Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Whatever Happened To The Traditional Wargames Show?

I remember the days when I would feverishly count the weeks and days until the start of the wargame show season.

The year began with a brilliant show here in the North where the club organised events for those attending for the weekend, where traders smiled and made money, and there was a positive atmosphere everywhere.

The club organising the show made a LOT of money, so much in fact that the society became one of the wealthiest in the country, actually paying a dividend to the members in the form of two Essex army packs and latterly a £50 voucher to be used at a local game store.

But along with this wealth came hubris. As time passed the club did less to entertain those attending and did less to help traders set up and take down. They failed to listen to those attending, those in the industry and in one memorable instance stated 'Traders are idiots.'

Basically, they lost the plot. Venues improved, standards slipped. Manufacturers stopped attending because despite repeatedly contacting the organising committee, they were being ignored. Quite literally ignored, because certain individuals could not be bothered anymore.

A rash of frankly piss poor second hand tat purveyors crept in, along with a veritable plague of re-sellers all stocking the same thing.

The rot had set in and like all Empires the end was on the cards.

It was a sad day when that show folded.

Now there are more shows filling the gaps left by this and other 'Fallen Eagles' but none of them are attracting the traditional manufacturers. The 2HTPs and re-sellers are firmly ensconced, to the point that you see no real variation in shows, no individual feel or atmosphere.

I understand that Dave Thomas, that stalwart of the trade scene is also calling it a day, so our hobby is looking even greyer...

Will we ever see the vibrant shows of the 80s and early 90s return?



  1. I'm doing 6-8 local-ish wargames show a year currently and on the whole the turnout from games clubs with beautiful tables is exceptional. There are a good number of second-hand and retailer stands, but they must do decent business and are good for bargain hunting, as are bring and buy stands. What I've found really positive in the last couple of years, however, is the number of new, little companies (of which I represent one) taking small stands to promote their own ranges. These events are great for those without big marketing budgets and are really useful networking events between manufacturers, sculptors, retailers (and, of course, the public). I view events I attend as roughly 30% sales opportunity,30% contact-building and 40% advertising. Granted you can now buy all you ever wanted online, much of it the same price or cheaper than at events, but if you have any interest in discovering new, tiny and vibrant games companies I heartily recommend checking out a show near you!

  2. I went from 20+ per year to where I am now. Price has never been an issue because my average spend per show is £500+ so discounts for cash were all too readily available.

    I am still spending the same, but have more free time, now that I have realised just how cookie cutter shows are. The best shows have done away with their bring and buys and have suffered a drop in quality. The plague of resellers and junkyard second hand GW are a plague which will hopefully pass.

    I don't trade at shows myself. The reasons are twofold in that my business is also my hobby and I want a break from the business side at a weekend. Secondly it's pretty pointless when I have all the trade I can handle, standing there all weekend saying 'thank you, but I'm fully booked'.


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