Category Archives: smoggycon


Today was SMOGGYCON. I quite like this show and was pleased to see it appear on the calendar a couple of years ago as a sort of replacement for the Stockton shows (which now have a proper replacement with A Call to Muster). I’ve always enjoyed the shows. Good range of traders and always a chatty friendly show. This year the organisation had been taken over by Pendraken and they did an excellent job. Well publicised well in advance and although I’m sure they had their traumas in the background but as a punter it all seemed to go very well!

I arrived at 9.45 and got in promptly having been handed a blue wristband to allow re-entry and a neat ‘guide’ to the show. The wristband is a good idea but I can imagine a few of the more ‘substantial’ punters losing feeling in their hand after a couple of hours! 🙂

There was no bring and buy and again this year they went for the flea market approach. I’d been critical of this the first time I saw it at York when they moved to the format but to be honest it seems to work quite well. And it’s good to see the tables changing and new stuff appearing.

There was a good range of display games on display and I’ve posted a few picture in a gallery here: SMOGGYCON 2013

The highlights for me were Border Reiver’s Battle of Trafalgar 1984 with some excellent models and a popular theme for the North!

2013-11-23 11.04.062013-11-23 11.03.58

I was also taken with the Lancaster Cellarmen Second Day at Gettysburg. A very neat looking 6mm game. Plus point was they had a useful handout explaining where everything they used came from. I particularly like the trees made from dried Alder and Casuarina cones. A good way to get good ground coverage cheap!

2013-11-23 11.05.58 2013-11-23 11.06.15And my final pick goes to Brompton Bankers’ The Chronicles of Toytown. An excellent looking little game and very nicely presented.

2013-11-23 11.12.07 2013-11-23 11.12.36Although the gallery is up it may take me a while to fill in all the details for the pics. And as with last year, the pics from the main hall suffered from the dreaded ‘yellow light’ but overall they are not too bad.

The Haul!

I didn’t really have a huge shopping list but managed to find a few things! I’d arranged with Martin at Warbases to pick up some sample sabots I want to use for basing my 28mm ImagiNation artillery (idea courtesy of World2Dave). And after numerous exchanges with Essex Boy I picked up some SYW limbers from Irregular (thanks to Ian Kay for sorting the order really quickly). From Tim W on the flea market I’d arranged to pick up a GHQ 8th Army combat command to add to the North Africa project for 2014 2015 2016… And thanks to Leon for sorting a small order at the last minute as well!


As last year, a really enjoyable show. Spent a lot of time chatting with Goat Major, Peeler, NDL and other WD3’ers and with assorted chaps from the Tyneside Club. Grabbed everything I needed and got home in time to not annoy my wife! As I emptied my bag this evening I noticed a flier I’d missed. Next year the show is moving back to Stockton and becomes Battleground. Details here: Battleground Show. Based on today I’m sure Leon and crew will put together an excellent show and it’s already in my diary.

Only minor downside (apart from the lighting) was the queue for the food. They just weren’t geared up for that many customers. Not a major hassle but if I’d been more pushed for time it may have been. And academic following the move to a new venue!

Thanks again to Leon and Pendraken. An excellent day.



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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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AAR – SMOGGYCON 2011, Middlesbrough

Today I returned to Middlesbrough. It was the third SMOGGYCON Show. I’d been to the first and really enjoyed it as an excellent replacement for the defunct Stockton Shows. Good venue, keen organisers and good selection of traders and games. I missed last year as snow prevented Norman D’s BMW sporty thing getting out of his drive! But today he picked me up at 9am and off we set. Too busy talking, we missed the turning and were heading toward Thirsk! Quick turnaround and the venue was found with no problems. The car park was pretty full which was a good sign.

It’s an excellent venue. Spacious and light. The two main halls being quiet separate was confusing for some, who commented on the Show being not as big as they thought, and were then introduced to the main Sports Hall – I won’t mention who!

There was a good range of demo games on, some familiar from other shows, and a few participation games.

An excellent looking SYW game wherein it was good to see a lot of my favourite RSM miniatures. The first picture highlighting an issue with the lighting in the Sports Hall which although bright enough gave everything a yellow tinge!

The Derwentside Club had an interesting SF game where all terrain AND vehicles were made from card!

Border Reiver Wargames had a very impressive Irish Civil War street battle depicting ‘The Block’, one of the last actions in Dublin in 1922.

Tyneside Wargames Club fielded an impressive array of Imperialists and Ottomans for a Great Captains game.

Various WW2 games were on show using rules such as Rapid Fire and Kampfgruppe Normandy . It was not always easy to see what games were and what rules were used. Asking would have been the solution but I was a bit pressed for time as the battery on my phone/camera was on the way out. Again. So I apologise in advance for lack of accreditation.


There were other demos and competition games in the Sports Hall but the lighting didn’t really facilitate decent photos.

As I’d travelled down with Norman D Landings we met up with Goat Major and Peeler (all WD3 denizens). The latter, with the Yorkshire Shore Wargamers, had a neat little DBx Colonial game open for participation using 20mm Zulus against the valiant redcoats.

I’d seen at least one game mirror Zulu Dawn rather than Zulu so the three of us, plus Rich with Peeler as umpire embarked on a game ourselves. I’ve never really played DBA but some of the variants seem to have a good following and reputation and this set (which I’ll have to get Peeler to remind the name of!) were no exception. As the Zulus charged forward onto the British line they were met with withering volleys (despite my naval guns jamming!) and suffered badly. On the right (Rich commanding) they fell to Native Levies and when finally made contact were driven off with much loss. By the time the flank attack was approaching the army had broken to not a single loss to the Queen’s forces! As the roll call was called afterwards all were present and correct and the impis returned to villages full of widows. Fun little game. Excellent rules.

And finally the re-enactors (ACW and WW1) looked excellent and had friendly and informative stalls.

All in all it was a good show.

The Damage!
It was inevitable I’d buy something but I tried to be restrained. A few bases, a Britannia BMP for my 20mm Soviets. Some dice (you can never have too many!). And Extra Impetus 4 which finally has the lists for my Punic Armies.

And having swore I would do nothing that involved a new scale or a new period, I walked away with a 10mm Pendraken Zulu War pack! God knows when I’ll paint them but it was only one pack and one pack of figures do not a new project make! Honest…

Bring and Buy was spacious and well run. Not much in the way of bargains for me but there were two boxes, 105 figures in each, of plastic Spencer Smiths. Neatly painted and at £40 a box well worth it I thought. Now there was no way I could justify them but I know a man who might! So come the end’ish of the show as people were reclaiming their stuff from the Bring and Buy I asked if I could leave a contact email for the owner to see if he would like to contact my friend who MIGHT have been interested. But no, it was against ‘Club Rules’. The models had not sold, any potential sale resulting was likely to be weeks off even if it happened and it was in the owners court if even bothered contacting. But no. Not allowed. They obviously couldn’t risk losing the 10% they weren’t getting anyway… I understand and support the general rule about grabbing stuff in the signing in queue, or pulling from the table and then selling and I wouldn’t condone that. But this was the end of the day and they’ve basically cost the guy a potential £80 sale. I felt it was a little petty…

So if the seller reads this, drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch. It may not happen but you never know…

So in summary, it was another excellently organised show. Good games. Good traders and good atmosphere. A welcome regular addition to the pre-Christmas  show calendar. Roll on next year.


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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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