NTS2000 - Roadtrip Day 6 Report (Great News!!)
- What day is it, anyway? I'm all confused! Oh, day 6 of our Jeff and Terry
and Marthe and Helen's Excellent Train Show Adventure in Silicon Valley.
Today's account will bring you news of the second day (Saturday, August 5th)
of the National Train Show in San Jose, California.
This was a very special day. This was the day that Z scale would make a
statement at the highest level. This marked the unveiling of "Z Scale, the
Champagne of Model Railroadz..".
Our strategy to attract attention was multifaceted. The first element of our
plan was to create buzz on the exhibition floor and bring a touch of class
to the event.
How did we do that?
We dressed in formal wear! Yes, Terry was in his white dinner jacket, dress
shirt, cumberbun, bow tie and dress pants, and I was completely remodeled in
a black tuxedo jacket and pants, white dress shirt, bow tie and cumberbun.
To complete the scene, our ladies had prepared boutonnieres of red
carnations, with a sprig of white baby's breath and a miniature champagne
bottle (in keeping with our theme).
Heads were turning and large smiles were to be seen wherever we passed on
our way to the Zone. There we quickly unfurled our banner and hoisted it 10
feet into the air suspended from a structure that Terry had concocted from
PVC piping. On a 3 by 4 foot white background, the 4 of us had prepared a
highly visible symbol of Z pride. To the left, a full height Z in red, to
its right and centred in black vinyl lettering 2" high was proclaimed:
"CHAMPAGNE OF MODEL RAILROADZ" with the Z in red to match the key. To the
bottom of the lettering we had attached several miniature champagne bottles
over matching miniature champagne glasses.
Never had a train show seen such sophistication and sartorial elegance. (I
received an email today attesting to the fact that we were by far the best
dressed at the Train Show). The show was open to the general public and it
was obvious from the start that our formal wear was a hit. After a while we
started to have fun and began teasing the occasional visitor, "Didn't you
get the memo, today was formal?"
The third element of our PR strategy was to hold a drawing for a Z scale
prize approximately every half hour during the last 2 days of the show.
Whenever a Z enthusiast came out of the closet, we would invite him or her
to fill out an entry form. If they were especially enthusiastic, we would
find something extra special for them.
Terry had contacted most of the smaller manufacturers to see if they could
offer their products as prizes. By show time, we had received 28 donations!
Micro-Trains and Marklin were solicited at the train show. Only Marklin
refused to contribute...try to figure that one out?
We will be formally thanking our sponsors in a later message and posting a
list of the winners in the drawings.
Several sponsors, including Ztrack and Don Bouchard, provided items to be
given away to interested Z scalers.
We had tuxes, we had a sign, we had a prize giveaway...all that was left was
the layout competition, source of frustration and hair pulling on my part.
At 9:00, the announcement came over the public address system that the award
ceremony would be made at 9:30 in the main lobby. At 9:25 I realized that I
had actually been allowed to enter the competition and that 24 hours
earlier, a group of 5 NMRA judges had spent a whopping 10 minutes gingerly
walking around my layout as if it could spit venom at them!
To be honest, I was a little nervous as Marthe and I made our way to the
ceremony. I wondered if the other contestants would think that I had put on
formal wear as an insult to them. As we walked up to the group we were
greeted with smiles and some good natured laughter. The Train Show chairman
even pointed me toward the Bar Mitzvah party taking place further down the
John Selkirk, the competition chair, cleared his throat and began to
congratulate the contestants. He remarked that this year's entries were the
best that he had ever seen in his many years as chair and judge. He added
that his grand-daughter had participated as an apprentice judge at this
event. I thought that it was too bad that she was only an apprentice
judge...she had been the only member of the judging party to have asked me
any questions or to have examined the layout with any interest.
The winners were then announced in the two main categories of competition:
module - individual (my category) and module - group (where 2 or more
individuals had worked on a single module).
Well, fellow Z listers, for the first time ever, yes ever, a Z scale entry
has won a major prize at a national competition. The Val Ease Central
finished 2nd overall in the Module - Individual category.
I couldn't help myself, I felt a twinge of pride as I accepted the plaque
from John Selkirk. Marthe took a picture of the smiling winner and the
chief judge. Then it was all over and I was taking my honour back to the
Zone to share with my fellow adventurers. Terry and Helen were delighted.
During the next two days of the show, a steady stream of well wishers
stopped by to offer congratulations including many other modelists and the Z
manufacturers, of course.
Was the San Jose show the breakthrough we had been hoping for? It was hard
to say but later that evening at the Zone group dinner, conversation often
returned to the significance of the day's events. BTW it was great to have
Bob Hawes (Sonora, CA), his wife Nan, Don Bouchard and Jon Lamere join us
for the NTS2000 Zone Dinner. The restaurant staff finally managed to throw
us out but not before we had shared many a delightful story and insight.
The question of the day, "Had Z scale made a little dent in the armor of the
Only time will tell on that score but it was certainly very enjoyable to
have seen so many Z scalers identify themselves at the show. We met face to
face with several fellow list members whose warm greetings to us made the
whole effort worthwhile. A special mention of appreciation goes to Ajay who
continues (as we speak!) to harass the manufacturers in order to get firm
delivery dates of parts and accessories. More on that subject in my train
show wrap up tomorrow.
Finally, at the close of the day, it was announced that 8,800 paid visitors
had attended the first open day of the show. This did not include the 500
conference attendees who had visited the show on Friday.
Sorry gang but the eyelids are drooping...there is lots more to come so stay
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