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Model Show Judges

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  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Panama City, Florida, Hurricane Alley
Model Show Judges
Posted by berny13 on Friday, March 28, 2003 7:28 PM
I would like to know what your openion of model show judges. I am talking about your local shows and not the nationals. Do you think they are qualified to judge the shows? Problems you have had with judges or comments about them in general.

I have had my share of bad luck with some bad judges. Most have no idea of what they are looking at. Some are city/county/state/political people that wouldn't know a #11 blade from a pocket knife.


 Phormer Phantom Phixer

On the bench

TF-102A Delta Dagger, 32nd FIS, 54-1370, 1/48 scale. Monogram Pro Modeler with C&H conversion.  

Revell F-4E Phantom II 33rd TFW, 58th TFS, 69-260, 1/32 scale. 

Tamiya F-4D Phantom II, 13th TFS, 66-8711, 1/32 scale.  F-4 Phantom Group Build. 


  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Friday, March 28, 2003 8:22 PM
That can be true of judges in any event, not just modeling. They are often token people of some local stature out for a photo op.

I've never entered into a modeling contest and an event a contest I did attend is why:

A fellow had a 1/32 Bf-109 (Matchbox I believe) and had gone all out, didn't miss a thing in representing a late Eastern Front example with it. Luftwaffe colours can be a contentious issue at the best of times, the only time a Luftwaffe machine ever had any dead on RLM standard colours was when it was factory fresh.

Most units came up with their own colour variations based on RLM standard shades during maintenance in the field. They thined the paint with whatever was on hand (diesel fuel etc...) and on top of that, weather played a factor in how the paint finally cured. Eastern front being VERY different from France or North Africa in weather patterns.

Anyway, this judge was tearing (figuratively) this 109 apart for its "inacurate" paint sceme, never saying one thing about all the extra scratchbuilt detail or the diorama base that was as awesome as the aircraft itself.

It just left a bitter taste in my mouth, I walked away and said to myself: "No, I'm building for me. If this is the nature of contests in this hobby, if thats what I can expect as far as judges go, modeling for competition is something I can live without."
  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by shermanfreak on Friday, March 28, 2003 9:15 PM
I always figure that the judge has to be the one person with the most knowledge of the subjects that are arrayed on the tables. There is nothing worse than entering a contest and having your aircraft judged by an armour builder who considers an aircraft to be nothing more than a skeet. If you're going to judge armour...know your armour, aircraft...know your aircraft....etc.
Happy Modelling and God Bless Robert
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: USA
Posted by naplak on Friday, March 28, 2003 10:21 PM
I remember my dad telling me about seeing planes repainted while in Europe during the War. The colors varied wildly, and often they were painted by anyone handy who wasn't doing something else.

Paints were begged, borrowed, and yes... stolen at times. Getting the perfect paint job was not a high priority during the war!

So the idea that there is some "standard" only applies to them coming out of the factory (as mentioned above).

I wrote an editorial about Accuracy vs. Precision on my site a few months ago, and addressed this issue.

Judges need to know THAT too!!!!!! ... a free site for modelers ... a nice Modeling Forum
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 28, 2003 11:06 PM
IMHO...The only person truly qualified to judge a model is the builder him/herself. What looks good to one person may look like junk to another. If you are happy with the model you produce, then thats all that counts.

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: United Kingdom / Belgium
Posted by djmodels1999 on Saturday, March 29, 2003 3:35 AM
Judging is very subjective and you have to accept that. Some of my models get first prize one day and get nothing the following week... That's life. You can't expect any judge to know your subject as well as you do (or should). You may have spent lots of time on research and in actualy modeling to represent something out of the ordinary, but many shows will not allow you to bring in proofs in the form of pics or drawings. So be it. Be prepared to anything. I like entering models at competitions because that's where most of the attention of the public focusses. Whatever you do, weird or not is likely to be noticed, which is why we all like to show our models. Just for fun, once, in a show I was organising, we let the junior members of the club (we had over 20 of them) do the judging. All had some experience about modeling, but not necessarily in terms of knowing about history, right or wrong colors and all that stuff. We advertised that the contest would be judged by juniors (under the supervision of a couple of adults). We had great results, not really out of the ordinary and no-one complained (or dared to!).

One thing that really ticks me off in contests though is the shows were the judges are so full of themselves that they will award seniors lots of prizes and barely a bronze and two 'well done' to juniors. A typical show like that is EurMilitaire in the UK. Always the same seniors who win and they barely look at what the juniors have tried to achieve. We, Seniors, are not the future of the hobby. The Juniors are and we need to encourage them all.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 29, 2003 3:49 AM
Darrenbb I'm right there with you! That's why I do not enter contests. Upnorth has some really good points as well. My niece shows dogs and the complaints I hear from her almost echo the complaints's Ive heard about modeling judges. I was at a cat show last weekend and heard the same things there... I was a head judge for the show theme for a club in San Antonio a few years back. The theme was "Reds On Parade" (Russian) and that is definately my area of interest/expertise. I think that was OK, but never, ever ask me to judge WW2 Luftwaffe. I'd excuse myself as I wouldn't be qualified... Anyway, I'd prefer to stay out of it altogether.
  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Newport News VA
Posted by Buddho on Saturday, March 29, 2003 7:55 PM
I entered a contest once when I was 12 years old. I entered a 1/32 scale Revell Hawker Typhoon and to my astonishment, won first prize. The shop owner gave me 25 dollars, a trophy and shook my hand. I remembered him, because 8 years later, he shook my hand again, this time as president of the company I am presently employed at!

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, March 30, 2003 7:59 AM
Hi all !!!!!

I have a few thoughts also.......

Iwas to my first show this weekend....... when the judgeing started i ask the judges, two of them (they work in pairs) if I can listen in and ask questions as they were judging, and they said yes....... I was astounded at what i heard...... First of all, they had to come to an agreement on each catagory before a score was given( catagory being fit, finish, etc......), second they were more concerned with construction, fit finish, and overall "WOW" factor of the model. (Thats how one judge put it, the "WOW" factor)... upon asking them about correct colors and historical correctness, they told me that was a secondary concern, that would a tie breaking issue if it were needed........ in otherwords if your 69 Camoro's engine is orange and not the CORRECT" chevy engine orange, it would not count against you......... and as far as i am concerned this is they way it should be ...... Each model represents several differnt mediasof art forms, and this is how the model should be judged..... Dont get me wrong, historical accuracy and colors and such ARE important, but most judges get hung upon that and forget to look at the model itself........

Second, knowing all this, we should go into a contest EXPECTING this sort of behavior...... Plain and simple, if you can't handle this sort of garbage, then don't enter the contest...... but if you are secure in your abilities as a builder, then what these people say shouldn't really matter........ yes it is agrevating if you know your model may be better then the one that won, but that is the chance we take, right??? As xfar as i'm concerned, wining a contest xwould be great,but is secondary, having fun building them, sharing info, and simply be with people that have the same interest is number one!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for rambling on!!
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Panama City, Florida, Hurricane Alley
Posted by berny13 on Sunday, March 30, 2003 9:17 AM

It looks like the judges you saw had the right idea. I went to a show in Tallahassee, did not enter anything, just to look at some of the models. There was one entry, a F-105D that was painted in bright green, dark brown, and white under side. The paint had a gloss finish. Right beside there was an A-1 that had the correct colors and had weathering and great detail. The A-1 did not win anything but the F-105 won first place. In my openion the judges should have been shot.

The person that built the A-1 was a 19 year old and it was his first contest.


 Phormer Phantom Phixer

On the bench

TF-102A Delta Dagger, 32nd FIS, 54-1370, 1/48 scale. Monogram Pro Modeler with C&H conversion.  

Revell F-4E Phantom II 33rd TFW, 58th TFS, 69-260, 1/32 scale. 

Tamiya F-4D Phantom II, 13th TFS, 66-8711, 1/32 scale.  F-4 Phantom Group Build. 


  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, March 30, 2003 9:26 AM
hi all , my point is from one who has judges in the past , under normal show conditions it is possible to pick the first place in the first 30 seconds of arriving at the table , the rest of the time is spent over second and third and any highly commended . if a judge knows his subject and the modeler has supplied enough information then it is down to experiance not only of the model but the tec and ability of the modeler concerned . at one show i over heard a fellow judge comment abot the colour of a german aircraft cammo , i looked across to see what all the fuss was about . it turned out the model had a shade of purple on the wings instead of the dark grey . after the judge had moved on to took the model to the light from a window , the colour was correct it was grey , but in the light of the hall it altered , i placed it back and kindly pointed it out to the fellow judge . he took the model to the window and came back and said the green was now wrong, , so i have given up judging from that day and instead spend time demonstrating as a model workshop stand , the same judge is still at it and no one will dare tell him it is his defective eyesight and not the models that are to blame . we are all fallable so don't shoot the judges just try to understand . cheers ian
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: United Kingdom
Posted by cmtaylor on Sunday, March 30, 2003 1:36 PM
My experience was interesting: At the Model Engineer Exhibition, there was a definite bias against SF Models in General (to the point where the class was discontinued in 2000), and Gerry Anderson craft in particular. The best I aachieved was a Very Highly Commended', despite the fact that my models often look better than the originals!
Yet, at Media Conventikons, the same models often won the equivalent of the Gold Medal. Then again, the audience is usually far more appreciative!
Gentlemen! You can't fight in here; this is the WAR ROOM!
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Thursday, April 3, 2003 6:30 PM
"Judging is very subjective and you have to accept that. "

djmodels put it no plainer.

This is a fact of judging, and entering contests. Somedays you're on some you're not even close. Unitl a means to objectively judge becomes available, it will thus be. I've seen it in photo exhibitions, horse shows, dog shows, craft fairs etc. And it all comes down to personal likes and dislikes.

Don't we all judge? This kit sucks, that one is really great, I don't like autos, 1/35th is the way to go, 200mm over 75mm, SF rocks, life begins at Tamiya...

The important thing, is that regardless of what ever anybody says, you like it and that you are proud of your work. Put it in for judging, maybe you'll get a good judge that will tell you the scoop on a technique or a way to do better.

Disregard what you think is frivolous or bad, retain the good, and think of the competition as a vehicle for like minded folks to get together and compare notes or techniques.

Mike "Imagination is the dye that colors our lives" Marcus Aurellius A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...but, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, "Damn...that was fun!"
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Tochigi, Japan
Posted by J-Hulk on Friday, April 4, 2003 10:03 PM
Uh-oh, here comes another "well, in Japan..." post!! Run! Run!

Seriously though,
I haven't participated in many contests here, but they all have been decided by the contestants themselves, by vote. There are some special categories that are chosen by the "experts," like the "Armour Modelling " magazine award, etc, but the gold, silver, and bronze was always by popular vote. There may be (I'm sure there are) other contests that are decided purely by judges, but I haven't been to any. I'm going to participate in the big contest at the Shizuoka Hobby Show this May, so maybe it'll be all judges there.

Anything like that (the voting system) back in the States or in other countries?
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: East Bethel, MN
Posted by midnightprowler on Saturday, April 5, 2003 5:54 AM
If you are in a non-competative show, they have a popular vote, but all the regular contest type shows I've been in have judges. I've never had any problems with judges, just fellow competitors who thought my ribbon was theirs.

Hi, I am Lee, I am a plastiholic.

Co. A, 682 Engineers, Ltchfield, MN, 1980-1986

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Ask me about Speedway Decals

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Bendigo , Australia
Posted by ROGER RAMJET on Thursday, June 12, 2003 3:19 AM
Always remember " The standard of judging will never equal the standard of modelling.
Peer group judging is the only method which will bring a fair result. Not always correct but fair.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 12, 2003 6:10 PM
the scoring should be on how nicely the paint is applied, how nice the model looks, how much extra detail, and how much effort the judge thinks you put on, not accuracy. Accuracy should come after the previous things, because workmanship should be judged more. if a person looks like they put a lot of work on a perfectly built model with inaccurate paint color, i think they should have a better chance of winning, compared to someone who does nothing to the model exept find the EXACT colour of paint. in my opinion, i think that the amount of detail should come in front of perfect colors. If i paint my a6m5 1/32 bright florencent yellow and apply british markings, it would probubly lose to some shitty ****** model which has perfect colors. My a6m5 has a scratchbuilt cockpit, scratchbuilt flaps, gunbays, and improved engine components. It is from the old revell kit. If someone compares the detail to the tamiya, i think they would win cause their paint colours are correct, and they have more oob detail. I think there should be a "inacurate paint scheme" or "built the way you like" catigory, so ppl wont spend however zillion hours reserching the paint color in the engine cylinder, or the cockpit glass.

end of my rant
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 12, 2003 7:01 PM
Judges are like umpires & referees blind in one eye can't see out of the other.
kidding aside, they should know what there judging(education & experience).
expert on aircraft should judge that, expert on armour that etc. etc. etc.

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, June 13, 2003 12:02 AM
Like it or not, here's how the Saskatoon show and contest is judged.

- each model is judged independently (ie. apart from every other model) by 5 judges. The judges are usually 'advanced' builders and/or guests from other cities/towns/clubs. They are usually 'mixed' in the sense that they may have one armour builder, one aircraft builder, one auto builder, etc...When they come to a model that belongs to one of the judges, an alternate judge is brought in to take his/her place.
- it's up to the modeller to highlight or draw attention to any specific items that he/she want's the judges to be aware of (ie. exact color matches, historic references, minute details, major scratch building, etc, etc). This is done on the entry card that is displayed with the model.
- each judge assigns a score from 0 through 4 to the model. 4 being an 'outstanding' award. The judges discuss ahead of times what the general requirements are for a model to recieve a particular score.
- the high and low score are discarded.
- the three remaining scores are added together and recorded
- a total score of 11 or 12 is awarded a 'gold'; 9 or 10 is awarded a silver' and 7 or 8 is awarded a bronze.
- if there are 5 gold medal worthy entries in the contest, all 5 will recieve a gold medal. Etc.
- in addition, there are 'best of' awards in several predetermined categories that the judges agree on as well, but there are no second/third awards given.

That's it. Personally, I really like this system. If you're really competitive, you probably don't like it. But man, does it ever offer encouragement to people that are just building their skills in the hobby. I got a bronze medal this year and I was really proud of it. There were several other bronze medals given out, but that doesn't matter to me. I'm just glad that my entry was recognized and I display my bronze medal with great pride!!

I've never been in any other contest, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't recieve any sort of award if I did enter. I'm very proud of my club (SMAS) and this judging system. I am first hand proof at the encouragement it can offer to a person who is 'growing' in this hobby...

  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Washington State
Posted by leemitcheltree on Friday, June 13, 2003 3:48 AM
I no longer enter model competitions.
At the last one, I entered a 1/12 Tamiya bike which had been extremely enhanced and an enormous amount of scratchbuilt detail went into it. The guys at the photo store asked me where I kept the bike stored when they developed the photos of it - they thought it was a real bike. This model looked like you could put gas into the tank and start it up. It was perfect.
The judges took off marks (20%) because I didnt provide the original kit instructions, and another 20% because I didn't provide references to show the modifications were accurate or correct.
A VASTLY inferior, badly finished model (built out of the box) won Best 1/12 scale bike, because that modeller supplied the kit instructions and got "more points".
My point is this: Does the model LOOK like the REAL THING that's been magically shrunk?
If it does, then it's a good model (or a scale replica - there's a difference), regardless of the fact that some know-it-all thinks he knows everything there ever was to know about everything.
As they say,
If you can't do it, teach it:
If you can't teach it, judge it.
I build almost exclusively on a contract basis now for clients, but I build to make ME feel good - and my clients always have lesser expectations about the finished product then I do - so they're always happy with the result.
Just build for yourself and have fun.

Cheers, LeeTree
Remember, Safety Fast!!!

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: The flat lands of the Southeast
Posted by styrene on Friday, June 13, 2003 11:54 AM
If I may, I'd like to throw in my two cents worth. I have judged armor in both regional and local model shows since the mid '90s. I don't do it a lot, and I freely admit I still need some more experience in the field, but here are some observations and personal philosphies:

1. I don't judge by myself, and I don't think there should be only one judge on one model entry. I have always judged with at least two individuals. This allows for a lot of discussion, lessens the chance of overlooking a problem, and tends to prevent favoritism.

2. When I come upon a model I know a friend of mine has built, I will not judge it. Likewise, I will not judge a category I am entered in. Some call this conflict of interest; others, abstaining from the appearance of evil. If this is not written down somewhere, it ought to be.

3. If I don't know, I will ask. The contests I have been involved in have always had a "supervisory" judge for that section (armor, aircraft, etc.)--who always answers to the senior judge. If a question comes up regarding a particular piece I or my colleagues are unfamiliar with, I get a second opinion.

4. I have found armor judging to be quite objective, contrary to some of the subjective statements made in this post. In 1993, I attended a judges meeting at the IPMS Nationals (I went, not to judge, but to gain knowledge that would benefit me in future competitions). Walt Fink was the head judge, and he made a statement that has rung true for me. He said that most of the models on the tables could be disqualified (in keeping with IPMS rules) because of flaws in basic kit construction. I have found this to be true in 100% of the kits I've judged. We never get to the point of asking about color, camouflage, extra detail sets, conversions, or the like. The armor piece with the fewest mistakes in basic construction usually wins its category. It's sad to see an individual enter a Revellogramiya tank with two sets of Eduaber PE sets in place with a flawless paint scheme that took 1,000 hours to construct, and find visible seams along the barrel, ejector pin marks, tracks that don't sit parallel to each other, roadwheels that don't all touch the tracks as they should, silvered decals, shiny glue "splots", see-through engine and ventilation compartments, and the list goes on and on. The argument has and could continue to be made that judging should be based on the work done, but I thought we were trying to recreate, at least somewhat artistically, a piece of history. A kit shouldn't look like a pre-assembled Mattell kiddyblaster that just came off the shelf from Wal-Mart. Fortunately for all, the kit with the least amount of glaring errors usually places; and I think that's good.

5. Those individuals and their kits that don't win need to be handled with all tact and sensitivity when providing constructive criticism. I saw a dear friend of mine defuse a potential shouting match that way. And the entrant later came back to another competition and effectively cleaned house with awards. Our goal should be to make potential winners from everyone. It doesn't look good for the hobby when the same people win year in and year out. Someone isn't doing their job to motivate, encourage, and spark new and renewed interest. I actually think competition helps us build better models. Competition may not be for everyone, but it has its place; it certainly helps me.

6. Lastly, a pet peeve: I can't stand judges who think they know it all. At a nationals event, I had the experience of listening to two judges discuss a particular diorama entry. They spoke loudly to ensure those around them were duly impressed with their knowledge of the subject matter. The funny thing was that they didn't have a clue what they were talking about. It was enough to make me sick. Were they being completely subjective about the entry? Absolutely. Could they have judged from a more objective standpoint? Totally.

7. OK, I'm finished. Please feel free to flame away if you wish. I just wanted to give one judge's opinion, however skewed you may find it.

Gip Winecoff

1882: "God is dead"--F. Nietzsche

1900: "Nietzsche is dead"--God

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, June 13, 2003 3:36 PM
Gip, I really appreciate your comments and I think that if every judge had your attitude and mindset we probably wouldn't even have a thread like this at all.

I would have to agree with you on your point that the model with the fewest amount of basic construction mistakes wins. If anyone ever got to the point where they built a perfect model there would be no point in building anymore. Nobody is perfect so even the best model will have 'mistakes' that could be corrected or improved. Isn't that why most of us build models? So that we can continue to improve our skills? We should also take it on ourselves to impress upon the new modelers the importance of perfecting basic construction techniques before moving on to PE parts, resin conversions, scratchbuilding, etc. Without a good 'foundation' all those extra parts are just that...extra parts.

Well, I hope that didn't get too far off topic. :-) Just adding my 2 cents worth.

  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by Jeff Herne on Friday, June 13, 2003 11:32 PM
I write an editorial for called 'From the Opposite End of the Workbench - The Twisted Ramblings of a Ship Modeler'.

One editorial I wrote was entitled 'Mutants Who Judge'...I strongly suggest if you're interested in a good laugh, to go read that one, and some of the other editorials I've done on the finer points of our hobby.

When I was very young, my grandfather had a shotglass on his basement bar (where all his Navy buddies would hang out) depicting the backside of a donkey...and it said that 'There's One in Every Crowd'. Nothing in my life has been more obvious, and model show judges are no exception.

For the most part, judges are average...most are ok. The problems lie with 2 exteme variables, idiots who judge, and a lack of standard guidelines for them to follow.

It's always hit or miss, and it will continue to be until such a time as a governing body such as IPMS can regulate the guidelines and criteria for judging contests...but then again, who needs a 'Big Brother' in our hobby?

Jeff Herne
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, June 15, 2003 3:19 AM

This also smells like a trap.

I will say this though.
In most contests you will have a little bit of the "buddy system".
Who could blam them though.
These guys know exactly what their friends have put in to the kit and they don't know you from Adam.
I am not defending these guys.
I myself am a victom of bias at contests.
I am saying that it is human nature to help your buddys(even if it is not fair to others).
Its not fair play but you have to live with it(and hope that you are not in the same catergory as a "buddy").

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