Category Archives: smoggycon


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.

York Wargames Club – Pegasus Bridge

A nice Arnhem game by Border Reiver Wargames:

Border Reiver Wargames - Arnhem
Border Reiver Wargames – Arnhem

Some lovely Seven Year Wars figures (by Independent Wargames Group) which unfortunately suffered more from the lousy yellow lighting in the main hall!

Independent Wargams Group – SYW

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!

Witchfinder General from Dashing Dice

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!


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SMOGGYCON 28th November 2009

Today saw a trip down to Middlesbrough (my first!) for SMOGGYCON – the show that is replacing the Stockton Parade Ground shows. So, new show, new venue. The guys from my local boardgaming club (and some of my ASL opponents when I was playing the game) were putting on an ASL demo with a large scenario from the Stalingrad module, Valor of the Guards, another East front scenario and a small ‘pick-up’ game for passers by to try their hand. As I had a few things to do at the show and was expecting a summons home after lunch, I wasn’t partaking of the ASL but I travelled down early with Andy, getting there for 8.30!

The new venue, the Southlands Leisure Center, was a bit hard to find (especially as we had no map and were asking for the Lakelands Leisure Center!) but was a modern, airy venue, with a smaller hall next to the bar and the main sports hall hosting the show, a decent size room for the Bring and Buy and a small ‘cafe’ area. The latter was for me a point of contention as the ‘caterers’ operating out of the small kitchen were way over priced for what was effectively a captive audience. Coffee was £1.60, bacon butties £3, sandwiches £3. Although the food was OK it was not really worth the money and someone had commented that you could see on the price board where they had rubbed out the old prices and written in the new (double) ones! In a proper cafe I’d have paid it, but for a couple of people with a table operating out of a kitchen it was taking the piss! Rant over…

I’ll apologise in advance for the photos as even by my phone’s standards they are crap!

The main hall:

ACW game by Steve Ord:

The Old School Wargames 30mm SYW game by the Independent Wargames Groups (I think!):

Tyneside Wargames Club Battle of Neville’s Cross in 15mm using Great Captain rules:

A rather nice WW1 Trench game:

This looked nice and I eventually sussed that it was associated with a nearby stall but the whole time I was there I never saw anyone actually AT the table! Was apparently by Game of War.

And finally, the ASL guys, Neil, Andy, Brian and Tim:

Bring and Buy

This was located next to the ‘cafe’ off the smaller hall and was rather disappointing. The space was good but I don’t think the tables were ever more than two thirds full. And there was nothing there to take my fancy. Again, maybe first show and uncertainty of turnout so why bring stuff that maybe won’t sell? Hope it is better next year.

And I also met up with Peeler having missed him at the last couple of shows!

Purchases: the important stuff!

This was less than planned. I’d been hoping to pick up the river sections from Brian at Mutineer Miniatures but he still had another coat of varnish to apply so they will be arriving by post next week. I did buy some short grass tufts though. And was very tempted by their new 28mm Indian Mutiny range. From Dave at Caliver I picked up a copy of Lasalle. This is very nicely produced and I’m looking at how to do some figures to fit with this as it’s unlikely anyone at the club will follow as there is a firm Empire V group and the growing Grande Armee team. I’m vaguely tempted to try something in 6mm that I can adapt to use in Grande Armee as well. We shall see.

I did a search for a suitable Demon type figure for my AWI Witch Scenario but nothing suitable could be summoned forth. I was tempted by Sommerfields books on the Prussian Army but at £30 each they may have to wait! Maybe a suggestion for Santa?

I managed to resist the Pendraken 10mm – at least for the moment – and the only lead purchases were some Irregular 6mm Prussian generals, some guns and some casualty bases. With the latter, such is my deteriorating eyesight, that I had to take his word that there were actually some dad figures on the base! I was very tempted by a Baccus Napoleonic Starter pack that Gateshead Gaming were selling. Originally c.£90, it was going for £40 with only a few figures painted/undercoated. Although I’d probably not have used all the bases or the rules it would still have been a good price. And here lies the moral. Buy it when you see it! Went back 10 minutes later and it had gone! Fate…

Apart from a pot of Humbrol Prussian Blue and some dice and markers for Grande Armee, that was the lot! I’m sure my wife will be grateful for that with Christmas approaching!

It was, all in all, a good little show. Close to Christmas with the current economy there was always the potential for a slow day, but I felt the turnout was good. A couple of traders/demo games failed to show but generally the turnout was good. The Middlesbrough club staff were enthusiastic and helpful and also seemed to think it went well. For a first show it was good and deserves to do well next year. Given the number of other shows on at the moment I wonder whether they’d be better taking the old Spring Parade Ground date? Either way, congrats to them and good luck with the next one!

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