2014 National Z Scale Convention cancelled

RobertAllbritton Sep 24, 2013

  1. RobertAllbritton

    RobertAllbritton TrainBoard Member

    Just got this: :(


    It’s with great disappointment that I share this news, but as the administration and owners of the NZSC, we have decided to cancel plans for the 2014 National Z Scale Convention that was schedule to be held in Kansas City, MO in May 2014. There are a number of factors that have ultimately led us to this decision. We will be communicating this more publicly on the convention website and by email to last year’s attendees very soon, but wanted to contact the core contributors to the previous conventions first.

    Thank you for your understanding and thank you for your participation in the previous two conventions.

    Best regards,

    Ben Thielemann
    NZSC Convention Coordinator
    MTL Marketing Director
  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Sad news indeed. Looks like Portland 2015 is the next big show for me.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 4
  3. ModelWarships

    ModelWarships TrainBoard Member

    Nuts, just when they plan one in my backyard. I was so looking forward to this.
  4. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    I believe we need to be more creative and to be more motivated in order to keep Z alive and kicking.

    Its just my opinion but I attribute this cancellation first to a bad location (sorry ModelWarships). KC is really nowhere near the center of the Z universe so I'm guessing that the majority of participants would end up flying in. If you're going to fly into a city anyway why not have it in a location where you might find the most local, or near enough local Z scale modular groups? If you don't have enough club participation at the event and you make it costly for vendors to ship their goods and themselves in then you have a perfect fail scenario.

    I'll pick the West Coast as an example because I don't know enough about the East coast contingencies. If you put this convention anywhere near the Bay Area or anywhere near the LA area they could have a great convention even if nobody else showed up. Why? They have very active clubs with many, many modules to show. Several vendors are in those areas or can drive their goods to the location. They have weekend meets more often than most of us touch our trains. The public is huge on their Z and they know how to draw them in. What will make Z grow? Exposure. Kansas City is not "it". Then, while in the area they can go to Disneyland, other parks, wine country, the Silicon valley and many museums and see or ride 1:1 trains.

    Secondly I believe Z scale needs more. Just more. More diecast vehicles like N scale, more choices in affordable plastic injected small items, more affordable everything. But manufacturers shy away. Have you noticed how few laser kit companies have released new Z scale kits? They haven't, not even MTL has done a Z kit in a very long time. We've pulled a lot because they need revamping and when we re-release them hopefully we can lower the cost to the modeler and do our part to get people building things. Right now Z scale is full of locomotives and rolling stock, something we've been dreaming about for a long time. Now we need to see them actively running on layouts so that we can give Z that magical exposure.

    I'd love to hear others give counterpoint because we need to find out what we're not doing right then remedy it. Is this cancellation a "symptom"? Let's find the fix - for the future....
  5. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

    I don't think the location is the problem. KC is fairly centrally located in the COUNTRY....not just convenient for the West/East coasters and has plenty of things for the family to do. There's a large, nationally-known amusement park and plenty of museums and other venues for families to enjoy. One of the problems is the time of the year...kids are still in school and some people would prefer to take one vacation to cover everything. Maybe if the Z convention was held the weekend before or the weekend after the NMRA national convention and near it people would be more inclined to attend both. That's how the very first Z scale convention in Columbus was held and it worked out very well. When it comes to attending any event, there has to be some commitment on the part of the participants. Ellen and I drove from St. Louis and Indianapolis to attend the NTS in Sacramento, Grand Rapids, and Atlanta. None of those cities is close to us yet we were committed to display our modules in both Grand Rapids and Atlanta. We would have displayed in Sacramento if any of the west-coast groups had expressed the desire to have modules from other groups there. It seems to me that the folks on the coasts need to get off their a$$es and take their modules to the rest of the country. The same goes for any other group that only does shows and events in their own back yard. Only doing shows and events in your own back yard is "preaching to the choir". We encounter people at every show who have never seen Z scale before and are impressed with how much can be done on the relatively small layout we put together with just our 14 feet of modules. John Mui joined us in Atlanta with his street-running module which brought a lot of attention. I asked for modules to join us there and John was the only one to respond and show up. How can we expect manufacturers to develop an interest in producing Z scale items when they don't see Z at shows...or anywhere else for that matter. Keep in mind that David George's excellent Z scale layout has won many awards and we've had several Z scale displays/layouts/modules win "Best of Show" at several of the National Train Shows. Z scale is more of a closet scale than most of the others but we need to get out there and show people what can be done.

    Thom Welsch
  6. pmx

    pmx TrainBoard Member

    I would counter that the midwest can be a viable choice for Z, but KC may be not have been the best selection. You have Chicago, Milwaukee or St. Louis which may have been a better choices based on their history and as central points for railroading and modelers. Chicago is the central hub of midwest railroading and central enough to be close to AZL some of the other smaller Z manufacturers. Milwaukee is only short drive or train ride north and home of many of model railroading businesses and events. St. Louis is the other gateway between East and West and much easier reach for those Texan Z folks.

    Just my thoughts and bummed to here the KC location is being cancelled.

    ~Paul E.
  7. emaley

    emaley TrainBoard Supporter

    Too bad for KC. I would have made that run. I made a trip there last year for a BBQ crawl. Ended up finding the best fried chicken I have ever eaten. I am new to Z scale and I am completely hooked. Maybe next time.
  8. FrenchieZ

    FrenchieZ Permanently dispatched

    And, the politics of the small Z world just keep going on. Something smells... and, it's not fish. :angry:
  9. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Amazing difference to Altenbeken (Germany) where there is an only Z Treffen (convention) every other year. 1000's attend from all over (Scandanavia, Italy, Eastern Europe and Canada US. While Z has had a 40 year start, we have plenty to show and talk about. But Altenbeken has several dozens of manufacturers, all small, personal types and many modules (differing standards) or dioramas everywhere.

    We need to figure out some good locations as if all of these don't happen here, then it's just a couple of this and that with just a few dozen people. It doesn't take a manufacturer, just a meeting place where the costs can be covered by all.

    It is just how the US is. Asia has the same strength and weaknesses around the various hobbies.

    Like Loren says, we have a *lot* more locos and rolling stock so keep working on modules, dioramas and and crafts that can be shared. There is a *lot* of Rapid Prototype postings over on Z Central Station. I've purchased dozens of these and many are extremely well detailed and come out much better that a lot of other stuff.
  10. ztrack

    ztrack TrainBoard Supporter Advertiser

    This is very unfortunate. I have the utmost respect for MTL for taking on the task of organizing these conventions. They are very important for our Z community and help bring us together. This builds our relationships and fuels our passions. I am very grateful for the two conventions that MTL has organized so far. The decision to cancel is MTL's and it is their right too. It is their staff that organizes and does the heavy lifting. I am sure they did not make this decision lightly.

    I am sure this has nothing to do with Z politics. Conventions and gatherings grow the scale. All benefit from these. What we need to do is continue to be a community and focus on the positives. Let's get back to using the forums as our everyday meeting place to share the excitement and interests we all have.

    I am in agreement with Thom on the location. While it is easy to host a convention where there is a concentration of Z scalers, it also does not do much to promote the scale to those who do not live in the concentrated areas. A balance of conventions in Z scale areas and non-Z scale areas may go a long way to promote the scale.

    Next year the National Train Show is being held in Cleveland. Let's look at this as our next opportunity to gather, run trains and have fun. Atlanta was a great time and I am sure Cleveland will be as well. We are already committed to being there as have other Z scalers and clubs.

  11. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    I certainly do not fault MTL for their decision. Yes, they raise money to fund these things but they also have to pay their salaried help to do all of the planning and execution. The more time they have to devote to a convention half the country away the less time they have for making trains.

    Thom, you and Ellen are a dedicated modelers and show attendees, there is no question of that. Its just that few others have your level of devotion. We have always loved it when you guys would come out this way for shows and hope to see you again and again.

    I don't feel this should turn into a blame game. No one else has stepped up to take over this huge responsibility so we need to watch our words in regards to Ben's announcement. I think this should also include not blaming the west coast guys for being too lazy for not hauling *literally* truck loads of modules a couple of thousand miles to a mediocre city. I used the west coast guys as an example because, as I said also, that I don't know the east coast clubs and their setups. I just know there just isn't much Z action in KC normally.

    I agree that St. Louis or Chicago would have possibly attracted more participants but you would still have had the problem of a very small modular layout and probably heavy on the BYOZ which is not exactly a public magnet for Z.

    As I had mentioned earlier, lets think of creative ways to put the spark back into Z and not find fault with each other.
  12. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

    KC is as much a "happening" city as Medford, Oregon!!!! There's a lot of ground and people interested in Z scale between the east and west coasts!
  13. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    Oh, I agree. Medford was not an ideal location and it had its own built in problems. But it was a start and much was learned from it. The last convention was in Denver, also a bit remote, and it had great attendance. But it was a logistical nightmare and the Best of Show layout was destroyed in the shipment.

    I guess there is no right or wrong answer here, it is what it is.....
  14. Z_thek

    Z_thek TrainBoard Member

    The issue is not politics, geographics or logistics, but money. The cost of a convention is far more than contributions of attendants and sponsors. When the economic conditions are good for the hobby, the extra cost considered as a good investment into marketing and advertising with potential future returns by increased sales. I'm sure MTL lined up the results of previous conventions with current sales levels and market demands and concluded, the projected losses are not sustainable. The future of our hobby within current economic conditions is not certain, disposable incomes are down while general expenses are up. Hope is not a good business decision, real numbers talk.
  15. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter


    You are 100% correct! It comes down to a return on investment (ROI). If juice is not worth the squeeze than good business says don't do it. It's strictly business.

  16. ModelWarships

    ModelWarships TrainBoard Member


    Ben, you need to do your homework. First of all there is more to Kansas City, than just Kansas City, MO and KS. There are many suburbs with population and even in today's economy $$ to spend. Let me say that while, I am new to Z-scale, I have been around Railroad Modeling for many years. My real hobby is plastic ships, but that is more work to me than hobby these days. In the model kit world, the IPMS (International Plastic Modelers Society) is the body that hosts and organizes the conventions. Local Chapters make bids to the main body to host the annual conventions. They put together the plans and hopefully have a good balance of convention center and local attractions to draw in the audience. KC ran the 2006 IPMS nationals and it was a big success. We had people from all over the world attend. I helped run the show and it took a lot of dedicated folks working hard to pull it off. You can bet when we run another show, there will be no second thoughts about coming back. In contrast last year it was in Orlando. Guess what, the vendors hated it. Why? Well there was no money left to spend after hitting the parks. So stop thinking about it as a vacation, and more like promoting Z scale.

    Some things you outright missed about KC (just who did you talk to anyway?). We have the best train watching in the country. Perhaps it was the Convention center that was initially picked. That is up by the airport and while convenient for those flying in, it is a poor choice for those who want to see the sights. We held ours at the Hyatt downtown. Perhaps Union Station would have been a better choice for a RR convention? Also there are two tourist RR's nearby, and a nice 16" gauge line that would be fun for the family and would leave you with enough money to spend with the Vendors. KC is centrally located and I am willing to bet would attract a good sized crowd.

    Now, like I said I am new to Z, but you might consider expanding your city selection process and work with locals who can provide better info. If you want to see Z scale grow you need to stop thinking on a 1/220 level and think on a larger scale.

    Timothy in Podunk, USA.
  17. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author TrainBoard Member

    A question-- perhaps rhetorical-- to ponder...

    To what extent have forums like these replaced the need for conventions?

    I'd be the first to tell you that virtual conversations are not a replacement for face to face interaction, however they are a lot less costly as well. I can't even consider the expense of attending a convention of any kind right now, not only the dollars but the time investment.
  18. rhurley

    rhurley TrainBoard Member

    I can understand a business decision. I can only say I am bummed! I wanted to go!
  19. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    Nothing can be as pleasant and fun as the real thing, up close and personal. Yes, the real thing is expensive in many ways.
    A whole bunch of folks want to see NZSC convention resurrected somehow and someday. Don't give up the idea just yet. I'm sure folks are scratching their heads and wondering how we can collectively make it happen again.
  20. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    Wait wait wait, mistaken identity here. I am not Ben from MTL, in fact I have zero affiliation with MTL or had any say in the selection of cities for the convention. Which was the point of my posting to begin with. My name is Karin. Sorry if I have confused you somehow.

    I was trying to point out how few modular clubs are within a reasonable driving distance to the venue. Yes, there is the Midwest Z Haulers, a wonderful club indeed. It is preferable, however, to have a large modular setup to go along with a nice amount of BYOZ. You see, the public is invited for several hours on the Saturday of the convention so that they may see how seriously many of us take our small scale. It is publicized locally ahead of time with the hopes that many will show up and take enough notice and to perhaps get involved. The joining up of several club's modules not only helps the public take notice but it also gives the convention attendees a nice large layout on which to run their trains even if none of the modules are their own. This is how I think in 1:220.

    But the sad fact of the matter is that it really isn't the city so much as it is the money to get the convention to that city. I will still hold true to my belief that had this been in southern California it may have actually happened and not been cancelled. We can debate that till the cows come home but it is what it is, and it isn't happening anywhere.

    BTW, I am wondering how anyone could call this "Z politics"........

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