On Saturday, August 29, the Central Arkansas Scale Modelers set up a display table at the River City Comic Expo, which was held at the Statehouse Convention Center. Members working the table included Rusty Nail, Matt Bond, Ron Leker, Tom Brown, and me. For this display, we focused on model subjects that included sci-fi, fantasy, anime, horror, and gaming, to fit the theme of the convention and the interest of the attendees. The display also included works by Jeffrey Griffin and Chris Luna, and Rusty brought a bust painted by Amazing Figure Modeler writer Rick Cantu. Dave Stillwell made a surprise visit, and hung out with us for a while, as well.
The convention featured close to 100 vendors and around 30 publishers, artists, and a few actors. There was a large area set up for table top gaming, and presentations and panels were held throughout the day. A cosplay contest was one of the final events of the show.
At last report from the River City Comic Expo Facebook page, well over 4,000 people attended the convention, and they are still counting ticket sales! These numbers do not include children under 12, who attend free. Needless to say, the place was packed with people. Almost everyone that passed our booth at least took a moment to look over the display. While we didn’t keep track of it, I would conservatively estimate that somewhere between 200 and 300 people stopped to talk to us about the models and the club, and most of those picked up a Sproo-Doo flier and/or a CASM business card.
Of the many people we spoke with, several had built models years ago and hoped to one day get back into the hobby. There was one gentleman who showed up the scar on this leg from an accident while stretching a piece of sprue over a candle. I spoke with a stay-at-home mother who wanted to learn how to paint figures. There were several gamers (Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, etc.) who wanted to learn how to make their game pieces look better. Other interests included sculpting and using 3D printing for model applications. Perhaps best of all, we talked a few people who had wanted to try modeling but didn’t even know where to begin.
Several of the kids also were excited to see the work. For the ones that were a little older, we planted the idea that they could one day build models. One mother introduced her youngest son, and told us that he had started a couple of models but hadn’t finished them yet. We told her that he was obviously an advanced modeler! While we did have a few minor incidents of children getting a little too excited and trying to grab the models, most parents were very good about keeping an eye on their kids, and no models were damaged. Rusty called our display “the nervous parent table.”
It was interesting to us to see which models caught people’s attention. Ron’s Babylon 5 Starfury was the big hit of the day. The Battlestar Galactica pieces by Matt and Jeffrey were also very popular. Anime fans were drawn to Tom’s figures, and horror fans liked his Spike bust and Rusty’s Friday the 13th bust. The gaming guys loved Chris’s Warhammer figures, and my Mach 5 received several compliments, as well.
Overall, this display was a very positive undertaking for CASM. Never before have we gotten this kind of exposure from a single event. Will we get new members? Will more spectators attend the Sproo-Doo? Will more modelers join our Facebook group? Only time tell, but we did make a lot more people aware of our existence, and plant a few seeds of interest in our hobby. Whether the people we spoke are ready to start building today or a year from now, they at least know that we are here to help. All of us that were in attendance felt it was a great event, and have already started discussing what we can do better next year!
By Brent Bristow