although I still see the age old reverse-snobbery against what we do, I’m heartened to see forums such as Gray Fox and Dev Team Six where plenty of gear enthusiasts can be found whether they are inclined towards impressions or not.
GM75: I’ll put you on the spot here, and naturally we’ll dig out some of the obligatory ‘school photos’ – but you guys as an ensemble you used to publish some fantastic photos, the plane assault springs to mind. How hard was it collectively to get to a stage where everyone was on the same page with gear …
EC: On a scale of one to ten, probably eight. Due to the community we had built it wasn’t too difficult to recruit members who had the interest and enthusiasm.
GM75: Bearing in mind, a reasonable and reliable blaster (AEG) and a bag of BB’s is enough to start out, but does a good load out, even one that’s functional over form contribute to the suspension of disbelief?
EC: Most definitely, for my first ever game of Airsoft, I was turned up at Combat South with a TM M16, 2 hicap mags and wore an old set of surplus BDUs. Even before I went, I knew it was not going to be enough for me. As someone who has studied design, I firmly believe that form and function do not have to be separate, and the best designs seamlessly integrate both. In the context of Airsoft, it means I want my kit to look good and work.
Now it doesn’t apply to everyone, but for me, Airsoft has always been ‘MilSim’ or ‘LifeSim’. The guns are designed to look and feel like the real thing, so the games, players and kit should also look and feel like the real thing to a greater or lesser extent.
GM75: Now, the ‘Wannabe Forums‘ had its fair share of ‘Masters of Cordura’ – Lord Sex (who’s still around), Ferro Concepts even started out here, amongst many others, they often brought countless hours of eye watering gear and load out photos often in atmospheric and exotic locations – so perhaps has Airsoft lost some of its color and character with its expanding popularity and subsequent dilution …
EC: I must admit when I first came across Lord Sex, I thought ‘this guy has totally blown us out of the water’. I have observed some dilution of the ‘geardo ideal’ through diversification of the products and of the players, I do see individuals and teams holding the standard high.
GM75: … and on that very same note, has perhaps it all got a little more colder and impersonal since the departure from pouch perfect load outs and the community and forums that used to rest firmly on its shoulders ?
EC: I suppose there has always been the trolls, the indifferent and the sarcastic (that’s what the internet does to all of us right?) the advancement of social media has only served to widen their platform.
GM75: So, changing gears (no pun intended) you’ve recently started two new exciting ventures The CAGE and CAGE Fight (links below) – give us an insight into what’s going on here and plans for the future ?
EC: So, The CAGE has been a little idea that has been germinating for quite a while and started after a friend and I were chatting about freedom from our careers and doing something for ourselves. We really kicked off recently after we found a third partner and things into gear (pun intended). It’s currently a small operation as we are all still holding down day jobs, without giving away too many details, the vision is to build it into a modern company providing the 3 fundamental services that an Airsofter needs: gear, games and repairs and upgrades.
For the moment we are offering technical services and we have a small inventory of parts to compliment that and we started running monthly games at Blitz CQB in Whitechapel last quarter. Collectively the co-founders have over 20 years experience in the industry, we are not setting out to appeal to everyone, but given our background, I would hope that what we do should sit well with your readership.
GM75: Now, aside from the occasional in store visit, I still cross paths with you and the rest of the guys, but you still heavily feature and pop up all over a plethora of sites and events – I take it you’re as still as enthusiastic and hungry for ‘Plastic Deth‘ as ever ?
EC: Haha, ‘Plastic Deth ’, now that a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time, coined by our very own Zeropositive. I am very much still enthusiastic, but family life and other commitments has meant that I am no longer able to participate as much as I would like.
That said, like in my new venture, I am trying to pursue quality over quantity and we have formed a new team (Task Force Copperhead) that has been busy training with the Diablo’s to get ready for Warzone’s Operation Crypt Kicker.
GM75: great stuff, really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses?
EC: In an ideal world, I would be all for it, but I always try to temper my aspirations with reality. Realistically I don’t see it being embraced by the masses, there’s too much competitiveness and oneupmanship, that’s just human nature, we all hate to lose and some will do what they can to avoid it.
I once thought that Warfighters laser based system could be a solution, but unfortunately as it uses infrared beams it doesn’t work indoors. However, in a CQB environment, I think real caps can work given the right scenario and the right participants and would definitely go some way to shaking things up.
… so, there you have an insight into one of the communities well established ‘journeymen’ – be sure to check out The Cage and Cage Fight at the links below …
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