North Surrey Model Show 2023

A few weeks back, the Ely crew took a wee jaunt down south again – this time most of the way round the M25 into Surrey. The satnav, I’m fairly sure, was trying to lure us onto a badger trail, but we persevered and found our way to Banstead.

On the way there, I had what we have started calling my ‘senior moment’: I realised about halfway that I was still wearing my slippers. In my defence, they’re quite new – I’ve never really worn slippers before – and very comfortable, so I simply walked out the door without realising that I wasn’t actually wearing my shoes.*

Anyway, on to the usual show photos:

It wasn’t a particularly huge show, but it was kind of ideal for Martin’s brother, Kev, who hasn’t entered a competition in 15 years. Small shows like this are, I think, pretty good for people just getting into display painting. You’re not likely to see the really inspirational, incredible stuff that you run into at SMC or the Fen Model Show (hint: tickets available now!), but on the other hand you’re also not as likely to feel dwarfed or intimidated, and can build some confidence in your work with the typically lower bar of entry for medals. Having said that, you do often see some really good and interesting work.

I think this show, more than most of the small shows I’ve been to, had a really good set of interesting pieces. For one, the actual spread across the categories was pretty good – admittedly, only one boat turned up, but there was a good range of other vehicles, a flat (not one of mine!), some dioramas, wildly different scales, etc. There were also quite a few pieces that I considered really creative. In particular, I liked the scratchbuilt/kitbashed walking tank, which used models from (I think) three different scales to excellent effect.

Figures did dominate in terms of numbers, but that’s pretty common outside of the more vehicle-dedicated shows like MAFVA.

There was some consternation over which categories models went into, however, as the ‘historical’ category was actually listed as ‘military’. I steered clear of any weirdness by shoving my prehistoric shaman into fantasy, while Martin was involved in a brief discussion over whether pirates are, in fact, historical, which was amusing to listen in on.

With one exception, the judging was very much as you’d expect from smaller shows: a relatively high proportion of medals awarded and generally to the pieces you expect. The fantasy category, however, had some curious results. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a set of results like it – suffice to say that it is definitely not what I would have expected, especially when the other categories lined up pretty much as they should. I think all of my pieces got something, but in almost perfect reverse order from what I would have expected. My weakest piece (in my opinion) got gold, while my stronger pieces languished with highly commended and bronze. I would say the same was true of the rest of the Ely crew, and there were other pieces in the category that were either under-appreciated or over-regarded, in my opinion.

It’s a bit of shame, really, as the other categories were pretty much spot on. I wouldn’t say it ruined the show, but it did colour my experience a touch. It’s an odd thing to see.

Regardless, I do maintain that it had one of the more interesting sets of competition entries I’ve seen at smaller shows, so it’s tempting to return next year to see what else the locals cook up. I’ll try to remember my shoes next time.

* I went out at lunch and found a shoe shop so I wouldn’t ruin the slippers. I suppose it was serendipitous, as I’d been looking for a decent pair of shoes for quite some time, but Ely has a pretty limited range of shoe shops and my feet are apparently a weird size, so online shopping doesn’t usually work out.

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