June 02, 2017

FRIDAY'S WITH FARLEY: Off to Wonderfest 2017

We will be set up at....
WonderFest 2017
Saturday June 3 & Sunday June 4
Show hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days
Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209.

WonderFest is a weekend of hobby escape that’s held every Summer in Louisville, Kentucky USA!  It features movie special effects guests, the largest model contest in the U.S. for sci-fi, horror & comics-related subjects, model and toy dealers galore, and seminars to entertain and improve hobbyists of all ages!
Stop by & Say Hi!

"Dr. Lector" by Tetsu Kaibutsuya
The show runs on Saturday & Sunday but Friday is almost a third day as there are seminars and workshops all day and hundreds of attendees through the hotel lobbies and halls. Dealer set up starts at 5:30pm on Friday. The vendor room was packed to the gills with fantastic kits both new and vintage, toys also both new and vintage in all genres, casting & sculpting supplies, paints, tools and so much more and the best garage kit producers on the planet! Over 100 vendors from as far away as Japan attended this year’s show. The dealer rooms themselves are with the price of admission as there are many incredible displays of the manufactures products painted by some of the best painters in the world. The rooms opened for early buyers at 8am Saturday and general admission at 10am. From the get go the rooms are packed and just about everybody had at least one prized buy under their arms. Another highlight would have to be all the attendees who dress up in costumes of their favorite movies or characters. I saw a number of Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens & Predators and even Godzilla made an appearance. The show closes at 5pm on Saturday but the hotel buzzes with activity until the wee hours of the morning. The evening has the Iron Model Contest. This is  way cool…They pile up a table with mounds of model parts and sprues along with a base model kit. Then teams have to create the best model out this pile of plastic. It was quite fascinating to watch and we stopped by several times over the three+ hour contest to watch the progress. There is also a make & take room for youngsters to build and paint model kits and a number of seminars covering everything from starting your first kit to advanced painting techniques. Iwata Airbrushes sponsors a class Airbrushing 101 which runs every hour on Saturday & Sunday.


Click to enlarge
Of course for me the highlight of the show is the Amazing Model Contest and Display. Sponsored by Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine, this years contest drew 599 entries from around the world  in all genres. This years Most Amazing Figure, Sponsored by Amazing Figure Modeler was ”Dr. Lector" by Tetsu Kaibutsuya. The talent and imagination within this contest boggles the mind.

The Contest Room
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Here's the press bio from the Wonderfest promotors.
A brief history of WonderFest
WonderFest began as a swap meet in August of 1990. The Scale Figure Modelers Society in Louisville planned a little swap meet for the modeling hobbyists in the area. We thought we’d get maybe a hundred people…and wound up with something like 350! The garage kit producers in the US were just starting. So we were shocked and overjoyed at how many folks drove in from far away and how well the fledgling garage hobby was represented.

The Louisville Plastic Kit & Toy Show became WonderFest in 1992. The first two shows were put on at a tiny Ramada Inn.  Our second show was much larger than the first—very crowded—and we realized this could be a growing thing.  While planning show number three we decided to move to a larger convention facility across town at a Holiday Inn.  We were inspired by the Japanese Wonder Festivals and wanted to do an Americanized “take” on it. So for our third show we moved to the Holiday Inn, became WonderFest, and even had our first t-shirt.

In 1996, we moved hotels again.  We’d outgrown the Holiday Inn and moved to the Executive West (now renamed Crowne Plaza), which was much, much larger.  We were afraid we couldn’t fill it the first year, so we tried booking a guest who could be a major attractor:  Ray Harryhausen. It worked!  We were packed from the get-go, the facilities were great, and Ray was a wonderful guest. But the size of the show was starting to strain the club, so there was a downside to this growth.WonderFest spun off from the club in 1997. As the show grew, our club meetings changed. Instead of being about building models, we spent all our time planning to put on a 1:1 scale convention! It caused frustration among the club members.  Ultimately the club voted unanimously to do the split. WonderFest would become a fan-run business.

The contest has become the largest in the world for the genre. It started out small but grew fast!  It took 20 years to reach 500 entries in 2009, and jumped to more than 600 in 2011. Our goal is to use the contest to grow participation in the hobby.  In many ways, it is a world-class art show in the heart of WonderFest. Even people who don’t build models love to look at them and take pictures, especially when the contest brings out the best of the best. 

New features keep the show fresh.
Besides the programming in the main two days, new events were added to the show such as WonderFest U, Sci-Fi U, Make & Take, Iron Modeler, and the Friday Night Party. They’re all sanctioned by us, but sponsored by others.  Even some guests are co-sponsored by others.

What’s in the future?
Kids who came to our early shows are in their 20’s or 30’s now! We did this to ensure that the hobby would have a future. Today the hobby is experiencing a renaissance of plastic kit companies producing great products. The hobby has been pronounced “dead” many times, but keeps on going.

So far, we’ve survived wars and recessions.  There have been births, deaths, health crises and divorces in our “family.”  Life goes on!  As corny as it sounds, our fans have told us what they want.  Within our resource limitations, we’ve tried to give it to them.  Without loyal fans, there wouldn’t be a WonderFest.  We exist because of you!

The Dealer Room/Iron Modeler Contest & Make & Take
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