Saturday, December 4, 2010

Faces of Telford. Part 1

My good friend Mike Grzebien and I preparing for the clock to strike "Beer Thirty" in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Telford. We have been friends for coming up on twenty years now.

Hi Guys.

One of the more under appreciated aspects of joining an organization such as the IPMS is the people you get to meet. IPMS takes a lot of flak over the contest and judging system. So much so, that the real benefits are often glossed over.

I joined IPMS/USA back in 1983. Since then, I have made many lifelong friends, not only locally, but around the world. Some modellers consider the hobby a solitary pursuit, but they are missing out, if you ask me.

I started Cooper Details back in late 1989, and the number of great people I have met has grown exponentially since then. I started attending the IPMS/UK National Convention sometime in the early 90s, when it was being held at the Stoneleigh Agricultural Centre. It was a very spartan facility, and I spent a couple of very cold nights sleeping in what amounted to a hostel (more hostile than hostel) designed by someone who had probably designed detention facilities in his past. Cinder block walls with a tin roof on beams with a one foot airgap all around. A narrow, flimsy vinyl mattress with one ratty little blanket woven from burlap castoffs, metal shavings and twine, it was not one of the more comfortable nights I had ever experienced. November in England can be a little brisk.
Almost too much talent for one image. The amazing Spencer Pollard is is arguably one of the best painters in the hobby. Daniel Zimarbide does some incredibly intricately detailed models. Both regularly display their work on the Plastic Pics Forum at

It was at Stoneleigh that I met Mike Grzebien, who started Avia Imports to bring Cooper Details into the UK. Mike and I have been mates ever since. I have stayed with him and met his family. We have been on Pub crawls in Peterborough that I kind of remember! LOL. We spent a miserable, cold afternoon at the Newark Air Museum crawling all over their Sea Vixen, talking photos and detailed measurements. Avia went on to become a much bigger company, and they carried a huge range of products. Mike was very busy with his career in the USAF, and eventually handed the reins of the company to his sister in North Carolina.

Many of you may remember Christina from Avia Imports USA. It was my great pleasure to get to know her and work with her. Cooper Details eventually shut down in the late 90s due to a number of factors, chief amongst those was my mother's declining health. Those were some dark days for me. Hard times rarely last forever, and I worked though them. Things have improved a lot since then. But I digress.
Mike Grzebien of Avia Imports fame. Barry Numerick, respected Bf-109 guru and master modeler. Kevin Baxter, former dictator of IPMS Ipswich and well known hen teaser. Me. Again.

I've been back many times to attend the UK Nats. Donnington was a step up , and the Telford Exhibition Centre is a huge improvement over both of these venues. Huge, well lit and heated, it is also supported by some very good hotels and great food and drinks is within a few minutes cab ride. Over the years I have met many modelers as well as fellow vendors.

One problem with being a vendor is that you meet so many nice people, but you only get to talk to them for a few minutes once a year or sometimes even less often. Remembering all the names is very tough. I try hard to remember, but the real problem is that I'm usually jetlagged and exhausted from working very long days leading up to the show, making recalling much more than my name and room number (which I forgot back in November and ended up pounding on some poor sods door to let me in) I'm surprised they didn't call security! So, if you see me at a show and you are not wearing a name tag, don't be hesitant to remind me of your name. Or don't be surprised if I call you guy, or chief or dude!
Too many Roys. Too many Norwegians. Mark Atrill, who can't find Norway on a map. Me, who is half Norwegian, but is not sure which half. Jens Haakon Brandal, exiled from Norway for unspecified acts. Roy Noraas, who wishes he would be exiled from Norway!

Annnnnnyway...I thought it might be interesting to share a few photos of some of the people I've befriended over the years. Some will be familiar names of people in the industry, or well known modelers, or even guys you may recognize from the various modelling website forums. I think its fun to put faces to these names. Hope you enjoy it.

This post was started over 3 weeks ago, but work and the holidays intervened. More on that later. I told myself that I'd post it before the end of the year. It's not under the wire, but its pretty dang close. Happy New Year to everyone.

Happy modelling! Roy