ImagineNation 2002 review and winners

See photos from the show

On the Bench and Beyond by Tom Grossman

Imagine Nation 2002 Review: They were ready. Where were you?

Imagine Nation Expo 2002
August 16-18
Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

This was the second year for Imagine Nation Expo. Like last year the show had a lot to offer: a large dealers with a variety of offerings, a good list of seminars presented by some well known talents and a model contest with a good list of categories. Unlike last year, we drove instead of flying. This allowed us to bring the goods for our first Imagine Nation as dealers.


Since I travel a lot, I find the accommodations to be an important part of the experience. The Orleans Hotel is really nice. The rooms were clean and well maintained. The hotel’s buffet is excellent. The food is prepared at seven different kitchens. Things like omelets and Mongolian barbecue are prepared to order. Besides the usual Las Vegas type attractions, there’s a movie theater and a bowling alley inside the building. I never got to go into it but the pool looked nice. Great place for lots of fun!! They were just about to open a new wing of rooms. too.

Reflecting the themes of the show, the seminars included sessions presented by professionals from many levels of the hobby/FX industries. David Fisher of Amazing Figure Modeler did a session on airbrush painting. Steve Riojas and Anthony Mestas, both staff writers for AFM, presented a session on constructing dioramas. The Chiodo Brothers covered the use of stop-motion animation and puppet effects in movies and advertising. Greg Nicotero talked about company’s work in Austin Powers Gold Member and showed a promotional reel of their other work including Army of Darkness other great movies. Other topics included, make-up effects and scratch building.

The dealer’s room was large with a good variety of things to look at and go in dept for. I heard quite a few times that there were some great bargains on some hard to find kits. There were some new releases as well. On the scifi side, Monsters in Motion had weapons and vehicles including a finished, simulated-firing UCM pulse rifle and their moon bus. Dave and Sue Bengal with Skyhook Models had the Seaview base sculpted by Colorado’s own, Steve Riojas and CultTVMan’s David Hedison Fly kit.

Cellar Cast and Solar Wind their usual offerings of shapely babes and mythological creatures at show prices. Modeler’s Vault was there with a nice selection of Polar Lights kits, some Glenco vehicles and a variety of tools including Excel. Life Force Studios had their Fly II kit. There was a dealer from Japan that had some VERY interesting gumball toys. These were tiny figures from Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story and some historical selections in the way of exploration subs, marine life and dinos. There were also a nice variety of action figures and even some Disney Nautilus pre-paints. Mike Fredricks with Prehistoric Times and Ed Monster Maniacs Bowkley had tables. Terry Webb was also there with AFM.


Other offerings including a new Abbot and Costello Meets Frankenstein piece from Needful Things and some great fresh concept aliens and creatures. There were many more booths and tables with lots and lots of horror/monster oriented items. You could buy tools and supplies from Smooth On, Lasco Diamond Tools, Badger and yours truly with Iwata airbrushes and accessories, ComArt paints, Parafilm and Vrush Pens. We also had a good supply of Steve’s latest scifi movie guide. (Still do! Anybody need one?)


On a sadder note, Imagine Nation 2003 was the last show for GEOMetric Design under the ownership of George Stephenson. GEOMetric produced lots of great kits over the years including the Star Trek TNG figures. George has become an icon in the industry. But the cost of licensing and the damage caused by recasting has caused George to choose to move on. George said he will have closed the operation by the end of the year. At this time, no agreements have been made with new owners. It was good to hear that George is still planning to come to the shows. Best of luck, George.


The Bob Burns Model Contest was full of surprises this year. The excitement expressed in emails to contest CEO Bob Maxwell was high. The show was planned for a large number of entries. Even though the growth was not as much as anticipated, there was still a lot to see.

The variety of subjects and the skills of the builders were inspiring and interesting to a wide audience. All the advanced categories included scratch builds and kit build-ups. One of the larger categories this year was Comic/Anime Figures. There were so many entries that the category was split and the two themes were judged separately. There were also several mechs on the tables.

1st, 2nd. and 3rd winners received gold, silver and bronze trophies of ray gun armed, space suit clad Bob Burns. Honorable mention winners received paperweight sized metal Imagine Nation Expo logos. The top Advanced modeler got $500. The top Professional winner got $1000. (Where was Mr. Meriman?)

Bob Maxwell

Some feel the $7 entry fee per kit to be high when considered with the use of a closed judging system. Given the level of competition and the format of judging, some modelers that might have otherwise participated may have been discouraged. It is true that open judging allow for a broader recognition of excellence. But does it necessarily bring in greater participation?


Looking at the artwork on the literature and the list of names among the attending stars, Imagine Nation is designed for the fans of horror, monsters and figure models. But that’s not all who showed up. There was a good showing of other subjects in the dealer’s room and contest. This show itself is well planned and executed being run by a group of determined promoters. There was a wide sample of the diversity of non-mainstream modeling. The truth of the matter is that the success of an event depends on the level of support from the fans. If we don’t support events with attendance, there won’t be any events to go to.

Over all, I’d have to say that Imagine Nation Expo 2002 was a good show that a lot of people missed. The perceptions I got from those that I spoke to fell into one of several categories. Some said that the missing California modelers would not be eager to drive to Vegas after spending a good portion of their week in the car commuting. Another group believes that Vegas is just not a good venue for this type of event. Some mentioned how our lives have changed in the past year. Others felt it takes three years for a show to get established and really start to grow. (Then next year should be great, right?) There are those who are eagerly planning for Imagine Nation Expo 2003. The show will be there. Will you?

Other pics and reviews can be found at the sites belonging to 2003 Imagine Nation Expo Anime category winner Nic Tanguma and the talented and effervescent Larry Samuels.

Bob Burns Prop Collection





ImagineNation 2002 Winners


2002 Winners Bob Burns Model Contest at the ImagineNation Expo, August 18th, 2002:

Juniors(ages 16 and under):

  • Gold: Brian Fisher,Jr.- The Great Cornholio
  • Silver: Donna Fisher – Bugs and Beakie
  • Bronze: Kaz Polivka – Kaz Gundam
  • Merits: Danielle Burnett and Devon Hudspeth

Spaceships and Sci/Fi Vehicles:

  • Gold: Mark Elkins – Battlestar Galactica
  • Silver: Chris Binnett – Ice Scout
  • Bronze: Coby Larang – Milennium Falcon
  • Merit: Brent Guggisberg – Torin’s Nova

Dinosaurs and Japanese Monsters:

  • Gold: Ed Nelles – Velociraptor
  • Silver: Brian Fisher,Sr. – Battra
  • Bronze: Tony Ramirez – Brachiasaur


  • Gold: Tony Lamb – Draco
  • Silver: Chris Binnett – Hail Storm
  • Bronze: Kevin Leu – Rancor
  • Merit: Ed Nelles – What da’ Hell ah you?
  • Chris Binnett – 2067 Vette

Horror Figure:

  • Gold: Dave Britton – Aqualar
  • Silver: Yoshio Masataka – GeoMetric Busts(Phantom,Mummy and Nosferatu)
  • Bronze: Yoko Matsuda – Exorcist Bust
  • Merit: Brian Fisher,Sr. – McVey Frankenstein
  • Merit: Bob Ball – Vegas Frankie

Sci/Fi and Fantasy Figure:

  • Gold: Phil LaBounty – Earl of Oxford, Mongol Warlord and Predator Bust
  • Silver: Joe Graziano – ABC Robot
  • Bronze: Chris Snyder – X-Files
  • Merit: Yoshio Masataka – Uncle Sam
  • Merit: Mike Estrada – ABC Robot

Female Figure:

  • Gold: David Whitford – Adina and Pirate Princess
  • Silver: Yoko Matsuda – Cutey Honey
  • Bronze: Scott Buonanno – Chloe Aviator
  • Bronze: Mike Regan – Vampirella

Comic Book Figure:

  • Gold: Brian Fisher Sr. – Coop Frankenstein
  • Silver: Preston – Spawn
  • Bronze: Bruno Tapia – Venom
  • Merit: David Gray – The Shadow
  • Merit: Preston – Supergirl


  • Gold: Coby Larang – Auge and Arkanna Siren
  • Silver: Nic Tanguma – Chun Li
  • Bronze: Nic Tanguma – Succubus
  • Merit: Mark Ishii – Devil Wanda


  • Gold: Steve West – Satyra
  • Silver: Mike Hill – Man Of Steel
  • Bronze: Casey Love – Nosey Hermit, Creeper and Assasin
  • $1000 PRO Winner – Steve West
  • $500 ADVANCED Winner – David Whitford