THE event for plastic kit enthusiasts. Three massive halls, plus lectures, plus a competition room plus a Bring & Buy. This is a huge event but despite this, as we walked from the station to the Telford International Centre, we passed 3 people heading the other way clutching bags of kits.
This was 45 minutes after the exhibition had opened.
Entering the hall, our first stop was to bag a very early lunch of the messiest pork bap ever. Pork, stuffing and apple sauce was very yummy and conveniently filling but didn't half get everywhere. You are supposed to wash your hands before eating, not afterwards...
Anyway, into the halls, the plan was to go to the furthest one and work back. This nearly worked except I was distracted by a collection of Si-Fi models including Marvin from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy TV series, a Dalek, ORAC and Liberator from Blakes 7 and several other very good things. I don't like having my picture taken but the chance to be snapped beside Marvin was too good to pass up.
Next, we headed off to the far side only to find two helicopters, some US troops and three more Daleks. As you do.
After this, we worked back through the displays and trade stands. This really is an international event with exhibitors coming from as far away as Canada. Most of Europe was well represented and these guys seemed to have plenty of space left in their cars, or at least they did when they arrived but that was all going to be filled with boxes of plastic parts. Well, you can't go to a show without buying something can you? And if that show if hundreds of miles away, you need to buy more to remember the trip by.
If the origins of the exhibitors didn't interest you, the special interest groups (SIGS) would. Every topic under the sun seems to have a group of people who are fascinated by it and reproduce it in miniature. Movies? Check. Sports cars? Check. South American airlines? Check.
Trade was excellent. There are many plastic kit dealers who buy up collections of unbuilt kits (who has any of those...) and then re-sell than at very reasonable prices. The stands were tall and enclosed and full of wondrous boxes, many for less than a fiver.
You could also find, at the other end of the price scale, some specialists would sell very short run kits for obscure subjects or ones done is such detail that very few people would be up to the job of assembly. A 1/32nd PBY aircraft with the most incredible interior detail fitted the bill here. I didn't ask the price, just marvelled at the intricate detail.
Talking of detail, there was even one stand that just sold scale bolts and rivets. He had an awful lot of different types too. I didn't count them though.
So, we got in at 11:15 and left 5 hours later. Realistically, 2 halls were well explored. The third less so. Tiredness and plastic fatigue set in. A 2 day pass wouldn't be a bad idea in future although I don't fancy commuting to Telford or staying in a local hotel. That would eat into the budget for models.
Which brings me back to the people we saw at the start. How can you knock off a show like that in half an hour? Why would you go in, paying a tenner for the privilege, just to pick up a bag of pre-ordered kits? Add in the cost of travel and you would be much better off paying postage. If you aren't going to look around that is.
Me? Well, although I don't need any more kits and kept repeating that mantra, I came away with a few. Specifically an Airfix hovercraft (missing a few tiny parts but an absolute bargain), Moon base Alpha (Space 1999), 3-in-1 Ford pickup (My Dad built these as a youth and has a display full so I fancy a go) and an egg-plane. No railway or boat items you note. Well, when you build toy trains all day, a change is as good as a rest.
I used a lot of digital film on this show. There were so many cracking models to photograph and I did no more than scratch the surface. Anyway the results are on Flickr for your entertainment.