Now entering its 8th year, Jerseyfest is a fantasy and science fiction model and figure show held in the rather pleasant Whippany, NJ [New Jersey, USA] area. Starting as a party for like-minded modelers and painters it grew until in 2012 it was held as a true model show. As someone who has been program chair for more than his fair share of national meetings, I can say that I was hugely surprised that this was only its third year as it was very professionally run and bursting with content. Held over three days at the Marriot Hannover, it started with a full day of paid workshops, followed by two days of free attendee workshops, a fine model show, and a solid vendor room. And some serious partying, but more on that later. . .
There is so much content that I can only discuss the pieces that I was able to attend as there were usually multiple workshops going on at any one time. It's worth checking out their website to get a feel for what else was offered.
Five hands-on workshops were offered, with prices ranging from $70-125 [USD]. While those prices are quite reasonable on the surface for 5-7 hours of instruction, they actually really aren't once you get into them because of the physical materials provided. I mean this in the best way possible as the model weathering class provided a built Moebius Viper kit, the painting classes provided built and primed busts and full heads along with airbrushes, paint, and everything you could use. Throw in that you get instruction from masters of their craft on top of this and they were a steal. My only regret is that they ran concurrently as I'd have loved to have attended more than only the one I did. That said, I attended the 7 hour scratchbuilding class taught by Michael Salzo who is a known master of building studio scale sci-fi models and mechs. The class was hugely instructive and entertaining and took us from interpreting photos to the use of styrene, Renshape, and so on along with guidance on how to sculpt organic shapes and which materials to use for what application. All of the materials were included on a hand-out to go out and buy them for ourselves. Being primarily a scratchbuilder in sheet styrene, I had not really thought about using the various modeling boards and foams, but after this class I am a convert. Watching Mike sculpt a mech leg that I've been struggling with mocking out in plastic using Renshape in less than 5 minutes was eye opening. Along with answering questions all of the techniques were shown and tips and tricks were provided. Considering how difficult instruction for scratchbuilding can be to find for tanks, planes, ships, and spacecraft, this is a class that would be useful to an awful lot of people. At the end of the day it was time for dinner (lots of places within 10 minutes of driving) and some sleep. Well, and 1-2 drinks at the bar with the other attendees of course. Incidentally, as with so many conferences, so much information is shared after hours that it is as much a learning experience as the classes!
Six-hour long classes were offered, along with the model show and vendor room. The vendor room was surprisingly large, with six double rows of sellers. Lots of figure kits, dinosaurs, modelling products, airbrushes, T-shirts, and some sci-fi models, primarily SF3D and Alfred Wong with his gorgeous resin kits. For the record, I agonized for hours over his amazing 1/32 Y-Wing kit before settling on the 1/48 one for space considerations. An impressive and beautiful kit though! Overall, the vendor room was solid and based on the chatter it would be a good site for some of the Star Trek resin manufacturers next year, lots of potential buyers (including myself, ahem).
The model show was moderate in size but surprisingly high in quality. Much of the figure and bust painting was at a very high level and some of the Star Trek conversions were very well done. The pictures will tell that tale. Definitely bringing some of my stuff next year.
The workshops went from 11 am to 5 pm. Rick Cantu's class on painting techniques for scales and aliens was great, complete with a pleasant siren effect. . . it's nice to see a teacher who can explain why he is doing what he is doing and many of his techniques are really, well, simple. Practice will be needed but he quickly demystified what can be a scary painting process and showed how to use transparent paint to get some life-like effects. I was particularly appreciative of his discussion of how paint won't hurt your kit, so take the leap and, if you don't like it, just dunk it in Castrol Super Clean, strip the paint, and do it again. For those of us with completed figures that we haven't taken the plunge with actually painting the darned things it was good advice.
The day ended with a talk by Phil Tippet. Some of you may have heard of him. Sadly, I had to leave early for family stuff and missed it, along with the partying that night. Pity.
More workshops on building sci-fi models, painting monster kits, sculpting, and using photoetch.
An impressive show and a great value. The classes were professional and informative, the model show was high quality, the vendor room had a lot of good stuff, and the venue was very nice. This would have been an impressive show if it was its tenth year, for only the third it's a home run. Beyond the instruction, beyond the camaraderie (and there is a lot of conversation and people who've never met talking animatedly for many minutes) , it was inspirational. I spent the drive home deciding what to work on when I got home and was scratchbuilding within an hour, so excited was I to get to work. That for me is what a good show is supposed to do and this one easily did that for me. I'll be back next year.