Here’s my delayed Wonderfest report! I have spent the past week catching up on work, sleep, and the pollen in Maryland is so bad right now, that my allergies have rendered me a shell of the man that I was. So thank you for being patient!
Wonderfest. What can I say? Meeting people I have known (sometimes for many many years online) in real life was a true treat. It’s rare that you can hit it off so instantly with a crew of people, and it truly felt like a little family by the time the weekend was over – everyone seemed genuinely sad to see each other go! Mike Salzo – a true artisan who does not realize how talented he really is. (that actually goes for all of these guys, to be honest). Kevin Witte – one of the RPF’s greatest Admins, and enthusiastic X-Wing miniature encyclopedia. Quincy Cutshaw – a modeler born with that exacting eye for detail that comes from being an engineer, and our local expert on eateries – he never steered us wrong! Sean Sides – nicer than Santa Claus, and the only guy with the balls to make the Galactica and all of the rag tag fleet and make it seem effortless. Charles Adams – a fellow modeler not afraid to share information, and had the distinction of being the mellowest-yet-simultaneously-over-enthusiastic guy in a room full of wound up nerds. Rick Ingalsbe – the man responsible for a few of our model-making brethren being featured in the film 5-25-77, ace Star Destroyer modeler, and another super-nice guy. Rob McFarlane – the living embodiment of 1960s cool – if he was a watch, he’d be an Accutron Spaceview. Jeff Waclawski – my WF travel companion, talented SLA man, and a great friend. Kip Hart – the biggest personality in the room, with a great ability to tell it like it is – and an ACE 3D file artist. Greg Watson – you were there in spirit, ya bastard!! Ryan Comer – you too, brotha! And last but soooo not least, Gene Kozicki – this guy has more cred in his pinkie than I do in my entire body, and is somehow more sarcastic than me as well – I am in awe of his generosity with what he shares with the community, and was the reason we got to bask in the glory of two of Hollywood’s ace model gods.
So I woke up at 4AM on Thursday and packed everything into the trailer so that we were on the road by 5am. The trip to Louisville was relatively uneventful, and we arrived around 4pm, and hung out with Kip and Sean in Jeff’s room as people trickled in. Mike and Kevin showed up shortly thereafter, we met up with Gene and Rob that night in the bar, and Lorne Peterson and Pat McClung joined us all! Lorne Peterson is of course one of the two longest running employees at ILM, who recently retired after 33 years in the business. He has the distinction of having worked on all six Star Wars films, all three Indiana Jones films, and so many more. Pat McClung also worked on ESB and is probably best known for being the fella behind all of the classic Aliens models – the Sulaco? Yeah, he built that!! The highlight for me was when everyone traipsed up to my room, and checked out the models we brought to display. Having Lorne see my Escape Pod was surreal – he built the original! And Pat was bemused to see the Probe Droid pods that he “banged out in 45 minutes” – I agonized over them for MONTHS!
Friday was spent setting up the Studio Scale display, helping Jeff set up the tables in the vendor area, and dinner with everyone again – everyone else had trickled in, and we were a TEAM. Over the rest of the weekend, I got to see a large section of the film 5-25-77, met many new friendly faces, rekindled friendships with the classic attendees, saw some absolutely top notch model work in the contest room, and was sorely tempted by many products in the vendors room. It was truly the most successful Wonderfest yet, professionally and socially. Thanks again to everyone mentioned above, as well as Dave Conover and Brian Ludden, who are responsible for the easy set ups and break downs at the show, as well as for inviting me and everyone else to showcase our builds.
So Monday morning, Jeff and I woke at 4am to get on the road by 5 – that would put us back in Baltimore my 3:30 pm, and I was to have a nice relaxing transition into the house, and then go to dinner with Lisa. However, about two hours or so into the trip into rural West Virginia (we had breezed out of Kentucky), Jeff’s truck suffered a catastrophic failure – we thought it was the transmission! With the help of my trusty iPhone, I determined we were 5 miles West of Milton WV, which turned out to be a super small but VERY helpful town. A tow truck was sent, and the problem was quickly diagnosed as most likely being a failure of the Durango’s transfer case, which is the 4 wheel drive brain/hub. Since he couldn’t tow the Durango safely, the driver (Carlos) called for a flatbed trailer. Bear in mind the truck is FILLED with six very fragile, large, and expensive Studio Scale models. Not too long after calling for back up, Carlos towed the trailer, and the other fella towed the Durango to Harrisonburg, which was a demoralizing 20 minutes back the way we came. We were taken to a transmission shop, and Jeff then had to rent a gigantic U-Haul truck as it was the only thing available with a ball hitch. We unpacked, repacked, and got back on the road. Fourteen hours later, we were home – weary, tired, frazzled – but safe. Not a model was harmed, amazingly. And as of this writing, Jeff has his truck back, in perfect working order.
Next year, I’m flying there.
Thanks for reading, and again – Greg, you were there in spirit, man. We missed you!
For the Twitter pics I uploaded live from last weekend, Click here!