Sunday, 5 August 2018

Oldhammer Weekend 2018: Overview

Greetings dear readers, after what seems a very long time indeed. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday of this year's premier Old School wargaming event - Bring Out Your Lead 2018. Being the world's biggest Oldhammer event, BOYL has a special place in the hearts of many an enthusiast and it was inspiring to see so many of you gracing the stables of Stoke Hall with thousands upon thousands of painted models, lovingly crafted scenery pieces and passion aplenty. As always, the event was held under the auspices of the legendary Ansell family - with Bryan, Diane, Marcus, Maria and company creating a superb venue in which toy soldiers from many eras could be admired and celebrated. Our thanks as a community goes out to them as always. 

What follows in my now traditional overview of the event. As I have already stated, I attended on the Saturday (along with my eight year old son, Jack, his second visit to the event) but I am aware that a great deal of action occured on the Friday and Sunday. I shall be linking to other blog posts of note as I write up my experiences so you can follow the goings on of this year's event from the comfort of your desktops and mobile devices. As in previous years, I have assembled a large number of photographs and will be providing brief commentary on them. Any mistakes or errors are entirely my own so please do correct me if necessary. 

Right, here we go... Let's have a whistle stop glance around what was going on during the day and you can expect a series of follow up blog posts over the next few days in which I shall go into further detail about the exciting events I was witness to. 

Upon arrival, we were greated by the sight of the gigantic spectacle of the Shrine of Rigg scenario which, as far as I understand, was largerly the work of one Thantants. Spread across a very large table was the intricate passageways of the shrine itself, lovingly crafted from individual plaster bricks and furnished with a wide range of scenery pieces. The sheer scope of the game was more than impressive and the charaterful and varied choice of miniatures being pushed around the table made the game one of those 'you find something new every time you look' experiences. 

Alan Merrett was one of the 'Warhammer Celebs' who attended the event and could be seen chatting with enthusiasts and exploring the many games on offer. As always, Diane and the bar staff provided meals and other sundries at very reasonable prices. Being fully licensed ensured that there were plenty of British ales and ciders on offer and these were enjoyed by some of our international visitors almost as much as the many models. 

Helsreach, the second enormous free for all game, appeared for the second year in a row. As before, this game stands out for having some of the mosr impressive scenery I have ever seen at any event. The scale and scope of Helsreach is hard to express in mere photographs and really does need to be seen to be believed. Unsurprisingly, this was my son's favourite tables and he returned to it many times during the day. The ever resourceful Curtis Fell, of Ramshackle Games, buzzed around the board all day egging players on a creating a superb atmosphere for all. I have discovered video on Youtube posted (by the sounds of his dulcet tones) Phil Scott. Due to some unfortunate and bizarre accident possibly involving a kebab/curry and a few pints of real ale, Phil was atrociously ill on Saturday morning and I only saw him for a minute or two. Hopefully, he will be posting a few more videos later on. If he isn't distracted about toast and spontaneously starts writing articles for the Guardian newspaper in the meantime. 

A quick note about the Helsreach video. One - Curtis really is like that! 2- it was filmed during the Friday judging by the clothes and attendees. Enjoy - and big thanks to Phil! 

Drew Williams, propriator of Satyr Art Studio, was on a visit to the UK alongside his wife and it was very pleasnt to meet up with him again and have a look at his sculpting with my own eye. He mentioned the excellent McDeath game we played a couple of years back and he inspired me to continue with this mothballed project so we can one day play through the sequel. Can you guess who Drew was chatting to at this point? Yes, it is none other than GW legend John Blanche who also visited the event for the first time. 

Tony Yates was also in attendance after his recent struggles with Father Nurgle and he was a pleasure to talk to again, even pointing out to me an ancient figure believed to have been sculpted and cast by Bryan Ansell when he was but a boy. 

Garth James, pointing rather sinisterly at JB, was again the perfect host and organisor of the event. Eternally sensible and ever realiable Garth was a whirlwind of activity during the day. A big thank you needs to head his way for ensuring the the event ran so smoothly. 

As we have discussed here before, The Ansell family's astonshing collection of painted toy soldiers was on display and attracted many first-timers and old hands alike. These figures really do have to be seen to be believed and for an Oldhammer fan, making the trip to the Wargames Foundry worth any distance. 

This wild assortment of models had the encyclopedic mind of David Wood churning in delight in his attempt to identify them all. There really were some strange models amongst this collection with many of them having arcane and archaic backstories. 

While on the subject of painted miniatures, on display among the racks of Wargames Foundry models was this fantastic collection of painted Asgard models brought along by Mark Stevenson if my memory serves me correctly. These were fascinating to view and were brilliantly painted up too. I understand that Mark is attempting to collect and paint every model that Asgard produced back in the day and if you didn't know - Asgard was one of Bryan's early miniature company attempts in the years before Citadel and Foundry. 

Golgfag, one of the original Oldhammers, was in attendance as always. Here he can bee seen slurping a beverage though I have yet to see him actually eat a man like his famous namesake. Though, of course, knowing Paul anything is possible. 

By midday, the crowd has really surged and speaking with Garth we roughly estimated that around one hundred and forty people attended during the Saturday alone - by far our largest crowd. Talking to Stuart Klatcheff and Steve Casey (when they weren't lurking around other people's car boots) later on about the demographics of this year's event, they felt there had been a subtle shift this year towards spectactors rather than thoroughbred gamers. Hopefully, these new visitors will have been inspired by what they saw and will be back in future with a game or two. 

Jerome Franklin-Ryan was another familiar face I have the pleasure of seeing again. Here he can be observed in his natural environment - planning how to take over the world and rule it with an iron fist, presumably whilst imbibing a Doombar or two at the same time. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to get some more games in with Jerome in the months to come. There is talk of a narrative siege on the cards! 

Few games are as Old School as Laserburn and it was pleasing to see a game set up and running when I first arrived. What caught my eye was the simple but incredibly effective set up the boys involved with this had arranged. Brightly coloured aquarium plants make outstanding (and wonderfully cheap) alien worlds with little or no effort. Excellent.

More traditional approaches to scenery were also evident and ths wonderfully painted fantasy building caught my eye almost immediately. I am very envious of whoever put this together and the painting here is outstanding and extremely effective. The right mix between modern paints and old school technique. Fantastic!

Hold on to your hats eBay scalpers and serious collectors, Wargames Foundry have along released another load of old school Citadel models for this year's event. As you can see the racks were looking a little empty by the time I took this shot but you needn't worry. I have all of the newly discovered figures in my possession and I will be looking at them in further detail in a future post. All I will say for now is that we have another couple of sets of barbarians and feudal models to get our teeth into, including some extremely sort after human figures. They are, of course, extremely well cast and look much better than the '80s Citadel originals. Expect more details soon. 

Some of the older Perry ranges have been converted to pewter and were guarding the metal master of the Mighty Fortess on the Foundry sales counter.  Jack was given a few of these last year and they make excellent first models for kids as they are more hardwearing than you standard white metal model. 

Erny and Snikit take a break from brotherly beatings to fight each other across a wargames table. Here they can be seen partaking in a favourite activity -arguing about the rules. Snikit had given up on his skaven and brought along some lovely dwarfs and we will be taking a closer look at these in a future post. 

Norse and compant fight it out on the Laserburn table a little later on in the day. As you can see, the weather was excellent and not too hot after the long heatwave the UK has experienced recently. 

Space Marine 2nd edition also had an outing this year on an excellent table. It was nice to see some epic scale games being played this year as these systems are often overlooked but provide some excellent scope for gaming. One year I would love to see a little Warmaster played! Anyone up for it?

By the later afternoon, increasing numbers of spectating first timers bagan to arrive having heard about the event online. Many of those I spoke to were unsure as to what to expect and were pleasantly surprised how friendly it all was. BOYL isn't like other wargaming events, and if you don't believe me just pop along next year and find out why. 

Spectators enjoy Space Marine in the sunshine. The smaller rooms running off from the stableyard were used for the smaller scale games. As the day wrapped itself up, we gathered for the annual painting competition winners and the group photograph that has become a long standing tradition during the weekend. More word on the winners and the entries to the competition next post and I once again had the rather challenging task of judging the winners. 

Having made our goodbyes, and feeling suitably inspired, we headed for the gates one final time. Jack made his first ever miniature purchase (a Warmonger ork with a standard) and we departed with the promise he could have a McDonalds on the way home. 



  1. Good to see you mate and a great write up as ever - I rely on posts like this to find out what else was going on as my head was definitely stuck in the fetid jungles of Lustria all day!

    1. And it was good to see you too. Though you now resemble the rugged ranger more than ever! You were certainly attached to that temple all day - I don't think I ever saw you at the bar!

  2. Looks like an amazingly good time. The Wargames Foundry is very high on my list of places to see if I make a trip to England.

    1. And not far from Warhammer World - so you can easily do both in the same day. If you really wanted to, mind! (:

  3. Well now, aren't I honoured, a whole separate post?

    Great write up buddy, good to see him again.

    1. Sorry to say - but your dwarfs look better than your skaven... Great to see you and Big Ern again too!

    2. It's a fair point, my painting has improved since I painted my beloved Skaven, now I need to decide if I can bear to strip the rats and repaint them!!!!!!

    3. Never strip rats, mate. Leave them be and paint up something else. Elves?

    4. Undead is next up, Tale of Four Gamers Stylie, 500 points a month.

    5. Where are you posting the details of that old boy?

    6. Most likely a mixture of Blog and Facebook, September will be month 1

  4. Sorry James, missed your blog post in the multitude of posts following BOYL - nice pictures and a smashing description of what happened well done sir. As for me being one of the originals - merely a spectator in my own opinion when stood next to the likes of Garth, Steve, Harry & yourself.
    As to my preferred menu - No, I've never been know to eat a man, not really to my liking to be honest, a woman on the other-hand, is very much to my taste!

    All the best


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