The UK boasts a packed model show calendar culminating in what is probably the planet’s premier model exhibition at IPMS Scale Modelworld in Telford, so why would anyone feel the need to travel to Europe to experience their brand of the same? I’ve been a regular visitor to shows in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands since serving at RAF Laarbruch in the late 90s and believe me, once you’ve sampled the delights of the European show circuit, you won’t need an excuse to keep going back. I can personally recommend the Belgian shows at Antwerp, Flanders and Mol (KMK Scaleworld), Scale Model Challenge in Veldhoven, in the Netherlands, AMT Torrent in Valencia, Spain and I can now add to that list, the Euro Model Expo in Germany.
Euro Model Expo 2011 was held in its usual venue, The Westmünsterlandhalle in the very pretty town of Heiden (pronounced “HI-DEN”) roughly 90 minutes north of Cologne (Köln) and about 4 hours drive from the Eurotunnel exit in Calais. Heiden was typical of what I have come to expect of shows ‘over the water’, friendly, busy, well organised and packed full of high quality models both in the competition and on the club stands. As a British visitor I am always made to feel very welcome and I never fail to be humbled by the quality of English spoken by our European brethren; indeed, their enthusiasm to ‘practice’ a little English conversation with a native speaker put paid to any ambition I had of refreshing my limited language skills. I have also come to understand that the presence of British visitors at a European show seems to confer a kudos that participants generally, and organisers specifically, find somewhat flattering and maybe this explains the apparent warmth of their engagement.
The spread of traders at European events is always impressive and there are a number of great bargains to be had regardless of the much reduced buying power of Sterling on the Continent. My favourite attribute of European shows is the catering. There is none of the exploitative pricing for junk food often experienced at UK shows and with no exception I can recall, the organisers ensure that there is sufficient, satisfying food and drink at very reasonable prices. I enjoyed a lunchtime glass of cold German beer to accompany my currywurst and pommes, all consumed in the sunny and picturesque grounds of the Westmünsterlandhalle and costing a little under €3.50; what more could you ask for!
The venue was spacious and well lit with pleasant surrounds and the 5 minute walk to Heiden town centre offered an extremely pleasant diversion, part way through the day. Road access to Heiden is very good indeed and parking outside the event is abundant and free. The variety of clubs in attendance ensured a high standard of model subjects across all disciplines and I was particularly impressed by some of the model warships on display. The competition was full to bursting in all classes but it is worth being aware that classes are quite simplistically divided and in 1:72nd Scale Jet Aircraft, for example, you can expect your OOB subject to be in direct competition with a qualifying super-detailed model.