Monday, 8 May 2023

How To Not Win A Golden Demon, And Other Short Stories...

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

Well, once again it's been a huge long time since I last posted anything here and, for that, I apologise. I wish I could say there's been a proper reason for it but, truth be told, it's just that I haven't got around to finishing off any of the posts I had prepped. Some needed editing, some rewriting, some needed photos sorting out...and I just couldn't find the time to do anything about them so nothing ended up being done. the blog isn't the only thing that's been affected, and I've fallen far behind on my list of painting commissions, which has been really frustrating. There have been some extenuating circumstances: pressures of my real-world job, general life stuff, health issues and a host of other bits and pieces have taken up more time than I would have liked recently so I've made a big decision that should have considerable impact on my output. I've decided to drop my hours at my real-world job (night shifts in a care home) to the bare minimum of one 12-hour shift a week, and make my commission painting my primary job. It's a bit of a risk, as is any freelance situation, but I think I can keep enough work coming in to make it feasible. It's something I needed to do for the sake of my health and, I think, for my sanity. I love the care work, but I was really struggling doing multiple night shifts, and trying to switch between day/night sleeping cycles and I think I'll be a lot better off, physically and mentally, going forward. So, hopefully, I'll be able to maintain a much more reliable and consistent painting schedule, and finally get caught up with all my commissions. And it means that, all being well, I'll be able to maintain a regular blog posting schedule as well. I've got loads of posts prepped and nearly ready to share, so keep watching this space!

So that's what's happening from now onwards but now I want to talk about a few things that have been happening while I've been off-air. Firstly, while I was away, my follower count on Instagram cracked the 1,000 mark, and I'm now nearly at 1,250, which I find amazing! My Twitter is nearly at 500, too, and I'm going to try to post more content there from now on as well, as I've kind of neglected it recently.  I'm so grateful that so many people have taken the time out to look at my stuff. I know it's small potatoes compared to the big names on the social medias, but it still means an awful lot to me, so thank you to everybody who has followed me!

Of course, the main thing that has happened while I've been offline has been Golden Demon/Warhammer Fest. Right up to less than a month before the event, I didn't know if I was going to be able to get the time off work to get there, so I'd kind of abandoned all thought of entering Golden Demon, especially as my plans for models to enter had already pretty much fallen by the wayside due to my health issues earlier in the year anyway. Then, with only 3 weeks to go, I finally got the confirmation of the time off work and I thought it would be daft not to go all that way and not enter something, even if I was only making up the numbers so I decided to grab something from my Pile of Temporary Abandonment and finish it off. And here it is:

Given the amount of time I had given myself to work with I'm quite pleased with the end result. I knew there was absolutely no chance of winning, or even getting a coveted finalist pin, but that wasn't the point. I knew I had to have something to put in, no matter what. In the end, I was proven right, as it didn't even receive a single sticker on it's card but I don't care. It was there, and that's all that matters. Plus (and this is a real big bonus, as far as I'm concerned) I finished one of my painting projects that had been started and abandoned years ago. It's a really nice feeling to get one of these old projects done, and I'm going to be doing a few more in the upcoming months. Who knows, I may even finish one of the ones I planned to do for this year's Golden Demon...!

As for Warhammer Fest itself...Well, I have to say I found the whole thing a bit of a let-down. The last Fest I went to was the last one held in Coventry and that one had been great- there had been demo games, both digital and traditional, being run by loads of licensees, participation and demo games, big miniature displays and a great studio presence with White Dwarf staff, the 'eavy Metal team, the sculptors, artists, writers, games developers all present with displays of their work, as well as other displays and things going on, such as seminars. This time there was almost none of that. There was demo sessions of the new 40k set, due out in the summer, where you could play a couple of turns of the game, a handful of digital developers showcasing their games, Cubicle 7 showing off their Warhammer RPGs, a demo game of 40k-scale Adeptus Titanicus, a pick-up and paint area and a board game cafe. That, along with the tournament tables (taking up nearly half of the immense main hall) and Golden Demon displays was about all there was to do. I know there were some painting masterclasses available, as well as a couple of other painting-based activities but these were on a ticket-only basis, as was the laser tag*. There was no studio presence at all, which is one of the biggest parts of the event for me. Warhammer Fest was always one of the occasions where I could catch up with some old friends I still have amongst the studio staff. Without that a lot of the appeal of the event is lost.  And, because of the general lack of things to do, what there was to do was massively over-subscribed. Queues were ridiculous. The queue to try out the new Boltgun videogame was anything between 1 and three hours, depending on the time of the day, the queue for trying out the new 40k was up to 4 hours! Even the queue for the shop was up to two hours at some points!** I heard that one person gave up on the queue, dumped the stuff he was buying on a table, left the event, bought the same stuff at the nearby Manchester Warhammer store, put it in his car, returned to the event and his friend, who he'd been queuing with, still hadn't made it to the checkouts. Now, that might be apocryphal but, given the enormity of the queues, I can well believe it. This issue of oversubscription meant that many couldn't get into the preview announcements during the weekend (even though the auditorium held 700 people!) but at least you could see these events on the screens outside the auditorium but then, even these weren't great: four or five large-ish monitors down each side of the main hall. There were no monitors at all in the food hall, where all the seats were, and no large screen, for everybody queueing up for other things in the main hall, to be able to see. I would have liked to have tried out some of the games but I really wasn't prepared to queue for so long to do so. I will admit, the queues were a bit better on Sunday, and much better on Monday (due to there being less and less people there) but, by then, I was so tired I couldn't be arsed. All in all, it was a bit crap, to be honest and poor value for money. There wasn't even any goody bags! If the format is the same next year I'm going to have to think very hard about going at all (especially considering the 6-hour drive each way and hotel costs, etc.) and, if I do, I'll certainly not be going for the full three days. All that being said, the staff were all superb, from the floor staff, to the till-jockeys, to the licensees, to the Golden Demon desk operators.*** I've worked these sort of events and I know how draining they can be and I didn't see one single staff member looking pissed off, or hear one complaint. I had a brief chat with one of the guys on the tills on Monday and he said he'd been there all weekend, and was still going to be working the take-down the following day. Hats off to him and all the others like him, and thanks to all the staff who all did their best. It wasn't their fault that decisions had been made, far above their pay grades, that made the event, in my opinion, such a damp squib. I do realise that some of the issues I've had with this year's event have been of my own making, and I accept that, with a little foresight, maybe going for the whole three days wasn't the right thing to do, but I've seen a lot of comments online that show that I'm not the only one that was left feeling a little disappointed with the overall event. Oh, and there wasn't a proper bar, either, which was a huge let-down. At Coventry I was able to prop up the bar, have a relaxing pint and watch the crowd go by, whilst chatting with some mates. Couldn't do that this time...

It wasn't all bad news though. I did manage to meet up with some lovely people on each day. These are what made the event for me, and On the Saturday afternoon I had a good chinwag with old chum Jamie Hutber, who was busily taking photos of the event and he introduced me to Albert Moreto Font, the man who would take the Slayer Sword this year. On Sunday I managed to get into the Warhammer: The Old World and Horus Heresy preview with Dave Taylor, one of the admins of 'Eavier Metal on Facebook (he's the wonderful chap that organises the 20th Century Challenge painting competition that I've been judging for the last few years.) Without him, I doubt I'd have made it into the preview, such was the queue. I even bumped into Max Faleij just before he was due to start the Golden Demon judging, something which I don't envy him for. Finally, on Sunday I met up with Mike McVey, who I'd really wanted to catch up with and haven't chatted to since we worked together nearly 30 years ago! and Tommie Soule, aka The Miniature Painting Tutor. Tommie is one of the greats of the miniature painting hobby, a genuinely lovely bloke and I had a cracking time with him and Daphne at the Golden Demon awards ceremony****. I have to say a huge thanks to Tommie for honouring me with a signed copy of his book. If you haven't ordered yourself a copy yet, I urge you to do so. Tommie has distilled his years of teaching experience into what is likely to become the definitive book on miniature painting techniques. His work is an incredible resource, and useful to those of any level of the painting hobby. It's available here (UK)here (USA) and here (digital) and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So, there we have it. At least the weekend wasn't a total loss and, when it all boils down to it, the social aspect of these events is one of the main draws (after all, it's the main reason I was so disappointed in the lack of studio presence) and I have to admit, socialising doesn't come easily to me (I get completely overwhelmed in big crowds and the first few hours at the event I was utterly out of my depth) which means I'm normally in my own little bubble of nerves at events like this, especially as I usually go on my own, so being able to relax and chat with such great people really did make the event for me. Thanks all.
So that's that. I have to admit I've already started on planning for next year's competition, with the idea of doing it properly this time (if I do indeed end up going). All those plans will, of course, go out of the window and I'll probably end up throwing something together at the last minute, as usual...
Aaand...I think that's enough rambling on from me for now. Fingers crossed, I should be back next week with, hopefully, that Deathwatch tutorial I promised weeks ago. Or maybe something else...

Thanks for reading!

p.s. if you like what I'm doing here, a click on the link below and the donation of the price of a pot of paint would be a wonderful gesture. I'm thinking of adding special stuff to the Ko-fi, like competitions and prize draws, so it'd be a good idea to at least have a look there now and then 😁 

*Yeah, the extra charges...some of them were truly eye-watering. Tournament passes were £50 extra, painting classes were between £35 and £80, even entering Golden Demon itself was an extra £10! When you're already paying a hefty price for the event, this is a bit much...

**And...this I really don't get. Apart form a couple of event-exclusive miniatures and event merch (hats, t-shirts, etc.) everything else is available online through the GW store at exactly the same price so why do people buy so much stuff at the event? It only means the queues are even bigger and they have to carry it around with them all day...

***apart from one guy, working on one of the licensee stalls, who turned his back on me and walked away literally half way through me asking him a question. I guess he had a one question per punter limit.

****one of the parts of the event that was done really well, congrats to all involved and, of course, to the winners.

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