Well then as promised this is going to be a lookback at our trip to Adepticon this year but my idea is to give you a run down on the whole trip from start to finish. Things started with a touch of excitement when I got up on the Sunday morning to find a layer of snow everywhere as some doubt as to whether we would be able to even make it to London. As it was after a coach trip, three trains and then bus ride we made it to the hotel for the night which was in sight of Heathrow which made me feel a lot better. A few beers that night and a short taxi rid the next day got us to the airport and checked in with a few hours to kill before the flight. The flight went off on time and we even managed to arrive about half an hour earlier. Customs in the US took about an hour and half which was an improvement on the last time and knowing where to get the train from made for an easy trip into Chicago.
We went to Timothy O’Toole’s on the first nigh for a few beers and chicken wings, Al went for the Irish Ghost sauce which was fun to watch when he had fist one which was a bit hotter than he was expecting. What was really mad in the place was the number of different TV screens all showing a different sports channel. None of us had any idea what was happening on any of them but it made for a fun night. Tuesday was the only full day we had in the city so we had a walk down to Solider Field, followed by a walk round the stadium looking for the gift shop. Literally walked the whole way round before we found it. Still it worked wonders to clear the cobwebs and get us into full US mode. We spend the afternoon in another Irish bar before making what has now become a pilgrimage to Giordano’s for the legendary deep pan pizza.
Wednesday started with me and Pete visiting a proper diner for breakfast which was a really good experience and I had first taste of biscuits and gravy which I really enjoyed. Top tip if you decide to do a trip like this and then need to get from Chicago to Shamburg is to use an Uber. Last time we were there we got the train back to the airport and then got a taxi from there. This time we used an Uber from hotel to hotel and it was much quicker, easier and cheaper. Once we had got ourselves checked in we went back to a shooting range we had visited last time we were here and had a really good afternoon trying to punch holes in a paper target.
So that covers all the things we did before the event started but what about the event itself. With the exception of the queuing to get the tickets, which I think I can say was the worst organised queue I have ever been in everything else seemed to run smoothly. I managed to do a few daily updates whilst we were actually there so for this review I’ve decided to break things down a bit differently. So I’m gong to start with the seminars I took and again to keep it simple I’ll run through them in the order I did them.
The first one was Level Up Your Painting by Michelle Blastenbrei:
This was the first class and I had no idea what to expect but I certainly hadn’t imagined that we would be painting a colouring in book. I was a bit sceptical about this but it soon became apparent that Michelle knew exactly what she was doing and it’s something that will continue to do now that I’m home. It was a way of getting use to focus on what we were actually doing and not worrying about spoiling a model. The other thing that she got us doing really thinking about our use of colours. We were only given a couple of colours to use so you had to mix them to the effect you were looking for. Then she would introduce another colour and you’d think how am I going to use this, but once you did start to use it you could see that either help blend or made your existing colours really pop. So basically a practical introduction to colour theory.
The Art of Painting Black and White by Caleb Wissenback
This was one I had booked a bit late and my thinking behind it was that I thought I could learn some things that would help me with other colours as well. Caled was a really engaging instructor and you can see a lot of what we did in the class on You Tube by searching for Hobby Hangout videos. In the class explained that a lot of getting realistic looking colours is about how the colour ‘reads’ as opposed to the actual colour you are using. This along with having very short transitions between the highest highlights and the darkest shades. All in all it was very engaging class and I’m going to have to put some time aside to get some practice in.
Making of the Award Winning Diorama: No Hope by Aaron Lovejoy
This was something I was really looking forward to as I like my scratch building and I had actually seen this diorama last time we were here and had loved it then. Being able to get an in depth look at what went into making it. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the event as despite it being sold out I was the only person that actually turned up. That meant I got to spend an hour and half with Aaron going through not just this build but a number of other pieces he had done. This really inspired me because all of the things that went into the build are things that I know I can actually do, it’s the painting where I can’t come anywhere close. I think the fact that we were essentially just having a chat has given me loads of tips and tricks that I’m going to try and remember so that I can start to make use of them.
Painting to Tell a Story by Francesco Farabi
I’m not sure where to start with this one. It was the course I enjoyed the least but I did get a lot out of it. Just to put that in context there was absolutely nothing wrong with the course or the instructor I just think the standard of everyone else in the class was higher than mine which made it hard. But having said I didn’t enjoy it as much I probably learnt the most in this although it has taken me several days to realise this. This was the course where I started painting the demon bust and I was really happy with what I manged to do. The key think I took from this though was not to look at a model and think ‘how’ did they do that. Instead it was to look at a model and ask ‘What’ then ‘Why’. One of the examples he said was take a Blood Angels space marine. We all know it has to be red (I know you can have black for death company) but what red do you need to use. That means if the character is on a desert world then you would need to use warm reds, however if he was on a space ship then the lighting would be different and you would use colder reds. Then by looking at those things it drive the pallet you would use to paint it. Hence the what and why. It all seems very simple but there was a lot to take in and even more to do to try and put it into practice.
Photographing Miniatures by John Miller
Whilst painting to tell a story was the course I enjoyed the least this was the course I got the least out of. Nothing to do with the instructor it was just that already have a good understanding of photography and I think the pictures you see on here reflect that. The course was really well put together and he showed how you could get everything you need for a light box set up for less than $30. For me this course made me think about what I’m doing for the site and I’m happy with what I’m doing so it was good from that point of view.
Now the next one wasn’t a seminar but it’s also not a game in the typical sense, it was also the only thing that we all did together. Pete was responsible for this one as he did this last time we were here and loved it and it is the Artemis SBS: Bravo Bridge. The idea behind this is that you make up the crew of a space ship and have certain missions that need to be completed. But as individuals you can only see the information relevant to your job, so in this one is was science so had control of the sensors, Al was comms, Pete was engineering and Darren on the helm. It lasted for an hour and half and it was absolutely fantastic. We didn’t start until 20:00 on Saturday night and by then we had all had a few beers and none of us wanted to be the captain, we couldn’t face the responsibility, so we had been all been thinking of ways to get out of it. As it turned out we needn’t have worried about that as there was already another guy there, and I can’t remember his name, who was first there and got the captains chair. He was willing to give it up we one of us really wanted to the job so everything worked out nicely.
Next I think we’ll take a look at the vendor hall, or at least I’ve give a quick walk / talk through it. This took up about a third of the main hall with stalls of various sizes. So you get the likes of Reaper with one of the largest down to small one man band type vendors with the smallest size available and then lots in-between. It’s essentially a big marked that covers the big games to the weird and wonderful which is certainly an experience if you have never been to anything like this. One thing I had said to myself before attending was that I was not going to be get involved in any new games so I was only looking for models that I could use in painting projects which obviously altered how I looked I things. I did see lots of things that I wanted to get but in the end I only picked some models from Free Blades that I want to use in some scenic base projects. There were quite a few from Dark Age that I really liked but the ones I wanted had all sold out. As a Brit one thing I did notice was a big variance in price where some things were a lot cheaper there and other more expensive. The Scale 75 stuff for example was a lot cheaper to purchase back home than it was at the event. All in all though there is a wealth of goodies to pick form, just remember that it all adds weight that in my case needed to come back across the Atlantic so keep that in mind.
As we have been talking about goodies I’ll move onto the swag bag next. Unlike last time we were there this time the swag bag was sixty dollar add on but when you consider that in that bag was Guild Ball kick off which retails in the UK for around the forty five pounds mark you are getting your back with that alone and there was a lot more in the bag. I can’t remember it all but you also got a Anniversary edition primus marine, a black library book, a pluck foam try, a couple of event only minis from different suppliers, a Bolt Action Desert Rats rule book and a Warmachine / Hordes rule book. Plus a host of other trinkets it was a good return on the purchase. Enough there to keep me going for some time. The VIG bag has even more in it with people struggling to carry everything they got so that could be an option if you have the baggage allowance to get it home.
I didn’t book any games this year although me and Pete did try to book for the 40k doubles but it booked up so quickly we missed out. Both All and Darren had a number of games and they both said that they enjoyed everything they did. Even playing Age of Sigmar doubles after copious amounts of rum on Saturday. An easy win for their opponents. There were lots of organised games and lots of pick-up games on offer so I could have got some games of something in if I had really wanted to but I was happy just mill around watch other this year. I did get a demo of the new Wild West Exodus which is a lot more brutal than the last version. Both me and Al enjoyed that so we will be looking to get a few games now that we are.
I wanted a section in here to cover some of the less defined aspects but as far as I’m concerned these are the ones that make or break an even like this. For me this was really about a trip across the pond with three friends and a chance to meet up with some like mined people for a few days. This is for me is a chance to be inspired and to come back enthused to either try something new to throw myself back into something I’m already doing with renewed vigour. Take the Esher project as an example, I was going to have a go at Necromunda because that’s what Al and Pete wanted to play, but having seen these models I now really want to get them painted so that I can use them. There were lots of other bits like this. One of the 40k display boards had a smoke generator so I’m looking at how I can get one of these and what I can use it for. It was also great to meet up with some old faces like Greg, not that he’s actually old. And to meet up with some people that I have been following on Twitter but have never met like Scot (@brushwizard). It’s quite funny when you have had a couple of beers together and you are talking about something you have seen and say something like ‘ I saw this and it really inspired me’ for the person sitting opposite you to ‘thank you it took me ages to paint that’. And there you have it, someone from social media becomes a real world friend.
Another thing that I really liked was being able to have a look around the painting area and being able to chat with people who are painting some fantastic models. All of them were more than happy to chat and take a bit of time to talk through what they were working. Just really inspiring to know that all these people were more than happy to share hints and tips.
And then when it all gets to much.
So to sum up this has been a really good trip and I will certainly be looking to come back in a couple of years. I would do a few things a bit differently next time with the main one being to book the hotel as early as possible and not wait for the event block booking discount. There was nothing wrong with the hotel we had but it did mean that we needed to plan what we would need for the day and bring it all over with us. If we had a room at the convention centre it just makes things more flexible. Other than that I wouldn’t change a lot, I would still come a couple of days earl to go into Chicago but would probably put a bit more effort into booking thing to do when there as opposed to just playing it by ear. As things stand at the moment I would still be looking to do more seminars that gaming but will wait and see what games are on offer. Dystopian wars and Wild West Exodus could be good one for next time but we will just have to wait and see.
Overall it was a good event and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it.