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...
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.
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.
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.
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.|
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!!!
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:
- If it's still a single day show next year I might not go.
- I'll only go if there's something at the show I can't see or do elsewhere.
- 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!