So, yesterday was Salute, the annual nerdy pilgrimage to the Excel Centre to gawp at lots of lovely miniatures, and stock up on supplies and inspiration for the coming year!
After a longer than usual seeming coach journey up (pro tip for next year - don't bring experimental fiction to read on the way up that you end up finishing in 25 minutes. Also, don't forget that coaches have plug sockets, so you can bring iPads and phone chargers), we arrived at the excel centre with plenty of time to spare. It was unusual not being herded along with runners of the London Marathon, as is usually the case (with the excel centre staff giving us directions based on where they assume we're going - who's to say that the bearded men with backpacks aren't here for running rather than little men?)
Once doors opened and we were inside, as usual, I had a thorough scout around (perimeter first, and then up and down every row) before hitting up particular places - this year seemed like there was a lot more than usual going on, as my initial cursorily walk around took a full hour and a half! I didn't have a particularly long list of things I was after this year, mostly keeping an eye out for anything interesting and quirky, as well as my usual attempts to buy at least one thing from some of my favourite companies.
I went to see Anvil Industries, as last year I'd enquired about the availability of their Pulse Mech heads and their potential suitability for use on Mantic Enforcer bodies only for them to not be available yet, and when I asked this year I was told that they were available, but looking at their racks of blisters it was revealed that they had forgotten to bring them. Oh well, I'll try again next year, maybe third time is the charm!
As ever, I took less photos than I thought I had, but here they are:
Some beautiful Adeptus Sororitas painted by Siege Studios
Their display cases also included this Tor Cyan bust - does anyone know where it is from? I'd be tempted to get one, as as the youngest of my 2000AD liking friends I'm the only one that likes the character!
A Vietnam table - not my chosen period, but I can appreciate the modelling skill!
Some sort of post-apocalyptic Wacky Races game - and who doesn't love that?
A lovely Frostgrave table - I alas didn't get any games in this year, but more on that later...
Crooked Dice's 7TV Star Wars table, which was small but perfectly formed! It's a shame I didn't take any pictures of their other tables, as each was a masterclass in how to pack a ton of character and awesomeness into a relatively tiny amount of space...
Something steampunky, and awfully framed.
Mad Max! I read an article in one of the wargaming publications about this game at some point in the last year, so it was cool to see it in the flesh!
Various props were on hand to add to the effect!
This very large castle was on display at the Renedra stand, and very lovely it was too.
The painted versions of this year's freebie miniature in the flesh in the display cases. There was also a conversion that combined a nude body with a faceless robot madam head from Crooked Dice that I thought was both inspired and singularly odd...
A cool display table that I saw last year but didn't note down who it was...
So I made sure to take a picture of their banner this year!
This was an insanely large fantasy table, with every faction you could imagine squaring off. At first I thought that it was strictly Games Workshop, but spending some more time peering around the board revealed that it was all sorts...
Attractive miniatures from Otherworld on an attractive board.
Despite my claims that 28mm is God's True Scale, the Halo Ground Command stuff is somewhat tempting... I mean, look at those Hunters! Those Warthogs! Those Grunts!
New stuff for Frostgrave in the Osprey games cases, including some female wizards if I recall correctly?
A beautiful Frostgrave diorama that there are much better pictures of available elsewhere on the Internet.
They're making an Eisenhorn video game! It may end up terrible, but hopefully it's at least cool...
I remember very little about this except that I am drawn to nicely painted medieval miniatures like a moth to a flame (I blame Game of Thrones)
Modern conflict table, which if I recall correctly had zombies off on the side - put on by Akula, I'm assuming?
It was pretty cool seeing this in the flesh at the Heresy stand after seeing it so much on Instagram over the last few weeks!
Raiders of Arcana is a new fantasy skirmish game, which I took a photo of mostly to tend myself to look up later to see if they produced any miniatures that I might want for other projects
Here's a screen grab of my Instagram post from the event with the caption 'it's hard to see from this picture taken from the back of the crowd, but @angel_giraldez is depressingly as handsome as he is a talented painter' when the only person that had liked the post was Angel Giraldez himself!
An In Her Majesty's Name table, if I recall correctly, which I think I saw last year but the sheer variety of available factions is just as impressive now as then!
One of the things on my list of things to do this year was to track down the guy from Westfalia miniatures to grab a promo halfling miniature (like the one I got last year that I recently painted). As ever, finding a chap in a black shirt at Salute is akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack, when I noticed that he mentioned on his Facebook group that he'd aim to be at the Empress stand at 2, and potentially again at 3. Checking the time, I saw that it was almost 2, and beat feet to the right corner of the hall.
And so I lurked.
As well as a man over six feet tall in an orange hat can.
Overhearing someone say the word halfling, I got chatting to a bunch of strangers who were also lurking with the same intention:
The mob of us hit double figures, but still no sight of Westfalia guy.
Look, there's Duncan Rhodes, he of genteel painting instruction video fame (from the GW YouTube channel - fun fact, the new girl on the channel used to work in my local branch, apparently) waiting nearby. Not for a free halfling though. He probably gets free halfling a everywhere he goes. Apparently he was with someone from Beasts of War, but I couldn't confirm or deny that.
More time passed, and the mob began to shrink as people lost faith.
My companions came and found me, to hand me this sweet new shirt (as I'd agreed to use my body as advertising space for this app - have a nose if you have a smartphone or tablet and play tabletop games where you might need an army list - it makes it super easy to make speculative lists, rather than scribbling bits on a scrap of paper).
More time passed (it was now half past 2) and then there were only two of us. At this point, we realised that we were closer to 3 o'clock than 2, the other listed time that the chap would aim to appear, and so we continued to wait. Twenty minutes passed, and Mark (the other chap in the front of the earlier picture) got a phone call and had to leave. At this point, it was nearly 3, the time when I'd have to start making a move in order to get back to Victoria in time, and so I hung on a little longer, but to no avail. I did a couple of laps of the nearby area hoping to spot the chap from Westfalia miniatures, but alas it was not to be. With time getting away from me, I had to give in (and sadly didn't have time to hit the Warlord stand, that I'd somehow earlier missed on my laps of the hall, or Crooked Dice, where I'd planned to nip back and buy something before leaving, as I had to dash to the DLR to start making my way back to the long coach journey home...)
Yes, an hour is a long time to wait around on the off chance of getting a free miniature, but have you seen it? It's beautiful...
[afterword - the nice man at Westfalia replied to my desperate daytime messages trying to locate him later that evening, offering to send me one, huzzah!]
Also potentially worth mentioning, when it was just me waiting, a man came and asked if he could take some photographs of me. In hindsight, I should probably have asked if it was for anything in particular or just for his personal collection...
So, off on the DLR to get several tubes until we were back at Victoria. Pro tip for next year: if you've only brought an experimental book that you finished on the way up and your phone has died, buy something at the show to read on the journey home! Most years, I've picked up a few old magazines or books, but apparently not this year (except for buying an old Tomb Kings book for my friend Joe who has just started building an army, which I gave to him before we left) so I can tell you that the Salute programme and an Osprey games catalogue I received were both scrutinised intently!
And now the fun bit, the loot:
- This year's Salute freebies - a lovely Steampunk lady from Westwind and a nice bronze effect d6
- 8 Maelstrom's Edge sample figures (as everyone I went with said they'd never use them as they're not fantasy and offloaded theirs on me)
- Set of 10 brushes from Siege (for free! Madness!)
- 5 rough looking near future types from em4 (to convert to use as human thugs, as every Star Wars RPG adventure seems to feature an a counter with some human thugs) and some 25mm round bases
- A Jomsviking Warlord from Gripping Beast (for use as an Ironborn Captain, and also his beard reminded me of my friend Joe) because I wanted to support Gripping Beast as they'd just fed me hope on something I'd been asking for from them for the last six or seven years...
- A handful of heroclix (a Spoiler, because I'm currently reading 90's Batman comics; a Controller, because he has an unusual body type; a Ghost, because I liked him in the Warren Ellis Thunderbolts run; and a Multiple Man, because I liked his trench coat)
- A Brotherhood of Steel looking chap from Brother Vinni (sadly I didn't realise he was going to be at Salute, and missed him on my initial scout around the venue, and by the time I noticed his name in the guide and made my way there most of the other iconic sculpts had already sold out)
- The Sorcerer and Castle Guards from Studio Miniatures Medieval Mayhem range because everyone loves Monty Python, right? I think the castle guards will make a humourous addition to a unit in the Song of Ice and Fire project, blowing raspberries at their foes! They do a whole range of the Knights with their accompanying squires (complete with overloaded baggage) that I was tempted to get too, but managed to show surprising restraint... [side note - I discovered that my wife has never seen the Holy Grail]
- Top-ups of Vallejo smoke and Army Painter Strong Tone, as well as a pot of out of production Games Workshop Tanned Flesh paint
- My Hasslefree preorder of a Conan-looking chap, modern witch and a zombie (alas, the other figure I was after isn't available in metal yet, after having to try and describe her to three members of the White family and try and act out the pose!)
- A female trench coat ganger from Heresy, as I was after her gun, but it isn't yet available separately (and Heresy is one of the companies that I try and buy at least one thing from every year at Salute)
- A free kangaroo from Eureka, for saying G'day
- A Cult Tracker and War Hound from Osprey Games, because they are absolutely beautiful, and will go nicely with my wildlings when I get around to building some (although that might not be until we see if the rumours about the next plastic Frostgrave miniature kit are true)
- A free Frostgrave Wizard Sheet, which is brilliant - it's like a combination roster record and quick reference sheet!
- In amongst the usual mountain of flyers and leaflets, I also got a Steam Key for a copy of Talisman Prologue and a voucher for free shipping from Brother Vinni, which was nice!
18 vs 360 = -342
You might notice that it hasn't gone down by as much as you'd expect, but that would be because on the morning of Salute I gifted my friend Joe an old vampire special character that I had knocking around for his burgeoning undead legion... It's probably a good thing that I waited around for the guy from Westfalia miniatures for so long, as that prevented me from giving in to temptation and goof back to the Perry stand to buy a box of plastic French!
So overall, the usual fun day out. I've come back fired up to convert some em4 miniatures, or maybe build some more westerosi chaps...