So I (LB) popped down to the ROBIN show today (Sunday 17th February) to see how it was going to be different from the previous incarnation. For its first two years it was run by Donna Simmerson who put in a lot of energy and experience to pull off a great little show which had a lot of potential. It's always difficult to start something from scratch, but Nottingham, at the centre of the fabled Leadbelt, has struggled to develop its own show, probably because of more established offerings in nearby Newark, Derby and the late lamented Cannon in Retford. The new experience has been relabelled as a Games Expo and Trade Fair so I was expecting an expansion of the card and boardgame part of the hobby, and looking forward to seeing what was on offer, given that Nottingham also has a thriving industry in this sector.
Arriving a few minutes after opening I parked easily, and found that their first innovation as to make the entry through the Tennis Centre, which means no door opening straight to the outside, which was a definite improvement. The weather was much milder this year too, so a much more comfortable temperature in the hall. There were a lot of unfamiliar traders which was refreshing, but meant some of the big names were missing. I think Tactica was on in Germany this weekend, so it looks like Foundry and Wargames Illustrated, for example, were there instead of nearer to home. Surprisingly the fresh faces didn't really represent an expansion into the boardgame and card game sector, but it as good to see some of the smaller names from the wargames field - and it is probably wise at this point for us to apologise again to those of you who are on the Partizan waiting list - we know it is frustrating to have to wait to get into the more established shows, sorry!
For those of you who like to hear the personal side of things I managed to get two out of three things on my shopping list - a ne can of Strong Tone varnish, and Wayne Bollands new Cold war rules 'The Zone', which look very good, and will persuade me to get out my Sloppy Jalopy vehicles and those old Mongrel figures! I saw Wayne in the distance and s going to get him to sign it for me but he diappeared whilst I was chatting! I was looking for some Vallejo sepia wash, but couldn't find any, but got some decal softener instead! All in all quite restrained I thought.
Of the games again there were couple of board game and card game offerings, but more traditional wargames. Standout amongst those were the Lenton Gamers Chain of Command game and James Morris' Red Book of the Elf King games, and the Leicester Phat Cats Blood and Thunder pirate game with some very impressive ship models.
I had been hoping to find time for a quick game of Mortal Gods and/or Cruel Sea, but seemed to spend a lot of time chatting with folks instead. The legend that is Duncan Macfarlane seemed in fine form, and we talked nostalgically with Dave Bickley about the days when painting was done with Humbrol enamels, Plaka paints, or even oils, before I realised that I'm actually not old enough to remember those days...
ROBIN has only been going three years, and this is the first year 'under new management'. I've often said that a show needs to have a reason for being, a niche that makes it stand out and gives people a reason for going. Over the years I hope Partizan has done that, and I had high hopes that the move to expand this show to include more diverse sectors of the gaming world would be the making of it. On the face of it much remains to be done to achieve this goal, but if and when it succeeds then ROBIN will be a great addition to the circuit - and it's also very handy for me, living as I do in Nottingham now..