The Christchurch Meccano Convention 2009 was held in the Christchurch Arts centre located centrally in the city.
The exhibition itself was held in the great hall which was an impressive sight empty but even more so when filled to overflowing with meccano models and packed to capacity with crowds of people.
The set up day was Friday with many exhibitors arriving early and having the day set aside to chat and exchange ideas on model building/ collecting etc with their fellows.
On Saturday morning a walk around was done of their displays with the exhibitors giving a small demonstration of their models after which the doors were opened to the public.
Crowds were at the Arts centre over the Easter period many being drawn by the pre show advertising put out by the Christchurch club. This was one of the major reasons many came. The Arts centre also has a regular weekend market with stalls catering from items for sale to various foods and this no doubt attracted many who then went on to see the Meccano display.
The Christchurch club ran a raffle consisting of a n0 9 oak boxed set of 1950's vintage as first prize with a similar cardboard boxed no 8 and no 7 second and third.
Ist prize was won by Neil Pluck of the Christchurch club and second and third by Selwyn Bluett ( Lucky boy )
There were a vast display of models present from all eras of meccano modeling from nickle through to those currently on sale.. There was also a nice display of historical material set up by Mike Howse and a nice running hornby display along with its dinky toys companion. So there were things to cater for all tastes and to bring a sense of nostalgia to many of the older visitors, most of whom would have had meccano sets in their youth.
A great deal of interest was shown in some of the newer models and graeme O'Neill had made up a display of many of the newer models available.
The shop was run by the Christchurch club after asking for outside shops to attend and getting no offers. It looked busy from day one with many of the customers being the convention attendees sneaking in for a quick fix while their partners were occupied elsewhere.
The main prizes went to
1. Selwyn Bluett Manawatu Club, with his telescopic crane which was most impressive and finished in immaculate red and green meccano. It both worked well and Selwyn was able to raise the boom high up into the ceiling area of the hall with no problems.
2. The second prize went to Les Megget Auckland Guild, with his Mercedes truck and sidelifter. The mechanism worked well simulating a container pick up and drop using the system that was invented in New Zealand. Obviously a crowd pleaser.
3. The third prize went to Graham Jost of the Melbourne meccano club and he had brought a braiding machine with him. This looked to be a rather complicated device consisting of a number odf spools revolving around a central cord creating a braided pattern in many colours. His display drew a large crowd and was fascinating to watch. How he didn't get pinged for overweight baggage remains a mystery although it did have a carrying handle on top , cabin baggage perhaps?
There were other prizes awarded for public voting but I don't have details of thiose apart from the prize that went to Joffre Marshall for the most interactive display for children, with its windmills, generators, round abouts and lights I'm sure that no child could resist the display.
Other overseas visitors were
John Pond from the UK who had brought with him a spaceship and sail cart made with the 1982 sets and making use of the fabric plates. As John said something that you can roll up and stow easily in your suit case is what is needed. John also brough a marklin tow truck.
Our two guest speakers also hailed from overseas.
Jim Gamble had brought a display of mock up display cards from the Binns road era , a number of original blueprints for meccano parts, many of which were never proceeded with and some original artwork from instruction models, all most impressive.
Tim Robinson had flown in from California and provided an interesting display of what he has been building currently which is a programmable mechanical sequencer based on the work of Charles Babbage. It was fascinating to watch and its operation was almost indecipherable for us mere mortals.
The largest model on display was undoubtedly the giant model of the Otago port container crane built by Ross Mitchell. This occupied most of the stage area of the display and worked very well . It stood over six feet high at the centre.
The sheer variety of models made people aware of the versatility of meccano and how long it has been around. Many were unaware that it could still be purchased and that new sets were still being made. I am sure that we won over a number of converts over the two days and would hope that the Christchurch club will be inundated with new members as a result.
Another good idea was a childrens tent set up outside the display where the younger "engineers" could try their skills at putting yogether models.
I found the 3 days most enjoyable and made the most of the Christchurch clubs hospitality. The venue, although a little cramped, was in a most suitable location for this type of venue being able to draw the crowds in from around the arts centre.
We look forward to the next convention in 2011
All convention photos are on my flickr site which can be accessed by clicking on the picture to the right. If any of the model names are incorrect please let me know and I will fix them.