Sunday, February 09, 2014

NEC Spring Fair 2014

The Spring Fair at the NEC is one of those events that make the local TV news every year in the Midlands. I've always thought, "I wonder what it's like?" but usually forget to do anything about it until too late.

Anyway, this year was different. I registered for a ticket and popped along for the morning.

My plan was to go and see Bachmann, find a few train and boat shaped things to photograph and then have bit of a mooch around. Trade fairs fascinate me and this looked a goodie.

First impressions are , "Wow". This is a huge event. Every hall of the NEC is full of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Most of which will be in the shops later in the year.

I stopped first at the Noble Collection stand where they had a couple of Hogwarts Express locos on display. The bookends looked rather fun, just the thing for keeping your important volumes on the shelf.

Harry Potter Bookends

Next up was Bachmann with their display of the very interesting train packs. Below this was an N Gauge display layout with a Standard tank shuttling back and forth. By the end of the show, this will have worked for 50 hours and yet with less than 5 to go, it still seemed to be working well. Quite a tribute to the construction.

Bachmann Train Packs

Over the aisle were Oxford diecast. I'd enjoyed a long chat a few weeks ago in London so didn't expect anything new to see. However, this is a fair aimed at public outlets so they had some London souvenirs on display, Concorde and the London Eye looked nice. At the back of the stand was something I really hadn't expected - models of roller coaster cars. It seems that many theme parks like to sell you a miniature version of the ride you have ridden!

Oxford Diecast roller coaster

After this I wandered. Boat shaped stuff was thin on the ground. The only stand with interesting models was staffed by people who didn't want to talk to me, or indeed sell any products it appears. To be fair, this was the last day and with thin crowds, many of the stand staff were more interested in prodding iPhones than looking around (not all, some tried to drag me over to look at products).

Moving to the huge picture framing area, I spotted a tool I really want. Gunnar of Switzerland produce computer controlled cutting machines for chopping up Daler board. Watching these work, I thought how fantastic they would be for cutting out the parts for model buildings. I can't really justify what I assume is several thousand pounds or the same for the kit but wonder if there is anyone out there offering bureau services.

Gunnar cutter

I left having simply ignored some of the halls. Proper new reports will appear over at MREmag on Monday. Until then, content yourself with some photos I snapped as I walked around.


James Finister said...

Phil,as an alternative to that expensive machine what about the Silhouette ? There's been a very informative thread going at RMWeb

It could be an excellent investment for a club.

Mark said...

Not sure about a a controlled cutting machine service but razorlab do a laser cutting service, where you just upload an img of what you want cut, and then choose from the many different materials they offer like MDF, plywood, mountboard, acrylic (or you can suggest new materials). I've used them for cutting/engraving a small control panel for the scenic effects on my N gauge layout.

James Finister said...

Mark, That looks worth trying since I've got Inkscape on my PC and several drawings of suitbale projects

Mark said...

If you are already using InkScape then it really is easy to get stuff cut -- I was amazed just how easy it all was.

James Finister said...

Mark, I'll give it a try as soon as I'm back from the US. At the moment I'm struggling with the stupid issue of how to combine a series of adjoining shapes with an overall outline to be cut but internal fold lines between the objects