Essen Games Fair
The annual Games Fair at Essen is the world's largest public fair for boardgames, card games and CCGs (as Nuremberg Toy Fair is only open to specialist audience).
Here, publishers demonstrate their newest games, retailers sell games - often at a discount - and there is a large fleamarket with a wide range of new and used games. You can find some great deals there as well as out-of-print games. There are also usually one or two halls with RPGs and live action material, and a hall of large inflatables and activities for kids. You can find general fantasy and sci fi stuff such as used and new books and prints, as well as action figures of all kinds. Games designers, illustrators and comic artists are present signing their works. Since 2000, there is also a comic book fair attached, though it gets smaller every year. Many comic book publishers don't attend because it's too close in date to the Frankfurt Book Fair (at least that's their explanation).
If you are interested in comic books only, Essen might disappoint you, but if you are also into RPGs, fantasy or science fiction and board games - as we are - it is a great place to be.
We'd been coming as visitors for years, but from 2001 to 2006, we had our own booth there. We always had a great time.
Like the years before, we only came as visitors for one day. And again, I did not take many pictures. Things were toned down this year due to the economic crisis. We noticed that there were fewer exhibitors than in the previous years, especially in the comics and roleplaying section. And even those exhibitors that had large booths in the popular games section had less extravagant displays and decorations. The dinosaur head below was one of the few large scale 3D ones.
This time, Donna got to come along, wearing the Dalek sweater I had made her for FACTS.
Donna: "Look what I dare!" - "EEEEEEEKKKKK!!!"
This year, there was an interesting little exhibition on fantasy games, from vintage games with fairy tale themes to the latest fantasy roleplaying games. I love (looking at) vintage toys and games!
Like the year before, we only came as visitors for one day, so we were quite busy walking around, saying Hi to friends and acquaintances and trying to take everything in. I did not take many pictures, and even though I had brought Yucie as a Travel Blythe, none of her at all.
A gorgeous demonstration version of a game called "Ghost Stories". The regular version looked disappointingly plain in comparison. The game structure was also rather similar to "Arkham Horror", which we already own, so we passed.
Speaking of ghosts, the Ghost Staircase display was back again this year after being AWOL in 2007.
There´s always some amazing miniatures displays in the RPG section.
The booth for a children´s game called "Dino Detectives". That was a life size T-Rex skull.
Setting up the booth the night before...
Mondra: "If there's one thing I hate about working at fairs it's having to get up soooo early... YAWN"
Mondra: "Right. Keyrings anyone?"
Mondra: "Wheee! I feel like I'm at IKEA!"
Suleika: "Quit goofing around and start getting to work! - Hello there, sir, may I interest you in our wonderful gashapon?"
Suleika: "Or how about some anime? You know... nudge nudge wink wink, say no more?"
Suleika: "You like cute girls? It won't get any cuter than us Pullips..."
Mondra: "Harr harr, while Suleika is doing all the work I'll sneak off.."
Fireball: "Don't move, lazy outrider! You're under arrest!"
Mondra: "Pshaw! That's how you fight cartoon characters - put that gun down or I'll draw you doing it!"
A new manga star is born! Mondra has found her calling (before Suleika found her).
Schwarzer Turm, an independent publishing company focusing on German manga, were our neighbours at the booth and had several of their artists signing and drawing. This particular one wasn't really invited, though, I think...
One of the games displayed at the Games Part of the fair was "Geistertreppe" (Spooky Stairs). The game itself didn't interest us that much, as it is designed for much younger players (it won a prize as Best Children's Boardgame 2004, though) but they had a wonderful large model of the staircase at their booth. (If the game came with something similar, I'd buy it in an instant, but unfortunately it only comes with a flat floor plan.)
We loved this model so much that Anna, Alice and I took a few minutes one morning before getting ready our booth for the day. It was an hour before the fair would open to the visitors and the staff of the games company had not yet arrived either. So we took the opportunity to let sMondra, Anna's Annabelle Lee and Alice's Suleika sneak into the model for a few pictures. (We made sure not to disturb anything and were gone again way before the games company staff arrived - none the wiser. We'd have asked their permission if they had been around, of course, but since there was no harm done... shrug.)
Suleika and Annabelle sneaking in through a small door at the side.
Suleika: "Mondra? Where are you? Come on, if my head fit through that door, so will yours!"
Mondra: "Shut up! I'm standing, err sitting guard in case the bigguns come!"
Mondra: "What's down there? Hello -oh?"
A natural habitat for Annabelle!
Mondra in a pensive mood.
If not for the stray hair, this would be a lovely picture...
Mondra's "artwork" drawn by Little Minx
Unexpected help at our booth!