Grandpa's GarageI recently traveled to north to the birthplace of the American automobile for a model contest, the Detroit NNL. For those who don't know NNL stands for National Nameless Luminaries, and is used to describe a contest that is not a contest. There is a long story connected to this that I will not go into now. NNLs do not give out awards, or at least they didn't used to, most of them do now. They are meant to be a non-competitive atmosphere where guys can show off their work without the pressure of being judged. You would think this would lead to some pretty lame stuff showing up, but it has just the opposite effect, guys tend to bring out their best to these shows, I mean some REALLY great stuff shows up that you don't usually see at other events. The original one is in Toledo, OH and the idea has spread all over the country, the biggest is the NNL East in New Jersey.
The Detroit NNL
on December 7th we headed west to Springfield to a little show at Grandpa's Garage, a consignment store specializing in automotive related parts, art, and toys, for their annual model car show. The store is really cool with lots of stuff to browse through, from cool old signs, cool vintage speed parts, neat old boats, and dozens of model car kits. The show is small and they have a few kit vendors set up, and they give out a couple of awards, it reminds me of a model show at a local hobby shop. This is the type of show that is more about hanging out with other model car guys and bullshitting about models than it is about awards and competition. The owner picks his favorite and they have a people's choice, but it's really about just hanging out, models, and checking out the cool stuff at the store. I took 7 models, hung out and talked models, met a few guys, spent a little money on a kit and a beer sign, then went to lunch with some guys from the club. I'd call that a pretty good model car day.
"Rat Fink" Ron
The Detroit NNL
The Detroit NNL is a really cool event mostly because it doesn't cost a fortune to go to, it costs $5. That's right on measly picture of Ol' Honest Abe and you are in the door and your entry fees are covered. So I entered seven models, mostly drag cars. The entry forms were simple, your name and address and what the model was, that's it. There's also an entry number on there so people can vote for your stuff, you also get a ballot to vote for your favorite kit on the table. There are the usual categories and themes, and the club puts up a great display of old kits and built ups. They also do a good job of raising up the tables a foot or so to keep up from bending over to see the models. They had a Photographer taking photos of models for a magazine, I think. I took me about 15 minutes to get all of the forms filled out and my cars set up. That is a well run show, no fuss, no muss, just on to the fun.
The vendor room is huge and very full with lots of kits for sale, there are also vendors selling all kinds of toys, mostly automotive related. Several of the usual aftermarket vendors were missing or selling off their inventory for reasons I'll hypothesize on later. There were several vendors with lots of very old and rare kits that were out of my price range. Lots of great deals were found and I met lots of guys and we discussed models and cars. Several aftermarket vendors were very friendly and had some cool stuff for sale.
After shopping I got down to the real business of the NNLs - the models and socializing with other model car guys. I checked out every car on the table at least twice, gave them my personal critiques (always in my head or in a private discussion with one of my buddies), and eavesdropped on conversations about models. This is how you get the best ideas, is looking at what others have built and are building. My personal critiques are meant for me only, or are used as discussion point between friends to help us improve our own builds, they are not meant to belittle or demean a builder's skill. The best way to meet new people at a model show is to eavesdrop on a conversation about a model. I know, it seems rude, but most guys are more than happy to include a new perspective in their conversation about models. I always think that is why we are here, to talk models with other modelers. I met several new friends and got some really great ideas to improve my future builds. They also had a couple of full size cars there, like the Sandy Elliot Comet Pro Stocker. Pretty Cool!
Unfortunately, I had to leave early because it's a long way back to Columbus, OH from Detroit. I also always stop at Michigan Toy Soldier when I'm in the area to pick up model figure supplies. After spending too much money and having a very long day I made it home safe and sound. All in all it was a good time and I'll continue going in the future.
"Rat Fink" Ron