Matakishi's Tea House

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9th-10th September Colours 2006

Organised by the Newbury and Reading Wargames Society and held in the Grandstand at Newbury Race Course, Newbury, Berkshire, UK on 9th & 10th September 2006.

I got a free ride to Colours this year; Paul Darnell of Touching History fame asked if I wanted a lift. I accepted his kind offer immediately and thus allowed my wife to escape the horrors (to her) of a wargames show. The only downside of this was an incredibly early start to the day, how we must suffer for our hobbies sometimes. We picked up Mark Bush on the way, returned home for some forgotten scenery and then scooted down a mostly empty motorway towards Newbury in good spirits.

Part of the Touching History terrain set up.

We arrived at Newbury in good time and got stuck right in with the serious business of attending a wargames show. First we added some ECW figures to Paulís existing 16ft x 4ft terrain set up so it looked more lived in. During the course of the day we managed to slaughter most of these in a fairly random and light-hearted attempt to storm the fortified manor house that dominated one end of the board. My companions will claim the game was undecided but secretly they know I was winning.

Paul Darnell showing off issue two of Toching History to an interested convention goer. Issue two is much more substantial that issue one with thicker covers and heavier paper and is a very nice publication indeed.

Once everything was set up and ready to go I went for a wander to see what was going on.
These days I find that conventions are a lot less stressful than they used to be. Before the advent of the internet I used a wargames show as a huge shop. I tried to ensure that I bought all the wargaming products that I would need for the next twelve months and then tried to gather in every new shiny thing that attracted my attention at the show in case it wasnít available next time.

This involved rushing to a traderís stand, handing over a prepared list of code numbers etc. and then waiting for the person manning the stand to find all your bits in a morass of little drawers behind him or her. All this was complicated by the horde of people all doing the same around you. In the midst of this group was always some moron who didnít even have a list and was insisting on being shown several miniatures picked at random from an un-illustrated catalogue to see if he liked them.

Once one purchase was complete it was time to rush to the next trader on your list and repeat the exercise. This time however, since you werenít the first to arrive, you had to wait impatiently, facing the shield wall of rucksacks in front of you, for ages before you wormed your way to the front. It was at times like these that I learned to hate the dithering fools that came to these events unprepared. An entirely unfair judgement of course since I was as guilty as anyone of doing this when I came across a previously unknown range of figures or scenery.

Nowadays all this is different for me. I order the items I want online throughout the year, if I see something new at a show I get details and order later at my leisure. Occasionally I will buy a particularly shiny trinket or a one-off item that I want but this purchasing is no longer accompanied by levels of life-threatening stress. For me wargames shows are now a serene experience where I get to meet and talk to people.

So, hereís who I met and talked to this year:

Here's Jed and Mark discussing purchases.

I had a chat with Jed who owns Antenocitiís Workshop and discussed some future projects of mine with him. I saw the new sci-fi furniture heís producing which is very nice and has cemented its place on my list of stuff for my Moonbase. Generally Antenocittiís Workshop is my first port of call for all things modelling these days; Jed is very knowledgeable and easy to deal with. The customer service from Antenociti is unbeatable. I didnít spend any money with Jed but Mark hadnít seen the stand before and stocked up on varnish and other supplies so everyone was happy.

Ian Marsh and Mike Lewis. Ian doesn't always look this strange.

I spent some time with Ian Marsh of Fighting 15s and Mike Lewis of Black Hat Miniatures who were, as usual, sharing a stand. Iíve known Ian and Mike for a number of years and it was nice to catch up with them. I managed to get a good look at the Cephalods that Black Hat produce; these are lovely models with lots of tentacles that will be making an appearance on my wargames table soon. Theyíre easily big enough to mix with 28mm humans as an alien race. Martians will be joining the Alien Invasion at last.

The Moonfleet Miniatures table with a selection of their wares.

I found Moonfleet Miniatures and Rees showed me the new additions to his A.S.P. forces that I use as UFO aliens, there was plenty here to interest me including the new snipers and a medical team with a floating stretcher/treatment bed which will soon be used as a mobile human dissection table in my games. I bought quite a few of this range and theyíve been shunted up the painting schedule so expect pictures of them soon. I also bought some of the Lyrium which are a kind of fish-man race with bags of character.
There were also lots of new Smoggers available as well as some completely new races, some of which are in metal, and some in resin. The big slug things in particular are really nice. Sadly Moonfleetís new website isnít up yet so you canít see photos of the new stuff and the photos on the current site do not show the figures to their best advantage. Bear with them though; itíll be worth the wait. I hope theyíre here to stay as they inject some much-needed originality into the sci-fi games market.

The Black Cat banner and some of the bases they produce.

Next door to Moonfleet, and connected with them, were Black Cat Bases.
Ben and Jo Parker who own and run Black Cat told me their mission was to be the nicest people in wargaming and then went on to try and prove it to me. I was plied with free (non alcoholic) drink and chocolate biscuits throughout our extended conversation and every time I mentioned I liked one of their products it was forced upon me as a freebie to Ďtry it outí. I stopped mentioning what I thought was good because my Ďfreebieí bag was heavier than my Ďboughtí bag and, although Iím as mercenary as the next bloke, even I have my limits past which my conscience will not let me rest easy.
Black Cat make a lot of stuff other than bases. Their bases are very fine but not something Iíd ever use because I like making my own. Their scenery items and figures however are useful, well crafted and fill several gaps in my collection. I came away with some resin phone boxes (UK red ones), dustbins, wheelie bins and rubbish sacks to clutter my city with and a whole set of 28mm metal cats and kittens to add to various character bases. I even got some toilets for my Moonbase. There was much more available that I will get later (and pay for like a proper customer ) as the mood takes me. Their site is well worth a visit, especially if you (unlike me) actually want some bases.

More of the Touching History set up. If you'd been here earlier you'd have seen the pic with Bill Gaskin and Mike Siggins in it but Mike wants to remain anonymous and unseen so he's gone, ninja-like, back into obscurity.

There were also several people and traders that I made acquaintance with that didnít have to put up with me boring them for extended periods of time. Most notably for me I met Bill Gaskin who has been an inspiration to me and others in our hobby for many years.

I spent money on some Peter Pig dice because you can never have too many D6 and they were yellow with pigs on them. A good alternative for Pig Tickler players who donít want to use pink ones and worth the investment.

And finally, I bought a terrain book, ĎMaking terrain and buildings for historical wargamesí by Timothy Hall and Jonathan Sutherland, published by Crowood Press ISBN 1 86126 829 7 £16.99. I was looking through this while Mark was buying some figures and was surprised to see that there were three pieces of my work in it. I had been contacted about this over a year ago but hadnít heard anything further. Itís nice to finally see it but a note that it was published would have been nice. (A free copy would have been nicer ). Anyway, itís a good looking book with lots of colour photographs, you should probably rush out and buy it.