I travelled to Caulfield (some 130 Km) from home on Saturday the 22nd of August. I’m not complaining about the train ride, I never do, but I have to say that I expected better than I got at the exhibition.
The venue is large, well-lit, and well laid out. There is great vendor support, and there were some nice layouts on site. But – and I hesitate because I know that there’ll be some wailing and moaning when I say this – I did not enjoy my time at the show today and I did not enjoy seeing and photographing the layouts on offer; here’s why.
Issue number one: The vendors got all the light
If you’ve ever been to a race track (as in where horses race) you’ll know that the windows facing the track let in a lot of light. Why then do you put all the vendors there, who usually, but not always I agree, have their own lights. The layouts were by and large tucked away in dark holes in the venue, and the lighting on these layouts generally was not up to the task given the darkness that came about from the large walls and escalator spaces in which they found themselves.
I’ve got an idea. How about you give me the light I need to take my photographs (without a flash and without the need to run my digital camera at ISO 800 ) so that I can capture the model railway layouts in a reasonable amount of light. I understand that the vendors need light too. But since most of them had access to their own sources in any case, I wonder why they needed to be put at the windows. I guess what I’m wondering is: Was it a model railway exhibition, or a model railway manufacturer trade show, with a couple of layouts thrown in to keep the punters happy?
Issue number two: Layouts spread all over the place
I felt like I had to walk a mile to see the layouts. There was no logical layout to the layouts, tucked as they were about the space. Is there any reason the organisers could not cluster the layouts (with some natural light) and cluster the vendors in a vendor area? Don’t get me wrong, I bought three Athearn Blue box 50 foot gondolas (at $10.00 AU a pop – may I add my thanks to Casula Hobbies) so I spent some money beyond the $10.00 entry fees.
Some of the layouts were so well hidden that it was only on my second time walking around that I noticed them.
So what am I asking for?
I’m interested in the modelling aspect of the hobby. I want to watch well modelled trains run through well modelled scenery. I want to see what other layout designers have come up with to dazzle me. I want to also see what the manufacturers have come out with. But mainly I’m interested in seeing layouts. 2015 will be the last time I’ll be visiting Caulfield. You may not agree, and I’m OK with that. I lived in the US for 10 years and the trend of having the manufacturers overwhelm exhibitions is long entrenched in the Texas modelling scene. It’s not something that I want to see happen here. Vendor support is critical for the success of model railway shows; they help offset the costs of hiring the space. However, it’s a model railway show. Let’s all think on that for a moment before we begin to pander too much to the vendors at the expense of the modellers and the layout exhibitors.
Your thoughts are always welcome, whether they’re bouquets for brick-bats. Have a great day.