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Model Talk 1 - The Greatest Modelling Show On Earth

The Greatest Modelling Show on Earth



I have just returned from a weekend spent at the IPMS(UK) Scale Modelworld show at Telford in Shropshire, and once again it deserved its claim as being the Greatest Modelling Show on Earth – but I suspect I am preaching to the converted and many of you may have also been there!

I have often said "If you can't find (modelling-wise) what you want at Scale Modelworld, then it probably isn't available..." and this year was no exception. Every trader and manufacturer of note, and several new and upcoming traders and manufacturers, were there. Many companies and individuals launched new products at the event, and without sounding too partisan, many of them will soon be available from this website, if indeed they already aren’t...

As obsessive, dyed-in-the-wool, enthusiast modellers – as you all must be if you subscribe to this newsletter – you’ll know that it is virtually impossible to attend such a model show without actually buying anything! I know of people who literally save up throughout the year and attend the show with several hundreds of pounds in their wallets, (one guy I met there had come with £3,000 and was determined to spend it!).

I was, unusually, relatively restrained this year and ‘got away’ with only buying half a dozen books, a mere four kits and a brand new injection-moulded plastic conversion set for a 1/72 scale Spitfire Mk II from an enterprising brand new company called 3D-Kits ( However, even I had to have a wry smile at myself when I got back to The Aviation Workshop/Model Alliance trade stand, (the company for whom I work), and heard myself saying to Graham when I was showing him one of the kits, “I needed this kit....” – yeah I need another kit like I need a hole in the head!

(3D-Kits will be in stock next week - Graham).

But that is what ‘we’ are like isn’t it? No matter how many unmade kits we’ve got stashed away in the loft, the nature of the beast is that we will still keep buying more. Heaven knows how old I would have to be to actually live long enough to build all the kits I have already got... several lifetimes I would imagine... yet I shall continue to keep on buying more.

But long may we continue like that – it is what makes the hobby tick. Despite this current recession, which may prove to be worse than the two or three I have experienced in previous decades, I suspect the hobby will survive the worst the world economy can throw at us. Modelling is a bit of a comfort zone in an otherwise very unpredictable, hostile world, and despite my natural Yorkshire ‘carefulness’ (How much!?!), it is still a relatively inexpensive hobby – especially when you work out the cost of a kit and divide that cost by the hours of pleasure, (or is it frustration/anger/confusion?), you can get out of one purchase alone. And at the end of the exercise, at least you have a finished product to show, which you can then hide away in a box in your loft...!

Talking of lofts, I actually started writing this first column the morning after getting back from Scale Modelworld, but got side-tracked by (a) needing to unload the car of all the boxes containing my models that I had made over the last few months for the Battle of Britain Special Interest Group display - of which more below. However, prior to storing them in the loft, I had to (b) create a space in said loft to store them... which then turned in to (c) me deciding to 'get rid' of all the old issues of magazines that I have stored up there, which evolved in to (d) me ultimately spending ALL afternoon up there sifting through boxes and boxes of magazines trying to decide which to keep and which to recycle in the paper bin... c’est la vie, n’est pas?


The Battle of Britain... as a modelling subject



Regarding my comment above about the Battle of Britain Special Interest Group display I was involved in, there can be very few people who will not have noticed the coverage during the summer and autumn of this year commemorating the 70th Anniversary. 2010 will possibly be the last ‘decade celebration’ of this event, so it was right and proper that so much attention was paid to it. In another decade there will almost certainly be no surviving participants – the ones that were able to enjoy this year’s celebrations were literally ‘The Few’

It is good that we remember this significant world changing event in our history – the results of their actions allow us to be who we are today – and I make no apology for the Battle of Britain being a favourite period in my modelling world.


As a modelling subject generally, the Battle of Britain is an excellent project for anyone, no matter how experienced in the hobby they are. It not only allows a representative selection of twelve or so different aircraft types (of the major variants involved) linked to a common theme to be constructed if desired, to give a more than reasonable finished ‘theme’ display, but there are a variety of colour schemes and markings finishes that can be applied, especially where Luftwaffe aircraft are concerned, to reflect the progression of events during the Battle.


Most of the main combatant aircraft can be built in all the major popular scales especially in 1/72 and 1/48 and up to 1/32 – and even 1/24 for a couple of the best known fighters – without too many problems. For my sins, I invariably build in 1/48 scale and built over thirty models for the display at the Scale Modelworld show. 



Building to theme might not be everybody’s idea of ‘fun modelling’ but it does allow a direct comparison of similar era aircraft types and provides a focus to a collection models, and once ‘bitten’ by the theme bug, there are literally scores of similar ‘themes’ that can be tackled...

Neil Robinson.

If you're not familiar with Neil's work, here is a brief resume written in his own fair hand:


I was born in February 1950 at the dawn of the injection-moulded, plastic modelling, construction kit age and started ‘serious’ modelling in 1960, and have been an enthusiast modeller ever since – I do not intend to grow up! I cut my aviation/modelling journalism teeth on Scale Models in the late 1970s with Ray Rimell when MAP owned the title. One of the publications that Ray and I did was the Aircraft from the Battle of Britain Special which was based upon the monthly series we produced for Scale Models magazine.
I joined IPMS(UK) in 1969 and after a stint as Branch Liaison Officer was elected as Editor of IPMS Magazine – the journal of the International Plastic Modellers’ Society – which I edited throughout the mid-to-late 1980s. My first proper ‘commercial’ editing job was with Military ModelCraft, in 1994, which covered figure modelling, AFV and vehicle modelling, which is still going strong, albeit under another publisher.
I decided to start my own magazine, Quarter Scale Modeller (for 1/48 scale aircraft modellers) in 1996. Quarter Scale Modeller ran for two years, during which time I also started Seventy Second Scale Modeller (for 1/72 scale aircraft modellers). Then, in late 1998, I was approached to see if I would take over and edit Scale Aircraft Modelling from Alan W Hall, who wanted to concentrate on his Warpaint series of aviation books. I readily accepted and was editor of Scale Aircraft Modelling for five years, during which time I commissioned and edited the Camouflage & Markings and Combat Colours ranges of books.
In the spring of 2003 I helped Gary Madgwick start a new venture, The Aviation Workshop/Model Alliance. Unfortunately we tried to grow and expand too quickly and the new company couldn’t support all the creative team members we had recruited, so one of us had to go. I volunteered, and started work in March 2004, editing a then relatively new magazine called Model Aircraft Monthly. My parting from The Aviation Workshop/ModelA lliance was an amicable one and Gary and I still kept in touch and I closely followed the growing successes of The Aviation Workshop over the ensuing years.
I spent five years editing Model Aircraft Monthly until the publishers decided to turn it in to a ‘real aeroplane’ magazine. I didn’t consider I was the right man for the job, (although I’m an aircraft enthusiast, I like to apply my passion for aeroplanes to modelling them), and resigned my position with the company in December 2009.
I immediately contacted Gary, who fortuitously for me, needed a Book Production Editor for The Aviation Workshop’s range of On Target books, and, in April 2010, I started back with the company – where I intend to stay!