Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hotlead 2011 & Cold Wars 2011

I notice it's been almost three weeks since my last posting and judging from comments at Hotlead yesterday, I need to get caught up. Vidal and I attended Hotlead yesterday with our posse (thanks Shane and Andrew, but I think dark glasses would have served better) and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who told me they enjoyed the blog and were wondering about my recent dearth of posts. Thanks to all who expressed interest and all I can say is that my new job has very annoyingly jumped in the way of my hobby life. Surprisingly, it's not been a lack of time for hobby stuff (such as this blog) but a lack of brain power. The first four or five weeks of working again saw me brain dead in the evenings with little enough initiative to eat and find the TV remote let alone pick up a paint brush. Over the last couple of weeks I've started to get my brain power back to normal (no comments...Sean, I'm looking at you). 

So, what's been up? Starting with the most recent, as I said we drove down to Stratford for Hotlead yesterday. This convention never disappoints. James and his crew put on a first-rate show that seems to be very well-attended. I'll make some more comments about Hotlead on the Council Fires blog but in short, kudos to James and the Hotlead staff for all their hard work.

Two weeks ago I took the low road down to Lancaster, PA for Cold Wars to help Ken at the ATKM booth. From the moment I walked into the lobby of the Lancaster Host and smelled the musty carpets (the same carpets, I suspect, I trod on 15-20 years ago), experienced the re-modeled rooms (yeah, that's funny), and tasted the heinous coffee served in the dealer hall,  I realized that while it wasn't quite like the metaphorical "coming home," it was at least more like visiting a poor elderly aunt  in her dimly lit and musty Victorian home: oddly comforting and yet disquieting at the same time. 

Cold Wars proved to be a typically exhausting but highly pleasurable experience. Ken and I have the HMGS convention experience down to a fine art. Building and tearing down the booth has become a finely-tuned exercise and balancing sleep, work and cigars is often a challenge but always fun. Highlights of the show? Meeting up again with Bob and Matt Lehman from Ohio and co-hosting a huge 54mm War of 1812 game on Saturday night. I've included a couple of photos of the game here that I skimmed of off the ATKM site (thanks Ken!).

I received word yesterday that Bob and Matt will be bringing their 54mm goodness to Council Fires 2011!
Bob's terrain, as always, was superb. I believe we had a total of 48 units on the table, all in glorious 54mm! This battle was far larger than any historical 1812 battle, save perhaps New Orleans. Bob and Ken already have plans to host a massive 54mm Battle of Waterloo game in 2015 for the battle's anniversary and to showcase Ken's new Napoleonic figure range. I don't doubt for a moment Bob's enthusiasm for this project and especially his ability to pull it off. He's a painting machine! Thanks Bob and Matt for a great weekend!

Other points of note about Cold Wars? I thought their was marked decrease in attendance, at least from a dealer's perspective (note: I spent very little time in the games rooms during the peak hours). When I wandered the dealer hall, I never had to wait to get to a dealer's booth, I was never elbowed inadvertently, and the aisles were often empty enough to fire a cannon ball down.
This, of course, facilitated my shopping and I was able to fill my list (and more). I walked away with a bucket load of Crusader SYW figures from Old Glory to bolster my growing ImagiNation forces. From OG I also scooped up an entire British platoon for my WWII 1940 project (yeah, I know I said that project was finished but more of that anon). I also found a few GHQ 1:2400 WWI ships to fill in some holes in my squadron OBs (I'll say little about the new Russian fleet I also bought...).

Back to Hotlead for a moment to mention that this year saw the first appearance of WGG Distribution, a new distributor and vendor in Canada operated by Martin Jensen. It took very, very little convincing for Martin to talk me into buying an entire Warlord Games 1939 Polish platoon (I guess I'll need another box for this collection after all). Martin and Vidal are visiting the gaming palace here in Bramptonia this week for some gaming and Martin has promised to bring along some support teams and tankettes to bolster the Polish infantry. Can we see Polish lancers on the horizon? Look for a game report from this impending visit.

Last but not least for this posting, I haven't been completely idle at the painting desk of late (just slowed down). Today I finished the basing on the second squadron of the Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin, seen below.

2e Escadron, Grenadiers à Cheval Boursin 
backed up by 1er Escadron and led by Chef d'Escadron Phillipe Langeron and his newly-arrived trumpeter. Front Rank figures.

A closer look at Chef d'Escadron Phillipe Langeron and the regimental trumpeter.
3e Escadron will be arriving soon from the depot, resplendent in their violet facings.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Council Fires Returns!

It's time to reveal  the mystery project to which I alluded in my last posting. I said then there was something on the horizon. Well, the ship has been stocked with supplies and has set sail to reach that horizon! The observant among you will have noticed a recent advertisement on TMP about a new gaming convention in Southern Ontario. 

Click on the image below to find out more!

A couple of obviously demented hobby enthusiasts have decided to resurrect what seemed to be a long-dead convention experience. Last seen in 2000 (or was it 1999?), Council Fires was a cozy and friendly one-day event held in Paris, Ontario. The current iteration is slated for October 1, 2011 at the Cambridge Newfoundland Club. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying 18-hole golf course but the new venue has many more amenable features. In addition to 5,000+ square feet of gaming and vendor space, Council Fires sports a full-service bar, close proximity to restaurants and shopping (2 minutes away on foot), and the best hobby vendors in Ontario. 

Why Cambridge? It was felt that a location somewhat equidistant from the vibrant gaming community in the London/Stratford area and the larger populated areas in the Hamilton-Toronto corridor would be best. The Cambridge Newfoundland Club is a couple km south of the Highway 401/Highway 24 junction in Cambridge and is easily accessible from anywhere along the 401 and 403 corridors.

Although it's only a one day convention, there will be a lot included in this seemingly limited time. There will be four gaming sessions, each four hours in length. How is this possible in one day? There will be two streams of gaming, running concurrently. Stream One will have a 0900-1300 and 1400-1800 game slots and Stream Two will see 1200-1600 and 1700-2100 slots.

You can follow the "comings and goings" of the convention organizers on the Council Fires blog or on Facebook (click images):

Council Fires is, as the banner says, an attempt to bring back the joy and nostalgia of playing with toy soldiers! So, bring your sense of humour, your camaraderie, and your joy of the hobby to Cambridge this fall!

And don't forget the other premier gaming event in southern Ontario, happening later this month, HotLead. Hope to see you there!