Well, it's been and gone. Salute, for those who don't know, is the biggest trade show on the indie calender. Held in London's ExCel centre at the same time as Virgin's London Marathon shindig, from the foyer (a space I became intimately familiar with during the 5 minute trek to get outside for a smoke) it was a place where wargamers and non-wargamers could mingle and pursue their disparate interests. In actuality, it was a place for the socially inept, hat wearing, low spending freaks that make up my chosen pastime's core demographic to ogle the hordes of trim, attractive women who had no interest in them at all beyond avoiding their personal shield of rectal gases and pungent masturbatory sweat while trying not to laugh at them for having pictures taken with Lord Vader, Luke Skywalker and the requisite Imperial Stormtroopers.
As has become normal for any type of wargames show requiring my participation, it began badly the day before. While transferring the shelf stock to the racking, the Germans decided to take a nose-dive. One rack of blisters all over the shop. Literally. Add to that the tension I was feeling because I didn't know if Studio McVey were going to reserve me the toys I wanted from their range of exquisite models and I was ready to petrol bomb the shop, strip myself naked, smear myself all over with Vallejo German Cammo Black Brown paint (I'm not covering myself in anybody's excrement) and head up the nearest high landmark with a paintball gun and a list of local councillors. Fucking emails. I'm sure they get delayed on purpose.
After watching the rack take a tumble I remained sociopathically calm, politely told the customer in the shop that I didn't need his help and had a coffee and a fag to calm down. The rest of the packing passed slowly but without incident. At the end of the day when one of the customers who had gracelessly agreed to help out turned up with the hire van, the second mistake of the day became apparent.
I had changed the van hire company we used because I didn't want another bollocking over leaving a van outside overnight in the quiet, untravelled street and how we were liable for any damage incurred blah blah fucking blah. So when I asked for a van capable of holding our racking, the guy suggested a Luton van. Not knowing what was what, I agreed. It turns out that the Luton van is so named because it is the size of Luton. We could have fit the whole fucking shop in the back.
Loading took next to no time, so let's skip forward to 4am Saturday morning. We're having a coffee at the shop, ready to head off. It is at this point that Marcus and Martin decide to treat me to their anal rendition of the frog chorus. Thankfully Sir Paul McCartney was nowhere to be seen, otherwise we might have had an ass gas operetta in the making. It certainly set the tone for the rest of the drive up there.
An interminable time later, broken only by a stop off for a coffee and a Krispy Kreme (I know, an American Icon in the UK that isn't a celebrity - go figure) we got to London. Then we started heading out of London as we went onto the wrong exit. All I could think about was missing out on the limited edition miniatures and the chance to see Mike and Ali's miniatures in the flesh. Hey, fuck you. We're talking legitimate art here. I don't see your individual fucking minis going for £200+. Eventually, amidst much cursing and anxiety we got to the ExCel centre. Marcus drove us into the venue (honestly, you unload from your van in the fucking aircraft hangar that contains this motley toy market) and we had about an hour and a half to set up before the advance ticket holders got in. That's right, for the princely sum of £9 you can get into the event a whole 15 minutes early. Whoop de fucking do. You needy bastards are keeping me from what I want with your demands. With all hopes of securing my minis vanishing, we begin setup and I'm in a real foul mood.
So, an hour later with setup complete and Alessio Cavatore (now unfortunately ex-GW) safely installed with Shuuro I leg it to stand TG12 and Studio McVey. It was pretty easy to find, what with the pillars of light and cherubim and the scent of lavender and all. All right, all right, enough with the Catholic imagery. I guess you realise how cool this was going to be for me by now. I was going to get to meet the guy that wrote the guide that developed and improved my painting 'skills' that lived in the house that Jack built. And I was sure as shit going to have my toys reserved for pickup later. I turn up at the stall and Ali is busy setting up the lighting for the display of Studio McVey models. You know, the painted ones in the gallery. Holy fucking shit. I introduce myself to Mike and explain about the models and he says 'Ah, you're the guy that emailed me. No problems, we've got your stuff put by.'
To wrap this amusing little misunderstanding of mine up swiftly, it seems I'm a born worrier and there were models aplenty for me. Looks like I wasted a lot of energy over nothing, kind of like now, you know, typing with gritted teeth. Silly me, eh?
Sigh. Still, I did get to have a good chat with Ali. Turns out she's a classically trained fine artist. So she knows about painting and stuff even before she started painting minis. And, as she can draw a bit (she did the concept art for two of the Studio McVey minis), she's not a fine arts student in the usual, Hirst and Emin sense of the word (ie: not a talentless blagger plagiarising earlier work from the 60's and passing it off as new and unique. I'm talking about you, Hirst). However, I do think she worried about the lighting of the display cabinet needlessly. They're both really nice people, really approachable and honest, as I discovered when I tried to overpay them.
I also got to spend a little time with my mate Vishal, a fellow pressganger. I then discovered why I'm generally tired most of the time. Vishal is stealing my energy, and probably everyone else's too. He's really upbeat and enthusiastic. More so at Salute, I think, because he was on the energy drinks. That fucking battery powered rabbit thing couldn't keep up with him if it was nuclear powered. You know, that sex toy thing. I swear he's so full of enthusiasm you should hate him on sight with his youth and good looks. But he's cool, so you can't.
So far, this post has been a sickening luvvie luvvie smooch fest by my standards. But wait, here it is, the shit sandwich under the cherry topping that is Vishal and the McVeys.
It turns out that the manufacturer of our main line, the line we brought to Salute to sell were there. Yes, that's right, Bastardfront, manufacturers of Flames of War, had pulled the ultimate douche bag move and bought 30 square feet. Hold on, you cry. Surely they have a right to be there. It's an important expo, so shut your fucking mouth. Well I say fuck you. I wouldn't have had a problem with them aside from the fact they brought the entire range with them and were in the plumb area. Add to that the nice people were letting it be known they would match any discount offered and they took 80% of the money from the Flames market there. That left the 3 or 4 other retailers who carry Flames as a major line to scavenge for the remaining 20%.
Retailers cannot compete with the manufacturers of ranges as they generally don't have the staffing or buying power to compete with them. This isn't generally a problem with the bugbear du jour Games Workshop, because they won't discount their stock. This means that retailers can knock 10% off and be reasonably assured of a decent amount of sales. Obviously not good enough for Battlefucks, who wanted their cake and mine too.
So these dicks turned up to the big show and fucked over their customers because they could. I would like to meet the person who decided that would be a good idea and punch him so hard in his fat fucking face that my knuckles turn to powder. And thank you very much to the wankers who thought it would be a genius idea to put us in a row that contained Skytrex, Peter Pig AND had two other major Flames retailers close by. That's right, we were tucked away in the corner, well away from the huge Flames show in the middle of the fucking room. Looks like we were fucked before we even got there. So, if by any chance the South London Warlords are reading this, let's try not to clump every genre together next time, eh? Surely common fucking sense dictates the spreading around of competitors. Think of it like scenery on a battleground, where ... oh for fuck's sake I give up. The short of it was we got fucked.
Salute was a mixed bag. On the upside I got to meet the McVeys, get my line of their models completed and hang for a short while with Vishal and Phil. I got to see the Studio McVey studio models up close (and fuck me they are unreasonably well painted) and shake Mike McVey's hand. On the downside I don't think I absorbed any of Mike's talent (osmosis is bullshit) and the shop got fucked. We got back to home base at about 9.30pm, so it was a long fucking day for us.
I did get a box of Krispy Kremes (a dozen assorted donuts but only one way of inducing a diabetic coma) so I ended up having a cop's breakfast (coffee and donuts) and am probably on my way to a heart attack.
So business as fucking usual then.
First review will be here by Friday (it turns out it really is harder to write nice than nasty). Until then, fuck off with your whining.
Angry with Kiwi game companies for some previously explained reason