Scale ModelWorld 2013

DAVE WOOLEY visits this premier International Plastic Modellers Society (UK) event

Held at the Telford International Centre, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 4JH, on the 9/10th November, this was a significant year as it celebrated its 50th anniversary, although it has not always been at this venue. The IPMS was formed in 1963 and now there are 50 worldwide national groups with the British branch known as the IPMS (UK).


Here, I am concentrating on the marine exhibits, of which there were many. The total competition entry exceeded all expectations, but its success had unforeseen consequences, so more on that later. The model content for the entire show actually ran into thousands and many are either built totally from scratch or are semi-scratch, but kit and semi-kit injection moulded and resin cast remain the largest section of them all.


There are three halls used at the Telford International Centre plus the Ludlow suite, with this last being home to the competition entries and the major refreshment area. Halls One and Two featured model displays interspersed with traders and Hall Three had a distinct overseas area plus yet more model displays. This last hall also hosted some 1:1 exhibits, one of which was a UH-H Huey and a OH-6A Light Observation Helicopter, both Vietnam War veterans, plus a Centurion main battle tank and a replica Spitfire accompanied by a WW2 refuelling bowser. The helicopters were actually flown to the exhibition centre!

The event

Over the two days, this show attracts more than 25000 visitors and must be the largest UK dedicated static model event. Being the 50th Anniversary Year, entry into the competition was high in all the disciplines which include amongst others; aviation, transport, military, sci-fi and marine. Many of the marine exhibits are scratch or semi-scratch built, the rules allowing for just 15% of a model to contain styrene. So yes, the models have some plastic in them, but not necessarily 100%. And the problem mentioned earlier? Well, there were so many competition models that inevitably they were overcrowded on the stands which made viewing difficult for the visitors. It was rather as if the organisers had said that this was the space available and it didn't matter if there are 10 or 10000 models, that is what you have got! Since presumably there is pre-entry, the problem could have been addressed prior to the event.

The incredible HMCS Agassiz

Outstanding and simply FAB-U-LOUS was Barry Sharman’s model of the short forecastle Flower class corvette HMCS Agassiz. First seen and mentioned in this magazine in March 2012 MB, it was now entered in the competition. Looking again at this amazing model there is just more and more detail to be found within it, including the radio operator position on the bridge and one of the crew at a desk, writing a report. One side of the model is open and the other is closed like a normal ship model. Barry explained to me how the model was constructed, it being based on the basic Revell Flower class corvette kit, but 80% of what you see is scratch built. Various sections of the model, for example the boiler and engine room, crew's quarters etc., are constructed as modules and slot into the hull. HMCS Agassiz was awarded a Gold Medal and the White Ensign Models Award. Barry is not sitting on his laurels, as his latest model was also exhibited with his model making group display. This is a waterline model of a coastal salvage vessel that he has researched and scratch built, although not exposing the inner compartments like his HMCS Agassiz, but demonstrating the more traditional approach of skillful weathering and proper presentation in a diorama.


Going from one extreme to another there was an ultra-small X-Craft built by Dennis Mulligan. Comparing it with a UK one pound coin shows just how small this model is and all the rivet detail and operating linkages are also on it!

One of the most astonishing of models was this stern wheeler built by Bruno Gire. Barely 75mm in length, it is completely scratch built using numerous photo etched nickel alloy parts. The original vessel is now moored in Sacramento, California, being used as a hotel and restaurant, but it was originally built by William Denny & Brothers in Scotland. The vessel was sent to California in 1926 in sections, rather like a giant kit, where it was then re-assembled and put into service.


These are a significant part of the show, particularly on the marine side and here there were a number of superb examples. Examples were a fine diorama entitled 'Le Richelieu', which shows this French battleship preparing to leave New York after her extensive refit in September 1943.

There was also a scene set in the Admiralty in London around the early 18th Century when their Lordships were examining a Navy Board model, with the diorama entitled 'Lords of the Admiralty'. This was to a scale of 1:32 and incorporated some doll's house fittings, but was largely scratch built by John Norman.

Fifty Years of IPMS

To commemorate this anniversary, there was a special display of some of the most outstanding of the previous show winners. One of the most significant of these was a cutaway model of the 38 gun frigate HMS Diana 1794, built by Les Burningham. Based in part on the hull of the Revell USS Constitution kit, this astonishing model had previously also gained a Gold Medal in the Kit Class at the 1995 Model Engineering Exhibition and is now more usually seen as a permanent exhibit at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Museum.

Trade support

This was (and is( substantial with numerous items across all the static model specialities being for sale, as well as tools and books. Okay, in this magazine we are primarily concerned with functioning models, but there is much here at Scale ModelWorld that is useful for our hobby. Reference books of all types were readily available, dealing with aviation, military, transport and marine subjects. Yes, you can obtain a lot of information from the internet, but a well illustrated book written by an established authority on a particular subject is a guarantee of the correct information.


A single day here is really not enough to take in the sheer quantity and variety of what is on offer and as I would estimate that 50% of the traders were from overseas, so this really is an opportunity to see what is to be had from outside the UK.

National Championship 2013 Winner

Not a boat, but worth the picture! This was a fantasy subject listed as 'A Bugatti Tesla Type'. Although it never actually existed in real life, to look at the model you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. This was a truly outstanding piece of model making, reminiscent in many respects of the work of Gerald Wingrove, an icon of miniature vehicle model engineering.


This is an event based around non-working static models and is perhaps seen by some as something that may not have much appeal to model boat builders, yet it confirms the opposite, as these dedicated IMPS modellers go to amazing lengths to achieve realism for their models that is just so inspiring and an incentive for us perhaps to develop our skills.


More to the point, there is a significant crossover in this skill and knowledge base, so coming here at least once is not a wasted journey, the event being held annually at the same time as the International Model Boat Show a bit further South. There are a number of enthusiasts who combine both events over the same weekend. I promise, a visit to Scale ModelWorld will not be wasted!


The 2014 event is being held on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th November.