Nichrome wire igniters are still used today. I use hundreds a year myself and I've sold thousands of feet of 30, 31 and 32 gauge nichrome wire on eBay (and direct e-mail sales to TRF readers). I include a sheet that explains and shows how to roll the small loop in the middle of the igniter by using a straightened paperclip. It is better to use a clip than a pen tip.
Any decent 6 volt lantern battery will heat the 32 ga wire. 4 D alkalines will work as well. For the 30 ga I suggest better batteries, like a 7.2 Volt NiCad pack or a motorcycle or car battery. They will heat the 30 ga wire almost instantly and turn it to molten metal. The intense heat at the looped tip is even more intense and it heats up there faster - and that's what you want. Held into the motor with a ball of paper wadding or a standard igniter plug with a tiny bit of wadding (tiny flat square) used to prevent the plug from melting and falling out too fast (also, the wire is thinner than the Estes/Quest igniter lead wires, so it needs more thickness to hold in place.
All the old catalogs online show the igniters used.
I've described the Estes "Astron" Igniters before (either here or TRF or YORS). Originally, they were a thick (30 ga?) nichrome wire with the center portion smashed flat with an insulating, yet flammable pyrogen painted on the center portion (and slightly beyond the flattened area). The folding was easy since the flattened area bent first. The insulation prevented (or reduced) shorts. the flattened area had greater resistance and heated up first. They switched to a nonflattened version in the mid 1970's and reduced the wire gauge to
Centuri always used 32 gauge for their bare looped igniter wire or for the wires wrapped around the Sure Shot sticks.
-Fred Shecter NAR 20117