Post-Salute Thoughts 2018

As this year I was helping out on the Wargames Terrain Workshop stall, rather than wandering the aisles, this year’s report will hopefully give a view ‘behind the scenes’. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to take many photos, being on call or occupied for most of the day, which also meant I missed the annual blogger’s meet. However, as the time for this had changed to 12.30 and no-one had mentioned this…I probably would have missed this anyway.

So, my Salute experience started around midday on the Friday, as I packed up my stuff at work and made my way to the station. With trundle-bag in tow, I had a reasonably swift and pleasant journey into London having wisely decided to get some hot food to eat on the journey.

Having arrived at Paddington and checking the time, I realised that my cunning plan to visit The Porterhouse in Covent Garden was still a possibility, so jumped on the tube and made my way there. I’d visited the one in Dublin last October, and when I found there was one in London too, I had promised myself a visit the next opportunity I got.

After a very pleasant pint of their Plain Porter, I did what I usually do when in a part of London I’m unfamiliar with, which is to set off in roughly the right direction for my final destination and hope to hit a tube station. After wanderng past Somerset House on the Embankment, I ended up at Temple, then tubed to Tower Gateway and on to the DLR for the Excel.

As it was slightly later than I’d anticipated, I headed directly to the hotel to book in – to find that they couldn’t find my booking. Slightly annoying, but luckily they did have a room available and it was actually ยฃ20 cheaper than when I’d initially booked.

I dumped my stuff, used the facilities and then went to meet Dave.

Slipping in through the Contractors Entrance, I got my first look at the hall from an insider’s perspective. All three rear shutters were open, allowing the afternoon sunlight in and my first thought was…that’s a lot of vans.

From a logical point of view, I should have expected it, but seeing the shutters closed and all the stands set up as an attendee, you don’t immediately connect the two and realise that getting all the stuff in would require more than a few sack trucks and trolleys. They open the shutters, the traders drive their vans in and unload. And you thought the width of the aisles was for your comfort…

Traders are allowed in from approximately half two on the Friday to set up and are kicked out at around five. Depending on how much you’ve got to set up and when you arrive limits what you can get done on the Friday. The traders are allowed back in at 7.30 on the Saturday to finish off and have to be in the hall by 9.00am at the latest, prior to the doors opening at 10. In these two and half hours, there is an air of franticness palpable, as those traders with large complicated stalls or those who have arrived later than the others try to get everything ready by ten.

This pre-opening period is also the opportunity for those ‘inside’ to network and make purchases prior to the crowds filtering in, but not ever trader is in a position to take your money, so a certain degree of persuasion IS needed. Luckily, being a charming chap, everyone I spoke to was prepared to help me out. I even had two of the staff on Caliver Books stall searching their entire stock for a particular miniature I was after, for which I was extremely grateful. I made a few modest purchases, more of which later.

Bearing in mind that Salute officially opens at 10.00am, I was surprised to discover from one of the Salute staff that some attendees had been queuing since 6.30 that morning! Standing in a queue for three and a half hours, just to be one of the first through the doors. That’s dedication…or possibly some kind of mental aberration.

From a traders point of view, the day goes in pulses. You get the initial filtering in of the crowd – some will rush straight in to their targeted supplier, desperate to get their stuff before it sells out, others take their time and browse as they go.

As Dave and I were manning the demonstration table, there was a certain degree of waiting until such time as people had made their initial purchases and felt inclined to sit down and play a game. I think this is typical of all these sorts of events.

As the crowds filtered past, I saw Imperial Stormtroopers, Scouts and officers, a Jawa, a rather nice Cylon Centurion and Deadpool wandering about. Simon Moore (aka Blaxkleric) of Fantorical dropped in to say hello and later in the day, so did Andy Nash of da Gobbo’s Grotto, although I was running a demo game of Death Match at the time and wasn’t able to chat as much as I would have liked.

Whilst Dave ran the lion’s share of the demo games, as he’s more familiar with the rules than me, I did run at least three or four games, including one for the writer of the rules and his son, which was slightly nerve-wracking as he obviously knew them better than me! The final game finished just as they were kicking people out the hall at five and I realised that the day had actually gone a lot quicker than I’d thought.

After all the attendees have left, the traders have two hours to pack up and leave. It’s pretty remarkable that they do manage it in this time, as by the time we’d packed up at 6.30pm, the majority of the traders were already done. Years of practice obviously.

So, it was an interesting experience to see if from the other side. It’s an early start for the traders, with breaks taken as and when possible, and ideally getting a good night’s sleep the previous evening is recommended. Unless, like me, you had a raucous party occurring on the rear deck of the Sunborn yacht hotel going on into the wee hours of the morning within high-pitched squealing laughter of your room…

However, the illuminated London skyline IS quite pretty…

As this is a longer post than I anticipated, my Salute purchases will have to wait for another, later post.

Whilst I will be attending Salute next year, I think I may go back to being a patron. However, I would like to thank Dave for the opportunity and also to the rest of the WTW crew for making me feel very welcome.

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30 thoughts on “Post-Salute Thoughts 2018

    • Thanks Steve. Due to lack of photos, I felt it was a bit word-heavy, so tried to offer an entertaining insight into what it’s like from a traders perspective, although I can’t claim to be an expert on these matters. I’m sure if I got any details wrong, Dave will correct me.

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  1. I read a lot of post show articles and always enjoy what they offer.. the insight from a personal perspective and the overall opinion(s) from the writers point of view and the general tone and merit level the writer places on his/her experience. But I have NEVER in all my time read anything quite like this, a real insight into a show from the other side of the table, as it were. Excellently written too I might add (you have a knack at this Jez, and would have made a great on the spot action reporter, you have an eye for the small details, which make things come alive). I enjoyed this post immeasurably.

    And fair kudos to the guys for helping you find the thing you were after on their stand. I like it when I hear of helpful guys like that, who have time for people.

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    • Thank you very much, Hils. As I know these sort of things can be a little dry, I do try and offer my own perspective, with enough detail to give a flavour, but without too much facts and figures, orherwise people’s eyes will glaze over. As these things always throw a few unexpected twists in, which I deal with with wry humour, I do add a few vignettes of things that amused/annoyed me. Having the DLR train I was trying to get back to Paddington on break down was a little frustrating, but as my comments regarding the inability of the driver to actually DRIVE the train, which is part of the job description, did seem to amuse the pretty girls surrounding me, so there’s always a bright side. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • No problem, Dave. I honestly felt like I didn’t do all that much, other than keep coming up with ideas of stuff you could make. And to be honest, whilst I didn’t get a reasonable night’s sleep on the Friday, I didn’t feel knackered until this morning. Might be the prospect of going back to work…

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  2. Jez, now you’re a trader you can swap places with me and work Hammerhead show if you like?

    4am wake-up. 5am pickup. 7am arrival (as long as the venue is open). Two hours to unload and set up, then breakfast and network (oh, you’ll also need a change of top and some deodorant as you’ll have worked up a heck of a sweat by now). Work the till, house-keep the stall, answer questions, cover for workmates as they go to the loo or have their lunch. You’ll probably not have chance to wander around and shop, nor look at the games and you’ll definitely not have time to play anything. [Once you’re onto the third show in as many weeks you’ll be tired of seeing the same faces, be they other traders or show-goers, and will have lost count as to how many times you’ve seen the same game during the current show circuit.] Start packing up at 3.30 if you’re lucky, otherwise 4:30. Pack up, load the van, two hours drive home in your sweaty clothes thanks to manhandling the heavy crates and metal shelving racks during pack up. Get home, shower, change, food, TV, bed. Get paid at the end of the month. Its a glamorous life! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, great to read you had a good day at Salute.

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    • I was merely dipping my toe in the pool, Roy, and do appreciate that I was cushioned from the harsher realities of a professional trader. Besides, I think you’re both more experienced and closer to Newark than me, so I’d just be a liability.

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      • Whoops! Sorry if what I wrote came across as anything other than the joke that I meant it as. As I’ve said before to people, I’m hopeless when it comes to leaving comments. Communicating and words are not a strong suit of mine.

        No, in all honesty, I found helping out a participation game more demanding and tiring than trading, to be fair. I helped a chap out back in 2016 at Stockton show and I was knackered after playing all day. Far more so than the schedule that I posted above.

        To be honest, I’m thinking of having a go putting on a very small game somewhere just to compare trading/gaming and seeing which is truly the most difficult. With trading I find you can let your mind wander, but you have to be focused all the time with running games. Its the travel time and early starts/late finishes that are the worse for me. Also, I’m finding myself not interested in the shows anymore, having experienced so many in so short a time and I can’t be bothered visiting any as a show-goer. Very much a case of too much of a good thing, and its also having knock-on effects with my own enjoyment of the toy soldier hobby.

        Apologies, again, if you thought my initial comment was a bit off.

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        • No worries, Roy – I took it in the vein it was intended. As I wasn’t a ‘proper’ trader, more like an auxiliary, I appreciate that people such as yourself, who do this on a regular basis, will have a different perspective. I’ve done the selling aspect once before, at EuroGencon in Loughborough many years ago and found that a more tiring day, as your interaction with people is limited to selling stuff, with large gaps of just waiting around for something to happen.

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    • Nice to see you too, Andy, If only very briefly. Whilst I ran several games, I only actually participated in one and the dice once again favoured my human gladiator, who was ganged up on by both the other players, but still managed to whittle them both down. Once they’d finished her off, they managed to kill each other on the very next turn.

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  3. Interesting read Jez, and brings back a lot of memories, though I think Roy’s version sounds more like my experience (apart from the getting paid at the end of the month bit!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

    Gals you had a good time, but I fully understand why you would want to go back to being a punter again, I miss WSD sometimes, but no enough to start it up again!

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger. It was certainly an interesting experience, but lacked the excitement you get from seeing ‘new’ games and models, which is part of what attending Salute is about for me. As well as putting names to faces at the bloggers meet.

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  4. A different perspective is pretty cool. Having an insiders view and sharing it does give an idea of what goes into putting on a show from the vendor side.

    Looking forward to seeing your haul!

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    • Thanks Harry. Obvipusly as someone who was experiencing it from a different perspective, I wanted to try and give a flavour of what its like from the ‘other side’. It does make you appreciate what the traders have gone through and I feel I’ll be more considerate to them in future.

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  5. I don’t suppose I have given much thought about the logistics of setting up the event, arriving as I do by train. As for queuing from 6.30am, my goodness there is dedication for you. So sorry to have missed you, I was bumbling around and must have walked past you several times without realising it!

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    • I have to admit to not giving it much thought either, Michael. We turn up and everything is just waiting for us. We amble about, being drawn in to what catches our eye, and tend to think of how the event affects us – the dimmer lighting, access to stalls, less considerate punters – then jump on the train and go home. As I had the unique opportunity to see it before and after the general public experience it, I wanted to share this so that people who won’t get this chance got to see it from a different point of view. Hopefully, it made for an interesting read.
      And as I am aware of your natural shyness, I won’t hold it against you. I do tend to blend into the background anyway, so the fact that you’missed’ me isn’t all that surprising.

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  6. it sounds like you had a rewarding experience and plenty of excitement, and the write up reflects this so well. i enjoyed reading it very much. a little bird also tells me of things ahead to look forward to in CCB and this has made me smile with happiness. anyone who knows me knows i only really only have time on line for wargames and role playing and that means playing and articles related to this. everyone shows off models and endless new purchases, but where are the games that are meant to be played with them? so if i dont see games i dont tend to spend much time, as i could be playing my own games and having as much fun as a king in his very own castle. i was taught that by gaming buddies long ago, ” the games the thing where in ill catch the conscience of the king ” he he. sorry for the bad shakespeare quote.

    my salute was a strange one. i was unable to get about much due to not feeling too well that day, and had major complications getting around, and then i got massively distracted by a incredible unique game, (burrows and badges damn you damn that stall) which took all my money and then some. was not planned but then, these things never are are they.

    anyway, if the birds words are true, i will be watching here lots.

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    • Thank you, Luke. Dave mentioned you were attending Salute, but as I was tied to the demo table, unless you’d come over, I wouldn’t have known who you were.

      And I’m guessing that the bird in question may have mentioned something about Caribbean islands, the Great Northern Woods, muskets, tomahawks and a big dollop of horror? If so, then the bird was indeed correct. Be prepared for my unique vision to focus somewhere a bit more…Colonial. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. he/she/they just might have mentioned that. possibly, just in passing of course.

    didnt see you under the sea of people and dave was no where in sight, and i never got a chance to return that way later so missed you i am afraid (

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    • Should be an interesting project, although I will need one or two more trees…lol

      And not to worry, Luke. As long as you had a good day, that’s the important thing. I’ll be back next year, so always an opportunity to meet and you’re always welcome here.

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  8. thanks very kind of you and means a lot.

    erm, are there enough trees in the gaming world for that scale an undertaking. but the mental picture alone is worth a thousand pages of wild imagery.

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