“Salute 50" Showcase 2023 - Part Two: Traders And Games
Besides getting the chance to talk to people, my main reason for attending this celebration of "half a century of wargaming shows put on by the South London Warlords club" was to see the latest offerings from my favourite miniature manufacturers, stumble upon some new companies I'd previously not known about, and seek inspiration from the various participation/demonstration tables. "Salute 50" certainly wasn't lacking on any of these fronts, and I spent a good portion of my time at the ExCeL convention centre in Custom House scrutinising all manner of models and scenery; both painted and unpainted.
One of the first stalls to catch my eye was "Warp Miniatures" and their incredible range of fantasy-based figures. I've been a big fan of this range since its early days when Alex Huntley originally began hand-sculpting the residents of ArcWorlde. Since then there's been both a second edition rule-book and the creation of an STL (Standard Triangle Language) files "Patreon" service, so there's arguably never been a better time to get into the "narrative battle game where warbands, heroes and monsters are pitted against each other in the field of combat."
From a personal perspective though I still own numerous unpainted miniatures from Alex's early Kickstarters, so found the visit to his booth a timely reminder for me to dust off all the metal and resin models from his range I already own, and get cracking on painting them up. I felt quite similar about my trip to the large "Warlord Games" area too, as my 'mountain of lead' based solely upon products purchased from the Nottingham-based company is so embarrassingly overwhelming that it'll probably take me a year or so to pigment everything - even if I exclusively focused my hobby time just upon them.
However, I was interested in seeing whether I could pick up their "Judge Dredd" game without buying its figures. As someone with an extensive collection of their old metal Mega-City One range (in collaboration with "Mongoose Publishing") I didn't want to have to buy the same characters all over again. Sadly, although the main book is available separately (and indeed at one point I had a copy in my hand), two staff members informed me that I'd still need to buy both the new starter set and models if I wanted to own the various cards needed for an important rule mechanic. Suffice to say having previously bought big into their poorly supported and now officially dropped "Doctor Who: Exterminate! The Miniatures Game" range - even though I already owned hundreds of other "Doctor Who" figures by other manufacturers - I wasn't prepared to be bitten a second time.
Another dealer who held my attention for a while was "Brigade Models". Having not yet even assembled a couple of "A Billion Suns" space-faring fleets I bought from the Sittingbourne-situated company at "Colours 2022" I initially only gave their wares a cursory glance. But then I caught sight of an awesome-looking 15mm scale Monorail Engine and its accompanying (heavily weaponed) Scout Cars. I actually own a couple of unpainted "Gruntz" armies and thought this rail network would prove to be an exciting terrain feature to fight over. Uncharacteristically though, I stayed strong, deciding to see if I could paint my British and Neo-Soviet forces up first before buying the train. In addition Tony mentioned putting together some Monorail package deals after the show.
Games-wise I saw loads of awe-inspiring tables during my visit, with several proving particularly influential for some potential future projects. One such battle was Kaiserschlacht 1918 - which featured numerous 20mm plastic figures and was being fought using the "Bloody Picnic: Wargaming The End Of Empire" ruleset. I'd never heard of Dillion Browne's game before, but the display certainly seemed to show off how impactive artillery fire could be. In addition, I was very impressed by the players' dice towers, which were all appropriately painted in World War One camouflage patterns.
Equally as enthralling was the vibrantly coloured Zagory Rebellion: A Night At Heidi's by the Cornwall Wargames Association. Played with some homebrew rules entitled "Carry On Tintin" (which can be downloaded for free from the club's website), This "neo-retro and pseudo-nostalgic wargame set in a fictional central Europe during the interwar period" had me utterly transfixed, and reminded me that I had yet to even start applying a brush to any of Mark’s Little Soldiers range by Mark Copplestone which I've previously bought via "North Star Military Figures".
One of the smaller displays I spotted was the Conquest table by "Para Bellum Games", which really helped show-off the size and detail of their "mass battle wargame." Rather sheepishly I must admit to purchasing a few boxes of these figures a couple of years ago and never doing anything with them since they arrived - a familiar story I know. So this marvellous feast for the eyes has definitely galvanised me into digging some of them out - especially now I know you can also download their skirmish core rules Conquest: First Blood for free from the company's website.
Rounding off Salute's sortie upon the senses was Jon and Diane Sutherland's incredible Battle Of Leuctra 371 B.C. board, which showed off the armies of Thebes and Sparta in splendid fashion. The table was absolutely huge and simply crammed full of infantry, cavalry and atmospheric Ancient Greek ruins. Plus, both fully-painted forces were actually for sale - Though I doubted I could get them to all fit inside my bag...