By L. Medici
The Jerseyfest Model Kit & Statue Fair held its 7th annual event from September 13th – 15th, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza Fairfield Hotel in New Jersey. Building on the success of the 2012 show, Jerseyfest made a huge splash in the hobby with this year’s show, gathering many of the very best model kit producers and artists under one roof, selling and showing off fabulous models, statues, collectibles and supplies of all kinds. The show was packed with hobbyists all weekend long from all over the US and abroad.
Let’s start out by talking about what was one of the most extraordinary accomplishments of the show this year; the caliber of special guest presenters. First up was Academy Award winner Lorne Peterson, who was Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) Studio’s Chief Model Maker for the Star Wars movies along with many other blockbusters such as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, and more. He shared his experiences with crafting models, miniatures, effects, etc. Also in attendance was Steve Wang, a creature creator of the highest order. Steve created the original Predator with the Stan Winston Studios team along with many other accomplishments in film, TV and video games. Jeff Yagher also presented, who is one of the most renowned sculptors in the garage kit and statue collecting hobbies. These prestigious artists were in addition to an impressive lineup of other talented hobby artists and magazine writers who gave presentations or did demonstrations on various model making topics.
The show kicked off on Friday with the highly regarded “Jerseyfest Academy”, which featured 4 all-day hobby classes focusing on different aspects of the garage kit hobby including building, sculpting and painting. Each class was conducted in professional, spacious, conference rooms that were set up perfectly for a fun day of learning and model making. The show recruited top artists to create the class programs, which included “hands -on” modeling, lectures and slideshow presentations on various topics. The instructors included a diverse and talented group of veteran artists and hobby magazine writers, including Saul Alvarez, Paul Bodensiek, Rick Cantu, Jim Capone, Kevin Derken, Charles Villacara, Jason Eaton, John Ficchi, Shane Foulkes, Steve Parke, and Mike Salzo, among others.
Two of the sessions focused on painting. For the price of admission, students were provided with a great kit and supplies needed for the day. One of the great accomplishments of these classes was to show students the quality of work they could produce in such a short amount of time. Plenty of experienced modelers also attended since there’s always something to learn from classes like these. Plus at the end of the day, it’s just lots of fun.
The first class was called “Figure Airbrush Asylum” by Black Heart Enterprises and Badger Airbrush Company, which allowed students to purchase and paint a life-sized, resin Creature bust. The second class focused on painting a female figure, which was a sexy “Batgirl” kit in a very striking pose. Many techniques were used and explained by the instructors. Various companies including Badger, Black Heart Enterprises, Garage Kits US, Iwata-Medea, Tag Team Hobbies, etc., sponsored the classes or provided the kits, modeling supplies, etc.
There was also a terrific hands-on sculpting class that taught armature creation, which covered techniques that can be applied to any figure sculpt. Making an armature is the most critical part of any sculpt, and students learned how to do it from one of the world’s leading paleo-sculptors using the mighty T-Rex. The process included bulking out the figure through prep work to final clay. It was a very professionally run and refined class that gave the students a rare look at the process of creating and sculpting the pieces that eventually find their way into their workshops and displays.
And last but not least, some students attended a diverse series of presentations that made up the “Advanced Sci-Fi Vehicle Modeling Seminar”. It was a hardware modeler’s dream, with numerous demonstrations on building and painting kits along with slideshows and Q&A’s. Once again, top artists presented on topics such as building resin models, photo etching, lighting and painting/weathering. Lots of great tips were shared and attendees walked away wanting more.
Maya Morland was also at Jerseyfest Academy doing terrific presentations on painting miniatures. Maya has won boatloads of awards for her painting and produces wonderful miniatures with Morland Studios. It was a real treat for people to watch her paint and explain some of her methods.
On Friday night, the “pre-vendor show” party started with a live rock band. After the busy first day wrapped up, hobbyists and vendors had a chance to unwind with good food and drink, and mingle to do what else, but talk about all things hobby related.
The Jerseyfest Vendor Show – Treasures Galore
This leads us to the vendor show starting on Saturday (packed with attendees) and ending on Sunday afternoon. This was the part of the weekend that exceeded all expectations and made many people who attended real glad that they did. To begin with, let’s talk about the vendors. Two large ballrooms and a long hallway were filled with well over a hundred vendor tables displaying all kinds of hobby merchandise. But not just any vendors, these were many of the top vendors in the hobby that had superb kits (some quite rare and limited), products and art that you just can’t find anywhere.
Jersyefest mentioned that they were taking a much bigger leap into the vehicles area this year, and they weren’t kidding. A very large amount of Sci-Fi kits were for sale and displayed from the likes of Federation Models, Crow’s Nest Models, Alfred Wong, JT Graphics, Mega Hobby, Atlantis, The Collective, and more. Beautiful resin and plastic kits of all kinds and sizes including replicas from movies and T.V. shows like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica, along with many other themes.
As for the figure fans, you could not ask for more. Eye candy galore was everywhere from companies like Forbidden Zone, Cretaceous Creations, Moebius, Kaiju Modeler, Three Kings Resin, Zotz, Morland Studios, Black Heart Enterprises, Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine, Alternative Images, and many more. Lots of tables were also filled with hobby supplies and paints of all kinds that appeal to any modeler regardless of what you build and paint. Products from Garage Kits US, Badger, H&S, Iwata, AK Interactive, MIG, etc. were for sale at the show along with over 20 tables of hobby tools and supplies. The show also had its fair share of prepainted statues for sale, including great deals on many collectibles from Sideshow, Bowen, Weta, ARH Studios, and many more companies. Lightly sprinkled into the mix of hobby vendors were artists and sellers of great paintings, prints, T-Shirts, DVD’s and comic books. Included was a gallery of art for sale by Daniel Horne, who is one of the most revered classic horror and fantasy painters in the world.
During normal vendor show hours on Saturday and Sunday, Jerseyfest presented several free demos and slideshow presentations given by the show’s guests. Attendees could take a break from the dealer areas to see Lorne Peterson discuss his model making and effects work in Star Wars and numerous other movies and TV shows. Steve Wang talked about his monster creations, including the making of the Predator. Jeff Yagher showed his many great sculpts and discussed his approach and techniques for sculpting. There were many other presentations on a number of topics, including building, lighting, and painting Sci-Fi vehicles, airbrushing and hand painting humans and monsters, etc.
The 2013 Jerseyfest Model & Art Contest this year was alone worth the price of admission. It was just incredible. With about 350 entries, the room was a showcase of some of the finest and most creative model kit buildups in the hobby. Perhaps most impressive was the show’s ability to so effectively bring together the vehicle/mecha and figure hobbyists, which was evident in this a room filled with beauties from both genres. The show also had a special exhibit for studio and large scale Sci-Fi hardware, which was jaw dropping and included contributions from the likes of Mike Salzo, Jason Eaton and numerous other artists that specialize in this area.
The awards ceremony was packed with over 100 people buzzing with anticipation to hear the winners, which were announced by Terry Webb, Editor of Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine. Besides gold, bronze and silver awards, Jerseyfest generously gave out several beautiful trophies and plaques to winners for numerous categories related to figures and vehicles. As for the prizes, again they did not skimp thanks to vendors and producers who donated kits. Examples include resin Planet of the Apes kits from Forbidden Zone and Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine, a superhero kit from Garage Kits US, a life-sized resin monster bust from Black Heart Enterprises, Polar Lights Star Ship Enterprise Kits (1/350 scale) from both Round 2 and Mega Hobby, and many others. Special awards were also given out by Alternative Images and Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine. Besides the usual show awards, Jerseyfest also featured these very prestigious ones:
- Best Star Wars kit – winner selected and announced by Lorne Peterson (autographed plaque)
- Best Predator kit – winner selected and announced by Steve Wang (autographed plaque)
- Stan Winston School of Character Arts awards for Best Monster Kits (trophies)
Many show attendees conveyed that perhaps the most appealing part of Jerseyfest was the socializing amongst hobbyists that went on non-stop from Friday to Sunday. As I walked around the hotel at night, I noticed the hallways, bar and restaurant were packed with people unwinding after long days of painting classes, seminars, shopping and just gawking at the work of their fellow hobbyists and artists who inspire the hobby. They were all talking about their purchases, show experiences, and the hobby in general. Saturday night also featured post-show hobby parties in separate conference rooms where any show attendee could enjoy “show and tells” and demos for Sci-Fi vehicle modelers and comic book kit/statue collectors.
To sum it up, this year’s Jerseyfest was a first rate show. The amount and diversity of products on display and for sale were extraordinary. And to top it off, the show program was packed with classes, demos and presentations all weekend long, including presentations from “giant” model makers and effects artists from the film and television industry. The partying amongst hobbyists was everywhere for 3 days of hobby bliss. Almost every hobbyist in attendance knew they were a part of something special and got much more than what they were expecting.
So now the question is, can the Jerseyfest team top what they did this year? The planning for Jerseyfest 2014, scheduled for August 1st to the 3rd, is already under way, and the early buzz indicates that the show will be better than ever. The excitement and anticipation has already begun!