Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Exhibitions and the RTR challenge

It probably starts in childhood, and there is probably a name for it. I think the test would be to put children in a sweet shop and watch what happens. The first type will go up to the counter and say, "I'd like that one please". The second type will be standing with their tongue out slavering and saying "that one, no, that one. Oh wait no, maybe that one." I am walking around the Glasgow exhibition, searching in vain for bulk packs of Kadee #5 couplings, anything remotely fine scale, and anything in BR Express Passenger blue livery when I get the sweetie shop moment. And the thought goes "wouldn't it just be easier to paint everything Brunswick Green". My plan to model the steam era immediately following nationalisation is not as straight forward as I thought it would be. There is little RTR support for these formative years of the new British Railways.

Part of what I want to achieve in the work that I do is a sense of satisfaction. All too often I feel we fall into the trap of relying heavily on what we are given, rather than what we can make. I have spent an hour or so visiting a number of blogs and layouts that I like and the impression I get is that they have taken raw materials from various sources, including RTR and moulded that into something unique. I'm sure the builders have a sense of satisfaction. They don't need to have build everything from scratch or from kits, they don't need every last detail in place or the rails to be separated to 2 decimal places to have achieved that. They have all done it differently and will all have that sense of satisfaction. But neither have they relied entirely on the available marketing from the big manufacturers. Those layouts may not suit another builder and their view is of course is equally valid, as we all derive satisfaction in different ways. 

I have come away from the exhibition today feeling that I am more content with what I am modelling and how I am doing that than I thought I was, yet I am less content with the form and content of the exhibition than I thought I would be. Which is pleasing on one hand, yet disappointing on the other. The hobby seems - going by the numbers of people and associated polythene bags - to be relatively healthy, given the destruction of the economy, yet that is in some ways rather frustrating. Ironically when there was no chance of an RTR manufacturer producing the pre-grouping loco you wanted, you didn't mind so much that it wasn't in the catalogue. Now there is an expectation that anything is possible and there is a frustration that what you want is not there, ready for you, in a box. 

Modelling a location that was out-with the norm is something that many cope with, but modelling an era that is out-with the norm seems to make things considerably more difficult. I currently have a Bachmann A1 sitting in brake fluid to get rid of the green paint and to allow me to apply some blue paint. This feels difficult, something I shouldn't have to do, a problem,in fact a reason to avoid having to do it. Yet only a few years ago the prospect of a high quality RTR Peppercorn A1 was unthinkable. Add to that the A2, A3, A4, V2, B1 and a D11 and we are probably in a much better place than we ever have been. What I need to do is realise that I will be applying what skills I have developed onto a RTR body rather than a kit. I am starting to realise that over that last period in time I have become overly reliant on manufacturers doing most of the work for me. 

Thompson in Teak
Repainting may not be as quick as renumbering, but it is a great deal more satisfying. This Thompson second started life in maroon livery. It is now in ersatz teak.
I was disappointed with my day, because it didn't have enough for me, yet the society shows can sometimes be a little off-putting if you are not in the coterie. I've worked in some of the finer scales and I know they all have their own exhibitions and expo's etc but perhaps the time is right for there to be another attempt at a Scottish fine scale show that caters for the wider scale modelling contingent. Falkirk and Blairgowrie showed it could be done. The day wasn't a complete waste however as a B1 in LNER green was added to the collection.

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