Sign Up Now FAQ
Signup Now
Come on sign up, you know you want to. It's free and easy and you get to be even more awesome!
  • Salute 2012 - A First Timer's Review!

    Salute 2012- show report

    I canít start this report without mentioning that I am writing this of my own free will, and in no way feel honour bound having blagged my way to one of the biggest hobby events (the biggest?) in the UK. Brett was kind enough to offer up a pair of free tickets to the Excel centre, and I was lucky enough to be chosen to go and sample the delights of a mad number of resin dealers, sorry, miniature producers. The beady eyed amongst you will notice that it said a pair, so I took a fellow hobby partner in crime to his first non GW related event.


    After a painless journey down from Norwich and across the tube, I arrived at the Excel centre. The two hour journey was a perfect amount of time to mull over purchases and plot my route (since finding out about the tickets, I spent a ridiculous amount of time budgeting, and visiting the Salute website) around the hall. The South London Warlord guys did a great job of building the anticipation online by providing regular updates of deals that would happen on the day. It made me glad I wasnít a gamer and that I was on strict orders to Ďbe sensible.í


    The advance ticket holders formed a nice orderly queue, allowing my to repair my painting competition entries (representing Wamp as best I could!)! While queuing, we all eagerly took flyers from various companies, many of which Iíd heard of on Wamp first. My mate arrived at about half nine, and the doors opened just before 10am. After getting through the door, the sheer scale of the place is the thing that hits you. Wow. Never has so much hobby dominated a single location! We took a vaguely anticlockwise route, and both had our definite stops in mind. I canít quite recall the exact names of Robís choices, but I was firmly set out to get some Ammon stuff, some McVey stuff, Forgeworld and then anything else that surprised me on the day without going massively over-budget!


    One of the joys that had repeatedly been mentioned to me prior to Salute was the variety on offer. This really is a treasure trove for hobbyists, and it wasnít surprising to see groups of various European nationals walking about the halls. Within half an hour Iíd seen virtually every scale, and a number of beautifully painted models. The impressive thing was, Iíd barely seen a quarter of what was on offer, and I really wasnít looking closely at that point.


    I paid Martyn a visit, who was well situated near the Forgeworld stand, and had a nice little chat (saw Captain Sprout giving him a helping hand too!). I took a few of his resin plinths and began to look around to buy models to put on them. The surprise of the day for me was the Taban miniatures stand. I started out with the intention of buying a model for someone on Wamp plus a model for me, and had to be really restrained to walk away with nothing more. The French guys on the stall spoke fantastic English and talked me through the rules, etc. and seemed really enthusiastic about their product. The minis are beautifully painted, and were right next to the Smart Max stuff, which also really takes some beating in the quality stakes. Everywhere we went, there were busy traders and happy buyers, probably with non-too happy spouses waiting for them to return!


    Meeting friends


    The part that surprised me most about Salute was just how close the online community actually became at Salute. A huge number of regular posters were there, and I must have bumped into at least 25 people Iíve met through Wamp and other places. Bit bizarre for my friend Rob, but heís pretty easy going and busied himself in trying not to buy other shiny bits for his collection. I never really know who to say hello to, how long for or what to really chat about but I hope everyone I bumped into enjoyed themselves on the day!


    The Painting competition


    For me, a big feature of Salute was the allure of a painting competition. It was first brought to my attention by Conrad Mynett (more on him later) when we were travelling to our first painters meet in Cambridge, in the run up to Salute 2011. The best bit for me is that it allows you to paint anything from any manufacturer, and allows for any genre, style, etc. Having put loads of effort into minis for various online competitions with Salute in mind, I secretly fancied my chances at an outside shot for 2nd place. However, any hopes were soon dashed when I saw the quality of the models on display. Some serious painters turned up to an event that can only get stronger over time. I went to retrieve my models after the first cut, and was astonished to find that my Ammon minis monkey had made the top 6 in the Sci-Fi single category (out of about 30 minis)! Sadly it didnít get any higher, but this ranks up there with my finalist pins from GDUK and my Wamp trophy from last yearís event, and is a nice standard to try and match next year. Orki managed a couple of finalist places and a trophy for Sci-Fi mini for his Farseer.


    As I was wearing my Platoon Britannica colours on the day, it was great to see the forum practically clean up, along with friends from The Basement (Wampers need to stake their claim next year!). Of note in particular was Mr. Mynett, who had a field day, taking Best in Show with a number of other awards, and was awarded a massively oversized carry case for someone who paints display minis.


    Going home


    I had the scary task of carrying some of Conradís trophies back to his car, and the thought of those delicate bits of glass in a Sainsburyís carrier bag still terrifies me. Massive thanks to him for giving my minis a lift home as I returned to get a First Class (it was an extra pound!) train home, giving me extra space to look at my new purchases and trying to ignore the idiots who were more worried about getting the beers in and listening to INXS (not my cup of tea at all!) at a deafening volume through headphones.

    I would sum up Salute like this:

    So many ideas, interesting people, so much inspiration, not enough time, not enough money!

    Room for improvement?


    Firstly, let me say that Salute generally lives up to the hype. For a trader, I can imagine itís a fantastic opportunity, and I havenít even scratched the surface of the things on offer here (mainly my personal preferences!). People were shelling out money left right and centre, and the sheer exposure of being there must do wonders for most of the people involved. The painting competition was of a very high standard and some very competitive painters got involved, making it worthwhile entering and to set yourself a good benchmark for the future.


    However, I keep having this nagging sense that something was missing, and I still canít decide why. Iím still massively grateful to Wamp for the chance to go for free, and would still happily pay the entrance fee next time around, but there was an impression that something was lacking. Maybe the arena itself was a little soulless (not a lot the organisers can really do about that though), there was sometimes a bit of repetition of stock around the place and the PA system at the end was pretty poor, making it difficult to hear winners and so on. I also felt a little bit overwhelmed, but Iíll put this down to inexperience. I think it would really benefit from some kind of exhibition (previous winners?) or something like that to add a bit more depth, because at times it felt like I was just walking inside a massive website where Iíd seen everything before. Iím also not a gamer, so a large chunk of the hall was almost wasted on me, as there were some impressive boards dotted around. Theyíre 40 years going strong though, and wonít have got that far without doing many things right. Long may Salute continue, and Iím already feverishly planning entries for 2013!


    Cheers again Brett and Wamp for the opportunity!
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Orki's Avatar
      Orki -
      Nice writeup, Sparks. :)

      It was only my second year this time and so as much as I knew what was in store I still found it quite overwhelming. Like you say, It can feel a little bit like a giant online shopping experience, which given that it is a trade show is pretty much spot on.

      They definitely need to sort out that bloody PA, don't they?!! :D It's terrible, and I guess only there because one of the organisers owns it, and bring it along as an 'it'll do' solution. I think if the ceremonies were improved (including finding someone with some public speaking skills!) then it would really add to the excitement of the day and help build a vibe.

      I think we should probably give them feedback on this via their blog or Facebook or something, as everyone that goes is of the same mind here. We can't hear anything! I would happily offer my help as an experienced acoustic engineer and sound tech (and equipment hire!) if need be, if it meant that more than the front row of people could hear what was going on.

      It's great day nonetheless though, and I will continue to attend should finances allow. It's well worth the travel and entry cost for a great day out meeting people, oggling lovely minis and game boards, and the shopping of course. :)
    1. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
      Ulfgrimr -
      Great review of the show Sparks, many thanks and congrats on making the top 6 Sci-fi. I've never been to Salute but your write up makes it sound very enticing.