25Oct/200 and throwback to Spiel 2010

Like many other shows, the large toy and game fair SPIEL in Essen went digital this year to accomodate the needs of the current situation. A good reason to take a look on how they handled the transition from physical show into a digital one and a great invitation for a throwback!

In October 10 years ago, the I was quite busy, we just came back from our Nottingham tour (read about our throwback here), we went to one of the last DUZI shows and the Games Day Germany was just last week (throwback on that one is in preparation). So towards the end of the year and tour season for us, we went to the largest toy fair in Europe, SPIEL in Essen.

Back in the day, due to their size and to safe on marketing costs, Warlord Games and Mantic shared a booth (and Alessio joined in with Riverhorse as well to present Shuuro and support Kings of War), and the old set up of hall 6 at the show took not only a bit of preparation to avoid missing out on some wargaming or tabletop booths. It was great fun to drop by, as we met most of the lovely people just a few weeks ago on their home turf.

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

It was amazing to see some progress on some of the early 3-ups we've seen just a few weeks ago, and that we now were able to talk about them. Where Warlord Games kept them just for show purpose to promote the new range, at Mantic you could actually buy some resin casts of the 3-ups as collectors models. It was a good thing to see both of them committing to such a large show, as that would support their presence in the German and European market, which clearly shows today was a good decision back in the day.

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

But of course, they were not the only ones there. Unfortunately at Otherworld Miniatures the owner got sick, so Michael Funk from Miniaturicum jumped in short-dated, to support the already set up booth for his buddy. Look at that giant! What a beast that miniature is! Nowadays it is available through Crooked Dice.

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

Thomas from Thomarillion did some great workshops on terrain building at the Ziterdes booth (who are a daughter company of the model train terrain company NOCH).

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

This is a rare sight, a picture of me without beard. We paid Fantasy In a visit, a long time advertising partner of my former portal back in the day. And as they had their brick & mortar store in Hannover, I didn't had the chance to drop by (I finally managed to do that 2 years ago), for some items like paints and certain historical miniature brands my go-to dealer until today. They were supported at their booth by Dirk "Brushguy" Stiller, who painted some really great busts and large scale miniatures.

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

And of course, no Spiel would be complete, with the very authentic pirate booth by Freebooter. They did not only invest time into their demo tables, but the booth and customes as well. The joy and fascination that Werner shows while talking about wargaming is contagious!

Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

Towards the end of the show, we had a bit of time for some chats. We brought a large party pizza with us to share with the hungry guys and gals (best quote by Alessio "Ah, just like my mama used to make" with a broad sarcastic grin) and the Warlords going crazy on slushies.

Spiel 2010 Pizza Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen Throwback - Spiel 2010 Essen

The show has grown of the last years, and rearranged the hall setup, which improved a few things. Still it is incredibly crowded and you notice a change in the booths. It is crazy to see, that you go there to see some novelties and some stands are just purely their to hand out flyers as a "save the date" for an upcoming kickstarter, without the actual possibility to buy products there. The former hall 6 is less of an "all the mixed rest in there", still the hosts don't do a great job to ensure synergies for the exhibitors, as especially for tabletop companies a four-day show is an incredible grind on the ressources and you really have to make it work.

So how was Spiel in the last years and especially as a digital show in 2020? The concept looked interesting, as other shows went digital as well like the UK Games Expo or some of the smaller shows. I think they didn't do a very good job on this one. Why? For example take a look of the exhibitors in our category, miniatures and miniature games. - Miniatures and Miniature Games

If you don't enable your exhibitors to actually participate in a virtual show, there's no reason for them to book with you. An entry in a trade list isn't worth that much in that context, as you can simply use the hashtag and surf on the attention that all the media partners created anyway (who did a great job). A lot of the exhibitors did a great job, with discord game channels and video coverage, but that wasn't enabled or properly promoted by the organiser of the show. They didn't even managed to set up digital loot bags or something like that (Blizzard offers these for years for BlizzCon), simply generic made-to-order merchandise, without any risk. Another thing that UK Game Expo for example did great, as they covered several small kits you could order to join in from home and have the feeling you participated. And on top of that, the SPIEL asked for donations. You save costs on such a large scale, as you have far less logistical work force and so to take care of, and only manage to have about a third of exhibitors join in on your new format and then ask the visitors for donations instead of properly selling virtual tickets... that is really poor management.

Have to say, quite the bummer, as I / we really enjoyed going there, but it is just not worth it anymore - especially if you're more into miniatures (believe me, I'll be aware of kickstarters without a flyer from the show) Crisis, Salute or Tactica are better events for you. And they had a chance to re-invent themself, show that they are capable of doing more than simply allocating you a few square meters at Messe Essen. They didn't use it.

Posted by Dennis B.

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