ROBIN at Nottingham: A Convention Appraisal

ROBIN 2019 convention hall view
Copious room for more traders, be they old or new

The Sniper’s Mantra (Location, Location, Location)

Taking place at the Nottingham Tennis Centre on the 17th of February 2019, ROBIN was accessible by bus or tram, but probably isn’t a comfortable walk from the city centre. No nearby shops or conveniences were observed, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

The site has pretty substantial (free) parking, moving from hard standing to ‘bit of scrubland at the back’. Gentlefolk of the shire in hi-vis were on hand to direct the meandering and lost. Judging by the accents, they may have been ‘Merry Men’.

The centre has a large interior hall, not unlike the space at Partizan or Hammerhead (Newark Showground) with well-spaced stands, and ample room for expansion. Nothing struck us as inaccessible: indeed the centre has been accredited as an accessible venue for disabled people by CredAbility – an independent quality mark run by disabled people.

Well lit, with occasional free tennis balls, some traders had commented that the building was cold in previous years, but a combination of reasonable weather and access to the hall being through the main entrance of the building rather than directly in to the hall meant it was comfortable inside. (Though one trader did mention having to secure his wares and most of his stand against the hot blast from the heating. Take note, ye who trade in light-weight items. Lead as a medium does still have some advantages.) Arrayed (roughly) in rows, with display or participation games mingled in, the show was reportedly quiet on opening, with an increase in visitors later on. (Unlike say York, with it’s heavy bum-rush around 10.30-11.) After her grumble about toilet accessibility at York, the Widow was also pleased to discover that the facilities at ROBIN were well-marked and clear of any and all traders.

MAVFA display of model armour
Nice display by the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association http://www.mafva.net
Cutaway model of Konigstiger
Puts us in mind of Daleks

Foraging

So far, ROBIN has utilized the on-site amenities for comestibles, so the fare was broadly limited to the type of food one might expect in a sports centre. (IE not too heavy on the fried breakfasts, verging on the positively healthy.) Prices were fair. The Widow spent some time examining nearby helpful allergen information for the Pot Noodle machine thing, and found it satisfactory.

booeys bead art stall
Booeys Bead Art: Turns out Hama beads are the perfect medium for pixellated art.

Gripes, Grumbles and other Observations

A remarkably grumble-free experience. Everybody encountered was friendly and helpful, and there was a nice lack of (as they were described to this Archivist once) ‘Walruses with a bag the size of a ten-year-old’ clogging up the area. (Though the large amount of free space helps with this, and as usual we urge show-goers to exercise common courtesy because some people just need telling again and again.)

The Crafting Jones stall
The Crafting Jones: Because whilst you can never have too many dice, you can struggle to find use for them all. Art and jewellery is the way forward.
Brigade stand
Brigade: Not a common sight at shows within fair range of the Lead Mountain. The art for Celtos is amazing, by the way. Find it with your eyes.

As this show takes place in the heart of the Lead Belt (that white hot bubbling band of pewter where a huge amount of our industry of choice takes place) it was probably inevitable that certain Industry notables might show up, and those with the nous to age a small black and white mugshot by twenty years could do well locating some notorious individuals of yore. A man with a suspiciously large collection of gnomes informed this scrivener that no less a personage than prolific artist and Blanchitsu Master (clue is in the name) John Blanche was sighted later in the day, although a lack of servo-skulls & cyber-altered cherubim canting in binharic suggests he was travelling somewhat incognito. John Treadaway, editor of Miniature Wargames,  wandered the aisles (no doubt in search of new and interesting hats) and Gav Thorpe, author, games-chap, Imagineer and Red-Hot-Chilli-Peppers Tribute act circa 1995 was also sighted.

As a counter-point to this, it seems a shame that ROBIN lacks a bring&buy. Imagine the truly historical metal that might turn up in the lofts and bits boxes of Nottingham of all places. Imagine the stuff John Blanche has in his attic… (We accept no responsibility for any cranial detonations caused by imagining the contents of Blanche-space.)

A particular benefit of newer shows like this, which can sometimes feel a little less well-attended by the established traders, is that there is plenty of space for new, different traders, especially smaller or newer types who can often languish on a more established show’s waiting list for years. The change in locations can also open up the field for traders who perhaps don’t get out so much, despite being industry stalwarts. (Brigade is a good example of this.) Adversely, with Salute creeping closer on the calendar, it may also be the case that both traders and shoppers are looking at the cost/profit benefits of smaller shows. This is a somewhat sad state of affairs for those people who do not have ready capability or inclination to go all the way to ‘That London’. Likewise, ROBIN shared a date with TACTICA in Hamburg, which will have attenuated the possible attendees a little.

It may also be the case that the show listings at this time of the year are getting a smidge crowded. with Hammerhead, Chillcon and then First Partizan (but what about second Partizan?) all in proximity.

Trader List: (We are not completely sure that this totally matches up with stands present on the day, but some traders don’t sport banners, so it can be tricksome to be sure.)

ABCbrushes

Retailer of brushes designed mainly for model painters. This archivist uses them.

Ainsty Castings

Manufacturers of 25mm and 28mm scale models, including NorthStar, Saga & a huge array of resin scenics, many of which grace tables under this Mountain.

All Rolled Up

Game accessories. Dice bags, dice trays, dice and gaming tools.

Art of War Shirts

Well printed, good quality tee shirts themed around military history

Atlantis Miniatures

Atlantis Miniatures are a UK based miniature company focused on creating High Quality Resin Fantasy Miniatures.

Barwell Bodyworks

Retailer of Badger Airbrush, paints, spares, and airbrush sundries. (We own a rather spiffy acrylic paintbrush stand from here.)

Booeys Bead Art

Video gaming art created from Hama beads. (See pictures above)

Caliver Books

Retailer and manufacturer of Books, rules, miniatures, and resin buildings.

Chillcon

Conventioneers hosting shows at Sheffield and Derby. Next show is 23rd March.

Christopher Morris Books

Military and wargames titles including the latest titles from publishers such as Osprey and Pen & Sword.

Colonel Bills

28mm Depot Battalion range. Great range of pre-loved historicals on offer, scenics and scenery, and Cote-d’arms paint.

Colour Party

Colour Party paint and hobby supplies. Some interesting items in those draws as well..

Crooked Dice

28mm Cult and pulp miniatures and rules, with some amazing and weird things in those cabinets. The incoming range of Post-Apocalypse figures are truly tempting.

Dave Lanchester Books

Probably the first word in military books at most shows. Pen & Sword, Osprey and many old or rare titles stretching across pretty much the whole spectrum of human military endeavours from Troy to Fallujah. Also a thoroughly nice chap.

GCT Studios

Bushido the Game – 32mm Japanese Fantasy Skirmish.

Ham and Jam

Pre-painted 28mm buildings for wargaming.

Krakon Games 

Creator of unique (Gnomes! Things with one eye! Indescribable doodads!) fantasy and sci-fi miniatures,  28mm scale. Commission sculpting too. This year Feat. Bad Squiddo Annie as a booth babe. Krakon will of course be booth babe for Bad Squiddo at Hammerhead (Newark Showground)

Lesley’s Bits Box

Games Workshop products and bits. Always worth a dig through the RUBoxes. (Where was this industry before Really Useful Boxes? How did it even exist?)

Mantic Games

DreadBall, The Walking Dead, Kings of War and Warpath, not to mention a tempting line of 28mm Dungeon scenics so reminiscent of Heroquest we want to use them instead of our real furniture. Never bring as much stuff to shows as we would like to see though.

N-FX

Design, rapid prototyping, mould making, and manufacturing in a variety of materials.

Newline Designs

White metal historical miniatures. Ranges include 10mm, 20mm, and 28mm.

Oathsworn

28mm fantasy miniatures, purveyors of Burrows and Badgers.

Physical Gaming

Publisher of Four Elements, the Nottingham kickstarted award-winning dexterity game. Currently in the market for a Youtuber (yes, it’s actually a jobby. We’ve done it.) and other such roles. See the pic below.

Products For Wargamers

Bespoke scenery, foams, measuring sticks, mdf bases and buildings & other accessories

Rapier

6mm/28mm historical and fantasy miniatures, t-shirts, MDF buildings, paints and rules.

Sarissa

Laser-cut MDF buildings and accessories. Lots of material supporting Gangs of Rome and the like.

Shiny Games

Miniatures in 28-25mm & 1/144th, terrain, and RPGs.

Stand To Games

Writers and publishers of Wargame rules such as ‘Over the Hills” and their Napoleonic Skirmish Wargame ‘Forager’ with supporting figures and accessories as well as second-hand games and painted figures.

Stonewall Figures

10 mm,15 mm, 20 mm, 28 mm Figure Manufacturer. Books, and rules. 1:2400 scale 20th-century ships. Handmade terrain, painted battalion packs, plastic kits, Paint sets, and 10 mm laser cut Ancient and 18th Century ships.

The Assault Group

28mm  historical, fantasy and modern. Includes Dwarf Cavalry on Roosters.

The Pit Gaming Shop

Wargaming and roleplaying items, miniatures, scenery, rulebooks and hobby supplies. Has a fair selection of Warhammer Conquest magazine back issues, for those who are sick of the vultures stealing them all from WHSmiths…

Themeborne

See the Escape the Dark Castle images above? These guys did that.

Victorious Miniatures

28mm Napoleonic and boxer rebellion, plus painted miniatures.

Warbases

Manufacturer of quality MDF products for the discerning wargamer.

Resin 15mm Scifi miniatures. 6mm Space & 28mm Modern soldiers.

Expanding the Mountain

ROBIN2019 purchases.jpg
Eoghu Bres, Ruadan and Cichol Gricenchos from Krakon Games, a pile of skellington cavalry from Colour Party, and a mound of nostalgia.

As well as hitting up Krakon for some trolls and Fomor to round out our Fimir army (elements of which have already featured hereabouts), we managed to grab a unit of Skeleton horseys and a chariot to go with our PBS1 skellingtons. However, arguably the coolest find was a goodly chunk of Warhammer Fantasy Regiments, unpainted, en-sprue. This is probably the first plastic kit ever to enter the Lead Mountain. It was seeing the box they came in that first set us on the path to wargaming.

Any Other Business?

Ironically, given the amount of space available, several of the display games were of the 4 foot square or smaller variety. However, taking up possibly a whole third of the room (or so it seemed) was a huge display game by the Leicester Phat Cats, using Blood and Plunder and a substantial fleet of floaty things.

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We are told there is a reason why the Dutch Barque has such a narrow deck and wide bottom, but we did not have time to wait to hear the tale. We will be sending a missive to a nearby pirate soon for that nugget of information.
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Also on show was a demo/participation of the upcoming Mortal Gods by War Banner

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Although we tend to favour the under-arm style of Hoplite warfare, these Victrix figures are quality sculpts.
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As attested by the substantial collection of laser-cut acrylic tokens, range-rulers and assorted gaming toss, this Sensory-seeking Archivist has always enjoyed a fondness for that chunky coloured plastic, perhaps as far back as CDT lessons at school, where exciting things could be done with buffers and off-cuts above and beyond making home-made shuriken. Thus he was most amused to discover ‘Four Elements’, created by Robert Murelli…

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Channelling Subbuteo, Air-hockey, Galt Octons, among other things.
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Clever use of MDF to form box and instructions in one.
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Although someone who can do all these things at once would be great, the designer tells us that these are in fact individual roles. We can do one and a half of these at a push. Drop them a line.

Room17 had this beautiful concept for dungeon storage. All the rooms fit within each other (which might be a game in itself). A homage to games like Heroquest was floated as a future possibility, and this just screams FURNISH ME…

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They also had this interesting game of Gobbos arsing about in a swamp. Already funded on Kickstarter, and the model sculpts are delightful.

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The Fenlord. Lord of the Fen, one imagines.
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We pinched this image from Kickstarter, to give you an idea of the painted sculpts.

Finally Room17 had Museum Rush:

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We rather like the Rick & Morty-style caricaturing.
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We do not know what might have been grown in these giant plant pots. No triffids or cyclopean greenery were observed in the area. Perhaps it had moved on to seek fresh prey?

In summary, ROBIN is a neat little show with great potential. One wonders if the organisers could rope in some of the Lead Belt Luminaries for signings and the like, and there categorically should be a bring and buy. Some consideration might also be applied to spreading out the book-vendors, as they are somewhat in direct competition for the same dollar.

If you have any thoughts or observations on this show (or any others) feel free to drop us a line. Or approach the Widow at the next show and tell her. (We find averting the eyes as one would with an adult male Silverback Gorilla tends to cause the least carnage…)

 

If you enjoy the content I generate, feel free to show your appreciation using the link below. It’s not actually coffee, but it might end up being. (Or I can upgrade WordPress and make this whole show more shiny.)

http://ko-fi.com/leadmountainwidow

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