Armies on Parade 2018 has been and gone, display boards are being put into storage, or broken up for scenery, the armies are going back on the shelf and you've started planning what you're going to do next year.
A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the construction of my Armies on Parade board, and the plan was to do a post showing you how I painted it, with step by step photos of it turning black, then orange then slightly less bright orange, but I've decided against that and instead thought I'd discuss my experience of last weekend’s event.
I'm not going to name names, or post photos of the other entries as I don't think it would be fair to drag them into my upcoming discussion points, but a bit of Google-Fu and you will probably be able to work it all out for your self.
I finished my board on the Saturday morning, after thinking it was fully done on the Friday, turns out a little more inking needed to be done. In to the car it went and off to my local store we went. I'd never entered or been to an Armies on Parade event before and only had the displays shown on the Warhammer Community site and on social media to use as a yardstick.
From reading up on the Armies on Parade website, this year there were 12 categories that would be voted on by the viewing public, and then an overall first, second and third place. Looking at the list (shown below) there were four that I had a chance of winning, numbers 5,7,9 and 11.
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar Young Bloods
- Warhammer 40,000 Young Bloods
- First Warhammer 40,000 Army
- First Warhammer Age of Sigmar Army
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar Best Painted
- Warhammer 40,000 Best Painted
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Monsters and Machines
- Warhammer 40,000: Monsters and Machines
- Best Warhammer Age of Sigmar Scenic Board
- Best Warhammer 40,000 Scenic Board
- Best Theme: Warhammer Age of Sigmar
- Best Theme: Warhammer 40,000
Whilst setting up there appeared to be only one other Age of Sigmar board that I would be 'competing against' which the owner was still touching up with some paint as he set it up. His display was of a dragon and Kharadron ship clashing within the clouds around what I presume was a mine of some sorts, and whilst a good idea, did look a bit rough and ready with a basic tabletop level of painting.
Of the other boards being set up, a lot of them were by Youngbloods, with some good ideas including a Skaven themed board with underground tunnel and Warpstone tainted pond.
With mine set up, I had to dash to a wedding so wouldn't be able to canvas for votes, I'd be back in time for the results a few hours later.
I managed to get back for 3pm and the voting results, since my departure there had been a few more entries placed on the tables, including a Lord of the Rings scene and a family entry where each member of what must have been an extended family had each painted a Space Marine. This was never going to win any prizes but it was cool to see that a whole family had got inspired and had their efforts displayed in store.
Before the medals for the top three displays were announced it was time for the individual categories to be given out and to my surprise, this hadn't been done by votes, instead it was said that the staff had thought that everyone should get a prize for taking part and they would give out these certificates, which I thought was a bit odd.
I was one of two people to be given the Best Painted certificate and had to choose which one I wanted, the Age of Sigmar one or the Warhammer 40,000 one, obviously it was the AoS one, as that's the game my army was from.
When it came down to the public votes for the top three prizes I missed out, coming forth by a couple of votes. The giving of these prizes also seemed to be a bit confused, as I think the best Youngbloods got the gold prize, the other Age of Sigmar display for silver, I'm not even sure they were going to give out third prize, it was all a bit of a mess.
And that was it, Armies on Parade was over, and to be honest I was a little bit disappointed. Now I'm not saying I should have won all the awards, far from it, but everything on the day seemed a little bit off. I guess each store is free to run the event how they feel, but if something is laid out 'officially' on the companies website as being run one way, perhaps it should be advised beforehand that it would be modified in certain stores.
Looking at the four categories I highlighted earlier, and the fact that there was only one other (or three if the Youngbloods count in the non Youngbloods specific categories) Age of Sigmar display in the store this is where I think the awards should have gone. A small disclaimer is that this should have been a public vote, so who knows where it could have gone.
- Best Painted - Not to be big headed, but my army was head and shoulders above every other display there on the day and I'm grateful I won this award but less so as it was given as part of the 'everyone should go home with something' mantra.
- Monsters and Machines - I had my heavily converted Thunderbeetle, the other boards each had monsters on them, some multiple, it really depends what we're looking at here as it is not specified if it's best painted, converted, or just the one you like the look of the most. It was anyone's prize if under public vote as we all had monsters on show.
- Best Scenic Board - The other 'Adult' board had much more extravagance to it, even if it looked like someone had gone crazy with the expanded foam, so would have got my vote.
- Best Theme - The Armies on Parade website says about a unifying theme, be it colour choice or story, so again this would be very open, with my army and board tied together nicely with the orange, but the other board having a story with battling airships and dragons.
I was disappointed not to have placed in the final medal standings, and I have a theory why.
The store I went to is in a shopping centre (a mall for you non-British) and with its positioning near the entrance and toilets, gets a lot of quizzical visits from husbands waiting for their wives to go to the toilet, or parents being dragged in as they start their shop. I should know, I worked there many many years ago. I believe this is the reason that the bigger, more over the top displays got more votes, as a what a non-hobbiest sees as impressive is largely different to what an experienced gamer would see.
New eyes on a massive mountain made of polystyrene would be impressed by the sheer size of it, a more grizzled veteran would see that the paint doesn't cover it very well and it could have done with an undercoat or sealing before painting. A kid would see the big dragon and be impressed , even though it’s barely base-coated, where as a long time painter would appreciate subtle highlights, or the work that has gone in to that custom banner.
Would I have won a prize if I had gone to a more traditional store, where rather than passing trade that can come in to your open plan store, you get genuinely interested hobbiests who have to make an informed decision to open a door and enter the shop? I'm not saying that I would have, but I feel that I would have had a better chance, as the clientele would have been able to make a much more informed decision as they would be more educated on what they saw, how it was made and the techniques that had been used to create it.
Again, I don't want to say that the other entrants has not put as much effort in as I had to their display, they clearly had, and not everyone paints, models and plays to the same level, and maybe it’s the 20 year veteran coming out here. I see so many awesome armies on the tournament scene and on social media that when I see something that's alright, it struggles to impress me, perhaps I'm spoilt by all the amazing things I see and should take a step back and consider the backstory to what I saw; maybe it's their first display, maybe they haven't been painting that long, or maybe it just wasn't that good!
Well that's my moan for the week, I have ideas for next year’s Armies on Parade already, but should I make something that I want to do or play to the crowd? Perhaps I should go to a different store and see if my theory proves correct?
I'll be back next week with, hopefully, something a bit more positive.