The idea for the first competition (2005) was simple: Put on a stunning display and win. Never wishing to stray from our objectives this is exactly what we did.

After deciding that it was all jolly good fun we agreed to come back and compete at the Woodman Public House the next year without doubt, and no sooner had one event ended, than planning for the next had begun. After soundly thrashing the opposition, in the best possible taste, we the Toyboys all thought it would be polite to let others sample that delectably sweet taste of victory, and rather than carry on the tradition of a balls-out, no holds barred visual pummelling came up with a new mission statement: make it pretty.

Jeff already had a couple of cakes "stashed under the bed" that he was keen on using, and the ideas started to grow from there. This was still the end of April, but we were now well aware of the hours of frustration, turmoil and hair pulling ahead, so the sooner the better. One of the things that the team decided very early on was to try and steer away from using any of the fireworks we had used the year before, as we didn't want to become stale, and rightly assumed that everyone else would be plagiarising our ideas from our previous entry.

Due to the high cost of petrol, and the poor fuel consumption inherent of my driving style, thousands of emails and PM's then started flying back and forth between the team. At one point, some months before the deadline to submit firing lists, we almost stumbled upon a complete display that was amazingly also in budget. Normality soon returned however, as we realised that a third of the pyro we had decided to use was totally unobtainable, so it was back to the drawing board for the three of us.

From left to right: Chris, Raj and Jeff. Newsbox Toyboys team photo courtesy of Chris

Eventually we all had some ideas on paper, so it was off to Newsbox in Loughton to meet up with Jeff and Raj and then on to Pizza Express to talk pyro (and ogle the staff). Once fed, we laid our ideas on the table, and armed with two laptops and a Mac started checking out the videos of all the fireworks we had earmarked. Some (many) hours later, decisions had been made and a date set for a test fire at my top secret location opposite the Renta-Centre on Somersham Road, just outside St. Ives.

The previous year we had managed an almost complete test fire of our display, bar Jeff's gigantic wheel, though this year as winning wasn't necessary we decided to fire only the things we needed to see, plus a few bits and bobs that Raj had "on loan".

Changes to the display were quickly made as a few problems were discovered: Jeff had wanted to use two Floral Frenzies angled up against each other to create a huge fanned arc of different colour comets, though in the test one cake fired in a third of the time of the other, which looked rubbish. That and it then proceeded to set fire to the perfectly fashioned wooden cradle it was sat snugly in that was a testament to Jeff's joining skills (and a testament to the inflammable nature of wood). Quite a few cakes were dismissed, including some previous favourites, though anything we liked got noted, if not for this comp, then possibly for the next. A couple of hours, a few tweaks, and two stuck vans later, we were finished.

Setting up on the day was simple, and undertaken in the usual Toyboy style; late and panic stricken. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we couldn't start setting up until most of the other teams had finished, but a simple layout made things easy. With no monoliths to erect this year it didn't take long. We had planned to rotate our paired Illusion candles using electric motors, but the aforementioned circumstances put a stop to that.

Last minute setting up. Photo courtesy of Chris.

We had three lines of pyro; Jeff and Raj on the flanks with myself in the centre, starting at the front and working backwards, so always facing the crowd. With a stopwatch and a waterproofed firing list, keeping time is normally straightforward. Due to our late start I didn't even have time for a pint before we fired…

The display went almost perfectly. Everything lit, and behaved itself. One of our finale cakes (Crackling Crossettes) ended a lot earlier than our test piece had, and one of our Palms away was lit a little late, so the ending wasn't as punctuated as it should have been, but the rest of it was exactly as imagined.

We were very happy with it, and thought our plan of going for quality was fulfilled well (I think we had the least amount of fuses to light on the night, but we did have some very nice, albeit pricey, cakes).

MAIN CAMERA: View from right at the front of the spectator area. This is the highest quality video clip. Windows Media format, 960x540 (widescreen format), 93Mb, click on the image to the left. Please download it all before playing. A stills from this video is shown above. See the clips below for views from further back.

MONKEY CAM: A unique view from the sidelines, from a camera mounted on UKFR member Crazedmonkey's helmet. This is a lower quality (noisy) clip due to the analogue source camera. Windows Media format, 96Mb, click on the image to the left. Please download it all before playing.

HOTDOG CAM: View from further back, footage kindly provided by UKFR member Hotdog. Windows Media format, 83Mb, click on the image to the left. Please download it all before playing.

FLASH2 CAM: From the Video Vault, footage by Flash2 from a superb viewpoint near the back. Quicktime format, 24Mb, click on the image to access this from the Video Vault section.

No Time Pyro Qty
1 0:22 Starman Rockets + Night Tracer £15 1
2 0:42 Floral Frenzy £40 1
3 1:05 RP60 £70 1
4 1:57 Fairies from Hell £7 2
5 2:07 Dragon King £18 1
6 2:17 Gold Dragon £14 2
7 2:24 Milano £25 1
8 2:37 Panni £20 2
9 2:56 Illusion candles £10 4
10 3:02 Lord of the Rings £30 1
11 3:36 Bird of Prey £9 2
12 3:36 Golden Crackling Crossette £60 1
13 3:41 Premium £20 2
14 3:47 Palms Away £30 2

After that little lot, it was off to the crowd to watch the rest of the evening's pyro, collect the gin and tonics and several pints of Guinness that was inevitably waiting for me, and then chat with everyone else about what a great day it had been at the UK's premier firework extravaganza.

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