A Goof MoBbish Day
(April 2011)

Living in Camp Hemsley has one advantage, it is closer to the Caro Centre that my old place.  A disadvantage to living there is that all my models are still in storage, except for the ones I’ve made while in the camp.  Usually I have a car full of boxes of models to put on display, this year my collection was much smaller and reflects my current interest in F-8s and airliners.  (As I was leaving the still uncompleted B-36 caught my eye, next year for sure!)  So, with my meagre collection sitting in the back seat I arrived at the car park behind the Caro Centre right on time.

The first thing I noticed was a big white trailer parked in the middle of the car park, leading me to wonder who among us had so many models to put on display or which dealer was really serious about making sure there were plenty of kits for our visitors to buy.  (Perhaps Admiral Matt had finally solved the problem of moving his armada with the purchase of the trailer.)  However, coming out the back door again to pick up some more models from the car I noticed – with mixed bemusement and dismay – that it was the same people who had last year amused us with their postie bike riding training, and a small squadron of postie bikes was being lined up in the car park.  Hmmm…  Didn’t everybody know that this was our big day and what had been amusing last year became a serious inconvenience this year.  What else could go wrong?  Not much, as it turned out.

In previous years when I’ve turned up on the day with a car full of models it has always been a rush to get everything set up before the public arrive, which does not start the day well.  This year, with less models to put out, I had plenty of time and so also had time to enjoy the process and to see what other MoBsters were putting out too.  I noticed that some of you who turned up on Saturday to set up the room had also laid out many models so that plenty of the work had already been done.  Having learned this lesson I will, I hope, remember to turn up on Saturday too to help with laying out and to get some of my own models set up well in advance.

Having set up all my models it was time to go exploring, where else but to the back room where the hot water and munchies were already laid out.  Somebody ought to put a warning label on those chocolate crackles to say that they are addictive.  I also had time to take in Mark’s white board display of the kits the models on display are made from.  A worthwhile contribution which, I hope, the public noticed and took in.

By the time ten o’clock came around everything was more or less ready.  Steve has organised the piles of donated kits into ten large piles which distributed the generous donations with a good selection of various scales and types across all the piles.  At the same time, he had also filled up the blank space left by my meagre collection.  The Bendigo Boys arrived and set themselves up with a nice display of various models and the dealers had a good selection, including Earl with his usual piles arranged by price range – a very sensible arrangement.  Frank and Leigh Morgan also arrived and set up their table which, I soon saw, contained a real treasure.  Let me explain.  Sometime in the early 1960s the Australian company Toltoys produced a kit of a Boeing 727 with TAA decals.  I have wanted one every since I was a boy, but had only ever seen models made from these kits, never the kits themselves.  And there one was, sitting on Frank’s table and for a mere $20.  Only five or so decades since I first wanted one, but never too late.   Of course, I already have enough Airfix Boeing 727s (both -100s and -200s) and Hawkeye decal sheets for TAA and Ansett-ANA models so the Toltoys kit was totally unnecessary but, as I said, it’s never too late. So I bought it.  Not to be made, you understand, just ogled and fondled from time to time.

The rest of the day went by in something of a blur.  Things calmed down around lunch time but the public was still coming in strongly right up until the end.  At some stage I wandered out to take the air and saw the car park was full with a couple of cars cruising around looking for a spot.  True, it is not one of the world’s largest car parks, but it was good to think they’d all turned up just to take in our display.  The publicity and the signs had done their job.  I don’t know if this occurred to anyone else, but it occurred to me that there were a fair number of young men with young women in tow (occasionally with children), most of them leaving with a few kits under arm.  I wonder if our display day has become a regular event for these people, showing that our hobby is respectable and providing an excuse to acquire a few kits at good prices at the same time.

Sitting behind a table trying to put a kit together turns out to be a good excuse for many conversations.  Several were memorable, particularly one with a couple in which the wife is as long suffering as mine is.  She was particularly amused as her husband and I shared stories about crawling around on floors looking for small lost parts.  As they wandered off she said to him that perhaps he wasn’t mad after all, but I corrected her to say that he was indeed mad, but then all MoBsters were a little mad which is why we had created our self-help group.  With another visitor I discussed the process of getting a good gloss white finish, with another how to get a good metallic finish, and with yet another the different kinds of glues modellers use.  With Frank Morgan I had the opportunity to chat about the current state of the hobby and with another well known modeller (not a MoBster) acid, grass and other forms of self improvement.

One of the more interesting conversations occurred early in the day.  The previous week Valma, who is not enjoying good health at the moment, asked me to go out and buy her some nighties.  It is not something that I care to remember so let me give you a warning.  If you have the option between having teeth pulled out without anaesthetic or trying to buy nighties, there is no contest.  One is mental anguish, the other is just a few moments of physical pain.  If you are so inclined you can use it as an excuse to examine women’s underwear on the rack, but that is small compensation.  At one stage during this ordeal I found myself at the entrance to Target, dazed and confused.  I asked the security man which way to the women’s nighties and, with a look of pity on his face, he pointed me in the right direction.  Several days later, as I was gluing a couple of pieces together and still trying not to think about it, the same security man turned up at our display.  After a short conversation about the aforementioned meeting, conversation turned to more agreeable things, including the fact that he had possessed a pilots’ licence from 1956 (he had it with him, a real one not one of those current day cards) and had once owned a CAC Wackett Trainer.  He had, he told me, brought a model of it with him, but it was too big to put on display.  So I went with him out to his car and he showed it to me, a very big and good piece of work with the controls linked to the control surfaces so when you wobbled the ailerons the control column in the cockpit also moved.  I’ve yet to see some of our most severely AMS afflicted members go that far.

On the way back from the car park another man stopped me and asked if it would be possible to sell some of his kits.  Wearing identifying labels is clearly not a good idea since he seemed to think that I might know something about what was going on.  He told me that he had seen a poster for our display in Victorian Hobby Centre but, since there was no contact number on the poster, he had packed his station wagon with stuff and come up on the chance that he might be able to find some space.  I wondered why he had not used the interweb to look up more details of our display but did not pester him with this thought, instead leading him down the hall and into the display room.  I’d told him that I didn’t think there was anything we could do to help him because the room was full, but he didn’t seem to believe me until we got there, whereupon he expressed his amazement.  President Zim was standing inside the door and apparently already knew our random dealer, so I left the problem there.

At some stage I noticed somebody who looked like a reporter standing around and, somebody with a very expensive camera came around too.  Yvette did a great job at the door, greeting everyone with a smile and relieving them of them cash with elan.  I overheard one exchange when a visitor wanted to buy the little shrine to our Patron on display on Yvette’s table because of the photo.  He seemed somewhat amazed that we could have somebody like Lemmy as a patron, rather than the usual dull and uninteresting folks who usually end up as patrons.  Another moment of interest and amusement was discovering people standing around the pool in the courtyard looking at part of the Admiral’s fleet afloat there.  Another interesting innovation in our display.

And before it seemed possible, it was time to draw the raffles.  Even as Steve and Yvette were getting the draw under way people were still trying to buy tickets.  Somehow, many MoBsters or their friends or relatives seemed to win many of the prizes, which might be the result of their buying more tickets than most people after having plenty of time to gaze avariciously at the kits available to be won.

The crowd diminished and by the time the last raffle winner was drawn our visitors had disappeared back into the real world.  Before it was all over, and perhaps as a way of finishing the day, we crowded together for the by now traditional group photograph, taken by Frank Morgan.  Then there was nothing further to do but say goodbye to the last of our visiting friends and pack up.  The models disappeared first and then the table cloths and the tables until, with little fuss, the room had been returned to the state in which we had found it, as though we had never been there.  What we were left with was great memories of the day and a feeling that we had done a good job.

A few days later I happened to glance at the Courier.  Bloody hell!  There was Admiral Matt looking out of the page at me, enough to curdle your milkshake.  Most of the accompanying article was from an interview with Wayne talking about the advantages of modelling and how it is good for you.  But I can’t quite remember what he said.

All Aboard the Schadenfreude Express
(June 2011)

So Master Mark says,’Why are we really going to Expo’.

I think for a moment but the right word won’t to come to mind.  ‘What’s that German word for taking pleasure in other people’s misery?’

‘Schadenfreude’, Mark replies.

‘Yes, schadenfreude,’ I exclaim.  ‘That’s why we’re going to Expo’.

He nods sagely, taking in the full meaning of this idea.  Do I see a figure standing in the shadows nearby, draped in Grecian robes, chuckling to himself?

Fast forward seven days.  It is a little before the time for the seven o’clock news on the telly and, by chance, Valma is watching the beginning of Dancing with the Stars.  It’s too ghastly for words.  She asks me, ‘Why are we watching this?’

‘Schadenfreude’, I reply.

But it occurs to me that this reply is too simple.  Looking at the people on the tv screen I see they are smiling inainly and cavorting extravagantly so it looks like they are enjoying themselves.  However, it is obvious to any intelligent viewer that these people are suffering but they don’t know it.  They think they are taking pleasure from doing something but intelligent viewers know that they are really in a state of misery.  Do the Germans have a work for that concept?  What about Pythagoras?

As it turned out, the schadenfreude was on the other foot.  I expected that we would descend upon Expo and take pleasure from the misery of others (even though they thought they were having fun) but it was I and the other MoBsters who gave pleasure to others in our suffering.

Before moving on I should recount the one memorable moment of schadenfreude I did enjoy at Expo, a conversation overheard in a crowded room.  One modeller was complaining to another that he had all the references, had bought all the aftermarket goodies and lavished unending amounts of love and attention on his entry, and ‘not even a Commended’, he complained.  My tendrils quivered with ecstasy on overhearing this little gem of misery.

The misery begins.

After having slept in and missed the Eastern Suburbs swap and sell I determined not to be late for our descent upon Expo.  I fossicked around in the depths of all the accumulated stuff in the shed and pulled out an ancient alarm clock, bought in the 1970s – almost so old that I thought I might have to convert it to AC before I could use it.  A test run the previous morning had demonstrated that it did work and it did wake people up, and so I was up bright and early (forget the bright) and ready to meet Doctors Mark and Zim at the gate to Stalag Hemsely at 0715 as agreed.  So I’m just finishing my weeties at around 0700 when the front door bell explodes into activity, not once but continuously because Zim is determined to wake up the entire Stalag.  The little woman is awake and not happy, and if she is not happy nobody is happy.

We head off in the Statesperson.  There is really no misery in this.  Zim and Mark in the front seat are so far away that their conversation is like a distant murmuring and the sound of Patron Lemmy rocking on was so subdued that I drift off into the land of slumber.  At some point we form a convoy with Masters Wayn and Tiger Tim in Tim’s station wagon and before you know it we are in Melbourne, hurtling along freeways and major roads to reach Sandown, guided unerring by some ‘killer ap’ that Mark has loaded on his iPhone.

We arrive in plenty of time to be among those at the head of the queue of people taking stuff into the swap-and-sell.  When I booked a table for the event on behalf of we MoBsters I had been issued with a two page instruction pamphlet which I had glanced at.  I mean, when was the last time you read the instruction sheet in a kit – they are only there in case something goes wrong.

But I did remember that the doors were not to open until 0900 so I was quite happy to stand about for a while and chat to the folks also standing in the queue.  It is my experience that there is a bunch of modellers who treat these swap and sells as a social occasion, as well as an opportunity to dispose of those kits they have fallen out of love with and to find some new lovely kits to fill that lonely hole in their lives.  There might also be some people who make money out of buying and selling kits at these events, but they are too serious looking to chat amiably with.  While we were thus engaged Tiger Tim pointed out to me a pile of kits further back in the queue including one that I had been hopeful of finding for decades.  A quick exchange of words and some folding plastic notes and the deal was done, with time to go and put this prize in the car before the doors opened.  (You will probably be reading about it for some time to come in this newsletter.)

Around 0900 we were released to enter the venue.  In past years people have crowded in rapidly and begun setting up their tables, all in joyous chaos of chatting to others and showing off what we have for sale to friends in a generally excited hubub.  After an hour or two a couple of organisers came around to collect the $30 for each table after things had quietened down a bit.  For me this initial phase has always been one of the best part of the event, but not this time.

I had read enough of the instructions to know that this time the organisers demanded payment as we entered.  It had occurred to me that this might create some kind of bottleneck, I also wondered if that had occurred to the organisers.  I amused myself by preparing in advance for the payment and plonked the bag of thirty one dollar coins down in front of the official, declaring something like ‘There’s you thirty pieces of gold’.  This did not seem to elicit the laughter, or even amusement, that I had hoped it might.  Oh well, not everyone has the finely developed sense of humour, irony and biblical allusion that we MoBsters have so, having been given a table number, I headed off into the room to find it, expecting the rest of our team to follow, as had always happened before.

The first sign that something was wrong was when somebody grabbed my hand and plonked it with a rubber stamp.  What flashed through my mind was the story told to me by a survivor of Auschwitz about how he had got his serial number tattoo there.  I shook the feeling off and continued on but soon heard behind me some loud and harsh conversation that would not have gone amiss in such a place.  In the following couple of minutes there were several heated conversations between the officials at the door and several MoBsters who were, apparently, guilty of having broken one of the rules written down on the instruction sheet.  It would achieve little to try and recount what the various parties said or did not say, but the end result was Master Wayne and I left standing, stunned by what had just occurred and our comrades frog marched off to goodness knows where to an unknown fate.  We had anticipated enjoying a day of harmless entertainment and amusement in the fashion to which we had become accustomed in years past, but the attitude of the Expo officials had wiped that away in a moment or two of officiousness.  As a result, the rest of the day was not very enjoyable.

I should, perhaps, pause here to make a few observations about what happened.  The first is that had I read the instruction sheet in minute detail I would have known that if somebody rented at table at the swap and sell they were entitled to have two ‘sellers’ stand behind the table.  This means that I was wrong to assume that the rest of our mob would be allowed in, technically.  I say ‘technically’ for a simple reason.  It is because, although the table was booked in my name this was strictly for convenience.  Ever since we have been attending swap and sells in Melbourne there have usually been three or four of us behind the table but usually only one of two of us have been ‘sellers’.  I personally had very few items to sell this year and could happily have left them at home, meaning that there really would have been only two ‘sellers’ behind the table even though five of us turned up.

Personally, the reason I like to have a table at a swap and sell is not to make any profit from selling kits and stuff, it is so I have a place to sit or stand out of the crowd, thus making the occasion more relaxed and enjoyable.  Other MoBsters are of the same opinion.  For several years now many more MoBsters have attended Expo than have bought the table at the swap and sell and invariably they have come and stood behind our table for a while to leave their purchases with us for safe keeping and to chat, to other MoBsters and to the rest of the modelling community – they might even have sold an item or too off the table while they were there.

Other traders might be there for profit but we are not.  See the teachings of Pythagoras on this point.  We attend to become part of the wider modelling community, to enjoy the conversation and banter that goes on over the table at a swap and sell and to gain wisdom ( as we have been taught to do).  Because travelling from Ballarat to the other side of Melbourne is time consuming we have only once contributed to the club displays in the main hall because none of us has the time or the patience, and our membership is too small to mount a display and have a table there for three days.  As a result our little table at the swap and sell for a couple of hours has become our presence at Expo by default.  In the past this has evolved through our experience and because the organisers of Expo have allowed it to happen through their benign inaction.  I doubt that it has had any significant effect on others at the swap and sell who are in it for profit.  And even if it does, what is more important, a few more shekels in a few people’s pockets or the greater sense of being part of the modelling community that attending a swap and sell occasions?  But this year an unexplained decision to create rules and enforce them without flexibility – or understanding the motivations of some modellers – has put an end to what had become a pleasant day’s outing for us.

Let me make a comment about the concept of customer service.  I note in passing that many modellers will put on a wry smile at this thought because ‘customer service’ has been notably lacking from some modelling shops.  The adage that ‘the customer might not be right but the customer is the customer’ was notably absent in our little exchange on entering the swap and sell venue.  We were told – very strenuously – that we were wrong and it was my fault for not reading the instruction sheet correctly.  The proper thing to have done, had the idea of ‘customer service’ been in these official’s minds, would have been to explain that things had changed this year for this or that reason (that they would patiently explained), rather than just saying that rules are rules, and we would be allowed to continue on as we had customarily done, but been warned that the rules would be enforced next year.  The officials might also have asked for us to pay an additional $5 each for the additional three MoBsters had they been feeling really strict or been concerned about Expo’s bottom line.  However, making a fuss, being insulting and marching off three embarrassed MoBsters and separating them from their friends was unacceptable from a ‘customer service’ perspective.  Some more pointed comments about the personal capacities and capabilities of some officials come to mind, but let us pass on to more agreeable subjects.

Finally on this disagreeable subject, let me make a suggestion for the future.  It is likely that there are other groups of modellers who attend the swap and sell for similar reasons to ours.  On the table next to us were some members of the Eastern Suburbs club who were there for similar reasons to us and suffered even more bad treatment than we did, and are inclined to think, as we do, that if the new regime continues there is little point in us attending next year.  One solution to the resolve the problem that arose this year might be to amend the rules so that modelling clubs or associations might buy a table at the swap and sell to operate in ways similar to what they have done in the past.  Of course, making new rules to accommodate people like us who have needs other than making money would entail some smart thinking and would invariably end up in even more complexity and unhappiness.  A simpler solution would be to revert to the laissez-faire attitude of previous years and use a bit of common sense rather than enforcing ill conceived, unexplained and officious rules that annoy and upset otherwise reasonable modellers.

Now, where was I before all that happened?

In reality, the rest of the day is a blur.  I had the opportunity to chat to quite a few interesting people, one was from Wollongong, another from Perth and another from Bendigo.  However, I drew little pleasure from the opportunity to fossick through the piles of kits around the room and found little of interest.

Later, Masters Zim and Mark headed off in the Statesperson for appointments in Ballarat and we remaining three went downstairs to the main hall. Again I wandered around rather listlessly, taking in the airliners and the small scale entrants in the competitions (anybody who spends their time weathering a 1/144 Bf109 model deserves more than a First Prize, they deserve a long rest in the funny farm).  Perhaps the most interesting thing I picked up was a cardboard model of the first Montgolfier balloon for $2.50.

I did pause to consider the ranks and ranks of trophies lined up to be handed out at the end of the day.  There must have been over 100.  I recalled chatting to one modeller from interstate who was due to collect one of them before heading all the way home.  I pondered on how long and tiresome the ceremony would probably be, and how late in the day, and my schadenfreude tendrils quivered a little.

It might have been around 1400 that we bumped into each other somewhere in the aisles and decided it was time to head off.  We packed our stuff in the back of the station wagon, most interesting was Master Wayne’s booty in which he seemed to have traded a variety of kits of interesting subjects for several versions of Fw190s that differ in subtle ways beyond the understanding of mere mortals.  I can’t recall if Tiger Tim bought any more tigers, perhaps he already has enough.  The drive home was also interesting.  Instead of the ‘killer ap’ precision of our drive to Sandown, the trip home under Tim’s pilotage and Wayne’s navigation was more interesting and seemed to involve them guessing where they were and when they needed to turn to get to the freeway.  Eventually we found our way onto the freeway and, that excitement over, I nodded off.

In summary, not a great day.  But perhaps some Expo apparatchiks drew pleasure from it.

In the Fast Lane to Happiness -The Magic Bus and the Fulfilment of Desire
(September 2011)

I always enjoy going to M. Wong’s emporium, it is stuffed to the rafters with boxes of plastic.  Some of it you wouldn’t want to think about, some you think you want and some you think you need.  But it was the look and feel of places like the Wong emporium that had dragged us from our beds at an alarmingly early time in the morning to ride in something resembling a small bus all the way down to the model shops of suburban Melbourne.  What was that thing, created in model shops, that led us to such folly.  I call it desire.

Before we get to the model shops and what lures us to them, a word or two about desire on the bus.  What I really desired was a choice of more than two CDs to amuse us on our trip.  One was what sounded like a ‘best of The Who’ CD, which was desirable, and an Oasis CD, which wasn’t.  As a result we only had one CD to listen to and, by the time we were on our way home, we had enjoyed listening to the best of The Who for some considerable time.  I’m still trying to get ‘Magic Bus’ out of my head a week after our trip!

(As an aside, I have sometimes wondered if the Who’s magic bus might not be an allusion to the magic bus that Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters travelled in, written about as an epic journey in Tom Wolf’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  If it is, perhaps it was appropriate that the song was on rapid rotation in our bus.  Not that we travelled with 44 gallon drums of acid, but we’ve all breathed in the fumes of enough modelling glue over the years to put us into an altered state of reality.)

The other form of desire well demonstrated on the bus was more basic, the bulging eyes of normally mild manners modellers at the sight of young women, scantily clad.  I am particularly reminded of the drooling as every eye in the bus followed a well endowed young lady as she jogged across the intersection in front of us.  It was a wonder that we didn’t call into one of those X-rated emporia by accident after that expression of desire.  (I, of course, am above all that.)

The bus trip itself was interesting.  Master Wayne has already mentioned the strange arrangement of suspension in the back of the bus which means that I now have to have an extra cushion or two on my chair so I can reach the keyboard comfortably.  The cockpit crew arrangements was also interesting with Doctors Pilbeam and Zimmer sitting up the front, chatting away about things that were probably well beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals.  No wonder then, that the drive to Moonee Ponds Models was so circuitous, probably following the abstruse logic being discussed in the cockpit.  After that Master Steve moved into the cockpit as navigator and we hurtled with unerring accuracy towards our following destinations.  Once again, and to our very great disappointment I must add, there was no microphone and amplifier fitted to the bus so that we in the rear could hear the driver’s commentary on other drivers.  Only the occasional exclamation of ‘knobhead’ reached us in the back, depriving us of one of the prime reasons for making the bus trip in the first place.  This is something which definitely must be rectified for any future trips.  The final interesting aspect of the trip occurred only a couple of minutes before we rolled to a stop back in Ballarat.  Dr Zim broke out into the well known Monty Python ‘Philosopher’s Song’ which names almost all of the world’s most famous philosophers.  Not that I believe for a minute that Dr Z has more than a nodding acquaintance with their work because he is, after all, an engineer.  It is a well known fact that all engineers embarking upon their university courses have to take ‘Drinking Songs’ 101 as a compulsory course and that ‘Advanced Drinking Songs’ is required for all engineering students progressing to higher degrees.

Having got all that off my chest, let’s return to reflect upon the emporium of W Wong.  Which reminds me, what’s all this complaining about me hanging around toilets with a camera?  It’s only a fund raising exercise, nothing personal.  Have you any idea how much it’s going to cost to paint that rotten B-36 model?

M. Wong’s emporium is the closest that modellers in Melbourne will come to the Magic Model Shop.  It has so many kits in so many scales of so many subjects stacked from floor to ceiling on shelves that seem to stretch back to the horizon.  When you take it all in for the first time you get the feeling that that really rare kit you are after must be in there somewhere – and if you leave without it the fault is your for not looking hard enough.  So there we are, milling around like a pack of wolves having scented blood and trying to figure out just where it is.  I finally spy one of the Tamiya F4D kits that I’ve decided I wanted and, as I reach out for it I say, ‘That’s what I need?’  Master Pilbeam looks at me philosophically, an eyebrow arched in the manner of Mr Spock, and asks, ‘Do you need it, or do you just want it?’

‘That’s an interesting idea’, I think to myself, ‘something to contemplate in the future’, but it does not stop me from reaching out and grasping the kit with something akin to avarice.  Then I see another one and grab it too.  Then M. Wong shows me another one and I add it to the pile.  It’s like a conditioned reflex but, in the back of my mind, I’m wondering whether I need these kits, or do I just want them.  Then comes the real poser.  When we find the shelf of Mach 2 kits we all point and laugh.  Still, some of us have been guilty of buying a Mach 2 kit in the Wong emporium and suddenly I am overtaken by the urge to buy one too.  I know what I am letting myself in for but the desire – and this is the first time the concept comes to me, desire  – for it comes into my head.  On previous visits to this emporium I’ve looked at this kit and chortled to myself that nobody would be nuts enough to want that kit, or perhaps even need it.  But something has changed in my feeling about this kit.  I can rationalise it, of course.  I ‘need’ it because, since our last visit, I have acquired kits of the other two American lifting bodies and the two X-24s in this box would complete the set.  But if we unpack that idea a little, what do we find?  What makes me need, or even want, to have a complete set of American lifting body models?  Nothing really, I only think I have to have them.  Unlike the need to eat (which is why we stopped at the Blackburn Fish and Chippery) or the urge to reproduction (see my above paragraph on young women, scantily clad) the desire to possess and make model kits becomes something of a puzzle.

And so, to the kernel of this little article.  As I understand it, the attempt to explain desire goes back a long way.  Aristotle (a close personal friend of our club philosopher, Pythagoras) reckoned that desire was implicit in animal nature to movement because all animals move.  But in order to move one has to have a goal to move towards – food and reproduction are usually reckoned to be major goals, but there are others.  Put this drive to movement towards a goal together with reason and imagination, which are human characteristics, and you end up with the need to find things desirable in order to have something to move towards.  This philosophical idea is given physical manifestation in MoBsters crowding themselves into a tiny bus and hurtling (a form of movement) down the Western Freeway to reach goals which their reason suggests will contain scale model kits and their imaginations see as perfectly completed models, even if the kits are from Mach 2.  Plato (who used to go out drinking with Pythagoras, no doubt) muttered something about desire being in the soul which was a chariot drawn by two horses, the dark one passion and the white one reason, which moved things forward.

Lots of other philosophers have had a go at this; Hegel, Hume, Kant and Descartes, to name but a few.  You can read them all in an attempt to understand desire and the need to buy model kits, or you can sing about them as Master Zim did on our return from Melbourne.  I think the latter is a preferable way to go and leaves more time for making models.  Let’s do it again next year.

Show Daze
(December 2011)

I don’t know about other MoBsters, but after three days at the show I was more than dazed, I was overcome with a severe case of weltschmerz and je ne sais quoi.  I had enjoyed myself and yet I had not, it has been a long hard grind and yet the time had flown.  Know what I mean?  Overall, not much happened but there were some highlights.

One of the highlights was Master Anderw who must have spent a previous life as a high class salesman.  If anybody stood looking at the models for more than 15 seconds (I exaggerate, it was probably more like 20) he was over there talking to them and thrusting one of our flyers in their hand.  He did this non stop from nine in the morning until around noon on Saturday when he had to dash off for a prior engagement.  At one stage he dragged me over to engage in animated conversation about how to master gloss white on airliners with one very appreciative showgoer.  Feeling rather chuffed at this appreciation I told him the full story about how it is done but, in my excitement, I forgot to tell him the most important step in the process.  (Sorry about that, stranger!)

Perhaps the best part of the display was watching people enjoy looking at our models.  Many people wandered past and paid no attention at all to our display but many also stopped and spent a few minuets looking, and some even looked quite seriously.  One gentleman took out his glasses and peered at some of the models in great detail – if Master Andrew had been there he would probably be a club member by now.

However, such entertainment wears off after a while and so I was very grateful that I had thought to take along some modelling to do.  Bearing in mind Master Steve’s exhortation about taking nothing dangerous (physically dangerous anyhow) I took along something mentally damaging, a vacform kit.  Working on this took all of Friday and a goodly part of Saturday in just liberating the parts from the plastic sheets and sanding them down.  It is the kind of thing that was called, in earlier time, the mortification of the flesh and took place in medieval monasteries – hard and painful work, but it has to be done if you don’t want to end up making more Bf109s and P-51s.

The Ballarat Show itself was very disappointing.  Valma and I have been planning to go for some time but I have now learned that it is not worth the price of admission.  There was plenty to spend your money on in terms of buying junk in plastic ‘Show bags’ and in getting your inner-ears stirred up on rides, but little of what was once the core of agricultural shows, the displays of art and craft and the livestock and farm machinery displays.  I stuck my head into the chook pavilion but most of the cages were empty, the floral display space was more than half empty and when I examined the lamington competition I agreed with the judges on the quality of the winner, and the second place getter wasn’t bad, but they were the only entries.  I had expected to spend more time wandering around taking in the splendour of the show, but since there was so little of that I spent most of the time sitting in our pen and looking at the people walking past.  I would have enjoyed chatting to fellow MoBsters but there was so much noise that that was difficult.

But there was one thing I saw that changed my mind about competitions and judging – a moment on the road to Damascus if you will.  Being a bit of a cat lover I took some time to take in the cat competition and while there I saw how the judging was done.  Unlike modelling competitions where the judges confer in private and offer up their judgement in mysterious secret, in cat judging competitions it is all done out in the open with the judged going through the process in front of an audience, many of who were taking notes and making comments.

Not that I’m advocating modelling competitions in general, but can you imagine the entertainment to be had at ModelExpo if we could all turn up with our chairs and sit and watch as the judges went through their deliberations in public.  It would be the kind of modelling theatre that I’d think about attending, sitting in my little chair, watching the responses of people as their models were judged, dodging as the insults and fists began to fly.  Fun!