Once in, and after I had dried my glasses and stopped steaming the rain off, I found I had plenty of room to move about; a big change from my last visit. back then, the upper level was packed with traders and public making it difficult to move along let alone stop, look and buy. I had chance to stop and chat with the traders, hand out Broadside 2014 flyers and trader booking forms...fell in love with the 28mm Napoleonic frigate Andy from Grubby Tanks had on display and then sulked all day because I knew I couldn't afford the £125.00 price tag....and even if I could where the hell would I put it? It was a very pretty thing but in 28mm very big too. Sigh.
Anyway. The bring and buy was well attended and quite well stocked although there was a lot of games workshop gear...nothing Skaveny for me though. That said, I did only have £15.00 on me :( , the trip was very much a Broadside recruitment drive not a jolly (I kept telling myself) so I contented myself with spending time looking and chatting. I did notice that the Bring and Buy was smaller than I remembered it and I was able to actually stand there and look at items without getting ribs broken. Somehow it wasn't the same.
The main hall was busy and some major trader names were there (and me with no money) but I did manage to get a South American Flesh Tone paint set from Wargames Foundry and a pack of four Maori figures with shotguns from Empress Miniatures. Their stand was flanked by two large and well made display cases filled with their fantastic figures. These days many companies simply wash their display figures in a black ink rather than paint them up. This works better for me, the ink shows the details beautifully and I am not intimidated by the unachievable painting skills before my eyes. I eventually moved on from that stand...eventually...with Marks help. By way of thanks for my rescue I helped Mark start on that dark path that is Warhammer...seemed only fair. Mark looks to be set to build an Ogre Kingdoms force and with his painting skills I am sure they will look very impressive indeed...and will stomp all over my rat things with giant hairy feet.
In all we both had a very nice time and managed to have a good chat with many of our trader friends and clubs. The Maidstone boys were doing well with their Balloon game, which I think looks so neat and unusual, and we stopped and admired many a well painted figure along the way. The show was not as busy as I remembered it being but it was as friendly as ever it was. I like the SELWG club, I like the SELWG show but I have to say that I really do not like the SELWG venue at all. I wonder if I am the only one?
Besides SELWG news I had an email from club member Simon about a new model shop in Maidstone. I have also been informed that the No Mans Land store in Maidstone has been closed down for ever; one goes and perhaps one arrives albeit a model shop rather than a wargame shop. This is what Simon said;
Having heard on the grapevine that a favourite shop from my boyhood, Norwood Junction Models, is closing after 60 odd years I was delighted to see that a new model shop has opened in Maidstone, on the same floor and directly opposite the old ModelZone unit. Chatting to the young lady at the till (as one does…) it seems they are a pop-up store until Christmas, at which point they’ll take a view on a longer lease. It all depends on the footfall between now and the end of December, and I promised to pass on the news of their arrival. They are an extension of the Regal Models unit in Chatham Dockyard and so they are focussed on Humbrol/Airfix kits and Hornby railways. There is a small Gaugemaster stock for scenics plus the odd railway plastic kit (telegraph poles, war memorials, fences etc), and balsa wood. There’s also the inevitable die-cast model range upon which all these places seem to depend for additional revenue – not for me that one, but clearly has appeal for many punters.
I did my best to persuade her that Vallejo would be a popular choice for an additional paint range, and apparently they will extend to Tamiya from tomorrow. Wargamers tend be fairly low down the hobby pecking order, behind railway enthusiasts, military diorama modellers etc. so I doubt we’ll see a broad diversity of stock in the short term. But all the old Airfix favourites are there and who knows what the future holds. One thing is certain though, without the support of the local wargaming and modelling community these guys will struggle just as much as all their predecessors.
I think Simon has raised a good and valid point here. Such enterprises rely on our support and will disappear without it. That said, if they do not stock the things we need.....just where can you get paint from these days other than Games Workshop? That alone is a frustration but it is an issue relevant to the whole shop and custom equation; stock what we want and we will come...but what we want is so varied it is almost impossible to do. It's quite depressing.