On Sunday, 13th May I made my annual pilgrimage to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena to take part in the Golden Demon Classic. I’ve been going to Golden Demon events since 2011, so I’ve got to know a lot of the other painters and studio staff over the years. Consequently the day generally passes in something of a blur as I spend the whole day talking to people (an unfamiliar experience for a hard core introvert like me) and this year was no exception! Nonetheless I thought it would be worth giving a flavour of the day from my own perspective.
The doors were supposed to open at 10 am but I arrived at the venue at 9:30 and went straight up to the studio area on the top floor, sidestepping the long queue to get into the sales area. This year was the first time that competitors have been able to put miniatures into the contest on Saturday but the cabinets were fairly empty when I arrived so I guess not many people took advantage of that opportunity. I think it’s a great idea to try and extend the length of the event but sadly the reality for many of us is that 2 days away from home is tough to arrange!
Within an hour or so the cabinets had filled up and I tried to get a look at the entrants. This is always really difficult because of the number of people that are trying to do the same! I don’t think there’s a good solution to this, although it would be nice if the organisers were able to do something similar to the days when the contest was held at the NEC and images of the entries would be shown on large screens throughout the day.
This year the lighting in the cabinets had improved a bit (the halogens had been replaced with LEDs) but it is still quite harsh and could definitely be improved with some LED strips.
As usual I had a fantastic time catching up with all my painter mates and met loads of other great people for the first time. As the years have rolled by, this is definitely the main reason for going to the event for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love picking up trophies as much as the next man, but it’s definitely more of a bonus and not the focus of the day.
At 12 pm the judging began and this year saw another innovation in the form of the highly commended entries. The organisers felt that because there can be a big difference in quality between an entry that scrapes in the finalist category and one that just misses out on a top 3 spot, it would be nice to recognise the latter with the extra award. I think it’s a great idea and there weren’t very many of these awards given out from what I saw so it’s definitely a big achievement if you get one!
I’d taken no fewer than 4 entries along with me this year, and as usual I stuck to the single miniature categories. I was really pleased to take the gold in a super competitive 40k single category that was stacked with previous winners and slayer sword holders. This also meant that I successfully defended the gold I took in this category last year! In Age of Sigmar single I got the silver, runner up to Angelo di Chello’s slayer sword winning Horticulous Slimux and picked up a bronze in Lord of the Rings with my Nazgul.
The big shock of the day for me was also getting bronze in open with my Blood Angel lieutenant. This really wasn’t intended as a competition piece and I just brought it along as a last minute decision, putting it in open since I already had my 40k single entry. There was a slightly embarrassing moment when I was called up on stage to receive the award, only to find that the awards for open hadn’t made it to Coventry but I’m happy to say that it’s in the post!
Speaking of award ceremony cock ups, for the second year running there were no photos of the winning entries on the big screen as the awards were being collected. In my opinion this is pretty unforgivable and really needs to be sorted out. The upshot is that everyone went away from the event not really certain of which entries had won what and until the golden demon website is updated we still don’t know! How difficult can it be to put some pictures on a laptop and hook it up to a projector?
Overall, a fantastic day as usual. Of course there were plenty of other things to see and do as part of the wider Warhammer Fest that I won’t cover here. Despite the difficulty in seeing the entries my impression (confirmed by a few other people in the know) was that the overall standard wasn’t quite as mind blowing as last year, but some categories were definitely as competitive as ever. As usual I came away feeling re-invigorated to paint more miniatures and do better next year! Big thanks to the judges and everyone that had a hand in running the event, and congratulations to all the winners!