I was a regular attender from the early 80s when it was at Kensington Town Hall, then when it moved up the road to Olympia. In those days being on the west side of London it was just that bit easier to get to. The move to the east of London in the former docklands site which is now home to the Excel and the Millenium Dome now renamed the O2 centre, has added another forty odd minutes to the journey. This together with the travel and venue costs had put me off going for the last few years. However given that it is the premier show in Europe, and as all that is great in wargaming is produced in the UK (only joking), I thought it was about time to soak up some inspiration that a major show like Salute can supply.
The journey up to London from sunny Devon is a round trip of just over 500 miles, which entails about four and a half hours in the car up and back. In previous times I have split this journey up by staying overnight with friends and family but yesterday I decided to drive it in one day. Fortunately I was joined by three mates from the club, Vince, Ian and Steve H.and my eldest son Tom so we enjoyed plenty of good chat on the way up and back. We also met at the show one of the Devon Wargames Groups extended members John M who has lived for a number of years up near John O Groats in Scotland. John has recently been surpassed as our furthest away club member by Gus who has moved to Cyprus, but will be maintaining his membership for home visits.
The day started at 6am and concluded at 8.30pm when we got home. A day like this takes careful planning, so on arrival at the show, about 11am, we sorted out meet up times and Tom and I set off around the venue picking up pre-orders I had with various manufacturers and photographing games we had planned to see. Excel is a big arena and we decided to work our way up and down the rows of traders and games ticking off our list of people to see.
So to what in my humble opinion were some of the best games of the show. The games I have pictured are what I would be happy to present to the non wargaming public as our hobby of historical wargaming at its best.
First up is, what I believe won, best game of the show. A stunning 20mm Normandy encounter from the Nantwich Gamers "When Chaos Reigns - A detailed company level game using the Kampfgruppe Normandy rules. Grenadier Guards and King's Shropshire Light Infantry with armour support assault over the River Orne into a large French town defended by experienced German infantry and armour"
The attention to detail had to be seen to be believed, with shoulder patches included on the British infantry. My dad who served with Guards Armoured Division in Normandy would have been impressed with this game. Very well done.
|Sherman Firefly covers the advance|
|A rare sight in Normandy|
Having walked the Gettysburg battlefield I was immediately caught by this beautiful rendition of the attack on the Little Big Top by Wargames Illustrated to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle.
Next up was a 15mm Stalingrad encounter by Arbuthnot's Terra Firma League of Gentlemen.
I love to see how people manage to model city battle landscapes and this modular terrain style seem to capture the look quite well. I certainly came away with ideas form my own collection.
I hadn't picked out any of the ancient of medieval games to look out for, but Tom called me over to check out this beautiful game. I'm sorry I'm not sure who the presenters were, so I'm guessing that this was the "Battle of Cravant 31st July 1423 - Lance and Longbow Society, An Anglo-Burgundian army encountered a Franco-Scottish army outside Cravant in Burgundy"
In addition to the great terrain and figures, check out the arms and heads of the less fortunate souls crossing the river, that Tom pointed out to me.
Back to my current theme, the Peninsular War, I managed to get a few pictures of the Victrix "Iberian Glory - Fast and Furious 54mm Napoleonic participation game with prizes". I love the detail 54mm scale has to offer. This had me wanting to get straight back to the painting desk.
Now I come to, for me and the unofficial Devon Wargames Group Salute Committee, what was the "Best Game of Show" but which actually received second best. The number of pictures of this game really gives a clue to my thoughts. Not only was it massive, but the standard of terrain, figure painting and overall presentation, just put it, for us, in first place.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present from the Essex Gamesters "Waterloo - A full size 28mm Waterloo display game. The team were in Napoleonic re-enactor uniforms giving a detailed talk about the battle".
To see this game was a real treat. The guys from Essex had set up the whole of the Waterloo field from Genappe to Hougomont. I was able to stand with Tom, who is not as familiar with the events of the battle as myself, and give him a blow by blow description of the battle by simply pointing out those events captured in this wonderful display game. Check out the pictures below and let me have your thoughts.
|The French cavalry under Ney assault the Allied Squares|
|Bruswick Uhlans to the rescue|
|Belgian infantry resisting furiously|
|I love Carabineers|
|The Guards will hold fast|
|Watch out there trying to get in through the back!|
|The irresistible force meets the immovable object|
|The Nassau hold the gardens|
|Here comes his Britannic Majesty's Life Guards|
|The 42nd Black Watch line the sunken road|
|"Scotland the Brave"|
|La Haye Saint held by the KGL with the 95th Rifles in the sandpit|
|Hogoumont - the model, as the game was being put away|
|The Guard in reserve|
|More Guard and the Grand Battery facing the allies across the valley|
|"His hat was worth 40,000 men on any battlefield"|
|The Red "Dutch" Lancers of the Guard look on|
So that was another Salute for another year captured in the memory. I had a brilliant day with lots of laughs with good friends. I managed to pick up some figures for my Napoleonic collection, some terrain including my bell tower as discussed previously, and some other stuff which I will talk about in future posts. I also want to offer my apologies to my fellow bloggers who I had hoped to meet at the show. I'm sorry guys but I didn't realise how much we had to do in so little time before hitting the road back to Devon. I hope we might meet up in future.