An interview with Byron of Element Games 

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So, this interview was done a few months back for the Corehammer zine that was going to be released for the Dark Throne tournament, however the printers ended up getting a massive order in and our run would have missed the tourney, so it’s sitting on the digital shelf for now. But, as Byron was kind enough to answer our questions, it’s only fair to get this out in a somewhat timely manner.

For those that don’t know, Byron is the guy behind Element Games, a sweet indie retailer. Corehammer fully back them for their awesome customer service, quick delivery (if you get an order in early enough, it usually arrives next day) and let’s face it, they do a good discount. If you are a local to Manchester, they also have a bricks and mortar store at the North West Gaming Centre. Anway, enough of my bullshit, here’s a shit load of photos of Byron’s amazing painting & the interview.

So back at the start, how did you get into the hobby?

The same way we all did as a kid, walking by a GW: sold! I drifted away in my teens, and then returned in Uni, I’d missed doing creative stuff, having left art behind, and decided to spend one night less a week boozing, replacing it with painting goblins. It turns out GW is cheaper than some things!

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It seems to me that you have a leaning towards WHFB, is that true and if so, why is that?

Good question! It just always has been for some reason, even as a kiddywink. I love playing WFB now, however vehicle painting is what seduces me for 40k, every now and again I get a really strong urge: there’s a Predator sitting on my desk, preshaded :).

What other games do you play? Are you strictly a miniature man or do you go in for card crack, board games and more casual games as well?

I started playing MTG about a year back, which is just a fantastic game, ironically this is largely what I attribute to my getting better at Warhammer in recent months. I dabble in other stuff, the guys at Element are pushing me to play some more of our board games, which I’m definitely not opposed to either. I just struggle to find the time, painting is my go-to chilling activity if I get a moment.

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When you are starting a new army, what’s your main motivation for picking them? Play style, hobby potential, fluff reasons?

It’s usually an idea, I have a thought; a conversion, an idea how to speed paint efficiently (my DoC), or just an absolute love for the minis (O+G). My fluff is all visual really, gaming would be a secondary consideration, however there are so many beautiful minis out there the ideas are unlimited, it’s just picking one and sticking to it that’s difficult!

You’re known as a bit of a painter, what model/s have you been the happiest with?

My sadly unfinished O+G, which I’m setting no time or quality limit on, and trying to do the very best I can do. My big Necron armies from the commission days stand out as well, seeing them all together on the desk when finished was a great feeling, and they taught me a huge amount regarding the importance of simplicity.

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Corehammer is into the whole DIY attitude, what were your reasons for starting Element Games and how did you grow it into the business it is today?

Greg and I (co owners, life partners according to our bank) were talking about getting let down by other websites, and the difficulty of using them, we spoke about it for months, and then one night hit a ‘fuck it’ point, and went for it. A lot of luck has been involved, but also horribly long, hard, and worrying days in our first years. We’ve stuck to our guns, aiming to produce the type of service we’d like to use, people have responded well to it, and told their friends, for which we’re forever grateful! Every time someone pops out a tweet about our service they’re helping us grow – we love the community, and our thanks is part of the reason we try and support so many of the good events in the tournament scene.

Last year Games Workshop insisted that to stock their product a business had to have a bricks and mortar store, allegedly to encourage a sense of community in the hobby again. Has this been the case for Element? Presumably the online traffic is still the bread & butter?

For sure, we were always planning on a shop, this just rushed us a little (we’re currently expanding to something a little less ‘home-made’ at our home in the North West Gaming Centre). I can definitely see where they were coming from, and the community has been great for us, people see us as more legitimate and possibly more trustworthy now I think also.

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How are you finding dealing with your customers face to face now the Element Games shop is open?

This is the point where I avoid offending the world right? 🙂 … In all seriousness, meeting the people we sell to online has been great in general. A favourite of mine is when a customer from miles away tweets that they’re travelling across the country for work, and they go out of the way to make a ‘pilgrimage’ to our store, getting to meet the names you’ve seen countless times is nice.

One of the things I love about Element is that whatever you order you have it the next day, as popularity increases will you be able to keep up the fantastic level of customer service?

It’s getting easier :), the more we grow the more stock we have on hand, making it possible, in ideal world it’d be the case for every order, we’re aiming to make that as close to a reality as is possible!

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The internet loves to paint GW as the great satan, and every business decision they make is some grand illuminati conspiracy. What’s it actually like dealing with them?

**Puts on swear hat**

It’s a complete load of shit, they make the best minis, operate like a business, get us our orders complete, and on time, which is not the industry standard. If this is ever not the case we’re told ahead of time, before our order arrives with us (again not standard by any means). They are the industry giants for good reason. I realise it’s almost fashionable to be down on them, but they’re a pleasure.

How important is supporting grass roots blogs/podcasts to you?

I’ve touched on this above, incredibly so, these are the guys and girls who support us, and have helped us grow into what we are today, they provide the most honest and effective advertising we could ask for, sharing good feedback with friends. Plus I’m a little slut for any well done project log, I absolutely love looking through WiP shots and text to find the finished project at the bottom; it’s all about the stories :). A shout out has to go to The Black Sun podcast here, they’ve been with us since about month 3, and have been so important to us, and our growth.

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What smaller companies either models or supplies, do you dig and why?

You’re spoiled for choice these days aren’t you!? Some of the ones that used to be ‘smaller’ just aren’t any more, Scibor, Micro arts etc have developed into huge companies, off the back of beautiful ranges. Titan-Forge are probably my current pick of the smaller ones, looking through their minis gives me that childish joy I remember from my teens looking at Black Orcs; that’s something really special.

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Is there anything you’re not stocking at the moment that you would love to stock?

How long do you have… Tonnes of stuff, at any given time our to-do list is huge, there’s about 3 or 4 we’re looking at/in discussion with currently, my pic of the bunch would be kahaminiatures.fr, give them a google and get drooling :).

Last year you released your own range of high quality Element paint brushes, how did that come about and what has the reception been like?

I used to be a Series 7 man, but the consistency of their product had dropped, so we went a-searching! The reception has been fantastic, it sounds odd but the brushes are one of the things I got the most excited about all of last year, I love seeing people’s responses to them!

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Other than the shop and paint brushes do you have any more plans to expand?

Definitely, we’ve got some ideas we’ve been sitting on for a while, that the shop expansion has been holding back, once the (literal) dust has settled we’ll be turning our gaze to them.

So being as Corehammer started of the back of hardcore and punk kids, the obligatory, do you have any metal/punk/hardcore background? What’s your general music vibe like?

My first gig was Soulfly in Manchester as a small (scared!) teen actually :). I was pretty lucky with my musical upbringing, my Dad’s a popular music studies lecturer, so I had an extremely eclectic soundtrack to my upbringing. I don’t listen to or search for new music as much as I listen to and search for audiobooks, which is probably a little sacrilegious given where I’m writing this! It’s generally music to chill to – Brian Eno, David Sylvian, or the complete opposite. I am a strong believer that ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ by The Refused is one of the best albums ever recorded, between that and The Sex Pistols, who were played a lot in my house in my early years I can usually find something to hit the punk-spot.

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At the Bjorn Supremacy tournament in December, you told me you were vegan. What lead you to this lifestyle? Is there any hobby products you have to avoid because of animal products being used?

All but Vegan, occasionally a 16h day leads to a relapse. I’ve been a Veggie forever, and it was essentially a ‘I’ll try it once’ thing, it just stuck. Not really, society has got much better at not sneaking strange things in in recent years.

Cheers for answering these questions, anything else you would like to add?

You’re most welcome bud. I’d just like to reiterate my/our thanks to the customers, blogs, podcasts and tournaments who use us, and spread the word, it sounds a little cheesy, but it’s entirely true that we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we’re at now if people hadn’t done so! Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting updates on the site in the future, and if you’re ever close by do let us know and pop in to the store, we’d love to meet you in person.

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About Stevie

Stevie Boxall currently lives in South London. He has experimented with putting shows on, doing a zine and being in a band, he was pretty crap at all of them. He redeemed some of his punk credibility by doing a semi-well received distro while living in Bournemouth. He is currently playing Bolt Action, Warhammer Fantasy, Dreadball, X-Wing, is currently obsessed with Infinity, Dredd and Deadzone and has sold all of his Space Marines.

1 thought on “An interview with Byron of Element Games 

  1. Though I’ve never played there, the store itself is great. On a few occasions I’ve jumped on the train and visited in person for an old fashioned browse. The discount and service make it worth it. Plus I got one of those Element brushes; it’s the main one I now use.

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