Saturday, 13 August 2016

Britcon 2016 - The Trade Show

In opening, let me say unequivocally that I love Britcon.

It's an hour's pleasant motoring over the Woodhead Pass and the views in doing so are great. The show is free to get in and you can get a damned fine breakfast sandwich and hot drink for £2.50.


Sloppiness is creeping in, in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the organisers are at risk of' stacking' too many companies who sell pretty much the very same stuff and what's more the manufacturer from whom much of their stock comes also has a large trade stand at the show themselves.

How many stockists of Black Powder and Bolt Action do you need?

If this stagnation of variety continues the trade show will become pointless...

Secondly, the bring and buy was a little bit 'lost' today. By that I mean that several people noted and commented that lots were being bought by, if not those running the stand, someone who was behind it. They were then being broken down, rebooked and sold.

OK, it's not against the law, but it's a poor fucking show to do so!

As a former bring and buy organiser, I had a few hard rules for those behind the counter, and that was you could buy something, but you did not put it back on straight away, although it could be sold the next day (although the staff on my stall never did that more than twice in 20 years). Bugger the fact that the stall can make two sets of commission, it not playing the game.

'Sharking' leaves a foul taste in my mouth and when it is so blatantly done, it breaks down the trust between sellers and those running the stall.  I also hate bring and buys who are hand in hand with dealers, but that is by the by.

My dear Britcon, you are beginning to look a little sordid. You really need to smarten yourself up lest people talk.

The competitions looked to be as busy as ever and the general demeanour of those taking part seemed very friendly indeed. I am not personally 'into' competitive play, but I can recognise a well run competition, and Britcon is exactly that.

I went in with a very narrow spread of wants, in particular a new copy of From Pike To Shot by Charles Grant and some 28mm Marlburian models.

I did get myself a nice copy and haggled it down to a very reasonable £30 (thank you for that).

Lunch was taken at the excellent Tops Buffet on Portland Street, five minutes walk from the venue. £8.99 got a superb lunch, including Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Italian choices, and a solid (+ out of 10 from the group of us. Of particular note were the slow braised belly pork, and the seaweed in rice wine vinegar, with the crayfish salad coming in in a strong third place. The Mongolian Lamb and chilli fried squid were also singularly toothsome. One of my dining companions commented very favourably on the Italian selection. We will be going back again, next year.

Then we headed back for a cursory last circuit of the show, where Dave and I picked up a pair of unpainted 10mm Franco Prussian armies for £35 on the bring and buy. There was nearly a box file fill and so although we'd not planned to buy this scale or period, we snapped the deal up before heading home in glorious summer warmth.

So, once again, Britcon delivered, but I do hope that the points raised above are addressed, particularly the B&B, because a perceived 'rotten' bring and buy can seriously affect a show.


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