Monday, 30 April 2012

Salute 2012: Part 3




This was supposed to go live last Thursday, but life gets in the way sometimes! Any way getting back on track... as I was heading back towards where Dr Brainiac was still siting I took a minor detour or two. I also got stopped a fair bit by people who had recognised my mugshot on the Blog. I was stopped by way too many people to remember you all and as my blood sugar was low it's not likely I was in a welcoming mood. It was good to meet a lot of you and hear what you'd been up too. If any one felt I was a bit snarky with them you have my apologies. Any way onto my first port of call on the way back to Dr Brainiac...

Jacques-Alexandre Gillois

I was really hoping to get to see Jacques-Alexandre Gillois at the show, and ask him if he would consider doing an interview with me. I wasn't really expecting him to say yes to my request... but I'm a cheeky sod who thinks if you don't ask you don't get. However, knowing that he'd sculpted the Salute 2012 miniature I wasn't actually all that confident in my crowd pushing-aside-abilities to get to his stand. So it proved to be. He was swamped pretty much every time I returned to his stall. Jacques is a bit of a personal hero of mine, he's sculpted some of my favourite Hell Dorado, Studio McVey, BaneLegion mini's and many more besides. Kraan being a personal favourite. So I was saddened to realise that I wasn't going to get the chance to meet one of my heroes and ask him some questions *le sigh*. I suppose that started to taint my Salute 2012 experience too, I was now a bit annoyed at all the stupid people also trying to have fun... HOW DARE THEY!!! I just wasn't able to see and speak to all the people I wanted to and say thanks for all the glorious mini's and games you've provided me with over the years. Any way, do take a look at some of his own weird and 'inbreed' creations on his webstore, then you tell me that Uncle Meat isn't one of the sickest miniatures you've ever seen!!! This man is talented.

Warlord Games

I had my first moment of real rage here, because of a grown man shoving a 13 to 14 year old lad out of his way to get to the stand. We had words, and I knew my patience was starting to wear thin. It was a shame this happened here though as it was easily one of the best run stalls at the show for me. I was wandering around thinking 'I might have to give Warlord Games a miss'. I was a bit sad about it, but hey I'd enjoyed the chat's I'd had at the Victrix stand and the Perry stand... sooo... I guess I'd done my historical wargaming research for now. But then a very helpful chap walked up to me and asked if he could help me. I explained I wrote a Blog and that my focus wasn't really historic wargaming, but that Ancients and Napoleonics had started to appeal to me because I miss my rank and file Warhammer games, he got and understood the reference and we had a good laugh and a joke about 8th Edition. He then proceeded to explain to me the mechanics and products on offer for Hail Caesar and also Black Powder. He also told me that if he hadn't given me enough information that I should contact Warlord Games direct after the show and ask them for further information about their products. Honestly, one of the best 'customer' experiences of the show, and I will be taking them up on their offer of further information and also taking a closer look at Hail Caesar and Black Powder. He certainly slowed down operation go get Dr. Brainiac back, but I didn't mind too much.

Smart Max

I wanted to go have a look at the Smart Max stand simply because I've lost touch with what these mercurial French artists are up to. I do own a single Smog 1888 miniature, the lovely Mei Leung, but that's all that I do own. I haven't played Smog 1888 itself, but I've loved the look and design of their miniatures for some time. So this was an opportunity on the way back to get a quick sneak peak at what they were up to... except it really, really wasn't. Smart Max were next to another French miniature company I wanted to take a look at Taban Miniatures, the guys behind Eden the game. Both were utterly rammed with punters which was good to see but it was by now mid afternoon and there were some frayed tempers. Coming hot on the heels of the 'incident' at Warlord games came a scrum around here with people pushing and swearing and just generally been unpleasant. I decided stuff it I'm not sticking around for this... so once again I bypassed a couple of stands I wanted to take more time looking over. I headed to straight for Dr Brainiac and decided we should be on our way shortly, but first we had a few more stops.

Studio McVey

Ah yes Studio McVey. I think it's fair to say I'm a bit of a fan! I've got a fair old chunk of their limited resin releases and I've also brought myself the entire Strain range long before the game is due out, because they are so totally and utterly splendid. I've also been feeding back info to Mike and Rob about the game itself... which I hope Mike doesn't mind me telling you is shaping up quite nicely actually. But... I can't tell you more than that for fear of Mike taking a hit out on me! Again like many of the other pretty miniature stores at the show I'm going to have to admit to this being a really big highlight for me. Obviously I've seen a fair old chunk of their range up close and personal, but I hadn't seen the glorious studio paint jobs before in the flesh. that was a real treat, because honestly they're all utterly splendid looking paint jobs and easily ranked amongst the best at the show. I was totally floored by some of them. I only got to chat to Mike briefly, thoroughly nice fellow that he is and say a big thank you for the badge he'd sent me... before he was yet again swamped with customers. But hey, I'm happy he was swamped again with customers as it means business is good for them and that means they'll hopefully keep pumping out glorious miniatures for us all to buy and paint! Any way, pictures:

Lisbeth is one of my favourite miniatures they do... and one of the few I don't own.

Dr Brainiac took quite a shine to the Blight witch...

...I know this because of the shear amount of pictures she took of it!

She also really liked the Dark Emissary. I know this because she told me. Repeatedly!

Dinosaur + Big Axe + Severed Heads + Badass Chick = SOLD!!!

Another personal favourite of mine, Zeeona the Barbarella homage.
Dr Brainiac was pleased I'd gone and grabbed her before I'd taken a look at Studio McVey's store. Again it might have been a highlight for me, but it was clear she enjoyed looking at these miniatures too.

Fire Forge Games

Next up on our itinerary was these guys. I make no bones about it I like like mounted cavalry figures, always have, always will. When Games Workshop released the Bretonnian's I have to say I was over the moon. Here was an army I could sink my teeth into and quite frankly indulge my fetish for knights. Alas I think much of the Bretonnian range now is a bit outdated looking and I also refuse to buy some of them on principle. So when I first saw Fire Forge Games Teutonic Knights I have to say my interest was more than piqued. They also had their Mounted Sergeants and Templar Knights Cavalry on show, and damn swanky looking they both were too! The guys at the stand were really friendly and helpful. They let me take a really close look at the plastic spru's, which are actually really quite nice looking. I noticed a familiar name on the spru's too, Renedra Limited so I kicked myself some more for not being able to get to see them. The chaps at Fire Forge Games also ran me through a bit of information regarding their upcoming game Deus Vult, which is designed by Alessio Cavatore and is focused (if that's the right word!) on the exceedingly long protracted period of medieval history that covers the crusades. Sadly yet again I didn't have time to actually play the game, but I'll take a closer look at it when it is released... mainly because I like knights. I also forgot to ask Dr Brainiac to take any pictures... d'oh!!!

Gruntz

This was almost my very last stop of the show, well actually it really was the last stop of the show for me as my actual last stop didn't really happen. However, I was very glad to finally see the Gruntz demo tables all tucked away in a secluded corner of the show. It was a bit like a hidden treasure trove. This was actually one game I had fully intended to actually play at the show. However, my growing hunger, tiredness and the fact that Robin Fitton had just started a demo game and there was a queue before me meant that I wasn't really in the mood for sticking around. I did though watch much of the game being played and I have to say I was pretty impressed with the mechanics on display. The game looked fast, fluid and above all else fun to play. Obviously it's not a ringing endorsement because I haven't played the game at all, or read the rules, but what I saw on offer certainly confirmed that when I start my articles on 15mm Sci-fi wargames that Gruntz might very well be my first port of call.

This board looked like lots and lots of fun!

King & Kerr

And so onto the last store!!! Or not. I'm going to be honest and say I took one look at the decimated stock levels. The throng of people picking over the remaining bits and decided I couldn't be bothered any more. I was hungry and we decided to leave the show and never return. It had been quite a long day and I'd met a lot of people, seen a lot of product and quite frankly I was very tired and I could see Dr Brainiac felt the same way. So we headed off into Central London in search of food, and a train home.

Carry case solutions

I guess this possibly deserves an article all of it's own... but I'm tired of writing about Salute already and I'm sure you're all bored of reading about it. Any way I made for Figures in Comfort right after getting into Salute way back in Part 1 of my show round up. It was the first store I visited and the people on the store were really quite friendly and very helpful. They were also quite knowledgeable about the hobby, as you'd expect I guess. Me and Figures in Comfort actually have quite a bit of history. I used to carry my old Battletech mini's around in one of their original bags, because they actually made pick and pluck foam along with other shapes and sizes of cut outs... trust me back then it was a minor revelation compared to what Games Workshop were offering! At that time they were certainly better and indeed cheaper than the Games Workshop figure cases many have come to love and loathe in equal measure. Right now though whose product isn't better than Games Workshops plastic carry cases? Answer nobody's! They're all better now. The truth is that Figures in Comfort's product hasn't really moved on all that much from my Battletech days and I can see why I chose to move on to other solutions. I wouldn't consider them an option for me anymore as their bags just don't look sturdy enough for what I do, and I wouldn't be confident in carrying stuff around in them.

Next up was a surprise package of the show for me. Obviously I've been ignoring my Wayland Games emails, because they had a huge amount Feldherr product on their stand at the show I simply wasn't expecting to see. I've actually seen a fair few of their bags at a local club in Solihull as somebody purchased a truckload of them, and I thought they were rather spiffing looking. Some of their smaller bags are actually quite appealing for some of the smaller skirmish games I collect as it's really all you need and they look like a good cheap alternative to my current figure case company of choice, Battlefoam. I did though take this opportunity to have a damn fine rummage through what they had on offer. Honestly I was really quite impressed with the quality of the bags themselves, they were superbly constructed and in my opinion the equal of Battlefoams bag products, except for the hard shell casing. The foam itself wasn't too bad either, the only downside to it that I could see was that they don't have the custom cut shapes that Battlefoam do. But, they cost a fair bit less. I'll look to review some of their stuff in the future. Also I don't like hard figure cases, I've seen too many explode after impact hits so I didn't really check their hard-case offerings out.

Next up was KR Multicase another company I have a history with. I started using their cardboard box cases a few years back when I was being cheap. However, they actually protected my mini's surprisingly well from impact hits. Although the did wear out after repeated use. They've certainly moved on since then and have massively expanded their range. They still offer the cardboard boxes I used to love, but have branched out into Aluminium cases and some fabric bags. Aluminium Cases get treated with the same disdain all hard-case products do by me. I simply do not trust them to stay closed on impact. They have a tendency to open and fling their contents over the floor. So I quickly skipped over these to look at their fabric bag offerings. Turns out that they're just glorified bags for the cardboard boxes I used to use. I can see why this might actually appeal to some people. I mean you store you figures at home on a shelf in their cardboard boxes, and then dump the ones you want to take with you into a bag. It's a simple way of doing things. My main concern though remains the foam they use, it just felt too malleable and I wasn't sure some of it would retain it's shape under pressure. I might take a closer look at some date in the future but they're not a priority of mine.

So finally we have the big boy in the figure case industry, Battlefoam. I've actually reviewed some of their product before on this Blog, so I'm very familiar with what they produce. I'm not going to go over and over it all here again as I didn't really get the chance to have a look at either the Heavy Gear Blitz or Spartan Games bags I had wanted to. Primarily as the stand was rammed and I didn't fancy it to be honest with you. Suffice to say I love my Battlefoam bags and would heartily recommend them to anyone.

Hawk Wargames (By popular consensus stand of the show)

Now it seems it wouldn't be a Salute round up if I don't mention Hawk Games stand. I bumped into a fair few people who had seen my mug shot on the Blog throughout the day. Many of them told me I simply had to go take a look at the Hawk Wargames stand and a game called Dropzone Commander. So I did. It was utterly packed, and although I wanted to take some pictures I decided not to and just nick some off of their website. I'm going to have to say I found the miniatures to be lovely looking and very nicely detailed and probably deserving of much of the hype they've since received. So the mini's have me interested, but there was nothing on show of the actual game. So I'm sounding a note of caution, I've seen companies come out and produce wonderful looking miniatures before and release complete stinkers of games. I sincerely hope that isn't the case here because the mini's are deserving of a stupendous game. Here ogle some pretty pictures:





 








I've not said anything about these mini's because I think they speak for themselves. Just for a bit of info the game uses the 10mm scale, so these bad boys are at quite a small scale, smaller than even Flames of War. Simply put they're pretty looking.

So there you have it, the final part of my Salute round-up. I'm going to be honest, I found the day quite unsatisfactory and at times a little frustrating. Had the show been over two days I might actually have stuck around and played some games with people. As it was I felt hurried and harassed much of the day,  and despite meeting some truly ace people there were also ass hats in attendance (as there always are). Will I go to Salute 2013? Well that depends:

  1. If it's still a single day show next year I might not go.
  2. I'll only go if there's something at the show I can't see or do elsewhere.
  3. And of course if the Mayans got it wrong.

Maybe my tolerance for such shows is beginning to wane, but it was a glorified bring and buy sale and that's not really enough for me anymore. If I'm paying £10 a day to basically go shopping, I want to see products I've not seen elsewhere before. For some of the smaller companies and traders I guess it worked in that sense... but for some of the bigger boys whose product is already in stores up and down the land I did wonder what the hell the point was for them. Peace out!

21 comments:

  1. I was left wishing Salute were a two day show as well. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast, but I didn't even consider joining a game because I knew I didn't have time. Having said that several retailers I spoke to hinted that a two day show just wouldn't net them the same sort of Sales vs Costs ratio they get in a one day show. Don't know if that's true but its something to think about.

    Great set of reviews btw. Really enjoyed reading them.

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    1. Thanks Lee, coming from a fellow Blogger such as yourself that means a lot to me. :)

      I think it's wings and roundabouts, Rob at Maelstrom / BaneLegions had this to say about Salute 2012:

      http://banelegions.maelstromgames.co.uk/?p=897

      I guess as always its neither one or the other as it depends on who you're talking about.

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  2. It was a lot to get through on one day. I completely sympathise with you being a little knackered at the end of it. You must have covered almost all the show, and to have got to see the things you did in detail is testament to your energy! As Lee mentioned above, you've collected a fantastic set of detailed reviews. Bravo, Sir!

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    1. I was shattered. We'd been up from very early and I'd had one of my bloody cats pinch my Weetabix... Bloody cat! I hadn't eaten and quite frankly By 3:30I'd well and truly had enough!!! lol. Then I carried on some more. :P

      It was clear around that time that many attendees were either starting to flag themselves, leave or were getting irascible. So maybe I should have just decided to call it a day there and then! But there was more I wanted to see.

      Still I'm really glad that I went to the show and that I met all the people I did and saw all the things I did... apart from some of the ass hats who we all could've done without frankly!!! :)

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  3. As someone who will likely never get to a show like this thank you for taking the time to write down all your impressions - its been very interesting and a few products iam keen to know more about.

    Thanks Frontline

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    1. Pleasure... although next year I might try and chill a bit more if I do go!!!

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    1. You know what mate... I thought you might. Its a lovely sculpt. She's not on the store yet, but I bet you any money she'll disappear quick. Honestly an awesome mini when you see it in the flesh and one that's just so well constructed as a piece. Simply brilliant.

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  5. Loved the series, truly.. and as mentioned above, for those of us who couldn't go, it was good to see all the different insights of it from fellow bloggers. But you gave input on the sales side where most gave on the games.

    Also, side not on the Warlord Games.. the Black Powder.. its quite nice, but if you play in it.. have a huge table or reduce the ranges.. we're playing with 20mms, and had to reduce the ranges of everything by 1/3rd in order to play on a double sized table. Else you see regiments and units fast tracking to the other side with 1 good command roll. Ace game though otherwise!

    Cheers!

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    1. I might be coming back for some advice from you then Mr Lee on Black Powder!!!

      I'm glad I chose the route I did with Salute. I figured most people would talk about the boards they saw or the mini's and toys they brought. So I decided to do a diary / review of the day, warts and all. I wanted to give a sense of what the day was like for me and what the stands were like. I think I've done that.

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    2. Iam a great fan of the pared back style Rick has developed over the years and Black Powder is a wonderful game.

      I have nearly convinced my mates to try out a fantasy version...

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    3. I think for any mass combat game to EVER flow properly you really need to have the rules stripped bare. I've maintained this for a number of years. My Locus of Control article on the Sunday Sermon for instance talk about input and output complexity. Just because the rules aren't detailed doesn't mean a game isn't tactical. I'm really keen to see how Hail Caesar and Black Powder work. Good to know you approve.

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    4. For rules arguably you Hail Caesar is better (?)In the main because the mechanics are interesting and also make logical sense.

      I think it helps that Ricks training is in these periods rather than horse and musket which is more the Perry, Sawyers/Stallard forte.

      You cant go past these as good intros:

      http://www.warlordgames.com/11067/new-hail-caesar-ancients-rulebook/#more-11067 (has links at the bottom explains various mechanics)

      Black powder: http://www.warlordgames.com/4695/interview-rick-priestley/

      So yes I guess you could save you have my trolproval

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  6. Great read again like allways. I hope Dropzone commander does well. I've lost my love at the moment for 28mm games, where battle lines between each army is about 8 inch. Its nice to be able to move a tank across the table and feel your on a large battle field. And not just moving a few inch all game.
    In an interview with Dave from Hawk he did say the drop ships can carry tanks and where designed to do so. And that in some games you start with no units on the board. They are brought in by drop ship from any table edge cool. But like you say the cool minis count for nothing if the rules suck. Cheers pancake. Good stuff FLG.

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    1. 28mm games at skirmish level work really well I feel. But the larger games with Tanks etc just don't do it for me. As you say the scale doesn't feel right to me at all for tanks. 40k has always looked a bit weird on the board to me.

      I did read the interview with Dave from Hawk Wargames and to be honest he was obviously deliberately vague... which is exactly what I'd be if I'm honest. He was also quite vague with the guys from Beasts of War. Lots of non-declaritive statements, trust me if a career in wargames doesn't work out for him he should try politics!!! :P

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  7. Those Dropship Commander minis are truly gorgeous. Even if the rules don't work out I can see using them in Epic - Armageddon either as stand ins for certain units or as their own armies with hombrewed lists.

    I shouldn't be looking at it though. I ordered the new Flames of War starter from my FLGS, so we'll see if I can convert the boardgamers at my local shop into minis gamers.

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    1. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors. It's not always easy to get folks to switch from board games to wargames. Let us know how it goes!!! :)

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  8. I've really enjoyed reliving this years Salute through this series so thanks very much!

    There are two things I've learnt from the last couple of years. If you get there early and have an advanced ticket, you've got to make the most of that initial hour or so; it's much less busy so it's a good opportunity to get to those stands that you really want to see. Unfortunately this year I forgot this and forgot how busy it was going to get; I ran round picking up some of the bits that I really wanted but in hindsight some of those things could have waited, although it's hard to anticipate which stands are going to be the ones that are going to be jam packed all day. The other thing I found useful was to wander around for a bit and then as soon as there isn't a queue at the main entrance, get a stamp and disappear outside for a drink/some food at regular intervals; I found this a life saver as it meant I could calm down after getting irrate at the crowds and have a bit of a rest and a think about my plan of attack for the next hour or so.

    In terms of extending the show to two days, for me, that'd be awesome; I always end up having to be in Lomdon for a couple of days so it wouldn't make any difference in terms of organising the trip and would give me the chance to have a day of shopping and a day of sitting around trying stuff out. BUT if making the event a two day show would mean that a significant number of retaillers weren't going to attend then I think it has to stay as it is.

    I didn't take much notice of the Hawk Wargames stand; as soon as I realised there were no details of rules, nothing for sale and a ruddy great crowd of people I thought I'd avoid it as I guessed there'd be a lot of coverage of it later and in the build up to its release,. the models look really nice though and the little that's been said about the game sounds interesting so fingers crossed they nail it.

    One stand that I did go to, pick up a rulebook and have a chat with some of the lads behind it was The Department but this doesn't seem to have received any coverage since. To be honest, the rulebook isn't the most professional publication you're going to come across but I don't think that's the end of the world; the guys behind it seemed really passionate and raised the funds through Kickstarter. It appears that they asked for a pretty modest amount and got enough to get their product out which is what it's all about. Admittedly, I haven't had a chance to play a game yet but I've had a read through the rules, there are a lot of aspects that I like the look of and I like the setting, I just think it's a bit of a shame that it doesn't appear to have made much of an impact.

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    1. Hendie thanks, I think we must have had similar experience then you and I. As to the Department... never heard of it, and that's the problem. There's so much going n in the industry right now that many things get drowned out and stomped on by bigger news. Just the way it is. You need to make fairly big waves or cut a very neat niche for yourself to survive. If it's a good product I hope they mange to do it.

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  9. Lovely blog with innovative ideas........

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