Saturday April 14th and the SOUTH LONDON WARLORDS once again brought their wonderful travelling show called SALUTE to the East End of London at ExCel.
As a wheelchair user I want to say a big thank you to SLW for the way the event was set out this year. Last year it was excellent, large wide aisles and approachable exhibitor's stands, but this year the SLW excelled at ExCel - wider aisles, larger stands for exhibitors that allowed them to either have more product on display/sale or to have tables for demonstration, display and participation games.
Tickets for SALUTE cost just £10.00 for the day, with children under a certain age admitted for free. Two things hurt your pocket at ExCel, one is they have upped their car parking charges to £20.00 (unless you are on a Motorcycle which park for Free), and the other is the cost of refreshments inside- you could buy 3-4 sodas for the cost of one can and at least 6 bottles of water for one ExCel bottle (neither are controlled in any way by SLW).
Who was there? (apart from myself, Grant and Urban)
I have already said it was spacey and that meant that more exhibitors could have larger stands and thus more product on display, or use the extra space to put on demonstration and/or participation games. This made it even better for the younger attendees, especially having all manner of game genres right in front of them and tangible but there was also a full size army vehicle (I didn't get to see what it was but it looked like a tank without a long barrel - shows I am not much of a modern war genre player) with knowledgeable attendants willing to explain all about it to anyone who showed an interest of the event and of the club If you know your SLW people you would have recognised the current President Stephen Dunn and the Treasurer Chris Barrass. Sitting across from the SLW's main wargame table was one of the best known faces in England's war gaming society, the Editor of the Miniature Wargames magazine, John Treadaway; if you have the time check out the website.
Another fine stalwart of the industry is Mal Green who was found resplendant on the WARLORD GAMES stand wearing full facial hair in an attempt to disguise himself - sorry Mal it didn't work. Super also to see old-timer (but younger than me I'm sure) John Tuffley of GROUND ZERO GAMES still competing favourably with the best of the rest - his miniatures are still some of the finest detailed models ever produced in England.
The SLW display table demonstrating "In The Name of God" with their banner proclaiming it as "In God's Name" - same thing really. I guess it doesn't matter if you get killed In God's Name or In the Name of God, you're still dead!
There wasn't a lot of CosPlay there because it isn't that type of show and yet we were still offered the opportunity to see some Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other Movie based characters in the passage area between the sides of ExCel. I didn't see them in the actual hall so it's possible they were there for the WEDDING PLANNER event happening 20 yards down from SALUTE. I bumped into a super CosPlay DEADPOOL (when I say "bumped" I mean I got my camera out before he could draw his swords from across his back or toss his Unicorn at me).
In my early days of games playing I got into the Fantasy genre more than anything, though of course RISK was a good inbetween game being almost historical and somewhat fantasy in its approach. Most Historical gamers painted their miniatures to the Nth degree of realism and re-enacted historical battles to the exact manner and order that they occurred. These guys - there were never girls involved in those days - hated anything that was remotely fantasy and sneered down their noses at anyone who dared to place a figure (or an army) on the battlefield if the models had a lick of colour that was out of place - this is probably why I was drawn to the Ancients (WRG rules) and occasionally Renaissance periods because the figures were often more colourful and less in uniform, especially the irregulars. I managed to use my "Ancients" as so many different armies because WRG depended more on the base size than what the figures actually looked like, as long as they were on foot (Infantry, Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry etc) or riding something (Cavalry, Light, Medium, Heavy etc) ... blah blah blah. I haven't gone off topic, honestly, these memories were brought back to me by the myriad of wonderful miniature models, painted and unpainted, that were available at SALUTE. I thought I might see some Pratchett characters (those I did see were amazing in detail) but of course I didn't expect to run into a couple of Daleks.
Fantasy miniatures used to be 4-5 times the cost of wargame models of the same size but the monetary difference between them has shrunk quite considerably, though you are still more likely to pay a lot more for a Games Workshop Warhammer 40K painted army than for a 1000 point historical army. Going to a show like SALUTE is the best way of viewing and buying the models you really need, online is okay but at SALUTE you get to see them in their raw unpainted and their professionally painted visual representation, magazine photographs cannot display the splendour of seeing models in display cabinets. SALUTE is not just about the miniatures, but they are one of the most prominant features of the show.
Despite being widely renown as a war games show there were so many different genres of games on sale and so many more females attending than in the old days that this is now a truly cosmopolitan circus of an event. Where it was dour and grey, it is now bright and colourful. Where it was cramped and virtually impossible to enjoy because you couldn't get round it in a day it is now a delightful way to spend a day. Even Snoopy could be found in his flight goggles on both a German WWI red dog house or an Allied red doghouse - sadly I didn't see these models on sale, only at the end of a WINGS of WAR/WINGS of GLORY demo game table.
One of the most prominant games companies over the years has been the ever-growing, ever-popular MODIPHIUS under the shrewd guidance of Chris Birch, along with Lloyd, Sam, James and many other devoted hard working games players. No THUNDERBIRDS in sight this year, but there was a lot of fallout over FALLOUT.
Modiphius's James - the Fallout guy
SALUTE is a wonderful experience whether you have been for the past 20 years or you have never been before. You get to meet old friends (such as old GenCon'er Phil Lucas, the OLD GUARD - no sign of Mike Lewis or Will Power, hope they are both well, haven't heard of or seen them for a good few years now) and make new friends, play old games and enjoy new games, try different skills and learn that not all game rules involve dice or cards; it's an experience like not too many because it is all amassed into one day, one completely full, insanely indepth day. Of course it isn't unique, there are many one day games events in the UK, but SALUTE is the grand-daddy of them all and it is run by one of the most organised and respected games clubs in the country.
Now sit back and enjoy this collage of photos I took there this year and see what you may have missed if you went, or what you did miss by not going, and plan for next year - it's always on around the same time and at the same venue. Excel. Continually visit the SOUTH LONDON WARLORDS site so that you will be among the first to know the date for SALUTE 2019.
I banged on a bit about the models and miniatures, referring to the figures and figurines, but some of the buildings that made up the demo's and displays were absolutely fantastic, as were the larger models of Ships, Boats and Planes.