With the Big One, the IPMS USA National Convention in Tidewater, Virginia, just over three months away, I thought this might be a good time to talk about why you -- without exception, each of you reading this -- should be entering contests.
Show us your models
If you need only one reason, it's this one. People want to see your models. Really, we do. Have you ever traveled two or three hours to go to a contest only to find 50 models on the tables? I have. It sucks. Although these events are centered on the contest, the main reason for entering your models is to share your work with other modelers. The next best thing to building models is looking at them, so the more models the better, right? Look, most of us who enter contests know our models won't be competitive; we know there are visible seams, misaligned parts, glue marks that the judges will find within 10 seconds of their inspections. That was exactly the case with the Hasegawa F-117 I took to Mosquitocon. Major issues. As I'd expected, it didn't place, but a couple of guys complimented me on it, and that meant as much to me as an award.
So friends, I'm asking you to pay it forward. Enter your models. We really do want to see them!
Support the club
I think we've come to take contests for granted. They seem to magically "happen" every year, like Mosquitocon. Or Blizzardcon. Do you know how much money it costs to put on a contest? A club has to lay out thousands of dollars for a local contest. Much more for a regional or the National Convention. That's a big investment, which the club can only recoup if modelers and vendors attend. And then there's the hundreds of man hours of the volunteers. When a contest shows signs of decline, particularly in terms of contest entries, there's a strong likelihood that the show will be discontinued. I've seen it happen here in the Northeast, and I bet you've seen it where you live, too. That's bad for the hobby. It gives enthusiasts few opportunities to engage in the hobby.
Every time you enter a model in a contest, you make a small contribution to the show's success and viability so that you and others can continue to enjoy the models, vendors, and the opportunity to meet up with friends in the future.
Competition does not spoil the fun
I shudder when I hear someone whine, "Contests take all the fun out of the hobby." If I hear that one more time I'm going to stick a rusty #11 blade in my ear and carve out my eardrum. Seriously, how weak-willed do you have to be to let a contest affect your enjoyment of the hobby? I'll be the first to admit that, even though I enter contests with no expectation of winning, I feel a twinge of disappointment every time I don't. I've never been a competitive person...at all. As a kid I hated playing board games with my cousins. I never played competitive sports. But whatever disappointment I feel quickly passes, and my friends always appreciate my work for what it is. I know it's painful to be judged, but you are bigger than the opinion of three strangers who, for just that one day, are deigned to pass judgement on your model. Man up! Share your models and support your local clubs.
As we look forward to the contests ahead, I'm begging you, don't take contests too seriously. As much as I enjoy the hobby, it would be less fulfilling if no one ever saw my models in person. Contests play an important role in the way we should engage in the hobby, so I hope you'll find a way to enjoy the experience, too.
P.S. If you agree with me even a little bit, please share this on Facebook, Twitter, email, or in your local club newsletter to encourage others to enter contests.