Hi all. Today we have a Guest article from Shadow who had to drive 2.5 hours in America to go to his nearest GW store to grab the Ltd Edition Imperial Space Marine. I always forget how convenient it is to have a GW less than 5 mins away, over here in UK.
For most people, waking up at 6:30 in the morning means that you’re going to work. Doing that on a weekend either means that you have a well-tuned body clock (a curse on the weekends, I assure you) or that something special is going on. In my case, we can definitely say that it was both and that I also suffered through “Christmas Eve Syndrome” that night. What is Christmas Eve Syndrome? Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t sleep enough or even at all on Christmas Eve because you knew what the next day was and you were too excited to sleep?
As adults, some of us still do that when we have major events coming up. And every time I go to visit the GW store in New Orleans, LA, it happens. It’s two and a half hours away, quite a long trip, making every time we go to our closest GW store something amazing and special. This time, though, it was for the biggest celebration of my hobbyist life: 30 years of Space Marines! Nor was I alone. Seven of us in total from Lafayette, LA made the trip. That’s right, I had six friends with me, and none of us slept perfectly the night before because we all knew how exciting this was. That and we had to race the clock and make it to the store before everyone else so we could all bag the biggest prize of the day: the Imperial Space Marine 2016.
Live nearly three hours away from your nearest GW store and lose out on the big draw items you wanted because you made it to the store 45 minutes after opening and you NEVER show up at or after opening time again. And that mentality drove us to leave very early in the morning; we got there an hour early. And I can honestly say that few things are as fun to a hobbyist in terms of travel as having your friends and fellow hobbyists in the car while you listen to audio dramas and shoot the bull about the hobby, your likes, current projects, and plans for the day. The camaraderie between you and your fellow gamers really is evident during that trip and it shows the strength of what you forge in the hobby.
The doors opened and we all filed in, eager to see how the day was going to go and of course eager to see if we’d get the goodies we wanted. Though it has to be said that for all of us that first glorious sight was not of plastic, but of something that needed to be cut with an AP 3 knife (those following GW’s Facebook page will understand the reference.)
Yep! It’s not a party without cake, and this cake was not a lie. Of course, it got its quick look and obligatory pictures taken and then everyone began to quickly grab what they wanted for the day and file into position for the register, knowing that only a grand total of 30 of the special model were in stock at the store. I had my plan of attack developed the night before, knowing that $165 or more got me the marine for free. Two items, quick and easy (a Stardrake for AoS and Index Astartes: Apocrypha) saw me at the register as the second person. I got a surprise to find out that not only did I get my marine, but that I also received a free pin just for showing up, and two art portraits just for being one of the first 20 sales of the day. It would certainly be a good day indeed.
One thing to note though, that trip is a grand total of five hours on the road alone to go both ways. We don’t go to that store just to drive five hours and spend only fifteen to thirty minutes there. No, we always stay to enjoy the festivities either for the majority of the day or the whole. The festivities for the day included what the store manager (more on him later) calls the Arena of Champions, a Space Marine conversion/build competition, and a Space Marine trivia game.
The Imperial Space Marine sold out in 45 minutes and even included the cash register crashing on us such was the volume of people and sales in the store to start the morning. And I’m being honest when I say that I’ve never seen the store so packed or the line for the register actually begin to wrap around the store. Even while waiting in line, everyone was chatting and the hobby community as a whole showed what it was made of. Even after the marine sold out, plenty of people hit the store’s terminal to order theirs or to just make other purchases. When the dust finally settled on sales the festivities began in earnest.
First up were the submissions for anyone who had built a Space Marine character for the conversion contest. The rules were simple: make a Space Marine character model based on existing lore, fluff, a creative reimagining of a character with a current model, or a character of your own head-cannon for any special fluff you yourself hold. This event was clearly meant to bring out the ideas we always hold in our heads of the character we read about and love. We had the options to build them ahead of time or to build them at the store with materials provided.
I actually had so many options that I failed to make my choice until literally the night before. I ultimately settled on doing Cervan Dante of the Blood Angels before he became the Chapter Master. I modeled him in his 8th Company Captain days.
Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of the other models that entered to show, but creative genius ran high and effective all day. Many of the models were beautifully done and executed. Many told a story in their own right while others conveyed the simplicity of Space Marines while showing off their powerful nobility. There was even a model of Kharn in the days before his legion became the World Eaters.
Following the opening of the conversion contest was one of the highest-anticipated events of the entire day and that was the Arena of Champions. It’s basically an entire arena of death where our Space Marine special characters went to duel to the death, over and over and over again. The creation of Matt, the GW manager at the store, it would put things like WWE to shame in terms of how vicious it could get and the free-for- all nature it provides. All the players treated it as a no-holds-barred fight with no alliances and sometimes even honor flying out the window. It was a fun experience and it also introduced hobbyists to other hobbyists as they chatted it up between their own turns.
Of course, before any of the Lafayette players entered, we chatted it up with Matt, who has become a good friend to us over the course of time GW: Riverbend has been open. You’ll never meet a more genuine and friendly individual. And he works very hard to be what epitomizes a hobbyist. He turns out quality events, represents GW quite well, and shatters all expectations of what you expect.
A fellow hobbyist and gamer himself, his Raven Guard army was on show and he was very willing to let me get some hands-on views of the models, beaming with pride over his Shadow-Captain conversion. There’s a reason we invite him to come play Apocalypse with us and it’s all because of his good nature and ability to bond with us as hobbyists and not as a relation of GW “plastic crack dealer” to players. In the picture below, I’m on the left, with Matt in the centre, and my best friend (and hobby mentor who has been in it since Rogue Trader) Nakia on the right. Such scenes are very normal when we visit GW: Riverbend because of how well Matt handles things.
The festivities continued, hobbyists building models to enter into the conversion contest or players bashing each others’ faces in with glee to claim the title of arena champion, while others milled about the store and talked with each other (two of the female hobbyists bonding because they are each the only respective lady in their gaming group) or Matt, sharing their passion for gaming. Eventually it came down to the final event of the day, the Space Marine Trivia competition where those that wished gunned for the title of Loremaster. Twenty questions from all across the hobby related to Space Marines were asked of us. The topics ranged from points costs, to the Horus Heresy, to the fluff of the 41st Millennium.
With the close of the trivia also came the winding down of the day. Ultimately, I was crowned as the Loremaster (an unexpected win though I very much consider myself a “lore whore” in a good way), while a lady from Baton Rouge, LA named Maggy took the crown for the best Space Marine conversion as a member of the Space Wolves buried his frost axe into the chest of a charging Traitor Marine, and another gentleman, named Terry, from Baton Rouge won the Arena of Champions. Everyone’s energy spent, the cake nearly fully devoured as if the Tyranids had shown up, and most of the ordered pizza having been decimated, most of us began the process of packing up and heading to our cars to head home. To say the least, we all anticipate the next event. It was one of the major discussions on the ride home.