Sunday, 28 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014

So, Fighting Fantasy Fest... This time three weeks ago (as of writing*) I was unloading a carload of stuff** at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, ready for the first ever, dedicated, Fighting Fantasy convention. Almost twelve hours later, I was getting back into said car to return home. The bit in between was a bit of a whirl.

Jonathan Green, Geraldine Cooke, Zagor the Warlock, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014.

It really came home to me that Fighting Fantasy Fest was actually happening when all the traders started to turn up and unload very professional-looking display cabinets and the like. And it was the presence of Otherworld Miniatures, Leisure Games,, Snowbooks, Arion Games, All Rolled Up, Scriptarium, Tin Man Games, Inkle Studios, Gothic Manor, and Legend Photography that really helped to make what started out as a book launch into a proper con.

Otherworld Miniatures' Zagor miniatures in special FFF blister packs.

But of course the day wouldn't have been what it was without the presence of the host of Fighting Fantasy guests who made their way to Ealing especially for Fighting Fantasy Fest. There were the artists Chris Achilleos, Malcolm Barter, John Blanche, Leo Hartas, Tony Hough, Russ Nicholson, writer Peter Darvill-Evans also made it, along with very special guests Philippa Dickinson and Geraldine Cooke (who just made it in the nick of time to rapturous applause from the audience). But none of us would have been there in the first place if it hadn't been for our very special Guests of Honour, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

Just part of the much marvelled at FF Exhibition.

Jamie Fry of

I am grateful to Neil Rennison for kicking off the talks with a presentation  about Tin Man Games and the company's plans for the Fighting Fantasy apps, which was followed by the headline act of the day, as it were - Steve and Ian in conversation with Philippa and Geraldine (eventually).

One of the goodie bags given away on the day, plus contents.

Just some of the highlights of the day
  • Meeting so many FF fans and backers of YOU ARE THE HERO.
  • Meeting the Demonic Three (a.k.a. Mark Lain, Steve Leicester and Jam Hirons).
  • Seeing a Goblin patrolling the queue attempting to register on the day and berating them generally.
  • The FF Exhibition.
  • Damien Sparkes' FF miniatures.
  • People asking me to sign original copies of Spellbreaker and Knights of Doom, along with my other gamebooks at the mass signing.
  • The FF Auction (with Ian Livingstone working the room like a pro).
  • Getting the band back together. (All of the WARLOCK level backers who went for lunch with Steve and Ian back in June 2013 were there.)
  • Thomas Nielsen winning the costume competition dressed, appropriately enough, as Zagor the Warlock.
  • Facebook friends and Twitter adventurers meeting in person for the first time.
  • My Skill, Stamina and Luck t-shirt.
  • Having my photo taken by Legend Photography alongside Ian and Steve.
  • The positive atmosphere and happy con-buzz (which still hasn't left me).

Who let that Goblin in?

Pure Evil Miniatures' take on some Fighting Fantasy classics.

The Downside
  • Timings going a little out the window (but thank goodness the hotel let us stay on for an extra hour).
  • Not getting my own copy of YOU ARE THE HERO signed by all of the guests.
  • Not having enough time to speak to anyone beyond saying "Hello, thanks for coming" in some cases.

The creators of Fighting Fantasy, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, and the author of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Jonathan Green.

FFF 2014 would not have run so smoothly without the help of my family and best friend Andy, so a massive thank you to them***. But the biggest thanks has to go to all those who attended. If you hadn't stumped up for a ticket or two, the event could not have happened.

There are already rumblings regarding FFF 2015. I think it's safe to say that if we do do it again, it won't be quite the same as this year, put I will also be sending out a questionnaire, in due course, for attendees of FFF 2014 to give their feedback and have their say regarding what they would like to see at the next Fighting Fantasy Fest.

If you missed the event, the exclusive Zagor the Warlock miniature that was given away in the event goodie bag is now available to buy from Otherworld Miniatures. And if you'd like to see some more photos from the day, you can do so here.

* 7.00 a.m.

** Goodie bags, Kickstarter backer copies of YOU ARE THE HERO, bottles of water...

*** It's been particularly gratifying to read other people's kind comments about how hard my wife worked on the day, and even one attendee remarking how much he enjoyed embarking upon an AFF adventure with my sprogs.

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