The Heat Death of Desire
(September 2008)

We all have our crosses to bear.  Some of us spent our time in the armed forces, always guaranteed to create a warped and possibly cynical view of the world.  Some of us combat foreign full-fee paying students who think they have found new ways of fooling their teachers with recycled and/or Googled essays while others have to peer down microscopes while cogitating on the latest instalment of ‘Gangster Rapper of the Week’.  For my sins I once taught a course in post-modern theory and was recently awarded a PhD of dubious authenticity in ‘Post Rational Discourse’.  Thus it is that I feel highly qualified to write about the MoB’s latest descent upon the hobby shops of suburban Melbourne as seen through rose-coloured post-rational glasses.

Through these post-modern glasses, an analytic tool if you will, it is possible to construct the narrative of our trips to suburban Melbourne as a quest for or the resolution of a sense of desire.  Now, ordinary folks look upon desire as something related to, shall we say, a night of wild passion and exhaustion with Kathleen Turner (okay, so I’m showing my age).  But desire can be posited as something more general in conception than the gratification of mere carnal lust (not so mere actually), desire is the internalisation of socially constructed symbols of a wide range of signifiers or texts that can be read as drivers for motivations and actions.  Thus, to put the conceptualisation in other words, one feels the desire to buy a burger and fries at McDonalds because of manifestations such as advertising, hunger, some spare cash and the sense, created from the previously mentioned sources of motivation, that buying those things will make one feel better than one feels at the moment when the initial idea forms in our minds because of the influence of those manifestations in relation to innate human motivations.  Or, to put it another way, one buys McDonalds burger and fries because our social location and sense of self in a community and the locus of multivarious influencing factors, motivates us to do so.  Put more simply, and leaving out all the interesting and entertaining nuances, we eat stuff bought at McDonalds because it makes us feel good because of the way in which social and biological motivations act at conscious and subconscious levels.

It will be clear, given the above, that we are motivated by desire when we embark on our descent on the model shops of suburban Melbourne.  Not only are we motivated by the desire to buy lots of plastic encased in bags and boxes, we are motivated by the desire to create objects as another form of desire from those lumps of plastic which can, in another sense, be … This is getting out of hand… Let’s try the narrative approach.

We gathered at the usual place at the usual time in something that is becoming a MoB ritual (don’t get me started on ritual).  As before Master Wayne and Master Zim (I’ve been watching too much Stargate SG1 of late) took command of Priscilla and we hurtled down the Western Freeway, stopping off at a lonely intersection or crossroads (there’s lots of symbolism in this concept too, but we will also sidestep that here) to pick up two more itinerant MoBsters.  Through this part of our voyage there was little comment to be heard from the command cabin because getting onto the Ring Road headed for Altona is not terribly complicated and, on a Saturday morning, there are not too many lunatics on that part of the road.  As a result, those of us sitting in the back of the vehicle has to amuse ourselves by making our own conversation and, through the usual ambling route of topics, we ended up pondering why it is that modellers actually derive any pleasure from entering their efforts in competitions.  It seems, on first, second and third considerations, to be illogical, unless it is through some perverse desire to make themselves upset and unhappy.

Our first stop was the usually highly desirable Snowies.  We piled out of Priscilla and entered the shop with great expectations of the items of desire we would find there.  Mark had his list of what he wanted, I had my list of what I already had so I wouldn’t get over excited and buy stuff I already had, and most of us had similar mental lists of what we would like to acquire. I don’t know about everyone else, I felt underwhelmed. Partly it was because my list of what I already possess is so long that there may not be much left to fill it, but it also seemed that there was less variety than on previous visits.  In particular, one whole aisle that had, on earlier occasions, been filled with stacks of desirable kits, was this time given over to books and magazines.  Now, I have no objection to them, but the internet is a pretty good source of modelling information these days and so I spent more money at the nearby supermarket on provisions for the day than in the shop.

Next stop was the Aladdin’s cave known as Hobby HQ.  It’s vast shelves stacked high to the ceiling was bound to have many desirable items that even I could not resist.  The trip was made more amusing by some sense of excitement emanating from the command cabin as Masters Wayne and Zim worked out how to get from Snowies to the Ring Road and from there to our next destination and by the increasing number of lunatics on the roads. Tim also added to the sense of occasion by warning us to ‘assume crash positions’ when the lunatics on the road ahead made driving conditions less than ideal.  However, in the back of the vehicle several of us became immersed in the conundrum that we had come to earlier, why do modellers enter competitions.  After some time it occurred to us that since there was no really satisfactory answer to the first question, it might be more fruitful to consider the problem of what is wrong with modelling competitions.  (As an aside, I have no explanation as to why we ended up on this line of thought rather than a discussion of the worst science fiction films in history or whether a tanker would be better off in a Tiger or a T-34, topics of conversation on earlier expeditions. Perhaps it is the logical outcome of locking a handful of intelligent and inquiring minds in the back of a hurtling red van with nothing else to do for long periods of time and with only the amusement from the command compartment to create a diversion.) As we were cruising through the streets of Reservoir coming up to our next stop, we reached the conclusion that perhaps there was nothing really wrong with modelling competitions apart from the fact that they were judged by humans with all the frailties, weaknesses and biases.

Outside Hobby HQ Master Wayne amazed us with a feat of parking rarely witnessed in the annals of driving, even outdoing his effort on the previous time we visited Hobby HQ when he slipped Priscilla into a parking spot while still travelling at above mach 1.  This time, he fitted the huge red van into a space that most humans would have realized was barely big enough for a Mini.  All we could do was gape in amazement and applaud his skill and daring.  After that all we had to do was crawl over the fruit stall that he had parked us next to and we were right at the front door of the shop.

After the frustration of Snowey’s I was looking forward to this shop to finally be able to buy something.  On all those shelves of all those stacks of kits there had to be a few that I desired.  But… no.  Search as hard as I could, there was nothing that I really desired or needed, or anything that I really wanted.  So, in the end, driven on by frustration, I was forced to buy something that was interesting, even if it was a Mach 2 kit.  Looking in the back of Priscilla at the end of our second stop of the day, I got the feeling that other MoBsters were as unenthused as I was.  If my feeling had been that there was less on show at Snoweys, my feeling was that it was all the same old stuff that I’d seen before at Hobby HQ.

Getting from Hobby HQ to lunch was the most entertaining part of the day’s driving, involving a lot of hurtling down suburban streets at high velocity with frequent gear and lane changing, and frequent Tim warnings to assume the crash position.  Unfavorable commentary on the driving abilities of others became more regular and the fact that the controllers of the Melbourne traffic light system had targeted Priscilla for particular attention became a highlight of conversation in the bus. Even so, having been given the bone of an idea to gnaw on, some of us continued to think about the issue of competition judging where the problem seems to be not in the competition but in the judging.  There had to be, we thought, a better way of conducting competition judging than the time honoured and highly fallible method of getting other modellers to do the judging.  Steve, whose job seems to involve the latest in management and computer modelling techniques, mentioned something called ‘Sigma Six’ which, he thought, might be an interesting way of tackling the problem.  (In all honestly I thought he was making this up but a couple of weeks later I found myself in the library of a large government department which had a lot of literature on this ‘Sigma Six’.  I thought I might try to find out what it is all about but as soon as I opened a book on the subject my eyes glazed over and my brain went numb.  We’ll have to wait until Steve writes us something about it to find out if the idea is viable.)  Mark said he thought he recalled seeing a Japanese web site about a computer based form of judging that might be interesting but just as I was about to comment that I didn’t know he read Japanese  Master Wayne hurled Priscilla into yet another impossibly small parking spot and we went off to the Blackburn Fish and Chippery for lunch.

Metro Hobbies was the next stop for the day, involving more driving along suburban roads that brought its own form of entertainment from the command compartment.  Strangely enough, we didn’t get lost on the way although we saw many more red traffic lights than is usual, which annoyed Master Wayne and amused the rest of us.  My memories of this place are rather unique – two years ago I was urged to buy myself the large, desirable and potentially beautiful Heller Concorde because there was one on display.  Last year I recall Mark explaining to me in intriguing detail the problems (they call them ‘issues’ these days) with some of the models of German aeroplanes on display. This year I noted that another of the models on display was a Hasegawa P-3C converted to an EP-3E with Falcon vacformed parts.  I had been battling with this model for some time, being particularly puzzled by what kinds of antennas should be attached to the model and it seemed that the modeller who had made the one on display knew more than me because he had a profusion of antennas that looked nicely realistic.  Thinking to take advantage of his research I took a number of photos of the model for future reference. (Later, on examining the photos, I found that the modeller had used markings for VP-40 on the model, but since that squadron never flew the EP-3E that throws into the doubt the authenticity of the rest of the model.  Still, all is not lost. Imagine the erudition I’ll be able to demonstrate in front of MoBsters next year when we visit the shop and I’m able to point out in detail the ‘issues’ with that model.) Leaving that aside, there was nothing in the shop that I could not live without, so I left with only a tube of Tamiya putty.

The details of our journey out to Boronia for the final stop of the day are somewhat lost to me.  It was partly because there was less excitement from the command cabin due to the nature of the main road and partly the highly intricate kit of a Tiger tank that Tim allowed us to inspect that was mesmerising in its complexity.  No wonder it takes him so long to complete one.

Boronia, nestling just below the Dandenongs, is almost another world.  Take the car part behind the shopping centre.  There are the highly decorated toilets and then the tattoo parlour before you even get to the shops that set a unique tone.  I like this model shop, the people there make you feel welcome as modellers as well as customers and you get the feeling that they not only know about what they sell but also care a bit about it too.  When I asked if the Revell kit of the Focke Wulf Fw200 was the old or the new kit the assistant said he didn’t know, which was better advice than you would have got in most shops.  There was also plenty of stock set out so it was easy to look through, and I did so in some desperation because I had so far only bought one kit.  That was the point of the day, to buy kits, wasn’t it?  But although I was overcome with desire to buy something, almost anything, I didn’t find anything that was desirable enough to buy.  Fortunately I finally spied the Airfix re-issue (for the umpteenth time) of their little Cessna O-1 that I had not seen for decades and I clutched it with heartfelt thanks as I headed towards the cash register.

The trip home is long and tiresome.  For a while we passed around the latest issue of ModelArt Australia that somebody had bought and Tim allowed us to be amazed at the detail and complexity of another kit he had bought.  There was a little more discussion on the subject of model judging but the rumble of Priscilla’s wheels on the never ending pavement soon sent me off to sleep.  We pulled off the freeway at the crossroads to disembark Tim and Steve and to tally up the day’s achievements and purchases.  Looking in Priscilla’s back door there didn’t seem to be much in the way of purchases, at least not in comparison to previous years.  Some of us wondered why the visible decline in spending over previous years and Master Wayne suggested that the problem was not that we had spent less than in previous years but that kits have gone up in price so we got less for the same expenditure.  Another suggestion was that there was less variety in the shops than in previous years, perhaps a sign of the changing economic times and the cost or availability of plastic to make kits, or perhaps a visible sign of the decline in our hobby.

I’ve been pondering this since.  It seems to me that in many ways the reduced number of purchases this time around is due to the death, or at least the decline, of desire.  Not just mine, but in others of us too.  In as much as I am a collector of kits that I hope to make into models one day, I am interested in the broad sweep of aviation history and collect to fill gaps in what might be called a survey history of aviation.  Other MoBsters are as obsessive in their own collections; focussing on German armour or aeroplanes, on aeroplanes or military vehicles that they find particularly attractive or interesting, cars and naval vehicles.  We, all of us, have been at it for some time and have now collected much of what really interested us or, to put it another way, what we really find desirable in model kits.  There is a lot more out there on the shelves, but unless it has resonance for us, we don’t find it desirable.

However, the fact that I found almost nothing desirable in any of the shops we visited doesn’t mean that I did not have a great day.  Quite the opposite.  Sitting in Priscilla as it was guided safely and securely down the road by Masters Wayne and Zim, contemplating the deep mysteries of model judging or sitting in the bright sunlight of late winter at the Blackburn Fish and Chippery in the company of fine people who are good friends was desirable in another way.  It will be a long time before that desire diminishes too.  There is always, of course, the fun of overhearing the commentary coming from the control cabin about the lunatic drivers and the roads.  And if you didn’t hear the final score, it was something like; Master Wayne 7, traffic lights 32.

A Day at the Racetrack – the MoB Goes to Expo, Again
(July 2008)

Those of you with exceptionally long memories will recall that a year ago MoBsters Wayne, Mark and I made the long trek to Sandown Racetrack to take in Expo for that year.  We had a good time and resolved to do it again, which we did.  To make the trip this year even more enjoyable we decided to take a table at the Swap and Sell, where we could sit in comfort and watch the world go by, which proved to work out rather nicely.  It also had the advantage of giving us an insider’s view of the event so that we could take in what was on offer at our ease.  On the other hand, Expo this year was only a two day event so the Swap and Sell began an hour earlier, which meant we had to be up even earlier than last year to give time to set up before the doors for the public opened.  It is not entirely true that I am a stranger to getting up at 5.30 in the morning, I have an alarm clock to make sure that I’m awoken at the appropriate time, but it has been some time since I used it so I had trouble in remembering how to make it work.

Two things made this expedition a little different.  One was that the early start would have seen Wayne getting up very early if he left from home so he stayed the night with Valma and I and regaled us with some of the more amusing stories from his previous working life – his time in the service of the Commonwealth might have been more stressful than mine but it also resulted in many more amusing anecdotes.  The second thing was that I have recently had a cataract operation on my good eye which has resulted in much improved vision.  However, at the time I was in the period where things had to settle down so while I had what is, for me, amazing vision, it was all a blur out to about three metres.  To overcome this Mark brought along a rather large magnifying glass for me to use, of which more anon.

The first morning light was breaking as Mark pulled up in the Statesperson and we loaded up.  We hummed down the freeway as the dawn broke and I sat in the back seat seeing parts of the scenery I’d never seen before.  It was all rather fun, although Mark is much less vocal about the physiology and character traits of other drivers than Dr Zim is.  The navigation was also less problematic than on previous occasions so there was little amusement to be gained from the banter in the front seat.  As we cruised through the unending Melbourne sprawl I was struck with the thought that although it is a long drive to get to Sandown from Ballarat, I’d rather have to do the drive once a year than actually live in Melbourne.

There is always a sense of impending expectation on arriving at a Swap and Sell.  It is partly the opportunity to get rid of some long-ago purchased kits that have become like a millstone and need to be disposed of and it is partly the expectation of tables full of new and different kits with which to fill the space previously taken by the millstones.  Since the main point of the exercise in getting a table was so we had somewhere to sit, neither Wayne or I had too many kits to dispose of, but it seems that there are now a larger number of people who are trying to make a few bob on the side by going into the second hand kit business.  As a result, there were quite a few dealers with extensive displays of high piles of kits and other modelling paraphernalia that would have taken a long time to go over in detail.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) one of the dealers who had come to our Display had shown me a list of what he then had for sale.  The result was that he already had a small pile of select French kits waiting for me before I had the opportunity to look elsewhere, including a couple of lovely LeO hydroplanes and a Breguet flying boat kit (vacform and resin but, as we say in the MoB these days, ‘is ero bellus’, so who is going to quibble over minor details like that).  They set me back about $160 before the doors even opened.  I also noticed a couple of large Monogram B-36 kits but overcame temptation and passed on buying one, even at the very reasonable prices they were asking.

When the doors opened the hoards of modellers seeking cheap or rare kits (hopefully both) swarmed in and I was glad to be on the other side of the table.  For some the technique seemed to be to do a quick recce of what was available and then return to buy the kits they wanted.  Others picked up whatever they wanted straight away.  Although there were some who were after particular kits most seemed to buy things that took their fancy so there was a lot of impulse buying.  Having been to a few Swap and Sell events where sales had been slow I was delighted to see my pile of kits going down rather rapidly and my wallet filling up so that the gap caused by French purchases was soon filled.  I actually had two piles, one of 1/72 kits of subjects that I had duplicated and the other of 1/144 kits that I had purchased in the 1970s and was in two minds about getting rid of.  (On the one hand, they are often more difficult than 1/72 kits to make well but on the other hand they have nostalgia value to me). So I put reasonable prices on the 1/72 kits and high prices on the 1/144 kits and, surprise, the 1/72 kits went fairly quickly but people picked up the 1/144 kits but put them down again when they saw the prices. One modeller finally selected four of the smaller kits to buy and Wayne was amused when I said to him in an incredulous voice, ‘Do you really want to buy these?’

Wayne has a smaller number of kits for sale but his technique of dropping his prices worked and within a short while he only had a handful left.  The last one was sold to a past MoBster, Terry, while Mark was manning the table and Wayne and I were off exploring. ‘Will Wayne take $10 for this?’ Terry asked. ‘No,’ replied Mark, ‘but I will’, and the transaction was concluded.

Mark was very self controlled in his purchases, a single kit but a product of the well known Mach 2 factory.  He blanched – as one does – on opening the box but since he has recently completed another Mach 2 kit he knows the pain and anguish he is letting himself in for. Wayne had a very enterprising time and came away with more kits than he had arrived with.  I might have bought more than I did if I had been able to see clearly, as it was I had trouble in reading the box labels and so probably passed up on any number of rare treasures.  I did, however, acquire a lovely Heller kit of the Dassault Etendard (one can never have too many Etendards) and the Heller kit of the Boeing 707. Looking at the huge box now I wonder what came over me; but my wallet was bulging, it’s not as big as the Monogram B-36 and, ‘is ero bellus’.

As the Swap and Sell wound down we went to have a look at the rest of Expo.  The format was pretty much as last year, tables of competition models, club displays and dealers around the edge of the area.  The first thing you saw as you walked in was a completed Monogram B-36 and, ohmyghod, it was enormous.  There must be some 1:1 ultralights that are about the same size. Remind me not to buy one.

Carrying around Mark’s magnifying glass was an interesting experience.  Not only did it help me see the models on display, it helped me see them in glorious, close-up detail.  The result of this kind of scrutiny was not edifying.  Now, I do not consider myself to be a good modeller, competent or fair average quality, but not capable of or interested in making the quality of model that I would expect to see on show at a national competition.  But even by my modest expectations I would have been embarrassed to have entered some of the models on display in competition.  There are three or four models that come to mind.  One was the massive B- 36 upon with somebody had lavished vast amounts of time trying to achieve the effect of a multi textured and coloured bare metal finish that looked more like somebody attempting to demonstrate their skills than a realistic representation of a B-36.  Then there was the highly weathered LeO 451 that looked as though it had been in the field for months, if not years.  Tell me again, how long did the Battle of France last? There was a somewhat unfortunate Monogram DC-3 in TAA colours… I could go on, but why torment myself?  My conclusion: MoBsters make some pretty impressive models to a high standard.

As usual, I most enjoyed looking at the airliner models in that category of the competition.  There were only about half a dozen and most were made in what could be best described as travel agent display mode, with no undercarriage on a stand – which takes away one of the most difficult parts of making small scale airliner models.  For most the quality of the finish was idealised rather than realistic and the most highly polished model, a 1/144 Qantas Boeing 707, had been declared the winner.  I couldn’t see why, but that’s just me.  To add amusement to the airliner competition, as I was running my magnifying glass over the entrants I overheard a conversation between somebody who could best be called a rivet counter and his mate in which all the minute inaccuracies in the Qantas model were laid bare in detail and critiqued.  I had to go away before I started laughing.

My overall impression of the competition: there were not many entrants in most categories; most of the judges were obviously mentally defective, and the quality of entrants was not as high as I had recalled from last year.  But perhaps it was the magnifying glass doing the judging.  I must remember to take it again next year.

There were club displays, but I did not really notice them.  This was partly because I found them difficult to look at and partly because a collection of models around a theme is not one of the most novel concepts that comes to mind when thinking about displays.  These club displays were, so I read later in the NAM Newsletter, judged.  And, as I also read in the same source, the judges apparently made the wrong decision, again.  The point of holding competitions for things like displays, or models for that matter, completely eludes me, again.

(Musing on the idea of club displays, it seems to me that it would be much more interesting to put on a display about modelling and a modelling club.  What kinds of people are modellers?  What do they do and how do they do it?  What does a modelling club do?  From our discussion after our most recent display, this seems to be the direction we are going in.)

The other part of Expo was the people wanting to sell things and there were constant crowds around the stands of the large hobby shops.  Some were giving what the called an Expo discount but, as Wayne observed, some also seemed to have put up their prices for Expo so that, even with the discount, they were still ahead.  There was also people selling modelling equipment, air brushes, decals and all kinds of bits and pieces.  Frank and Leigh Morgan were there promoting ModelArt Australia and next to them were the people promoting the Aussie Modeller web site.  There were also a number of stands selling odd, difficult to obtain and usually highly expensive resin kits.  I managed to get away from these stands with only one purchase, a highly expensive resin kit of a Farman Shorthorn (French, of course), which was probably an even greater, but smaller, folly than the Heller Boeing 707.  It is lovely to look upon but I can’t imagine how to make it without breaking those fragile parts.

After several hours we three MoBsters gathered and agreed that we had seen about all that we needed to see. There is always the feeling that there is probably something still to be seen but it is a long way from Sandown to Ballarat.  The Statesperson glided through the Melbourne suburbs, stopping somewhere along the way at the Scottish fast food shop where we gazed at wrestling on large screen television as we ate.  Perhaps I dozed off in the back seat of the Statesperson because we seemed to get home very quickly after that.  Then all I had to do was explain to the lovely Valma how I had come to purchase the Heller Boeing 707, what a bargain it was and how beautiful it will be.

The MoB’s Big ‘D” Day
(April 2008)

I don’t know about you, but it was good for me.  Unfortunately, like most really good things, it didn’t seem to last long, for me at least.  No sooner had I set everything out on the tables and settled in for the day, chatted to a few people and glanced at the dealers tables, and it was time to go home.  There must have been more to it than that, so let me go back to the beginning.

After last year’s experience I was looking forward to doing it again and prepared with eager anticipation.  All the models were put in good condition, all the placards organised, all the boxes ready to be packed into the car on the big day.  At the last moment my mun-in-law gave me a batch of yummy rissoles that became my lunch for the day – if there is one thing that our new venue lacks it is somewhere close to go for food.

D-Day (Display Day) arrived, excellent weather heralding a good turnout.  I slid behind the wheel of the car and drove out to the venue without running into anything and getting only slightly lost once.  When I arrived the place was already buzzing with excitement for when Dr Z said that the doors would be open and ready at 8.30 people had taken him at his word.  I would have been there right on time too apart from the slight detour.

I gather that Mark, Matt and I were supposed to share the same set of tables but Mark and I looked at our piles of models, looked at each other and urged the Admiral to find a berth elsewhere.  As it turned out, our two sets of models complimented each other reasonably well, especially after I migrated most of my German models (yes, I have been know to make models celebrating the filthy bosch, occasionally) down towards Mark’s end.  By the time I got all the placards out and then all the models onto the right placards (no major embarrassments this year) and then organised them into clumps of similar models standing about together people were starting to come in through the door. And thus it was for the rest of the day.

Yvette filled the role of ‘door bitch’ yet again with her usual amiable and welcoming charm.  On the odd occasion when I wasn’t talking to somebody or wandering about taking everything in, it was good to listen to the way she greeted people, asked them where they had heard about the Day and encouraged them to enjoy themselves.  For a great deal of the day Leigh Morgan sat with her and they filled in the day chatting to each other when they weren’t talking to people who were handing over their gold coins.

Many, perhaps most, of the gold coins came from the raffle that Yvette and Wayne had organised.  To listen to them before the event getting donations this year was like pulling teeth, huge big back teeth that refused to budge.  But on the day the mass of kits they had assembled proved to be a real attraction with a wide range of kits in all shapes and sizes and subjects – except for inter-war French subjects in 1:72, but we can’t have everything of course.  (On the other hand, why not! Don’t kit manufacturers have any taste and discernment these days?)

The dealers tables were excellent and offered a wide range of kits and other modelling paraphernalia.  They certainly seemed to attract wide interest from the gold-coin-donating-public and it was a pleasure to see quite a number of dads and their boys going around looking at the models with a kit or two already in hand.  We may yet infect the younger generation with our obsession.  (As an aside at this point.  Since it is a well known fact that people tend to head around the room in a clockwise direction, and most did at our display, should we have the dealers as the first thing that people see or the last thing? A point for our personable Prez to ponder.)

One disappointment was the late arrival of Mr Hobby HQ and his piles of kits. I understand that he had other distractions to make him late but the blank tables must have puzzled our early patrons.  Besides, it was not until he arrived that the modelling community’s favourite past time of Mach 2 kit bashing could begin.  I sometimes think that if Mach 2 did not exist we would have to invent it, just to give us something to amuse ourselves about.  One hardy soul was finally convinced that if he did not buy the Mach 2 kit of the Convair Sea Dart he would regret it for years to come.  So he did, but took care to make sure that he was sitting down before he opened the box.  Despite the precaution he blanched visibly on taking a look inside and he did not look very happy for some time afterwards.

One of the things I planned to do this year was spend some time working on a kit, for my own amusement and the edification of the public.  Mark had gone to the trouble of putting together an excellent display showing the workings of a model kit but nothing seems to interest the public as much as watching somebody working on a model and perhaps cutting the end of their finger off in the process. I had fished out a couple of larger kits to play with on the day but it turned out that the parts of the Me321 Giant I had planned to work on far exceeded the small working space I had.  How to solve this?  Buy some new Mach 2 kits, of course; for what is life without a challenge.  In truth, the Mach 2 Douglas D558-2 is not much of a challenge and a couple of fathers and sons looked on while fathers explained to their spawn what I was doing and why.  ‘Look how he’s painted the insides of the cockpit before gluing the parts together’ or ‘See how he’s put that weight in the nose so it will sit right’.  There must be a few experienced modellers out there who are currently spending their time fruitfully raising their offspring rather than coming to our meetings to swap taunts and chat about the details of German camouflage in 1945, such as it was.

The presence of Frank and Leigh Morgan enlivened the day too.  Both are great people to talk to and they remind us of the wider community of modellers out there beyond the Ballarat city limits.  They, and the other visiting modellers, made the day as much a social occasion as a display to the public.  I could not name all the people I talked to, in fact I don’t know the names of most of them.  Most of the time we talked about modelling, something we talked about more worldly and thus more mundane matters.  From one I picked up a fabulous tip, something I had not heard before in all my decades of modelling, something that would quite revolutionize one aspect of my modelling.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was now.

As usual, the display we put on was impressive.  Apparently there were well over 600 models on display, not as many as we had hoped to put out but certainly a very respectable spread, enough to interest most of the gold-coin-paying public.  With the range of subjects including the usual run of aeroplanes, armour, cars, trucks and ships, as well as the oddities and novelties provided by Mark and Wayne, there was something to interest most people.  Even without competitions to urge us along, the standard of modelling in our club is excellent and often outstanding.  I sometimes wonder if we should not sometimes aim for lower standards – the occasional seam line and less than perfect finish – to attract more modellers to our ranks.  No?  I thought not.

The other thing that impressed me this year, I must have missed it last year, was the catering.  I know, Zim and other had mentioned the tea urn and so on, but I had not realised what that actually entailed until I wandered off into a side corridor and found a table almost groaning under the weight of goodies.  Most memorable were the fully consumable 1:1 chocolate crackles that some magician had prepared.  I have to admit to nibbling on one or two and thus ingesting at least a month’s worth of my body’s chocolate requirement.  Hats off the chef.

And so the day passed in a rush of activity.  I was astounded when people began drawing the raffle prizes.  ‘It can’t be that time already.’  I said to myself.  Some of the prizes went to delighted gold- coin-donating visitors.  One got a call to tell them that they had won and then Yvette went to the trouble of getting the prize carted away, to be delivered later.  Imagine her consternation when the prize winner turned up to collect the prize in person.  But after a little wait the prize kits were retrieved and everyone went away happy.  We collected a grand total of $630 for Make-A-Wish this year from our efforts.

Then it was time to go home.  Everything was tidied away and by about 4.30 it was almost as though we had never been there.  Still, it must have been good for everyone because planning for next year is already on track.