The Opening Day of IPMS Telford is Finally Getting Closer!!

Took a trip! To IPMS Telford 2012!!!

– Contents –
  • * Finally in the UK! Just like last year, we went to various museums to conduct aircraft research!
  • * We found a store in the UK that looks just like the original Volks store!
  • * This year's Zoukei-mura booth was twice the size of last year's booth!

<This is the Zoukei-mura booth at 2012 IPMS Telford!>

This year's Zoukei-mura booth is twice as large as last year's!!  We wholeheartedly built the booth with the thought that we want all of our eager SWS fans to be happy!  Now, we wait for this year's event to unfold, with a mixture of anxiety and confidence!!

Here in Japan, late autumn weather is in full force, but how are all of our SWS fans doing?

Today, the cold winter winds have begun to blow, which scale model fans greet as the arrival of the ideal hobby season.

 Now, your work table awaits you tonight, so set aside any niggling complaints, and let us run together as fast as we can down the path of hobby indulgence!

And this winter, challenge yourself with one of the SWS kits you've heard so much about!

Those who do will be able to visit a new world of scale models!!  (Hey, now.)

For those scale model fans, Zoukei-mura prepared a mountain of SWS kits in order to joyfully take part in this year's annual Scale ModelWorld event held every year in Telford, UK, by the founding branch of IPMS.

The year is 2012!!  The event took place over two days, starting on November 10!!
(Because Zoukei-mura held its vendor booth as a manufacturer, and also because of our research agenda at British aviation museums, we ended up spending a total of around 10 days in the UK.)

Here on my old man's blog, please see for yourself the passionate scale modelers who gathered at the Telford International Centre for two enthusiastic days.

Aaaah~!!
IPMS Telford was really so much fun~!!

* Finally in the UK! Just like last year, we went to various museums to conduct aircraft research!

Today is November 8.
The IPMS event venue will open the day after tomorrow at 10 am.

Today is a precious research day for the six Zoukei-mura team members, who arrived in the UK the day before.

After all, there are still many very interesting museums and aircrafts in the UK which cannot be seen in Japan.  We want to see that, and we want to see this.  And this year, we came to visit that one!

Let's gooo~!! Ooh~~!!

And so, the Zoukei-mura members sallied forth to a museum, frolicking almost like elementary school students on a field trip.

This time, our visit was to the IWM (Imperial War Museum) in the Manchester suburbs.
Amazingly, this museum admits both adults and children for free!

It was also free to park in the enormous parking lot!
Hmmm~~~m!  This is something that you could never find in Japan!

The heating system was effective, keeping the building nice and warm.  The gift shop was fully stocked.  We were able to have a light meal, and there were many available chairs scattered throughout the building.

Displays on war, which can truthfully be called a result of human society, were thoroughly and objectively shown by time period.
In addition to the tanks and aircrafts that were displayed, there were exhibits on the damage and injuries tragically caused to the home front and its veterans by the war, so that visitors could easily learn about war, and the basic nature of conflict.

We fully studied the various images and displays, and even the general atmosphere until the museum's closing time.  Before we knew it, it was already fully dark outside.  Evening comes quickly in autumn in the UK.

* We found a store in the UK that looks just like the original Volks store!

Once we arrived in the UK, we also took a field trip to some local hobby shops, which I have been wanting to visit for a while.

After looking up some local stores on the Internet, we visited a business called F&S on this particular trip.  It was a little over ten minutes away from the museum by car, and was a classy little shop that faced a major road.

Look!  As you can see in the picture, it was a somewhat familiar, somehow nostalgic store!
Yes, it looked almost exactly like the hobby shop called "Volks," which my wife and I opened 40 years ago in Kyoto.

This shop is also managed by a married couple, and has been for 25 years.  A beautiful lady and handsome gentleman smiled and greeted the six of us, who had come to visit from distant Japan.

Overflowing with merchandise, the store's organization and product lines also reminded me of Volks.

I bought a helicopter kit at the shop.  However, unfortunately, when asked about Zoukei-mura and the SWS kits, both replied that they hadn't heard of either of them.

Hm~~ how unfortunate.  Never heard of them, huh~.  Clearly we haven't been working hard enough.  I guess it can't be helped.

Although I think the SWS kits would be very appropriate for such a wonderful store, and surely there are SWS fans in the area.

With such thoughts, we reluctantly left the shop.

I pray for the store's continued success moving forward.  I also hope that the SWS kits will be carried there in the future, and that the store's customers will be pleasantly surprised by them.

The SWS team is finally departing for IPMS Telford!
At the end on the left is my wife, the executive director and big boss of our company.  We'll all go and do our best~~~~~~!!

Oh, we've already reached Birmingham Airport in the UK!
Total flight time from Kansai International Airport was 17 hours!  We were all completely exhausted.  From here, we divided into two groups, one traveling by train and one by rental car, but all heading for Telford.

I was part of the train group.  Our final stop was Telford Central Station.
A comfortable train journey is a very pleasant thing.  Clean, and above all, fast?!  I think?

Clearly a suburban station, with many flowers blooming around it.  A message arrived from the rental car group that they had safely arrived at the hotel.
The devices known as mobile phones are truly convenient.

On the night of our arrival, we decided to eat at this stylish restaurant in front of Telford Station!  It felt like we suddenly went full throttle on the British cuisine.
Nnngh, but!  It took an hour and a half until the food arrived!!!!

From the outward appearance, the restaurant appears very smart, but I would not recommend going there for food.  While it seems that it's a good pub to visit for a drink, the food took so long!!  We nearly fell asleep at the table.

Who on earth is this, trying to overturn (?) a Russian tank!
Playing around in the front area of the Imperial War Museum are K and T, two of the jet-lagged SWS Development Team members.  Why don't you two try dieting a bit before you do that?

Wow, there's a T-34 in here!  From this distance, it's close enough to touch.  The structure is unexpectedly crude, and rather small.  Perhaps the finish of the welding and the construction are rough due to being done during the confusion of wartime.  Nevertheless, it looks like a powerful tank.

We're finally here!  All the way from Japan!!  We just ran across this place by chance on the Internet, but it seems that model stores in the UK are alive and well!! 
Ah~ in many ways, it really looks like the store where Volks was founded.  It makes me happy~~~~

A snapshot with the smartly dressed owner and his beautiful wife.  In this day and age, the very existence of brick-and-mortar shops that specialize in scale models is to be treasured.  In both the UK and Japan, let's all do our best!  If only we could understand each other – there was a lot I wanted to talk about.

And so the next day dawned. Finally, it was the day before the event!

* This year's Zoukei-mura booth was twice the size of last year's booth!

Regardless that the event hadn't even opened yet, the Zoukei-mura booth was already flooded with people!  At any rate, the official opening time was 10 a.m. on the next day, but I can understand the feeling of simply not being able to wait.
Yes, I completely understand.  Look!  The huge pile of SWS kits almost looks like it's about to catch fire underneath all the old guys' enthusiastic gazes!

That's right.
The scale of last year's booth didn't allow us to really share any conversation with the flood of all of our SWS fans, so for this year's Zoukei-mura booth, we reserved around twice as much space as we had last year.
We also brought lighted stands to display the finished models, arranged in a configuration which we carefully simulated multiple times prior to the event.

Just these arrangements provided us some relief.
On top of all that, Jim from SP&R (Scale Plastic & Rail), a website that covers the scale model and rail hobbies, actually volunteered to help at the Zoukei-mura booth during the event, greatly increasing our manpower.

Now!  Assault us from whichever direction you please!!
I and all of my staff were in such high spirits that it almost seemed as if we could say those words!

Howeverrrr....!! (A-a-again?!)

Y-yes!
 This year as well, perhaps predictably, our pleasant underestimation from last year continued to occur, even while we were still setting up.
Yes, that's right.  The truth is, as soon as we started opening the boxes, a lot of old guys came to visit the Zoukei-mura booth, calling out to us with cheerful voices.
There was even a bearded old guy who gave us all hugs.

The beard~!! It got stuck to things.

All of our visitors made us very happy and grateful.
However!!

Perhaps it was to be expected, but this year, there were no more "Where are you from?" inquiries – rather, we got:

"Did you receive my reservation that I made on the Internet?"
"I didn't reserve anything, but tomorrow, will there definitely be SWS kits for sale?"
"How many Shinden did you bring with you?"
"Did you bring the finished Uhu display model?"
"What time does everything go on sale?"
"So, how much will that be!"

etc., etc.  It was an unending assault in English!

Among the crowd, there were even old guys who listened closely to our SWS kit development war stories, and the barrage of questions was unrelenting!!

But, you know.  To tell the truth.
Although it was great to have such pleasant conversation with everyone, a worrying vision began to appear in our minds.

Indeed, the nightmare that once again, everything would sell out right as the event opened!

"Hey, everyone – how are we doing on numbers for the SWS kits, is everything still all right?"

The question spontaneously left my mouth, directed at my staff.

After all, even though our booth was twice as large, we of Zoukei-mura had traveled all the way from Japan, in the distant East far away from the UK.  There was naturally a limit to the amount of merchandise and display models that we could bring with us.
There was also the booth equipment, signage, and other miscellaneous items, which needed to be shipped from Japan by surface mail around two months prior to the event.

Eh? Why not send it by air mail?

That's a good suggestion, but the cost would be astronomical.  That is also the reason why the SWS kits that we bring with us go through multiple rounds of careful selection.

And out of those selected, some kits had already sold out via reservation, so we were in a quandary.

What to do?  Would we also spend the latter half of this year's event apologizing to all of our fans due to being sold out of everything........

An unfortunate premonition was beginning to make itself known to us, but there was no way for us to know for sure while still in the preparation stage.

At first, just like last year, cars fully packed with cargo entered the empty event hall, one after the other.

Along with the sounds of lively bangs and thuds, booths began to take shape before our eyes, here and there.  Goodness, no matter how many times I witness the spectacle, for some reason, there's always a certain fresh feeling to it.  Perhaps one could describe it as a freshness containing mingled hope, anxiety, and even a little melancholy.
It's a 'let's do our best for everyone~~' feeling.

Seven hours passed very quickly once we started work!  The Zoukei-mura booth started construction earlier than any other booth, so we also finished earlier than everyone else.
All that was left was to wait for tomorrow's opening.

I could read a comfortable fatigue in my staff members' faces and backs.  It may also have been the peak of our jet leg.  We were also hungry and thirsty.

Soon....

For us, dinner was the best part of our day!

That's right!
Partially as a pre-celebration for the booth selling out of SWS kits, Jim and his companions took us all out to a pub!

Moreover, it turned out to be the same restaurant where we had our pre-celebration last year, a familiar place called Wetherspoon.
Such a good omen!  At this point, we left all of our earlier worries behind, displaying the optimism that is a hallmark of the Zoukei-mura team.

Accompanied by the noise and clamor famed of British pubs, it was a truly enjoyable dinner.

To Jim and Shirley, as well as Thomas, Heidi, and the many SWS supporters, thank you so much!
We had a lot of fun!!

We stayed at the pub really late.  Both our bellies and our hearts were completely full!  But we ended up excusing ourselves first, needing to prepare for the event the next day.  It was necessary for us to sleep soundly and cast off our jet lag, otherwise we wouldn't be able to counter the English language barrage that awaited us!  And thus, we left for the night.

Now then, the next day was finally the opening day for the 2012 IPMS Scale ModelWorld event in Telford.

The three pallets that we shipped from Japan arrived safely.  Now, the battle begins.  Merchandise, display models, signage and show cards, as well as gifts were all tightly packed inside.

A view of the event hall on the day before the event, completely empty~.  Zoukei-mura actually ended up being the first in the hall to set up.  Our booth consisted of ten of the wooden tables that you see.  Now, I wonder exactly how many people will visit this hall?

Yes!  It's a pre-celebration!  We were invited out to dinner tonight by Jim of SP&R.  Moreover, it was at the familiar Wetherspoon pub!  We were very happy, and had a lot of fun.

So much food, it just kept coming!!  I can't eat it all!  And yet, even as I said that....I'm going to get fat again!  Even here, we received many new ideas for the SWS.  Thank you, Jim.

In the next entry in my old man's blog...
I will be covering the joyful state of our flood of fans, the beginning of our struggles at the Zoukei-mura booth, and for those of you who were unfortunately unable to be there that day, the contents of my address at the Meet the Maker event.

Please do look forward to it.

Hideyuki Shigeta
Representative of Zoukei-mura, Inc.

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