MFCA 60th Annual Show
July 28, 2001
The Miniature Figure Collectors of America (MFCA) 60th Annual Show took place on Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th of this year at the Valley Forge Convention Center. This show consistently brings modelers from all across the world together to share a mutual joy of miniature figure modeling.
(Background and History)
From the organization's name you may get the (misleading) impression that this club does nothing but collect miniature figures. Even though this is what the club originally did some 60 years ago, over the years they have slowly changed their emphasis.
According to club member Art Etchells, the club was founded in 1941. Originally, their members did only collect small figures. These were mainly metal, antique toy soldiers.
However, in the 1950's, an ordinance category was added to their annual show. This was later expanded into different types of model categories that included small figures.
Over the last three or four years their contests have opened up completely to include all types of models. This was done as a conscious effort to expand the emphasis of the show, in an attempt to bring "new blood" into the fold.
The MFCA Show is truly a worldwide event, drawing fellow model builders from European countries like France, England, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
There are roughly 300 MFCA members found throughout the world. Their roster includes such notable Grand Masters as Shep Paine, Bill Horan, Greg DiFranco, Terry Worster and Ron Tuinson.
I arrived at the Valley Forge Convention Center at around 12 Noon. There are a number of Delaware Valley Scale Modeling Club members who also belong to MFCA. They were on hand, assisting with the show.
When I arrived at the registration table I was notified that registration had actually closed at 12. However, the kind gents manning the table - (many of whom were fellow Del Val members) - allowed me to squeeze my one entry in. Who says who you know is not important? J My entry was a Star Wars Trade Federation Battle Tank.
After setting the tank up I headed back to check out the vending area. Naturally, most of the items for sale were small figures. There were also plastic and some older metal figures being sold as well. Also, there were a number of Verlinden figures and accessories out.
Several vendors were selling traditional plastic model kits. Also, there were quite a few selling different types of large, GI Joe sized military men, along with various types of books and magazines.
(The Model Entries)
After making my way around the circuit I headed back into the contest area.
While going from table to table I began to realize the scope of the entries out on display. With many of them being, well, miniature in size, there were far more out than I originally thought. I was later told that well over 1,000 models had been registered.
I was surprised to once again run into my fellow modeling bud Mark Vantine. (It seems like every time this year I've attended a show Mark has been there as well).
Mark had been trying to get to this show for a number of years now and finally was able to attend.
Mark had his young son Wyeth with him. In addition, Mark brought a number of his regulars for the contest.
The figures varied greatly in subject matter and in time era. There were 16th or 17th Century French and English Troops. There were knights in full armor.
There were Cowboys and Indians and modern military men.
There were dragons, dinosaurs, monsters and some sci-fi figures.
There were small dioramas and vignettes and a shadow box or two. There were some pretty large diorama scenes and large scaled figures as well. In addition, there was a small number of "traditional" aircraft, armor and automobile models on display.
There really was a smattering of all types of models out.
One bummer with the show was the lighting, which was not all that good. Because of its dimness, it was hard to view the detail and hence appreciate the workmanship that went into the smaller figures and scenes. Still, this did not stop me from taking my traditional healthy compliment of pictures.
After admiring the entries, I headed out for a bit. I had a number of hours to kill before the contest awards were announced.
Several hours later I was back, checking out who won what. I actually ended up taking a certificate of merit for my Trade Federation Tank, (which I really hadn't expected).
Even though the MFCA Show has a somewhat specialized theme to it, models are still models, regardless of their type.
Many of the pieces on display at this show are of museum quality. It really is somewhat special to be able to work on a very small figure maybe several inches in height, and despite its small size succeed in bringing it to life with realistic painting, shadowing and highlighting. Many of those entries were truly something to behold.
The MFCA Show is held annually during the spring at the Valley Forge Convention Center in Valley Forge, PA.
If you're in the area during the spring, do make plans to drop by.
You'll like what you see.
Note: After receiving the following message from Mark Vantine, I thought it would be good to add it at the bottom of this article.
"After being mentioned in Tony's review of the show, I should chime in… J
The MFCA is indeed a unique show, at least to me, as a Garage Kit guy. The work shown in the Exhibition - (they don't call it a contest-sounds more like Art, I guess) - was unbelievable and inspired me to put in even more effort on the 2 kits that I painted afterwards. In my experience that's the best way to really grow your abilities - get inspired by other's work and push yourself.
I also want to thank Tony for telling me about this show the week before it happened, so that I had the opportunity to not only attend, but to "show" a few Garage Kits in the Exhibit - I'm trying to do my part... J
It was a great feeling of accomplishment to hold my own against some world-class miniaturists (and thrilling for my 4 year old son, who was very vocal each time he heard my name at the awards ceremony - which was the part I'll cherish most).
Again, hats off to you, Tony
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony I. Wootson. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.