What a terrific weekend! We travelled down to the NEC after lunch on Friday for an overnight stay ready for an early start the next day. Indeed we stayed two nights so it was absolutely relaxing and enjoyable.
If you buy the weekend ticket the number of visitors to the show is limited on Saturday - not sure to how many - and the room was certainly very, very busy as soon as the door opened.
It opened smack on time at ten o' clock and this is the queue still going in at about quarter past.
By about two in the afternoon it looked like this - much calmer and easier to get around, though still busy.
So, this is a case of deciding what's most important for you. If you are someone who must find the best bargain and that special one-off piece then you decidedly need to be there at 10 am on Saturday as a lot of stock is gobbled up that day. If you prefer things a little calmer then Sunday is your day. On Sunday the pattern seems to reverse - it is nice and quiet at 10 am and tends to get busier as the day progresses. If you are just greedy like me then it is absolutely a two-day event.
There were 155 vendors (maybe two no-shows?) so enough for anyone to go at. That said, the longer you are in this game the pickier you get and, whilst surrounded by 155 wonderful people, I am thinking oooh I could do with this or that person here! Just plain cheeky some folk.
I do feel Miniatura is creeping more upmarket and I am hoping it won't become the Brum version of the Kensington show. It is lovely to have a wide mix of things to buy at all sorts of budget levels. Not only do we all have a different bottom to our pockets but there are countless approaches to dollhousing from basic child-like houses, not overly fussy about scale or quality but stuffed full of things the owner loves all the way through a myriad of levels up to museum quality collectors' houses. A show that can appeal to all of this has a challenge on its hands for sure.
My first attack was to check out my (maybe) next project:
This is the Sussex by Dolls House Direct and with a couple of tweaks might well fulfill the notion I have of an Edwardian house overlooking a park or at the seaside somewhere, inhabited by Vita - a very modern arty lady.
I think Gary's houses have come on leaps and bounds since mine and his acquiring a laser cutter though some are a bit over-trimmed for my taste, but he is offering different to everything else around and a massive choice of styles and sizes; and he will tweak where possible.
My current build is one of his and I didn't want side windows, for example, no problem.
After a bit of discussion about what can and can't be done I walked round the whole show fairly slowly and for once I timed this tour - it took me three hours.
Off for lunch which was the usual show food/chaos. You can go out into the arena and there are eateries out there to choose from I was just too lazy. If you are a serious shopper I'll assume you aren't that fussed about lunch as long as it comes with a good sit-down and your choice of beverage. Mine's a tea, thank you.
On my tour I had spotted a new kid on the block Alison Davies and had admired her lovely furniture and papers and her beautiful display - her site is also lovely to look at - great marketing going on here.
It worked its magic and I went back and bought four items and made a note of what else I want next time I see her. Incidentally she is Pat of Lili-Anne fame's daughter so she must be steeped in all things miniature. Her mom has eased back this summer and Dolls House Direct are now marketing her lovely bathrooms.
Sunday morning, just after ten and I was back there for it, only to discover I had missed it by a hair's whisker. A lady had arrived at ten to buy it and while she was deliberating about the price the lady waiting patiently behind here bought it! Lesson learned. If you really love something - get it - worry about the money later!
I won't take you through the umpteen other vendors that have my pennies - if you want to see what I bought go and visit my Dalton House blog.
I am not sure there is anything I can add to the masses of information you can find on Minatura's site regarding the venue but here is my take on it.
The NEC is HUGE - be prepared and do your homework as to how you are going to get to it and get around it.
You can get to the show via min-rail link from Birmingham's main railway station and everything is under cover door to door - still quite a lot of walking just to do this - the atrium itself is massive. You can extend this and even fly in using all the links from the airport to the door.
For most of us I suspect, we either stay 'on campus' or drive there on the day. If you have another half like me who doesn't do the show but is happy to drop you off you can't get very close to the halls and so have to walk quite a way from wherever you are dropped..... and we know about British weather. Best way to go about this is don't try for a close drop-off place (there isn't one) but get dropped at the bus stop by the car park instead - out of the car on to a bus, free ride up to the halls and dropped outside the door. Easy peasy.
If you are driving and parking, the car parking is always free - you need to pick up a ticket from the show as you leave. The show information doesn't always make that clear and the advertised £12 a day or £20 for nearer car park might affect whether you want to go at all/one day/two days. Nil desperandum, as I said it is always free on both days.
Our hotel (Holiday Inn Express) is a couple of minutes away by car and each day K dropped me off as described above and I got a taxi back to the hotel when I was finished. £4.40 on the clock, £5 announced by driver(s) so with a £2 tip that's not a cheap way to travel a couple of minutes, but very convenient.
Taxis are allowed to drop off outside the Hall, but I was told by an 'official' in the hall there is no taxi rank outside and they can't pick up. So, I had better whisper this, but I got a cab easily on both days, just outside the door. If this is your chosen mode though you could always book one to pick you up as they are allowed to do that. Book it from somewhere other than the show - again I was told to go to the Business Centre or the station to book a cab - both are long hikes away.
Miniatura have added in a couple of tables at the front of the hall, newspapers and jigsaws, so you or your companion can take a breather - nice touch - I used the area on both days to regroup mentally, as well as physically and to work out my next sortie.
I am not sure what else you might want to know but if there's anything specific just email me.
In summary, my definite four shows a year here in the UK are two at York and two at the NEC, so Miniatura certainly ticks my boxes.
Apologies for lack of photos here but it is very time consuming, I don't take my camera now I am not 'working' and the traders are so busy it is an imposition just to ask if its OK to take a photo. Many (quite rightly) refuse as this is an area rich in picking up someone else's ideas and making it yourself and, even worse, making and selling several look-alikes.
I am hoping I can get a press release from the nice Andy Hopwood with photos and eventually a link to a video (?) Watch this space... meanwhile ....
I am off to play with all my lovely new 'toys'.