Sunday 14 November 2021

Salute 2021 - One Wargamer’s View

 ….And so it was that on the 13th day of November, the year of our Lord 2021 that David ventured out unto the promised land of the Excel centre to attend the wargames show that is Salute and in doing so saw many wondrous things and met with many similar and like minded individuals. He was by turns, impressed and depressed and returned from his journey beset by nagging doubts….

Apologies for the rather rambling introduction but I am feeling in a rather whimsical frame of mind!

The modest amount of Salute ‘loot’. The brown bag contains my order of bases for the block armies. ‘O’ Group are a battalion level set of WW2 rules published by Reisswitz Press - I had a chat with the author, David Brown whom assured me that the rules were worth far more without his signature! As a show special they came with the MDF order counters you see. Battle for the Bundu I picked up from Dave Lanchester and was really pleased to do so as this was also one of the books disappeared into the ether some time ago

Salute needs little introduction from me so the following post is very a personal opinion and is not in any way intended as a criticism of those that spent an enormous amount of time and effort organising the show  for the thundering herd that attended. 

My first issue was with the cost of the parking - a flat fee of £20 for the day! Taken into consideration with the entry fee and the possibility of a ULEX charge going forwards it becomes a pretty expensive day out even before you hit the trade stands. I know that this is an Excel charge but it still seems very dear especially if one is only going for half a day.

I arrived at around 1:30 and by the time I had paid for my parking and had gotten passed Covid control I was barely able to make the bloggers meet up at 2pm, for which I was only able to spend a short time due to a few show related errands. I did meet up with Postie’s Rejects, Tamsin and David in Suffolk (all of whom I bumped into on various occasions during the afternoon) which was a real pleasure after so long.

As is my usual modus operandi at shows I was going to be helping Dave Lanchester pack away his book stand (usually I help him set up but at his request it was the other way round this time) so after having dropped some items off with him I went for a wander about.

I was really keen to visit the Warbases stand to say hello to Martin and to thank him for the excellent work on the bases for my block armies and the various bits and pieces I needed for my ACW ships. What a very nice chap he is! 

I was also able to have a brief chat with Simon Stokes of the Naval Wargames Society - he was hosting a Saga based game featuring 28mm Viking longships.

It was also great to say hello to Dave Ryan of Caliver Books and Tony Francis at Brigade Models - both of which seemed to be pretty busy.

It has been a long time since I attended a show and probably even longer since I attended one in the afternoon so perhaps that is why it all seemed a little flat. The venue is massive but it felt slightly under occupied and the sight of empty tables that had been reserved for clubs that for whatever reason had not attended made for an even more ‘spaced out’ feeling. Perhaps it was just me but it all felt very much as if it was going through the motions in a way.

I took a few pictures of things that caught my eye so I will let the do the talking.

Mexican Revolution in 54mm

‘O’ Group in action. I forgot to take a picture of the other end of the table which featured a very nice river. Russian Front in 15mm

Viking ships in 28mm using Saga rules. Kirk Douglas was conspicuous by his absence….

10mm Great Northern War. Large scale loveliness

Star Trek meets the Battle of Britain - that would be a great idea for an episode!

One of the few….

….and its workhorse stablemate - a ‘gentleman’s aerial conveyance’ indeed!

Overall I enjoyed the show but it did seem a little flat in respect of the atmosphere. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces and of course, the modest amount of retail therapy made a pleasant diversion from recent weeks. As usual with this venue my left leg was very unappreciative of the effort it had to make wandering about and after having filled up Dave Lanchester’s van at the close of play, my shoulders and back joined it in sympathy!

The final twist on the day was when I went back to my car I had made the mistake of parking it under a previously unseen bird’s nest located in the ceiling conduit. The roof of the car looked like it had been carpet bombed…


Jeremy Ramsey said...

A very fair assessment. For the first time since Salute moved to the Excel I didn't drive - now the Congestion Charge applies at weekends it has just got too expensive. The size of the hall had clearly been significantly increased for terribly worthy reasons but it made the event look emptier than it probably was. It was disappointing that a number of traders and a lot of clubs had decided not to turn up. As a result, there were few great looking games. I can only contrast it with Partizan in Newark last month - there were few traders than normal but the space was taken up by the best selection of demonstration games I have ever seen at a show. Still a great effort by the Warlords to put the whole thing on.

david in suffolk said...

Very nice to see you and chat a bit, David! I agree with your assessment of the show, have to hope the Warlords didn't take too much of a bath and are back on form next year. I think maybe those birds were telling you to take the train next time?!

BigLee said...

It was good to see you yesterday, albeit briefly.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Interesting comments Dave
I have my first (local) show next week in Stockton

We are putting on a demonstration double blind Battle of Britain game
I am expecting a quiet distance affair

Ray Rousell said...

Great to see you for the brief face to face chat Dave. The quip about the unseen nest made me chuckle.

Aly Morrison said...

From other photos I’ve seen it did appear quite empty… but given the circumstances I’m not that surprised…

The Spitfire and the Hurricane looked splendid… how close to them could you get?
Hopefully next year things will have settled down a bit…

My mother once told me that if a bird poops on you it’s good luck… mind you she was as daft as a brush 😂

All the best. Aly

David Crook said...

Hi Jeremy,

As you rightly say - it was a great effort by the Warlords to get the show on in the first place. I think the various ‘no shows’ definitely impacted on the atmosphere and made for the relatively empty feel. On the plus side it did make get around the trade and games a lot easier.

Given the potential financial impact - I read somewhere that attendance was roughly of that expected - one has to wonder what shape the next Salute will take.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there David in Suffolk,

It was great to catch up again and certainly we seemed to bump into each other often over the afternoon!

I am sure that when Salute is back to its usual slot it will return to form but one has to wonder as to how the Warlords will view this.

Absolutely re ‘letting the train take the strain!’

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there BigLee,

And you old chap! It was good to see faces that I had not seen for the wrong side of a couple of years!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

Good luck with the Battle of Britain game - this was the theme for Salute - andI hope to see a report in due course!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello Ray,

It was great catching up and I hope the books will be of interest. I did not see the offending avian but they had certainly made their presence known….

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Aly,

You could get closer to them than I did and there are better pictures around of them. They did look suitably imposing though and I have no idea where they came from. I was rather bemused by the Star Trek meets the Battle of Britain picture opportunity and we all had a laugh about it.

The car roof had a quite distinctive camouflage scheme when I got back to it so I suspect that any other other marauding avians would not be able to see it. It was not something one would expect in an enclosed car park though!

All the best,


tradgardmastare said...

Battle for the Bundu , brilliant buy.
I still have my copy bought in my teens. It is a terrific read.

David Crook said...

Good morning tradgardmastare,

It is a very good read and I know that Eric Knowles used it for inspiration for elements of Madasahatta. I have no idea of what happened to my copy (I think it went in the box of doom when we were doing some work on the house a few years ago) and have been on the lookout for one ever since. I got it from Dave Lanchester for a very reasonable price and it is a good condition first edition. It rounds up my WW1 East Africa section very nicely indeed!

All the best,


PS Posting stuff during the week.

Graham C said...

Glad you enjoyed yourself in what seems to me to be a bit of a surreal event! It’s extremely disappointing about last minute drop outs both traders and gamers, had I kept my business I’d not have attended but I would have told them months before. I have read there was about half of the normal ticket sales and a distinct lack of attendance from our European colleagues. Without being a doommonger it may be time for the Warlords to revisit future shows and what they hope to achieve.

David Crook said...

Hello there Graham,

It was a very un Salute like Salute in many ways and as you rightly say, the Warlords may have to take some time to consider how they want to do it going forwards - especially when you consider it is now less than 6 months to the usual slot for the show.

I enjoyed the day - mainly as it is the first show I have been to for an age!

All the best,


'Lee. said...

Hello David,

A most interesting report from SALUTE, thank you. It's quite sad seeing the place so empty and under attended, but honestly I don't think it's a surprise. The spectre of Covid continues to loom over us all, I know more people affected by it now than at any time previously including several double vaccinated people, we have heard of the deaths of two good friends of many years in the last two weeks, both double vaccinated but with underlying health conditions. I must admit this alone would have kept me away at this time. Ticket sales 50% down I read, lets hope Warlords can recover and come back stronger next year.

Steve J. said...

Thanks for the review David. In the shows I've been to in previous years there were always the odd one or two no show club tables, which actually was a blessing as it freed up space to walk around, sit down etc. This year given Covid and possible last minute failed PCR tests, I'm not surprised that there were more no shows.

Attendance down 50% maybe, which wouldn't surprise me, given Covid again and the issues of trying to get here from Europe. From memory there always seemed to be a big European turnout at Salute.

As for the costs involved in attending, it always used to be a n expensive day out, but we would combine it with me dropping my wife off at friends in Erith and then going to the show. If I went on my own I reckon currently it would cost me around £50 in petrol and parking, talk less of the cost of the ticket!

I always though Salute a rather souless show, with it being a shopping trip that had some games attached. I much prefer Colours as it has a good mix of both or even Partizan, as it's all about the games with some traders as well.

David Crook said...

Hello there 'Lee,

It was an odd experience for sure but at least the space made it less of the usual scrum around the games and stands. The Covid effect as well as reduced numbers of Europeans all had a part to play and as you rightly say - let us hope that the Warlords are able to come back stronger next year when hopefully things will be more 'normal'.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Steve J,

I was fortunate that I had pass to get in and my parking was paid for but without either concession I would have to think long and hard about attending going forwards. It was too large to be comfortable but at least there was plenty of space.

As a rule I prefer smaller venues where one can take ones time to enjoy things rather than the usual frenzied rush about and great scrums of buyers.

To my eternal shame I have never attended either Colours or Partizan but there is always a first time!

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

O Group
I know I will have to eventually!