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The quality of shows in the UK - Model Railway Shows. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Tue Oct 24th, 2017 11:01 pm
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gastwo
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Lock it, Max.
Enough has been said, but it is worth keeping because several salient points have been made, and it would help potential exhibitors to avoid some pitfalls.

Shaun.

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 Posted: Tue Oct 24th, 2017 11:26 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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Max
I am interested in our differences. We are all right because we all come from different places. I would not want to deny healthy debate

Barry

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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 12:13 am
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MaxSouthOz
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Your call, Barry as the OP.

If it gets too unpleasant, one of us will delete it anyway.

Cheers



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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 06:15 am
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The Q
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I think one of the problems with shows is who are we putting the show on for.

Many of us here would love to be able to model to Pendon standards or better.
Many of us here would love to go to a show and see all the layouts of those standards.

However.
If we are to attract new members to our clubs and to attract new people to our hobby. You have to be able to demonstrate the different levels of successful modelling that they with time can work their way through.

Similarly with layout sizes we can't all have a 63ft shed like mine. Many in a one bedroom flat are restricted to one or two small boards, so seeing a tiny two ft shunting plank or roundy in narrow gauge, shows they can have some thing.

At our recent show we had a layout which I'll admit I would not have invited, it, had trains, and rockets and dinosaurs and all sorts of strange things. It was operated By a guy dressed I guess as a Steam Punk. Did I like the layout? No, but the kids did, they loved it. With that and Thomas we have future club members and future model railway builders..

As for the viability of shows we only have to look at our demographics at clubs and Club show management. Many are retired, many are the same people that have been operating for the last 50 years. As we all head off to the scrap yard who is going to take over?

I have seen ballasting, track laying / building and baseboard construction demonstrated /talked about at Shows but only at Specialist gauge shows not at a general show...



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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 07:19 am
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col.stephens
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Without wishing to hog this thread, I wonder if I might refer back to the original question.  Barry asked if shows were getting worse.  I feel that some shows which I usually attend are letting their standards slip.  However, maybe there is another question to be asked, "Are some shows getting better? "  I have attended two shows over the last two weekends to which the word 'excellent' just doesn't do them justice.  I and others have publicly praised those who organised and took part in these shows.  Both shows gave me a feeling of immense pleasure and spurred me on to get home and get on with the modelling. As has been previously said, it's 'horses for courses'. 


 


Here in the UK, unlike our friends in other parts of the world, we have a plethora of model railway shows and have the luxury of being able to be choosy.  UK model railway shows are now akin to London buses. If you miss this one, there will be another one along in five minutes!


 


Best wishes to all,


 


Terry

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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 08:41 am
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Longchap
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Barry Miltenburg wrote: Max
I am interested in our differences. We are all right because we all come from different places. I would not want to deny healthy debate

Barry

Quite right Barry, heathy debate is good for us and makes us think outside our box, while our differences makes us all the more interesting.

Let’s face it, this place would be nowhere near as fun if we were exactly all the same.

Vivre YMRC and all who sail in her!

Best,

Bill



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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 11:47 am
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gastwo
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And of course there is always the option of staying away from the thread if you don't like/agree with the direction or tone that it is taking.
One of the problems with text based conversations is that the nuances and subtle tones are lost and so easily misconstrued :lol:

Shaun.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 11:56 am
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Barry Miltenburg
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Max it appears to rumble on!
Good shows and good layouts demonstrate that the standards we want are possible. 

Well done to the organisers and layout builders concerned

Barry

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 Posted: Wed Oct 25th, 2017 08:11 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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Hi Shaun

As Mods, we get email notifications on every post, so staying away isn't an option.   :lol:

It's been a long time since we had a flame war on here; maybe our vigilance is working.  :cool:

Or it could be that we now have more polite members.  ;-)



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 Posted: Sun Oct 29th, 2017 01:36 am
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BCDR
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Hi Barry,

It's been an interesting dialog. I'm glad it was brought up. Like Bunkerbarge I've also been involved in shows as a visitor who's paid an entrance fee, an exhibitor (with all the issues of getting the layout/moduls to the show on time and running, plus dealing with the gremlins that stop trains running), a presenter (those 20 minute presentations where you suddenly realize half-way through that the real experts are in the audience and getting ready to ask some potentially arkward questions), and a trader (where most of the time is spent keeping an eye on the light-fingered and money-shy).

It's a thankless task getting the mix right, and impossible to satisfy everybody. My experience is that the visitors to a show fall into 3 categories - modelers who have come to see the layouts (including the rivet counters and critics), modelers who have come to stock up with supplies from the traders thus avoiding mail-order or eebygum, and have a day out as a bonus, and families with tin lids looking for a Thomas or three or 'Arry Potter et al., and who stay 1-3 hours at most. It's almost a 2-minute elevator conversation with the layout critics, unless the trains are running it's move-on time. And it's definitely move on time if Thomas or 'Arry are not around.

As a visitor I do expect (having paid me money) to see trains running and exhibitors who are prepared to have a chat about layout design, operation, construction, etc. Not unreasonable. Many times operators have been very accommodating about getting trains in the right spot for a snap with the camera, and having a chat or showing me how that operates. Some, and this seems to me to be increasing, unfortunately treat the day (or two) as a club outing, and are there to run trains for their own enjoyment (or often not it seems from the glum faces), not the paying public. 

This is subjective of course, but my impression over the years is that specialty shows (O-Gauge Guild, 7mm Association, EM Association, etc.) attract good (home) layouts with operators interested  in discussing their efforts, traders who know their stuff, and a convivial (almost club) atmosphere where vistors are welcomed. Much better than the Ally Pally or the Warley/NEC, which I think have lost their way in the pursuit of bigger is better (the show and the size of the layout). I only get to maybe 1-2 shows a year in the UK these days (used to be 5-6 until I retired a few years ago as I always seemed to be passing through Heathrow with a 24-48 hour stopover over the weekend on my to or from some forsaken hole in the middle of nowhere), but I do go to around 6-8 shows a year here (and think nothing of driving 150-200 miles each way for a day out).

So, on balance, they're not as good as I remember. Then again modeler numbers are shrinking (for very many reasons) and the hobby has changed dramatically. I believe that many (larger) shows have yet to adapt to the changes in the hobby. Pity, as it's not good window dressing.

I was at a Boy Scout Railroad Show last year (you can get a badge in Model Railroads these days apparently, I don't remember one of those) where there were 4 layouts (including our modular one), a couple of traders, one with decent second-hand items at good prices, 4 clinics being run by the Scouts, and some excellent refreshments. Great fun was had by all. My local NMRA Division puts on a "mini-con" every year in a church hall - 3 layouts, white elephant stall, and a dozen or so clinics through the day, with a mid-day presentation over lunch by a local railroad "celebrity". Again, a good day out. I'd rather support these than a mediocre commercial show.

Nigel






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 Posted: Sun Oct 29th, 2017 07:31 am
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col.stephens
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BCDR wrote:
I always seemed to be passing through Heathrow with a 24-48 hour stopover over the weekend on my to or from some forsaken hole in the middle of nowhere.




Ah, you have been to Croydon then?  :mutley


Terry

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 Posted: Sun Oct 29th, 2017 11:09 pm
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BCDR
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Ealing, Ealing.

Nigel



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 Posted: Tue Dec 5th, 2017 11:36 am
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AJon30
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My 2p's worth as a new boy.

As a club we attend a lot of shows (at least 2 weekend out of 4) with a variety of layouts from 9 feet to 54 feet (all O gauge). We exhibited the Great Train Robbery diorama (previously mentioned) over 50 shows, which was whole new venture, being more theater than railway operation. although the modelling and attention to detail was all there. We also set and and run our own shows so we know it from both sides.

So some general comments

1. "Keep something moving" Yes this is a mantra that I hear all the time, and perhaps it is a feature of our instant gratification society now that you can observe a member of the public arriving at the layout and unless there is something moving immediately they move on, without looking any further into the detail of the layout that members have spent many hours working on! This seems to affect some operators that they are desperate to keep something moving that they end up with unrealistic operation, which then puts off the more knowledgeable spectator.

2. "Original but prototype" I appreciate that it is difficult to come up with something completely original in model railway exhibition layouts as most things have been done before (and to death in the case of GWR country terminus). But whatever is modelled should be based on the prototype. As has been mentioned, especially in the smaller scales, some layouts bear little resemblance to the "real thing" in either layout or operation (perhaps as a result of trying to satisfy 1 above) and appear to be little more than "train sets". This may a appear to the "sniffy" but there are some excellent models around, especially in N or 2mm scale, where some thought has gone into the planning to produce a model that really looks to be a miniature of the real thing.

3. "What's going on here"?. With some layouts it is difficult to see what the "point" of the layout is (apart from selling who has the deepest pockets). So many layouts lack even basic information on where, when & what is being portrayed (but then if it is not based on anything, see 2 above?) We found with the GTR, where we had 2 large display boards with information about what was being show in the "tent", that the public welcomed the background information. And this was modelling something that was a high-profile event at the time, although for some of the younger visitors it was all new to them.

4. "Interacting with the public". It is a difficult balancing act that any layout operator has to cope with - trying to achieve 1 above while dealing with enquirers from the paying public. You cannot and should not ignore the chance to explain the how's and why's of the layout being shown to an interested person - some simple explanation may be enough to give someone the confidence to start a layout of their own. Personally I would probably err on the explanation side rather than the "keep running" side, as there many well be other people around who would be interested in the explanations given.

5. "The public face of model railways" A major gripe when viewing some layouts, excellent though them may be, is where the operators are all ignoring the public, especially annoying if nothing is moving despite bulging fiddle yards. I think, on some layouts, DCC and the use of Iphones etc to control layouts has a element to play here as I see quite often somebody staring at their phone or handset and pushing lots of buttons, but with very little action to show for it. This is probably worse where points etc are also controlled through DCC setup. All probably satisfying to the "geek" element but not to the paying public who is excluded from all this. Also, as has been mentioned, the operator having a chat to a friend, normally standing right in the middle of the layout, about something nothing to do with the layout (that happens with traders as well - you know who you are!). And a final message to some operators - Smile for goodness sake, this is meant to be an enjoyable hobby!

(Runs for cover)

Rgds Andrew Jones / Luton MRC.  
   

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 Posted: Tue Dec 5th, 2017 04:04 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Andrew,

Excellent perspective. As you say, a balancing act.

One of the major shows I go to (3 times a year) has trade stands and small layouts in 3 halls, with an additional hall pretty much devoted to large layouts (3.5 acres floor space in total). Mix of friendly home exhibition layouts, club layouts and modular layouts. With very few exceptions the exhibitors are willing to discuss, talk, recruit, and show the internal workings. Most have hand-outs explaining what is being modeled, and are quite happy to allow youngsters to run a train around (almost all the clubs are radio controlled DCC). Or in the case of the Lego layout, build an engine.

Nigel
 



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 Posted: Tue Dec 5th, 2017 07:54 pm
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MaxSouthOz
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All good stuff, Andrew.  :cool:

I recently went to a show at Milang, south of here.  I'm reasonably well known, and the place was packed, so it was mostly a meet and greet and it was hard to get a good look at the layouts.  It was still an enjoyable day out, though.



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