I’ve been interested to see the reactions to this year’s TINGS on Facebook and forums. Such a wide range of opinions, from very good down to very disappointing. As an occasional exhibition manager, albeit of smaller shows, it is educational to look at these comments and try and improve our own ESNG show in some way.
But before making any comments, three caveats!
- I think that the show organisers had a number of layouts drop out at the last minute. Not surprising, as there is still a lot of covid about, and organising any exhibition is still difficult at the moment. This may partly explain that there were fewer layouts than pre-pandemic, and the quality of some.
- You can’t please everybody. Obvious really, but model railways is such a diverse hobby that even for a show that is just N gauge, there will be a whole load of interests there.
- Of course, I didn’t go, so any comments I make are based on the gutter press and Allan’s photos.
Layouts – A number of people commented that there were some layouts that were not of an exhibition standard. Now this may reflect the need of the exhibition manager to fill a few stands at short notice. But it also raises an interesting point. Should we show layouts of all standards, to encourage the beginner? There are, of course, a range of views on this, but for me, I want to be inspired to do better, and it’s not off-putting to see a wonderful model of a quality that I could never attain. Better to see this than glance at a layout and just think, ‘anyone could do better than that.’ So there’s nothing wrong with showing small, ’roundy-roundy’ layouts – but they need to be of good quality.
Trade – Although some people came away with the usual bargains, there were a lot of comments that all the traders were selling the same things. Perhaps this is inevitable for an N gauge only show. It’s been pointed out at length that the profit on a loco is rather larger than the profit on a tin of paint, so you take the former to a show. But perhaps a problem, too, is that N gauge is not a scratch builders scale, so the opportunities for Squires or Eileens Emporium to make money is reduced. I like these stands when they are at a show, as I always come home with some materials or something useful.
Perhaps this show is evidence of the way that exhibitions are heading post-covid. I had a long chat with a trader at the Seaboard Southern show, and his club has decided to give up exhibiting. The reasons – a high financial risk, as hall and catering costs and mileage expenses have gone sky-high, and also the lack of returns in new members – perhaps one every two or three years. Although exhibiting is fun, it was taking away from the actual modelling. So will we see less medium sized club exhibitions, and more commercial ones, like TINGS, and small friendly, low-risk, shows like Seaboard Southern and our own at ESNG. Time will tell,
In the end, Maxine and I had a busy weekend, and it would have been difficult to get to the show. But I didn’t feel bad about this, as it was a long way to travel when I only wanted to see a handful (of very good) layouts, and I really didn’t want to buy anything. But this leads on to the final thought. For me, the main problem with TINGS is that it’s just N gauge. I really do enjoy picking up ideas from all the scales, and because the trade support is wider, there are more and varied layouts from all times and places to see and be inspired by. And this is the same blogger who loved the 2mm Association show a few months back. The difference? Perhaps the high quality of the 2mm exhibits, and the amount of scratch-building that was on show.
So, once again, you can only fool some of the people some of the time! I have my interests and preferences and for me, some shows do that better than TINGS. But I shall try to go next year.
Having been too critical of exhibitions, here are three photos of aircraft that got a little too close to the tracks for comfort….
And one that resembles an ESNG running night….
I like to see the peoples layout that are criticisingthe poor standards. To see how good there are. Also why are they not exhibitors at shows to up the standard.
You’re probably right, Allan, that some people are better at criticizing than building! But our premier N gauge show really should aim for a high quality product?