There was some justification given for this; along with that old chestnut of an 'alternative History' but I don't think it was really for any other reason than to put a lot more toys on the table.
On the trade side, they had photos and sample sprues of some of their upcoming plastics on display. Old news if you went to Salute, but that's hundreds of miles away from me, and out of my range. Therefore, it was my first look at their Macedonians:
In relation to this, north-eastern readers of this blog will be interested to note that Boyes, a regional chain of stores previously best know for budget household wares and targeting the DIY & women's crafting, were big supporters of the show. This is because they are moving in on the modelling/gaming market as a men's hobby stream (previously having done well with Fishing tackle it seems). They already stock Vallejo paints in store, and if the word from the show organisers is true, they have reached agreements with Warlord, Victrix and Mantic to stock their products. This is a very interesting prospect, given their 38 stores.
Meanwhile there was some minority interest in 15mm models, with a couple of Flames of War tables. But the major 15mm game was the Alamo:
This featured BIG (in all but scale) battalions on the Mexican side:
Against a wafer thin line of Texans:
Nice to see the figures in this scale, but it also gives away why the models look so unbelievably well painted in magazines and on the website. It's simply because they are three times as big!
I would have liked to have tried DKH, as it seems like classic old-school gaming; but I think it may have been seen as poor form by my colleagues to eff off and play another persons demo game. So I went off and chatted up the barmaid instead!
Lastly from Mantic, a glimpse of the first of their 'Dark Elves', the main release I understand will be like the Abyssal Dwarves, a mix of plastic and metal parts. This sorceress was all metal, and quite nice; the camera felt differently though:
Overall? Well, this show was having it's first attempt at being a success, and on the Friday night Kelvin, the main organiser was upbeat. Sadly this was to change during the Saturday. The show was supposed to be in partnership with Scarborough Council for Armed Forces Day; but they largely reneged on their commitments, and moreover failed to publicise the event on the day. The immediate result was that the 15,000 or so tourists in town specifically for the weekends events, were not aware of the show.
But more seriously than that I think, there were precious few gamers through the doors either. Total paying customers over the weekend was a spare 250 or so, probably only half gamers with shopping and gaming in mind. Retailers had a pretty mixed bag of it, I'm told a few did better than at some other shows, but I can't imagine who, as the ones I had sight of from my game seemed to shift bu**er all over the weekend. It appeared to me that most money changing hands was simply moving from one trader or demonstrator, to another.
In future the show needs a Unique Selling Point that works in the long term and gives gamers a reason to turn up. By the end of the weekend the talk was leaning towards making the show more of a gaming convention and tournament weekend; with several tourneys proposed for next year. This may well be the right direction, as the location of the show does not lend itself to the usual demands of a big show (central location in a major city).
I hope it does ok in the future, but for me it needs a better reason to turn up than it had this year; two days is a long time for me to spend wargaming, never mind sitting around staring at toys; at points I was bored out of my mind, which is not healthy when doing something you are supposed to find fun. As a result I spent a lot of time just chatting to traders and barmaids, playing slots on the beach, photographing the sea and frankly anything to distract. Wargaming came very low on the list!
Next time will be better; one has to hope.