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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]..............

3 comments:

  1. You have the right to be proud of your accomplishment and the praise in print that resulted from it.

    A many decades belated "Congratulations", sir.


    -- Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gawd I think Iwas there. Bur yes I'd agree with the idea of well heeled cheats. They ceertainly exist. Frankly as a trader I sort of object to games companies putting on games- which they don't pay a stand fee for in many cases. Now I've sponsored clubs in the past so does that count as cheating- at least they painted the toys and made the terrain themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember seeimg your 'Battle of Edgehill' at Durham in 1983 and I was 'bowled over' by it. It inspired a 'spotty-faced 16 year old' into collecting and painting wargames figures for the first time.

    Cheers Robbie:)!

    ReplyDelete

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

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Smoogycon 2009

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My French getting another beating