Saturday 28 January 2012

What's in an Exhibition,1983

Although I have headed this blog,THE INDEPENDENT WARGAMES GROUP, it was never intended to be elitist,or stand offish,in fact John and I only came up with a name because we started selling John's Napoleonic rules and needed some sort of club name.
It was therefore interesting [well to me it was] that we made our first impression on the wargaming public in issue number 7 of Miniature Wargames.I found the article the other night when I was reading my way through the early issues. I think it was our first ever effort at a show, and surprisingly I can remeber the show pretty well.
 I also remember the game,as I built some nice terrain for it. I'd attended a few shows by 1983,and the overall impression that I came away wth,was just how poor the actual wargames looked [it was 1983]
So from the outset we tried to make the games look  'pretty'. So invariably John and I put some effort into things, Ive scanned most of the article,which very briefly mentions our first attempt at wargaming fame.

What's in an Exhibition
by Gary Norman
What reasons prevail to make one exhibition a success and another a total flop? I've been trying to work this one out for the last few days before compiling this article on two exhibitions on opposite sides of the country, and staged within one week of each other. The first was 'Warrior '83', presented by the Washington Wargames Club, and which included the North East Regional finals games for the Nationals. The other was 'Terrier '83', staged jointly by the Liverpool Area Wargames Club and the Stockport Wargames Club, and this event included the North Western Regional finals. On the face of it, the latter seemed to offer more of interest than the former, being a two day event and the combined effort of two clubs. This is not always so however, and I have been to enough exhibitions over the last fifteen years to know that it is unwise to form an opinion prior to the event. But when two events clash, one must make some decision as to which to attend.

'Warrior '83'
The first notice I received of the exhibition was a letter containing details of the show and a detailed map of how to get to the venue. This created a good impression - even though it only gave me a few days' notice to cover the event.

Whitley Bay is only an hour or so from my home so I didn't have to set off particularly early and arrived promptly -10 minutes after the doors opened. My first impressions were that the hotel venue was a good choice, right on the seafront and parking was simple, especially for a Saturday morning, and cost nothing all day. The exhibition was in the hotel's ballroom, and I can't see anyone resenting paying the entrance price.

Even though only fifteen minutes had passed by, the activity in the hall was hectic, and generally stayed that way throughout the day. The hall was ringed by tradestands, mainly local, but some from further afield. All appeared to be fully occupied without being run off their feet. The secondhand stall did quite well, taking £250 on the day - perhaps we should see more stands like this appearing
at every exhibition. There was no dissatisfaction heard from the tradestands, so it would appear that business was good. Dave and Ian from QT Models seemed pleased - cracking jokes as they took the money!
The wargames on the whole were quite good, and I was particularly pleased to see that the centrepiece was a 25mm Napoleonic game presented by the Independent Wargames Group. The game was fought over quality terrain and employed some nicely painted units. Someone had obviously taken a lot of time and effort in preparing the game and the presentation was completed by the organisers handing out information sheets about it. It was entitled 'Assault on San Miguel - 1810' and was from the Peninsular campaign. Containing over 800 figures at the outset, battle raged until the end of the day.

The event also covered the North East Regional Finals of the Nationals, and there were games in the Medieval and Ancient periods - the latter being won by the deadly (Bruce) Douglas. His commiserations to the defeated included the statement that, in the end, the dice went his way.

The other two games on display were a role playing scenario and a complicated looking boardgame which, I thought, was not of much interest to the viewing public going by the few interviews I had with individuals throughout the day. Still, it was different and was well presented.

There were no painting contests and it seems to be a sad reflection on exhibitions that in the last year I've been to 30 exhibitions and there has only been painting contests in perhaps a third of these. There were the usual bar facilities propping up the drinking public, and tea and coffee were available in the same room.

On the whole the wargamers playing the games gave a good display to the public, and the usual littering of tables with rules, books, beer glasses and ash trays was kept to a minimum, quite the opposite to some more prestigious exhibitions I've attended over the years. The games were played in good harmony.

I know its pretty sad that I am still tickled by the few sentences,which hardly qualify John and I for the wargaming hall of fame,but it did mean a lot back then,it seemed like a reward for all our hard work somehow.

 I was also perusing the Wargames Illustrated Annual,which showcased a lot of eye candy wargames from last year.The games were all of an excellent standard,but what seemed somehow to denigrate from the games,was the fact that several were commercially produced,in that the actual terrain was commisioned by actual companies,and several contained large amounts of professionally painted figures for the actual game.
 Perhaps this was what Steve Eardley was alluding to,when he talked of some sort of wargaming elite.
 Somehow,I just think its a bit of a cheat [ a bit like Man City,buying up every player they can] there's nothing wrong with it,but the only skill seems to be,in how much money you have to spend on the hobby.
 Perhaps I'm looking at this from a position of envy, I must admit that if I won the lottery,I would probably buy up any and every Doug Mason figure I could. But still, I think the satisfaction in putting on a game at a show,is the fact you did it yourself,to the best of your ability. I must be getting old [or older]..............

Thursday 26 January 2012

Profits in Wargaming,discuss

I tend to read before I fall asleep, invariably its a wargaming magazine or three.
 This time I decided to read then re read the latest Miniature Wargames,issue 346 in particular 'The High Ground' by Steve Eardley.
 Now I must admit I like this type of feature,from the times when Donald Featherstone would let rip in the War gamers Newsletter then Terry Wise,Stuart Asquith to Mike Siggins. I think its very healthy to have a strong view, I certainly get fed up with platitudes and 'fuzzy' soft views that are everywhere.
 This time however I'm a bit confused about what Mr Eardley was trying to say.
This talk of profiteering and 'bigger business' in war gaming.
 I know two manufacturers personally, [even the term manufacturer is a laugh] Andy at Old Glory UK works from a large garage, Ian Kay, Irregular Miniatures works from home which doubles as a disused church. I would describe neither as big business. I am probably doing both a disservice but although it clearly provides the pair with a living,I don't think either will be getting a large bonus this year.
 These profiteers are described in the article as making money out of us [war gamers]and gloating at the amoral power these people have accrued???
 Now no doubt we would all like war gaming figures at a really cheap price [ie free] but that isn't going to happen is it.
Some companies no doubt have taken the p*** over the years with some of the charges for certain ranges,ie the mad pricing Foundry seem to be going through,Games Workshop obviously and others that I cant bring to mind [sorry]
 However the choice is don't buy them,or wait till they are stuck with them and buy them discounted. Even these two companies are not gloating with amoral power. I think Mr Eardley got a tad carried away with himself,unless he was typing the article from the camp outside of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
Not all profit is bad, not all bankers are bad.
 The article then rambles on,describing that its all about 'being somebody'? and therefore being better than others.Also being made to feel a nobody in society by the better off leads to much more serious problems?
Now I was definately lost by then,call me thick,or most likely a nobody,but what was he trying to say. 
 I have gamed for years,Im proud to say I've met loads of wargamers,and I cant think of any that I thought were trying to lord it over me. Lets be right if I had met such a person I would never have gamed again with them and more probably he'd have got a non pc bat around the ear.

He then goes on to talk of a standard price!!! god we'll be nationalising all the wargaming companies next.
 My understanding of being a consumer,was choice.Well if you cant afford a certain figure,dont agonise over it,buy something else which will probably be just as good and serve the purpose just as well.
 I would love an army of Eureka figures,its not going to happen,so I buy RSM, Hinchliffe and now Garrison which are great.I have a few Willie figures,which are bought as a treat,but I wouldnt lose sleep if I didnt have them.
 I think the final straw was he wouldnt be buying anymore plastic figures because there is little resale value in them !!!!!!!!!!!!
 Now whose profitering,send for the politburo and have Mr Eardley shot for wanting to make a profit from wargamers...
The rant is over,sorry.
 By the way I think I met Steve Eardley at Newcastle last year,and if its who I think it was he seemed a pretty decent chap,but what do I know.

Friday 20 January 2012

More Progress

When I started on my mission to buy land and build a new home,I didn't expect it to take so long.The project started in 2004 when I first had my offer to buy my land accepted. Eight! years on my long suffering wife and I succeeded against really all sorts of difficulties.It would probably make a salutary tale of a blog in its own right.If any wargamer intends to take my path,please get in touch,I could bore for England,on the pitfalls etc.
 The upshot was my war gaming  lessened,and my ideas were put on hold.So here we are now, a new home designed by my wife and I, a pile of debt and basically I am exhausted.On the plus side,its our home,and I now have a purpose built wargaming room. The dream is hopefully complete,well not exactly................

 I have been able to move the majority of my wargaming boards inside from the garage,and store them flat as they should be. Most of them I built for my 6mm wargames armies,and some contain specific battlefield representations,ie Waterloo,Borodino,Gettysburg,Leipzig ,Aspern Essling and Wagram.
My intention is to eventually sell my ACW armies,so I can re do my Gettysburg terrain.
Some of the boards must be over 25 years old,and have featured in Practical Wargaming  and the early Miniatures Wargames magazines. Most are in good order,some will want touching up etc.

I intend to exhibit at  more wargames shows,but for this I intend to build some more generic boards,like the ones I left outside the Newcastle Arena last year.I put that mistake down to the pressure of housebuilding. Mind I also blamed the same pressure,to driving into my neighbours stationary car last winter as well. I have put some figures on the table to show some sort of scale for the table.

I love the back drop that my wife and I put up last night,it really is the business.Definately recommended,as Ive stated before it came from a really good company called Art Printers. 

 I couldnt help photographing my Hanoverian horse grenadiers,just because they are a nice unit.
 On this photograph is a building I picked up from Andy Copestake,[unpainted] that he used to stock.Its a lovely piece.In the background are some French heavy cavalry,sauntering about.
 These Garrison Miniature Hessians I picked up on Ebay,and completed to make a 36 figure unit.In my opinion they still hold there own against more modern figures.I hops so anyway,as Ive got hundreds of them still unpainted.
 Anyway,my room is almost complete,Ive just got to construct some Ikea stools,and store some more books and magazines,and then plan my games etc.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Day 2 of the table construction

Well,my mate returned to finish the table,and then I thought I should hide the tops imperfections by giving it a coat of paint.Its hard to portray the actual size,until I put some terrain boards and figures on,but I can assure people its pretty impressive,if I do say so myself.

I opted fo plywood to cover the table top which should stop any warping etc.I also opted for dressed timber 3 by 2 for the legs with 4by2 for the actual main frame.Dressed timber is kinder than getting spelks all the time.I attempted to put the scenic backdrop that I had bought,along the wall,but I made a complete hash of it,so luckily I had to other sets,which I intend to put on tomorrow.

This time with wallpaper paste.The back drops were bought from ART PRINTERS, and I thoroughly recommend them if you like the idea of a scenic back drop.The lights dont convey the actual colour,but its actually a pale green,honest.But it will be covered by terrain boards. 

 I am still not certain about the height,but I intend to buy a couple of plastic steps for the shorter person [ie me]

Sunday 15 January 2012

Progress at last.

Today,[Sunday] has been a very busy day,as I am finally getting my new wargames table built by a friend.
 It has been a longtime coming,but it looks like I am actually going to get to complete one of my aims.I have been lucky enough to have had other tables in my other homes,each one grander than the last [thats the table,not the house] but I intend to make this my final one.
This time I have made provision for my terrain boards,that I have built over the years,and you can see where I intend to store them.

Unfortunately we ran out of wood,but it should be finished tomorrow night,apart from the painting.
  I really feel very lucky to have this room,which surely must be the dream of all gamers. I always wanted a table like Charles Grant in the wargame,so hopefully this will will satisfy that goal.
 Storage has become a real priority for me after realising just how much 'stuff' I have managed to collect,especially books and magazines. If there was ever a fire in my loft, there would be plenty of stuff to burn. The one concern that I have is that I have made the table a tad too tall, but I wanted to be able to comfortably lean on the edges,whilst also being  able to lean down to view the game from the eye level of my figures, [its pathetic really] The next thing I will be building is a periscope,similar to the one I used to have years ago,which used to be placed behind the AFV that was going to fire. What happened to that.

Saturday 7 January 2012

They Just keep on coming.

Re invigorated by the completion of my house move,I thought I should post some photographs of the Minden Miniatures civilian range.The blacksmith is my personel favourite,but they are all very fine figures.

Frank Hammond has to be commended for carrying on releasing this range.
They are very suitable for the SYW nad AWI periods,and being open handed,can easily take a musket to make them into rebel militia.
I opted in the main for a gloss varnish effect just to make them look a bit vintage in their style.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Minden MiniaturesI

 I thought it would be nice to post smy newly painted Minden Miniature command groups. I wasnt too keen about 'doing' one of Frederick,but it was such a good likeness of him that I thought it would be churlish not to paint the figure as the king.
 As I have previously recorded I'm not convinced about his role in history,and the tag of 'The Great', but the victor re writes history so who am I to argue with that. Still a very good model.
 Viewres will see that I have discovered Minitur grass effects,which are top notch for personality figures.

 These are my personal favourites,and I have painted them as Hanoverian commanders. I am currently basing up the Minden civilian sets,which I can throughly recommend,they would mahe great AWI rebels and are all open handed.I understand that they didnt sell very well,which is surprsing as they are suitable for all sorts of units,and scenarios.

My New Wargames Room

I thought I should provide some photographs of my before and after, new wargames room. At the moment it is in a state of disarray due to me sorting through my stored magazines and wargames books.
 Like all self respecting men, I need to carefully catalogue my collection of magazines,unfortunately there are several more boxes to collect from a friends full of wargame stuff. Is it all relevant,thats the question.If you amble around the chaos, viewers will notice various wargaming treasures,well at least in my eyes. The small boxes contain my 6mm Napoleonic armies,covering all of the nations of the wars.

The cabinet contains the majority of my Seven Years war armies,minus most of the cavalry.Looking at them there doesnt seem much to show for the effort,but it was always going to be a lifetime project.


 The below photograph  shows my collection of old school wargames books,that I have collected over the last few years.They will be given pride of place when I get some shelving in the room.

 This photograph shows my main Napoleonic book collection,again I wonder why it took me so long to put together. Still they are nice to pick up and read the odd chapter from.

This is my temporary painting desk,which is a bit low for my taste,but it will do until I get my table built. I seem to have overdone the paint brush collection,but I do like a decent brush.
This photograph is of my dads plaque commemerating the second anniversary of the Battle of El Alemein.My father was in the Durham Light Infantry stationed in North Africa,he very rarely spoke of the war,but was very proud of the plaque.I thought it was fitting to place it on my wargames wall. Im not to sure what he would have made of my Italian army though.He must have known that he would have a wargaming son,as he gave me various uniform items obtained from Italian prisoners of war.


My intention is to build a 12 by 6 table,modest compared to our American wargaming cousins,but hopefully adequate for my needs.Across from this room is a guest bedroom,containing two beds, for any wargaming guests who get stuck for the night.
Hopefully I will be posting photographs of my new table very soon.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

I'm Back.

Well I'm Back.

The last eight weeks have been a tad stressful to say the least.

Luckily my move to my new home went pretty well, and the weather was good.

I didnt realise just how much baggage you accrue until it has to be packed then unpacked, do we really need all this 'stuff'.

The next thing is how much you actually rely on the internet and not just for blogs.I was unable to do any online shopping and really struggled trying to get Bruce Springsteen tickets, I suppose thats progress for you.
 Openreach weren't exactly customer friendly regarding connecting up my phone line.
I dont think TWELVE weeks is a prompt service, and even then my builder put in the ducting for the line.

One shock I did get was that I had mislaid four of my terrain boards that I had earmarked for Smoggycon. By mislaid I mean left them outside of the Border Reivers show in Newcastle along with my hills. I had made the boards to take to shows and they were very good, really. It just shows you how much I had on my mind.So if anyone has seen four totally flat, four foot terrain boards as per my blog photograph, I would love them back.

Anyway onto Smoggycon.

I was really pleased that the Middlesbrough club took up the mantle from the defunct Stockton show.The venue is pretty good with decent parking. The show seemed busy with a fair turnout from the traders. This year John and I were determined to put on two games, one a Flames of war Normandy affair, and I, a Seven Years War affair to showcase our rules.

I couldnt really describe my game as a game, more of a mobile display, to hopefully inspire people, and get them talking about the game etc.

I think it worked. I certainly did some talking, and lost my voice.

Brunswick Hussars move to the front to counter the French advance. [ Hinchliffe one piece figures.]
Hanoverian and Hessian grenadiers showing how well they march. [ RSM and Hinchliffe figures]

Austrian hussars showing how its done [ Again Hinchliffe one piece masterpieces]

 French artillery train.[ Jackdaw miniatures]
Hanoverian Legion Brittanique.[ Dixon Miniatures,with RSM Hanoverian grenadiers in background]

John and his son Neil, put on a fine game, with a lot of armour, that certainly looked the part, once again John lost to his son.So nothing new there then. I only managed a couple of photographs,which dont really do the game justice.

John and I finally got Charles Wesencraft to sign our copies of his two books.I think Charles never really got the recognition that he deserved, as the books are an excellent read,and still very relevant.

Charles then proceeded to go through a list of queries he had re the 'Nostalgic Whim' rules.

He certainly got me thinking about things, and the assumptions that we had made regarding who would actually be using the rules.

I was then lucky enough to have a talk to one of my painting idols, Phil Robinson. Again Phil got me thinking about how I actually paint my figures and present them.

It was pleasing to see that he has got the wargaming bug again, although I couldn't get any of his beautiful 28mm figures as he had sold them all.
Its great to be back..................

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating