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N'thusiasts MRE at Stoke 2012

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I've not been to an 'N'thusiasts' show before. The advertising I saw suggested many layouts in a primary school for the venue, so I was expecting mainly N-scale. Entry was cheap at 4 and included a very basic guide just a list of stands/layouts with no description but was perfectly adequate for me and folded easily into a back pocket. But it was a bit out of date with a number of layout substitutions not listed.

I spent a couple of hours at the show and for a break had a bacon bap and beaker of latte coffee from the 'cafeteria' (not a proper one) for about 2.50 - an ordinary coffee would have been about 70p less I think, but I splashed out.

Onto the layouts of which I don't recall seeing any before. On first entering the show it looked rather small in the central hall of the circular building, but it turned out there were 2 to 4 stands/layouts in almost every one of the dozen or so classrooms round the circumference; and some in the corridor as well. It seemed a bit of a maze at first and a floor plan in the guide would have been nice, but it wasn't a huge building and it all fell into place eventually.

I was there at opening time (10:30) and most layouts were running on my first pass, though one or two seemed to be only just starting to assemble baseboards. However, I heard one operator saying he thought the show was to begin at 10 (which is pretty much the usual) so maybe the organisers had been cunning.

Most of the layouts were quite small with only Great Western (On30) and Chipped Lane (O) being sizable. But I was surprised at the mix not being heavily towards N. According to the guide there were only three N layouts against nine OO, and one each HO, TT, OO9, On30 and Z. I'm afraid the Z was the usual "look - a trainset in a suitcase" job ... Grr! When are we going to see a Z layout making good use of a 10 foot long baseboard to look like a real railway?

Motive power depots are also becoming a bit too popular - I know they make sense from an owners perspective as they make compact layouts and one always has more interest in the engines than the wagons, but they aren't really that interesting as layouts. One per show would be a good limit, I think.

Next - the layouts, which are in alphabetical order as usual, and also as usual only the ones I selected to include here.

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Copyright Mike Sheridan, 2012

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