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We’re in the finals!!!!!

We really didn’t see that one coming, and also winning the episode with the highest rating so far, a 9.5. We actually assumed that we would not win against the other two teams. Still, we decided to really pop, all or nothing. And that was rewarded with a spot in the finals! Once that landed with us, sweat broke out immediately as well. That theme had had little to no preparation, because say who saw us in the finals after the previous two episodes. And two days from now…… All hands on deck!!!!

But first, let’s take a look back and enjoy the success of this episode. As we stood after episode 4 “Hollands Glorie” was not very good. We had built a very nice model railroad and lost to a breakfast table and a carnival. It was clear, if we still wanted to achieve anything we really had to change course. Out of the comfort of model railroading and completely out-of-the-box…… With only two days to go, we were fairly defeated, how were we supposed to do it? We must also confess that the disappointment at the time was really quite great.

The morning after the broadcast we had a conversation with the judges and they made it clear why we lost on creativity. Despite once again receiving the highest rating for build quality. Our brief was clear, less model railroading, more storytelling. With less than 48 hours on the clock, we revisited the plan.

the plan, which was conceived by Martin and Ellen was to tell the life story. Not so much our story, but in general. We had come up with 3 terraces, childhood, adulthood and retirement. With the rocket as the cliffhanger, because “the Sky is never the limit.” We thought that was a very nice message. But now, just a rocket from a hotel is absolutely not enough. At that point, we decided to turn the tide, with the impossible task of adjusting the plan in two days. The mindset went into fight mode at that point, either way, if we’re going out we’re going out with a Big Bang!!!!!

But how could we make the life course more attractive. While philosophizing, we started thinking about the journey of life. And what do you take with you when you travel, right suitcases. As a child a school bag, as an adult a briefcase and as a pensionado a suitcase of memories. Brilliant idea, the story of a life’s journey told from a suitcase. The model track falls out of an unfolded suitcase and takes us on a journey through life. It also fit seamlessly with the rocket, which was already pretty much prepared in the workshop. But then the story itself, whose story is it. Those of our entire team? We were advised against that by the production, a story about 5 people, that would get too messy. The story of the team captain Ellen was to be that, yes and Martin who of course then appears in it as husband as well.

With a new idea and a nice concept richer, we went to work, two days to find cases. And of course come up with some additional items. Did anyone notice the clock? That also turned quickly, because time flies. Arnaud completely rebuilt a clock from the thrift store with another motor. The stations, 3 identical stations weathered by John from new, to used, to worn. And the October party, a nice model by Bush, but boring. Martin found a stage on the internet in 1:87 and printed it out with the 3D printer. But of course, with the arrival of the guest judges, we wanted to show images here. There was no more time for a screen projection via Arduino….. The cell phone, borderless, nice and big … perfect solution. Ellen prepared a nice little film so we could convey the festival feeling there. Writing this makes me spontaneously feel like going to the October festival again.

The children’s bag with our children’s school items, briefcase with office building and work, and of course the suitcase full of memories. For the latter, we had to diligently search old photo albums for pictures and print or cut them out…. Work, work and a lot of work. Fortunately, Arnaud was also there to help, who continued to complete the hotel with rocket. For example, he built LEDs into the thrusters of the rocket, and wrote a sound file for the launch. Martin started experimenting with smoke and light. There are 3 smoke generators installed, one of which is forced at the bottom of the tube with a fan. The whole system was controlled by an OC, a what? Yes an OC, which for us shortened is an OC32. That’s a handy accessory decoder to control all sorts of things. Bit like Arduino but stable and reliable.

But to make the party complete, and the stress levels to unprecedented heights our Tijn contracted the flu. By mutual agreement, we decided the day before the shoot that a replacement was needed… Our replacements were already scheduled at work and Concept Street was also called in. Until that evening we found our salvation in Jeroen, a colleague of Martin’s with whom he works a lot. He actually celebrated his wedding day the next day but managed to clear his schedule to help our team out.

The last day before filming, deep into the night and everything was packed and ready for what we thought was our last episode, just grab a few hours of sleep and then full on it…. We are going to pop!!!

Day 1: Builders, bake

The heights, in 2.5 days. Where did we start. It went over the table for a while, but hey we’re not the only ones with this problem. By now the teams had also become very close among themselves, and we could sense from everyone that fatigue was beginning to take its toll. The otherwise quiet morning of testing and transmitting became more of a session of speaking courage to each other.We started off very smoothly by building the lanes out of plywood, making the elevations and making sure we could start laying rails. But then the cases had to be fitted, and that went pretty well….. Until Dianne stopped by. In retrospect we were very happy about it, her advice for a different perspective helped the story immensely! But at that moment, yes you do feel a little bitter. Later you are grateful to the jury for their expertise and different perspective on a story. You yourself are in a kind of robot mode where you execute what has been thought up. After all the suitcases had been given a place and also the other items such as the guesthouse and the ski vacation we could start applying the contours. Since we had to go up very quickly we chose to use a different construction method. We opted for the mesh and plaster this time. Wire mesh was used to fill the spaces between the terraces, which were then shaped with laths. By placing plaster cloth over it, we were able to create a strong base to further shape the landscape with modeling plaster. And time was running out, plaster doesn’t dry very quickly in these quantities…..

We got the track closed just in time with the plaster cloths, the application of the modeling plaster had to wait until tomorrow.

Day 2: Lying crosswise against the odds

The second day, little sleep but, time for plaster, plaster and more plaster. With red tape, and spatulas, full of good courage and mind at zero, we began to fill the landscape. Meanwhile Jeroen took care of the rails and Arnaud took care of the wiring under the layout.And then that whistle came again, Andre is going to cross again. A tambourine and a shuttle, what to do with it? Luckily we had Alwin back, creative mastermind! He immediately came up with a bright idea to incorporate the tambourine in the children’s bag. And it really fit the picture. On a free pin of the OC (yes, we’ll keep that one, of course it has to be OC32) he could connect a servo that would move the tambourine with a piece of spring steel. From the shuttle he made a snowman. And his ideas worked, we won the sleeper. The first point was in and that point was very important to us. It motivated us to keep going, because at that point we didn’t see it working out……Day two was already over, the track was in plaster, and parts were already set in a base color. With one day left, of which we only had 4.5 hours of building time, we didn’t know how to prepare it yet. The rails had to be tested and ballasted, the green still had to be applied, the buildings connected, technology tested and the cases had to be filled by Ellen….. That will be another sleepless night.

Day 3: On final leads to the finish line
We were pretty much through, everyone was tired, spent, broken, rotten and visionless. But how were we going to pull this off in over four hours? We opted for a somewhat military strategy of discipline. Everyone was given a clear task: Alwin had to make sure it was green on the track, Martin took care of the ballast on the track and the white snowy parts, Ellen was going to fill the suitcases, Jeroen test the train and Arnaud was going to get the technology in order. Whoever was ready went straight to detailing the layout.And that worked, the pace picked up and slowly the motivation and belief that we were going to make it also grew. Time ticked away and little by little everything came to life. And then Andre whistled his whistle…. Hands off….. Just waking up and seeing what stands before creation. Everything worked out, maybe in terms of scenery not our best creation, but the story, the details and all the technology was right and was perfect as we wanted it to be. This time we did not build a model railroad, but a story. And as we like it a masterpiece!

The jury verdict: Shot off to the finals, we’re on a journey
Man how long that wait takes, first the other teams were around…. But eventually we too were called to come trotting up for the fence. The Jury and Andre were already waiting. After the track was started up, Ellen began her story. The VT98 rail bus began its route and drove neatly through the children’s bag into childhood to stop at the station. Here Ellen recounted her childhood. Everything there is still new and beautiful, the grass is green and untouched, and the children play in playtime.

The train moved on again to make the journey into adulthood as in life. A terrace where we wanted to show the daily balance between responsibility and fun. With the briefcase with an office building on the left to symbolize the daily responsibility of maintenance. And on the right the October Festival, the festival with which we wanted to demonstrate that sometimes you do long for relaxation and fun. At the Oktoberfest we played the movie with memories of Ellen’s Oktoberfest here in Harderwijk with friends.

But the train cannot linger too long, time flies, and so VT98 departed for its final phase of life: old age. Through a suitcase full of memories of loved ones and loved ones who sometimes did not make it to the stop, where others have yet to make it, the rail bus stops in front of a bumper block, the last stop. Time for retirement. Time to relax and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. And if that is no longer possible then the journey continues to the boarding house. Which we all think will end life…… or will it?

At that moment we started the band, a loudspeaker started counting down from 10 to 0 and meanwhile the roof of the boarding house opened up which by now was filled with smoke. The flames and smoke already announced him, but when the counter reached 0, the “elevator off” came. The Apollo V was pulled up into the sky which symbolizes that we will never stop living, even after death. With the end message that it doesn’t matter if you live, as long as you have lived.

It was very nice to see how Andre, quite emotional, and Evan full of goose bumps reacted to this. At that point, for the first time, we got the feeling that the final was not even a crazy dream…. But then first we had to wait and see what the final report became. After all, we didn’t know anything about the other teams.

Not much later the time came, the jury report. Never before had we been so tense. Mentally wrecked, physically broken. And then came the grades….. A 9 for the story! And another 8 for the quality. And with the extra point of the sleeper a 9.5!!!! The highest grade so far also just. We were in the finals!!!! The emotion was really huge, revenge, retaliation, pride, big middle finger….. You can hang all the terms on it. We had just flicked it.

Then came the realization that one team was also dropping out, which was blue. We were with Orange in the finals. As we wrote, we have become good friends and this does something to you. We granted each other the final and the win, but as in any competition, the outcome is capricious and often unpredictable. One moment you are the underdog with your back against the wall, the next moment you are the winner of the semi-final and suddenly you are in the grand final… But we didn’t have much time to think about it….. Because suddenly the penny dropped, or at least a suitcase full of quarters…. In two days we will be in the Finals. And that one is not prepared at all.

The store stays closed, the workshop opens….. We are going to make something that has never been made before: The Future! And whether we win, gee big deal, we’re in the finals!!!!!

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