Behind the scenes

The first weekend in April is traditionally the time for IPMS Open, the major plastic modelling event of the year. So also this year.

As all such events, what the public sees is just the tip of the iceberg of work. Planning work in principle started as soon as the previous Open ended. This is one event I thankfully do no organise, but I followed the committee out of the corner of my eye, as it were, as they revised rules, sent out invitations, booked the premises and necessary equipment, dealed with traders, enrolled judges and did the hundreds of lesser and greater things that have to be prepared even for an event of this relatively modest size, typically counting around a hundred exhibitors and a few hundred visitors. And of course, when the call came, I volunteered my muscle power for the weekend itself.

So, 08:00 on the sunny Saturday (on time, despite an unnecessary public transport detour), found me and others waiting by Skytteholmsskolan for someone to come by with the keys. A number of traders were already there and had started unloading their vans and trailers. Kipper spotted Tamiya's Mitsubishi “Betty” and immediately claimed it for his. The first sale of the day and the traders hadn't even unloaded. A couple of minutes later the key person arrived and we started turning the school's gym and canteen into exhibition spaces, moving chairs and tables. The secretariat set up their computers, printers, lists and other paraphernalia and when the contestants started checking in, everything was ready.

I had time to browse the trader tables a bit and noted that I was much more fascinated going through the old Airfix and Matchbox kits, the ones I'd once built and the ones I hadn't gotten around to, than the modern high-tech kits.

A tour round the exhibits. Exceptionally large ship classes, seems ships have come into fashion. Lots of helicopters, too, this year. Diorama and figure classes relatively small, maybe the masterpieces are being prepared for next year. Another Supermarine Swift model—someone must be into Swifts. (Pictures of the models available here, here, here, and here.)

The public arrived. The judges were briefed and then proceeded to carefully study each model of their assigned classes. The day went on until it was time to close to the public. Judges still bent their backs over the tables but one by one dropped off their notes to the secretariat where the points were tallied through the evening. Joint dinner for those who had time for that and then home for a few hours' sleep, except for those who remained behind overnight to guard the premises against theft and vandalism.

In the morning judges still milled around, picking out the winners of all special prizes, more work for the secretariat and eventually the result lists were posted, the winning models received their little labels and the award ceremony started, all winners and honorable mentions receiving their plaques, or, in the case of the special prizes, various symbolic objects of much honour and encumbrance.

Soon after the exhibitors started packing down their exhibits, but the traders held out and hawked their wares until the bitter end. (I got in twenty seconds too late to get a Frog Avro Shackleton I'd had my eyes on, but so it goes.)

After the official closing time, work started in earnest. Before we could return all furniture to their original places we had to clean up the place. We pride ourselves on leaving the premises in better shape than we found them. (Which, alas, is not too difficult, the pupils don't seem to care very much for their school so the rooms are quite worn-down and grungy.) A little piece of plastic was found on the floor, hm, apparently the left main wheel cover from a 1/48 Mustang, better send mail to all who exhibited one of those to see whose it is.

Finally we were satisfied, hauled our stuff to the loaned van and left for home, leaving the drivers to dispose of the garbage and put the rest of the stuff in storage. On the tube, the planning started for next year.

Update: Official photo galleries here, here, and here.

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