Through The World of Mini-ing. World Model Expo 2017, Exposed!

Few things in life truly infatuate me. The connections between light speed and causality. Missing pieces of the standard model of particle physics. The disparity between social ritual and necessity, and often my lack of either. ;D Actually, I guess I get infatuated with a lot of crap. It's in my nature, but it makes me happy. And, let's face it, if this is all some kind of cruel ancestor simulation, then isn't personal happiness what it's all about anyway? Painting makes me happy. Seeing others recreate a vision from within their head through a visual medium to share with others makes me happy. When I see the legions of little plastic dudes all set up on a beautiful table that this hobby brings, I'm immersed in a shared dream, made real.

"Hey, we're going to the World Model Expo. Want to go?"

*internal thoughts*: What the heck is the World Model Expo? Is this one of those historical conventions? Will it be a bunch of tables filled with six thousand 10mm Napoleonic equestrians charging at each other? Model cars? Is this really something I'd be interested in?

A quick google search revealed...not much. I checked a vendor list and saw Badger Airbrush was going to be there though. I love their primers and they usually have good discounts at conventions. Tempting, just for that.

"Well, it is my birthday weekend and I'm off, so I think I DO want to go!"

It was a fantastic day in Chicago. Lovely, crystalline blue skies, moderate sunshine to keep you warm with a brisk, cooling breeze. The Taste of Chicago was happening, so people were out and about, engaging in those social rituals and necessities, engorging themselves on fried tacos and alligator meat. (It's good. I encourage you to try it!)

I make my walk down Michigan Ave to the Chicago Hilton, where the expo was held. I meet up with the rest of the guys outside, and we talk and enter. $10 entry fee. Hmm, doesn't seem too bad.

On the first glimpse, it seems like a teeny version of Adepticon...except, no gaming. I see a cluster of vendors, but again, not as robust as Adepticon. As I approach closer, I begin to see what was laid out on the multitudes of tables...display, after display, after display. My eyes widen, heartbeat intensifies. "Oh, no...what have I walked in to?"


You see, in this hobby I am a majority artist. I like to game, and learn rules and all that...but the creative aspect of this hobby is the major draw for me. To be concise, this expo brings about the BEST of the BEST in terms of miniature artists. World-wide. Hundreds, if not thousands, of absolutely amazing paint jobs on gaming miniatures, busts, and dioramas just set up on tables. Not behind glass cases, like at most conventions, but sitting there waiting to be analyzed; critiqued; admired; from any angle. You want reference pictures for yourself? Go ahead and take a hundred. Heck, go shoot a full rotation video around the entire display.

I'm in awe. While, I initially spent a good portion of time at the vendor booths before they closed up shop, the majority of my time here was gawking at these majestic paintjobs. The following pictures are just a mere sample of things that I found inspiring, with a little discussion about what I found interesting.

There were quite a few of these boxed dioramas. Quite excellently crafted, these reminded me of museum pieces. Peering in through a window to someone's imagination. This particular piece had a very fascinating ghost image in the doorway. It was very convincing, and gave me a "How did they do that???" vibe.

A "London After Midnight" bust. Kind of an iconic horror image. While, the actual painting technique here wasn't the sharpest, the color scheme was striking. My eye has been really drawn to unique osl and off color shading using color wheel theory. Contrasting greens and reds/yellows, really creates an atmosphere and brings this horror vision to life.

Some really fine work here. Great plaid/tartan pattern painting on the scarf. The facial color blends, and scruff shading were perfect. This looks straight out of a movie scene, with a ton of expressiveness in the face. A lot of these painters painted the eyes with super detailing; iris definition, gloss coating for a glassy look. Good stuff.

Whoa, whoa whoa. I'm a big fan of ancient Roman culture. I love Gladiators; movies about them, how they looked, fought. I got more serious about learning painting techniques a few months ago, attempting nmm and tmm techniques. When I saw the tmm on this (true metallic metals), I was most impressed! The shaded silvers, with brighter stippling for texture. The stark facial shading adds a lot to this character. It really captures Russell Crowe's expression and condition in the movie.

Oh my...the freehand! Such wonderful freehand painting on the banners, details in the armor and fabric. (I believe a LOT of these were done by an artist, or perhaps a studio, in Russia. Most vendors that I asked who did the freehand on many of the historical figures seemed to answer "oh, I had that done in Russia." Apparently, they have tiny magician-artists there with which to craft this evil magyck!)

Wow, I love me some good dioramas. This one was very excellently crafted! The water effects were great, and I love when you can zoom in on a small portion of it and it gives that movie effect. It's like any good art, that requires multiple views and analysis to truly appreciate it's depth and complexity. Kudos to this one.

Oh, Geisha girls....come out an plaaaaay! I love the free-hand on this piece as well. I want to learn to paint tattoos like her fabric patterns on a few Bushido figs. Expect that they will look nowhere this good!

Now we're talkin'! I stopped by the Scale75 paint booth to pick up some of their metallic paints I keep hearing so much about. They had the 75mm display models I see on some of their box sets, painted by world famous artists like Ben Komets, etc. I really enjoy seeing this stuff up close and personal, to admire just how perfect of a job these are. I need to get that Dwarf figure sometime. 🙂

Well, this one was behind a glass case. Something about it's awesomeness being so potent, that left exposed would poison all that is less awesome...which is just about everything. Hah! Really though, amazing color blends and freehand there. Makes me want to quit, or try harder. I'm not sure which.

A small troop of remaining soldiers, enduring winter's embrace. Their toes, numb, frostbitten. Their bellies ache for a warm meal. They march, not knowing when or where they will be bombarded by mortar fire next. They push on, for the hope and promise of a small piece of sunshine in the distance. Entropy, and irony.

I have the Reaper Bones version of this figure. It was great to see an actual one fully built and painted. It is GIGANTIC! Nice touch with the drool effects.

I's Frank. 'nuff said.

I'm more of a Leo guy, but such a cool base on this one.

Smoooooooooth blending here. Perfect nmm. I was mighty impressed by this piece.

Again, such striking, ambient lighting with very cold colors. It gives off the impression of a sadistic devourer sending off some poor soul to a torturer's whims.

I'm a big Tesla fan. Not the band. The engineering genius! I read a story once, that someone asked Einstein what it was like to be the smartest man on Earth, to which he replied: "I wouldn't know, ask Nikola Tesla!"

*breaks paint brushes in half* *drinks all paint* *exposes self to gamma radiation for several days* *still doesn't have super powers to paint like this* *now probably carcinogenic*

I believe these were two Ben Komets pieces. He's a true master of blending and capturing amazing light fairly quickly with his technique! Look him up on youtube sometime. The cool flesh colors of the Roman figure give off that statuesque vibe of classical dramas of the era. For the lower Robot hunter bust, I took a lot of reference pictures of because of the wide variety of techniques involved. (The camo, great nmm, chipping/rust, etc.) Fantastic stuff.

Whoa. Sometimes things can just blow you away. The scales and color blending in the fish are out of this world! It's like nmm on steroids!

Again, some great cold color osl. He appears nomadic, but reminds me of the sci-fi cat people in the old Wing Commander pc games, or Twilight Imperium universe. Really cool.

"Do or do not. There is no try." Well dang, Yoda. People doing like this makes me not want to try anymore! 😉 Actually, it makes me want to try more. Who da man? Yo da man!

Look at the Killer Whale and fish! Super fun!

Some of the coolest camo I've ever seen. Definitely using this as inspiration should I attempt larger scale military stuff.

Really unique piece that captures the papa-Nurgle-like grimey texture perfectly! I took a lot of pictures of this because of the interesting layering for reference. This could be used on post apocalyptic buildings, tanks, etc. Awesome piece.

The patterns in her blouse, the glare in her eyes and interesting darker flesh tones, veering more towards the grays and browns add a lot of visual flare. Who needs the Lannisters with a Mother of Dragons like this?

And finally, I'll leave you with some former Crystal Brush finalists/award winners just sitting out in the open to be observed from any angle and any distance. These were incredible to see in person, with tons of atmosphere. I can't imagine the amount of hours that went in to working on these. Keep in mind, these pictures I've shown you today are but a mere fraction of displays at this event (as well as the amount of pictures on my phone). The skill level of all of these painters is off the charts, and any awards won are well deserved.


Overall, I feel extraordinarily lucky to have gone to this expo. After reading up on some forums recently, I see that this event has been mostly limited to Europe since it's inception. It's not an annual thing, it's not localized near Chicago. I wasn't sure it was even going to be something I would enjoy initially; but in terms of the sheer skill on display I found myself completely entranced by the artwork people have put out there. (So much so, that I seemed to have wandered off losing my expo mates. Lol, sorry guys!) It keeps me inspired to get better, to keep learning, and to enjoy the outlet this hobby gifts to it's patrons.

//must.practice [*.*more]

6 responses to “Through The World of Mini-ing. World Model Expo 2017, Exposed!

  1. Excellent work and nice commentary!
    I had no idea that much of what was on display was ousourced to Russia.

    I brought my son to the expo and he had a great time. Just reminded me that I’ve got a batch of pics of my own. Not as nice as yours, but maybe it’s time for a second expo gallery post.

  2. Thanks for sharing. It just wasn’t in the cards that weekend to make the trip downtown. Maybe it will be back in Chicago again.

  3. You’re most welcome. The Expo is held once every 3 years, and seems like a random location, like the Olympics. I’d say the odds of it coming back to Chicago within a reasonable timeframe are low. :( I, myself, did not realize this until AFTER I attended, so I really feel like I lucked out with this one!

    On the plus side, we still have Adepticon in the midwest which still draws some mighty fine painting and modeling, in a slightly different atmosphere.

    I feel like compiling a list of all of the midwest minis (gaming?) conventions would be a handy thing to have for this group for future reference.

  4. It was definitely a lucky chance. From what I understand they only have an expo very few years and it’s been over a decade since it was last held in the USA.

    Adepticon and Little Wars do provide alot of great painting. Neither has quite the density or variety of incredibly high qualtity work, but those would be my go-to local chicago cons for each year.

  5. It was definitely a lucky chance. From what I understand they only have an expo very few years and it’s been over a decade since it was last held in the USA.

    Adepticon and Little Wars do provide alot of great painting. Neither has quite the density or variety of incredibly high qualtity work, but those would be my go-to local Chicago Cons for each year.

  6. Adepticon 100%. I have to go to Little Wars sometime…heck, I have to go to GenCon sometime!

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