Saturday, January 25, 2014

Model Railroad Show

I had a moment of insanity one day and drove into the city, not just as far as the nearest edge which we are wont to do once in a while, but all the way downtown, which is a two+ hour trip on a good day, and you better pack a lunch on a bad day. On top of that I did it on a weekend when kids and adults alike are loosed on the world!
The impetus for this madness was the ‘World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour’ model railroad show. I haven’t been downtown in years and it’s still just as frantic and confusing as it’s ever been down there. It didn’t help that the Bridal Extravaganza was also there in the convention center at the same time. The Extravaganza took up 4 of the 5 exhibit halls with the railroad show sucking hind tit way down at the far end in the remaining one. On top of the two shows the park across the street from the convention center had a live band and a curbside full of mobile eateries. For all I know that’s a weekly thing, or rather weekendly thing, but it collected a whole lot more people where there already was no lack of mouths and elbows to begin with.

After circling the circus a couple times we finally found a parking spot, a very expensive parking spot. Of course it was at the wrong end of the convention center but I didn’t know that at the time. Even so, I was still better off than the guy who sort of wandered by as we were getting out of the car. You know, kind of slowly spinning as he walked, raising up on his toes and  stretching his neck like he was the periscope of some misplaced submarine. ‘You have the look of a man who’s car isn’t where it’s supposed to be’ I commented. ‘You don’t know the half of it’ he replied. ‘I’m not even sure this is the right lot!’. . .

Even taking up only one of the exhibit halls the show was pretty big. I wish I could say it was a good show but – well – I can’t. The layouts were generally mediocre and uninspiring, the quality of modeling was less than I hoped for, there were only one or two vendors that really caught my attention and there were no demonstrations/seminars/clinics to learn from and no modeling contests to drool over.

There was plenty for the kids to do though, and judging by the length of the lines for getting a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine and another train on the other side of the exhibit hall where the kids had to all peddle to make the thing go, the younger people, who got in free by the way, were having a blast. But I didn't come to ride tiny little choo-choos around in circles, I came to absorb a little inspiration and get a few ideas.
I didn’t really get any of the former and only one of the latter, and I will be following up on that one. It was a pretty interesting looking resin and foam composite system for making landforms. It was very light and seemed pretty durable too. Both qualities I’m looking for in the landforms of my own, so far mythical, layout.

This being the second disappointing ‘commercial’ show I tried this year, I think I might be starting to learn my lesson. After $20 worth of gas, $20 to park for slightly over 2 hours, and $20 to get in I think I’ll be sticking to the national shows like the annual NMRA or Narrow Gauge Convention for a while. These are the shows where you get to see layouts that have been in magazines, where people whose books and articles you’ve read are presenting clinics and seminars, and modelers for miles around open their homes so you can visit their layouts. Pricy shows but enough good stuff to keep you busy for days.

Only problem is they’re each only once a year events and are usually over on the other side of the country. . .

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