The MoB’s Big Day In
(April 2009)

After months of anticipation there’s nothing more to anticipate, unless you’re starting to look forward to next year’s MoB display.

Lots of MoBsters do lots of work behind the scenes to launch the day and it would be odious to name names because I’d have to name just about everyone.  Just to pick two, however, there is Yvette who does a great job in welcoming people (and also gave me a serious case of Chocolate Crackle poisoning) and Zim who makes the place available through his contacts as the Uni and sets it all up.  The rest of you can consider yourselves praised as well.

My most surprising memory from the day is quite simply that I don’t know what happened between about 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon when people started packing up.  It whizzed past in a blur of pleasant activity including the consumption of three (count them, only three but they were very potent) chocolate crackles, buying a few exotic kits, winning a raffle (the last thing I won, or didn’t win, depending on your perspective, was the national service lottery) and talking to people.

I hear tell that we fell just short of our 1000 kits on display target – better luck next year, and I will bring more string for the big models – but we also raised something like $600 for Make-A-Wish.  My feeling was that there may have been a few less people through the door than last year but I also got the feeling that those who came stayed longer and took in the display in a bit more detail.  I recall explaining to one member of the public how you go about sticking on decals so they don’t look like decals and another visitor, who is apparently struggling with the Airfix 1/72 Concorde, asked me to show him how I’d got the undercarriage to go together (it seems that a lot of people have started on the Airfix/Heller Concorde but few have conquered it).

Talking about big kits, I don’t know why you guys keep on badgering me about Monogram 1/72 B-36s.  I’ll never give in, I swear, particularly now that I’ve calculated how much it would cost to cover one in a few coats of Alclad II.  But isn’t it odd that there is always one or two at every swap-and-sell, it tells you something about the kit, or about human nature, doesn’t it.  I noticed that Willie Wong was missing this year but there was still a lot of lovely plastic to ogle, and I even gave in to temptation and bought a few little resin French tanks.

And then it was time to pack everything up and go home.  A strange thing happened then, but more about that on a later occasion.

In summary, I had a good time. I hope you did too.

Once more to Expo
(July 2009)

The long weekend in June is always a good excuse to jump into the Statesperson and hurtle down the freeway to Expo and swap and sell at the Sandown Racecourse. So we three did it again this year.

This year Wayne and I had a few kits to unload and we also had the remnants of Murray’s collection so we were well equipped for the occasion. Mark, who seems to have more sense than most modellers, had nothing to get rid of but enjoys looking for the occasional rare kit or bargain, so we three make a good team.

Mark has a new Statesperson with a boot the size of Jonah’s whale but even so we could not fit everything in, so I had to ride down to Melbourne in the back seat with my own surplus kits to keep me company, reclining in exorbitant luxury while listening to the entertaining conversation in the front seat.  Unlike Zim, Mark doesn’t get excited by the blatant failings of other drivers so I may have drifted off to sleep at some stage during the trip because it seemed to take no time at all.  That’s the nice thing about luxury but then, it was before 9 in the morning so sleeping seemed the natural thing to do.

This year the Expo crowd decided to move the swap and sell to a new venue, a good idea in theory but rather dismal in practice.  If it took us some time to find our table in the new location, it wasn’t because we weren’t trying, it was because we forgot to take our spotlights with us.  It was also easy to miss the table because it was rather tiny, but then all the tables were smaller than we had been accustomed to at these events.  There were lights set into the ceiling, it is true, but they were so low-intensity that you almost needed more lights to see them.  Still, there wasn’t much point in complaining, it wasn’t going to make the lights any brighter or the tables any larger. So, like everyone else, we piled up what we could on the table and stuck the rest in boxes on the floor.

There are several reasons for taking a table at the Expo swap and sell.  One is to get rid of once treasured kits that have lost their allure.  Another is to have an excuse to see what others have on their tables and, if one is so inclined, snap up the odd rarity or bargain before the heaving masses have a chance to get their paws on them.  The third and best reason is to have a barrier between oneself and the heaving hoard of kit hunters as they surge into the room when the doors are thrown open to the public.  Now I know what it must have been like to serve in a Roman legion trying to fend off a hoard of hairy Huns.  Mind you, your average Hun would have looked more healthy and less desperate than these modellers.

After an hour or so the tumult died down a little and the wall of bodies pressing up against our table began to thin out, letting the thin rays of light in again.  We did alright but the fellow next to us seemed to be selling his entire library of obscure books about big German tanks (just as well Tiger Tim wasn’t there) and little known facts about the Luftwaffe on the first Friday of March, 1944, and was doing very good business.  Around about midday we decided to call it a day.  Murray’s great pile of kits has disappeared away to almost nothing, I had got rid of a lot more than I bought (for once),  Mark had bought more kits of 109s, 110s and 190s (and I think I’ve been obsessive about Lightnings!) and Wayne… the best I can politely say is that he departed with a few more kits than he came with.

Back at the Statesperson we stashed almost everything in the cavernous boot, leaving me with only a small box of exotic Germans aeroplane kits to fondle on the way home.  As agreed, Mark had bought the white dust coats to go with my clipboards and pencils on strings for the trial of the SJS but Wayne chickened out of putting on his dust coat so we left them.  Doesn’t he realise that one simply cannot conduct a double blind scientific test without wearing white dust coats? No wonder the results look a bit problematic at first analysis (of which more anon).

Nevertheless, we made our way into the main hall and what a sight greeted us.  An immense table of trophies waiting to be handed out to all and sundry at the end of the day – this is a presumption on my part since we didn’t wait around to find out what really happened.  The walls were lined with stalls and people selling modelling stuff and in the center were a large number of tables upon which a few models were spotted, apparently entries in the competition as well as various club displays. We found our patrons,  Frank and Lea and gave them their framed certificate as thanks for helping with our big Day and then we set about testing the SJS.  Strange to say, many people looked at us strangely.  If we had worn our white dust coats it would have been clear to them that we were conducting a double blind scientific experiment and everything would have been okay, so blame Wayne for that.  (I have yet to collate the results so, as I said above, more anon.)

I must be missing something because I didn’t get much enjoyment out of looking at the competition models.  I paid particular attention to the airliner models and while I prefer models that try to look like representations of the real thing it seems that the judges prefer models that look as though they should be on display in travel agencies.  There, that’s my whinge about model competition judging for the year.

The club displays were much more interesting, partly for their variety, partly for the vast amount of work that clubs seem to put into mounting them, but mainly because they put out a lot more models for us to look at. (One club display included a nice Trumpeter 1/72 Blackjack bomber that did not look as big as I expected, making me think back wishfully to that kit I hadn’t bought at the swap and sell an hour or two earlier.  Or is that B-36 warping my sense of proportion?)  Surveying one interesting club display I thought, just for a moment, that it might be nice if we were to put on a display too. And then I realised that we do just that, but it takes up the entirety of a rather large room and I don’t think Expo would let us have that much space.

Having developed rather refined tastes in modelling these days I wandered around the stalls of modelling stuff without finding much to draw my wallet for, which seemed to be a pity because it was bulging after the swap and sell.  Finally I found a nice sheet of decals for a Sopwith Triplane and then a resin kit of a Beech Super King Air in Air Service Australia markings.  There was no price on it but I held it out, indicating that I wanted to purchase it.  The stall holder named a figure that would just about cover my professional indemnity insurance – though probably not Mark’s – but by then I was too taken by the idea of making a model of this aeroplane to go with the Department of Civil Aviation HS-125 that I intend to make one of these days, so I simply emptied the contents of my wallet on the table and went on my way with the kit in my hand.

Wayne and Mark found me standing dazed in an aisle, still shaken at what I had just done, and led me away.  It was time to go home, which was probably just as well because I might have found my way back to the stall selling lovely but expensive F- RSIN airliner kits and done something I would have lived to regret.

The Statesperson hurtled us on the way back to Ballarat with Wayne and Mark in the front seat talking of the meaning of life and love and me lounging in the back seat fondling the kits Mark had bought.  Sure, the mouldings were exquisite, the instructions almost works of art in themselves and the decals sheets marvels of modern printing, but they were only Messerchmitts and Focke Wulfs.  There had been countless models and kits of them at Expo and not one BAC Lightning that I saw.  What kind of sad, warped world are we living in?

We stopped at a service station off the freeway for a bite to eat.  There was a police booze bus parked nearby and I resisted Mark’s suggestion to go over and ask them if they had any booze. I’d already had enough excitement for one day.

The MoB at the Woolshed
(July 2009)

In a moment of weakness I will never be able to explain I agreed to front up to the annual military funarama at the Woolshed.  I spoke without thinking, without remembering what it had been like last year.  It wasn’t the fact that there are more guns and bits and pieces designed to make people unhappy (or beyond unhappy) than you are otherwise likely to come across unless you are a member of the military forces that made me regret opening my mouth.  It wasn’t even the strange people you are likely to come across there.  It was the fact that it was so cold last year that men were lucky to come away with their ability to father children still intact.  Normally you have to go to Antarctica to get that cold.

Somebody had been generous enough to give me their flu so I was not feeling very flash, but suffering for the MoB seems to be ingrained in my personality, and I’m a generous soul who believes in sharing things around.  Even so, I almost didn’t make it.  Perhaps it was my subconscious at work because I had the idea fixed in my mind that the funarama was to take place on the Sunday and it was only a last minute email from Mark that reminded me that it was actually on the Saturday.  I dragged my poor flu wracked body (did I mention I had the flu) out to my treasure cave and pulled out some models that could go on display, making sure that I didn’t offend anyone’s sensibilities by taking any civil aircraft.

This year Steve and I had a little table jammed in the middle of the woolshed which helped protect us from the worst of the cold.  It also seems that in the past year somebody has lined the oolshed, which stopped the worst of the freezing gale force winds from outside getting inside.  The result was that it was just cold, not inhumanly cold.

So, what happened?  Nothing much really!  Steve and I chatted about stuff.  I got up and wandered around at one stage in search of the loo, the fire to warm my hands and to buy a piece of less than enthusiastic lasagna.  Otherwise, I spent a very pleasant and quite day working away on a nice little French armoured car.  Oh yes, and there were people to talk to.

I frightened one little person who thought it would be fun to play with the models by speaking to him so severely that he went and hid behind his mother.  That was fun.  Somebody said that I should have brought some Australian aeroplanes because he has worked at CAC.  Somebody else regaled me with a story about how he had met somebody who made him a model of a ship that a relative had captained and somebody told me that he had a friend who had a PhD who made models (it was the first time in several years that I have been able to whip out my PhD and flash it to boost my ego) and somebody else who… I could go on.

I doubt that we will gather any new members from the exercise because neither Steve nor I thought far enough ahead to take along any publicity material or signs.  The best Steve managed was the club name written on a piece of scrap cardboard, along some kind of warning to keep little hands away.  Still, I didn’t not enjoy myself