Usually falling on the last Sunday of the month, Fiasco is usually the last show in the calendar for this weary sojourner, so it is ironic that it has ended up being the first show to fall under the Widow’s Gaze. If there is any pertinent information readers would like to know, please ask, and we will amend posts with whatever wee can find out, be it bus times or where the toilets are. A full calendar of shows we attend is here
This year, sad to relate, the Master Builder of Leeds Wargames Club, Brian Hicks recently passed away . In honour of Brian, the club decided that entry this year would be free to all, with a request on the door that visitors give generously to the charities represented in the lobby (The Battlefields Trust, Sue Ryder, and ABF: The Soldiers Charity.) The Widow and her Scribe of course invite readers to peruse their sites.
Location Location Location (subsequently known as the Sniper’s Mantra): The New Dock Hall is directly opposite the main entrance to the Royal Armouries, so the site itself is well-signposted, even if the event itself is not. Although this year your eager reporter didn’t travel by car, he is aware that there is a large multi-storey very close by, which is about as expensive as one might expect from a modern multi. It is a tidy step from the Train station, but exploration of the local bus services will bear fruit in that regard. For those who don’t wish to carry funds around Leeds, there is a cash machine a short walk away (in the opposite direction to the canal, down what might be described as the ‘main concourse’, just past the outside Gym, appended to a Tesco, and another a short distance away across the docks. Of course many traders now use those fancy new-fangled card machines, and that rare Jabberwock, a hand-written cheque, was seen to change hands at Fort Lanchester.
Foraging: As well as the above mentioned Tesco, like many venues, the cafeteria/eaterie is copiously stocked with basic wargaming fare, such as ‘butties’, tea, coffee, and a fridge full of those odd bottles of pop that only ever seem to show up inside venues. (Interior seating was occasionally at a premium, which seems a little strange because the lobby area is quite large.) There are also several eateries scattered about the area, including a cafe in the Armouries building.)
Gripes and Grumbles and other Observations: Those familiar with the average show layout will be aware that there are several schools of thought on stand layout. Some stall-holders favour the Arkwright’s Store Counter-Service variety; Reiver Castings or Tumbling Dice stand as example, which seems appropriate for the way their wares are packaged or sold as individual pieces. This is also a common choice for smaller traders with fledgling or small ranges, as it is generally feasible for them to lay out their entire range on a single frontage, where they can achieve maximum exposure. Larger traders, generally those who sell wares in clam-packs, blister packs, or bags will tend to favour a ‘Walk-in’ stand. A conversation with Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo fame some years ago suggested that generally the Walk-In is a more efficient system for the most part, as it allows casual browsing without the need to pass by a ‘gate-keeper’, which can be an event of some trepidation for those of a nervous disposition, and can help footfall by reducing the likelihood of queues. One surmises it also allows for a more casual interaction with traders. (Not to suggest that the Bunker-format traders are in any way less friendly or casually chatty, nor that the ‘Standing with a money-belt’ variety cannot produce the occasionally frowning grognard.)
The biggest problem with the Walk-In is that it requires a good amount of lateral space. The majority of stands designed with this in mind have ample area to do so (and in fact during busy periods the cavernous hangar-space usually available at the Pendraken stand often makes for a good place to take a breather) but there are one or two traders that could do with having more room. Lesley’s Bits Box seems to suffer most for this, as the Really Useful Box stack system requires a bit of elbow room to operate. This scribe of course lays no blame as he has no idea who is responsible for such choices, he merely observes that it is the case. (He also observes that his knees, knackered no doubt by paying obeisance to the Widow and by repeated battering with beer kegs and pub furniture are no longer very flexible, so stands with full-length racks are something of a pain. He foresees a time when his armies will be entirely restricted to stuff displayed about waist height, for fear that once he is down, he may never get back up again. But that is not the fault of the traders, of course.)
There are only two other gripes this visitor has about Fiasco, almost wholly personal in nature. The first is that it often takes place the day after some sort of Halloween party, which can lead to some distressing calculations about alcohol intake vs morning-after coffee intake, compounded by the second issue, that it is also in Leeds, and to be blunt, the Sunday service trains to Leeds from the Mountain demesnes are shit. (In the sense that they are mostly a local stopping service, and thus take a long time, requiring an even earlier start time.) Other travelers may fare better of course. (This year, the alcohol/train issue was compounded by Daylight Saving’s Time, which is a source of perpetual confusion in this domain.)
Expanding the Mountain: A ready haul of items new and pre-loved was acquired, the key of which are a new Red Book Of the Elf King spear-elf unit for the savage elven horde, purchased from Sally 4th, the pre-eminent stockist for ReBoTEK miniatures and rules, who will be reviewed and compared soon,
And the horde of PBS1 Skeletons has expanded some more:
In summary, personal gripes about hangovers and cattle-trucks notwithstanding, Fiasco is an enjoyable show with a good spread of wares covering most periods and genres, with friendly mix of traders big and small, on a good accessible site, that lacks only a little more consideration of certain stand layouts on the part of somebody somewhere. Fiasco has one extra advantage over most other shows in the UK: it takes place at the Royal Armouries (which are free to enter). It is highly likely that a visitor to the show will see a regular flow of gamers back and forth under the eyes of the guns arrayed outside the Armouries, and at least for this year, the extra treat of a 1:1 scale Spitfire parked out front.
Organisers website and contact details: Leeds Wargames Club
TRADER LIST (Relatively constant year to year, with some small changes each time.) Links where available. Most traders offer pre-ordering. More details and sporadic reviews of these as we add them here
DAVE THOMAS (PERRY’S MINIATURES)