Well, it’s been almost a month since Sword and Brush, and I figured I should actually get this article out there before it fades too much from memory.
Sword and Brush, held annually in Toronto, is probably the largest and most premiere miniature and figure painting competition in Canada. This was my first time going, and also this year was the first time they have expanded to include some wargaming tournaments in the same room as the painting competition. The painting competition and miniature show took place basically all day on Saturday with tournaments running simultaneously, while Sunday was set aside for tournaments only.
In addition to the show and the tournaments, there were also vendors, raffles, classes, and a buy and sell table.
I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures, but the level of quality on display was nothing short of amazing. There was a great diversity of models on the table, from Napoleonics to fantasy to sci-fi. The vehicle categories were also a nice touch, particularly the TLAV that came away with the theme award. Without going into too much detail, here’s a dump of some stuff that I liked.
One of the planned classes this year had to be cancelled, however there were still two very good classes. James Craig did a class on weathering, showing off how to paint on chipping and scratches as well as fun tricks with chipping medium. Colin Arthurs did a class on sculpting where he went over every step in sculpting a Napoleonic figure. Both these classes were interesting, though I think I’m going to be trying out the weathering techniques in that class a lot sooner than I’m going to try to sculpt my own figures.
Most of the tournaments were for games that I didn’t play and didn’t have any models for, but the exception was Necromunda, which I’ve been getting into as of late. The initial idea was that “Necromunda by night” would be a little tournament, but after one incredibly long, bloody and brutal game, I think everyone was a little tired. I had a blast; lots of crazy things happened in the game such as my leader sniping out the opposing leader with a bolter before getting insta-killed by a mook with a needle rifle, and Jaana, my shotgun-wielding champion, punching someone to death who tried to sneak up behind her and shoot her in the back.
A big tip of the hat here goes to whoever provided terrain; with multi-level catwalks and plenty of cover, there was a lot of very impactful terrain on the table. The aesthetics of this sort of terrain is something that I tend to miss in Warmachine, which is my primary game and which is usually played with mousepads on a flat mat.
I managed to pick up some interesting stuff, both by doing fairly well on raffles and by being a little bad and spending some money at the vendors and the buy and sell table.
First, I stopped at the Badger table and picked up a few things. I grabbed some of their Minitaire paints, which are a line of paints that I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the opportunity to yet. I haven’t used them very much yet, but they seem to shoot through the airbrush fairly well (which is to be expected from a paint line produced by an airbrush company) and, if you can pick them up at a con, are an insanely good deal on a dollars per milliliter basis. I also picked up some needle lubricant (protip: don’t store this next to your super glue; I almost had an airbrush maintenance disaster) and a high roller trigger for my Krome. If your Badger airbrush doesn’t come standard with this trigger like the Xtreme Patriot, then I would definitely recommending picking up one of these.
I also bought an International Brigade figure from the Spanish Civil War in 75mm scale from Bent Bristle Miniatures. The Spanish Civil War is a perhaps unappreciated conflict, and the various international volunteers who went to Spain to fight for socialism and democracy are all too often forgotten in their home countries. So, this was one rare case where a historical figure really jumped out at me and demanded that I fork over some money and paint it.
On the buy and sell table, I picked up a giant resin inn to use as a piece of terrain, which is quite possibly the largest chunk of resin I’ve ever seen. Also, there was a Bombardier Bombshell from Privateer Press on the table which I bought because of course I did.
Finally, I did pretty good in the raffles, coming away with a Cerberus model from Aradia Miniatures, and a piece of a saloon from Pegaso Models for use on a display base. The Cerberus is far from my usual jam as I tend to shy away from more beastly figures, but it could be an interesting project. As for the saloon, I’m going to have to find a 75mm scale steampunk wild west model for this thing, which, let’s face it, is probably something that I want to do anyways.
I entered into three categories this year. Amy Johnson went into their historical category, and both my pile of new Man-O-War solos and Necromunda gang ended up in the wargaming unit category. Finally, I put about six or seven models into the fantasy category because that’s my focus.
As mentioned above, when they do the judging, you only get awards for what they consider to be your best models. I managed to come away with two silvers, for my Mary Read and Amy Johnson busts, respectively, and a bronze for my Man-O-War.
I know I say a lot that you shouldn’t worry about how you place compared to others or chase trophies, but I was quite happy with my results. With all the amazing stuff on display, I ended up doing that thing where you put your stuff on the table, then worry that your stuff is worse than everyone else’s and you’re just embarrassing yourself. Turns out that was just self-hating artist talk. Silver is good, especially for a first time. It’s something to be proud of, but also leaves some room for growth.
Sword and Brush was a blast. Anyone who is interested in miniature and figure painting and who is within driving distance should definitely go. Even if you don’t think you’re good enough yet, then go and learn because with this level of competition, there’s no shame in going home empty-handed.