In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hotlead 2011: some initial personal reflections

Well another Hotlead has come and gone. I'm rather done in, but I survived the weekend. Only a headache yesterday when I woke up, but got over it and stayed right through to closing. Elizabeth is cursing my money handling though and I now see the utility of a discrete Petty Cash account separate from the till.  But we've promised her a night out at her favourite Indian restaurant next weekend to make up for her sacrifices this weekend. 
Saw a bunch of friends. Hotlead is a bit of an annual reunion for many of us, who have been pulled apart by job relocation and life in general. Some friends I made through the convention and they've become good friends and important members of the team. I think the cheer and excitement we have at seeing each other is translated into the general mood of the show keeping everything upbeat and happy. Plus there are lots of 'convention friends': guys I've met at Hotlead and only see them at conventions or chat with on internet forums. But they're good guys and pleasant to chat with and share some hobby enthusiasm with. I also spent quite a while talking with a store owner from Montreal who wants to get a convention started in his area and was seeking advice.

Actually I think of the conversations I overheard this weekend half were of the usual hobbyist rabbiting on about the latest shiny toy and half were genuine "How is your family?" sort of inquiries.  It's nice to see that the geeks can reign things in once in a while. Lots of attendees took the time to stop and chat with my long suffering wife who held down the Registration Desk all weekend (from about 4 PM Friday until 1:30 PM Sunday)! She's actually the secret to my organizational success. There were a few questions about my girls, who used to help Mum, but are now off at university. When they get married we'll probably have to post wedding pics at the show!
Attendance was good and seemed about the same as last year. Booking the extra space for Friday got more games but a few went unplayed due to no one signing up. But I'd rather have that than folks whining that there aren't any games to play. Next year the extra games will probably get filled as folks get used to the idea and come prepared to play something.
The Bring &Buy was busy and our 10% cut of sales raised about $1000. We'll donate that again to the Canadian Forces Personnel Assistance Fund and Canadian Forces Hospital Comforts Program. Next year when the combat mission has ended we'll return to donating to something like the Red Cross or Doctor's Without Borders. I scored 3x assembled and primed BF Humber armoured cars for $15. But otherwise there wasn't a lot that jumped out at me from the mass of unpainted Warhammer and 40K minis that were being unloaded. I made $32 from the stuff I decided to sell this year. 
From Crossed Swords I picked up some half price Gallia resin gabioned earthworks to go with the gabion sections I ordered from Black Cat using my TMP win. I also got some Essex Austrian hussars (what's an Austrian army without lots of hussars after all?) and some baggage wagons for my SYW armies (the only armies without a B-echelon until now). I also got one lonely artillery limber who will be very busy moving all the guns of both sides until I get some more (Freikorps sells them for about $3.50 each so I'll get Pete to pick some up for me at Historicon). The dealer threw in the Hussar command for free since the baggie was ripped and was missing a rider (probably the CO). I also bought off one of my team his ancient baggage train; some old Museum Minis that he had bought 20+ years ago, got me to paint the baggage, and then he never did anything with the rest of the army until he sold the raw lead at the B&B yesterday! I trust the "Firestorm Armada" fleets he bought with the money will see more use.
I think that's all I bought. I was the picture of restraint since WGG Distributions booth was right beside the door and in view of the front desk flaunting their shiny new boxes of Perry and Warlord figures at me. I kept thinking that I could have a good start on a 15mm Russian army with only 3 boxes from The Plastic Soldier company (1 of infantry and 2 tanks- the T34s look quite good up close). Even the weird Dystopian Wars and Firestorm Armada boxes had a siren song for me. They did a lot of business. Elizabeth and I watched their piles drop visibly over the weekend, plus they signed up my local GW dealer who will now carry some of their stuff. It'd be way cool if I could go and pick up some Perry WotR troops with a 20 minute walk instead of waiting for a convention! The WGG guys gave me a can of their Army Painter dip as a thank you. I'll have to give it a try to see how it works. I think I'll try it out on the above mentioned 20+ year old baggage; my painting was not that great back then!
Few headaches or issues with the con. The few cancelled games were understandable and easily replaced. We ended up with 57 games! The tournament participants all seemed to be having fun. A late addition added a Zombie game to the menu for Saturday night which proved popular and filled the missing void for 'fantasy' games. I suppose our VSF game is pretty fantastic too for that matter.
I played two (yes TWO games, I know be amazed!). I had a fun time in the RCW saving Holy Mother Russia from the Red Cancer. Well we died gloriously trying, but having a brigade of Bolshie Cossacks show up on your open flank rather hurts. The game was 15mm and used the Too Fat Lardies Triumph of the Will rules. The armies and terrain were very nice and there was even an armoured train. Then after dinner I played with Steve Thompson's  Sharp Practice 18th century Imagination stuff. Lovely toys. My rolling volleys thrashed the dreaded Turks and saved the Electorate. The Inhaber of the Kuirassiers died gloriously charging twice the number of sipahis. Huzzah! Plus it was good to finally try the Sharp Practice rules out.
Didn't play owt today though. We've made a tradition of our annual Colonial Bring and Battle. We just get a really big table, get all our armies out and invite anyone interested to bring a contingent and join us. Dan has some rules that fit on one sheet of paper and it's fast and bloody. The last couple of years have taken on a more VSF flavour with wacky steam contraptions and this year saw Wellsian Martians too. But Sunday mornings I'm talking to people and settling final details and I'm really tired, so I just watched and there were quite a few kids playing with their dads and having a grand time.

By about 1:30 it was all wrapped up except for the last two dealers who were packing up, so I took my honey home to plug the kettle in for a well deserved cuppa.
A few of my team had their cameras, so I'll be posting them here in the days to come.


  1. It was a fantastic weekend James. A huge thanks to you and Elizabeth for making it possible. A big thanks to Joe for running the bring and buy so smoothly and to Dan for running the VSF game in such an entertaining way. And one final thanks to Will for taking care of all of those Martians with Chitty Chitty Boom Boom.

    Dave (Chairface)

  2. Thank you for all your help Dave. Glad you had fun even with working the B&B.

  3. Thank you for the update.
    Looks like a con I need to get to next year.


  4. I think you're right! We always have a blast.


  5. Excellent convention James! You've set the bar for us to emulate.



  6. I'm looking forward to being able to reverse the roles at Council Fires Dave!
    Don't let me down. :)