Some years ago a person who wanted to appear smarty at a party sneeringly asked me how my so-called hobbies were going. I smiled and left it at that – not willing to engage in an unwanted argument. As a matter of fact they were going fine then and have gotten better since.
I was reminded of the unpleasant questioner this week when I visited the West Australian plastic modellers annual show. Oh, he wasn’t there, of course. Plastic modelling would be too tame for him. Too plebian. Too much fun. In his place was the biggest crowd of so-called hobbyists that I have seen in the exhibition hall – and I have seen any number of different shows for different purposes there. The so-called hobby seems to have called quite a few…so…
So they weren’t just mooching along with nothing to do and nowhere to go, either. This was no mall crowd or idlers in a pub. This was hundreds of dedicated craftsmen, artists, and connoisseurs who were making a show to dazzle themselves. There was a cheerful roar to the place and business deals being done left, right, and centre. Plastic models are not cheap things to start with and by the time the dedicated builders have started to modify them there is serious money being spent.
And being spent by all ages. The canard about the hobby dying out in favour of video games was put to bed by the number of kids in attendance. Dad’s discretionary wallet was being stretched to the limit in some cases, but it would be hard to imagine a better buy than skill and concentration for your children.
The other thing I loved was the fact that age had no upper barrier for this group of people. One of the highlights of the show for me was to see a rendition of Perth’s long-lost electric trams and their base by a chap who remembered them well…and he in his eighties. That’s one view of it at the top of the column. The layout is so good that it has been purchased by a transport museum.
I am immensely encouraged by this all, and will look forward to a die-cast collectors show at the same venue in a month’s time. I get to have a table and show off a couple of my dioramas. They won’t have the skill of a lot of the work I saw this last weekend, but who knows what interesting people I will get to meet.