Event Report from IPMS Florida 2012, Part 1
Took a trip to "IPMS Florida"!!
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The Contemporary Resort where the IPMS Florida event was held.
Who will win the Zoukei-mura "Most Valuable Geezer" trophies?!
Good afternoon to all of our SWS fans!
Took a trip to IPMS Florida!
Over the next few entries, I'll be reporting on that excitement and enthusiasm here in my old man's blog.
I want to include you as fully as I can, so please, relax for a moment and accompany me on this hot summer's day.
IPMS stands for "International Plastic Modeler's Society," and is a global hobby organization that is run by volunteer plastic model fans.
Subsequently, the venue for IPMS USA's annual event for 2012 was set in Orlando, Florida.
At the event, Zoukei-mura had a booth nearly three times as large as the one we had at the previous Omaha event!! It was a vendor's booth run by our full six-member team.
Now, how do you think things went?!
Allow me to begin my old man's IPMS Florida event report.
Good morning~! The SWS Development Team members gathered at Itami Airport in Kansai!
When on layover at Narita Airport, our appetites may be the only vigorous thing left!
Thank goodness, we finally arrived at O'Hare Airport in Chicago.
Look, look, look! The SWS team has finally arrived in Florida!!
Good timing! The rental car picked up by our advance scout arrives. With this, we were finally able to go to the hotel. Moreover, this car, an American Toyota Sienna, was able to run steadily even when loaded down with six people and eight pieces of luggage.
We often procure display tools and supplies locally, even long pipes like these.
All ri~ight! Our first dinner in America will be steak! It's so nice to be young~! Against my better judgment, I got caught up in their energy, and came along with them. I really shouldn't have – steak on a jet-lagged stomach…
See, forget the steak – I managed to get full on just veggies!
Just look at this disaster area!! They even ordered beer, and just ate and ate!
On August 6, we departed Japan from Itami Airport in Kansai!
This time, including myself, the Development Team members numbered six in total.
And unfortunately, the other three, including myself, are completely unable to speak English!
We're pretty much like a young gang of ruffians with more ability in our fists than our brains.
"Bah! We don't need words! We have gestures!" For the three of us, the only thing we can rely on is our bravado, which can only be truly understood in Japan.
Now~ what in the world awaited us on this trip?!
From Itami Airport to Orlando, with layovers at Narita Airport and Chicago O'Hare, we had an approximate total of 13 hours in the air!
What lay before the six handsome youths, whose faces reflected both tension and anticipation……!!
Oh~! What's this!
* "This flight will be delayed for approximately four hours due to technical difficulties."
Hey, JAL employee, don't say such an important thing so nonchalantly! A 4-hour delay?!
Then what's going to happen with our connecting flight in Chicago~~~? Eh? It will all work out, you say?
Is that really true~~?!
At any rate, first we have to get to Narita, no matter what. There are no direct flights from Itami Airport to Chicago.
With a vague anxiety in our hearts, we get on the plane, because it's not like we can turn back now.
W-will everything really be okay, JAL?!
All this when another staff member already departed for Orlando on an ANA flight on this same day, and that flight was on time without any problems!!
And thus the six of us wasted precious time pointlessly waiting amidst the rather poor amenities of Narita Airport.
For some reason, even at times like this, even in circumstances such as these, these guys can always be relied upon to have hearty appetites. "Hmm, they're not discouraged at all! But at times like this, that just makes them all the more dependable!!"
Since we wouldn't be able to eat Japanese food for a while, as a final farewell, everyone unanimously ordered "tonkatsu."
Also, the pun with "katsu (to win)" also made for a good omen. "Excuse me~! We'd like to order~!"
Ah, so full!!
"Oh~! Look! The Orlando Airport gets full marks for the resort atmosphere!"
After all, the airport was filled with men and women strolling around in beach sandals and shorts! The colors and patterns of their outer garments exuded a tropical atmosphere.
Whereas we looked dead serious! We of the Zoukei-mura Japanese Army completely stood out in attire! We may as well have been from another planet.
And the temperature was quite hot! But without much humidity!
Our other staff member, who had arrived before us, had already picked up the rental car and was standing by waiting! "Hm~m, this is a good sign!"
With its blinker winking on and off, the rental car that came for us was … what! Why, this is a "Toyota Sienna," just like the one that Volks USA used to own.
After cramming six humans and their luggage into the spacious interior, we were off to the hotel~!
After that, we went out to a local home improvement center in order to purchase materials for setting up our booth.
As the Commander-in-Chief, I maintain a calm presence…… (Truthfully, I can't do anything.)
Although our stomachs were feeling strange due to the reversal of our days and nights, we also ate our first dinner since arriving. I had received a request from my Zoukei-mura kids that they wanted to eat something with meat.
For some reason, at that restaurant, you order what you want to eat from photos at the host desk, prior to being seated. After that, salads and desserts are buffet-style – it was a type of restaurant I've never seen before in Japan.
As for me, I was full from the salad before my beloved steak even came!
Around the time when the sizzling steaks arrived, my upper eyelids had begun to meet my lower eyelids – that's right, sleepiness had attacked, to the point where I couldn't keep my eyes open.
By the way, how do you think everyone else was!
They ate and they ate – it's truly amazing to be young~~!
Oh, man, I'm going to get fat after eating like this!
The next morning, we went straight to the venue!
The IPMS event site was in Orlando, Florida.
Before we entered the venue, we had a reunion with Earl, a familiar face!
Look at this enormous contest room! It will truly be indescribable when all this space is filled and covered in models!
We confirmed that the boxes shipped from Japan two months ago arrived safely. Now! This is where the work for the Development Team members begins. Merchandise, finished display models, accessories, and even Concept Notes. Will customers come visit the booth~?!
Oho~o! Even while we were still setting up, we began to receive early reservation requests.
The Zoukei-mura booth was finished at last. Tomorrow will finally be the first day of the event. Having come all the way from Japan to participate, I wonder what kind of response we will receive from the customers? My thoughts tumble rapidly in a mix of impatience and anxiety.
Hmm~m. Hmmm~m. HMMMM~~M.
Now!! The morning of the first day of IPMS Florida is here~~!
All of a sudden, an encounter with Earl!
That's right. Earl Petrikin, who we met a year ago at last year's IPMS convention in Omaha, was already in the parking lot in front of the event hall, giving directions to the vendors!
At the sight of that familiar face, all of the Zoukei-mura team members gave a great shout.
"Hi, Earl! How are you!"
All at once, it was a scene distinctively IPMS, which is an organization run entirely by volunteers, that was spreading out before our eyes.
Earl also greeted us with a wide smile.
The whole organization is so refreshing.
After hurried greetings, the team members carried the box containing the completed display model of the SWS "Uhu" into the event hall.
"Uwaa~ it's so huge~~!!" "Oh~ it's beautiful~~!"
As always, we were bowled over by IPMS USA's event site. So spacious! So large!
And so extravagant!
The vastness of the vendor area goes without saying, but what on earth is this huge contest area!!
As for us, the boxes for the Zoukei-mura booth that we had shipped from Japan two months prior were waiting for us, having arrived without any problems.
As can be expected of America, we could rely on everything to be done as it should be.
Our first task was to open and unpack the pile of boxes.
At times like these, the way the Zoukei-mura team members work is a sight to see!
Amidst all this, more and more boxes were unpacked by the easy efficiency of my staff members.
At this event, it was critical that the mistake that we made at last year's IPMS Telford event in the UK not happen again.
Which was why we ended up having so many boxes!
Surely we won't be able to sell all of this?! It was enough merchandise to cause such worries.
"Eh?! You want to make…a reservation?"
Oho!! Even here in Orlando, we began to receive early reservation requests.
Even Fred from the neighboring booth made a reservation with a smile. "Reserve a Shinden for me!"
Goodness, by the time we finished setting up around 7 p.m. that evening, we were already overflowing in reservation slips.
Whether or not it means that the reputation of the SWS has finally grown enough to be acknowledged as the real thing, that night before the event opened, our worries suddenly made a complete U-turn, as we began to wonder if we hadn't brought enough merchandise to this event, either.
Our preparations were complete. All we could do was wait for the event to open at 9:30 a.m. the following morning.
With our hearts keyed up, we left the now-quiet event hall behind.
(The truth is, in spite of being in the middle of setting up, we continued to receive visitors one after the other at the Zoukei-mura booth, and lost quite a bit of time to those interactions, which couldn't really be helped. It was an endless series of long conversations.
Finally, tomorrow would be first day of the event!
And tonight, we would continue to nourish our high spirits, with a pre-event celebratory Chinese dinner awaiting us!!
The restaurant turned out to be a magnificent failure.
Hm~m. With the rather troubling tastes lingering, we could only hope that it wasn't an omen for how the next day would go~~
Well, then, please look forward to my next entry in a few days!!
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