23 Apr 2013

Thoughts on Salute 2013

I went along to Salute at the weekend, and was very impressed. The massive numbers of attendees alone would tend to refute any idea that the hobby is struggling or that the internet is taking away from trade shows!

Warlords do a very good job of putting on an event which has a very short set-up time and cannot really afford to put in many of the creature comforts of "proper" events held in a space like ExCeL - for example, carpet would be nice, but would probably add more than 50% to the cost of hall rental, and hence admissions, and a second day of opening would double the costs and also the costs to exhibitors of staying down at the show.

A few people on TMP have whinged about ExCeL, however it is the only place in London with space and availability to host a show of that size, and those who complain about the catering are missing the point - the range and selection of catering is far better than any other equivalent venue, as long as you are prepared to walk along the central boulevard at ExCeL to find the outlet that suits you. Salute also benefits from the presence of the Marathon alongside in this respect, as all the catering outlets are open - this might not be the case if Salute were the only event in the venue that weekend.

My impressions of the exhibitors was that;
  •  Historical, and especially 28mm historical skirmish gaming seems to be having a bit of a renaissance at the moment,
  • Vendors are selling, and gamers are keener to give a try to "one box" solution games where you can get everything you need (rules, figures etc) from one supplier for sub £100 - of course you end up buying more!
  • The market for resin-cast buildings and scenery is shrinking rapidly as the number of laser-cut pre-painted MDF ones explodes. I felt quite sorry for some of the resin scenery exhibitors as their stands looked deserted.
  • Osprey will soon publish every rulebook in the market,
  • Plastics are a now given, to the point of almost a default for some new ranges, and the debats has moved onto whether pre-paint is now starting to be a serious option,  
  • Figure design is really moving onwards and upwards - again like the resin/MDF split some of the companies I once considered "old stalwarts" like Essex Miniatures looked out of place and their stand wasn;t that busy - they may end up being the Hinchcliffe of 15mm without more pzazz injected into the lines and display cases,
  • I have no idea what Foundry are up to right now - for all the talk of a new era of product, branding and marketing they had a rather confusing and low key presence,
  • Traders take note - having a banner to advertise your stand location is a must - there is almost no other directional signage at the show other than the catalogue, and with no reference points it was sometimes hard to see where you were even with the plan in front of you,
  • The Bring and Buy was such a scrum that I didn't even consider going near it. I know the B&B is a staple of wargamiong shows, and makes money, but whether a show like Salute still really benefits from having a downmarket melee in one the corner it is something I'd question - using the space for more traders might now be the sensible option,
  • Turn up at 11am, not 10am - the show is still open for another 6 hours, and it avoids the queues !
I only spent around £50 all in all, but that was mostly because I didn't want to buy anything - I think the £50 went out of my wallet through a form of wargaming osmosis which seems to afflict me at many shows...



Unknown said...

The real problem with Salute is the location - move it to Birmingham so that some of us who live further away can actually attend......

Ray Rousell said...

I thought it was a great show, the only moans I've got about it are the massive queue to get in, it took us 50 minutes and I'd have liked it to be longer, its such a big show I needed at least 2-3 more hours to have a real good look around!!!

TamsinP said...

@ Jonathan - well, given that it is organised by volunteers who are based in South London, moving it to Birmingham wouldn't be feasible. Unless of course everyone was willing to pay a lot more per ticket to cover their accommodation for two nights, loss of earnings for the Friday etc.

It would also be more likely to put off visitors from across the Channel who can easily get to London by train and back home on the day.

@ Ray - I'd like the show to have longer opening hours as well, but I'm not sure that's really feasible given the already long hours Warlords members have to put in on the day.

Madaxeman said...

The show in Derby is probably quicker to get to from most of Birmingham than large parts of London to ExCeL - I drove and it took over an hour.

I do however think it is getting close to the point at which it warrants 2 open days. Which makes the math start to become really, really difficult, as I suspect the hall rental alone is already knocking on £50k....

Unknown said...

Hi Tim
Why do you think Osprey will grow as publisher?

Madaxeman said...

They now publish a lot of rules - sometimes several sets for similar periods -just check their website. For an author I think they are a good partner, as they have a distribution network, a basic format, artwork, printing, layout facilities with economies of scale, all in a sort of template that can produce new professional quality rule sets I guess efficiently...so working with them is a win- win for an author compared to doing it yourself. Phil Barker should take note (but he of course won't!)

I also think Osprey now understand that their market is wargamers....only a few years ago they thought history fans and modellers were buying all their stuff. So, they have a good offer and understand their customers. That works for many businesses!

Unknown said...

In terms of the B&B. Be careful what you wish for!!

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