Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Party’s end for Partizan?

Posted by Martin on June 2, 2011

Red lancer by Clive Farmer from The Waterloo Companion.

Red lancer by Clive Farmer from The Waterloo Companion.

Like many others, Peter F., Paul Hammond (of Alban Miniatures) and I ventured to Kelham Hall, Newark last Sunday to attend Partizan. I say “many others” but, in truth, it was a smaller number than I’ve ever previously seen at this show.

I don’t quite know what to make of the reduced attendance. On the one hand, the extra space made the whole experience more enjoyable. I only got rucksacked once by an apologetic indvidual who reversed into me at a bookstand and there was plenty of room to work round the traders and demo games not to mention have a good chat with people. However, reduced attendances can’t be economically viable for Partizan in the long term and could be harbingers of its ultimate demise – which would be a sad thing.

We chewed over the possible reasons for the lower body count on the journey back to Calpe Towers and came up with several plausible explanations: the occurence of Sheffield Triples the previous weekend, the current economic climate, the fact that it was a Bank Holiday weekend and the absence of big names from Partizan such as Elite, Front Rank and the Perrys all came to mind. I suspect that no one factor was solely responsible but rather a combination of circumstances conspired together. However, since that discussion with Peter and Paul, a darker thought has crossed my mind which I almost dare not whisper. Is it just possible that time has caught up with Partizan? Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of my favourite shows and I always think of it as a day where our hobby gets together to socialize more than, say, Salute which is much more of a product-led commercial opportunity (nothing worng with that, mind). And I do love Kelham Hall’s quirky atmosphere.

Yet, now that we’re well into the 21st Century, can Partizan really have a healthy future if it carries on as it is? How much longer will paying attendees put up with the confusing rabbit warren of rooms, the dismal lighting and the woeful catering? I’m not convinced that the predictability of the traders’ stands is still outweighed by Partizan’s reputation for attracting the nation’s best demo games. Reluctantly, I’m edging towards the Darwinian conclusion that Partizan must adapt or die.

Enough philosophising, what of our day out itself? There were a number of positives. Notably, the chance to meet up with fellow hobbyists who I rarely see during the rest of the year. As ever, it was a delight to chat with the likes of Bill Gaskin, Peter Royle and Barry Hilton and catch up on their projects. Barry, in particular, has several irons in the fire. His Lace Wars demo game provided him with the ideal opportunity to display the proofs of the forthcoming new edition of his Beneath the Lily Banners rules and his new range of figures for the period. Of more relevance to BfK, we also had a chat about his plans for Republic to Empire and one development in particular has piqued my curiosity. Barry has plans to record short video clips of played through sections of the rules as an aid for newbies. So, if you’re not sure how to handle a cavalry charge or use manouevre points for an exploitation, then these video tutorials could be just what you’re waiting for. I think we may have to be a little patient though because Barry confided that he’s waiting to get a new camera before leaping into the director’s chair.

Peter F. remains convinced that “it’s all my fault” that he placed an order for a series of painted resin buildings with Grand Manner. We had a fascinating discussion with the proprietor Dave Bodley (you can see a photo of him in the recent Wargames Illustrated article about the stunning Gallipoli terrain he created for Battlefront at this year’s Salute). Of course, it’s not really my fault that Grand Manner has produced a limited edition range of buildings just perfect for the Autumn 1813 campaign in Saxony. Just like it’s not my fault that the next addition to the range will be a particularly tasty farmhouse complex. For now, I resisted that purchase but I did succumb at one of the second hand book dealers and acquired a copy of Mark Adkin’s The Waterloo Companion (Aurum Press, 2001). This is a book I’ve been tracking for a number of years since its initial publication but I’ve always avoided actually buying it because of its hefty retail price. So I’m rather delighted to have picked up this “pre-owned” copy in good condition at a reasonable price. All the more so because I’ve long admired the 16 pages of full colour uniform plates by Clive Farmer that adorn the middle of this volume.

The observant among you will have surmised that this outing to Partizan included a stop-over at Calpe Towers. Once I’ve gathered my thoughts, I’ll relay the latest gleanings about the French figures and, if everything goes to plan, share some new photos with you. In the meantime, I’ll sign off on a personal note. I was sorry to hear that young Simon, the “son and heir” of the von Peter estate was recently taken seriously ill with appendicitis. He’s well on the way to recovery now but I just want to wish him well from his friends up here in the Northern Hemisphere. But don’t feel too sorry for young Simon – after all, not many young lads have the Perrys travel halfway round the world to wargame with them!

8 Responses to “Party’s end for Partizan?”

  1. Burkhard said

    I can hardly beleave, you did not own a copy of the Waterloo Companion! It is one of my absolute favorites in my collection!



    P.S.: A wholehearted “get well soon” to Simon from me!

  2. rob said

    Thanks for the analysis of the show… Its all quite interesting from a Canadian perspective where a show of any size is a considerable novelty. Looking forward to more news about the calpe french… Hopefully some more new releases are available!


  3. Ralph said

    Sorry to hear about Simon’s ailment, but I’m surprised that anything can keep that irrepressible young bundle of energy down for long!

  4. On behalf of The son & heir and mineself a heartfelt thanks for all the kind thoughts. They are much appreciated and were a very pleasant read, especially for the younger one. Thank you. And yes Ralph, he’s well and truly back into drive his Dad mad phase! 8O)

    And for those who do not know what all the fuss is about check out the current post on the bloggish area of my site at

    von Peter himself

  5. FWIW some facts, figures and thoughts from someone who seems a bit closer to the nuts and bolts of Partizan. This was taken from a series of posts over at the WD3 forum at

    von Peter himself

    “For reference we had 550 through the door at Partizan last week, down from a normal door of 800 -900.

    The traders seemed to all have a pretty poor day with some not covering costs and others having a mediocre day. For some this may well be the last show they do as it is not worth their while if we are to continue to have doors that low.

    We are pretty fed up with the situation. It has taken us close on 20 years to build up the show to the point it was at where we had a steady an extensive waiting list of both trade and games and a steady customer base which ensured that the traders could generally be assured of a good day. All of that has now been put at risk and there is frankly nothing we can do about it.

    We have always run the show on the basis of keeping prices low for traders and trying only to make enough money to subsidise the club hall fees with everything else being ploughed back into the show. We do have some leeway to allow us to increase advertising and try and make the show more attractive but in the end if the traders decide not to come any more then the show will fold.

    I realise that the Triples organisers owe us nothing but as I have said before I do believe their decision has been either thoughtless or based on the idea that Triples is so much bigger than Partizan that they don’t have to even consider us and that if the show fails then that is no skin off their nose.

    Not exactly in a good mood at the moment.”

  6. Simon said

    The lower numbers through the doors could be down to it being a bank holiday weekend and the Triples show being the weekend before. Having the Partizan show only on a Sunday has always been a pain for me because although I only live in Derby which is not very far away, public transport to Newark on a Sunday is rubbish.

    Could it be the economic situation finally catching up too? Many people are suffering at the moment with no pay rises for several years and increased costs for fuel, gas, electric and food. Then there is the threat of redundancy hanging over peoples head and the unknown effect of the thousands of public sector workers set to loose their jobs.

  7. Burkhard said

    It would bad, if this menat a downturn for Partizan. Never been there, but i have heard lots of good things about it. Most likely it has something to do with the choice of weekend. I have seen a show here in Germany co-incide with another big show one year and with a holiday weekend the next… Pretty much drove attendance to itS knees.

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