Sunday, April 23, 2017

We visit the 2017 AMPS International Convention

I’ve been going to Armorcon in Danbury, Connecticut for several years now, so I was thrilled when AMPS chose Danbury for their 2017 International Convention. Armorcon is a good show, but this weekend’s convention was a great show.

The contest is the core of every convention, so with just over 600 entries there’s no denying the success of this year’s show. AMPS makes a strong effort to accommodate all modelers’ skill level — Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced categories offer a place for every modeler. Each model is judged individually and scored as objectively as possible. A team of Associate Chief Judges reviews the scores of all the models, looking for consistency and unusual outliers, and when aberrations are found, ask the judges to review their scores. A friend who was involved in the judging told me this was done several times during the two shifts that he worked. Kudos to the organizers and leadership for doing all they can to create a competitive but fair environment. (Read more about the AMPS judging philosophy here.)

Armorcon’s strength has always been its vendor room, so it’s no surprise that the International Convention’s vendor room was a compelling attraction. There were a number of vendors selling practically every armor kit currently in production. Other vendors offered a huge assortment of painting and weathering products — Mig Ammo, Vallejo, Wilder, Hataka, you name it, it was there. And there were a handful of vendors selling books and magazines ranging in price from $5 to $500. I don’t think anyone walked out of that room empty-handed. The only weakness might have been the lack of modelers selling models from their private collections; there were only one or two, so true bargains were few and far between.

There were seminars, too, another credit to the convention organizers. It’s unfortunate that contest attendees enjoy seminars only at national or international conventions like this one. I wish clubs that sponsor small, local shows would make the effort to do the same for their customers.

Next year’s convention is in my old neighborhood, Dayton, Ohio. Until then, here are some of the models that stood out for me.

My favorite entry was this Dragon 1/35 Su-100. Perfectly built and finished.

The most interesting model on the tables was this 1/35 jeep and carrier pigeon conversion. Most unusual and fascinating!

There were a number of really well done T-34s.

I've always had an affinity for the M5A1. This example was as well done as any I've seen.

I've also had a long interest in IDF subjects. This Tiran was expertly finished, I suspect with a very effective black base.

At every contest there's always one model of a subject that hadn't been on my radar but, upon seeing it, prompts me to say, "Damn, I gotta build me one of those!" This weekend it was this nicely done Dragon 1/35 Su-76i.

There were many, many more great looking models. Watch the AMPS Facebook page and the forums for more photos.

See you next year!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Inspiration: Diego Quijano

I’ve met many excellent modelers in my 30 years in the hobby and seen the work of hundreds online and in print, but there are a handful that have truly inspired me, whose techniques, craftsmanship, or approach to the hobby shaped the modeler I am today. This is another installment in a series of articles to acknowledge their contributions.

One of the best models I’ve ever seen — albeit, never in person — is Diego Quijano's 1/72 Fujimi F/A-18A Hornet. It’s one of the handful of models I’ve seen over the years that’s remained in the front of my mind and serveed as an example of the qualities that I try to incorporate into my own work. The model reflects Diego’s diverse talents, and I can think of few modelers who attain this level of excellence.

You’ve probably seen this F-18; photos of it have circulated in magazine articles, on the web, and on Facebook for many years now. It’s just one of a large number of models that you can see on Diego's web site, and I have no doubt that you’ll be as impressed with his work as I am.

Here’s what inspires me about Diego's modeling.

Years ago an early mentor of mine pointed out that modelers tend to reside somewhere between engineer and artist. That is, we tend to be really good at building and detailing models, or we tend to be really good at painting and weathering them. Few modelers do both exceptionally well, but Diego is one of them.

Diego understands composition. He’s not always content to display his models on a flat base. He’s willing to take risks by displaying models in extreme vignettes, such as his Shades of Death, as only one example.

Diego builds science fiction. Check out his Jedi Fighter and you’ll see that it’s not hard to imagine him building models for a Hollywood studio.

Of course it’s with aircraft that Diego truly excels. In addition to the F-18, the natural metal finish of his 1/48 Fw-190, about as realistic as I've ever seen in scale, is further evidence of his skill.

And the best thing is, Diego doesn’t keep any of his techniques secret! He’s published five books that explain his techniques, an investment that’s probably worth everything that you’ll learn, particularly if you’re new to the hobby. He also has a Facebook page, but don't send him a friend request; he seems to have reached the software-imposed limit on maximum friends.

Someday I hope to meet him.

My thanks to Diego for allowing me to use one of the photo of his F-18.

Read more about other inspiring modelers.