Mike McMahon, President of MMD Squadron, with the impressive “Big Eagle” Master’s Trophy at the Squadron EagleQuest XIX Banquet.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to Squdron EagleQuest XIX, held on 25 and 26 June 2010 at the Embassy Suites hotel near Dallas Fort Worth airport.
Squadron EagleQuest has its origins in Mastercon, which was established by VLS in 1992 as a yearly competition and social gathering over the American Labor Day weekend. Squadron continued this tradition following its acquisition of VLS in early 2007, moving the event to Dallas, close to its head office and warehouse.
Although visitors were undoubtedly excited about the competition and seminars, the priority on the first morning of the show was the Squadron Open House. The prize on offer to Premium Pass holders was a 40% discount on all stock in Squadron’s cavernous (and mercifully air-conditioned) warehouse. The rush was on, with Squadron supplying shopping trolleys for this one-day styrene shopping spree. Office staff were pressed into service as checkout operators while the shoppers piled up their plastic plunder. In addition to the hefty discount, Squadron offered free shipping for purchases – very convenient for interstate travellers.
Meanwhile, back at the Embassy Suites hotel, the tables were filling with high quality models in competition. Categories were open to aircraft, armour, figures, dioramas, cars and more, for both senior and junior modellers.
A clever diorama of a local hobby store in competition at EagleQuest
The awards are not decided by a panel of judges, but by the entrants themselves. Multiple Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded based on the popular vote. Major prizes, including the impressive “Big Eagle” Master’s Trophy, are decided after a run-off between the best models decided in each category. These major trophies are voted on during the course of the Saturday night banquet. A number of special categories were awarded on the night too, including this year’s theme, “Korean War”, the Squadron Award for Best Scratch Built Entry, Best Camouflage, Tamiya Award, Squadron Creations Award for the best use of a Squadron product and Best Basic Division Entry.
I was also pleased to see the number of junior modellers at the banquet and in the competition. A number of younger visitors in attendance were inspired to declare their intention to build a model for the show next year too.
Six seminars were held over the course of the two-day event, including Dan Clover’s live airbrushing demonstrations, Kon Kelly’s treatise on Modelling History in 3D, while I spoke about the state of the hobby, HyperScale history and Luftwaffe camouflage and markings in a couple of sessions.
Friday night saw the Welcome Reception hosted by Mike McMahon from Squadron. This was a great opportunity to catch up with fellow visitors, but it was also the venue for voting in the new EagleQuest Grand Marshall for 2011. This piece of business was hilarious at times, thanks to the antics of Hal Sanford and Sean Glaspell at the lectern. Sean was the retiring Grand Marshall, and the hat has now passed to Greg Stewart for 2011.
Saturday night’s Banquet was equally successful. Once again, despite a daunting number of awards to present, the proceedings were generally efficient and entertaining.
One of EagleQuest’s competitors summed up the value of the show in a posting on HyperScale’s “Plane Talking” Forum. Parker Ewing from Baton Rouge wrote: “Without question, EagleQuest is the best deal in the hobby. There’s nothing even close, really. For $30, I got a $5 raffle ticket, access to all the seminars and models, an entry into the contest, free open bar and food Friday night, and a hotel offering free breakfast and airport shuttle. Did I mention 40% off at Squadron's warehouse? The Squadron people could not have been more helpful and nice. I saved $120 on purchases, handed my buggy to the staff, and they shipped it for free. Last but not least were the attendees. No chips on shoulders were found anywhere and the information flowed freely. Maybe because they're such great modellers that they have nothing to prove, but whatever the case, the air of the event was really nice. Can't wait for next year.”
Squadron EagleQuest XIX saw a total of 217 models on the table from 85 competitors. An additional 50 visitors were in attendance too. These numbers continue a growing trend over the last few years.
EagleQuest is nowhere near the scale of an IPMS Nationals, but its compact size affords the atmosphere of a family reunion to this friendly show. EagleQuest is also very well organised; and this year’s venue, the Embassy Suites resort, was comfortable and had all the facilities you could ask for.
Keep an eye out for news of Squadron EagleQuest XX in 2011 – it will be well worth a visit!
I also put together a video covering some of the activity at Squadron's EagleQuest XIX held at the Embassy Suites Resort near Dallas Fort Worth airport. This report covers the setup, the Squadron Open House shopping spree, the Seminars and one of the evening functions. This video is 6 min and 7 sec in duration, and may be viewed simply by pressing the "play" button on the screen below:
I would particularly like to thank Mike McMahon, the staff of MMD Squadron and the competition organisers for their remarkable hospitality during my visit to EagleQuest XIX.
Images and Text
by Brett Green