A Show Too Far Or Just The Tonic We Needed?

Sandown Model Show 2001

First Visit Since 1998
Sandown GrandstandIf modellers only go to one trade show a year I guess Sandown would be the one they would choose. But it's a long way to travel to Esher in the leafy suburbs of south London, especially for anyone north of Birmingham or west of Bristol. This was to be the first visit we had made to Sandown since 1998, so it would be interesting to see how the Nexus association with the Elmbridge Model Club had affected the show.

'Flying Sites' in the form of your editor and colleague Paul Board (of FAI Pylon fame) made an early start from south Wales on the first day of the show (Sat. 2nd July) arriving at about 11.30am, rather later than anticipated, due to a forty-minute traffic jam. Thinking that the show must have attracted a lot of visitors we were surprised to find that most of the traffic was local!

BMFA StandHowever, once into the show we made our way to the main grandstand to find that only the main exhibition floor was in use and that the upper levels and basement were being refurbished. I know these things happen, but quite often in the past, one would find a number of the smaller manufacturers in these places!

Large Crowds
So in we dived, agreeing to meet up for a pint at lunchtime. The first person I bumped into was John Henderson (BMFA PRO) who told me that large crowds of people had in fact turn up and most stands already had eager buyers three or four deep fighting to get to the front and claim their booty. I think since the long lay off, due to the Foot & Mouth crisis, every one was suffering from withdrawal symptoms and couldn't wait to get their hands on something. John and his colleagues also appeared to be very busy. Every time I called back to the BMFA stand they were signing up new members, taking inquiries and generally helping everyone. They also had a flight simulator running to attract younger members into the hobby. That was of course very popular!

Dark clouds had decided, by twelve o'clock, to dump their contents on the flying display pilots and spectators, so the exhibition hall became extremely busy. It was almost impossible to move at certain bottlenecks in the hall. This was especially so where exhibitors had cordoned off areas at the back of their stands, with netting and were allowing trial flights of their miniature indoor helicopters. Everyone wanted to have a go. I think modellers are having a love affair with the Piccolo miniature heli judging by the numbers already sold!

Peter Tindal & Crew'The Boss Too'Attracting Attention
Another stand attracting much attention was that of Peter Tindal Models. Pete, along with his wife Sandra and Mike Levy had a number of new products at the show. Pete is now importing a beautiful range of near scale aerobatic ARTF kits. These include a Sukhoi Su31M, CAP 232 and an Extra 300L. All three models come in a range of three sizes to suit .40, .60 and 1.20 two stoke engines. The standard of workmanship and finish are something to believe! (See 'Shop Front' for more details). Pete was also promoting his own designs with the Spin Doctor and The Boss Too along with the rest of the range.

Flair Model ProductsMuch Work Involved
Also new for the show, but only in prototype form was Flair Model Products latest addition to the 'Classic Scale' range. The PT-17 Boeing Stearman is a sports scale rendition of the famous American bipe built to 1:4.3 scale. The wingspan will be 89" (2260mm). Flair's Marketing Director Richard Smart is also the designer of the model, and told me that they hope to have the kit in production by late August. Flair's StearmanHe did add, however that the prototype was yet to fly! Any problems that arose would then be sorted out before a pre-production kit is built independently, to check for errors in either the kit or instructions. I think modeller often forget just how much work is involved in producing a kit of this standard whilst meeting strict budgetary requirements and target sales pricing!

Since the Sandown Show the Stearman has had its maiden flight.Now all Flair have to do is burn the midnight oil to meet their dealine!

The kit will be of a built up construction (CNC and die cut parts) for 180 four strokes (Laser in prototype) and it comes with many extra fittings such as the dummy radial engine, fully sprung and damped undercarriage, flying wires, glass fibre forward fuselage mouldings plus various other fairings and mouldings. Flair hope to market the Stearman at around £299.

World Champ Performance
Towards the end of the lunchtime interval it was very noticeable that the crowds were starting to gather in the large grandstand in anticipation of the main event of the day! At 2.00pm exactly Chistophe Paysant-Le Roux fire up his engine for what was for many, the highlight of the day.

Chistophe Paysant-Le Roux's 'Majestic'Chistophe Paysant-Le Roux As TOC 2001 champ and both European and World F3A champion, Christophe enthralled the crowds with manoeuvres that just left us all guessing how he did it. I was standing no less than twenty feet away from Christophe and could not tell how he kept the 'Majestic' dancing around the sky! His fingers never stopped moving, as did the aircraft. Not once, bar landing did the model stay in one attitude for more than half a second. It was a great display of aerobatic control and dexterity that left the crowd gasping, and was for many, the highlight of the day's flying display.

So, after that amazing display I'd missed my lunchtime rendezvous. Grabbing a quick burger and chips I dived back into the main hall.

Plans In The Pipe Line
Another company displaying at Sandown also have plans in the pipeline. This time, J.B. Aviation is planning a scale model of the Vickers Vimy. It sounds very promising, especially after the success of the DH71 Tiger Moth racer. J.B. Aviation is also planning to scale up the DH71 to 1/3rd scale. So, keep a look out for these new models.

RCV EnginesInnovative Engines
RCV Engines were once again drawing a crowd with their innovative rotating cylinder valve engines. On display were the .60 and 1.20 versions of the engine. The engines were ably displayed on the flight line, powering the Global ARTF kit of the Fokker DV11. RCV hope to release the much-awaited .90 version of the engine by early in September, priced at around £199.

Wring It Out
After being inspired by Chistophe Paysant-Le Roux it was over to ATS-Mayneline Products to pick up a 'Wring It Out' video (see review for more details). These videos cover all aerobatics from the basic roll and loop to top draw 'Hot Dogging' Mike was also selling his ATS Dingbat correx kits like the proverbial hot cakes. Powered by anything from a .25 to a .36 two stroke this 39" span model is just a bundle of fun. No packaging, no box, no fuss, just choose your colour, pay your £34.95 and carry your large plastic bag away. It'll be built by the following day and be loads of fun!

So, by the end of the day, I'd spent a shed load of money on electrical gear, (I'm starting to gather together all the necessary paraphernalia to go electric). A Supa Nova charger, micro servos and I even bought twin 480 Partinavia from Slough Radio Control Model. So look out in the next few months for a kit review and find out how I get on!

Radio Flight ServicesSince the show, the uk.rec.models.radio-control.air Newsgroups has given Sandown 2001 a mixed reception. Some saying 'What an excellent show' to those that thought 'it was the worst ever'. It has been commented that the show was very packed due to the limited space, but that was I'm sure out of the hands of the organisers. We were assured however, that when the refurbishments are completed by 2003 the show would return to its usual format and date in mid May. Several messages left on our own 'Forum' have been very critical of the crowd control, and the accompanying safety aspects!

John Clark, assistant editor of RCM&E, did however, comment to me that he thought the traders were getting a good deal, and was pleased with the visitor numbers through the doors by the end of Saturday. All contributors to the Newsgroup were however in total admiration of the flying of Chistophe Paysant-Le Roux.

Ian Richardson of 'Permagrit'Good Value For Money?
We also noticed that since our last visit in 1998 several of the larger manufacturers and distributors were not present. It was rumoured that the likes of Irvine and Ripmax weren't prepared to pay the increased cost of a stand.

Nearly every trader I spoke to however, said that they were in fact probably having the best day's business in 6 months!

So after the confinements of Foot & Mouth most of us had to get out and buy something and it seems it that had to be at the Sandown Model Show. I look forward to seeing all those Twin Jets, that were quickly disappearing to the car park, in the skies over Britain.

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