Event Report from IPMS in Telford, UK #3

Finally, the day before the event!

Good day to all of our SWS fans.

In this blog entry, I will finally be showing you our pre-event preparation and setup for Zoukei-mura's first booth at IPMS Telford.

After flying all the way from Japan, the Zoukei-mura team of 5, including myself (and I still don't speak English as well as I would like), set up our encampment. Please enjoy the details to follow.

Now, this is already the 14th occurrence of "Scale ModelWorld," the regular meeting of IPMS (UK) which is held every year at the International Centre in Birmingham, Telford, and is one of the largest and most preeminent events of the scale modeling world.

I have heard that the huge scale of the event, as well as both the quality and the quantity of the scale models built by the participating IPMS members, are so overwhelming and so wonderful that one is lost for words. Even more astonishingly, the fact that this event is held at all is dependent on the goodwill of the members, as it is managed entirely by volunteers. Truly, IPMS is amazing~~!

The International Centre, where the event would take place. Holding our baggage, we went around to the rear entrance to take everything in.

Found the loading entrance! The interior looks quite spacious. We'll do our best, and hope for a lot of great encounters during the two days of the event!

Oh~?! How amazingly huge! All of this will be completely filled with scale model fans and their magnificent works.♪

A food court has been constructed, so that people can take light meals while on the grounds. I'm sure that a lot of passionate discussion about scale models will take place while people are eating.♪

Here and there, vendors continue to arrive to set up. I wonder if there are any treasures hidden among their goods? Let's get along with each other over the next two days!

This was the vendor across from us.♪ We were surprised by the sheer volume of their inventory?! Perhaps we should have brought this much as well??

Not just retail shops and manufacturers, but IPMS members have also begun setting up their model displays. Each and every one of them shows amazing skill!

What?! It's even possible to bring your car directly into the hall to unload! It's very convenient, but please be careful.♪

Of course, real vehicles were also … wait a second, are those Aston Martins that were actually used in the 007 spy films?! That's so exciting~~~♪

Even a real Spitfire was brought in! Typical of the home of scale modeling, everything they do is full-blown.♪

At first sight of the event hall in the early morning, it seemed to exude a quiet, leisurely atmosphere.
Inside the hall, which was mostly empty with only a few people in sight, the only sounds were the dry echoes of display tables being set up here and there.
Nevertheless, the sheer size of the hall!! It was unbelievable, the difference between hearing and actually seeing! Both the pressure and the happiness of having come all the way to the UK filled my heart all over again.

The event site had three large halls. All three were being prepared, with one holding the modeling contest, the food court, and even displays for a 1/1 scale Spitfire and some of the actual Aston Martins used in the James Bond spy films. In the other two, in addition to areas where members could gather and display the scale models that they brought with them, orderly lines of vendor booths extended as far as the eye could see.

That wideness and largeness and liveliness were truly the best parts of the event! This is what is meant by the phrase "dumbfounding spectacle."

Moreover, in this British convention hall, things are set up so that automobiles carrying cargo can freely come in and out of the hall, so several cars fully loaded with baggage and models arrived one after the other to help set up.
Hm~~m! Such a logical idea! A sight that would be quite unthinkable in Japan suddenly leapt to life before my eyes. When preparing for Japanese conventions, for safety purposes, it's customary for all cargo to be carried in almost completely by hand.

Even when it's raining outside the event hall, such as it was for this event, letting automobiles into the hall like this lets setup preparations proceed without either the merchandise or the staff getting wet.

Inside, there were already some booths that were finished setting up. Most of them seemed to be representing retail stores, and the larger booths were overwhelming with their heaps of merchandise. Of course, they were prepared in all aspects, including price tags and promotional signs! I could only admire their attitudes, which said that this was all familiar to them.

"No way, they're really going to sell all of that~??!"

"There's a mountain of kits, tools, accessories, and decals! There's a pile of publications so large a bookseller would turn pale with worry!!"

In the face of so many booths that had enough merchandise that it was easy to mistake them as entire stores that had moved into the hall, our hearts were filled with an emotion that even we couldn't figure out was hope or worry.

"Hm~m, over there, and also over here … there's such an amazing amount of stuff!!"

I don't think anyone who was not there can truly comprehend our astonishment. Even though it was still mid-preparation on the day before the event opened, it was a forcible realization of exactly how the Telford exhibition became so popular.

"All right! We're going to do our best, too, as representatives of Japan~!!"

The Zoukei-mura team arrives at our booth. First is the all-important confirmation that all of our cargo has arrived safely! Everything seems to be okay.♪

After unpacking everything, booth construction begins immediately. We started by rearranging the tables, then spread some sheets to create a foundation.

Once the booth foundation is done and the display pedestals have been built, we can safely display our finished models, as well as set up our other equipment.

While we were setting up, for some reason, there was a construction vehicle… Accessing the wiring on the ceiling, to do work on the electricity?! Please do make sure to take sufficient care when working.♪

They were packed very securely to prevent damage, but our finished models still took some damage over the long journey by sea.

But our development team is made up of sculptors, who were unfazed and quickly conducted repairs! Good thing we brought along a toolbox.♪

A crowd began to form even as we were setting up! This unexpected level of attention heightened the anticipation for our sculpting team.♪

Booth construction is complete! Do our display models look cool? Do we have enough stock to fulfill our reservations? Nothing can be overlooked!

Compared to the previous event in Omaha, our number of finished display models has increased! I wonder, will those who have never seen our models in person be surprised?

From those looking at the brilliant lineup of finished models came a flood of inquiries: "Can we buy them yet?" Not until tomorrow, so please wait just a little longer.♪

A display of the Skyraider and its special pre-order bonus figures. The SWS kits are authentic airplane models: just by building them, it's possible for you to bring an entire scene to life!

In order to best recreate the Skyraider's payload, the US Aircraft Weapons set is indispensable.♪

The pre-order bonus pilot figure from Skyraider Set A. An attitude appropriate for a US Navy pilot overflows from the sculpt of his smartly defined pose.♪

Likewise from Skyraider Set A, a pre-order bonus figure of a guidance crew member giving signals to the pilot. For him, the carrier deck is the battlefield!

The pre-order bonus ordnance crew figures from Skyraider Set B. The facial expressions on these strong men in red ordnance jerseys are just so cool!

The pre-order bonus "MD3" deck tractor from Skyraider Set C. Don't overlook the fun of lining up your carrier fighters with their fine support staff!

This is what makes the SWS! The amazing internal structure that is truly just like that of the actual aircraft! You can choose to leave the panels off of half of your model as you build, if you want.♪

This is the first time that the Skyraider's sturdy engine rack, with its thick, four-sided shape that supports the 2700-horsepower "R-3350" engine, has ever been recreated.♪

This is also the first time that the rough surface (due to its self-sealing rubber) of the fuel tank that hangs to the rear of the cockpit has ever been recreated!

Only the SWS reproduces even the structures of the main spars, vital factors in not only studying the aircraft, but in determining the precise angles of the upper halves of the main wings!

SWS No.4, WWII's strongest and most famous horse, the "P-51D Mustang"! We are currently planning a worldwide "free shipping" campaign, so please look forward to it.♪

Fully understand the structure of the actual Mustang, from how the engine is suspended to where the exhaust pipes are attached, to placement of the transceivers, cannons, magazines, and more!

Maintenance crew members, servicing the engine area! The figures look even better against the background of a properly recreated internal structure, courtesy of the SWS.♪

Our dream of a collaboration with Master Box Ltd. finally came true! A pilot lectures on a dogfight, as if relating his own war story.

German officers and Dr. Kurt Tank discussing the Ta 152, recreated via pre-order bonus figures. This is where the true appeal of the SWS can be found.♪

A service crew member assists a Luftwaffe pilot with his equipment. There is a full assortment of figures available for separate sale via the SWS Extra Parts series.♪

The Japanese Navy's last trump card, the "Shinden," and its pre-order bonus pilot and development team figures. This is where it all began for the SWS.♪

With the "There were once young men who tried to protect this country of ours from the sky," catchphrase as our key concept, we deliver the final Shinden aircraft, sleeping in the Smithsonian, to you as the first-ever 1/32-scale reproduction!

The Mitsubishi "Ha 43-42" engine has been beautifully recreated! Not only the exhaust pipes, but also the scorched-looking paint job on the panels, help to convey the sense of realism.♪

You can thoroughly study how the four 30mm cannons (which were never actually mounted in real life) were suspended, as well as the structures of the loading and shell ejection mechanisms.

Putting their own lives on the line, young pilots took to the skies in order to protect their precious people. With the SWS, you can recreate even the setting of the time period!

Under severe pressure in the final hours of World War II, the development team that attempted to reverse the war situation by designing such a unique fighter as the "Shinden" has been magnificently recreated!

What?! At the booth for model magazine "AIR MODELLER" was the most recent issue featuring the Skyraider kit review, as well as a display of the finished model.♪

The way that the characteristic staining from the exhaust pipes is painted is excellent! The paint job as a whole is magnificent, carrying that distinctive feel to it that is unique to overseas modelers.♪

In honor of the large number of pre-event reservations, the Commander-in-Chief himself drew up the "RESERVED Until November 12!" sign!

Sold out via reservations?! Considering that sales open tomorrow, we put yellow "RESERVED" tags on the kits that had been claimed.

Upon sight of the mountain of "RESERVED" kits came a fresh flood of inquiries: "Will you be selling the kits from cancelled reservations??"

Oh? Haven't we seen you somewhere before…? What?! It's a gentleman we met at the IPMS Omaha event in the US!

At every event, our customary SWS kit development request board is always very popular! Everyone writes down whatever planes they like.♪

In the neighboring hall, it seems that they've finished bringing in the Spitfire! Surely the propeller will be installed in time for tomorrow.♪

Once we'd pulled ourselves together, our first task was to confirm whether all of the cargo from Japan had arrived safely at the event hall. In any case, we had shipped our IPMS cargo ahead by sea nearly two months prior to the event, so honestly, until we arrived at the hall and saw it sitting in front of our booth space, we were rather concerned.

Also, Zoukei-mura's application to participate in the event was rather last-minute, so our space was unusually small for the event, taking up only three tables.

We confirmed that our cargo, which we had so worried about, had arrived safely. Now, it was time to start setting up the Zoukei-mura booth.

By the way!! While we were rattling around discussing whether to begin setting up or not, reservations began coming in one after the other. From "SHINDEN" to "Ta152" to "SKYRAIDER" we heard all of the names.

That's right. Under IPMS rules, sales are not permitted prior to the opening of the event. Therefore, everyone asks, "Can I reserve this item?" We heard this question from many people, and from all kinds of people!

The unexpected development that we started receiving reservations from the very beginning was both a happy thing and a perplexing one, but we took it as a good omen, and our hope for the following day began to increase.

It was a chaotic few hours. Because our booth was small, setup was easy.

Once we'd opened up all the cargo we'd had shipped by sea, assembled our finished display models, piled up our merchandise and positioned promotional signs and cards, we were finished. Construction of a small booth is quickly completed, and the time between start and end simply flew by.

In this hall, the large tapestry that we'd brought with us from Japan appeared to be nothing more than a small poster.
Because it's such a huge hall, you see! From far away, even the 1/1 Spitfire seemed to be a 1/48 model.

Even the proud Zoukei-mura and SWS logo marks seemed somehow shy.

After all, this was the IPMS Telford event site in the UK, far away from Japan.

Five staff members. Little by little, we began to experience the indescribable feeling of actually participating in the event.

At last, tomorrow would be the first day of the event!!

We were ready.

If you go to the UK, you have to go to a "pub," no matter what! Or so we were told, so we promptly visited a pub at the back of the event site.♪

The interior was enveloped in quite a stylish atmosphere, with a ton of tasty-looking alcohol lined up behind the bar.♪

All ordering is done at the bar, where a lovely lady will pour you your drink on the spot.♪

A different kind of arrangement than you would receive in America, which can't be beat for sheer quantity, this nonetheless delicious-looking burger got a big grin from the Commander-in-Chief.♪

We had a pleasant conversation over "Balti" (a British-style type of curry that came up when we searched for British cuisine on the Internet) and beer.

After surviving setting up in the midst of sudden crowds, we returned to the hotel. It's even more beautiful at night, when everything's been lit up~ ♪

All that remained was the pre-event celebration, for which we chose to go to, you guessed it, a "pub." When you visit the UK, no matter what one is doing, one must first visit a pub. It bears repeating: no matter what, go to the pub first.

It's not actually written into the laws, but that is the undeniable mission of just about any tourist to the UK.
Or rather, perhaps it is fate or even destiny, but in any case, somehow, by any means possible, one must visit a pub, no matter what.

Whether or not we were bound by such a reason or not, the five of us from Zoukei-mura, our hearts and our faces filled with this sense of purpose and fate, set off for this so-called pub with cheery expressions.

"Rock, paper, scissors – one, two, three!
Of course, the designated driver would not be permitted to consume alcohol.

Whoever lost here at this particular battle would cruelly only be allowed to eat a burger.

Pre-event party~~! Even during the celebratory toast, that person could only drink soda.

In this way, the night before the IPMS (UK) event in Telford advanced, while a storm brewed in the skies above.

The hotel grounds during the day. It seems that the hotel was formerly a monastery, way back in the day! No wonder it feels like an ancient castle.♪

There's also a building that gapes open in the middle like an entry gate. I wonder if guests can stay in the rooms on either side of the opening?

This is the dining hall as seen from the side of the parking lot, and it seems that guests can stay in the rooms in the upper stories. In the mornings, delicious breakfast smells are wafted out to the parking lot.♪

This is where the main entrance into the lobby is. The actual entrance is the door in the shorter building on the right. It gets full points for atmosphere.♪

When you enter the lobby, you're greeted by a stylish-looking room with expensive-looking sofas and cute accessories here and there.♪

There were already Christmas decorations! The decorations were beautiful, and matched the Middle Ages feel of the place very well.♪

Maybe it's because it used to be a monastery, but it seems that this hotel is frequently used as a location for weddings. The albums were filled with joyful-looking photos.♪

We all went to our own rooms … but why is there a double bed when it was supposed to be two twin beds for two guys?! Ah, there was another bed further inside. *laugh*

Breakfast took place in the dining hall I showed you earlier. With fireplaces and high-backed chairs, it felt a lot like a high-class restaurant.♪

Now this is a real English breakfast! How does it look so fancy when it's just bacon and eggs on top of toast? *laugh*

We discovered a small sitting room on our way to the dining hall from the lobby! From the color of the walls to the pattern of the sofas, every aspect of it was very smart and contributed to the wonderful ambience.♪

We ventured even further inside. Although we'd heard that it used to be a monastery, we found several beautiful rooms reminiscent of an old castle.♪

There were many wedding photos in the picture frames that appeared every now and then. When we asked at the front desk, we were told it was a quite popular and well-known venue.♪

In one dead-end room, we found tables set with very elegant tableware, and were told that it was a very high-class restaurant available by reservation only.♪

In my next blog entry, I will be showing you photos of the contest area and many of the magnificent works that participated, the booth area, and some treasures from the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford. There's still a lot left to cover, so please look forward to the rest of my event report of the amazing IPMS Telford.


Hideyuki Shigeta
The Old Man of Zoukei-mura


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