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Group bringing convention to Hagerstown

The Tri-State Scale Modelers Club will host the first plastc model convention held in Hagerstown September 27-28 at the Venice I

The Tri-State Scale Modelers Club will host the first plastc model convention held in Hagerstown September 27-28 at the Venice I

September 02, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

They spend hours piecing together tiny plastic parts to create miniature replicas of planes, ships, automobiles, spacecraft, fantasy figures and historical scenes.

Now, a local group of plastic model builders is crafting its biggest project - the first plastic model convention held in Hagerstown.

Members of the Hagerstown-based Tri-State Scale Modelers club will host the International Plastic Modelers Society Region II convention Sept. 27-28 at the Venice Inn.

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Hagerstown's rich Civil War history and transportation heritage - and the fact the city is in the heart of the modeler society's Region II - make it the perfect spot for a convention themed "Crossroads in History," club President David Monet said.

At least 600 people are expected to participate in the convention, which will feature demonstrations, free model building workshops for kids, historical lectures, vendors and model-building contests with prizes sponsored by area businesses, Monet said.

The model that best depicts a moment in history will win the event's theme award, he said.

Prizes will be awarded for models in more than 75 categories ranging from pre-1964 hot rods to futuristic robots, Monet said. The contest will encompass all manner of automotive models, aircraft, military vehicles, ships, science fiction, horror and fantasy figures and dioramas (miniature scenes), he said.

The contest also will include a miscellaneous category.

Model builders younger than 16 will have the opportunity to compete in their own contests but also can submit entries for the larger competition, Monet said.

Club members will provide free models of the "Spirit of St. Louis" airplane for children to build with the help of experienced model crafters at the convention as part of the club's mission to promote the hobby to younger generations, Monet said.

"The hobby is huge but a lot of people don't know it exists because it's gone underground," Monet said.

Model kits and parts are sold mainly in specialty shops, he said.

"The convention is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn all about model building," Monet said.

A chapter of the International Plastic Modelers Society, the Tri-State modelers club is a nonprofit group that meets monthly to exchange information, improve skills, encourage interest in model building and establish and maintain a liaison with manufacturers and other modeling clubs, according to the group's newsletter.

Club members in 2000 crafted ships, planes and dioramas for the U.S. Navy's 58th anniversary commemoration of the World War II Battle of Midway.

"Our club has been a real mover in the IPMS," Monet said. "And we don't limit our membership to adults. We want kids to be a part of the organization. We're desperately trying to get them involved in model building because they are the future of the hobby."

Plenty of model kits and hobby tools will be available at the convention.

A flea market will be held early Saturday, and dozens of professional vendors from as far away as Texas have booked space at the convention to sell model kits, parts, tools and reference materials, Monet said. He expects a large variety of the more detailed after-market parts that builders use to upgrade basic models.

Club members two years ago persuaded Monet to bid on the International Plastic Modelers Society convention, an endeavor he was hesitant to tackle due to the manpower and money needed to be successful, he said.

It costs up to $3,000 for a venue big enough to accommodate a gathering of model builders from 15 chapters in a region that includes Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, eastern and central Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, Monet said.

Advertising costs - including color posters, radio spots and T-shirts with the convention logo - tally up to $2,000 more, Monet said.

And the host organization must organize, publicize and man the event, he said.

An artist, Monet designed the first color poster for a Plastic Modelers Society convention. Local club members handed out business cards with convention information and advertised on regional radio stations and at businesses, Monet said.

Members sold $30 basic trophy packages, $75 special trophy and $100 best of category trophy sponsorships to area businesses, which were very supportive, Monet said.

The convention will run from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Model builders can sell extra kits and equipment during a flea market from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday.

Contest registration will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. A banquet and awards ceremony will be Saturday evening.

Call 301-992-5487 or 717-762-6967 for more information.

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