On The Road: 2019 South Carolina Scale Model Mega-Show

Quite often when I go to model shows, I like to people watch. Some may call it lurking, or stalking. I prefer to think of it as “hobby-related journalistic pursuits.” Sort of like the late Steve Irwin, only with no crocodile wrestling involved. 🙂

So this past weekend when I visited the Second Annual SC Scale Model Mega-Show, co-hosted by the IPMS/Mid-Carolina Swamp Fox Modelers and the AMPS Central South Carolina Wildcats (that’s a mouthful!), I continued my stalking research.

I’d been to the show a few times in years past, but this was my first visit in awhile. The show is held in a National Guard Armory, just down the street from the South Carolina Gamecocks football stadium in Columbia, SC. As a modeling venue, it works well. The hall is roughly the size of two basketball gyms, leaving plenty of space for display and vendors.

Getting There Early

I always like to arrive early, as it lets me get a feel for things before the crowd arrives. Plus I get an early shot at what is on the vendor tables. 😉

The number of vendors there was good, with stacks of plastic on hand, as well as quite a number of modeling supplies and aftermarket accessories. It did strike me how little there was in the way of scifi subjects at the show. A few years ago, when airplanes were my focus, I’d have never noticed it. But as I walked around Saturday morning, the lack of models that I tend to build now was readily apparent.

I also noted a trend that seems to be growing. Many of the vendors are not “full time”, going to shows each weekend. Rather, there seems to be a shift towards individual modelers who are hoping to get rid of the large accumulation of kits gathering dust in basements, on shelves, and in closets. (Admittedly, I have done so myself!)

Watching The Models Roll In

At any show, the models start trickling in fairly early, and by mid-morning, the line is growing to get registered, paid, and place models in the correct category. It can be hard to gauge participation early on, as quite often there is a rush later in the morning to beat the judging deadline. I’ve talked to more than a few people over the years who are up late the night prior, or early the day of, still finishing things up to be ready for the show. You can always pick them out – their fingers are still covered in paint. 😀

What I did note – and the unfolding day confirmed – was that the number of models entered didn’t seem as high as I recalled from past events here. Certainly there was a good showing, and there were loads of people there. Yet while there were plenty of kits to look at, it was hard not to note quite a few blank spaces on the display tables.

What was there was generally very good, with some pieces soaring to brilliance. A few pieces were delightfully creative and whimsical, while others reflected grim reality in a very stark way.

Pondering The Point

As I wandered the tables, I’d often hear snippets of conversations. Some were serendipitous… people talking as they wandered along in their exploration of the plastic entries. In a few cases, the topic would pique my interest, and I’d find myself flowing along with them… research, if you recall… not stalking. 😉

Several fellows were discussing the models they’d placed on the tables. One was talking about a particular model he’d hoped to bring… but he said “I realized a few weeks ago it wasn’t contest worthy, so I put it back in the box and on the shelf of shame.”

If you’ve not encountered the term “shelf of shame” before, it generally denotes models that were started but never finished. Yet what really struck me was why he’d put it there… “it wasn’t contest worthy”.

Examining Competition

Let me say from the very beginning that I am not against model contests. While I’ve never entered them, and feel no compelling need to, I get that others do enjoy it – and I have no argument with that.


As I’ve written about before, I really feel that much of the IPMS-US focus on contests is harmful to the hobby. I certainly don’t think it’s intentional. There’s no secret cabal out to destroy the hobby of building plastic models. 

Yet because the average IPMS club has “contest worthy” written into its DNA, I believe it will have long term harmful effect to what I term “traditional modeling”… aircraft, tanks, ships, etc.

So Why Does This Happen?

The conversation I overheard spoke volumes. Yes, it was just one person in that case. But it is a chorus I have heard over and over. It has come up in discussions at hobby shops. I’ve engaged folks in long email discussions about it. I’ve even received messages after writing an article like this from long time IPMS-US members who say (essentially) “I’d never admit this in my club, but you’re spot on.”

While I was not old enough to be in on the formation of IPMS, its goal was simple – promote the hobby. Not only to current modelers, but also to introduce new modelers into the world of plastic and paint and glue. It’s a good goal, because it’s a good hobby.

Yet as I’ve observed it over the years, the constant focus on competition, on winning awards, seems to be sucking the fun out of it for many. The point that is conveyed (and I certainly think it is unintentional) is “Modeling is only fun if you win.” 

The practical reality bears that out.

What’s Your Evidence

At any given contest, models will be grouped by category. These are by genre (aircraft, ships, scifi, etc), but also may be by other criteria, such as single or twin engined, Axis or Allied, or by scale. So it’s not unusual to see a category such as “1/48 scale single engined Axis fighters”.

Certainly there is a practical reason for this. It helps in the judging process by subdividing everything into “chunks” of similar models. Thus an airplane can be compared to an airplane, ship to a ship, and so forth.

Yet most contests have a large number of categories, sometimes making distinctions that are a bit comical. For example, this past weekend’s show had 38 categories, and 11 special awards. That number does not includes armor, which was handled under AMPS rules, not IPMS. 

That translates into 125 awards.

But Why Does That Matter?

As I’ve worked within IPMS-US at a local level, observed clubs, talked to folks, and read what others say, I have really wondered if the number of awards is driven less by a need for organization, and more by a desire to make everyone happy. When the underlying message is “winning = fun”, the only way to keep people in the organization is through rewards.

Never mind that you may have entered your model in a category with two others kits next to it. The modeler goes home happy because he or she at least garnered 3rd place – out of 3. Fun achieved.

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider “splits”. If a large number of models are entered in one category, contestants clamor for the category to be split. So “1/48 scale single engined Allied fighters” now becomes “Group A” and “Group B”. Twenty kits becomes ten and ten.

OK, But…. Big Deal

The underlying reason exposes the problem. I was always told “it makes judging easier”. Yet in practical reality, I never saw that. It doesn’t take more than a brief check to narrow a group of kits down to the top five or ten. Just checking for obvious things like tailplane alignment, seam lines, gear angle, and consistency of paint will in most cases eliminate 80% of the field.

Thus I would find myself at past contests standing at a table of models that could easily be winnowed down to five… yet modelers stood around me saying “you need to split it. You need to split it.” I finally asked “why?”

One fellow’s answer opened my eyes to it. “If you don’t split, I don’t have a chance of winning anything.

There It Is

At that point, I felt I began to understand how seemingly pleasant, logical, mature grown-ups could turn to angry, accusatory bullies, or sit on the bench outside a venue in tears. All because they did not win a trophy. Or a plaque. In some cases, it might simply be a printed piece of paper.

When underlying organizational focus becomes competition, the only path to enjoyment is winning. The participants can’t stand it if they don’twin, and the organization can’t survive if it doesn’t reward the members.

And that’s why I found myself a few years ago with around 170 awards to hand out, less than 350 models in front of me, and only about 100 contestants…. all the while listening to someone (literally) at the point of tears question why they’d not won best of show. (Never mind the glue thumbprint in the canopy… look at all that photoetch! {sigh})

It’s All Around Us

This is not anything unique to our hobby. We see it in youth sports frequently. What starts out as a way to build character and stamina, teach teamwork and coordination, suddenly devolves into kids and parents brawling because one side doesn’t get the trophy that year. All the while the majority of the kids standing there just want to have fun, toss the ball around, and wear a neat uniform.

For years I’d assumed the hobby would die out in 25 years or so, but I no longer think that. I’ve seen the growing momentum of scifi, including Star Wars, Gundam, Maschinen Krieger, and more. People are looking at IPMS, and after a taste of it, simply walking away and saying “thanks, but no thanks”. 

As one participant wrote to me after this past weekend’s show, “it seems to me that the current state of IPMS is that it’s largely had a ‘fun-ectomy.’”

Sadly, I had already come to the same conclusion a few years ago.

Wrapping Up

This weekend’s show itself was good, of course. The host club was organized, the facility very good, and the vendors plentiful. Lots of plastic was brought in, and quite a bit of it went home with new owners. There were some incredibly good models on display, verifying the fact that despite whatever challenges the overall organization may face, work goes on.

Yet as the conversation I overheard alluded to – and it’s not a unique conversation – the structure underneath it all is, in my view, flawed. The incentive is no longer the enjoyment of the hobby, but rather it is the result of the process. And if those results don’t end up being some form of award… it’s simply not worth doing.

And while I know that is not the intent, I firmly believe that is the message. Such a message does not go unnoticed either. 

It’s time for IPMS members, clubs, and leadership to stop focusing on self-indulging plaques, and cast an eye towards the hobby that draws us together, and passing it on to the next generation.

Because believe me, they are there, and they are moving forward.

With or without IPMS-US.



22 responses to “On The Road: 2019 South Carolina Scale Model Mega-Show”

  1. Good read and thoughts here, Jon. I too find myself backsliding into judging my builds with a ‘contest eye’ instead of the ‘builder’s eye if you will. And I don’t expect to win awards, I really don’t. But I do want to be in the discussion, ya know? Sometimes it feels like a fine line to walk.

    As for judging, that is tough for sure. A few years back we had one entry in a category. But, per our club’s ri=ules, we had to judge it accordingly, and after some discussion, we gave it a Silver. There were enough flaws that it did not merit a Gold. That was a strange award to give but the judging team I was on felt the obligation to be honest in our award. Some will understand that and others, perhaps not. Good judges (and proper judging) will take this kind of thing into account IMHO. To be 100% honest, I wish there was a way to have the judges speak with contestants about their entries to give honest feedback. But too often folks get their feelings hurt or are angry that they did not place or place where they expected.

    Thanks for your insight and report. The show looks like it had some marvelous builds.


    1. Thanks Lee!

      It’s good y’all had G/S/B for your awards. Had you done 1/2/3 as many clubs do, that would have been 1st place. AMPS does what you describe in their judging – the contestant gets feedback, and the model is judged against a set of criteria – not other models.


    2. I feel like there are a few issues with judge’s feedback.

      First, I don’t think it’s that hard to get it. Simply go up to a judge after he’s done and politely ask for feedback if he isn’t busy. Simple as that.

      Second, I think a lot of people don’t want feedback; they want a reason why they didn’t win so they can complain about it those stupid judges not appreciating their brilliance later.

      Third, since IPMS judges primarily on craftsmanship, I feel that feedback can sometimes be of limited utility. We all know we are supposed to fix our seam lines. If I ask for feedback and the judge simply points to a seam line on the left wing that I missed as the reason why we didn’t win, then that’s not really useful information. I’d rather have feedback that I can actually use to improve than simply a list of places where I slipped up a little.

      Finally… who says you need to talk to an official contest judge for good feedback? It can be helpful for sure, particularly if you have a knowledgeable judge, but if the goal is to improve, why not just find a guy in your club who is more skilled than you and ask him not just for feedback, but for how he did his work?


  2. Excellent points.

    I’ve been thinking about the state of the hobby as people have made the obligatory doom and gloom comments (my favourite are those who lament the lack of young people then turn around to say “get off my lawn”), and to be honest, I’m not concerned about it. I think there is the potential for a massive disruption, between emerging technologies and an aging customer base. That said, this may be my economics training talking or the few snippets of Das Kapital that I can remember from reading probably not as much Marx as I should have, but it reminds me of how all industries tend to go through crises from time to time due to the contradictions of capitalism, until, in a process of creative destruction, only those who are able to adapt remain and have the market for themselves.

    I wonder if this is what is happening with modelling clubs and the modelling industry. Clubs that are open, welcoming, and friendly, and willing to give fair consideration to non-traditional subjects like figures, gunpla, warhammer, or even something as basic as bringing in automotive guys if you have a club that only does planes and tanks, etc., will make it through the crisis and be stronger in the end. Those that are not will gradually die off as their membership approaches the shelf of doom. Whether organizations like IPMS end up thriving or end up in the dustbin of history is up in the air and could go either way. I suspect it will vary from city to city based on local personalities.

    Of course, my hope is that these traditional organizations do adapt and survive, if only because I am a student of history and because I think there is a lot of room for cross-pollination between these groups. Also, once you get past the difference in subjects, there is a very natural fit in that IPMS groups tend to be older and need more young people, while gunpla groups tend to be younger and want to learn techniques from their elders. Now, whether their elders will learn to be open and accepting in time remains to be seen…

    Regarding competition, while I enjoy competing in hobby contests, I know going in that I need to put myself in the correct frame of mind. However, I’ve been thinking a lot about the negative aspects of competition, particularly as I’ve more or less given up competitive wargaming due to the dark side.

    The big issue when we get into competition is that people start thinking that skill is equal to your worth as a modeller (and, if the hobby is a big enough part of your life, your worth as a person). The rise of the internet has helped create micro-celebrities in previously niche communities like hobbying, wargaming, e-sports, etc., and people who are accomplished in these small communities tend to get more respect, their advice is listened to and treated as gospel, and some of them are even treated with reverence.

    The problem comes with the fact that we can’t all be micro-celebrities. As a result, you get this large tier of people who feel the need to prove themselves by winning awards and showing off their skill and thus their worth as a modeller and a person. And that is the sort of unhealthy thinking which is why I made the decision to all but abandon competitive tabletop gaming in favour of just using wargaming as an excuse to show off my cool models.

    I mean, how many times have you heard someone say something to the effect of “this guy may be kind of a jerk, but you have to respect him because he is such a great modeller”? Conversely, how often have you seen someone disrespect people because they didn’t fill their seams or they have a little schmear of glue on a canopy?

    I wonder if we need a fundamental shift in our thinking about who we celebrate in our community? One of the people who I respect the most in the modelling community is a guy named Jesse. He doesn’t enter contests and when he does, he doesn’t win, doing mainly straight builds on his gunpla. But, he put in a ton of work to create a vibrant gunpla community locally, and I respect that far more than I respect the guy who is better than me with the tiny photoetch bits.

    Also, I’m probably flogging a dead horse, but between the absolute nightmare of needing several dozen categories and then splitting them on the day of the event, the salt and drama over who won and who lost, and the improvement in interactions between modellers when you aren’t directly competing against each other, it’s time to abandon 123 and go to GSB (ideally without a rubric and points system like they have in AMPS or Gunpla contests).

    On the other hand, I’m helping organize a figure and gundam show locally, and someone had a good idea — what if we just didn’t have a contest? Invite people out to show off their stuff, but focus on hanging out, looking at cool models, and sharing skills rather than competing with each other. Instead of putting our effort into judging, perhaps let people do a popular vote but put our effort into classes and workshops?


    1. Intersting points Brian – thank you!


    2. Mike Starling Avatar

      Hot damn Brian! Amen and amen! I read your reply two full times and you are absolutely, unequivocably 100% correct on every point you made!


  3. I happen to know that the IPMS co-hosts at this show actually cut their total number of categories almost in half from last year (from almost 70 categories to just under 40) while also pre-limiting the number of available splits. The main purpose in this was to de-emphasize the competition aspect of the show. Another change from last year was to limit the number of entries allowed for competition with the basic entry fee while trying to dis-incentivize entering even more models for competition by charging extra for each competition model. At the same time, unlimited “display only” models were allowed at no additional charge.

    The show’s hosts (both IPMS and AMPS) are trying to encourage modelers to self-select only their best work to be entered for judging while also encouraging them to put as many models as they want on pubic exhibition. That is, show off as much of your work as you want, but only compete (if that’s your thing) with just your very best. Both clubs would like to one day fill the display area with model club tables and displays while only having a very small judged competition.

    One thing that really impacts this decision making is the lack of volunteer judges. Everyone likes to enter the contest, and everyone has an opinion on how they liked (or disliked the judging), but VERY, VERY few of those same people are willing to step up and contribute to making the judging effort successful. In short, the size of the contest / competition side of the show is limited to how much and how fair the limited judging resources that are available can be used.

    If modelers want enormous contests with categories that cater to every tiny subject division, then those same modelers have to be willing to step up and volunteer to judge.

    However, as one of our collective group has said, the show should be about the models, not the medals.


    1. Cool – thanks for that insight. Very good to know.


  4. Matthew Goodman Avatar
    Matthew Goodman

    Thank you for the article.
    My IPMS chapter co-hosted with the AMPS chapter. I was there. I had to judge, my least favorite thing in the world. However, instead of you lurking and eavesdropping on conversations that you were not in on from start, why not talk directly to the patrons. Then come around and talk directly to the people putting on the show. Ask us questions so you can get the complete picture, instead of writing about you what deduced by lurking about at this show or that show. To me it doesn’t come across as sincere.

    If you asked us how come so few categories, we would have told you why. It was because of the previous year’s show. We noticed X categories had one or no entries. Why put out 62 categories when 38 will do. But did you know we had just as many models entered in IPMS this year with fewer categories and NO ARMOR?
    Our two clubs would love this show to be more like the exhibitions that I see on YOUTUBE from Europe and Asia. However, as you noticed, American’s don’t seem interested. Our IPMS president is very big on “MODELS not MEDALS.” but medals are what the patrons want. I gotta get contest goers to come in in so I can get vendors. Contest entrants remember the vendors and will come back the following year. Vendors will come back if the crowds are good. It’s a vicious cycle. I would like people to come regardless of a contest.
    Our clubs want to limit the “CONTEST” part and crank up the SHOW AND TELL. It would be great to have everyone hang around their builds and chat it up and talk shop, but no one does.

    But back to your reporting. Instead of writing about what is all wrong with IPMS and shows, come up with suggestions as well. Help us figure out how to make them more about models and less emphasis on medals. Provide some recommendations, because both the South Central Wildcats (AMPS) and the Mid-Carolina Swam Foxes want to hear them. We want to hear them because we agree on a lot with what you stated, and want to head in that direction. If all you have are negatives and no ideas for solutions, then you aren’t helping any, and your insight is nothing more than hindsight.


    1. Thanks so much for your perspective Matthew! I am grateful. And thanks for that information – it’s good to hear your club is moving in that direction! I would encourage y’all to keep that up.

      I think I did point towards a goal, though I think a solution is very multifaceted. Certainly the changes you mentioned bringing to the show are a start. But it must grow beyond the individual clubs. It must take a “DNA re-sequence” to a certain degree.

      Thanks again for the read, and for your thorough and insightful comment!


    2. On the other hand, Jons’ insight has apparently started a conversation. And maybe, just maybe, that will garner some recommendations. Just saying…….


      1. matthew d goodman Avatar
        matthew d goodman

        Just saying….. ?
        The “conversation” was already going within our respective clubs in Columbia SC for the last 2 years.

        What would help is if those modelers that feel it’s too much on competition and not enough on models would join a club or create their own, and start changing the culture. Don’t quit your club and swear off competition. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. It helps us get better. The problem is that IPMS competition rules seem to promote entrants to stack the odds in their favor to win 1st 2nd and 3rd, and at the same time sour attitudes of of others toward the the hobby because of those same competitions. Or why should a novice e builder want to put his build on a table next to a master builder if he has zero chance. None of that makes sense.
        So the conversation was started, but that’s not enough.
        What are you going to do about it?
        How about joining a club and change the culture and embrace new ideas.


      2. Michael Starling Avatar
        Michael Starling

        Good points Matthew. Just so you have a little background, I am a member of an IPMS club. I am also Vice President of that club as well as having served as President and Treasurer. I have been a contest committee chair and head judge before. So I do have a little experience in this area.
        I think you take offense where none was intended. No one has attacked your club or the show which you put on. In fact, several of us have applauded your efforts to move to more of a “display’ type format. Our club has tried that in the past and met with less than desirable results. As a matter of fact, some of the loudest complaints came from areas “around” your neck of the woods (please note I am NOT blaming you or your club).
        When Jon wrote his article, and yes it is an article as he is an accomplished writer and blogger, I sensed some hostility from a few respondents. I still can’t see where that comes from. He did not complain, malign or denigrate the show or it’s hosts in any way. He simply pointed out a prevailing attitude among a segment of modelers pertaining to competition vs the quality of their own work. You said, “The “conversation” was already going within our respective clubs in Columbia SC for the last 2 years.” When I made my remark and added “Just Sayin”, I was referring to the fact that Jons’ blog has a much larger audience than just your club. The more people talking about this the better!
        I think you and I agree more than we don’t. You said, “The problem is that IPMS competition rules seem to promote entrants to stack the odds in their favor to win 1st 2nd and 3rd, and at the same time sour attitudes of others toward the hobby because of those same competitions.” Agreed. And again we applaud your club for moving toward less of a competition based show and more displays. Perhaps the better way to ask the question is, why did the young man in Jons’ article not finish his model and simply display it if he felt it wasn’t COMPETITION worthy? Again, I’m just saying.
        You’re right, there is nothing wrong with a little competition. However, I don’t believe it is the end all beat all of a modelers hobby, nor the reason for a clubs existence. To answer your question “what am I going to do about it”? I am going to continue to work within my club to make it as friendly, fun and inviting as I can for the people who attend. I’m also going to continue to read Jon’s blogs with an open mind. I hope everyone else will do the same.


  5. As the IPMS Chairman of the show, I believe Mike and Matthew have covered most of it.

    We have tried many times to get the local Gunpla Build Group to come out to our show. We dedicate a category to Gundam and MaK, yet the only entries we seem to get come from outside the Columbia Metro area. We provide the space for display only, we provide a category in the contest. I’ve spoken to them directly.
    We provide flyers to them. They meet at the local HobbyTown–we leave flyers at the shop. Short of kidnapping them and their models and bringing them to the show, we’ve done what we can do. In the avionics industry, we would say that the problem isn’t with the transmitter…

    We would love nothing else than to move from competition to exhibition, to make the show about the models, not the medals. That requires a major mindset change–people do not want to come to a show where they cannot engage in some bloodlust, it seems. I’ve always maintained that if one needs a big shiny to validate their life, they have more issues than the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble…

    A little under a year ago, I posted a piece on my blog (https://www.ironmodeler.com/2018/10/who-am-i-to-judge-or-i-know-art-when-i-see-it.html) on judging systems. Part of what makes the AMPS system desirable to a lot of modelers is the feedback. Everyone who says “go find the judge” either has had very good fortune or has never done it themselves. Part of the issue with IPMS-style comparative judging is that no judge, after the fact, can tell a modeler why their model “didn’t win” without seeing the rest of the models that were with it in that category on that day. The AMPS system provides the feedback and spells it our for them numerically.

    Whatever judging method you use for a show, the participants in that show need to have bought in to the system and believe in it. That’s why you see a lot of IPMS members railing about open judging–they haven’t experienced it first hand and are relying on what “they” say about it, or they’ve experienced a hybridized system, and didn’t like it. The same cuts the other way–someone used to receiving feedback and scores doesn’t like the nebulous nature of comparative (or “triage”) judging.

    For the record, the IPMS contest had 65 modelers enter 390 models in 9 classes and 38 categories. We had one split, we split powered ships into 1/700 and 1/350. A team of 16 judges had the contest judges in a little over two hours.

    AMPS had 44 modelers enter 119 models.

    28 vendors occupied 61 vendor tables. We had vendors from New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, and a guest vendor from Moscow, Russia; their wares ranged from SIDNA (Stuff I Don’t Need Anymore) to brand new Master Club Models track sets that our Russian visitor, Mr. Sergey Babich, brought with him.


    1. That’s some fantastic info Ralph – thank you for the details. Very good to know, and I’m so glad y’all are working to make changes! Please keep it up!


    2. Michael Starling Avatar
      Michael Starling

      I loved your Iron Modeler article Ralph. Thanks for putting in a link to it. I’ve never seen it before.


  6. In all my years of modeling, I have only entered one contest with three models. It was back when I was in art school. I entered an AMT 1966 Nova Pro Street with the best paint job I had ever achieved, a Tamiya Mercedes race car that I build for one of my art school teachers and a Yamaha cycle diorama. The Yamaha was a school assignment where we had to build a scale trade show display.
    The contest was on a Sunday and I had to work that day so I showed up early to drop off the models. I didn’t get to see any of the competition because the contest was over when I got off work. The commissioned Mercedes won 1st, the Nova got a 4th and I really don’t remember how the diorama placed but I do remember the comment on the subject matter: “?????”.
    It was cool that the judges left comment cards and after 26+ years I only remember that one comment.


    1. Cool story Tom! Thanks for sharing that memory.


  7. Robert Campbell Avatar
    Robert Campbell

    I’ve been a member of an IPMS chapter for 13 yrs now. At the club level we have a bunch of great guys getting together monthly. We teach/demonstrate techniques, show off our stuff – some really really good and some crap (mostly mine) but the best part of it all for me is the people.

    I remember when I got back into the hobby, I bought a Lancaster thinking how hard could this be… I soon found that I jumped into the deep end with an anchor around my neck… I worked myself into a lather and then I realized that “I’m supposed to be having fun!” I put that on the shelf of doom, went out and bought something fun and easy.

    I don’t have a compelling reason to place anything into competition, would I win a prize, no – and I don’t care.
    I enjoy meeting with friends, the general high quality of the work that goes into everything. I’ve judged as well.
    I’m sure that somewhere along the way I broke some judging rule through ignorance or stupidity… I don’t judge work if I know who’s work it is, etc… Confession – I had judged a Ferrari as a 2nd place simply because they don’t paint them taupe and I could’t wrap my head around that… Does that make me bad?

    The fact that we are discussing these issues and looking for a solution are a good thing. I build aircraft mostly, but have gone off and build some Star Wars and Gundam stuff as well… For me it frees me up to “play” with ideas and techniques rather than to be concerned about the outcome.

    I’ve read Jon’s blogs for a while now and I don’t see anything other than good-natured jovial approach to the hobby, the changing nature of the hobby mixed with a bit of constructive criticism.

    It’s a little disappointing that we are spending this much time bickering while we should be working on our stuff, supporting each other and enjoying and sharing the hobby and the gift of life.

    In the end the solution is in front of us… Relax… have Fun…


    1. Thanks Bob!

      I like that -“Relax… have fun.” 😀


  8. Hi gang –

    I am arriving somewhat late to this party, but I am (very) long-time modeler who has finally decided to stop entering any IPMS contests at all. It has been year after year of having judges of less-than-expansive historical knowledge evaluating models on some sort of Concours d’Elegance criteria of total and complete perfection that only the very select few and contest-savvy can hope to successfully compete.

    We end up with lovely armored vehicles and aircraft with precise shading and perfect panel definition that no actual vehicle/plane ever had, even when it rolled out of the factory. We have some models painted in shades that were never used, in posed in unlikely situations, just because both the builder and the judges wouldn’t know the difference.

    In this, my last IPMS competition, I had built a scratchbuilt model of an artillery system that I led the development and the testing. I had designed the model to be posable in several modes and I stood near my table to demonstrate the movements of my model. I was sternly driven away from my place “because the judges will not be influenced by the modelers”.

    The winner in my category was a tiny German panzer that was a triumph of miniaturization but fully complied with all of the criteria of clean modeling perfection – but other than being very small – of no enormous difficulty.

    To add insult to injury, the results of the judging is delayed until the end of the day and read off as fast as possible to cover all the scores of categories and places and people are clearing away their models when the winners of their category is announced. It used to be that the winners had their ribbons placed by their models earlier, so everyone had a chance to see the winners and see what made them the top models. Now, it’s grab your generic “challenge coin” and head for the door.

    I will not build models to satisfy the whims of judges and their limited understanding of history, context, coloration, usage patterns, or even relative difficulty. It’s not fun anymore.


    1. That’s what it is all about – having fun! As I say at the end of each of my videos, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Thanks for visiting my blog!


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