“I think the EMGS needs to review its strategy. We are not sure what we are about.”
I think the Society knows exactly what it is about: it exists to encourage and support 4mm scale modellers who want better looking models than are possible in OO Gauge. I think the mix of P4 and EM layouts at society shows reflects that over-arching aim. In any case, as Paul W points out, excluding P4 layouts from our shows would effectively require a significant change to the Society’s constitution.
“By comparing ourselves and trying to compete with P4 models and modellers we do ourselves a disservice.”
I think we do ourselves a greater disservice when we talk of EM Gauge as being suitable for unskilled modellers, or a “step into finescale modelling”, as if it was just the starting point on the road to better things. It would be better to sell EM as the natural home for modellers who cannot live with the massive compromise inherent in OO Gauge, but for whom the marginal improvement in wheels and track offered by P4 (compared with EM Gauge) does not justify the extra time and effort required.
“How many EM modellers are unhappy about exhibiting because they feel their output cannot compare against P4 models?”
Hopefully none. A good EM Gauge layout will hold its own against a good P4 layout, and knock spots off a mediocre one. Many EM Gauge models and some OO Gauge ones exhibit modelling talent of a very high order indeed. Their owners clearly do not lack the skill required to model in P4, they just set the balance between effort and appearance in a slightly different place.
Interesting fact: I spent Saturday operating an OO gauge layout which had not been exhibited before. It rapidly became clear that it had not been tested either – there wasn’t a single train that ran without uncoupling or derailing (often several times) during the whole 6hr exhibition. And it won “Best in Show”! P4 modellers choose that gauge because they like ultra-fine wheels and track, and that is entirely right and proper, but I don’t think the viewing public really care, and most of them don’t even notice.