Modellika 2007

On the first weekend of June, the annual Mannheim modeling show - Modellika - took place again in the city's Multihalle expo complex. The hall is located in the city’s beautiful communal Herzogenried Park, and features a strange architecture: a partially transparent material is stretched over a wooden skeleton, providing the space with a warm ambient light, as well as a domed roof canopy.

For a second time the show was arranged as a cooperative event of the PMC-Kurpfalz and MFM modeling clubs. Clubs from around the region as well as some foreign clubs presented their masterpieces. With an accent on plastic scale modeling, there was also an area for the remote-control fans: a closed off dirt track for trucks, excavators etc, as well as an area closed off by a net, behind which the indoor flyers presented their tricks. A number of vendors with an interesting selection of models, and a kid’s modeling corner rounded off the event. During the two day the show, many modeling enthusiasts visited, made new connections and met new friends.

Near the entrance entry, just after the first three vendor stands, was the PMC Mannheim display. This display was a 6 square yards museum of technology in 1/144th scale, mostly with planes, yet all complete with trucks, trains, subs and many others never-seen-in-hardware prototypes. Directly adjacent a number of ships in 350th scale were lined up, well done, and all equipped with the finest photo-etch details. “They each take about a year to make”, said their owner Martin. Further down the table, a lineup of mottled, spotted or otherwise camouflaged 48th scale places lead to my personal highlight—a large collection of big-scale models by Peter Doll, most of them early jets, in an amazing bare-metal finish. There were some Sabres in US and German markings, a number of Starfighters, a Hustler, a Thunderjet and others. Asked how he made this amazing shiny aluminum, he answered simply: “It is aluminum.” Nothing beats the real thing! He used strips of thin regular kitchen foil, and Humbrol basic clear varnish as a glue. For the incredibly realistic corrosion, there’s a trick, too: the foil was boiled together with bits of egg shell: all together an unbelievably life-like effect. The next highlight (kindly skipping a collection of my large-scale youth-time models) was just around the table corner: Aleks Sekularac’s complete collection of highly-praised Red Star sensations, including his famous TB3 Zveno, two La5s, the LaGG3 and the mottled I-153 Chaika. Next to that, I placed my humble collection, including my recently medaled An-2, and the Breda 27 presented in last Month’s Internet Modeler.

Adjacent to that, some interesting models of more exotic planes like the C-7 or C-23 were displayed, together with some excellent helicopter models in 1/72nd scale. The table round was concluded with some 1/72nd scale models of World War I tanks, and two Fw-190s with covered tail marking. No swastika markings can be publicly displayed in model shows in Germany, which means they need to be covered. Imagine the effect on a Finnish WWII plane!

On the next table, next to the permanently buzzing indoor-flyers, the Mainz model club displayed some fantasy figures and dioramas. One of most striking was a fifties road cruiser with Che posters on a fence in the background. Obviously, this was inspired by a Cuban vacation!

Just opposite, across the main aisle, the Speyer model club had an interesting display of ships, including some nice sailing vessels, where unfortunately were behind glass, making it tricky to take photographs. Next to the ships, there were a number of interesting large-scale models, including a 1/32nd scale Grippen and a camouflaged Flanker.

One side of their table was just a large carrier deck, travelling through history. Starting with mostly 1/48th scale—a Wildcat, an Avenger, a Zero, through a number of Phantoms, to an F-14 Upstairs, on the first gallery level stand, the MFM club showed up with a heavily weathered U-Boot model in 1/72nd and a number of interesting dioramas. The ones which stuck me the most were a crashed Do335 with US experimental marking, and Soviet infantrymen flying the red flag on the roof of Reichstag.

There were also some interesting armor and fantasy figurines on display. Further on in the gallery, there were a number of displays and vendors with all sorts of figurines, and directly after that, the cardboard world of paper modelers. These cardboard and paper models ranged from a large-scale B-17, through the usual range of German and Allied warbirds, vehicles, to a whole armada of ships: these guys created a whole paper universe.

The next gallery contained the Luxembourg Modeling Club came up with a large number of armor and other vehicles. I'm no expert in this topic, so I'll skip comments. From a modeling point of view, the workmanship was excellent, and the subject selection too; for example, the multi-turret tank, and some French ones with a rather fancy camouflage pattern.

On Sunday another sensation showed up - Plastic Modeling Club Saar brought along a few real gems, including an excellent model of the Memphis Belle, a Luftwaffe Mig29 with open panels and a large-scale F-15. As far as I remember the MiG won a medal in the German Model Masters in Nürnberg last year. The workmanship is really amazing and that it was a machine from my former unit, doesn't hurt either!

Finally, the F-15 made a really huge impression, not just because of its size but its level of detail and the accuracy of finish were amazing. In photographs, it can easily be mistaken for the real thing. I hope I never have to compete against one of this quality!

The galleries further up were populated with individual exhibitors and a number of vendors. Overall, in spite of (or maybe due to) the beautiful weather outside, about 500 people came to the expo. If you happen to be around next year, do not miss the show.

Jaroslaw Kierat

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