With my pleasant memories of last year's show at Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire, still firmly ensconced in my mind, it would arguably have been rather remiss of me to have failed to attend this year's "Colours" by Newbury & Reading Wargaming Society'. Sure, my previous journey to the site's Car Park 4 was a chaotic nightmare. But having learnt my lesson to check the show's website beforehand for directions, I felt reasonably confident that I'd be able to make the ninety minute long journey with far fewer frustrations than last time.
Disconcertingly though, my Sat Nav had other ideas, insisting that I enter the market town from the wrong direction and resultantly forcing me to slowly fight my way through some seriously heavy Saturday morning traffic. To make matters worse, it also repeatedly attempted to take me to the main entrance at the western side of the venue, so ultimately ended up being binned in favour of my memory from twelve months ago. This eventually saw me through safely enough, however, the complete lack of signs along the route was not helpful, and would certainly have been greatly appreciated.
To mix things up a bit this time round, I decided to 'hit' the First Floor traders first. This choice turned out to be a good one too, as the large spacious area wasn't particularly busy, so I was able to mooch about the stalls relatively freely. Quite possibly the highlight of this initial 'scouting trip' was "Scarab Miniatures", who were selling some truly fantastic looking 28mm metal Great War figures for a mere 'pound a pop'. As such, I could quite easily have walked away with a significantly heavy bag load full of Austrians and French. Luckily, it was a little too early in the day to 'hit the trigger' quite yet, so I moved on before my wallet had a chance to inadvertently fly open.
Enjoyably, I next encountered the "Lard Zone" which had previously seen a lot of success at "Salute" 2023. Run by "Two Fat Lardies", this space had several of the company's games running, so I spent a short while thoroughly enjoying the different tables, genres and rule-sets on display. In addition, I was able to have a good look at the scenic wares of "The Last Valley", "F4 Freddie Terra Firma" and "Last Man, Last Bullet" - the latter of which had a number of World War One trench-works and Black Powder-era earthworks at various scales. A number of these seemed rather suitable for the American Civil War as well, so we ended up nattering for ten minutes about fortifications during this conflict, such as those at the Battle of Fredericksburg,
Following on from these visits, I ascended to the Second Floor and joined the jostle along the length of the show's Bring and Buy sale. To be honest, I found this one of the few disappointing aspects of this year's "Colours", as there simply wasn't a great deal to catch my interest due to it largely consisting of boxes full of painted miniatures. Doubtless many a visitor interested in such purchases scooped up a bargain or two. But for me there was a distinct lack of bare metal or plastic.
Instead, I busied myself looking at the different demonstration/participation games filling up the floor. A number of these caught my eye, most notably a 6mm battle being shown by the Society of Ancients for their intriguing "Mortem Et Gloriam" (MeG) rules. This biblical battle looked good and I was rather impressed when one of the members highlighted that the much larger sized tabletops surrounding me were all using the same game - just in different scales. Bemusingly though, I was then handed over to another fellow who seemingly felt the best way to sell me on the "multi-award-winning ancients wargames rules" was by quickly 'putting me in my place' for daring to even suggest that "Xenos Rampant" could be used to play some Napoleonic skirmishes - something I'm currently working towards.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I therefore decided to promptly leave the area utterly uninvested in MeG, and instead briefly made my way around the other pitched battles before moving down to the Ground Floor. This was absolutely bustling with activity, with several stalls momentarily capturing my attention. Of particular note was "Gringo 40's", whose range of Vietnam War and Napoleonics had me drooling over their display cabinets.
Ultimately however, I only succumbed to the usual suspects of "Warlord Games" and "Pendraken Miniatures" - who managed to ensnare me with a 15mm all-metal Siege Mortar Battery for Black Powder Epic Battles: American Civil War, and a ton of 10mm World War armoured vehicles respectively. Indeed, I felt a bit guilty just buying from two manufacturers who I regularly purchase from online, rather than from one of the numerous 'cottage industry' companies present at the show. But in the end, I decided to simply support my current hobby projects, rather than 'dip my toe' in yet another period or genre...