Wrap Up Notes from the 2008 AMPS International Show
On Thursday, April 10 in the rotunda of WW2 Victory museum in Auburn, IN I stood alongside AMPS 08 site coordinator John Napolitan checking last minute assignments just before the vendors were about to enter. Gazing upon the sixty empty model display tables and ninety-five empty vendor tables, I drunk in what I had hoped would be a fantastic weekend. A few dozen volunteers had already arrived, and after setting up the tables, were busily erecting more equipment. Legions of modelers and their models were converging to this town in Northern Indiana. Dozens of vendors would begin a frenzied weekend of wheeling and dealing. Thousands of digital photos of the museum's holdings had yet to be hungrily taken. Although the show would officially open to the public Friday morning, there was no mistaking the fact that the ball had begun to roll in earnest.
What transpired over the next two and a half days was just fantastic to behold. Although the weather did not cooperate (rainy and somewhat chilly) hundreds of modelers and vendors were able to experience the excellent venue that was the WW2 Victory museum. The 20.000 square foot space with a huge vaulted ceiling was well illuminated by natural light. The adjacent museum galleries with over 150 military vehicles kept the attendees busy but yet close enough to the vendor room and model display areas to make everyone happy. One vendor had a 12' high stack of new Tasca Firefly kits, freshly delivered from the Far East. AFV Club had test sprue shots of their impending Churchill Mk III. TamiyaUSA's Rich Poulsen handed out three of their new Opel Blitz truck kits. AMPS Members in attendance received a free sample of the Archer Surface details – I bee-lined over to Woody to get four more! There were new vendors and old-timers. Rob Ervin (Formations) sold his first Kelly's Heroes Oddball Sherman conversion. Chris Mrosko and his new New World Miniatures were doing brisk business as well as serving as a seminar presenter and show photographer (he also donated the show's name badges too!)
The AMPS Show Raffle is always a sight to see. Record tickets were sold as items worth thousands of dollars were donated by companies and on-site vendors. John Gazzola kept everything running smoothly while also administering a drop off area for kits destined to the AMPS Donation Program where we send items to troops overseas. The generosity of show attendees was evidenced by the truckload of items John eventually collected and shipped.
While many of us enjoyed the museum displays, Scott Taylor herded a bunch of eager camera bugs behind the barricades for the paltry cost of a Museum Memership ($50). The MVPA added to the show with journal donations and their fantastic display of TACOM factory drawings.
While the show flowed smoothly, some hiccups were encountered. A combination of poor flying weather and the grounding of many aircraft created headaches for some attendees. Last minute equipment shortages required late afternoon calls to the equipment rental company. The biggest horror I encountered was when I kicked a small cardboard box on the floor near the registration desk. Out flew a 1/72 FAMO that was fully stocked with supplies! I don't know if I actually screeched but wouldn't have been surprised. After gathering everything I could find (loose chains and jerry cans, detached windscreen and tools), I tried to find the owner. The next morning I profusely apologized to Dave Bailey of Ontario whose graciousness was enormous. Imagine the huge laugh we shared when, come Saturday, I handed him a Silver Medal (Advanced) for the same kit! I told him that I should kick all his models!
Being the ultimate "armor geek" weekend, it was a great excuse to meet with old friends and make new ones. Many of us knew one another from previous modeling events or Internet forums and communities. It was great to connect faces with names. During the Thursday night Ice Breaker at Mad Anthony's Pub, Patrick Keenan of the new Chicagoland AMPS club was intent on having me try all the restaurant's microbrews (I couldn't fulfill this honor as I had a show to run the next morning!).
Chief Judge John Charvat oversaw the training of many new judges. His volunteers evaluated a record 547 models from 197 contestants. The six judging tables seemed to be going non-stop. Some backups did form but we were all grateful for the intensive man hours required to evaluate the many excellent models. A total of 472 entries scored well enough for medal consideration. Steven Milstone-Turner of Ottawa Ontario was awarded Best of Show for his incredible BergePanther. He became the youngest AMPS Master with this victory. Congratulations to Steve and all the winning contestants! (A full list of awards and other Best Of winners can be viewed by clicking the "Contest Results" link on the left)
I'd have to say that the most rewarding moments of the weekend were when I was able to make presentations to Mr. Gerry Chester, a British Churchill tanker of N Africa and Italy and to Mr. Wolfgang Kloth, a German tank and assault gun commander who fought on the Eastern Front. After their seminars filled with anecdotes and unique technical tidbits, AMPS gave to these WW2 veterans models of their wartime vehicles: a Churchill Mk V and a Panzer III ausf L respectively. Both were ecstatic and grateful but it really was I and their seminar audiences who were richly rewarded by their willingness to share their experiences with us. Along with a host of other seminar presenters which Sean Lynch coordinated, show attendees were treated to a full spectrum of modeling techniques and historical research.
It goes without saying that the success of the show was directly proportional to the efforts of the many, many on-site volunteers. The Show Committee worked long and hard to see the Auburn show materialize and I had a blast working alongside them. The museum staff was very helpful and grateful as well. It was great to know that lots of revenue and publicity for the museum was generated over the weekend. Museum director Bob Kraft said that our group was the most knowledgeable and respectful group the museum has ever hosted. I highly doubt that the WW2Victory Museum has seen the last of AMPS!
Finally, I also wish to acknowledge the AMPS Executive board, and Presidents Danny Egan and Paul Roberts whose support of the Auburn show proposal in 2006 allowed it to come to fruition. We'll see you next April in Havre De Grace!