Saturday, 20 February 2010

You've Been (Window) Framed

Last weekend was the Doncaster Model Railway Exhibition, or the Festival of Model Railways as the organisers grandly entitle it. For the previous couple of years the show was held at Harrogate while the venue at Doncaster Racecourse, modelled on 1940’s style POW camps, was refurbished. And boy, did it need refurbishing. It was dark, gloomy, freezing cold and access was a nightmare. Conditions were far worse than prison, made worse by the fact that whereas prisoners are allowed out whenever Gordon Brown needs to reduce inmate statistics, at the show you were obliged to stay put for your entire sentence.

Thankfully, during the last two years, Doncaster Racecourse has been rebuilt from the foundations up, and the end result is a spacious, well-lit and welcoming environment (obviously I’m only regarding the venue as welcoming; Doncaster itself is as welcoming as a dose of the clap).

Once again I was demonstrating on the Ten Commandments stand, and building on the success of our debut at Peterborough. I had prepared many new interesting models and techniques to work on, plus tools and products from other manufacturers that could easily be demonstrated to visitors. This time round I introduced an interactive element, so that the public could really get hands-on and involved. This might sound elementary, but I consider that demonstrating at a show should be demonstrating, and not an opportunity to blag your way into a show for free, then sit round chatting to your mates all weekend. Given that the public pay around a tenner to get in, I believe that they should get something in return. If I want to watch people sitting around doing nothing but chat to each other, I’d watch Big Brother. And then I’d disembowel myself with a Stanley knife and some clothes pegs.

Mainstay of the demonstration was the extensive, and growing, range of Ten Commandments factory buildings and various modular extensions. The window glazing sessions attracted big crowds (covered in my previous post here) and to make the job of glazing even easier, I was pleased to find that Dave had got his hands on some fantastic gel pens that allow the modeller to simply ‘draw’ the frames in. Here’s an example:

The outhouse building to the left had all the window frames drawn in by customers at the show – it really is as easy as picking up a pen and writing with it (rules out the under 16’s, then. Somebody will have to invent a mobile phone application to paint window frames innit).

I soon found several other useful applications for the pen that will be extremely useful for anyone modelling almost any era. The pen will write on any surface – wood, plastic, metal, clothes (that was an accident) and on gloss or matt finishes. An obvious use for rolling stock is shown below:

As well as ‘condemned’ – a common sight in the BR blue era – the pen also proved suitable for chalked notices and destinations on parcels vans – remember those? Then of course, we come to:

Graffiti. Up until now, the simple white slogan style graffiti has been next to impossible to reproduce. With this pen, you can vandalise as many walls, items of rolling stock and public toilets as you wish. For an inner city layout set in the 70’s to present day, this is an essential, if unwelcome, scenic finishing touch.

Other uses include pub blackboards and temporary signs often seen while travelling – Pick Your Own Strawberries; Overflow Carpark; Model Railway Exhibition Here Today; Truculent Teenager Daughter For Sale and numerous others. If you model the present day, then you could model some of the apostrophe catastrophe signs that are the visible proof of the Government's successful (?) Education, Education, Education mantra. Let your imagination run wild!

Don't it just!

As well as being available in white, the pen also comes in gold, which is actually a shade of yellow that is ideal for road markings. Other colours are available, but are opaque in finish and don’t work too well on dark surfaces. The white one, however, is unbeatable. Everybody who used one at the show immediately handed over the £2.50 to take one home, and we hope to have some new stock shortly. It will be available as a Show Special, and is also presumably retailed through good office supply stationers.

I was also demonstrating the Modelmates weathering dyes that I mentioned here. They use a spray on / wipe off technique that takes a bit of practise, but I got some quite pleasing results when weathering this JCB:

Overall the demonstrations were received very well by both the public and exhibition organisers – the latter commented that they had received favourable comments from the public about the stand and being able to get involved. For my part, demonstrating something that people are actually interested in made the time pass more pleasantly and quickly, so the only downside was that I didn’t get to see the show!

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