Sunday, June 5, 2011

Heartland Model Car Nationals. I won't be entering any time soon.

Every once in awhile, I like to work on a model car. And when I'm done, I usually think they look OK. But then I go to something like the Heartland Model Car Nationals, and I realize that my modeling talents have a long way to go.

Hosted by the KC Slammers modeling club, 2011 marks the 20th year for this model show and swap meet. The most talented model builders from the area, as well as some of the more prominent model car dealers from the Midwest, packed the Overland Park Convention Center for some small scale fun.

Typically, my first motivation for attending this event is to check out the vendor tables. My dad started collecting dealer promotional models when he was a kid in the 1940s and '50s, and we've had a great time building the collection and filling in the holes for years.

There were quite a few tables with vintage promos for sale. Although I have to admit, it's harder to find a deal than it used to be. I don't know if it's just because they're older, or that Internet sites like eBay have changed things, or if they're just more popular for some reason, but they are asking big money for these little cars nowadays. Usually too big for my budget.

There are also a lot of projects for sale. If you wanted a current-release new kit, it was probably there. If you wanted an un-built vintage kit, you could probably find that too. Built-up project? There were stacks and stacks of those. Even hand-made resin-cast bodies of cars that never had an official kit were available.

If promos and projects weren't your thing, there were diecast race cars, Franklin and Danbury Mint cars, Hot Wheels cars, and much more.

But the stars of the show were in the model competition. There were several tables filled with liquid-smooth paint jobs and custom-molded body panels. Teeny-tiny engine wires were painstakingly placed on perfectly prepared engines. Seams were smoothed. Tires were lettered. You start to believe that if your fingers were shrunk down 25-times smaller than actual size, you could turn the little ignition keys and drive away.

Some of these folks go to an amazing level of detail. I've been building models for more than 30 years, and I still don't know how they do it. But it is fun to look at.

Outside, show-goers had another treat, with a pair of 1:1-scale movie-mobiles. A very authentic Back to the Future Delorean shared the sidewalk with the California Kid '34 Ford hot rod. They were a pretty nice precursor to the things to come inside the convention center.

I took more than 140 photos, and you can see them in the slideshow below. Most of the pictures aren't even that blurry, so even though my model building might not be improving, perhaps my photography skills are getting a tiny bit better.


  1. Jerry Mounce, President, KC SlammersSeptember 14, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Thanks for the great Article! We members of the KC Slammers work at trying to provide a quality event for the entire family. The Heartland Nationals is the region's largest gathering of model car enthusiasts. With only 2 real Hobby Shops in the KC metro area, our event offers the model car enthusiast the opportunity to see other modeler's projects and to peruse merchandise not available otherwise. The 2012 Heartland will be held on June 9 & 10, at the Overland Park Convention Center, celebrating 80 years of the "Deuce" 1932 Ford. Check out our website for info. www.kcslammers,com.

  2. Years ago I won best of show at KC with a diorama of a 50s drive inn. I sold it to Hobby Town and took no pictures of it first. Does anyone remember the model and by chance have a picture. I would love to see it if you do.