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21st April 2007- SALUTE

As always Salute was organised by the South London Warlords and was held this year, as in 2006, at the Excel centre in Londonís docklands.

My day at salute 2007 started with an easy trip by train from Woking. The entire journey took exactly an hour door-to-door. At 10:00 I strolled past the queue of Ďqueue busterí badge holders (?) and entered the hall at 10:01. My free traderís badge courtesy of Black Cat Bases showing itís true worth right from the off.

To my mind a good wargames show involves three things: Buying stuff, looking at stuff and meeting folk; not necessarily in that order.

Iím going to start with the Ďmeeting folkí part as this was the highlight of this yearís Salute for me. Over the course of the day I caught up with many friends and acquaintances and met a few new ones.

Early on in the proceedings I spotted both Don Featherstone and Duke Seifried walking around together. You donít get an opportunity like that very often so I introduced myself and cheesy fan photos followed. I am not ashamed, both these gentlemen are real movers and shakers in our hobby and I for one owe them a great debt of gratitude for the inspiration theyíve given me. As one of the Warlords, Big Steve, commented as they left: ĎIt was better than meeting Elvisí.

Me and Donald Featherstone

Me and Duke Seifried

There was a general TMP meeting in the hideous Fox bar and restaurant at 12:00. Once again the Fox seemed caught unawares that the Excel centre might be open on a Saturday and had no tap beer working at all. Bottled stuff was £3.30 a bottle and half the seating area was roped off as well. Shoddy.

I found myself queuing up at the bar behind a chap in a full SS military uniform complete with guns which was interesting. It felt, as we sat supping our beer and watching the ĎGermansí on the other table, much like being in Casablanca (the film, not the place). I had an urge to stand up and start singing La Marseillaise. More on the Salute Nazis later though.

Joining me in our little gamersí group were Germy, Johnny and his friend Aston, Malamute and his friend Jim, Thomas Nissvik, who came all the way from Sweden to buy Aliensurfer a drink only to find Alien wasnít there (Never mind, Germy drank it for you Scott).  James Forrest also joined us for the first time (but not the last, I hope) along with two of his six (?) children. A general good time as had by all despite the lack of good beer or comfortable seating.

Germy, Malamute and Thomas.

James, Aston and Johnny.

I spent the remainder of the day in the company of Simon Webb who I bumped into after lunch. He was with Giro, another friend of mine, but I see Giro every week so he doesnít really warrant a mention here.

Giro and Simon.

Okay, buying stuff next. I let myself down here a bit. I donít buy much at shows now because the internet makes purchasing so easy these days. Even so, I managed to sink £150 at Salute this year. Quite a bit went on general things that were pre-ordered to avoid postage fees and in one case to get a 10% discount as well. Amazon Miniatures, Olleyís Armies and the Wargames Supply Dump were the main beneficiaries here.

Here's Roger from the Wargames Supply Dump looking shattered by the end of the day.

I chatted with Rees of Moonfleet Miniatures who took me round the phenomenal amount of new figures he has produced. Sadly most of them arenít up on his website so you canít see them. I threw a bit of cash at him and walked away with a much heavier bag than I arrived with. Hopefully Iíll have some pictures of painted miniatures to show before too long.

Black Cat Bases later in the day, very busy as usual.

Ben and Jo at Black Cat Bases were not content with getting me into Salute free, they also gave me a lot of samples of their new stuff. Painted pictures and reviews will follow as soon as time permits.

Jed at Antenocitiís Workshop had his excellent new Tudor house on display but thatís not my thing at the moment so I managed to avoid spending any money with him. However, if you think you might be interested in such a thing, I urge you to check out the website. Iíve found that Antenociti is my first stop for scenic stuff these days due mainly to the excellent quality of the items they sell and the wonderful customer service.

As an aside, Jed returned home after Salute to find he had missed the birth of his second daughter by 20 minutes. Iíd like to offer my congratulations to Jed and his wife on their new addition, hopefully the whole clan will be in attendance next year.

I waved a happy hello to Ian and Mike on their combined Fighting 15s and Black Hat Miniatures table. Mike lives down the road from me so no money passed hands here either since I can get anything from him whenever I want.

I went and introduced myself to Lorenzo who is the editor of Dadi & Piombo, the Italian wargames magazine. Thereís going to be some of my work in the next issue so watch out for it!

Now at this point I was feeling good. Iíd bought some pre-ordered stuff so that doesnít really count, Iíd got some freebies so Iím up on the day and Iíd only succumbed to Moonfleetís shiny things so far.
Then I found Simple Miniature Games.
Simple miniature Games were doing 3-for-2 on Infinity and Confrontation. I really like the Infinity range but the prices are high so Iíd avoided all but a single blister pack until now. But, címon, 3-for-2, thatís a proper bargain. I spent money.
I didnít spend all my money and I didnít reach for the credit card but I spent more than Iíd planned and now that Iíve started Iíll continue. Later purchases wonít be at 3-for-2 and will hurt, hurt quite a bit I fear. Iím addicted just like they knew I would be; curse them! Itís like crack dealers giving you your first rock for free because they know youíll come back.
Oh well, Iím sure I can stop anytime I want.

I tried to buy some paint from Foundry but they were out of both the colours I needed so Iíll have to mail order them and pay their exorbitant postage.

My final purchases were some terracotta zombies from John Jenkins, supplied by TM Terrain at the show. I have the hopping vampires and the rest of the range and I was in a mood to spend so I did. The fact that I can paint them really quickly and attempt to restore the bought/painted figure ratio didnít affect my decision at all, honest.

There was an awful lot to see at Salute this year, far more than last year it seemed. I couldnít photograph everything I wanted to and the poor lighting made the photos I could get a bit washed out because of the flash going off. Wherever possible Iíll direct you to the appropriate website so you can find better pictures. Think of mine as just a small taster of what was available.

Paul Darnell of Touching History had his amazing Sudan terrain set up. I played on this terrain a little while ago and we had a lot of fun. The full battle report which details my incredible victory against overwhelming odds is in the latest issue Touching History, number three.

Hornchurch Wargamers 28mm game of the Zulu Wars, Myers Drift. Scratch built wagons (from plaster) and converted Ďwading zulusí so they can cross the river. A very spectacular game indeed.

The Escape Committee, 28mm Siege of Tenochtitlan: The fall of Mexico City 1521. My long time online forum buddy Lowtardog had much to do with this spectacular game. The hand made scenery was made by Neil Burt (AKA Troop of Shewe)  This is the same person who made the giant factory for a Stalingrad game a while back. There scenery is beautiful to behold, especially the home made and cast ships. I always like boards that combine land and sea; I think the contrast between the two really makes a game Ďpopí.

Azanti High Lightning Megagames, 1:35 scale John Frost Bridge. This game looked spectacular from a distance but lost it a bit on the detail with closer inspection. However, it was still a great set up and everyone seemed to be having a good time. As I passed by during the day I was glad to see more and more smoke clouds appearing over the German vehicles which hopefully meant that Lt. Col. Frost and his Paras were selling their lives dearly.

Newark Irregulars, 28mm, Blood and Dust in the Back of Beyond. A nice looking game that appealed despite not having spectacular terrain features. Sometimes itís nice to just line them up and get on with it.

Penarth & District Wargames Society, 42mm, Samurai of the Dragon. This guy is brilliant; I just love his look and attitude (he was a very pleasant chap). This photo makes him look like Master Po which is a shame, he isnít really blind. Having you very own Samurai wife must help with getting in character. You may notice that their canopy is held aloft by bamboo. Just an excellent little display all round and possibly my favourite.

Warm Acre, 28mm, Hour of Glory. This is a decent board game that lends itself to being built up in 3D. The first picture shows a standard 3D version and the second shows one where the rooms have been set at different heights for a genuine German Schloss feel. This is the option I will be going for when I get around to it.

Chemin De Feu, 28mm, Take It and Hold It. This was a very good looking Pegasus Bridge game. The Wargames Illustrated photographer was busy here when I arrived so no doubt itíll feature in an upcoming issue. I particularly liked the buildings.

Whitstable & Herne Bay Companions, 1:72, Follow the Bouncing Bomb, a Dambusters game. Simple and very effective with lots of atmosphere. The reflections of the tracer rounds going out across the water was a great touch. This has suffered most from the flash going off as everything is lightened too much. I wonder what the tape player behind the dam was for?

Continental Wars Society, 40mm, Battle Schleswig 1848. this is just perfect. The carpet makes this game, the atmosphere around this was palpable, childhood revisited but with respect for the toys. I like old style games like this and make no apologies for doing so. I am contemplating having a go at the SYW and going for figures painted in the toy soldier style with a nice glossy finish; somehow it just cries out for this sort of treatment. I may steal the carpet idea too.

TooFatLardies, 28mm, Operation H. Oh look Larry, a real wargame put on by a real wargame company. Despite the best efforts of Larry Dunn and his Wikipedia fetish the Lardies continue from strength to strength.

Oshiro Model Terrain samurai game with fantastic hand made buildings. I think the rules were Warhammer Ancients but who cares, look at the lovely houses.

Gloranthan army. These mad folk are a credit to the fantasy wargaming scene; always enthusiastic and always ready to go that extra yard. The huge bat has glowing eyes and the giant is truly giant sized. There are real lights on the citadel backdrop too. I remember seeing an article on how the bat was made years ago so iot was nice to see it for real.

The Salute Nazis

There were SS re-enactors present at salute this year. Lots and lots of people found this completely unacceptable and have made their feelings known on many forums. Personally I didnít pay much attention to them. I looked briefly at their kit, they had some awesome vehicles with them as well as a very nice PAK 36 set up. I found all this interesting, far more interesting than a bunch of pseudo Vikings (or worse, elves) trying not to hit each other with swords. I didnít mind that they were German troops although I would have liked to see some allied representation as well for some contrast and to put things a little more in perspective.
I donít have any SS troops in my WWII German collection and I bet Iím almost alone in this. There seems to be a fascination with the SS amongst gamers and, it seems, re-enactors too.
I wonder if they could have attracted enough members and cash to obtain all this amazing equipment if they were re-enacting a bog standard German army unit. I suspect not.

Just because theyíre dressed as Nazis doesnít mean they are Nazis. People who join Confederate re-enactment groups for the ACW donít have to own slaves and presumably anyone who joins a Spartan group in the wake of 300 wonít be expected to leave their newborn babies on mountain tops either.

Now, there were some home front elements in the re-enactment group. Women and children all decked out as Nazis with mock Nazi home rooms and portraits of Hitler. Iíve seen this type of camp or home life portrayed by other historical groups and nobodyís batted an eyelid. Why get bent out of shape because these people are showing the home life of the bad guys? Are pretend Nazis that frightening? Neo-Nazis are frightening and need to be stood up to but people dressed in historical clothing to show what life was like back then? Come on.

So far so good, I can take or leave re-enactors no matter what theyíre dressed as. I would prefer not to see them at wargames shows because I think our two hobbies are distinct and separate. If I want to see re-enactors Iíll go to a re-enactorsí event.

Now, here comes the Ďbutí. I object to Nazi re-enactors selling modern day Nazi souvenirs. Hitler mugs are not historical and serve no educational purpose what so ever. Swastika mugs are not historical and serve no educational purpose what so ever. If youíre a Nazi SS re-enactor and you need to raise money go on a sponsored walk or something, bake wartime cakes and sell them, appear in documentaries and films.
Please donít sell German marching song cds and mugs with hateful propaganda pictures on them, that just makes you look like tossers and wannabe real Nazis which youíre not.
Are you?

I forgot the Dalek pic. Daleks and Nazis, we're doomed!