Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Golden Demon 2019. My thoughts, feelings and a (slightly) shameful confession!

Warhammer Fest and Golden Demon felt bigger this year, a lot bigger! It’s the first time I’ve had to queue outside the Ricoh Arena to get in and the queue was long. Thankfully it was also pretty fast moving. Once inside there were more queues first to register for Golden Demon, which is usual, and then to get the minis into the cabinets. That’s something I’ve not seen before on such a scale and it was a clear indicator of just how busy the competition was this year.

At this point I really wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy the day. That was partly due to competition nerves but mostly the crowds! I’m deaf in my left ear, and while that’s a minor inconvenience most of the time, I don’t cope very well in situations with a lot of background noise. All sounds come at me through my right ear and I’ve no way of telling where they come from. On top of that, if there is a lot of background noise, I can be totally oblivious of anyone speaking to me on my left side if I’m not looking right at them. I can get a bit stressful and does no good for my anxiety!

But happily things quickly improved and I was able to adjust to the situation. Once again the best part of the day, by far, was getting to meet and chat with so many fellow painters. Meeting old friends and making new ones is one of the best reasons for attending an event like this. I’m always delighted, and more than a little surprised, to meet people who follow my blog and enjoy the content I create for it. Nicest of all was the number of people who asked after Mark and I’d like to say “thank you” on his behalf to all the well wishers!

As usual my main focus for the day was Golden Demon but it was obvious that Games Workshop have continued to develop Warhammer Fest. My overall impression was that all the space was being used and to better effect than previous years. The Studio area now filled all the available space and felt much slicker and more professional as did the main hall on the ground floor, and I felt it was a good development

The middle floor was pretty much given over to the launch of the new Citadel Colour Contrast paints. Marketed as a fast way to get minis ‘battle ready’ in one thick coat they certainly performed as advertised. But I think they may well prove to be a useful addition to any painter’s palette. They’re a range of thick washes that tend to stay where you put them while drying. The colour range is great and for the most part features some lovely saturated hues. I had a quick trial with them and can already see myself using them in my own painting process.

This year’s Golden Demon was the biggest and busiest one I’ve seen. There was a buzz to it that reminded me of the early years and especially Derby 1990 when the comp first really began to grow. The only draw back was the difficulty in getting close enough to the cabinets to see all the entries. But from what I could see it was very clear that the number of entries and the standard of painting had gone through the roof! My first impression was that there were far too many well painted minis for all of them to be winning trophies. Some years there are clear winners but this year I think it was almost impossible to predict the outcome. It was all very exciting in a nerve wracking way!

I think both of my entries involved different elements of risk. I felt my Sloppity Bilepiper was the stronger of my two minis but he had already won a Gold at Salute. In my own mind this meant that the best I could do was equal the achievement with another Gold and anything else would be a bit of a let down. This is not the best attitude to have and it’s the main reason that I don’t usually enter a mini again in another comp if it has already won a gold. I adopt a philosophy of quit while you are winning and move on to something new. However I decided to risk potential disappointment as I was very pleased with how Sloppity turned out and felt he was good enough to have a chance at a Demon trophy.

My Tidecaster is another matter altogether. For one thing I felt I was taking a risk of sorts with all the water effects I’d added to her. While she was not converted I had, in a way, added to her. But I was pleased with my painting and I’ve always looked on ‘special effects’ as an extension of my painting. I just wasn’t sure how the judges would regard it. Secondly I’d reworked parts of the Tidecaster and in doing so I had come very close to ruining her. I’ll now confess that I had to repaint the face three times before I was satisfied. I found the repainting to be a traumatic experience and I really hadn’t had time to reflect on the changes. I was left with some doubts about how well I’d done them.

When the time came to see which minis had made it to the finals I found both my entries on the top shelf! I had two trophies but what would they be? First to be announced was Age of Sigmar single mini and I’ll admit to feeling a twinge of disappointment when Sloppity won Silver. This is the shameful bit because that’s not a sentiment I’m proud of! I think it’s one of the dangers of having a lot of success. It’s very important to be able to reflect upon and enjoy what you’ve achieved, rather than what you think you didn’t!

Luckily when I went to collect my minis I ended up next to Yohan Leduc and he was kind enough to let me take a long, close look at his Gold winning Plaguebearer. Any lingering disappointment at winning Silver evaporated pretty much instantly. Yohan’s Plaguebearer is a beautiful piece of work and totally inspirational! Without a doubt the Gold standard is getting higher and I’m proud to get Silver amongst such tough competition!

Of course I still had my Tidecaster in the ‘Eavy Metal Paint Masters category but I was alongside Angelo Di Chello and Patric Sand in the top three. So it was a ‘hold your breath’ and wait to see moment. I’m so proud that my Tidecaster took the Gold. My gamble with repainting her had paid off and it’s a lesson learned (once again) about holding my nerve and trusting to my instincts.

I’ve come away from this year’s Golden Demon feeling incredibly energized and inspired. It’s clear to me that if I want to keep painting minis to the Gold standard I have to up my game. I’m not going to win anything by resting on my laurels and aiming to win is a great way to push my painting and improve my skills. There’s an ebb and flow to painting competitions but at the moment the Golden Demons appear to be going from strength to strength. It makes for an exciting challenge and long may it continue!

The end of the 2019 Golden Demons marks the start of what I consider to be the 30th anniversary year of my first Slayer Sword. The challenge I’m facing, if I want continued competition success, feels exactly the same as the one I faced after the 1989 Golden Demons. That’s not something I’d anticipated but I know what I have to do so now I’ve got to pull my finger out and try to do it!


  1. Well done--the tidecaster is amazing. Looking forward to seeing what you do next time around.

  2. Congratulations!
    Competition keeps you sharp and at this level it means more eyecandy for us 😉.

  3. Very well done, sir. It's amazing to see the level of your work.
    Ever since I saw your Nurgle Predator all these years ago, you have never ceased to amaze & inspire me (even if I have - and never will - achieved your level of painting). So thank you. :)

    (in case you might wonder where my painting ended up - feel free to look me up on instagram @ztahlinork / #ztahlinork)



  4. Sorry for sneaking up on your left side in the hotel restaurant – I had no idea about your hearing! It was fun to see you (and you minis) in person. Cheers!

  5. Congratulations on the two Statuettes! Well deserved.
    When you say you need to push your painting even further, what direction do you have in mind (if any)? Yohan's winning Plaguebearer seems to go down the gritty, realistic route. So is that something you'll try and emulate more? Or are you doing something else entirely? Cheers!

  6. We seem to pick exactly the same models we have the same taste your sloppity bile piper is incredible I’ve just started mine. I was hoping to attend the games day this year but my health has been awful so missed yet another year! Hoping to put something in next year. Keep up the good work it’s cool AF as always Emily