I made the annual pilgrimage to the Warley Exhibition at the NEC today. I don't visit many model railway exhibitions but being only an hour's drive from the NEC, and it being the biggest show of the year, its a shame not to really - and it was well worth it (although my feet ache now from walking round all day!)
I'm sure others will do a more thorough job of writing up the event, and if you were there then you'll have your own favourites, but here's a brief run-down of what caught my eye - in no particular order. (I'm afraid I only had my mobile phone with me so my photos weren't high enough quality to post on here really.)
A nice 0 gauge depiction of a fictional location on the GWR Forest of Dean branch, which captures the location very well with its heavily wooded backdrop, steep branch line gradient and characteristic station buildings. The corrugated-iron-clad coal screens are very similar to the sort of thing I envisage having on my layout, although mine will be modelled end-on.
De Hezelpoort 1927
One word: jaw-dropping! It has 4mm figures RIDING BICYCLES along the street for goodness sake!!! The way the trains disappear off either end of the diorama without the aid of fiddle yards or cassettes is truly ingenious.
The Mumby Lumber Company
Extremely high standard of detail and realism in the buildings and scenics. The interiors of the sawmill and workshop are simply outstanding.
Without a shadow of doubt this was the best-in-show for me. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to me it's as close to perfection as you can get. I don't think I've ever seen such incredible REALISM and DETAIL. I just love the idiosyncratic agricultural prototype, little petrol engined 'locomotive', run-down, neglected atmosphere, digital sound, and... did I mention the DETAIL?! I just can't even begin to imagine how you go about achieving such realism in a model, even at this scale.
I must admit I was a bit indifferent towards this layout when it was featured in MRJ not so long ago, but 'in the flesh' it made quite an impact and is one of the best 2mm layouts I've seen.
A very high standard of modelling. In a way, a little on the 'clean/neat' side for me, but still there was something about it that caught my eye. I particularly liked the way the exchange sidings and end of the main line platform are modelled at the front of the layout as a static feature - it shows a bit of out-of-the-box thinking, adding a significant dimension to the layout as a whole, despite only taking up a minimum of space.
The scenery on this layout is very effective and realistic for what is a reasonably large layout. The overall effect is extremely convincing, cohesive and realistic.
Although not one of my 'top' layouts of the day, this one just caught my eye because it drew my attention to the sheer amount of 0 gauge you can fit in such a small space, without it feeling unnecessarily cramped.
Another 7mm scale layout. I love the way the buildings really do tower over the railway and dominate the whole layout - extremely effective.
And yet more 7mm...! (Does anyone else get the feeling I'm modelling in the wrong scale?!) Another interesting and very nicely detailed 'shunting plank'. I thought I'd seen this in MRJ but a quick check on my modelrailwayjournal.com website seems to suggest otherwise.
Gas station diorama by Kathy Millat
I don't know much about this except that I almost missed it as it was just sitting in a glass case on a table with some other stuff. I wish it had been a bit better displayed as the level of detail looked absolutely incredible. No railway, but for sheer realism it looked amazing. Does anyone know anything more about this?
Well, there you go. Honourable mention should perhaps go to Copenhagen Fields - just for the sheer impact it makes when you see such a vast 2mm scale model. There were too many people and too much to really take it in, but it certainly elicited a 'wow' when I saw it! Also, Barmouth Bridge - the backscene really makes this one. And Wansbeck Road which is looking good with its recent extension.
I left with a bag full of bits and pieces from Squires Tools, a few more back issues of Great Western Railway Journal to add to my slowly growing collection, and a copy of Wild Swan's brand new book "The Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway" (which will be put away till Christmas!).