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I can see that the use of the word 'entertain' is controversial.  Maybe a better (less controversial) word or phrase is 'engage' or 'interact with'.

 

I think that (especially with my non-British layout) I need to engage with the visitors (of all sorts) because my layout in itself will not be one that viewers can easily relate to per se. My 'gimmicks' allow me to engage with visitors who are not naturally interested in Chinese railways.

 

And BTW when is a gimmick not a gimmick? I have a barrier style level crossing - the barriers go up and down automatically as trains approach/go away - is that a gimmick?

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.....Which all demonstrates the exhibition managers' huge task in inviting a wide variety of layouts to cater for the full spectrum of interests within our hobby.    It's a given that not all exhibits will interest all visitors.   Our recent show had G1 live steam to Z gauge and kids' Playmobil on the floor.....  but hey, we're a tolerant bunch.      Just to illustrate, I do find that many visitors like to watch from the "wrong side" as trains come and go in the fiddle  yard, and there may even be some "modern image" examples that you might not encounter on your commute....

TC29.JPG

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AFAIA a gimmick is a unique device or trick to attract attention or make something stand out. I don't mind animations that would occur normally in the real world, like crossing barriers going up and down, but things like erupting volcanos, avalanches, aliens and dinosaurs don't occur regularly in the UK alongside a railway. I prefer cameos to be more sympathetically modelled and reflect the norms and ubiquitous nature of everyday life rather than the weird, banal and unusual.

 

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40 minutes ago, grahame said:

 

Hmm, that sounds rather narrow minded. Do you travel about your business and experience railways in all regions of the UK and countries of the world?  I'm sure there are some that you don't 'ordinarily see in real life' and such layouts often demonstrate the awesome modelling you crave. And, of course, 'modern image' has been around for over fifty years making it part of a historic period and probably for longer than most have travelled on business. 

 

 

 

Liking the first 150 years out of the last 200 (75%) isn't narrow minded ;) AFA visiting all regions of the UK in modern image, I suspect your might be confusing the multitude of present day private operator liveries with what's the same shape underneath the paint. My personal preference is not later than the end of BR. Although even there I much prefer Maroon and Green to Blue.

 

Tim

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Exhibitions are often advertised as a model railway show.  The word 'show' implies some entertainment is on offer.  Like it or not, model railway shows are in the entertainment business.  Of course, there also might be an element of education, and visitors might be informed.  Rather like the BBC's mission statement, "Educate, Inform, Entertain', it could also apply to model railway shows.      

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10 minutes ago, Bonafide said:

Exhibitions are often advertised as a model railway show.  The word 'show' implies some entertainment is on offer.  Like it or not, model railway shows are in the entertainment business.  Of course, there also might be an element of education, and visitors might be informed.  Rather like the BBC's mission statement, "Educate, Inform, Entertain', it could also apply to model railway shows.      

Maybe it would be simpler to just keep calling them exhibitions then.

My late, lamented, mother-in-law was a pretty good amateur painter, her local society of amateur artists put on quite successful exhibitions, people turned up just happy to look at paintings people had created. Can it not be so with models?

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1 hour ago, Hitchin Junction said:

 

Liking the first 150 years out of the last 200 (75%) isn't narrow minded 

 

You gave the impression that the last 50 years of history wasn't worth modelling or of railway interest.  That is very blinkered opinion as you may well miss out on some very good modelling. You don't have to prefer, or even like, the era but if you appreciate fine modelling then you are restricting yourself by not considering it and refusing to view layouts depicting it. I'm certainly not confused over TOC liveries but you are obviously ignorant of modern stock if you think it is all the same shape under the paint.

 

 

 

 

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There is clearly an appetite for events aimed primarily at enthusiasts, and events aimed at a far wider audience.

 

Whether the two sorts of things need different titles, I’m not sure, but I am pretty certain that they need different balances of content, for the simple reason that what turns various sub-genres of enthusiasts on doesn’t necessarily turn on the wider public.

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23 minutes ago, Bonafide said:

The word 'show' implies some entertainment is on offer.  Like it or not, model railway shows are in the entertainment business.      

 

Not really or necessarily. AFAIA 'show' means to display or make visible (rather like most model railway exhibitions do) whereas 'entertainment' implies some sort of event with action or a performance to provide amusement. 

 

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You can't hope to please all of the people all of the time, so build the layout you want to build and are proud of. Some visitors will like it, some won't. There isn't a layout built that everyone agrees is brilliant. You are going to have to spend time and money on the thing, so you have to enjoy your hobby.

 

If you want to be asked to a lot of shows, build in 3mm or S gauge - exhibition managers are always trying to "complete the set" of scales.

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There are plenty of exhibition layouts that leave me cold - but it's my preferences in most cases and not the model itself which generally are better than I would be able to achieve myself.  There will be plenty of other people about who will love the models I don't like as it's personal taste and as Phil says, you can never please all the people all of the time.

 

I like all sorts of model railways though I seem to lean more towards pre-grouping but I am quite happy watching a post privatisation layout.  Volume of trains doesn't bother me either, I can watch shunting on a little BLT or something with four through lines full of expresses.

 

My understanding that first and foremost should be the operating side of the layout from the exhibitors perspective:

  • reliable
  • reachable
  • straightforward to set up/dismantle
  • scope to keep the operators interested for 2 days straight

Then for the observers

  • Trains at a scale speed to the prototype being modelled
  • If there to be gaps between trains then enough scenic interest to keep attention of the observers (this doesn't mean flashing lights, burning buildings, nudists - unless all that floats your boat then so be it)
    • Example #1: Bodmin General in 2mm scale has lots of scenic features to look at without the need to go to gimmicks
    • Example #2: Working signals as it informs observers something is coming so then they wait.
    • Example #3: multiple entrances and exits can help as well - Hornsey Broadway
  • A reasonable throughput of trains - again in proportion to the size of the model and it doesn't mean always a train on scene (as per previous item)

 

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47 minutes ago, grahame said:

 

You gave the impression that the last 50 years of history wasn't worth modelling or of railway interest.  That is very blinkered opinion as you may well miss out on some very good modelling. You don't have to prefer, or even like, the era but if you appreciate fine modelling then you are restricting yourself by not considering it and refusing to view layouts depicting it. I'm certainly not confused over TOC liveries but you are obviously ignorant of modern stock if you think it is all the same shape under the paint.

 

 

 

 

 

I think you seem to be telling me what I should like using negative words that I didn't post . And it should only be what you like. . . .

 

Tim

 

 

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3 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

There is clearly an appetite for events aimed primarily at enthusiasts, and events aimed at a far wider audience.

 

Whether the two sorts of things need different titles, I’m not sure, but I am pretty certain that they need different balances of content, for the simple reason that what turns various sub-genres of enthusiasts on doesn’t necessarily turn on the wider public.

That's probably true, but is it assumed that flashing lights etc are necessarily all that appeals to a non-modelling (or non-railway fan) audience?

I don't get to exhibitions much now, but when I did I noticed that one thing that appealed to the 'wider' audience was a layout with a good scenic aspect. They may not notice if your Dean single is in the wrong livery, or pulling those generic coaches, but they do know what a tree or a river or a house look like, and often appreciate seeing them well modelled. (A good many non-railway fans seem to go to Pendon for that sort of thing).

I recall once hearing about a local show (don't remember where), where the main attraction was a model of the local town station as it was about 50 years earlier, with a reasonable amount of surrounding area, buildings etc included. Apparently that got a lot of attention (including arguments about what that building used to look like), interested many people who weren't much fascinated by the railway side of it, and not a flashing light in sight.

Basically I'd agree, build what interests you, if others want to see it, great (and there will probably always be a fair number who will want to see something that's well done).

On a personal note I go to an exhibition to see good modelling, I don't care whether it's pre-grouping or modern, trains or buildings, landscape or track or ships, I just enjoy seeing well-modelled things. I'd probably spend more time looking at well-modelled landscape or buildings than at less well-made things that move.

Edited by johnarcher
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1 hour ago, grahame said:

 

Not really or necessarily. AFAIA 'show' means to display or make visible (rather like most model railway exhibitions do) whereas 'entertainment' implies some sort of event with action or a performance to provide amusement. 

 

 

So, maybe it comes down to the definition of the words 'show' and 'exhibition'.

 

In every day speech if I was to tell my friends that I was going to a 'show' they would (I believe) expect movement and entertainment - such as a 'West End Show' - in short a performance which engages the audience on many levels and many ways.

 

Whereas if I said that I was going to an 'exhibition' they would expect me to be going to a museum or art gallery where static items just sit there, or hang there, to be viewed.

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5 hours ago, Hitchin Junction said:

I go to an exhibition to be awed by the modelling.  And to see things I could not ordinarily see in real life.

 

That immediately knocks out toy train couplers, ridiculously sharp curves, out of the box gaudy painted RTR, and on-off speeds. It also knocks out "modern image", 'cos I would see that by just travelling about my daily business.

 

You won't like my new layout then

Simon

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Hi,

 

There are some very interesting replies on here, all of which I understand and can see the sense in them.

 

In response to the comments on 'build a layout you are proud of', I totally agree and I've already decided the layout I'm going to build, I was more interested in ways that it could be made more 'exhibition friendly' rather than building a layout to please exhibition viewers solely.

 

I'm intrigued by the answers about information boards, whilst they are a quite a few people saying they are useful and that they should be brief and readable, nobody has said the way they are presented. What do people think of information displayed on TV / Computer Screens? Could we be using QR codes to give even more information for the audience to take away with them for consumption later on?

 

Simon

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Teamyakima

 

Your definitions are, I think, spot-on.

 

A few years ago, I asked my then very young daughter if she wanted to come to a "model train show" with me.

 

Very enthusiastic response - shoes and coat on and out the door in seconds!!

 

This is good, I thought, a fellow enthusiast in the making.

 

But, no. She was truly, deeply disappointed when we got there, because, to her, the word"show" had meant "stage; dancing; singing; glitz"  (quite how she factored "model train" into that, I shall never know, but then she was very young). 

 

Since then, she has got the idea that these things are actually exhibitions, and on the few occasions that she's come along has enjoyed them provided that she has been given the opportunity to do more than just look at stuff. Biggest hit was a large, and fully kitted-out, Hornby Dublo layout, where the owner enlisted her to operate the mail catching apparatus for the TPO, collect-up the mailbags etc ........ The HD design team knew how to design for kids!

 

My son is a bit older and has never "clicked" with model railways, having turned "sporty" at age 6, but even he has been engaged at a few exhibitions when given the chance to drive trains on a proper layout, a particularly well-thought-out inglenook shunting puzzle, and using an iPhone to drive an 0-16.5 train on a huge scenic layout, being ones that I recall him really enjoying.

 

Kevin

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19 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

But, no. She was truly, deeply disappointed when we got there, because, to her, the word"show" had meant "stage; dancing; singing; glitz"  (quite how she factored "model train" into that, I shall never know, but then she was very young). 

 

Starlight Express :)

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1 hour ago, St. Simon said:

 

You won't like my new layout then

Simon

 

I quite like watching the variety of the 60's SR EMUS. However I'm not sure I'd enjoy watching them, or their successors,  bend through the 18" radius corner. But it's your layout and your choices, whereas I have mine (occasionally, in between house moves)  and my choices.  One shouldn't affect the other. And no-one should expect their own choices to be demeaned by others. 

 

Tim 

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What no one has mentioned is that you as the viewer will have different moods on different days. I attend a few exhibitions each year as both a pay on the day punter and those where I’m there for the weekend as an exhibitor. Taking the latter instance, what you liked on the first day may leave you cold when you go back for another look and the converse. Inexplicable but it happens. As others have said you won’t please everyone but I do think a layout needs to target an audience segment, and then work at making it the best example of that genre that you can achieve with your skill level.
 

Finally irrespective of genre, or exactness to scale, it has to work with some form of contingency back up for failures. 

 

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Well, what conclusions can we draw from all of this.

 

There is a wide spectrum of interests and priorities within the group of people who attend a public exhibition.

 

Each layout owner will tailor their display towards one or more demographic.

 

Each will be different.

 

Whether or not I have succeeded in getting the balance just right is a question I will (hopefully) know the answer to after Warley. 

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12 hours ago, TEAMYAKIMA said:

 

In every day speech if I was to tell my friends that I was going to a 'show' they would (I believe) expect movement and entertainment - such as a 'West End Show' - in short a performance which engages the audience on many levels and many ways.

 

 

Isn't 'show' a rather general catch-all colloquialism in that context - one goes to the West End to see a play, a musical , a film, . . . . . .

 

But then Ian Rice makes the point that each layout (at a model railway exhibition) is like a 'show' and is effectively a stage with wings, lighting, etc., and the actors are the trains that come on to provide movement. IMO that is mostly sufficient (other things like traders, food/drink sales, are expected). I certainly don't want singing and dancing trains.

 

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8 minutes ago, grahame said:

But then Ian Rice makes the point that each layout (at a model railway exhibition) is like a 'show' and is effectively a stage with wings, lighting, etc., and the actors are the trains that come on to provide movement. IMO that is mostly sufficient,  I certainly don't want singing and dancing trains.

 

Couldn't agree more with Ian RIce.

 

I guess the point is that every 'show' is different - 'Chicago' is different to 'Macbeth' which in turn is different to 'The Moustrap'.

 

I am happy that my show targets the people I want to target.

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