Show Day Again
May 2016

For most of us our Show Day starts earlier than the event itself.  There is a lot of behind the scenes organizing that starts months in advance, and then all the details that have to be taken care of as the event comes closer.  Lacking the organizing gene I try not to get too involved in all that, but this year I did find myself with a couple of things that needed attention.  One was sheer self indulgence, completing the Mach 2 Martin P6M for Mark’s Mach 2 display. (As a result, see elsewhere in this issue.)  The other was having something to do with the publicity.

Dennis wanted some support in doing publicity this year and looked meaningfully at me, so I said I would do my bit.  Part of the process was to go out to Dennis’s place near Haddon to have some photos taken and be interviewed by The Courier.  Dennis picked me up and took me out to his place where we worked at taking some pictures – this didn’t go so well but I did get to see Chez Dennis (see elsewhere in this issue too).  A couple of days later Dennis and I hurtled around Ballarat in his car, initially to go to the Courier to talk to a reporter.  As it turned out, their office up next to Officeworks was empty but, fortunately, somebody pointed out that they had moved to a smaller office up at the beginning of Webster Street, but the newspaper didn’t have any signage up so it took some time to find it.  Finally, we found the place and organized to go out to Chez Dennis for the interview and photo the following Sunday.  After that we dropped fliers in at 3BA and the ABC.

The interview with the Courier reporter went okay, I guess, I haven’t read the resulting item in the newspaper to see for myself.  Getting the photos taken was another thing again and we spent a lot of time setting things up and looking just right for the photographer.  It was an interesting experience, as are all brushes with the media.  Then the ABC rang and asked if I’d appear (if that’s the right word for radio) on their morning program, which I did.  The trouble was that the presenter was under the impression that our display was on a week earlier than it actually was, so I don’t know how much value we got out of the ten minutes I got on the radio, or how many people notice anything they hear at 7.30 in the morning.

I really appreciate the way that the venue is opened up the day before and the tables are arranged so that we can turn up and arrange our models on the tables without the haste and panic that we once did.  This gave me time to line up my sixteen 727 models in the right order and to be some slight assistance to Mark in setting up the Mach 2 display.

On the day itself I had a model to work on, which attracted a bit of attention from our patrons.  Most of the time, however, I spend in talking to people.  As a result the day whizzed by and before I knew it the raffles were being drawn and it was time to pack up.

Overall, it seemed to me, we had another successful Display Day and I thank MoBsters for all the work they put into organizing it.  It also seemed to me, however, that this year lacked a little zing in comparison to earlier years.  The failure of some expected traders to turn up was a disappointment, as was the failure of some folks to turn up and put models on the table to enhance our display.  I also got the feeling that the raffle wasn’t as impressive as it has been in the past.

These things could not be helped, but the thought did flit through my mind that the world is changing around us and maybe we need to keep up with it, a bit.  The experience Dennis and I had with the media started me thinking along these lines.  For example, The Courier is not the force for spreading information that it once was and I wonder if we need to put more focus on the new digital media to publicize ourselves.  Similarly, from a long chat with Frank Morgan I get the feeling that the modelling industry has changed over the past decade and that is effecting our ability to get kits for the raffle and in the willingness or ability of small traders to stay in business and come to our event.  Then there is the business of Federation University insisting on us paying for use of their hall, which once used to be made available to us for free.

We have built up Display Day so much that it now has a very good reputation with other modellers, and I spent most of the day talking to them rather than members of the public.  I wonder if we have moved from being an event which attracts the general population of the region to one that attracts modellers.  If so, are we happy with this change in emphasis?  One person pointed out to me that the Mach 2 display might have made sense to modellers but was not really relevant to the general public, which would have made more sense of a display of, for example, British or German aircraft of World War II.  Do we want to organize our display, or at least part of it, along those lines?  I don’t think so, but perhaps the question needs to be asked, as might other questions about some of the ideas behind the rational for our Display Day and the way we organize it.

Enough of questions for the future.  I enjoyed myself on the day, more than on many other days, and I am told that just about everyone else did too.  Good work and congratulations are in order again.  And I’m already looking forward to next year and have plans for some lovely Boeing 707s by then.

A Day with the Plastic People
July 2016

I’ve had to think about why we go to Expo for a day every year.  It’s not for the adventure because we’ve fallen into a pattern and do the same thing every year.  We pack the Statesperson (or whatever car Master Mark is driving that year) and wend our way to Sandown. Mark always makes sure that we have eclectic music to accompany us on our travels and this year it was French café accordion music, not too soft to be unlistenable and not to loud to be annoying. He always makes sure that his book on the life, times and philosophy of Pythagoras is waiting for me on the seat so I can continue on my path to enlightenment during the journey.

When we arrive Mark, Wayne and I then find our way up to where the swap and sell is always held but we have to leave Mick to stand in the queue because the dictatorial door dictators will only allow through a select few.  We unpack our wares and stand about for a while, one guarding them while the others wander about to see what else is on offer.  As the years have progressed we find ourselves buying less and less; I think Master Mark might have picked up another Bf109 (or was it a Fw190, they all look the same) and I picked up another A.320 (a chap can never have too many A.320 kits).

Then, around 1000 hours the doors are thrown open and the great unwashed (and I mean this literally in many cases) stream in.  It seemed to us that this year there were more of them than last year and that more of them seem to have picked up the washing habit too.  They all mill around and, over the next hour and a half, we gradually reduce the size of the pile of kits on our table.  Generally the selling takes place with some genial banter which enlivens the morning.  Armed with our keen sociological awareness we notice that the buying and selling takes place in three phases.  In the first phase the great unwashed are keen to grab kits that are on their ‘must buy’ list or look to be good bargains.  In the second phase they become more discerning and inspect the piles of kits in the hope of finding an unexpected treasure that that the less discerning had missed.  Then there is the third phase in which those who still have money in their pockets drift around like tumbleweed, listlessly trying to find something to spend that money on.  When the event reaches that phase there is little to be gained in the way of lively banter or in selling much, so it is time to pack up and move on.  Besides, there’s no point in hanging around upstairs when there is Expo downstairs calling us.

I’m no fan of competitions so I don’t pay much attention to most of the categories.  Perhaps my trouble is that I see so many excellently made models on our display table every month that I find nothing exceptional in most of the models entered in the competition.  There is, of course, the occasional model that is a striking example of the modellers art that does need closer examination.  I look at such an example and wonder to myself, ‘does this person have a real life’, ‘is this the only model this person made all year’ and ‘is this person married and, if so, what does their partner think of their obsession’?  I hope that the trophy that modeller wins makes up for the otherwise awful emptiness in their life.  That is, of course, if the judges actually award their achievement.  (We all know that judges have to check in their white canes and dark glasses at the door before they start judging, just so the public doesn’t get the wrong idea.)

I usually find the club displays much more interesting because, although the modelling skills are usually of a lesser standard, there are more models in greater variety to look at.  This year, however, even the display seemed to be less interesting.  There was one huge display of Avro aircraft, another on the theme of ‘black and white’ which was clever enough with lots of white aeroplanes on white backgrounds and black aeroplanes on white backgrounds.  There was also the very enjoyable Ansett display that I did take time looking over.

I also had a look over the huckster stalls around the edge of the hall but since there was nothing new in the way of French aeroplanes or airliners I was little tempted.  The only vendor I did linger over was the Hawkeye stall to chat to Peter about what he has coming in the next year that will keep me happy.  Lots of good things I can assure you.

We agreed that we would hit the road around 1300 hours but, before then, Mark and Mick found me wandering about trying to get a good angle for my annual photo of the legion of trophies ready to be distributed to the masses later in the day.  We then found Wayne engrossed in piles of books, look for more for his already vast library of Israeli armour publications.

Having completed the agenda for the day we piled back into the car and headed out of the city and back to civilization.  We stopped for a bite to eat at the accustomed establishment after which I became engrossed again in improving myself by reading Pythagoras.  So engrossed, in fact, that I went to sleep.

We asked ourselves, at the end of the day, did we enjoy ourselves.  The answer was a sort of grudging yes.  Perhaps the reason for this joyless sense was because, although we were drawn to Expo and the swap and sell by the plastic, what we actually enjoyed was the people.

We Came, We Saw, We bought – Once again the MoB overcomes the tyranny of distance
October 2016

I think we’d all agree that our most recent raid on the suburban hobby shops of Melbourne was a bit of a shambles.

To begin with, some who said they were going to be on the bus didn’t turn up, which meant that we waited for them and thus started out late.  The likely overcrowding in the bus had meant four of us offered to travel in Mark’s comfortable conveyance instead.  Our president had provided us with two way communication between our two vehicles so when Zim said that there was now room in the bus, we looked at each other, shook our heads and Wayne replied over the two-way, ‘We’re comfortable’, and that was that.

The trip down to Melbourne was uneventful.  We cruised along behind the bus, chatting about this and that.  Mark had thoughtfully provided in-flight entertainment in the form of an old ABC radio serial – Dick (somebody) – Secret Agent.  In the first episode the Agent and his sidekicks get a telegram from his father asking him to do so dirty work for him, which involved disposing of a stiff in a wheat silo.  The story unfolded from there in the way that only radio serials from that period could and, at the end of the first episode, we were left with our three heroes trying to break down a door to save the life of the Agent’s father’s partner (don’t ask me why, it all got quite involved very quickly).  We were just on the road from Bacchus March to Melton when we decided we had to know what happened next, so we started on the second episode, which seemed to involve going back to the wheat silo to find a second stiff .

At about this time things got confusing, so I can’t tell you what happened next.  In past years we’ve stopped to pick up Steve at Bacchus March but this year Steve and Zim decided that the rendevous would take place at a road house further along the road but, as we approached, it became clear that nobody was quite sure which road house this would be.  There is a new one on the north side of the freeway so we went in there first.  No Steve.  Mark volunteers to drive on to the next road house to see if Steve is there.  It is, of course, on the other side of the freeway some distance on, so we find our way there and, again, no Steve.  Perhaps, we think, he is at the other road house which is further again towards the city, but we are now heading away from it on the freeway and get almost back to Melton before there is a cross-over.  To cut a long story short, Steve is waiting for us, very patiently, at the third place.  We pick him up – the back seat is not so comfortable with three hefty modelers in it – and head off towards our first destination in Deer Park, not forgetting that we are on the freeway heading away from the city again and have to find another cross-over.

Shambles three occurs at Andrew’s shop in Deer Park which, as you will remember, can only be accessed via some very steep steps.  Last year Wayne discovered that there was a lift at the back of the building, along with plenty of parking too.  So we drove around the back, found the back door, and found the lift was out of order.  Undaunted, we clambered up the stairs to the shop to be welcomed by the usual smiling people, and I acquired another year’s supply of Tamiya rattle cans at a good price.

After a bit of milling about we headed off to our next traditional stop, Battlefield Hobbies in the middle of I-don’t-know-where.  Using the little radio Zim had provided us with Navigator Steve gave us instructions about which lane to be in and when to turn, so we arrived at our destination without hassles.  As usual, there were lots of goodies to look at, and some even to buy.  Steve and Rod have been extolling the virtues of these new acrylic paints (which weren’t very flash the last time I tried them about fifteen years ago), so I bough a set of RAF colors to try out, and a couple of airliners.

Steve joined us for the journey to our next destination, Hobby HQ.  This begins with a long drive along the Ring Road and then, at the other end, some tricky navigation through the rabbit warren of the industrial estate where Hobby HQ hides.  While we were driving Steve also told us about the other interesting conversations we were picking up on the two-way from near by construction work.  They say there is a lot of stupidity going around, more than you think, and we were hearing a lot of it on our little radio.  Along the way the car and the bus got separated, but the bus turned up eventually so I guess they’d more got misplaced than lost.

What can one say about Hobby HQ which hasn’t already been said.  It’s a small warehouse stuffed to the rafters with kits of just about anything you could imagine or want.  You get a sore back from bending down to see all the kits on the lowest shelves and a crook neck from peering up at the top row of shelves.  Despite all the good things to tempt me, I only acquired the Revell kit of the Noorduyn Norseman, something I’ve been looking for for years.  Mark and I amused ourselves for a while by surveying the piles of Mach 2 kits and working out which ones we hadn’t built, which was alarmingly small in comparison to what we had built.  Mark also acquired another Mach 2 kit which, he tells me, is as much a philosophical thing as a physical thing, and very certainly existential in nature too, no doubt.

The drive to our next destination, Metro Hobbies in Box Hill, is some distance.  Fortunately most of the drive is through the plush leafy suburbs of Melbourne so you can sit in the car looking at all the rich houses go by and wonder what all the rich people living in them do with their time.  Winters on the French Rivera I expect.  We had already been treated to sights of ‘the First Harleys of Spring’ on our way down to Melbourne, and it was in these leafy suburbs that we also saw ‘the first expensive convertibles with their roofs down of Spring’, which isn’t as snappy to say but is even more entertaining to see.  (Though not as entertaining as the fellow wearing his Waffen SS helmet and singlet to show off his rippling muscles cruising up the Nepean Highway on his giant and noisy chopper that we saw on our way home.)

This stage of our journey was enlivened by some witty repartee between Steve, navigating in the bus, and Wayne in our car.  This had started out as some simple navigational directions and degenerate into a running series of funny rejoinders which I should have jotted down to recount here.  Unfortunately – or fortunately perhaps – Mark had left a page of the newspaper in the back seat, the one with the crosswords and other puzzles.  One is a square of nine letter that you have to use to make up words.  I thought I was doing well until I read the instructions, and had to cross out half the words I’d written down.  That’s what kept me from recording their conversation for posterity.

Metro Hobbies has moved to a new location, just around the corner from the venue of the annual Eastern Suburbs swap and sell.  You can’t miss it on the left hand side of the road as you’re escaping Box Hill.  It was probably once selling stuff under the title of ‘Waterbed Wonder World’ or ‘Fish are Us’ – it has that feeling – but now you find it stuffed full of all kinds of interesting modeling stuff including kits.  There’s lots of variety and this shop feels more spacious than their previous shop just up the road.  (In fact, we passed the old shop on our way to our next destination and there was a rather bemused looking young man rattling the door still trying to get in there.)

Metro has a nice collection of airliner kits hidden amongst everything else and I managed acquire a couple, one of them even on my shopping list, along with some more Tamiya rattle cans.  I saw a few of the rest of us queued up as well to pay for modeling stuff, so I assume it was a popular stop.

Next was a drive through the leafy streets of Blackburn, following the bus, to the traditional Blackburn Fish and Chippery.  After our challenging stop in Heidelberg during our first bus trip this stopping place has become as traditional as the hobby shops we visit.  You wouldn’t call it gourmet food, but it’s high tone enough for the likes of us visitors from the bush who are allowed into such posh suburbs.  The other traditional stop in Blackburn, just across the road from the fish and chippery, is the famous musical toilet.  This year, however, it was unaccessible due to the government’s plans to knock down everything useful and replace it with new and even more expensive stuff.  As a result, some MoBsters were starting to look decidedly uncomfortable as we headed off to our next destination.

To get to Brunel Hobbies in Cheltenham we drove through the wastelands of Clayton and Keysborough where, believe it or not, people live, some happily.  Makes you glad to live in Ballarat and environs.  We arrived there right on the dot of three, just as the staff were closing the door and, despite the protestations of MoBsters, the door stayed closed and that was that.  Happily though, a couple of very relieved looking MoBsters returned from a nearby toilet, so something was achieved there.  The lesson to be learned from this is that, in previous years President Zim has been very keen on punctuality and making sure that we didn’t hang around in any one shop.  This year he was more relaxed and this time there was some milling around at the end of shopping in each shop, instead of getting straight on the bus and heading on.  We will have to buy President Zim a whip to enforce the time constraints again next year if we are to get done all that we want to in the time we have.

At this juncture the bus and car parted company.  The bus planned to call in to the Railway Shop in Middle Brighton but we didn’t and headed straight home; up the Nepean Highway, through South Melbourne, over the West Gate Bridge, the Ring Road and the bypass to the country and freedom.  This to the accompaniment of a selection of popular songs from the late 1950s, which, alarmingly, I knew mostly by heart.  We are told that Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world, but they can keep it.  It has some interesting and credit card draining hobby shops, but all the space in between them is an inconvenience.

A final note.  I’ve really enjoyed our bus trips in the past but I’m starting to get to the stage where the rigors of the bus are telling on the old bones and joints.  This is even more so for one who, though in fact younger than I, spent more time abusing his body when he was younger and is paying for it now.  Had I not been sitting comfortably in the back of Mark’s very comfortable car I would have found this trip very trying.  Whether or not I feel up to going on the bus again is an interesting question which only the future will resolve.  I enjoy the company, I enjoy the shops and I always look forward to Blackburn’s musical toilet, but I don’t know about the bus.