The Wonderfest Hobby Expo is an annual event held in Louisville, Kentucky that focuses on figures and sci-fi vehicles, and is the largest event of this type. This year’s show took place during the weekend of May 17-19. Sponsors for this show include Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine, Mobius Models and Iwata. I attended this event with my wife Heather and Rusty Nail, who was invited to be a judge this year. Other CASM members participating in the show by proxy were Tom Brown, Kenneth Childres, Ron Leker and Dakota Leker.
This event is a unique experience in the hobby of scale modeling, not only because of the focus on sci-fi, fantasy and horror, but it also includes many seminars, optional workshops and evening events. For modelers wishing to come to town a day earlier, there were day long workshops on figure painting and dinosaur models. During the actual days of the show, there were 16 demos, including topics such as color theory, working with transparents, using programmable electronics, airbrushing fleshtones, digital 3D sculpting, and getting perfect seams.
Evening events included screenings of documentaries on Garry Anderson and Ray Harryhausen, and the history of the Phantom of the Opera, and well as the 1960’s horror/comedy film, The Raven, starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. For those that wanted to challenge their skills, there was the Iron Modeler contest, in which participants were given parts of various models to incorporate in an original piece that had to be completed within a timed period.
There were several guests featured at the show, including Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff, Lee Meriwether, former Miss America and actress known for roles on Batman and Star Trek. One of the highlights of the show was Ms. Karloff sharing her memories of being on the set of The Raven with her father and screening a rare video of her father’s final interview. Also on hand were prop designer John Eaves (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Iron Man 3), makeup artist John Goodwin (CSI, Men in Black, The Thing), CGI effects artist Lee Stringer (Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Star Trek: Voyager) and model-maker Randy Cooper (Stargate, Starship Troopers). All of these great guests gave presentations.
The Amazing Model Contest featured somewhere around 550 models, although an exact number was never announced. Categories include Horror Figures, Sci-fi/Fantasy Figures, Super Heroes/Villains Figures, Anime, Vehicles, Mecha, Dinosaurs, Kaiju (giant monsters, e.g. Godzilla, Mothra), Props, Dioramas, Humor/Super Deformed, Original Sculpt/Scratchbuilt, and, of course, Teens and Juniors. The contest uses the open award system, which awards golds, silvers, bronzes and merits. Modelers came from as far away as Japan and Germany to attend this show, and quality of work is quite incredible.
I am pleased to announce that all CASM members who participated in the contest received awards. Ken Childres won a silver for his Zombie Hunter Truck, and I received a silver for my Green Hornet’s Black Beauty. Tom Brown was awarded a bronze for his bust of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ron Leker received 2 bronzes for his red and green War Hammer 40K Dreadnoughts. In the junior category, Dakota Leker won a bronze for his black Dreadnought. Judges are not allowed to participate in the contest, but Rusty Nail displayed several of his wonderful pieces along with many of the other judges.