Sunday, 17 July 2016

Heroics & Ros Announce Some Of Their Many Forthcoming Releases

Lots of new stuff to come from Heroics & Ros, including:

Russian VDV:

WW2 German High Command:

Centurion Mk V:

Ww2 Finns (AWESOME):


The Joy Of Six, Was, Well... A JOY!

I had planned for a quiet Sunday as I am not feeling to clever of late and I've been working a little too hard.

So, I was not really into the idea of having to go into town, but, as I had work for two of my trade clients who were going to be at Joy Of Six, I made the journey in.

And what a joy it was.

The catering is great, the venue is wonderful, and the size and atmosphere, everything that most shows today are not.

The entusiasm was palpable, and Heroics & Ros were so busy that I could not even have a conversation. I had to just grab a bag of new releases for painting and say a brief 'see ya'.

I will be putting J.O.S in my events calendar as a visitor proper in future, as it really does seem that shows of this type are the future of the hobby.

Excellent work by Baccus 6mm and Wargames Emporium - Way to go, folks!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Thoughts On Triples...

Okay, I did say I'd say more on the conversations I've had with gamers, traders and members of the public regarding Triples and the reasons for it's decline and eventual demise. So here's a brief overview of some salient points which have cropped up...

The one thing that I have heard over the last few years and again in the last week, is the belief that the show organisers didn't listen.

That's perhaps a little over simplistic, but to a degree, I would concur. I think the 'deafness' is a byproduct of still envisioning a world where nothing has changed since the heyday of the show and that we still live in a world where 'build it and they will come' is a valid business plan.

It isn't

The show going public do still enjoy all of the classic 'features' of a show, but they are also a lot more aware that they are paying to be entertained, not merely to fill the hosts coffers with a somewhat random hotchpotch of traders, based on who hands over the money first.

In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of 'big name' companies attending the show, and a spate of somewhat scrappy 'Mom & Pop' operations selling second hand tat or frankly, piss poor terrain and scenics.

Attendees want to be able to get the best, and if a show does not attract the best, they will in all likelihood, not want to pay to get into a glorified flea market.

Bring & buy stalls are a constant favourite - when they are done properly. When they are run by a collective of second hand dealers seeking to use the stall as a way to offload tat whilst being perceived (rightly or wrongly) by the public to be skimming the best for sale on eBay and at other more lucrative shows, it is bund to engender some ill feeling. In fact, when you have a trader getting a LARGE area for a fraction of the cost of the same space booked in the main halls as a de facto trader, you are going to have some pissed off traders at your show, and rightly so when 60% of the stuff on sale is 'stock' and not items being sold by the public. I've had this discussion many times in the last 5 years or so, and I wholeheartedly agree.

The bring and buy should exist to allow those who have paid to get into the show, to sell unwanted stuff and ideally spend the money they have made at the show. When the b&b fails in that basic function it becomes an irrelevance.

'Traders are idiots.' - This was said to me directly a few years ago, and then and now, it pisses me off no end, as it does those I've talked it over with.

Traders are not idiots. If they are moaning or constantly checking up on something, then they will probably have a good reason. It may not seem to be a good reason to you the organiser, but frankly if they are giving you money and you are accepting it, then you should try as hard as possible to give them a positive impression and experience, and no matter how they might get under your skin, you should be business like.

'It's not a business' - This is another phrase I have heard a couple of times. Au fucking contraire! If you are running a commercial venture as large and as expensive as a major wargames show, then like it or not, you have to treat it exactly like a business, because the majority of those people paying for stands are themselves businesses, and those paying to get in expect a professional approach. Listen to the people who raise points and complaints because the chances are they are at more shows than the one you run, and the shows which look after them and treat them as valued are the shows which will succeed. Odd coincidence isn't it?

Staffing... Well, simply put, a club should have a guaranteed 'workforce' there to assist at the start and end of the show. I recall in 2013 on Sunday at 17:30 the organisers had largely all left, leaving traders to pack down and manage egress unassisted. Back to the 'business' quote again...


P.R and media savvy shows thrive. Those which don't look further than a magazine advert and/or flyers at other shows are heading for trouble. Local and national media if approached and handled properly are tremendous sources of footfall. Similarly if you make newcomers feel welcome and at ease, you can get some good press. Just because you are too fucking hung over from a piss up the night before, doesn't mean you should ignore the 'charm offensive'. Likewise, if you have club members willing to do the whole 'meet, great and smile sweet', don't for fuck's sake deride their efforts and then later in the year at your AGM, have the audacity to take the credit for something you played no part in. That is poor form and moreover disingenuous.

Aim to showcase the best games possible.

Unless you are a show catering for a specific sub group of gamers, embrace the best of everything, be it fantasy, sci-fi or historical. Don't sneer about 'Space Goblins' or make comments about your show being a 'proper wargames show'. If you advertise a s a 'historical wargames show', fair enough, but if not - SHUT UP! At the end of the day the content of the show exists for the enjoyment of the paying attendees, not your club. If you do this right and people have a great experience, then your club will get lots of money to spend in whatever way it chooses, but for those two days, you are there to serve the customer, not yourself. 

If you cover your costs and make a profit to the point that you could for instance, run a show for 3 years without going into the red, perhaps promote the show, by charging £1 entry for a year. Word will get around and you will get a loyal following and some seriously good press.

Britcon is a brilliant example of how and whom to charge for what.

If you have a trader, who is going to take a large stand area, but whom asks if they could have their display game close to the stand, don't tell them that you can't oblige them and then allow a company you think of as 'mates' to do just that. This has happened and the trader in question has never been back to the show in question since.

Don't stifle internal criticism. There are people in any club who can see things that perhaps those 'in charge' cannot, or who perhaps, keep eyes and ears open, or simply give a damn about their club or show. Making them outcasts for speaking out is counter productive and churlish, doubly so when the sam people doing castigating refer to attendees and traders of the show in far from polite terms.

When someone does say something, don't wait five or ten years to act on it and then start pointing fingers when your procrastination and general half assed attitude screws the pooch. It's no good waiting ten years to return to 'your' show date, expecting it not to have been taken over by other shows who can see an opportunity for growth and success.

'The show will cost the same for two days as one' should no longer be seen as a reason to actually have a two day show. In recent years traders at Triples have repeatedly remarked that the costs of attending a two day show are prohibitive and in several cases they have voted with their feet. Again, those traders rely on their business acumen every day, not just 2 days in every year. Listen to them, because as sure as hell, they would most certainly attend a two day show if they made money. Point in case, Vapnartak is a one day show and it's rammed with trade and public, and this makes for a truly vibrant show with lots of smiles and money flowing.

Then there's advance ticketing, online/electronic payment, fast and professional communications and engagement. I could probably go into these in great detail, but you may gather that these have all been sadly lacking with regards to Triples, and this has got right up the nose of some folk.

I'll not even go into the subject of members getting involved in public and abusive rants at people who make valid comments. There have been a couple of very notable exchanges on a couple of wargames forum type sites. 

Anyway, it's getting late, and I need to do a few more chores here at the Dark Tower before bed.

Suffice to say, it appears that the time for Triples to fade into the West, was indeed right.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Germans Have Landed...

Well, yesterday was a harrowing day for a treason I won't go into as it is private, but was gaming related. Not private for me you understand, but for others...

On the brighter side, my 20mm Germans arrived and I am very pleased to say that they were s well packed that not one was damaged, and they are better even than expected...

Now to sort then into Rapid Fire units.

I have looked at and tried Bolt Action, but, for a a serious historical mind like my own, the permutations and anachronisms you can get away with make it feel like Worldwarhammer...

I have had a few more conversations regarding the demise of Triples this week, and all were very well thought out, all pretty much drawing the same conclusions, which was interesting.

I'll maybe go into those in a later post, but I have to go and take a ride in the countryside for a little lunch and to clear my head of this and that.


PS: I will be working hard this week on getting painted previews for a whole slew of new releases from Heroics & Ros (the tip of a VERY large iceberg)  to be used to tempt you 1/300th addicts at Joy Of Six, next Sunday.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Let Down And Uplifted...

Well, I was really looking forward to getting my Celt and Norman armies...

Alas, when they arrived, they were beaten up to the point that I threw in the towel after repairing 11 chariots and sold them, making a 30% loss.


I did manage to snag almost 200 20mm WW2 Germans for £120, which I consider a low enough price to offset my other loss. And yes, they are all metal.

I'm going to be using them to revisit Rapid Fire after my gaming buddy and best friend, sneakily purchased a ludicrous Russian army from eBay for a fraction of bare model price.

Anyway, here are some pics:

One other thing has popped into my mind in the last couple of days. If a club has a show secretary on it's committee, but then ceases to have a show, what happens to that post?


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Sheffield's Premier Wargaming Show Returns

Sheffield's Premier Wargames Show 

The venue for the show is the Heartspace at Sheffield Hallam University. This is a large stylish atrium which will give a light and airy atmosphere to the event – something which will be of great relief to those of you who have suffered the Workstation main room on a baking hot July day.
The venue also has brilliant easily accessible on-site catering, and the menu will be tailored to wargamers at reasonable prices.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


Sheffield Triples was the first wargames show I ever attended, back in the early 1980s. It was there that I bought my first historical figures in the form of 12 1/300 vehicles from the bring and buy (run by the club itself back then) at 9p each - painted.

I guess that was when I really became hooked on historical gaming as much I was on Dungeons & Dragons at the time. I was aware of historical gaming, and attended the local school based club, run by the venerable Steve Roberts, but I'd not really delved into it despite my deep love of history.  I never missed a show until 2015, and when I lived out in the sticks in 1987, I actually climbed the wall of a park adjacent to the venue and slept on a bench so that I would be there on time on Sunday morning, as the bus services were so poor at weekends.

It was with mixed feelings that I read today of the demise of the show with effect from 2017. It was a bit like hearing of the death of someone you were close to at school, but then with whom all contact was lost for the next 4 decades.

In the eighties and early 1990s the show was an absolute stormer, but then is started to lose it's way. Originally, it had always come before Salute and people were all too ready to spend, spend, spend, but it moved for one reason or another to a later spot, and the money and footfall started to wane. This was noticed first on the bring & buy, where you could read the show like a barometer and draw conclusions based on the faces you saw, and takings on each day at a given time. 

The competition (remember, that's where the show got it's name) started to die off, and the effort put in by members similarly went into entropy. Gone were the days when the club would ferry everything in at the start of the show and then out again at the end of the weekend. I remember in I think it was 2013, at the end of the weekend, there being no assistance for the traders, the membership dissolving like chalk in vinegar.

The show stopped attracting some of the big names on the display and trade side of things and the bring and buy was handed over to a group of figure dealers, who attracted some negative comments because of the way that all the 'good stuff' seemed to be snapped up and then sold at the next major show (one of them even bragged of that).

I think this must have contributed to the creation of a perfect storm.

I myself didn't attend in 2015 and 2016, but the internet was ablaze with negative reportage of the  show. I don't know -  as I said, I was not there. But having seen some pictures taken at what would be considered as traditionally busy times, I am not surprised.

When paying punters, traders and members are all telling a club that something is wrong, then you really do have to sit up and listen. If you blithely continue and just resort to a Marie Antoinette state of denial, you are going to exacerbate any decline.

What a shame that what was one of the gems of the wargaming calendar has gone to the wall, but perhaps like the old and faithful dog at the end of a long and loyal life, the needle in the paw was really the best answer. Who really knows?

I have no doubt that after a period of reflection another show will appear like a phoenix from the ashes. There was talk a few years ago of trying to make the show a one day event, but at the time that was resisted. Only time will tell...

In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses please...

'To absent friends!'


Sheffield Triples Cancelled For 2017

The grapevine is alive with news that Sheffield Wargames Society have announced that the Triples 2017 show has been cancelled.

Upon looking into the rumour, it seems to be fact. The SWS website ( ) states:

'Sheffield Wargames Society wishes to announce that sadly, the 2017 Triples wargames show will not take place.  This decision was taken reluctantly but is the result of waning interest and increasing costs.
All deposits taken to date will be returned and the club secretary will be contacting competition organizers individually.

Sheffield Wargames Society would like to thank everyone; traders, competitors and the general public, who have supported and enjoyed the event over the past 35 years.'

It would appear that the chatter on on the web earlier this year was not hyperbole. The decision saddens me, as it was Triples which provided both my first experience of a wargames convention and indeed where I won my first painting competition in the early 80s, when it was at the Victoria Hotel.

Were I a betting man, I'd guess that another one day show may re-emerge, as it was suggested 4 years or so ago, in certain quarters of the society as an alternative to the two 'day money pit'.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Of Puzzles & Tarty Fairies

It's funny, but sometimes the strangest things resound so deeply with my lifetime love of fantasy gaming.

One Christmas, I would guess it was 1981, as it coincided with my finding of the one true way, my parents included as a stocking filler a little game-cum-puzzle as a stocking filler, by the name of 'I.Q' produced by Skirrid International.

It was basically a glorified version of 'Solitaire' and even though it had absolutely nothing to to with Dungeons & Dragons, swords, wizards, Car Wars, Traveller, in fact anything other than it was a wonderful example of design at the time, I played the damned thing to near destruction.

Time passed, I moved out of the parental home with the assistance of South Yorkshire Police, I lost it.

Over the years, the mere thought of that little black triangle of consternation has made me go all warm and fuzzy in the same way as the girls in Games Workshop did when they wore fancy dress up on Xmas Eve, when I was a youth, but try as I might I've never managed to find another.

And lo' today I have managed t get one for the princely sum of £1.50 after some serious haggling.

Happiness and joy abound here in the upper floors of the Dark Tower!


Friday, 1 July 2016

It's Looking Good...

Well, yesterday I had the latest W.I.P update from Steve Hornsey who I have commissioned another model railroad layout from to replace the disappointing 8ft layout I had built last year by The Fiddle Yard.

If only I'd known of Steve back then...

Anyway, I commissioned a 6 foot shelf layout earlier this year, and it was/is lovely.

So, I had no hesitation in asking Steve to take on a more ambitious project this time, with a 12ft x 2.5 foot N scale layout depicting a a single track branch set somewhere just South of the U.S / Canadian border along the Great Lakes.

It's going to be DCC with analog points and as you can see in the W.I.P pics below, it features a lakeside terminus, space for several industries as well as a large yard for sorting car consists.

Behind the scenes is a single storage line to hide the outbound trains which will then be carried over to the shelf layout which represents the fictional small town of 'Loose Dog, Alberta'

I am really happy with the layout so far which as you can see is going to be set in the early autumn to allow for some lovely shades and to set off the lighthouse which I have planned for the harbour area.

Anyway, I hope you like seeing how my railroad forays are going...