There I have said it and I admit it, I love model shows, whether it’s one of the biggies or a small local show I love them, the atmosphere the feeling the ambience I love it. last year I attended 8 and it would have been more had funds permitted. The show circuit for me, actually us, (always 2 and sometimes 3) starts in February and until recently started with Trucks ‘n’ Tracks in Folkestone now called On Tracks of course a lovely little show down by the sea and it is a show I highly recommend, the last couple of years we have not attended due to the other halves birthday so it has been kicked off with the very local ‘Sutton’ show, this has moved around a bit both in location and time of year, this year it was in Banstead during some light snow in early February. It is not one of the biggest shows of the year however the Sutton show or putting it correctly the North Surrey Military Modelling Group open day and competition was the first show I ever attended in the late 90’s and I have only missed one show since plus it is normally within walking distance of my house. The reasons that shows are very close to my heart is that you get to see the wonderful work your fellow modellers have been working on plus you get to see friendly faces and have a chat (and spend some hard earned cash of course). Usually the next stopping off point for us is Southern Expo held in Hornchurch Essex, this show normally has the backdrop of early spring weather which is an added bonus, I have to admit it is a lovely show, it is called the ‘Friendly show’ and I can see why, it has a lovely atmosphere and one to attend if you have never done so. If you attend Sunday there is also the bonus of the competition to cast your eye over and marvel at the skills of our fellow modellers. As the weather gets better and we begin to shed those coats the IPMS Milton Keynes show Modelkraft comes bouncing along, this show is one of my favourites and it is a great show. This show for us is a weekend affair and gives us the opportunity to come up, stay and spend time with the other halves parents and attend the show of course. Modelkraft will always hold a special place in my heart as I was born just down the road in Bletchley and it was the first show I took the other half to and although she was singled out by a visiting Darth Vader and his stormtroopers it has not put her off attending the show and we have returned every year since 2013.
Up until a few years ago this would have been our last show until after the air show season, sadly after witnessing the Hawker Hunter crash at Shoreham in 2015 the air show scene is something we given a wide birth to, maybe we will return to it this year, who knows. Last year the Lancing model show came onto our radar, I think it was flagged up on Facebook by Peter of MAN Models and we took a gamble took a nice drive down to the coast, what can be better than a nice small show down by the sea on a sunny day, it had a few traders and clubs and a well attended competition which included works by the highly talented Andrew Argent, a great little show that we will be returning to again this year. This is where we take an interval in the model show circuit which is just as well I suppose, you attend you spend, I am a great believer that the traders are there to make money so you need to part with that hard earned cash to support them because if we do not they will not return and what would a show be without them?, it is a fine balance of course to find the right ingredients to make a show work, an easily accessible venue, a fair entrance fee, some local parking not necessary free but local, the right amount of club stands and a sprinkling of traders and a well attended competition, throw in a good selection of available refreshments and voila you have the winning formula, of course this is subjective what I like to see at a show is not what everybody likes, it’s chalk and cheese. I am a armour modeller for the most part however I love to walk round seeing the many various elements of the hobby, I may prefer to see a well weathered tank to say a shiny car however we all have that one thing in common our love of the hobby, plus modelling is by nature a hobby of lonely solitude with maybe just the radio or our pet to keep us company so the shows give us a chance to blow away the cobwebs show off what we have being working on and meet up to chat too like minded people.
The second half of the show circuit for us kicks off with the IPMS Farnborough show in deepest surrey, it is another show that is close to my heart I first attended it back in about 2007 with my Step Dad and it is where I first got acquainted with the southern members of my club The Bulldogs Andy, Andy and Lucky, the show itself has a very friendly atmosphere and no competition which I think adds to the friendliness of the show. I have attended the show as both a visitor and exhibitor in fact this was the show I first displayed my work to the public and was completely painless… After Farnborough the next show up for us was the London MAFVA show, quite a small show in Kensington with a couple of traders to convince us we needed to part with some cash plus it had a well attended competition with some great work on show, it was our first MAFVA show and we will return again this year if the opportunity arises, although this year we are attending the Farnborough show and Euro miniature expo, the replacement for Euro Militaire in the same weekend so the London MAFVA show may be swapped for that instead and plus you need to carefully spread those modelling funds. Hovering slightly over the now defunct Euro Militaire for a moment, I attended Euro back in 2002 and although the level and standard of work that was on show was beyond what I had ever seen before, the atmosphere was not up there with what I had felt at other shows hence one of the reasons why I have not attended since. After the London MAFVA show all eyes are on the biggie, Scale model world in Telford, this is for us the greatest model show on earth, it is the opportunity to have a whole weekend of models and socialising. Last year was a near disaster as the other half and driver of our duo tore a thigh muscle 3 weeks before hand and was on crutches, unable to drive and thoroughly feeling bad about it. I was planning to actually finish something for the club stand after a challenge from talented modeller and fellow club member Keith Forsyth, to be honest it was the challenge I needed and I was right up for it. With driver unable to drive or walk for that matter, our Telford plans for the first time were in jeopardy thankfully it was her left leg and we duly hired an automatic, a lovely Mercedes C class and made the long trip without too many problems. Going to Telford, meeting up with members of your club, some of which you haven’t seen since the same time last year, having a laugh, loads and loads of models in a place full of fellow modellers really is the highlight of the modelling year and I always leave on the Sunday afternoon sad in one way yet happy in another and then you start the countdown to next years main event, usually promising yourself that you will not spend so much next year which usually turns out to be an empty promise. A side note to last years SMW that I must mention, my club the Bulldogs decided to hand out an award for the best piece of ‘work’ on the club stand, I have to admit I quite fancied having the accolade of being first recipient of that award however having cast my eye over the standard of work on the stand on the Saturday I had resigned myself to the fact that it was not to be, I also have to mention that the other half did not have a model on the stand yet had made some of her amazing shortbread to share amongst us all. On the Sunday morning after the 2 minutes silence and the annual club photo you can imagine her surprise when club El Presidente and talented modeller Mal Mayfield handed her the trophy, it makes a great photo and so although I did not win it went to a worthy winner, well done Kerry..
The show circuit comes to a close for us at the London plastic model show held for the last few years at the London business and design centre in London, it is a great show in a great venue, it also has a great atmosphere and it finishes off our shows for the year just nicely, the competition is attended well with normally some good work on show to cast your eye over. It is also a chance to stock up on those few paints and the like you forgot to get at Telford a few weeks prior. Modelling for me is multi faceted, you have the manufacturers that work on and baffle us with their choice of kit release, then you have the seller whether that be anonymous sellers from the internet, the local model shop or traders at the shows, then us the model makers, the model builders who take the kits and carefully put them together ready to share them with maybe just ourselves, family friends or our club member and maybe even the modelling public at shows and maybe if we think it is good enough in the competition to be analysed picked over and talked about. Then there are the shows that bring us all together, dragging us sometimes kicking and screaming out from behind our workbenches in workrooms man caves and the like to chew the fat over everything from the latest kit releases, right paint shade, latest magazines books decals painting techniques the list is endless, bringing us together and I think that it is a great thing and that is why I love model shows.