Saturday, April 30, 2016

The biggest myth you’ve been taught about contests

On Hyperscale last week someone asked how a blatant inaccuracy on a model would be assessed in a contest, and those familiar with IPMS rules quickly assured him that accuracy matters less than basic construction. One of the discussion participants summed up IPMS judging when he said that IPMS rewards technical competence not artistic excellence, and he’s right.

But in a subsequent comment in the same thread he continued to perpetuate a huge myth about contests when he said, "Too many people are too heavily invested in chasing those little plastic pots,” by which he means awards.

He’s wrong. In my 30 years attending contests I've found that the majority of entrants are not driven by winning awards. They simply enjoy building models and sharing them with others, which is among the most important reasons why you should enter contests, too. That so many modelers don’t “win” yet continue entering contests year after year is evidence that most of us don’t place great value on awards. Of course we like winning, but putting a trophy on the mantel isn't the reason we build models.

I’ve known only two men who chased awards, who were “heavily invested” in winning. One, I’ll call him Michael, is very talented, building models with a high degree of that technical competence mentioned in the Hyperscale discussion. I attended the IPMS Nats with him many years ago, and when his models didn’t place as highly as he believed they should have, he was dejected, and I had to listen to his grumbling on our six-hour drive home. Mind you, Michael is an outstanding modeler by any objective standard, but at that one show, the judges deemed other models better than his for one reason or another.

The other modeler, I’ll call him Richard, is one of the best in the country. He scratchbuilds amazing models with a high degree of detail and fidelity, and often with functional components. He’s won his fair share of gold and bests of show. Fortunately he takes losses with more grace than Michael; however, he's entered models in local and then regional contests before taking them to the Nats in an effort to learn about their weaknesses and fix them before competing at the national level. Richard, I think, likes winning awards.

I don’t judge either man. Competition drives them in their respective pursuits of excellence, and I’m glad it does, because both men inspire me. On a personal level, I can’t identify with that; I’m not a competitive person at all. But they engage in the hobby in a way that meets their needs, even if they experience a degree of disappointment when judging doesn't go their way.

The vast majority of modelers don’t care about contests, so IPMS contest rules have little effect on how most of us build our models. It’s time we admit that contests aren’t about competition.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

eBay insanity

Spend more than five minutes searching or browsing the plastic model categories on eBay and you’ll run across all kinds of quixotic listings — so called “rare” models, prices that will literally make you LOL, kits in various stages of assembly or disrepair, and shipping fees so high that Kate Upton should deliver the item directly to your doorstep. eBay has long been a source of amusement to many of us, and at my suggestion several years ago the host of the Aircraft Resource Center even created the The Ridiculously Overpriced Thread to share noteworthy listings.

You can read through that thread, but here are a few items I’ve found on eBay over the last few months that made me chuckle.

This Tu-2 was listed as master modell tupolew tu-2 1/72 model plane partially assembled. The absence of capital letters would suggest that the seller's Shift key was broken, but oddly enough the item description was in ALL CAPs. Nevermind that, you’ve had nearly six months to buy this model, so what are you waiting for? On a positive note, since it's partially built, you won't have to spend much time turning it into a masterpiece to win the Judges' Grand Award at the IPMS Nats this summer. Priced at only $19.99.

It’s no secret that decals can truly become rare and hard to find. And expensive when you can find them. I noticed these worn, yellowed ESCI decals back in December for the low, low price of $20. Apparently the seller doesn't realize that no one has used ESCI decals since Jimmy Carter was President. Hey, at least shipping was free.

Who in the hell is buying incomplete models? Okay, maybe one or two of you are gamblers, but I'm not taking a chance that some key component, like a wing, might be missing. But if you're willing to take that chance, you may be interested in this P-38, which the seller described as Revell P-38J Lightning Model Set 1:48 Scale Might Be Incomplete. At least he’s honest, but someone should tell him that you can find complete kits for less than the $19.99 Buy It Now of this mess. I have to wonder if the seller has asked himself why it hasn’t sold in the six months it’s been listed.

As always my friends, bid often, bid high, or buy it now!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mosquitocon 2016 - 25 years strong

It’s April in New Jersey, and that can mean only one thing — snow. No, Mosquitocon!

For those of us in the Northeast Mosquitocon is kind of the informal kickoff to the new contest year, and it never fails to disappoint. The NJIPMS crew have this show down to a science. If there are any glitches in their planning and execution, they keep it well hidden from the attendees. If you live within 3-4 hours of Wayne, New Jersey, you really show put this contest on your calendar. This year’s show was the club’s 25th, so expectations were high and they didn't disappoint.

There’s always a balanced mix of aircraft, armor, ships, and automotive entries, as well as the other categories. Here are a few of my favorites from this weekend’s contest.

There was this F6F Hellcat. “Good looking 1/48th build there,” you say. Wrong. It’s the Eduard 1/72 F6F Hellcat with the Aires detail set, Eduard photoetch, and a myriad number of scratchbuilt parts. An incredible example of fine scale modeling, and my favorite entry in the contest.

Another entry that caught my attention was this Italeri 1/72 UH-34D Choctaw. The modeler cut open the clamshell nose to expose the scratchbuilt engine compartment, resin engine, and scratchbuilt exhaust. As you might imagine, the interior was fully detailed as well.

Another favorite of mine, maybe just because it fits into my favorite genre, was this Hobby Boss 1/48 FB-111A. The modeling and finish were absolutely perfect. This is the kind of 1/48 model that can entice me to abandon 1/72 scale, if only for a couple of months.

I also liked the gorgeous 1/48 OA-4M conversion. I believe the modeler combined the Hasegawa TA-4J with the Monogram OA-4M.

If your interests run back to the 1940s, this Tamiya P-47D was a stunner.

Walking over to the armor entries this Takom 1/35 Krupp 420mm cannon. What an impressive piece of artillery!

It’s always great to see new releases on the contest tables, so I was pleased to see this Takom 1/35 T-14 Armata.

One of my favorite naval entries was this Tamiya 1/350 IJN I-400 submarine.

When I was a teenager back in the 80s the Monte Carlo was the car I really wanted to own. In fact, I think the manager of the grocery store where I worked had one, and I was a little more than jealous. Needless to say, this AMT 1/25 1986 Monte Carlo with superdetailed engine was  favorite in the automotive categories.

The modeler of this 1/16 scale Dewback and Sandtrooper jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon and showed us this impressive model. It was quite large.

I’m a sucker for imaginative models and dioramas, so this scratchbuilt 1/35 UFO was a favorite among the attendees.

See you next year!

PS. Take a look back at my reports on the 2014 and 2015 shows here on Scale Model Soup.