It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this up for a few reasons:
- I had 200+ photos to sort through, all of varying quality, and all to be done on an aging laptop that often tries to take a nap in the middle of a process.
- The event was a massive shock to the senses, so I needed a bit of time to process it all.
- I was busy. Pretty crappy excuse, really, given I’m usually busy with one thing or another, but it worked as an excuse to procrastinate. “Oh, I suppose I could write up a blog post about WME, but I have this other thing to do that absolutely could also wait.”
Anyway, contrary to my usual format, I thought I’d do the write-up up top with the pictures below. This is at least partially because I know that my laptop will panic at uploading all those pictures (and then freak out about loading them onto the page), and that part of the process will take forever. Might as well get this bit out of the way first so I don’t have an excuse to delay. Again.
As you’ve probably seen and heard, this World Expo had more than 4000 models on display, and courtesy of the pandemic giving everyone a lot more time at home to work on their hobbies, the overall standard was consistently high, whether in Master or Standard. I was in fairly early and managed to get my models on the displays while the shelves were still fairly empty, and I felt pretty good about them. They looked like they’d have a decent impact.
That feeling lasted all of an hour or so.
It’s pretty humbling seeing the best you can do set alongside the best produced by someone with considerably more talent. On top of this, my fantasy models simply vanished into the sea of ultra-saturated models with powerful light sources.
I’ve always favoured a more realistic approach – partially because I’ve always preferred grittier, more realistic fantasy and sci-fi content, partially because I just don’t like highly saturated art in general. I am clearly in the minority, and it’s given me things to think about. I doubt I’ll suddenly throw fluorescent pigments at everything, but ramping up the strength of the light sources for a touch more drama might be useful, and I can always chuck some really high saturation at key features if I need to really draw attention.
One thing I did find interesting when comparing this World Expo to the last one I attended in Stresa in 2014, is that the fantasy open category felt much more restrained. What I saw at Eindhoven were a surprisingly large number of entries that were relatively simple – a few stock models on a base, for instance. Generally beautifully painted, but… In Stresa, the open category was awash with collaborations between sculptors and painters, which showed off enormous creativity. Some pieces at Eindhoven were certainly of that calibre, but it did seem like there was less ‘ambition’ generally in the fantasy open.
I’d also like to mention that the World Federation really should rename its ‘diorama’ category, as that clearly caused a lot of confusion. So much, in fact, that the show organisers had to put up signs advising people (mostly fantasy painters) that, under World Federation rules, a ‘diorama’ has to have a vehicle in it, and if your [apparently not a] diorama lacks a vehicle, you need to re-register it in the appropriate category.
I can’t fathom why a ‘diorama’ category needs such a ridiculous requirement unless it’s deliberately intended to separate ‘vehicles’ from ‘vehicles with figures’, in which case surely a more descriptive title would be valuable? Anyway, I gather this has been an argument for some time within the World Federation. Maybe one day they’ll realise that it’s just silly.
One of the best parts of going to shows is to catch up with friends and meet new people. I’m not great in crowds, however, and it takes me a long time to warm up to socialising, especially after two years of hiding inside. I spent the first day or so trying very hard not to just hide in a corner with a lot of beers.
Having said that, the Danes made excellent company – especially Tue, who’s always fun to be around and has an incredible mind for the hobby.
Anyway, if you saw me at the show and thought I was standoffish or brusque, I was probably actually just trying to avoid having a panic attack.
One thing that was very lovely was the dozen or so people who approached me to ask if I was ‘the duck guy’ (or variations on that). That was quite humbling, especially as many of the people who approached me about the ducks are painters I’ve admired for some time.
The show itself
I had misgivings about running the show at the Koningshof, simply because I remember Stresa well and one of the things I loved most about that show was that you weren’t stuck there. You could easily treat it like a normal holiday in an incredible location where there just happened to be a model show. I thought it was a shame not to move the World Expo into Eindhoven, giving people the opportunity to see the city (which, I maintain, is lovely and vibrant).
In the end, I’m happy to be wrong. Would the show have been better if it was in the city? Perhaps, but it didn’t need to be. The venue was large enough and there was enough going on that there was no need to have an escape to hand.
The barbecue was also an excellent idea – with limited dining options (and dining space) at the venue, it was a really good way to not only provide dining for many more people, but it also encouraged everyone to stick around and socialise outside of the show itself.
(It’s my opinion, however, that a barbecue really should have sausages.)
The prize giving at the end was also very well handled – I was pleased to see that they didn’t run out of medals as they had at Stresa – and as far as I could tell, the judging was generous but justified. I’ve seen moaning online about the sheer number of medals handed out, but I think that sort of argument fails to take into account the self-selecting nature of the World Expo: everyone who is at the show is very serious about the hobby, and they are bringing the best they have to show off. Unless you impose an arbitrarily and unnecessarily high standard (which you have to determine on the fly, because you don’t actually know what’s going to turn up until it does), you’re going to end up giving out a lot of medals.
I was quite shocked – but very pleased – to win two bronzes and a silver. Silver for fantasy master painting, bronzes for historical master painting and historical master open. I’m still not quite over that silver, if I’m honest.
Martin, meanwhile, also got silver in fantasy master painting and also got bronze in historical master painting. Had he entered historical master open, he probably would have got a bronze in that, too, just to maintain the symmetry.
The usual caveats apply: I am a terrible photographer, etc. I should note that while the light seems very harsh in the pictures, it was actually perfectly fine in person.