Sunday 17 April 2016

Salute 2016 post-mortem

So, Salute 2016 was pretty fantastic. Felt slightly less crunched up than last year, with wider concourses and a better layout - and plenty of brilliant things to see. It was also an expensive day and represented the last of my big miniature spending for the year before tightening the wallet. While everything was fresh in the mind, I jotted down some less-than-comprehensive notes.

Better organisation of the queue than last year, so when the doors opened it was significantly quicker to zerg into the hall. Arrangement of rows of demo tables interspersed between the stands rather than the much bigger space at the back from last year, made it feel more spacious. We rarely encountered bottlenecks wandering between stands. Not having the coffee stand at the back and rows of seats made a difference too.

I'll dive into specifics when time allows, but as a quick summary my haul includes goodies from Anvil Industries, Bendyboards, Big Child, Black Scorpion, Broken Toad, Hasslefree, Heresy, Infamy, Joek, Meridian, Miniature Factory, Purgatory, Warmonger, Warploque and Wonderlands.

There were even more companies showcasing great ranges, but I couldn't afford or justify everything - and these appealed the most.

In addition to the above, courtesy of Prodos we had an up-close look at their Space Crusade figures. We got to look at Calypso and Nyx at length, and while the cheesecake nature of their hero range isn't to my liking (at all), the casting quality is stunning. There were almost no mold lines - just crisply detailed models.

Paranoid Miniatures' new game looks interesting, and the figure range looked great. Others that caught the eye were Darkstar, World of Twilight, Hawk's painted Dropzone display, and the always wonderful Freebooter,

From the perspective of being an early Kickstarter backer, seeing the larger stands of Infamy and especially Guild Ball this year was very pleasing - more power to them.

Also, so many Kickstarters coming up from smaller companies. I think 2016 is going to be a very busy hobby year for new projects looking for sponsors. Ones to watch this year for me will be Purgatory and Wonderlands for their upcoming skirmish games.

Judging companies on serious topics at a show like this would be silly, so here are the two most important awards.
  • Best beard of the show: Meridian Miniatures. Also, what a thoroughly nice chap!
  • Best sweets: A tie between Hasslefree (I'm a sucker for Vimto lollies) and Purgatory (jelly beans in posh packaging) as the tasty treats for people giving them money. Honourable mention to Bendyboards' enormous jar of flying saucers. Basically I spent most of the day off my tits on sugar.

Painting Demonstrations
I decided this is the year to get an airbrush, so was very keen to watch the Harder & Steenbeck demonstrations from the supreme skills of Angel Giraldez but couldn't get near his airbrush demos, as it was literally always three deep and a throng of tall* people with enormous rucksacks.

(* for values of "tall" being more than my 5'9")

Happily, while it was a little quieter, I managed to sneak five minutes apiece on the Studio McVey and Element Games stands with the ridiculously talented Robert "Rogland" Karlsson and Andy Wardle to talk airbrushes and pick their brains briefly on the subject, as my own experience is 10+ years out of date and amateur level.

They have convinced me of the merits of having one in the toolkit, and Andy was kind enough to run through the basics of the dual action so now it's a case of finding a suitable brush and compressor for me - but early contenders are the H&S Evolution 2 in 1 and the Iwata Revolution. If the Revolution's good enough for Mr Wardle, I imagine it will suffice for me :)

It was a pleasure to chat with a lot of the stand teams at length, and their talent and enthusiasm was evident for all to see. From Gary at Purgatory about the world building he's doing for his game, through to Mike and Lee at Bendy Boards for tips on how best to sculpt terrain on their Mob Ball team trays, everyone I spoke to was just so damned nice.

Hat tips go out to Mr Lee on Broken Toad's stand who looked like his feet had given up by 15:30, but was still smiling and focusing on the imminent beer on his horizon, and Jérémie Bonamant Teboul for showcasing so many of his incredibly painted figures on his stand.

If you enjoy buying miniatures, looking at miniatures, talking about miniatures with the people responsible for crafting, publishing and painting them - and generally having a wonderful day out in the mothership of nerdom, then you'll probably enjoy this next year.

And if you saw this t-shirt ...

... then you saw me.

Black Scorpion: Navigator

Despite a hectic week of family events, angry babies not sleeping, work and Salute in London (more on that later), I managed to squeeze in a little time to finish another of the piratey entourage up - here's the Navigator.

The sculpt on this one is bugging me as his face gets lost in among all the detail of the books and scrolls loaded up alongside it. I've plumped to add a warm glow from the candle on one side of the book pile, then a cooler green spooky glow from the mystery scroll on the other side - happy with this as it changes how the figure looks depending on the angle he's viewed from.

Next up is the Preacher, who'll be a little less sensible in his choice of clothing. Getting a rhythm going for these guys now, and quite enjoying myself.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Black Scorpion: Cabin Boy

So this week's contribution to the cause is another crew member, the Cabin Boy. Everyone's welcome to give him a first name ...

Played with weathered leather on the coat and it didn't work out as I wanted, but you know what? That's fine. I'll just try again on the next one to see if I can make it a little better. He's painted up as the mini-me of the Captain, who you haven't seen yet, so this is a nice test of techniques and colours before the big man himself.

Yes there is a small mold line on his foot. But you didn't see it, did you ...

Although after looking at the Crystal Brush finalists this year, I did feel like putting my collection in the oven and climbing in to join 'em. But seriously ... go on, take a look, they're beautiful.

Onward toward the more characterful figures in the party, with the beleaguered navigator and flamboyant preacher looming on the horizon.