Now I’m back home and caught up on sleep it’s time to press on with the rest of my Salute 2015 wrap-up. This time it’s all about the vendors, manufacturers and some of the fantastic studios and games I know far less about. I mentioned in ‘Part One’ that this was my first ever visit to Salute, which I know seems odd considering just how many years I’ve been in the hobby. Nevertheless it’s true. When I set off on Friday afternoon I decided I ought to have something of a plan regarding any purchasing on the day, as if left to my normal devices I’d have simply run in shouting “here, here take my money!” in a blind panic. I set myself four ground rules, each more fiendishly cunning than the previous. Ok, maybe not cunning but I set them nevertheless. The first was to ensure the thing I did before anything else was to hone in on the ‘event only’ miniatures that I specifically wanted and couldn’t get elsewhere. I anticipated these would sell fast, very fast in fact so I figured those should be the vendors I ought to focus on at the start. For me this was really only the Hawk Wargames ‘event only‘ Resistance Double-Decker Bus and the outgoing Escape Pod miniature which I’d never had the opportunity to get before. As it happened I was also extremely fortunate to get hold of a couple of the limited pewter versions of the previewed UCM carrier as well. These I’ll paint up at a later date ready for when the game launches.
The second rule was nothing heavy or cumbersome. I kept myself honest on this by only taking a ‘really’ small bag and absolutely no bergen sized backpack! as it turned out that was an excellent tactic which really curbed any excessive or large purchases. Sorry Forgeworld, not this time!
Rule the third: Go for stuff that was interesting rather than necessarily related to games I already collect for. Rule number four – Don’t forget the first rule! With rule 1 covered off by my post yesterday and some of my favourite regular Vendors already visited, my second (and subsequent) hours at Salute were spent more leisurely checking out some of the other great game publishers and miniature studios, seeking out those figures that just simply took my fancy from a painting perspective and nothing more.
First up was of course Heresy Miniatures and Hasslefree who were conveniently located together in the ‘FoD’ corner (Forum of Doom). Andy’s ‘Return of the Monsters’ Kickstarter campaign was one I backed last year so it was interesting to see how many of the minions, beasties and ‘Big Uns’ were coming along in addition to the great horde of other cool and characterful stuff Heresy do when not casting Dragons. JAGU Boris in particular was looking sharp as a single piece cast which when you look at the Axe was no mean feat. From Heresy I picked up four blisters on a deal including a rather nice Dr Payne, a couple of General Duty Robots and Vincent B Ruddock with a particularly deadly looking tin cup.
There was any number of things I would have liked to have bought from Hasslefree, but what leapt out at me was one of the nicest anatomically correct Wolves I’ve ever seen, so I got it. Why? Because it was the dogs danglies that’s why!
Ax Faction were a studio I really knew nothing about before Salute, another reason rule the third is such a good rule. They had some truly stunningly painted and edgy fantasy figures, which only emphasised how awesome their sculpts were. It was ‘Brig’ who caught my eye, but unfortunately he was part of a set on the day so I passed in favour of picking him up from Ax directly at a later date separately. Making new discoveries like this is where Salute really pays off. In case you were wondering, Brig is a Badger with a pipe, large axe and attitude. What’s not to love? The other figure which I liked and did purchase was the Northfjorder Warg Hunter on Bear which again is a stunning and unusual figure.
On the subject of original miniatures there are three other companies I really want to mention even though I didn’t purchase anything from them on the day. Oh boy did I want to though! The first was Fenris Games with their Cthulhu range. I’m not particularly a fan of HP Lovecraft, but I know there’s a massive fanbase and much of the Fenris lineup was eyecatching. It was only when I looked more closely that I realised I actually had one of their resin figures from a few years back in the ‘Son of Yog-Sothoth’. The second is Warploque Miniatures if nothing else because of their Undead Leviathan and Death Kiwi pack. Another great paintjob on another original sculpt.
Finally I wanted to mention Blightwheel Miniatures whose Terror Bird cavalry I would have snapped up if it wasn’t for rule two being enforced due to bag size. Maybe next year.
I know you’re thinking what on earth would I use any of these miniatures for considering I don’t collect for any of those games. Quite simply either the fun and challenge of painting them, or possibly to use within Dungeon crawler or RPG games like Dungeon Saga (with stats of my own devising), or even as ‘wyrd’ warbands under Carl Brown’s Open Combat system. What I can make use of straight away however is the ‘Konflikt 47’ alternative World War turrets from Clockwork Goblin. These rather neatly fit straight onto existing 15mm WWII Sherman’s and Panzer IVs by the likes of Plastic Soldier Company, which sound like a great way to make use of existing miniature assets in a second game. That plus Tesla turrets which need no justification. I’ll be sure to roll some out in my next Flames of War game purely to troll Kev. Funnily enough I have a platoon of PSC Late War Shermans in the workshop right now. Could kill two birds with one stone figuratively speaking.
It wasn’t all blister packs and miniatures in the loot sack I hasten to add as I did make an effort to visit a few stands like ModelMates who produce great water and ethanol based weathering products. Getting a chance to speak directly with the manufacturer and them demonstrate the product is another big benefit of attending events like this. It’s good when companies have guides and if you’re really lucky videos on their website showing how to use the product, but this is still nowhere near as informative as having them demonstrate it in front of your very eyes, having the opportunity to ask questions and engage with them directly. I have and use a number of ModelMate weathering effects, but even despite that I learned so much on the day from discussing the different ways they could be applied and worked. In the end a pot of Real Rust opaque effect was purchased and added to the swag bag. Later on it was accompanied by a bottle of Scale 75’s matt black primer after chatting with the great guys at Northumbrian Tin Soldier, another company who have a fantastic range of quirky ‘Nightfolk’ miniatures which are well worth checking out.
Finally, a few interesting Flesh tone packs from Foundry (a range I have been meaning to try out for a while now) and some of the excellent Micro Art Studio bases rounded out the bag at which point I called it a day on the shopping front.
There were a few odds and ends items I also picked up on whim like a Huey “Hog” and some locals for Flames of War in Vietnam based on the recommendation of the guys I met at the Beasts of War meetup on the Friday night. Again this was more about trying something different after being inspired by what I saw at the show and the folks I spoke with throughout the day. In many ways you feel like you come away with your hobby mojo fully recharged for the Summer which has to be the biggest payoff of visiting events like this. We all suffer painting or gaming fatigue at some stage and events like Salute are a remedy in my opinion. As a regular (former) attendee of UK Games Day many years back it’s great to get that feeling again from a much more mature and well rounded event like this. Am I a Salute convert? Yes, I think I probably am having finally gotten around to going to one so there’s a strong probability I will make an effort to attend Salute 2016 should it be organised.
Up to now I’ve talked a lot about the vendors and opportunity to score ‘Salute Loot’, but there’s another entire side to the event of course and that’s the gaming tables. In the final post I’ll give my thoughts on the games, diversity and atmosphere before wrapping up my Salute experience with a few lessons learned and tips I picked up for potential future visits.
Until then, have a great week.