|I hate you cat.|
We arrived at London Marylebone shortly after 9:11, so the train wasn't too badly delayed... well for the UK! We made our way via the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus tube station, whereby we then caught the Central Line to Bank. By this time I was starting to feel a little bit more awake, but Dr Brainiac hadn't received any caffeine... I was starting to get concerned that if she didn't get fuel soon she'd start tearing limbs off of people and going on a rampage. She's exceedingly British and requires tea to remain a functional, civil human being. I briefly considered at Bank whether it might actually have been wise to go grab a warm drink and breakfast... but Dr Brainiac said we might as well carry on to the ExCeL center as there was bound to be coffee and tea available there. So onto the DLR to Beckton we got and onto the ExCeL center we went. We were quite crowded on the DLR by lots of people who looked far too fit and were wearing far to much Lycra to be wargamers. It was at this point we realised why the Tube was so crowded... the bloody London Marathon. Just a quick word here, Lycra is not a fashion statement it's an affront to the eyes!!!
|Big shiny and faceless... ExCeL.|
But we'd made it, Huzzah!!! We slowly but surely pushed on through the throng of Lycra thongs and leggings muttering to ourselves 'what has been seen can not be unseen'... our primary concern being that neither of us can afford the amounts of therapy required to repair our damaged minds. It was at this point I could see the horror and panic set into Dr Brainiac's eyes... the healthy people had all formed orderly queues at the tea and coffee dispensing stalls. This was not good, healthy people were stopping me from giving Dr Brainiac her daily caffeine injection. No doubt this would come back to haunt me at some point in the future! Soon though I was surrounded by nerds wearing ill fitting jeans, faded band T-Shirts and sensible walking shoes! The time was 10:27 and thanks to Mike McVey's generosity of giving me a Salute Badge we were able to slip in past all of you plebes who had to queue up! VIP baby!!! Once inside I was actually hit with how bloody busy the place already was, but also just how unpersonal it all seemed. I whipped out my carefully planned itinerary and map and proceeded to set about the mammoth task I'd givren myself:
Bushido the Game
First up was Bushido the game... well actually it was Figures in Comfort first, but I'm going to cover them along with KR Multicase, Battlefoam and Feld Herr in one article. So the first stand I visited that I can talk about here was Bushido the Game. Now obviously I've covered Bushido in one of my games that currently intrigue me articles. I've also reviewed the Prefecture of Ryu starter set and the Cult of Yurei starter set. Being honest though I haven't exactly played lots and lots of games of it, but I like the miniatures and art direction still. Although the beta rules have some issues in my opinion they do show promise. So my visit to the Bushido stand was more an attempt at reinvigorating my own passion in their product. The display boards were ace they really were, however I didn't really get to see the stand or the mini's myself as the stall was already really crammed. So I moved on with a view to returning later.
Black Scorpion Miniatures (Cutlass)
Next up were Black Scorpion Miniatures and more importantly Cutlass. Now a while back when I started writing down my list of games that intrigued me there were two pirate games that went onto that list, the first was Freebooter's Fate, which as you can see from the articles on this Blog has actually stolen a good chunk of my hobby heart. The second was Cutlass, and honestly I've tried finding out about it since but Black Scorpion haven't exactly been forthcoming with information to help me. So I viewed this as an opportunity to introduce myself and to chat to them about their product... simply put they weren't exactly interested in talking to me and despite some lovely looking miniatures I didn't feel inclined to stick around, especially when asked "do you want to buy something or not?" the answer after that was a resounding no! Luckily this attitude reinforced up my initial thoughts on Gav Thorpe's overly complicated and fussy table heavy rules, it's not for me and as such can be scratched off of the list of games that intrigue me. I left a business card with them but doubt they'll get back to me. No great loss!
My next experience couldn't have been more different. I've been keeping my eye on Model Mates ever since they brought out some interesting looking liquid weathering pigments. I'll be very honest here and say I'm married to my MIG Pigments, Vallejo and Tamiya paints and it'll take impressive products to squeeze their way into my paints cabinet. But, as I say these guys have piqued my interest and after a few friends had tried their primers and been impressed, so I was willing to take a look. I wasn't expecting them to let me get hands on, and I certainly didn't think they'd be so welcoming. I had a damn good fiddle with their products and decided that I actually think their goods have some promise to them, and I'll definitely be trying to maybe do a review of some of their range at some point in the future, because their primers looked good and the weathering washes looked really, really nice.
This was the first none scheduled stop on my itinerary. I only gave it a cursory glance first time around, but after speaking to Hendrik at Freebooter Miniatures I headed back and gave it a much closer look. It has an interesting design aesthetic and it certainly stood out visually from the crowd so to speak. I think some of the mini's and the general vibe actually appealed to Dr Brainiac, so it intrigued me too. The game mechanic also looked quite interesting with the use of stones to activate and control units. Sadly I really didn't have the time to look at this product more than I did, which was all too briefly. I found that really, really frustrating as I think it might actually be a really good game. I'll certainly do some more research on it for you all.
Next up was Help for Heroes, no pictures of mini's from this stand as their weren't any. Nor will there be any preaching from me. Quite frankly I just emptied the change from my pocket after buying my Tube ticket and was on my way. I know it's not much, but I don't have much to give.
Oshiro Model Terrain
Visiting this stand was also part of my attempt to reinvigorate my somewhat flagging interest in Bushido the Game. I guess all it did was make me want to build my own Koi pond with surrounding Japanese pebble garden... I wouldn't have to mow any lawns, surely that's a win right? I have to say I was actually highly impressed with the resin scenery pieces on display, and they seemed to be doing a roaring trade. That pleases me, because I like seeing producers of quality product doing well. I might have come for the 15mm and 28mm Japanese style terrain, but some of the half timbered commission work they'd done is what really impressed me. To anyone who has been sitting on the fence about Oshiro product don't worry about the quality of it. In my humble opinion what I saw was all tip top stuff it really was.
I did briefly stop by Ninjabread but I didn't stick around too long as they were way too busy, I'll just get some stuff off of them as and when I can from their online store.
West Wind Productions
Another disappointing experience really. I understand that a trade show isn't the best place to have a in-depth chat about games based products, but when I ask a simple question I do expect to at least get an answer. I'm not too keen myself on Secrets of the Third Reich and I guess that appears to have been where much of their focus was on this stand, but I thought they'd have been seriously pushing Empire of the Dead. As it was when I finally found somebody to chat with me about the game I was rudely interrupted by another staff member who then dragged them away to chat to someone about producing a film about the hobby. She didn't appear to have a firm grasp on what she wanted to do with her film but obviously it was a bigger pull than me wanting to buy a rulebook and two starter sets... yeah, not great sales technique that one!
So I moved next door to Field Works to have a look at some 15mm terrain some people had asked me too. I took some pictures myself... but it turns out I'm crap at taking pictures. Unlike Dr Brainiac who is really quite good at it. So you're looking at an official picture off of their website. Much like Oshiro I was actually quite impressed with what I'd seen on their stand and they seemed genuinely interested in what I was up to. If any of you are into things like Flames of War, or even 15mm sci-fi games like Gruntz, or Hell even Heavy Gear Blitz, then some of their stuff might interest you. It certainly interested me and I'll be keeping an eye out for them in the future to see what they come up with and whether I have uses for it.
Micro Art Studio
The first of what turned out to be a two stall traffic jam for myself. Hopefully to many of my readers Micro Art won't need too much of an introduction. I had a really cool chat with the guys about some of the things they've got planned for the future of their Designed for Infinity range... but that's for another day. I was primarily wanting to have a look at their Discworld mini's, but also their rather spiffing looking Steampunk game Wolsung. Which, I'm happy to report looked rather splendid, as did all the HDF terrain they've produced to go along with it. Here are an awful lot more pictures from the really well displayed Micro Art stand:
|Death sporting a festive outfit.|
|She looks like she's having fun!!!|
|Another really characterful miniature.|
|Dr Brainiac was quite taken with this chap...|
|...and this here lass with frying pan!|
|They have a fantastic range of highly detailed bases.|
|It almost seems a shame to put miniatures on them it really does.|
|Their range is very impressive.|
|But sometimes I was left wandering where I was supposed to put the miniatures!!!|
|The Wolsung boards looked bloody brilliant.|
|Even though some of the terrain was part scratch built...|
|Most of it was made out of their excellent HDF kits.|
|That means not only do they look ace, but they're attainable by us mere mortals too!|
|The Wolsung miniatures and boards were inyeresting.|
|There were lots of neat touches that I really liked.|
I think it's more than fair to say that for me the Micro Art Studio's area was a bit of an early highlight, Dr Brainiac too was taken with some of their mini's. Wolsung actually shows some promise as a game and the miniatures range isn't half bad. The scenery is splendid looking and I can see it having it's uses in games of Warmachine and other steampunk based games. Lots to think about!
Well I think it's fair to say that Freebooter's Fate has taken over a good chunk of my own personal wargaming time. It's a quick fun game with splendid mechanics and a really nice range of miniatures, plus Hendrik, Christian and Werner have all been very good to this here Blog and me. They've all been very open with me about information and images for the game and I've actually grown to quite like them all. I'd go as far to say I consider them friends in a way. So I was really looking forward to seeing them all... except Christian had decided to stay back in Germany. I had a good chat with Hendrik and Werner about various bits and bobs and Werner was kind enough to allow Dr Brainiac to photograph the lovely studio paint jobs on their miniatures.
|They gave me a free sample of this swathe cassonova! Yay for free!!!|
|In the flesh Jen Haley's paint job is just simply stunning.|
|Chulo Bolu is a new mini and he's bloody brilliant, the paint job isn't half bad either.|
|I'm not sure this paint job has been released yet... but it's stunning.|
|Chulo's mother, Momma Galina, a splendid sculpt and a lovely paint job.|
|As with many companies they had a lovely demo board|
|It was full of neat touches and looked like fun to play on.|
|Pirates are just cool. It is as simple as that.|
|It really did make me want to go and build my own scenery for Freebooter's Fate.|
All in all I had a pretty good time at the Freebooter Miniatures stand, and I also bumped into Andy - BG of the Iron Legion Blog and had a good little chat. The first part of the morning had been a bit of a whistle stop tour and it was probably going to be a bit more hectic. So it was nice to stop and have a chat with a fellow gamer too. In fact most of the guys I'd met at stores just came across as really nice people, who loved gaming. The guys on the Micro Art stand told me of other stores I had to visit as did Werner and Hendrik... after a few disappointments elsewhere it was nice to meet fellow gamers at companies that had genuine enthusiasm, not just for their own products, but those of other companies too. So after a little breather we carried on!
Next up was a tip from Drew at Pulp City Planet, he's been on a bit of a 7TV kick of late, and I have to be honest and say I like's me a bit of cult sci-fi TV and I obviously likes me a bit of wargaming... so this should be made of EPIC win for me! You know what? It was, it looked like a really solid little game with bags of borrowed character. Plus everyone one seemed to be having fun. I observed intently a few games being played, but yet again was unable to participate myself simply due to the volumes of customers already playing games and those waiting in queues to play games. I have to also commend the people at Crooked Dice for walking out of their shop space and coming to engage with people on the show floor, they were friendly, professional and informative. Others could most certainly take notes on how it should be done!
Any way I feel that's as good a place as any to end part 1 of my Salute write up. Plus it's kind of ending it all on a bit of a high for part 2 tomorrow, that's if you can be bothered to turn up and read part 2. Peace out!