Every June, Squadron Mail Order (Squadron.com) of Carrollton, Texas, holds a model show/contest/party for their customers. It is called Eagle Quest. It is a continuation of the old VLS Mastercon, for those who may have heard of it. I’ve attended the last three years and had a blast. But one thing that has been missing is car models and modelers. There have been plenty of aircraft and armor and a good bit of sci-fi & figures, but very, very few car models. (11 total, across 4 categories, this year.) So I have taken it upon myself to find out why more car modelers don’t attend the show?
I will try to keep this short, but bear with me, as this may get lengthy and maybe a little disjointed. (Also note you may see this on a few other forums, as I go for a decent cross section of modelers.)
Mike McMahon, who owns Squadron, does this as a thank you to his customers. (Don’t worry if you have never bought anything from them before. By paying for the show, you become a customer.) It costs him a few thousand dollars each year to put this on. But if attendance doesn’t pick up, he may have to cancel any further events. Hence, my wanting to prod the car modeling community to attend. I may not be an employee of Squadron, but I do have selfish reasons for doing this.
OK, I know one of the top reasons for not attending is probably that you didn’t know about the show. So for that reason, let me tell you about the show. It is a 2-1/2 day event put on by Squadron at the Embassy Sweets hotel in the Dallas, Texas, suburb of Grapevine. It does cost $60 to attend, but that includes a gift at registration, reception with food & drink on Friday, a modelers lounge (open during the entire show) where you can even build models, a model contest (where all results are by vote of the attendees), modeling seminars on Friday & Saturday, and the big draw – a romp through the Squadron warehouse on Friday, where you will be given a 40% discount (off list price) on anything & everything you buy – kits, books, paint, you name it. There is also a prize raffle and an awards dinner that cost extra on Saturday. You can bypass the dinner and still attend the awards ceremony and vote for the champions, if you like. In fact, for just a couple of bucks, you can enter just the contest – no need to buy the whole package.
The contest’s Grand Champion receives a beautiful and huge Eagle statue. Check out the story of this year’s show at the IPMS-Houston web site link below. It does a good job of conveying what happens and contains several photos of the awards handed out, including the Champion’s Eagle. If you are worried about competing against former Grand Champions, don’t be. They compete in their own category. A person may only win one Grand Championship trophy in their lifetime.
The most important part of the show, however, is the camaraderie between modelers. You get to hang with a bunch of geeks who think like you do and have similar interests. While most of the attendees are probably from Texas and nearby states, we do get folks from around the country and occasionally outside the US.
To get a better idea about the event take a look at these web pages:
Brett Green’s report & video from 2010
Photos from 2011
Photos from 2013
2013 review from IPMS-Houston web site
Another cost that may dissuade you is that the hotel is not cheap either, but you can stay at another nearby, cheaper hotel. You do not have to stay at the host hotel. It is just a lot more convenient. And it is a nice hotel.
Another thing is that Mike wants this to be a family affair – a kind of modelers vacation. (The hotel even allows dogs.) There are theme parks, museums, shopping and all kinds of touristy/vacation things to do in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. So bring the family and make a vacation of it.
Another reason you may have to not attend is that you may think Squadron only caters to military & armor modelers. Well, they sell/distribute quite a bit of auto model kits & supplies from the likes of Revell, Lindberg, Tamiya, Airfix, Scale Motorsport, Fujimi, Hasegawa, Heller, Testers, Trumpeter, Moebius and others. They’ve got our kind of stuff. There have also been car modeling oriented seminars at the show, including how to scratch build car stuff and how to use Scale Motorsports products (put on by Matthew Wells himself).
A note about the show’s organization: Although Squadron pays for the show and does the overall organization, long time show attendees do much of the work during the contest. (And if you attend you will learn all about the modeler-elected Grand Marshall and his funny hat.)
I do think one of the reasons that attendance hasn’t picked up is, until last year, a lack of advertising. I kind of knew about it, but it was word of mouth from former attendees that got me interested enough to go. Although there does seem to be a trend of quite a few new people coming each year, for each new attendee, an old one doesn’t return.
So what is your reason for not attending? Let me know if I’ve changed you mind. Let me know if there is something else that Squadron would need to do to change your mind. I will relay the info along to the proper authorities.