Model Kits: Wonderfest recap
I used to absolutely dread going to Louisville. I’ve been dragged to a rather reprehensible show down there for 13 years. Spending late nights out and early mornings preparing to walk the show for four days straight. Oh, the monotony, the torture, the life draining experience that made up the National RV industry show. Oh, the humanity! That’s what Louisville meant to me, days on end looking at RVs, eating expensive food and going to strip clubs(and if you haven’t been there, they aren’t all they are cracked up to be) until all hours of the morning. I knew the convention center and how to get to the restaurants downtown and to a small German restaurant out in the boondocks. Everything changed last year with my first trip to Wonderfest and this year was even better.
We started planning in earnest for the show a couple weeks ago. We had Jim Small working on buildups for us and JT Graphics doing protoype decals for us for The UFO Mystery Ship and Vulcan Shuttle. Those cut a little close to the wire but they all arrived in time. We were still packing up our booth and buildups the morning before we left. We headed out about an hour late to make it in time to start set up at 5:00 Friday.
We got there and met up with a friend of the company who helped as much as he was allowed to carry our stuff into the show. We had set up a dinner appointment with him and our 1/350 TOS Enterprise consultant, Gary Kerr and found ourselves running out of time. We managed to get the booth set up in time to start a late dinner. Dinner was fun talking to Gary and our other guest about TV shows like Star Trek and Lost In Space among others. It was a great chance to get to know each other better. I’m really looking forward to having Gary’s input on the kit. Bedtime came quickly after the meal.
We got up the next morning in time for breakfast before getting into the show to set up our buildups. Again, we had to rush to get it all set up. Early birds got the brush off as we finished setting up around 9:00. We brought along a computer to show off the website as well as some striking new graphics for our booth. A candy bowl and our survey were put out for all to consume. As a reward for filling out a survey, folks received back two Star Trek tattoos and an entry into a drawing. (Third prize, a Witch kit, went to Tyler Robbins, Scott Scariot claimed a Robby kit as second prize and Beth Waddell took first prize, a spiffy new 1/350 Enterprise 1701A kit. Congratulations, prizes will ship shortly) We had a great response to the survey with twice as many filled out as last year. We are still tabulating the data that will help guide some of our possible kit choices and put some things into perspective for us.
In looking over the surveys, the most shocking thing I found was that it looks like a substantial majority actually likes the new Star trek movie. That’s a good thing because besides showing off new model kits we announced our agreement to produce kits based on the new film. More details on that to come soon!
We had plenty of traffic both days and it seemed like most of the vendors did well at the show. Among other high points was meeting John Eaves when he stopped by the booth. I tried to visit him later in the show but couldn’t seem to catch him. Luckily, he stopped back by so I could give him an Enterprise E kit. Bob made a point of telling him that I had done the cover painting. (I’m kinda shy in person) I made a comment about how I hadn’t realized how complicated the ship was until I had to draw it. John smiled and didn’t tell me it sucked so I took that as a compliment (he was extremely friendly).
Saturday went by pretty quickly. I made one of my only purchases early that day when I saw a huge mobster figure hanging at a dealer right at the entrance. I had never seen them before but he’s a huge Mezco figure that looks quite like the Goon. I was shocked to learn he was only $5 so I had to stake my claim before someone else grabbed him up. My other private purchase was a FineMolds Tie Fighter. I’d never seen a FineMolds kit first hand before and the Tie Fighter is one of my favorite space ships. I hope they come out with a larger scale version some day. I also picked up some “R&D” kits of the MAK A.F.S. Mk2 figure and the new, popular Falke vehicle. I’m starting to dig into other kits like this to “see what they are made of”.
I saw a few excellent builds of the Falke in the contest showroom. The talent demonstrated in that room always blows me away. Amazing, amazing work. I particularly like well-done figural stuff and this is the show to find it. But hey, we make space ships here and folks out there are doing some awesome work with our kits. There were too many to mention but to me the best use of one of our kits was by the gentleman who did a great job with our 1/350 refit, painting it with real pearl paint and adding lights. It was impeccable. Not to be confused with what we referred to as the U.S.S. Vegasprise. This was a 4’ long refit that was actually shaped pretty nicely if you could stand it long enough to look at it. It literally had bells and whistles on it, and lights and chrome and everything that a well-made jukebox would have.
It turns out there is more to Louisville than a convention center. They’ve got movie theaters there too. One in particular looks like it has a great program going on showing great movies form my formative years. This particular weekend, they were showing Alien and the show organizers made sure that we Wonderfest-ers would have the opportunity to see it. It would have been great but as it turned out I was so incredibly tired from preparing for, driving to and working the show, I couldn’t keep my eyes open through the parts I really wanted to see. I barely got glimpses of the space jockey on the big screen. It was a real shame. I’ll need to see if we can get an arrangement like that made with a theatre around here. It seems like a great program. Upcoming films were Sixteen Candles, Superman 2 and Master of the Universe… Not so sure about that one.
I made a brief stop at the CultTVMan suite to round out my night. I bounced a couple kit ideas off Steve and checked out the Doctor Who Easter special. I’d always heard of the show and it seems like the current series is pretty popular. I have to admit to never watching a single episode. The show was entertaining and I can see the appeal. The not so special effects still distract me though. I’m not sure how everyone can put up with them. I guess if you like the character and story enough you can forgive the budget a little.
Sunday seemed like a decent crowd and it kept us busy enough. Things got a little slow towards the end of the day. That’s when I got my last look around the show and made some of my purchases. We wound up the day by tearing down the booth and were the second to the last people still in the room. We were a little late to the Wonderfest banquet. It was worth attending but the food was a little blah and the program was a little longer than it maybe should have been. I know lot’s of other folks enjoyed it all but it had been a long weekend.
I’m already looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll find time to do a buildup worthy of entering into the contest or maybe participate in the Iron Modeler competition. Just like last year, we learned a few lessons and now we know better how to prepare for the next show.
In the meantime, you can give me some insight. I asked a question on last year’s survey that was a little hard for folks to answer at the time. It requires some serious thought but I’d really like to know…
What is your favorite model kit of all time and why? Be honest. I don’t want every response to be one of our kits. It doesn’t even need to be sci-fi. I truly want to know what commercial kits are great and what makes them so. Ease of build? Amount of detail? Parts fit? I want to learn from these kits in an effort to make all of ours just as great. I’m all ears.