Tuesday 27 March 2018

A trip to Cannon.

Cannon is held annually in Retford Town Hall, and whilst in the past we have put on a small game, my partner-in-crime and chief supplier of figure and terrain, Steve Jones, was inconveniently on-call for work today and couldn't come. That left me with a pleasant drive through the springtime Nottinghamshire countryside to Retford for the luxury of attending a show as a visitor, for a change.

I've always though that shows need a reason for being, a niche of their own, rather than just being another show on the circuit. Cannon is unashamedly a local show for local people, and all the better for it. The Retford club, under the able leadership of Darren, have put on Cannon as a local show for several years now, and it has a friendly relaxed atmosphere which is great. The traders seem happy to be there, and not too bothered about hitting a target figure for sales, more happy to spend time talking to their friends and regular customers. As a local show there are some of the names you may be familiar with (Foundry are local, after all), and a few traders who were new to me, but interesting to see.

Downstairs the Yorkshire Renegades were running a Bolt Action tournament amidst the ongoing smell of bacon sandwiches, and tempting looking home-baked cakes. Upstairs the select demo games included James Morris' latest effort, Crete in 1941, using the Two Fat Lardies Chain of Command rules. As always the game looked immaculate, and it will also feature in our first (May) show.

Next to it the Ministry of Buildings game featured a heavily urban setting, and hopefully we will be seeing that at The Other Partizan in August.

For me I achieved the almost unheard-of feat of not spending anything (apart from the admission fee), which may reflect my advancing years and increased discipline, or just be a reaction to some recent tidying when I realised that unless I live to be about 115 I am unlikely to paint everything I already have.
Overall a nice relaxed morning, always nice to be at a show and not have to worry about sorting out the myriad little things that an organiser has to do on the day. Today that was Darren's job...


Saturday 24 March 2018

First sight of the Partizan figure

As I am sure many of you will be aware, this April is the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force.

We thought it would be nice to mark this important anniversary with a specially commissioned figure.

Designed by Martin Baker, the figure will be available to the first 500 visitors through the door at Partizan on May 20th and will also be part of the welcome packs for the gamers, traders and society representatives who will be manning the stands and gaming tables at the show.

Here is the master figure.


The Partizan Crew.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Trader policy and that infamous waiting list.

So. (Deep breath)

How do we decide who gets to come and trade at Partizan and who doesn't?

This is a question that gets asked endlessly and to which we have no easy or straight forward answer.

As I mentioned in the last blog we have room at the show for between 42 and 45 traders. When we moved from Kelham Hall to the Showground we made the decision not to increase the number of traders as we felt that would dilute the takings of the existing traders and make an already pretty tough business environment even tougher. Instead we chose to increase the amount of space available for each trader if they wanted it and also free up space for other types of stands and for a lot more games.

But I think it is probably worth explaining the thinking behind how we invite people to come and trade at the show.

First of all the basic principle is 'Dead Man's Shoes' - hopefully not literally although that has been the unfortunate case in a couple of instances over the years. So if you are one of the regular traders at the show you will be invited back each time until you decide you no longer want to attend.

We follow this policy because we think it is fair and because it shows our gratitude to those traders who have stuck with us through good times and bad. We are not about to throw out an existing trader to fit in a new one no matter who they are. And I should point out we have had plenty of traders down the years who think we should do this either because they think it is unfair that the same traders get invited each year or because they think they are so important to the industry and the hobby that any show that doesn't have them in attendance is bound to be the poorer for it (Yes we really have had a few like that).

As and when a space does appear because of someone retiring, selling up or unfortunately going bust - or of course because they no longer consider it is financially worth their while to attend - then we have the notorious Waiting List. This list currently contains the names of 71 companies who have asked to attend the shows. The longest has been on the list since 2004 - so anyone complaining they have been on the list for 8 years is by no means unique in that position. And the important point about that list is that getting off it and into the show is not based on how long you have been waiting. We have a whole load of different criteria for choosing who we invite to fill slots when they become available.

Firstly we try to maintain a balance to the trade at the show. We want to have as wide a range of different types of traders as possible. So if we lose a bookseller and feel that booksellers are under-represented then we will try to do a like for like replacement. If we do not feel they are under-represented then we may well choose to look to another trader in a different line to take the slot. In addition to those already in attendance, we currently have 7 traders on the waiting list who do laser-cut buildings and terrain and there are more coming forward all the time. There is simply no way we are ever going to fit them all into the show no matter how long they have been waiting.

Another matter we have to consider is how big a stand you want. We do have plenty of traders contacting us asking to be allowed into the show and adding that they will need a minimum of 18 or 24 feet of space. Given that many of our trade stands spots are only 6 or 12 feet, if you have said there is a minimum required amount of space then you are unlikely to get chosen to fill one of those slots.

We also have a policy - and this is the one that will upset some people - of prioritising original manufacturers or their agents over resellers, retailers and second hand traders. We do not want to see a show where everyone is selling knock down Games Workshop or Flames of War. We would much rather have the companies themselves there. It is particularly annoying if you turn up as a manufacturer to trade and someone else is selling your own product at a cheaper price on the other side of the hall. We do have a few retailers but they are companies that have been with us and supported us from the very start of the shows over 30 years ago. And almost all of them also do their own original lines or act as show agents for manufacturers and designers.

So the bottom line is that if your business is based upon the sort of trade that could normally be done through Ebay then no matter how long you have been on the list you are probably not going to be getting into the show anytime soon.

This still leaves a fair number of traders waiting to get in. We do get temporary drop outs at each show because of holidays, family engagements, illness or having some tough trading conditions at the time. And unless someone is really taking the mickey by continually not showing up then we will always hold the place open for them for the next show. Traders have shown loyalty to us and we try to show loyalty to them. So we also have a set of traders - maybe half a dozen - who are loitering around the edge of the show (if they will excuse me phrasing it that way) and serve as first replacements. This is not easy for them as it means they are never sure from one show to the next if they are likely to get in. But that also means that in return if we do get a permanent slot due to a company packing up then they are the ones we will look to first to invite to fill the space. In addition we have people who have put on games for many years at the shows (decades in some cases) and who decide to move into business. We will generally try and fit them in if we can as thanks for all their support over the years.

If this all seems a bit chummy and old boys network then to be honest that is because it is. Partizan is not a commercial concern. It makes money for no one except itself with all profits (if there are any) ploughed back into the show. As such it has relied very heavily over the years on the unpaid support of dedicated people who have come from all over the country to put on games and displays or to promote the hobby to the wider public. It has survived entirely because of the people we know and respect who have supported us down the years. We are on first name terms with just about every single one of them. As a show we owe far more to them than we will ever be able to repay and that does indeed give them certain pecking rights when it comes to priority from the waiting list.

However that does not mean that new starts, or existing traders applying to the show have no chance of getting in. If what you are selling matches a gap we need filling or if it is something new and innovative which we think deserves promoting then you have a good chance of ending up trading. We can't say when that will be as we simply don't know. But as and when we do get spaces we will try to fill them according to what we think is best for the show and those who have supported us down the years.

Finally, I should point out that I do have a 'when hell freezes over' list. You have to have done something truly dreadful to get on it. A good example is claiming that you will 'drive us out of business' because we have somehow annoyed you. Another is repeatedly failing to turn up at the show when you have booked a space and not having the courtesy to let us know. But currently there are only 3 companies on that list and it really is extremely difficult to do anything that would get you added.

We know there will be people out there who are unhappy with the way we run the show when it comes to trade but we feel that we have a successful system that provides stability for our existing traders and also maintains a diverse set of products for the paying public to buy so we really are not likely to change anything any time soon.


Saturday 17 March 2018

Show Preparation

So, time for an update on preparations for the show on May 20th.

All the invites went out at the beginning of January to traders, games and societies.

We used to send these out in October or November but when we did that everyone used to put it to one side to deal with after Christmas. They would then forget about them and we would have to repeat the whole process in January.

So in the end we decided it was easier just to wait until January to send them out.

Deciding which traders to invite is a fairly straight forward process. We decided when we moved from Kelham Hall that, in spite of the extra space available at the showground, we would not increase the overall number of traders which would probably have resulted in lower takings for the existing traders. So at Kelham Hall we had between 42 and 45 traders and that number has stayed the same at the Showground.

This was not a decision that everyone agreed with - most particularly those traders who have not yet been able to get into the show. But we think it was the best way to go - spreading out the trade after the very cramped conditions at Kelham and at the same time giving more room for games and particularly for society stands.

The Pike and Shot Society at Partizan 2016

The society stands is a new innovation for Partizan but is in line with the ethos of the shows. As a club the Newark Irregulars only really now exist on the clacks - or for the non Pratchett fans on the internet.

As a result Partizan only exists to promote and support the wargaming hobby and to provide the sort of  show that we, the organisers, would like to go to. One way in which we thought we could help to support the hobby was by providing the free stands for all those societies and groups which may not have a game to put on or a business to run but who would like to get their message out to a wide audience. Hence the History Zone was born.

This May, societies who will be coming along to promote their own particular aspect of history and wargaming will include:

The Lance and Longbow Society
The Society of Ancients
The Pike and Shot Society
The Battlefield Trust
The National Civil War Centre
The Naseby Project
The Northampton Battlefield Society
Waterloo Uncovered.

Finally of course we have the games. At Kelham we were ever able to get more than perhaps 26 or 27 games in total and we always feared that we would get too many positive responses to invitations and end up having to cram too many games into too small an area. Especially when we were sometimes getting games of 16 or 18 feet in length. I am sure that many times people felt this was exactly what had happened.

One of Simon Miller's massive battles from Kelham Hall 

Of course at the Showground that is not, currently at least, a problem. With the much larger venue we have been able to effectively double the number of games. This year we will have somewhere around 54 games, split fairly evenly between demonstration and participation. I will have a lot more detail on these in future postings. Some of these games are now regularly coming in at 18 or 20 feet in length - although no one has yet matched the 30ft Operation Market Garden game that featured at one of the early Kelham Partizans.

Whilst we are about full up for this show, if you would like to put on a game at a future Partizan do pleased let us know and we will be happy to accommodate - no matter how long it is.  

Saturday 10 March 2018


Welcome to The Partizan Show Blog.

Here we will be bringing you all the latest news about the Partizan wargames shows held at Newark twice a year along with updates on game preparation, traders and society news.

Whilst the website and facebook page can give you the basics of what is planned at the shows, here we hope to provide more detail, most notably of the amazing games that will be presented at forthcoming shows. 

To start with, Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews of Great War Miniatures are underway preparing a game for Partizan on May 20th.

This a WW1 game based on an incident during Germany's 'Operation Georgette' on the 19th of April 1918 and particularly the defence of an airfield at La Gorgue.....

You can follow all the developments at Aly's website and the Lead Adventure Forum

More updates from the Partizan team over the next few days.