Monday, 24 April 2017

Salute 2017- from the Trader's perspective

Now there is no getting away from it Salute is one of the most important single days in a Trader's year. I'm not saying that a bad 'un can stuff your year  no it is not THAT important but a good 'un can mean you can have some "Jam today" with your  usual bread and water. Mind you last year we had extra Jam so there was no way this year was going to match those dizzy heights.
 I knew this before hand- plenty of chaps had told me they were not going this year - reasons many and varied including "It is mostly fantasy now" and - often this- it's too bloody expensive what with parking and entrance you've dropped £30 plus before you are in -then the prices for cha and wads are ruinous .... so some chaps did not go.- they bought their gear by mail instead.
 Nevertheless we were still knackered by the end of the day and could afford to eat that night and even have a half of shandy to wash it down!
 Overall though I did get the impression that the show was having a slightly "off" year. No big deal, it happens.  No real surprise after the  very high point of last year. I don't think any of this was down to the organiser just chaps taking a breather. There certainly were far fewer European chaps about. I never had to do the "4 customers in 3 different languages at the same time" thing that has been a feature of more than one past Salute. Possibly because of their election, there seemed to be a lack of Frenchmen. I don't recall any Italians though there were several Spanish and some Germans.
 However  the Brexit nonsense makes you wonder if perhaps some chaps just don't feel as welcome here as they used to. It does make you wonder.
 I still didn't get a look round and saw no historical games that took my fancy on my couple of trips to the kharsi.. Indeed only at 1 Participation game did I linger. This being the Tring Club's 40mm Wars of the Roses game. A deliberately simple entry level  game  using my Romanoff Miniatures Warriors for the Working Day range. Now running a PP game is a skill I don't really have but this seemed popular and was well presented. Nice one Boys.
 Don't get me wrong here it is still the best gig in town but not this year quite topping their own hight standards.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Salute- only a week to go.

Well 8 days to be precise but then for me- this time next week we will be on the road to the show. Only just but there you go. Its a long trip - at least 5 hours even given minimal pee stops and a short lunch, and not factoring in too much traffic delay
 Once there we have the rigmarole of the security and actually getting into Ex-cel. Once there the set up is easy. The best unload on the circuit.
 However the week leading up to the show is fraught- always is , can't be anything else.
 I've a shipment coming in from the US on Tuesday.11 boxes of toys to unpack and sort and despatch the back orders that chaps have been waiting for . Currently the shipment is in the UPS depot in Tamworth UK  but Easter intervenes... typical. Still all will be well when it arrives.
 THEN I'll have to complete all the pre-orders for Salute of which we have quite a few.
 If you have a pre-order put aside for you came and see me on the day. Ask for Andy.

So however fraught things get Jim and I will be ready
 See you at Ex-cel stand TB12


Wednesday 19th April
 Took delivery of 11 crates of gear yesterday from the USA so worked a few extra hours breaking it all down.
Back orders already flying out of the door and chaps who have pre-ordered for the show should be OK.
 I'm now well stocked up with most of the Blue Moon 15mm which we will be bringing everything we have including the fabulous new ECW range Horse, Foot, Guns, the lot.
 Needless to say we will be bringing a bundle of other stuff too.
 See you on Saturday
 Stand TB12

aNDY oguk

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Roses with Thorns.

Well that is  the hundred up. One hundred finished 40mm Wars of the Roses figure  finished and based. I've organised these in 6 "retinues" to wit Edward IV Warwick the Kingmaker, The Earl of Suffolk for the Yorkists and The Earl of Northumberland, Lord Clifford and the Earl of Oxford for the Lancastrians. Each retinue has a core of men in livery coats to which armoured men -at -arms and unliveried billmen and archers can be added as the scenario dictates.
 More are of course on the painting table- including conversion for a couple of gun crews.
 I'm enjoying this little aside- which by June and the Durham show will be a good bit larger. I quite like producing unique models- even though I'm no sculptor.

The Earl of Oxford's "Star with Streams"- though the precise appearance is somewhat conjectural.
There are now a fair number of conversions and chop jobs within the collection..

The first few of Suffolk's liveried men. Archer on the painting table.

Being in metal the parts are a good bit less fragile that plastic- larger too being 40mm . Makes life easier- very little hunting about on the floor for bits you have pinged off when cutting them from the sprue.

A small skirmish over a palisade with a mantlet. I built the latter for a still under construction gun. The palisades are by Irregular-supposedly for 40mm but a bit small. I may have to make some taller ones. 
So the project marches on. I've a 40mm waggon to build. That promises to be a challenge.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Catching up on my reading.

Now as a general rules I'm not a massive fan of "amateur" magazines either paper of e-zines. I'm never quite sure what they are about.
 I've read a few and have always ended up just a tab bemused as to why....
 So when I decidec to subscribe to a new e-zine I did wonder why I'd bothered.

Wargamers Notes Quarterly, once I actually got around to reading is does not come across like other publications of its "type". It is far far better than that.
 Now I'm not one of those chaps who expect  a whole magazine to be to their taste every time - and it isn't but that does not make it any worse. Indeed the variety of styles makes it rather the better.
 Point One.
 IT TREATS ME LIKE AN ADULT. Yipee no  childish patronising drivel here. There is an assumption that I can read long words without the use of my fingers and that I won't find any article of more than 1000 wordS too long for my brain.
Point Two
The first two issues (told you I was behind with my reading) are now on my reader and likely to stay there  

 The mix of articles gives you plenty to read  so far shows us that not all wargames are brain  dead one- hour 2 foot  square table skirmishes with 10 men a side. The chaps here have a terrible tendency to use their brains. My personal favourite articles include a re-fight of the Ruso-Japanese Naval battles of 1904-5  . I have small squadrons for this period in 1/600th and this series shows another way to do it. Never a bad idea to see alternatives.
 There is quite a lot of stuff on solo play- never one of my things but again  that does not stop the articles being readable though for myself the idea of taking control of the forces almost entirely out of the players hands is anathema- though in solo play I can see the point- assuming I could see the point of solo play which I never really have but then different strokes etc.
 Anice Sci- Fi "Narrative Campaign  article again gave me the odd idea or two - just get the silly sci-fi stuff out again it is time Denzil Washington Snipes tries to wrest power from Fidel Ernesto Guevara Smith- AGAIN !

Also it has to be said I like the look of this ezine- some care and thought has gone into the presentation.
 Nice one(well two) boys- I await the next issue with interest.
 for info on the mag contact

worth a punt I'd say .

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Shining does not stop.

Although currently most of my figure painting has been 40mm Wars of the Roses - for our demo at the Durham show in June. I find myself unable to completely (albeit temporarily) abandon Shinyloo.
 I recently picked up a bunch of second hand Stadden 30mm models. These had been through the mill  and some were in a pretty shocking condition. "Painted"(or rather not) by a man who had done the deed with a 4 inch brush whilst wearing a bag on  his head.  These poor lads had then been abused and forgotten- possibly for decades before being rescued by yours truly. They all need a good bit of TLC but most of them can go - once restored -into existing units.
 I've already completed some of them adding to the 44th foot which now boast 2 whole "Charge" style companies plus a few over to start the 3rd which I may just have enough figures in hand for, though some need repairing.and a Battalion HQ. The Royal Scots Greys now has 13 completed figures with 7 more  in hand to do, but all of these need repairs. I've about a dozen Minot French Cuirassiers but all of them need carbine belts as Minot never bothered but gave them a carbine attached to a separate valise which means the weapon hangs from nothing at a silly angle- rather like our current Government. These belts will be made of metal foil- usually from bottles of Italian or Spanish red. I do like a decent Pugliese..
In the Stadden pruchase mentioned above was a single Mameluke. He arrived without plume or Sword and rather battered to boot. Now complete he will join the Chasseurs of the Guard.
 A Sergeant of Line Grenadiers. Plume ad bayonet added. The figure is a Stadden 30mm again in a poor condition when acquired.
I needed a Kings Colour for the 44th. Painting a Stadden standard bearer was the best option.  It was truly a bugger to paint but sits well alongside the Regimental colour. 
Colonel and Colours of the Regiment- all Stadden 30mm figures.
The unit as it currently stands. Effectively 2 Charge style companies. 

As for the French  I have a lot of Minot Imperial Guard and a fair bundle of Stadden but of Line Infantry only a few- most of the centre companies will end up being Hincliffe Foremost- still available but falling into my personal parameters for this project as they were first made in the 70s.. Nevertheless I will have to get some Suren Fusiliers but the "army" is going to be very Imperial Guard heavy simply because the secondhand and restored figures are principally Imperial Guard.
So this project moves on - still slowly - but the first game- using "Charge!" will be this yearas there are now well over 200 completed figures.
 But first I have to get the 40mm Wars of the Roses game for the Durham show in June sorted- more of that in my next post.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Anodyne phrases of advertising blurb.

What is it with so called "professional" organisations these days. You ask 'em a question and they fob you off with bland gobbledegook interspersed with a lecture on how wonderful they are- designed to leave you feeling that if YOU don't think they are wonderful it must be your fault.
Let me explain

Last week I received my copy of Miniature Wargames- the one with the Salute programme in it.  Now this has nothing at all to do with the magazine which was well up to scratch but rather with an advert placed within the Salute programme for the Derby Worlds show in early October.Which has a new ordganiser.....
 Seeing the advert I thought all was well. So imagine my discomfiture when a bare 24 hours later I received an email with the trade stand application form to find that
 a/. the venue had been changed- so was not the one in the advert.
b/. the stand price had risen by almost 20%
c/. almost no explanation was given for the above except to say that "the new owners of the old venue had decided against hosting large events"

Now the new venue-Hanger 42 at Brintingthorpe Lutterworth Leicstershire actually looks pretty good being large and spacious though somewhat out in the sticks which may prove problematic for some (I've so far found no mention of public transport links) and I'm told- not by the organisers that nearby accommodation is thin on the ground so there will be travelling.
 Now I understand that the organisers may have been put between a rock and a hard place but do they say any of this NO we just get how utterly splendid the new venue is and how utterly wonderful it is all going to be provided we all toe the line.

Now as it happens I had a question to do with stand prices and layout as the form was not entirely clear so  I emailed them and did I get an answer - well sort of but again couched in advertising BS which I found infuriating after all I've only been in the trade for 26 years and I know nothing (except the smell of bullshit when it is being spread)

 So whats a chap to do? Well my usual 18foot frontage stand has gone up to £440 and others are of course in proportion. I know of 2 past traders who have told me they are not doing it and I don't blame them.. The likely turnover is such that - with other expenses factored in  (you are spending well over a grand before you have sold a soldier)- that  even breaking even is a risk let alone making a few quid.
 So this year- assuming I attend- still the most likely- I'll cut my stand to 12 feet and only take the 15mm and 10mm ranges. Customers will need to pre-order any 25mm stuff. Now as it happens the majority of sales for the past couple of years have been Blue Moon 15mm so it may not be a bad move and it will save me about £400 or so as I'll drop a staff member too. as there is not room for 3 behind a 12 footer.
 Now I'm still thinking about this but I'm certain that the new broom has not swept cleanand that a new venue- however pretty- won't solve all the problems especially if the punters can't get there but mainly  trying to paper over the cracks with bullshit does not work - well not here anyway.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Small action between York and Lancaster

Yesyerday saw the gathering of the T.W.A.T.S. for the March meeting at our usual haunt and watering hole. As I mentioned in the previous post the game was to be a 40mm Wars of the Roses encounter.
 I decided to use Tony Clipsom's "Foray" ruleset for the reasons outlined in the previous post.
 I've concluded that  my biggest bitch with the whole rampant system - the 2 versions I have being Lion Rampant and Pikmans Lament- is organisational  rather than the actual "game mechanisms". But having said that I realise as I type that in those 2 sets the silly non-historical  organisations are PART of the game mechanism  which for me makes a total non- starter when those organisations are as ridiculous (in historical terms) as the "Rampant" ones are. Obviously medieval small unit organisation - laregly decimal . The English for example had under officers called Vintenars (leader of 20) and cantanars (leaders of 100) and of course there were companies of 20 or 50 in other armies as well as the smaller "organisations" of lower retinues- so the base everything around 6 and 12 whilst saying almost in the same breath that one  model soldier is one man is of course total cobblers. The same basic premise holds for lament and no 17th century organisations were NOT based on 6 and 12  though it holds slightly better here than in the medieval period since quite often  in the ECW a "file" was actually 6 men- though sometimes it was 8 or 10 men to the file. Of course that did not always obtain in other armies.
Shaun site behind his Yorkist forces drawn up on their hill. 

So putting away various forms of Rampant we move on to Foray which  is far more flexible organisationally speaking and yet overall is about the same complexity level  having quite a retro feel to it.
 Present for the game were 4 members Myself, as Umpire. Theatrical Steve , Mechanical Shaun and Andrew the Tekkie. Table set up was two roughly parallel ridges running more or less diagonally across the table separated by a valley with a road running through it down to a river which as it happened never featured in the game.  The Yorkists under Shaun drew up in one body on the larger and higher of the two ridges.. The Lancastrians were in 2 bodies of roughly equal size one commanded by Steve and the other by Andrew- Andrews force was drawn up on the smaller ridge and Steve's in the grounds of the small manor house.

Part of the Lancastrian array under Steve. 
Along Archery dual  ensued after it bacame clear that Shaun was nailed to his ridge. He concentrated on Steve's troops . This allowed Anrew to shoot him up a bit without relpy and in the end some truly bum dice meant that he lost about half of his archers with comparatively small loss to the Lnacastrians.
The other Lancastrian wing under Andrew.
The Hand of Shaun - descends from the Heavens to advance for the crunch. 

Now the Lancastrians advanced and having little choice the Yorkists moved towards  Steve's contingent.. A fierce melee in the centre resulted in Shaun's leader taking a hit but refusing to yeild. However morale results fored a halt on the Lancastrians so Shaun broke contact as  his right retreted andAndrew came up to outflank him. With only his left wing more or less intact - but a little outflanked Shaun conceded the game.
Headless theatrical Steve ponders as the Yorkists advance. 
 The outflanking move goes in - Job done for the Lancastrians. 

Now this was a pretty short game by our standards lasting a little over 2 hours of actual play- with breaks for hot Pork Butties and chips- and beer and an overlong set up time simply because I was winging it and had prepared nothing as I expected to be playing in an AWI game. However Jim had been called to work at the last minute I was suddenly in the chair.
 Despite this all want well and with a bit of tweaking these rules could be really tasty. Indeed there may be other versions about by now as I got these from a  Yahoo group some few years ago and the file says "test version 1.1 "
 Nevertheless I'm much encouraged by this game and want another bash with more troops.
 This will happen at the Durham show on June 11th this year for certain- but maybe we'll get another game in before then.