David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Monday, 3 October 2016

I have been to...

...Derby Worlds at Castle Donnington Exhibition Centre with Phil. There will be no photos of queues ~ there were none ~ or games ~ the dreadful lighting would have turned them sickly green ~ just my observations on our day out and reflections on the direction our hobby seems to be taking. Oh, and the obligatory photos of my purchases!
I took up wargaming in 1973 when Sue and I moved to our first house in Walsall following our marriage and I was introduced to the Alumwell Wargames Society, by Wilf who worked in the local model shop where I had been buying Hinchliffe 25mm Napoleonic figures to paint as a change from Airfix 54mm plastic kits. A couple of years down the line I met Phil, and shortly after I became the club's Secretary, and Phil the Treasurer. Together with the others on the committee we organised the first WMMMS in the mid 1970's, a show I'm proud to say is still going strong today in a new venue, about a mile from our present home! I mention this out of interest in providing a context to any observations I make in the following paragraphs.
Why do we go to wargames shows in this age of the internet? I know in the early days of WMMMS we all looked forward to seeing new product in the round and were always interested to see the fine games staged by visiting clubs on the day: a chance to see other peoples' figures; their painting styles and techniques; their approach to terrain making and to scratch building! Fast forward to 2016 and all of that is instantly available on the internet, through dedicated Blogs, Facebook pages, Forum Boards and YouTube, not to mention shopping for the latest 'Oh Shiny'!But then still we go along on the day. Is it a case of 'Old Habits Die Hard' do you think? Well, it could be for we 'geriatrics in waiting', but what of the younger elements amongst us?
I don't think the answer is profound myself, its still better to see something you may want to buy in the round rather than on a screen, where you have no guarantee that the image has not been doctored in some subtle manner ~ think of adverts showing portion sizes, for example, where smaller plates are used to enhance the apparent size of the food portion. I still feel that seeing someone's painted army in action gives you a better idea of what your's might look like than any picture, still or moving. The same applies to seeing a rule set in action and most importantly talking to the author in person or to someone who has played the rules a lot.
But what of we old chaps? Well, all of the above still applies in my book, but I put meeting other gamer friends and making new ones higher on my list now a days. So, to Derby Worlds yesterday with my chum Phil, where we could chew over wargaming all day with no fear of interruption, except by other like minded chaps of course! A leisurely drive in the sun from Phil's, arriving about 10.30ish to find ample parking and no queue for entry: result No1! Enter the shed to find only a £1.00 reduction for Senior Citizens ~ Boo! Into the hall to find myriads of games and shed loads of traders! Lots to see and do and temtations to spend ~ Result No2! Now, Phil and I usually split up at this point to collect our pre-orders and take them back to the car ~ thanks Phil ~ before settling into full show mode! I beetled off to Warbases to collect the windmill sails Martin had kindly made for me, to attach to my windmill having stupidly shattered the resin ones! From there to Wagames Illustrated to collect some figures they were holding for me ~ 'Thanks Dan!' Then on to Great Escape Games for my Gamers' Grass Tufts and finally some Valejo Gun Metal Grey paint!
Then its our habit to wander the trade stands looking for anything which might take our fancy pertinent to our many projects, chat with the many Traders we have known for more years than we or they might like to admit, and then finally to take in the games, some in passing and some in depth, depending on the whims of our current interests or the 'Wow Factor' of the game. I had been looking forward to seeing the Ilkley Lads SYW extravaganza and was not disappointed. In every respect it was a stunner to see and was being vigorously played every time I ventured back! Worth the day out on its own for me. Other games that piqued my interest were: the South American Wars of Independence; the Rorkes' Drift game; the Thirty Years War game; and, the Walls of Athlone, even though it was my third viewing of it! In fairness, there were lots of lovely games on show, perhaps too may to take them all in fairly, but I did notice quite a few bijou sized games. Now, we play some of these ourselves, so no cause for gamers' snobbery there, but I do feel that at shows I like to see the spectacular and visually expansive game. Its just what I enjoy on the day and look forward to seeing in the round!
To conclude on a personal note: as an old hand at show organising and at game hosting I appreciate more than many punters on the day the months of effort that have gone in to realising what we see before us. I know that many things are beyond the ken of organisers to address and that anything involving volunteers can go pear shaped at the last minute. So, to all involved a big 'Thank You!' for my grand day out. As to the dreadful lighting, which spoiled the enjoyment of some spectacular games, and the hard floor, which b*ggered my knee and hip for the evening, there is little they can do, so I freely exonerate them! It did n't spoil my day.
Now, the obligatory pictures of my haul ~

In addition to the pre-orders I mentioned: from Dave Thomas a Perry French Baggage Wagon set for the FRW; and, my 'Star Buy' from the Flea Market, a Battalion of Brigade Games FRW infantry, at 3 figures for £1.00, with some VBCW Footloose standard bares, civilians and some Perry Austrian generals. All for £10.00! Then this afternoon the Light Infantry I'd ordered from Brigade Games turned up in the post too!

The VBCW Footloose and Perry WWII for the VBCW project which Dan had collected for me, together with some Austrian Limbers and a Caisson set for the FRW project. My 'Lead Pimple' has become a 'Lead Mountain' overnight! Finally, also in the post today ~

From an eBay Action at £1.99 some transport for my Express & Star Rifles in the VBCW. All in all a good couple of days, topped off by the 'All Clear' result from the Bowel Cancer tests we old folk get every three years! I've even finished some SYW French Light Infantry today and played an Indian Mutiny game, of which more in a future Blog entry! "That's All Folks!"


  1. Now that sounds like a good day out......😀

  2. Most entertaining reflections there Mr. B

    Twas a great show and day out, its a shame about the lighting, my eyes were really sore in the evening.

    1. Your eyes! My hip and knee! What a pair of old crocks eh?

  3. Very thought provoking Dave.

    There are pros and cons to the electronic age, not least that appreciation of painting efforts no longer just rely on the Mk. I Eyeball, but can now be exploded to almost life size on the screen.

    Being able to cover the globe in your search for that gaming soul-mate who enjoys the War of Jenkins Ear as much as you, can be balanced off against running into someone you've not seen for years at a show though.

    Size matters in regard to shows though and some venues outgrow their traditional homes. People complain that Salute is now too big for one day, but the cost of putting it on for two is apparently prohibitive. Some small shows are not worth the drive if you don't play 'mainstream' or 'bijou' games, while others are a shame to miss.

    It's certainly a different hobby to c. 1980 when my journey began though for sure.

    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful response Jim. It's certainly changing very fast it seems to me now a days!

  4. Glad to see you & Phil enjoyed yourselves and even managed not to fall over.

    1. Indeed we did enjoy both the show and my failure to fall over. Your company was sorely missed, as it has been every week for a good while now.