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!