Salute 2015 the editors eye view28 Apr 2015 0
Salute is billed as the premier wargames trade show in the UK and has been a fixture on the wargaming calendar for the past twenty years or more. For our non-UK readers it sits in our convention calendar in the same way that Historicon does in the US and (maybe) Essen does in Germany. If you only attend one show in the year it will usually be this one. One major difference, however, is that Salute runs for just one day and not over multiple days as those other big conventions do.
For those who have not been to Salute before it is a show organised by the South London Warlords club and is held every year in east London - on the same weekend as the London Marathon which attracts a rather different participant than a wargames show. The show combines the very best of traders associated with the Wargames scene with a multitude of demonstration and participation games, but is mainly based around miniatures and accessories. Computer wargames are very much a minority thing at the show, in fact only Slitherine/Matrix represents that sector.
This year as well as attending to do a report for our readers I was also helping out our friends on the Matrix Games/Slitherine stand! Still I had opportunity to sample the delights of the show though and missed the legendary queue to get in!
This year the show seemed noticeably busier in terms of visitor footfall, and a figure of 6,500 attendees was circulated towards the end of the show and those vendors who had time to chat certainly seemed pretty pleased with the numbers handing over their hard earned cash. Indeed, partly due to a limited edition figure release at the show the Forgeworld stand had its own queue for most of the show – the two pictures of it were taken 4 hours apart …
Traders at the show cover every aspect of gaming; with books, terrain, dice, vehicles and figures in almost every scale, size and colour! It feels almost that if you cannot find what you want at Salute then I doubt you can find it anywhere! OK, a slight exaggeration, but it does feel that way.
Another of the other key elements of the show are the demonstration and participation games plus the stands of various societies that cover one, or mnore, of the major wargaming periods. Additionally there are always a number of exhibitors (I guess you’d call them, or maybe just Cosplayers) and re-enactors walking around the show in various costumes/uniforms. Lots of people were getting their pictures taken with that as a backdrop – and this Blood Angel space marine was certainly popular on that score.
Some of the demonstration games and participation games were extremely impressive. US readers may be interested to know that this is an area where the UK differs from the US. There are fewer participation games at UK shows than US ones, but more demonstration games. This may be driven by the fact that UK shows are of shorter duration, or it may just be one of those hard to explain cultural differences. Certainly fewer people got to UK shows to play games than is normal in the US – ours are more shopping oriented.
The final word has to be about the venue. The current home of the show (and it has been the same for past few years) is the ExCel exhibition centre in Docklands. This is easily accessible by car or public transport-the excellent Docklands Light Railway stops right outside. The place is massive. A series of vast exhibition halls are accessed via a central plaza. The plaza itself is lined by a huge variety of eateries that cope reasonably well with the demands of a mass of hungry and thirsty wargamers. Salute is held in just one of the exhibition halls. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the hall. It is just too big to lend the show any immediate character and can be overwhelming for the first timer. However I think the sheer volume of traders, games and displays more than compensates for this. And a word of advice if you are going next year for the first time. Try and be organised in the way you go round the show first off, otherwise you’ll end up missing something! Once you have seen everything you can afford to wander about!
All in all I can hearty recommend Salute as a great day out for the serious wargamer. It could also be a good excuse to take the family to London for the weekend – after all, there is no shortage of things to do there and you could bunk off to the show whilst they take in other sights and all meet up later.
For those interested in further coverage of the show, with many more pictures, have a look at this review by our good friend the infamous Madaxeman here.