To look at the modelling world from a different perspective often brings to light many alternative methods of resolving problems which are common to all modelmakers, no matter their discipline. This is the principle reason why I visited Scale Modelworld, held at the International Conference Centre in Telford in November, because it certainly brings you down to earth when you see what can be built in the smaller scales. I also have to admit that this is now one of my favourite shows and its popularity appears to be growing. As this is a show run by the International Plastic Modellers Society (IPMS), most of the models on display are made from plastic, but there are still scratchbuilt models to be seen made from a variety of materials. Three large halls are used to stage the exhibition making this show one of the largest, not only in the UK, but in the world as a whole. Most of the modelling spectrum is covered, with traders from almost every discipline being present, although this of course does not include the engineering aspect of modelmaking.
The exhibition and traders
So far as I could see, there were only three traders completely devoted to the marine side of things. These were White Ensign Models, as usual doing good business with their range of kits, brass etchings and other related warship items, L'Arsenal from France, had an outstanding display of their marine resin models and for the second year running there was a new manufacturer from Austria, Wiener Modellbau, who displayed his latest kits and the part completed plug for their latest model. This is S.M.S. Adler and was built at Yarrows in 1885. This looks like it is going to be a splendid model to build and at 1/72 scale it will be quite a large model for a static resin cast hull.
On another stand were etched parts for the Revell U.S.N. Gato submarine and German U-boat. I have been waiting for sometime to see if anybody would produce sets for these two excellent kits and here they were. The end result so far as I could discern, was very impressive indeed and they improve already highly detailed kits.
Airfix and Revell were of course present. On the Airfix stand I could see little that was new on the marine side of things, however on the Revell stand they had their new example of the Bismarck, which whilst not being a large model, is still commendably detailed and should give the connoisseur of static plastic models much enjoyment. At the show last year I had heard rumours that a fairly large destroyer was in the pipeline, but no decision had been taken at that stage as to what it was going to be. The representatives on the stand were very tight lipped as you might imagine, but I surmised that it was not going to be a large model like the U.S.N. Gato class submarine or the Flower class corvette. However, I thought it would be of a fairly large type of warship and considering all the options, I came to the conclusion that a Fletcher class destroyer was in the offing. So it was with some satisfaction that I noticed on a website while I was writing this piece, that this is just what is now being offered. It is of one the ships that were transferred to the West German Navy, though for the life of me I cannot remember the name now and the link to the website seems to have disappeared.
Traders at this show tend to sell mostly kits and the majority of these are aircraft and military vehicles of one sort or another, although marine models do have a significant presence. However, what is so abundantly obvious is the camaraderie of all the modellers present, many of whom had travelled thousands of miles to be there. These included traders and displays from the USA, Austria, France, the Scandinavian countries and of course the rest of Europe as well as the UK. Model clubs and special interest groups were in abundance as well, which just shows the real depth of interest in these defined areas of modelling. The marine side of course held their ground extremely well, with groups dedicated to battleships, landing craft, convoys and the Falklands campaign.
The real reason for so many people attending, is the competition, this being the premier show of its type in the UK and as a result there is an impressive entry in all sections. Here it is just the marine side of things in which we are interested. There was I would think, a larger than average entry and all the exhibits were of outstanding quality. This year was quite an occasion as well, for it was a marine model which won the best in show. This was of the Cunard liner R.M.S. Mauritania, not in her normal peacetime finish, but as she was in 1918 when she was repatriating American troops at the end of the WWI. She is depicted in her camouflage pattern of grey and blue with her decks crowded with returning troops. The model has been built by Jim Baumann who is a prolific miniature marine modeller of the highest order. I should perhaps point out that this example has been built from a normal Airfix kit, but of course it has been heavily modified to achieve this final result. It does show just what can be achieved with initially such a basic kit.
Another really outstanding model was that of the armoured cruiser H.M.S. Cumberland and built by ???? Well that is a good point, for I don't know in most cases, which is where I have a major gripe with the organisation of this event, for there is no indication as to who actually builds a model, nor could I see a published results list. Anyway, what is really so outstanding with this model is the exquisite rigging for a model so small. One of the major problems apparently with rigging a model of this size, is that apart from keeping the correct scale it is to prevent it from sagging, which I hope you will see from the picture. An interesting and unusual exhibit was that of an Italian two man chariot complete with the two crew. Most of the models entered were warships, however there were one or two other merchant ship models apart from the winner, most notable of which was the armed merchant cruiser, Jarvis Bay, which fought a one sided battle protecting her convoy during WWII. Another, was a small boat powered by what looked like at least an early Seagull outboard motor. On an initial inspection, the casual observer would think it had been built entirely out of wood, but actually not so, as it is built entirely in plastic. These are just a tiny proportion of the models on display, so I trust the pictures will do justice to the rest and readers will be able to appreciate the skill and dedication that goes into producing these splendid models. The 2008 event will be held at the same venue during mid-November. If you check the plastic modelling press nearer the time that should give you more information, or the website of IPMS (UK) is www.ipms-uk.co.uk, which has an events section.
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