MUSINGS FROM EXPO 2023
Not having attended a Model Expo since 2019, I was partly interested and equally not interested in once again trudging down to Melbourne to see if there had been any advancement in which I’d be interested in the latest world of scale modelling.
One thing that doesn’t help is that in order to attend expo I first have to drag myself out of my fart sack at some ungodly hour when it’s still dark. Then having accomplished that small feat, the next obstacle involves about an hour’s drive in the dark on country roads that always involves having one looking out for Kangabunnywallafoxes and the occasional farmers straying livestock, as any impact with the afore mentioned wildlife is going to absolutely ruin one’s big day out.
This time my above problems were solved by the Prof who put me up for a couple of nights, thank you Leigh, very much appreciated. This solved the bed and travel issues as Mark informed us that he would once again pilot us down to Expo after picking both Prof and myself up at Chateau Edmonds at what to me was still an ungodly hour.
After an uneventful couple of hours travelling down to Melbourne, we arrived at the venue, paid the entrance tickets for the Swap N Smell and the main hall areas. The queue for the swap meet stretched back into some part of suburbia so we waited until they had all gone. I was surprised that there was still plenty of spaces and quite a few empty tables even though we entered after the initial horde had rushed the doors.
The main and really only reason I had decided to tempt the COVID Gods, and any other unknown petrie dish escapees that could have hitched a ride on those who have a very strong aversion to personal hygiene, was to try and add to my collection of 1/32 aircraft kits especially the Hasegawa brand. Alas, there was only one Swap meet trader who had a selection for sale, most I already had but that didn’t stop me from buying a few.
The prices for most kits appeared to be higher than previous Expos. Haggling was the order of the day, especially for me and I got some bargains. To say I was underwhelmed by most of what was on offer would be about right, the larger kits were what I came to buy, but even though the pickings were very slim I still managed to add a few kits to my small collection. I’m still yet to find any 1/32 Hasegawa Kittyhawk K’s and N’s.
The swap section was still in full swing when I decided to go back downstairs to the main hall and sit down, My nerve back/leg problem was playing havoc with me so I missed out on seeing quite a size-able portion of exhibits.
I was certainly surprised by how many empty tables, and a somewhat lesser amount of models were on display (well to me anyway). However, what was on display were built to a very high standard. The Science Fiction or Fantasy sections have grown in size, as mentioned by others, maybe the hobby is adjusting to this newer category in a big way. Those sections may not interest me as much (Steampunk is a different kettle of fish to me as I like it) as the usual long time model kits, so I’ll stick to my old farts usual fare.
What was great to see, were the number of club members milling around and enjoying themselves. It appears that the catering at the venue has improved beyond belief, so much so that club members decided to throw caution to the winds and a bunch of us sat down and enjoyed a great feed and a good chinwag as we watched the passing parade of frazzled modellers and their long suffering partners being dragged around.
After a few hours wandering around, the three of us voted to retire graciously from all the noise and younger generations and make our way back to the various realms of the old farts peaceful lodgings. A stop on the way home for a casual snack is our usual fare and this we did while discussing the days events.
What did we conclude you might ask, it was great to catch up with old friends, however they may look battered by Father time. A quick look in the mirror reinforces my own opinion that not only has any youth I may have had, departed long long ago, but it took with it my patience with society as a whole, and anything else within its grasp it could piss off with.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, had there been any advancement in the scale modelling world? The only answer I can come up with is a definite Yes. The amount of new kits and ways of molding enjoyed by manufacturers and individuals is only the beginning. There are some very intricate kits appearing on the market every month, the range of what is available is ever expanding, the SF and Fantasy fields are only going to swell the ranks of new releases.
Even older kits are being re-issued and in places being re-molded into a better product. Modellers themselves are continually trying to present their models in far more detail, ever trying to better their previous efforts. This can only make the hobby more inviting, or will it have the opposite effect for many? Who knows, I certainly don’t, but after approximately 60 + odd years in the hobby I still enjoy it and am a little pissed off that maybe the best years are still ahead and I won’t be around.
The MoB Journeys to the Magi
We need not detain ourselves at any length debating whether Pythagoras journeyed to Egypt or to Syria to seek and learn the wisdom of the maji. What is certain is that Pythagoras left Greece for a period of his life to learn the wisdom of the magi in one of those lands before returning to Greece. In seeking wisdom on this question from Pythagoras himself, while visiting Master Mark’s workshop, all Mark received by way of reply was a knowing and mischievous smile, an oblique reference to the current cost of model kits and the quick swish of the Pythagorean cloak as he departed.
Several MoBsters, being seekers after wisdom, decided to follow Pythagoras’ example and journey to far off Melbourne. The occasion for this journey was ModelExpo 2023 held, as has been the custom for many years, at the Sandown Racecourse on the far side of the metropolis. This tale recounts the journey and learnings of Masters Mark, Wayne and Leigh as they sought wisdom at Expo. They encountered other MoBsters at the event but you will have to enquire from them their experiences and what they learned.
The day previous Wayne came from remotest Walanduc into Ballarat where he spent the evening with Leigh discussing matters of mutual interest and preparing themselves physically and spiritually for the coming journey. Early the following morning Mark arrived in the Statesperson and, safely encased in its metal body, they set forth Melbourne and Expo. While Mark and Wayne conversed in the front of the vehicle Leigh, in the rear, immersed himself in the sayings of Pythagoras contained in a book which always seems to be there when the trio journeys to Expo in search of wisdom. From it he learned, this time, that Pythagoras was not a great meat eater, for sound spiritual reasons.
The three began learning new things as soon as they arrived at Expo. One was that car parking arrangements had been significantly modified since they were last there, no doubt to encourage modellers to adopt a more healthy lifestyle by making them walk long distances from their cars to the door of Expo. Another was the additional administrative step in the process of gaining entry in which entry to the Swap n Sell was gained by buying a ticket on the lower level before then trekking upstairs. Perhaps this reduced the industrial burden on Expo staff but was certainly a novel change for those not expecting it and another test of their physical stamina.
For the first time since they began journeying to Expo, the trio did not take with them kits and other modelling stuff to sell at the Swap n Sell. Relieved of this burden, and on viewing the long queue of modellers lining up to dash in to snap up the bargains when the doors opened at the appointed time, they decided to spend a little time in the main display area before joining the crowd upstairs. Downstairs the atmosphere was fairly quiet and relaxed which gave them time to chat to old friends including Frank Morgan, who is looking very cheerful and relaxed after shedding the burden of ModelArt Australia, and Scott of SMS who was looking cheerful but a tad tired. Both said that the previous days at Expo had been very busy with swarms of modellers.
After a while, and after the queue for the Swap n Sell had gone, the trio ascended to find what was left. Rather a lot, as it turned out. The venue had been extended since they were last there so the crowd did not seem so dense and difficult to penetrate as in previous years. First order of business was to distribute some fliers promoting the MoB’s Display Day next year and then to peruse the kits on offer. It seemed that kits were more expensive this year than in previous years, some of the bigger ones costing over $100. Unfortunately for the sellers, the trio has spent years buying kits and don’t need too many more, though they are always willing to be tempted by a good bargain. Mark, for example, picked up the old Williams Brothers Caudron racer for a good price and Leigh acquired two of the three airliner kits he saw on offer for $15 each. He also bought two kits of gliders but did not take the precaution of checking the scale of the kits before he bought them, so you will be able to relieve him of them at the next MoB Display Day. Wayne was the one who went berserk and bought four large scale fighters for high, but still reasonable, prices.
Having fulfilled their need to buy stuff that was relatively cheap the trio descended to the main hall and looked at the vendor’s offerings, the models and other displays. They kept on bumping into people in the crowd, some they knew too and stopped for a chat. Some of the best models were enough to make them feel like giving up the hobby but most of them were reassuringly average. Wayne noticed that a great many seemed to look the same which Leigh attributed to too many modellers these days copying their techniques and styles from the internet and social media.
They could not help but notice that many of the traditional model categories seemed to have fewer models on the table than in pervious years while the tables of sci-fi, fantasy and genres like Mecha were all well populated. There were also more very nice figures in various genres. Clearly there is a change taking place in scale modelling. From the visitor’s point of view many of the competition categories seemed spread around the hall at random so the various figure categories, for example, were not grouped together so you could see all the figures in the same general area.
The same seemed to be the case for the club and other displays so it was difficult to find them all. In previous years most of the clubs made elaborate stands for their models but this year that trend seemed much more subdued with only a couple of club displays standing out from tables of competition models.
The vendors around the sides of the main hall seemed to be doing well but high prices, and the desire to acquire stuff satiated at the Swap n Sell, none of the trio acquired much, except for a book or two. Leigh had a shopping list of tools he needed to replace after many years of hard use, but none of the vendors had anything on that list, so he went away empty handed.
Afterwards, the trio took themselves to the food end of the hall, found a table and sat to discuss their impressions of the event while consuming what was, for once, relatively palatable food. A little later more MoBsters turned up to join them. Sadly, the trio had to return to Ballarat early so they took their leave, after Leigh made a quick round of the hall photographing everything in sight for later posting on facebook. The only truly sour note of the day occurred when an aggravating, green t-shirt official prevented them from leaving by a convenient nearby door that others had previously been using.
As they were getting into the Statesperson for the journey home a gentleman in flowing robes approached them. Mark introduced him as Pythagoras. They asked him if he had gone into Expo but he said he had not and that he had learned all he needed to know from observing the character, carriage and clothing of the people entering and leaving the hall. When asked what he had learned from his observations he quickly changed the subject.
As they were driving along the freeways of Melbourne towards the civilization and fresh air of Ballarat Pythagoras spoke to them and answered their earlier question tangentially. He reminded them that there are three kinds of men (he’s a little old fashioned that way and not as gender aware as he might be). First there were the lovers of honour who went to gain it in the competitions, then there were the lovers of gain who had gone to Expo to buy and sell. Then there were the lovers of wisdom who only went to look. Pythagoras, a seeker of wisdom, had only gone to look but each of the trio admitted to a teeny weakness when it came to gain. Pythagoras waved that aside, admitting that he himself had occasionally bought and sold, but not very often or very much. This made the trio relax a little.
‘Then,’ Pythagoras asked each in turn, ‘as a seeker of wisdom, what did you learn this day?’
Wayne has no difficulty in answering. He had learned that some humans should never be given positions of authority, and green shirts, even at model shows.
Mark thought for a moment and then said he had learned that one person’s trash was another person’s treasure. He had acquired an excellent kit of an interesting aircraft that somebody else had discarded without even taking the kit out of its shrinkwrap.
Leigh quipped that he had learned to look at the scale of a kit before buying it in future. Then he pondered for a while and eventually admitted that he had rarely seen so much evidence of so much effort expended for very little real purpose, somewhere on the same level as croquet. Pythagoras raised an eyebrow at him and Leigh had to admit that he was guilty of taking part in the relatively pointless activity too. Mark and Wayne gazed studiously out of their windows lest the same eyebrow be raised in their directions.
Having thus assessed the character of each of the trio Pythagoras then entertained them with interesting and amusing anecdotes of his travels in Egypt and Syria. However, when they stopped for relief and refreshments at a road house along the way he disappeared quickly into the crowd, leaving the trio to their much less elevated conversation about the happenings of the day.