Model Expo Vienna 2010 – Review

As promised in my last post, here’s my review of Model Expo Vienna 2010:

***DEAR READER***: What follows is a lengthy report about my observations of the Expo. There is little directly wargaming-related stuff in there and if you’re mostly interested in the competition I participated in during the event and how this did go, please scroll down to the secret code name Diamond Head.

So let’s commence…

As each year, Austria’s most important expo lasted from the 23rd to the 26th October. For the past fifteen years or so, this expo always has been a fixed date in every model enthusiast in the region and hopefully will be for the years to come. I went to see the thing for the first time in more than 12 years back when I was into historical scale modelling mainly and my Dad used to take me there (he used to be a scale modeller himself when he was younger). Fond memories of a great event.

The differences I noticed after attending this spectacle after such a long time are: First, no more gas-powered RC-cars. Those were always a looker eventhough I never was into RC cars that much. But these things genuinely sounded and looked like they’re powered by a real motor. The noise plus the smell of gasoline in the air really made for a memorable experience. Anyway, they’re gone. I suppose that electro motors are more highly developed now and the organizers can’t dedicate a whole hall to this niche. Anyway, there was two race circuits for electro-powered RC cars; one with a plain floor (for drifting around corners and stuff) and one with some kind of coating for better grip.

As I said, I’m not into RC modelling a whole deal but it sure looks fun and the 72 minutes race was fun to watch. “The guys who know what they’re doing are fun to watch for their skill and the ones who seem to be new to the thing are just fun to watch” as a friend of mine put it.
There was all kinds of RC stuff going on in this first hall. Of course the tanks cought my attention and I was lucky enough to catch the first show on the first day.

Most of the tanks were moving at once. I doubt I cought any of them firing (it was all just LEDs and little sounds but there’s few sexier things in the world than a well recreated gun barrel retraction on a Tiger I)   but at least in the second picture you can see the tail lights of an RC Hummer. Unfortunately, I never quite cought the shows with pyrotechnics support.

In the very same hall, there was a part of a little town set up for the trucks to drive around in. There was a surprisingly high number of RC trucks. I never knew that these were so popular.

Similar to the tank display, there was also a piece of display terrain for construction vehicles. There, we witnessed an impressive picture which feels like you could write volumes of literature about, using the term “human condition” a lot:

This guy sat there, steering his RC digger to load earth into a grinder which turned the earth into finer dirt. It was fascinating.

Anyway, on to the second hall and my second observation about changes around the Model Expo – 10 years ago, there used to be four exhibition halls if I remember correctly – now it’s two. The first one I talked about above (entrance, a plane and all the RC displays) and a second one with all the exhibitors, surprisingly many food stands providing with traditional viennese snacks-to-go and chicken wings.  (Ugh. I don’t like the combination of greasy food and models)
Here’s a few impressions:
All in all, I think one can summarize the whole hall like this: 45% model trains, 30% RC helicopters (those really got a boost in the past years due to these small indoor helicopters), 20% RC cars, 5% Other(traditional model kits, RC tanks, planes). At least this is how the ratio felt. It’s interesting to see how the venerable art of railroad models still is so incredibly strong to this day. I think that Model Expo Vienna is pretty much a stronghold of railroad modelling.
There were at least four very large model train displays and we’re talking about 10 to 20 meter setups going round and in swirly ways and all that. One of the biggest displays really demonstrates humor by having placed tiny little gimmicky and amusing scenes into their landscapes,mostly involving nude people and cheeky situations like an old man hidden in the woods across a lake, secretly observing some younger people who are skinny dipping on the other side of the late. Very entertaining to hunt down these little details.
One of my personal highlights was a showcase of dioramas made by Erik Trauner. His bio says that he specializes in historical and military scenes but the dioramas that were on display at the Expo were mostly colonial times africa and south america themed. A very interesting field you don’t see that often and the work is just awesome.
Keep in mind these are all 1:72 in scale, so pretty small. The execution is so well made and this stuff really is inspirational for any terrain builder. An archeologist friend of mine who visited the Expo today told me about how incredibly accurate the ancient Greece-themed diorama was. Really impressive stuff there. If you want to see more of Mr.Trauner’s work, here is a link to his website: http://www.diorama-dreamland.at/
(Thanks to Xun for the additional info on the artist)
Now for some interesting odds and ends I got some shots of:
One of the RC car modelling clubs (I think) had a real old Steyr Haflinger on display. Cute, eh?
Revell started selling a line of wood models of Leonardo DaVinci’s concepts. I like that idea a lot. It’s something new, the pieces seem to be fully movable and the production design, as usual with Revell, looks top notch. This picture was taken on the first day. Today, on day #4, I spotted the same thing done by Italieri (if I remember correctly) so maybe they entered this segment with the same products. Seems weird to me. Maybe Revell just bought the Italieri kits, repackaged them and sells them now.
There were some tables from an big austrian modelling club with people building stuffs there. I would have loved to stay and watch but felt bad quickly for maybe distracting them or something. 😉 But I got their flyer somewhere…oh yes, it’s the MBR – Modellbaurunde (Vienna’s first and only plastic model kit society). Unfortunately they don’t have a website I could link you to.
One more oddity I got for you:
…at least something I didn’t expect to see – Nativity Sets. I think you’re familiar with these things but in the very catholic alpine areas of southern Germany and I think especially western Austria and northern Italy, this craft has a long tradition and huge works are made and sold to all over the world. But pretty usprising to see at Model Expo.
There were some other things I didn’t expect to see like Fisher Price (seriously, how do they still survive? They didn’t go the way of Lego who got movie licenses or many technical gimmicks, they just do what they did thirty years ago), there was an old Carrera racing track as well. Kind of reassuring that all these things are still around. There’s tons more I could write about but this is getting long anyway and I have to write a bit about the competition as well.

Diamond Head

So let’s talk about the competition. As you may or may not have read, I entered the online voting for a model competition that was held at the expo. You entered your details, some info on the model and a picture on their website and people could vote for their favorites online. The top five were invited to put their models on display for the whole three days at the Expo and the audience there decided who the final winner was. Thanks to many people who voted, I won the online competition with my entry:
When I arrived, I was confronted with some surprises though. First, there were WAY more than the top five entries from the online preliminary contest so in the end, there were twenty-seven contestants. The other surprise: The pieces were to be displayed on plain tables, well within reach of any member of the audience strolling by. So my entry looked like this between the other entries:
Very bad situation so the very next morning, I rushed back into the hall with the makeshift display cabinet I organized the night before:
Much better. The first day I also met my main competitor from the online competition who proved to be a very nice guy. He was equally surprised that there were so many more competitors than we thought because there was no indication of that on the website whatsoever.
Here are some pictures of the other entries:
This probably is the most wargaming-relevant thing I’ve seen all the time the Expo went on. It’s the Marines from the Black Reach box (sans Terminators) and some easily-identifyable Tau, straight out of the box and now see the amusing thing about it…
…I’m starting to think that wargamers, especially of the fantasy/future fantasy kind aren’t very highly regarded amongst the modelling community. 😉
Nice water effects on both those ships.
Well, what can be said about this. It’s plain and simple impressive. Completely scratchbuilt, gigantic.
Another very impressive piece. It’s not only fully movable and has working head lights, it’s also completely made from matchsticks! (over 5,100) Now that’s some dedication.
Slightly converted king of Rohan. You know this one if you voted online in the preliminary round but the picture on that website didn’t do the model justice really.
That last one was handed in way too late; I think it must have been delivered on the second or even third day and it clearly wasn’t quite finished. The Sherman, Kettenkrad and M3 Halftrack looked fine but the rest (especially the buildings) were more or less just put on the base without finished painting at all. Shame, I’m really into WW2 dioramas.
Anyway, after the count of votes (which was done unannounced and just a tad too early for my friends and family  to arrive 😛 ), the award ceremony is set up…
…and the crowd wild.
Then the winners were announced! Third place went to a model train I sadly have not picture of but it pretty much looks like you’d expect a model train to look like. This one was the only real surprise for me but I guess I underestimated the power of the model train community.
Second place went to the train locomotive made from matchsticks:
…and the overall Winner is… the Flying Dutchman (huge, scratchbuilt thing in the right of the picture 😉 )!
Prizes were a little underneath what little I even imagined it would be. Some plastic plane kits, an RC car, some Fimo – nothing special. Was I disappointed not to have won? No. I didn’t estimate high chances to win to begin with, I was mostly after being able to display my miniatures for full four days along with a stack of my businesscards next to them.
In conclusion I was surprised that there was nothing even wargaming-related on the Expo. I figured that there would be little but there was none. Maybe I overestimated the closeness of these two things just because I love both. Apart from the classic GW demographic, there were even no people who really could identify the miniatures. Not as in “oh, those are Blood Angels Terminators from the 2009 edition of Space Hulk” but more as in “oh yes, those are the figures my sons use to playing war” or something. I think that some GW/Privateer Press/whatever presence or the presence of some LGS or clubs could really break up this predominance of model railroads. Not that I have anything against those, not at all, and I don’t know about the financial situation of the Expo of course but I think that something new could bring new audiences to this great event.
Heck, I don’t think that the other halls of the venue are even in use around these days. It would be easy to attach some gaming tables, painting tables, some stands for gaming clubs (of which there are at least three in Austria who could easily sustain an expo stand), gaming stores and so on. And the Expo is really looking for exhibitors. They’re doing special offers for people who are new to the expo and so on. So it’s not like they don’t want additional exhibitors or stands. All I think is that they may not have quite a connection to the wargaming scene. Makes one think…
Well, enough of that. Vienna Model Expo was great to visit, it was nice to participate in a contest for once, it was even nicer to get some business cards done (and getting rid of them all). All in all, I will just book this as a success and a very nice experience and will close this report now.
Many thanks for reading through this.
P.S.: Next event: Vienna Fantasy Gaming Convention this Sunday! MUCH more wargaming there, woo! And guess what’s on in early November… 😉

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