Sunday, October 4, 2015

The little contest that should

As my long-time readers know by now, I’m a huge proponent of model contests, especially entering them. I try to attend as many as I can, looking at models, seeking out bargains in the vendors room, and meeting up with friends. For a hobby of introverts who spend more time in our basement workshops than we do socializing, contests are those periodic opportunities we have to come up for air and spend time with each other.

That’s why it pains me to see poorly attended contests. One such contest is Armorcon, held annually in Danbury, Connecticut. I’ve been attending the show for five or six years now but have been disappointed with the relatively small number of entries I see from year to year, typically between 200-300. Last weekend's show was no exception.

It’s unfortunate, because theoretically the contest has everything it needs to be bigger than it is. The sponsor, the Northeast Military Modelers Association, is a chapter of both IPMS and AMPS, so they should have a strong network into the members of both organizations. And they have location. Connecticut is a great spot for the large number of modelers in the Northeast, with more than a few states and a dozen or so IPMS chapters within driving distance.

The vendors room is strong, with vendors selling practically every armor kit currently on the market (including new releases). Red Frog Hobbies brings a huge line of paints and supplies, Farina Enterprises has their line of diorama supplies, and Boomer’s Books had an outstanding assortment of new and out-of-print books this year.

Armorcon has seminars, which are rare in IPMS contests. This year they were anchored by a discussion of Soviet post-war heavy tanks from Neil Stokes, who you probably know from his definitive books on the T-34 and KV series and his web site, 4BO Green. He talked about the IS-3, IS-4, IS-7, and T-10, a timely subject given the recent releases from Trumpeter and Meng.

The contest entries are quite good from year to year. I’ve pictured some of my favorites from last weekend. The contest follows the typical AMPS style of judging, with entries carefully scrutinized and scored by four judges with the best awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

I really believe this contest can be bigger. It should have larger attendance and stronger contest entries. I don’t quite understand what’s happening, but I hope we can get the word out and make this contest the “must-see” event of the fall contest season. I'll do everything I can.

Note: I have no affiliation with the NMMA. I'm just a loyal customer.


  1. Although entries can be registered on both the Friday and Saturday and vendors are in attendance both days, I think that many would still consider this event to be nothing more than a one day show and the numbers are probably an indication of this. However, if you think 200-300 entries is a disappointing figure then try dealing with less than 100 entries and only 6 traders for a similar show that we have in my neck of the woods. What we find is that these kind of competitions are used by modellers to show off their latest builds prior to committing them to a more major event.

    1. Sounds like a contest I attended about 7 or 8 years ago. It was a lengthy drive so I decided not to go back the next year.

    2. It is a really good, albeit, smallish show. I go every year and I have noticed the attendance is getting slightly smaller each year. I wish I good do more than just attend and participate, but my friends that build already go. Maybe advertise to non modelers? ...and by the way, thank you sincerely for including the photo of my BTR-80 at the page top ! I'm flattered ! thank you, william carls

    3. You're very welcome, William! I think the best thing all of us can do is to get the word out about the show and encourage new attendees to go.