Monday, February 19, 2007

This is what we do

harrogate show
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
What a happy scene. Contented punters watching the layout. I think this family were taking part in our “spotting game” where we challenge visitors to find various animals on the model. I expect they had got as far as trying to find the robin – always the toughest one as it’s only a couple of millimetres long.

The picture pretty much sums up the event. Lots of people asking questions chatting to us. Far better than those shows populated entirely by enthusiasts. This species will happy talk to their friends and tell each other how you did something. It never occurs to them to speak to the idiot with the controller. What a shock it is for them to realise that we can hear what they say and aren’t afraid to correct them when they get it wrong !

I’ve never understood this. The attitude probably stems from a fear of being seen not to know something – surely the solutions is to ask the guy who has done it and learn from him ? No. Of course it isn’t. Far better to wonder and the scurry home to try and find the answer in a book or magazine. Better still, lets not actually do anything just in case it doesn’t go perfectly.

Here is a newsflash – what you see at any show is the culmination of months or years of effort. No one makes the things you see the first time they try. The difference between most exhibitors and the average modeller is that they try, try, try again. Then they only show the good stuff.

Much on show at events is beyond me but this isn’t a problem. If I look at Ian Rathbone’s painted models I know I can’t achieve a finish like he does. But them I’m not a professional and haven’t painted nearly as many models as he has. It doesn’t mean I don’t get to ask what causes “orange peel” paint finishes (The paint being too thick and drying before spreading apparently. Put more thinners in it.) so I can try and improve.

Likewise, every layout is a series of models. You build one and add it to the completed whole until the whole scene is finished. I know that the first time a visitor sees it they are awed by the detail – that’s the point – it didn’t all arrive at once though.

Every journey starts with a single step. Every model railway starts with a single model, be it a bit of track, locomotive, wagon, building or even a robin.

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