Well, it has been six weeks since my last post and I must admit that for most of that time my wargames mojo has been decidedly AWOL. I’ve done sod all bar stick some 6mm SYW types to bases ready for flocking etc. and it took a fair bit of effort to drag myself to the annual Middlesborough show, SMOGGYCON. This is not in its fourth (I think) year and continues to be a friendly show but I have to admit to be a little less impressed with this years. I’m sure a lot of it is just my general mood and lack of enthusiasm but I feel I do have a few valid points.
So, on to the review…
I had the car all day so after dropping my wife in Sunderland I headed down the A19 only to hit a wall of fog for the last half of the trip. Not fun to drive in. I actually managed to find the place without the need of my phone SatNav and arrived just after 10am. A few games were still being set up but the place was starting to fill and it was looking to be a busy show. First port of call was Martin at Warbases who had done some nice little sabots for my 15mm Romano Brits (of which I’ve still only painted eleven!). There was a good selection of traders but Caliver were absent this year which was a shame as I usually find something to buy from Dave! I didn’t really have a shopping list but was on the lookout for 28mm C19th types for next years Ayton game. Newline Designs who currently have a sale on were a good candidate but their C19th range sepoys were just too late (c.1900) for what I wanted. Very nice figures though.
Demo games: I have to admit to being a little underwhelmed this year. There were some nice looking game on and the few I stopped to talk to were chatty and helpful. But a few games had less then spectacular terrain and one had some figures that were just base coated on plain bases. I know there is the argument about showing ‘real’ games but for a show you really do need to showcase and make the effort. As enthusiasm was at a low I took only a few pictures and those only of games that grabbed me.
There was an excellent looking 28mm Pegasus Bridge game (by York Wargames, I think) which was a participation game.
A nice Arnhem game by Border Reiver Wargames:
Some lovely Seven Year Wars figures (by Independent Wargames Group) which unfortunately suffered more from the lousy yellow lighting in the main hall!
The Witchfinder General chaps from Dashing Dice had a lovely little table packed with lots of interesting and characterful figures including witches on broomsticks and devil dogs! Very nice stuff but again the lighting ruined the photos!
There are more pictures in the gallery but none of them came out really well. I know I only use my phone but with decent light it can take nice pics. And decent light is lacking in most gym hall situations!
Bring and Buy: I had been tempted to throw all my spare lead and odds and ends into the car and bring them to the Bring and Buy as I knew I was going to be there all day. As I never got organised to do this I hadn’t spotted on the website that this year they were running it as a Flea Market with sellers ‘renting’ a table for a period of time and selling their own stuff. I have to admit I don’t think this was a success. Apart from my usual reservations about this at shows, there didn’t seem to be more than 5-6 tables in use at its peak and after the first couple of hours this tailed of so that by 1pm there seemed to be just two tables left with not much of interest (to me) and at 1.45 they were clearing the tables away. I can see the reasons for running a Bring and Buy like this (as at York) but I just don’t think SMOGGYCON is a big enough show to support it. You need a good number of tables in use to make it worthwhile of the punters. It may be that (as at York) the first year is slow and that next year the idea will take off. I’m not too sure. I would like to see a return to a traditional Bring and Buy as I think for smaller shows they work better. I’m sure those who had tables and sold stuff were happy but overall it was a non-starter for me.
Social: as at several recent shows the social side takes up a large part for me, both meeting others known online and chatting to traders etc. SMOGGYCON is a friendly show and as not TOO busy there is time to talk to people. I’d arranged to meet with Tim Colman who has a nice little blog Tim’s Tanks. I bought some GHQ Israelis off Tim last year and have kept in touch on and off since. Anyway, it was nice to meet and chat. There were regulars from the Tyneside Wargames Club and from assorted forums, though not as many WD3’ers as last year. But all in all, some nice chats were had.
Conclusion: Was the show a success? I think so. The numbers seemed fine in the morning and it usually tails off in the afternoon. I don’t know what the numbers were but hopefully they were good enough to keep the traders happy. My perception of the demo games was no doubt a little clouded by my mood but I do think a few games fell below what I expected. The Bring and Buy didn’t work for me. Maybe next yea will be better or will return to the usual format. I hope the latter. Did I buy any lead? Yes! A whole two 28mm figures to add as ‘specials’ for my 28mm ImagiNation. Not a lot I admit, but with Christmas approaching funds were tight and I’m just glad I didn’t come away with a new period!