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SCAHMS 2004 - A First Timers Report


The Southern California Area Historical Miniature Society (SCAHMS) recently held their California Show in Orange County, California. I was happy to be able to attend after seeing some fantastic photos of last years show. I was definitely not disappointed either. There was an amazing collection of figures, dioramas, vignettes, and other model kits on display. Sadly for the aircraft folks there was only the one (but hey it won an award!).

This was actually the 20th show that the SCAHMS (pronounced SCAMS) group has put on (if I heard Barry King correctly when he said next year would be the 21st). Their experience is evident. The show was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange on March 12th and 13th. The Friday hours were limited to early arrivals with the show only going from 5pm to 10pm that day.

The Exhibits
When I arrived I was immediately impressed with the room used to display the exhibits. The room had a high ceiling with very ample lighting for the subject matter at hand. In fact as you can see from my photos, the lighting was good enough to avoid using a flash. The tables were custom constructed for the show and featured tables with high PVC legs allowing almost eye-level viewing of all the exhibits. The vendors were also in the same ballroom and took up about 40% of the large room. 

The first diorama I recognized as I entered was Taxi de la Marne, by Bob Tavis. I spoke to Bob later during the day and he informed me that he had actually sold this amazing WWI dio earlier this year. I discovered there was a lot of buying and selling of figures, vignettes, and dios going on at the event. Something I was not use to from my experience at AMPS and IPMS organized events. It was a testament really to the quality of work at this type of show. There were many pieces I would have purchased myself if I were able. Sadly I missed viewing the auction room and seeing the items up for bid there. I am sure they were very nice indeed.

Before I started snapping pictures I strolled around the room to get the lay of the land. I realized quickly that there was a lot to see. Some of the highlights were Rhodes Williams rather wicked diorama titled “Sunflowers and the Dead”. And there were plenty of both in this Panther-based diorama with a trench-warfare among the flowers motif. Again I was able to chat with Rhodes later that day. I kept meaning to ask him if he was taking a bit of dramatic license with the color-drained corpses, but other topics kept us otherwise involved. Realistic or not, his dead Germans certainly gave me a shiver or two as I thought what it would be like to have to fight next to my long dead comrades.

There were several armor “gems” along the back-wall table. Down a bit from “Sunflowers” was Andrew Meyer’s diorama called “Another One Bites the Dust”. At first I was only impressed with this 1/16 scale work, until I realized that….hey…nobody makes a 1/16 scale M1 Abrams! I read on Andrew’s notebook that he spent 8 months and 1300 hours converting and scratch-building this project starting from a Tamiya Leopard. 

The next diorama was a familiar one from online. It was Charles Readings broken-bridge diorama featuring a Panther falling into a frozen river. Charles also had a 1/16 scale Tiger II on display as well. The next display was standing out like a gigantic breadbox. It was a very large shadow box with an oh-so-small viewing port at its base. I had to wait a bit to look inside and…WOW! My pictures do not do this project justice. The piece, titled “Last Stand for the Fatherland” was built by Michael McFadden. He was another of the very nice modelers I met while at the show. Mike informed me that his professional work is as an orthodontist, and by the detail work on his various exhibits I must say that he could work on my teeth anytime! Michael’s other big piece was a 1/15 scale conversion to a Bergepanther. Complete with 20mm forward gun and detailed drive bays and crew compartment. This was an amazing build.

Now that I had satiated my armor and diorama lust, I started looking at the “core” of the exhibits, which included many historical figures as well as more dioramas and vignettes. One collection that I was very impressed with was these German soldiers by Brian A. Gomez. The consistency of all the figures was very well done. And the attention to small details like the smoke drifting up from a lit cigarette was a very nice touch.

Another grouping of figures that caught my eye were those by Doug Cohen. There was this photo of a group of riders. And various other western figures and soldiers

A very realistic tree made me take closer note of the work of Young Won. He had quite a few exhibits at the show and a very nice series of a theme that being one soldier helping a wounded comrade back to the rear. 1 2 3

Another diorama that was catching the eye of many passers by was Diego Ruina’s “Through Blood and Fire”. A Napoleonic battle scene of truly epic themes. If I had one critique of Diego’s masterwork, it would be that he (like me) should avail himself of a spell-checker more often as he mistakenly titled his piece “Throught Blood and Fire”. Don’t worry Diego, I once came up with a company name called “Rouge Knights”. Until my wife asked me if they were Knights that sell makeup I didn’t realize how bad my gaff was. 

Another miniaturist whose work was everywhere was Mike Blank. His Tannenberg –1410 diorama was brilliant in its simple aspiration to convey a small slice of what was certainly a very large battle. Mike also gave a seminar on composing, designing, and constructing his latest diorama. Alas I arrived about 25 minutes late to catch this. Next time I guess.

All in all there were so many amazing pieces to be seen at this show. I hope everyone reading this will check out the full gallery on our site. 

  • SCAHMS photo
    Photo from the SCAHMS California Show (2004)
  • Through Blood and Fire
    Diorama by Diego Ruina
  • Celtic Standard Bearer
    If someone knows whose figure this is please post it. I couldn't read the show form.
  • BergePanter 1/15 Scale
    Model by Mike McFadden
  • Tannenberg - 1410
    This amazing diorama by Mike Blank won "Best of Show" for SCAHMS California 2004.
  • Another One Bites the Dust
    This was an amazing scratchbuild M-1 Abrams and t-62 turret in 1/16 scale by Andrew Meyers.
  • Area Neutralized
    Model by Young Won
  • Area Neutralized
  • SCAHMS photo
  • Tannenberg - 1410
  • Another One Bites the Dust
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About Jim Starkweather (staff_Jim)

I started building models in 1971 when I was 6. My first model was a 1/32 P-40 Warhawk. Revell I believe. From there I moved onto the standard cars, Apollo spacecraft, and other kid orientated kits. I don't know what got me started on Armor. I must have seen a Monogram tank kit one day and said "Mom...