Intermodellbau 2012


DAVE WOOLEY visits this five day event in Dortmund, Germany

This annual show, held from 18th to 22nd April this year, is the largest model event in Europe. It is more than just a model show and is better described as a ‘model making experience’. I enjoy going back year after year and being surrounded by all that is to do with model making in all its various disciplines. Even if your interest is very much boat shaped, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the shear size and diversity of the model making skills on display and that is why Intermodellbau remains the largest and probably the best attended model show in Europe.

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This year my travel plans were in the hands of the team of Dave Collier and Dave Veitch. Their well tried method of travel by coach and ferry across the North Sea from Hull via Rotterdam and onwards to Dortmund, is one of the best ways to prepare for Intermodellbau and at the same time savour what can only be described as the best seat in town for viewing the ships in Rotterdam which is especially true when entering and leaving the third largest maritime port in the world. The coach trip includes all travel, ferry and hotel accommodation and most meals.

The Event

For the record, the show attracts over 100,000 visitors to its eight halls. The indoor boat pool is 400 sq. metres. and there are over 20000 models of all types to be seen. For the commercially minded, sales at the 2011 show topped 20 million Euros. Model boats are concentrated in Hall 5 which is well lit, so is good for photography. The activities in and around the pool were also covered daily by local and national TV. For 2012, there was certainly a significant emphasis towards more activity on the pool. Nauticus (the German equivalent of the MPBA) had organisational responsibility for much of Hall 5 and the pool activities which ran all day. One of the more unusual sail powered models was the trimaran featured in the film Water World and it not only looked the part, but also performed well. Specialist groups such as Sonar (the German equivalent of the British Association of Model Submariners) put on a superb display and a number of their Soviet era SSN’s looked almost real. IG Yacht Modellbau is an established and growing group dedicated to so called ‘Super Yachts’ and spectacular is perhaps too tame a compliment for their models.

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Hall 5 accommodated nearly 50 German clubs, including Peterborough MBC, our sole UK representative, together with clubs from Belgium and the Netherlands. A high standard of themed presentation is expected by the event organisers, otherwise you don’t get asked again! So for example there was a club specialising in ‘mini-scale’ and another in vintage working sail boats as well as numerous other stands. Not a lot different from UK shows, but perhaps rather more of them!

One regular display is the D-Day diorama by a group of Belgian modellers. This is updated to a different time-frame each year, so although the theme is constant for the period in question, the display actually changes year on year.

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Special displays on the pool

Intermodellbau encourages themed displays with models performing individual or group tasks. This year there was an oil rig rescue and evacuation display as well as others. Mini fast electric racing is becoming more popular and this year I saw the impossible, with six 150mm (6 inch) long r/c fast electric boats racing around the pool at a great rate of knots.


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Intermodellbau attracts all the big names in model manufacturing such as Graupner, Krick, Revell and Robbe for their boats as well as cars and aircraft. There were numerous others and over in the aircraft hall was r/c gear of all types. The sole UK model boat manufacturer was Deans Marine, who seemingly had a very busy five days.

There were brand new and cutting edge r/c systems from Futaba and Spektrum, the latter with their new 2.4GHz DX10T. The ability of one new system to store the settings for 200 models was mind-boggling! I did also notice a show offer for a simple plug in 2.4GHz conversion pack plus a new receiver for 40Mhz Multiplex SX transmitters and all for just 53 euros.

Across a number of the halls were the latest in 3D and CNC cutting machines. For example, for 549 euros was the Hobby A4 CNC machine able to cut styrene for multiple identical window frames. These machines, although not cheap, are becoming within the financial reach of an ever widening group of modellers.

Club and trade demonstrations

Basic model building was at the heart of many of the club demonstrations. Laying up hulls is a regular feature as is rope making, but a demonstration using lightweight printed circuit board for superstructures was really interesting. There was even a production line for building Springer tugs which was fascinating to watch. Model construction gathered small crowds, very often of children and that can be no bad thing for the hobby.


The two questions to be asked are: Did I enjoy the show and was it worth going?

Well as always, the answer is yes to both. If you haven’t been, then you should make the effort for 2013, either travelling with an organised group or perhaps just three or four of you together by car. Flying to Dortmund from the UK is okay, but with budget airlines you are limited to what you can carry without surcharges. So, if you buy anything bulky, travel really has to be by coach or car. The huge plus for Intermodellbau is that it covers all sectors of the modelmaking hobby and for your daily entrance fee of around 8 euros you will certainly get value for money. Two days at least will be required if you want to see everything. The only downside for 2012, was that there were fewer dedicated marine traders than previously, but no shortage of others.


On the way to Intermodellbau, the ferry docked at Rotterdam which gave us a grandstand view of the harbour and container terminals. On the way back, we had a free day in Rotterdam before boarding the ferry in the evening. Rotterdam has a reasonably decent maritime museum with access to number of vessels undergoing restoration. Unfortunately, in the museum itself, the number of models actually on display has been reduced, something that has occurred in the UK as well.

On the homeward voyage on Pride of Hull and just as dinner was underway, the opportunity arose to photograph a large self-propelled semi-submersible crane a vessel being guided up the River Maas by tugs as we were sailing parallel to it. Thanks to Billy Callow for alerting me so that I did not miss it!

Also, entering the River Humber on the Sunday morning gave a grandstand view of shipping including the tanker Golden Strength being towed to the nearby Immingham Oil Terminal. Finally, thanks to the organising team for yet another enjoyable and smooth-running six day trip.


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