Fiasco II 02
With the help of Tim, a fellow member of SMATS , acting as navigator, I managed to find Leeds this year and arrived safe and sound at the Royal Armouries bright and early. There is a lot of development going on in the area with retail sites and luxury accommodation springing up along the waterfront, and the museum is looking more at home now rather than standing in the not so splendid isolation of previous years. As usual though I cringed at the excessive cost of car parking, but then I suppose the museum which has free entry needs the money, and does at least give a great day out, unlike the Imperial War Museum North!
The Royal Armouries holds loads of exhibits to see, hands on demonstrations, and a series of fascinating lectures. It is a fantastic place to take the family and perhaps even find something the kids will enjoy and even ask to revisit, while you get the chance to revel in past glories. Tim attended a talk on the Boer war, that he said was excellent (I as usual was too busy gabbing). This is a marked contrast to the Imperial War Museum North, which although holding a fistful of plaudits for its architecture is receiving praise for its displays as minimalist as its interior. (As a rule of thumb, do not visit a place where the architecture , apparently based on the form of a deliberately broken teapot, causes more comment than the exhibits)
As I chatted to Alan and Phil from Lancashire Games, persuading them to act as my cloakroom attendants, Tim shot off to the bring and buy, seeking 15mm goodies for E bay. I wandered around the show checking out the stalls. I had intended to buy the range of 15mm Border Reivers from ERB, but was surprised to find that they did not accept debit or credit cards at shows, this left me disappointed and them short a sale.
I spent some time drooling over the East Ablaze models from Mark Copplestone; having been brought up on a diet of interwar Hollywood adventures the prospect of gaming bands of Soviet Revolutionaries, Chinese Warlords, Tibetan bandits and mercenary adventurers and mercenary adventurers is very tempting. So I obtained a select few to smuggle past the eagle eyes of my everloving!
The display games left me slightly disappointed. Without a doubt the one that really caught the eye was a Napoleonic display from Legio XX presented by Bruno Allanson and Mike Johnson. This portrayed a coastal village complete with antique, hand crafted, sloop, under attack from massed Austro-Prussian columns. All the figures were beautiful, miniature works of art. The special touches in the display were inspired, like the field hospital with the screaming trooper having his leg sawn away, and the dog helping itself to a tasty tidbit from a pile of discarded limbs. And of course the rampant hussar advancing with his weapon at the ready on a nubile nymph frolicking naked in the waves. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, but it was not a wargame, true the models were moved from time to time, but this was really a large diorama.
The lads from North Hull (they of the very colourful T Shirts) presented a vary large ACW game which promoted their own rules for the period, (and which I am still awaiting a review copy). As usual with this club the terrain was excellent, but at the times that I passed all you were looking at was the terrain. A huge table with all the action in the woods at one end, such are the vagaries of a wargames display game.
The Lance and Longbow Society, led as always by the indefatigable Dave Lanchester, refought Grandison. This is always a colourful display, with well painted figures, and interesting features such as a fortified camp and supply cog. However it is a familiar sight and perhaps due for revision.
Over on the other side of the room, Amazon Miniatures hosted a Sumo Basho that attracted a fair amount of interest especially from younger players. The Ilkley lads continued their promotion of the Piquet Rules, this time with a very large and well presented Seven years war game that was well up to this club's normal professional and impressive standards.
Across the way the East Leeds Militaria Society gave their Italian colonial troops another run out, this time to fight the Seige of Makalle of 1896. There was a crowd of young players arounf the Fantasy and Science Fiction wargames table, having an enjoyable time, whilst nearby T and M Terrain presented their impressive World War 2 canal crossing game, that drew admiring glances not only to the superb terrain and buildings but also the finely painted figures and AFVs.
Chris Flowers and friends presented the 1809 Battle of Landshut. This was a large scale 28mm action with the Austrians of General Hiller and Archduke Lois fighting a desperate rearguard action in order to let the main army escape the ferocious French assault. A very nice game fought using the Grand Manner rules written by the late and very much lamented Peter Gilder.
The show seemed very busy and throughout the day people were paying their entrance fees and at times the show seemed very crowded, and of course the museum was doing good trade as well. perhaps both benefited from the fine autumn weather as well as the goodies they had on show.
I ventured upstairs to the bring and buy and tormented myself with all the bargains that I could not afford, and let my jaw drop at some of the ridiculous prices asked for some of the lots. I was particularly impressed by a series of 6mm collections that were up for sale including a complete French Napoleonic Imperial Guard that was snapped up at a bargain price. There was also a Sudan Colonial collection including a model of Khartoum that was going for around £150 and was a real snip. Luckily I had left my cheque book at home (but not my cash card damn it!)
One modeller was selling off a collection of superbly painted and modelled World War 2 units vehicles and terrain, it was fascinating to watch these goodies being snapped up as soon as they emerged from the sellers bag, even before they were booked in ( if this individual, who sold units in brown cardboard school boxes, happens to read this article please contact the webmaster on firstname.lastname@example.org as I have a complimentary message for him) . I spotted Tim wandering around with his bargains and keeping an eagle eye on his great, but friendly, rival Martin who also had his arms full.
Painting by Paul Colfer
Despite all my good intentions I ended up buying quite a bit at the show including some superbly painted paras that fell out of the boot of Paul Colfer's car into my waiting arms. Paul is an excellent painter and some of his work will be featuring in in the Forum shortly.
The display games in the upper gallery suffered from both their position (pressed between the crowded bring and buy and a row of trader stalls) and the very poor lighting. There was an interesting game portraying the 1969 Football war between Honduras and El Salvador which I simply could not get a good look at because of people pushing past. I kept calling back at a Vampire Wars game waiting for it to get started, but as far as I could see the wolfen jager never moved. I was however very impressed by a Seven Years War game by the 10 Millers from Harrogate. Predictably fought in 10mm scale the figures used were from the new range by Pendraken. The terrain was very neat, and together with the well painted models made for an excellent game.
All in all I had a very pleasant day, but came away feeling somewhat miffed by the way in which the games were crammed into the upstairs gallery which failed to do justice to the displays in that room. The downstairs games failed to excite, although they were often technically superb. Overall too many of the displays failed to even attempt to communicate with the punters about what was happening, which was a bit of a let down, while others were somewhat static and uninspiring. Even so, God willing, I will be back next year.
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