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Building for Contests and Shows

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  • Member since
    November 2005
Building for Contests and Shows
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, June 8, 2003 10:56 PM
I would like to start a discussion about how people "prepare" and build for contests and shows. Personally, I have never been involved in a modeling contest, but I have seen pictures from contests and shows in magazines and the Internet. I am curious about what kind of preparation people put into some of those models. Hopefully some of you don't mind going through some of questions that I have.

While I ask out of curiousity, I also hope that maybe someone out there who's been on the fence about entering a contest will read this discussion and be encouraged to enter.

How many contests do you enter throughout the year?

How far in advance do you plan for contests?

Are there specific contests or shows that you focus on and build for every year?

Do you have a variety of models and/or subjects you enter or only one?

Do you select a kit and build it specifically with the contest in mind, or do you choose models from your existing collection.

Will you enter the same model in different contests throughout the year or "retire" the model after the contest and/or after it wins?

Why do you enter contests -- is it for fun, fame or fortune. Wink [;)] Seriously though, I know there are extremes -- some do it for fun and some are totally serious about it. What is your motivation for entering contests?
  • Member since
    January 2003
Posted by shermanfreak on Sunday, June 8, 2003 11:20 PM
I haven't entered a contest in probably 8 years. I found them to be, well just not quite the atmosphere that I found to be enjoyable. But I'll take a swing at your questions anyway.

I entered up to 6 contests / shows a year

No real planning went into attending these shows, if I was around for them I went.

I used to work toward the annual IPMS contest that our club had

Usually up to 4 armoured / softskin vehicles

They got whatever I had just finished at the time

Sometimes the same model would see multiple shows but always in the same year

I entered to see how my stuff stacked up against my modelling peers. No better way to improve ones own work than to be involved with other modellers.

This is a pic of the last model that I entered into competition at the local IPMS contest.

It took home:

- Best AFV
- Best AFV Interior
- Best Historical Representation

A labour of love right from the start. Contains no AM or PE.

Happy Modelling and God Bless Robert
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: United Kingdom / Belgium
Posted by djmodels1999 on Monday, June 9, 2003 2:16 AM
Since my first show in 1980, I've attended as exhibitor or contestant over 150 shows. This has been in the US, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK. I like to think that I do not 'prepare' a model for a particular contest. I build what I like, and when it's completed, I'll take it around to a few shows. Nowadays, I do only two to three shows a year, but there was a time, when I was a model club member when I did 15-20 a year... I've learned over the years that a few things can be helpful at contests: put your model on a base and stick it to it, as this will save you from doing many repair jobs! Package your models safely for transport as this will save a lot of frustration. Expended polystyrene boxes you'd find at the fishmonger are great for that purpose. Wedge the base in the box with cocktail sticks. I've had very little accidents using those type of boxes. Also, if you do something different, weird, out of the ordinary, bring in some reference. Many judges will not know what your model is all about and will dismiss 'weirdos' very casualy. And don't take it too seriously either! The same model that got me Best of show (my only one!) in Brussels did not even get a 'commended' at the very next show. One great thing about contests is that your models will be looked at. At exhibitions, most people just glance, at contests, they stare, looking for their favourite models, and checking for mistakes and amazing workmanship. The other good thing is that it provides me with more bases for my next models...: I do not keep trophies, I recycle them...
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Connecticut, USA
Posted by Aurora-7 on Monday, June 9, 2003 3:05 PM
While I ask out of curiousity, I also hope that maybe someone out there who's been on the fence about entering a contest will read this discussion and be encouraged to enter.

We'll I've been on the fence for a couple years now. I'm 41 years old and had been building since I was 10. I have not completed a kit since my 10 year old son was born but I have been buying several kits a year, anyway, in the hopes I'll get one completed.

I have been going to shows in my area for the past few years now and I resolved my self to enter a couple of them this year (first one is in October). I've been intimidated by some of the conversations I've hear (last year I heard judges make a comment how only one tank model was worthy from what I thought was a magnificent spread of armor jems!) but by far my experiences of talking with others have been wholey positive. In direct response to your questions:

This year will be my first entry. I hope to enter at least two contest (and currently invovled with one on-line).

I planed about 4-6 months in advance. Time management is not my strong point.

The only specific contest I would like to be in is my local IPMS chapter show. I would also like to enter contests at some of my favorite web sites.

I build WWII aircraft and Sci-Fi vehicles and Mecha.

I choose kits that appeal to me.

Since these would be my first contests, I most likely would enter the kits again at other shows..

I want to enter a contest to be more part of the show. I've always loved the atmosphere of a model show. I get the same feeling I got as a kid when I went to a carnival. I excited in the anticipation of what I'll see. It's more fun than serious for me.



  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, June 9, 2003 9:47 PM
I have only ever entered two contests..both run by IPMS scotland [their nationals] the first was in 1984 the last was this year. both my entries were dioramas. my first effort took home a highly commended. my recent one took home class winner and best military vehicle diorama at show.. i dont plan to enter contests the dio i entered this year was on the spur of the moment i had actually built it a few years ago.and my wife noticed that the nationals were to be held in our hometown this year ,and she persuaded me to enter. i am thinking of attending the EURO MILITAIRE.
expo in folkstone england this september [my wife again] and i have a couple of dios i am working on at the moment, but these have been in progress for the better part of a year already, if i go i also intend to take along the "winner" from the nationals to see how it does. i like people to see my work and comps are a good platform ,and you meet the nicest people at modelling shows and i get to see the work of others at first hand .idont think my work is up to the standards set at euro militaire.but my wife seems to think otherwise. but i might enter just for the fun of it...and what an oppertunity for a spending spree.....[shhhhhhh]
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, June 9, 2003 11:06 PM
Since there's not really any contests in this area model-wise, I just build everything as if there's going to be. The last time I entered anything, it was a KIFV at a gaming convention, and the model was pretty much dismissed by the judges because it wasn't designed for actual wargaming, and most didn't even know what it was.

As for miniatures, I have entered quite a few competitions, and taken home quite a few awards, including Best in Category, Best in Show, and Best Diorama. After a win with a particular miniature, I retire it from competition.

The reason I enter shows is not for fame or fortune. I usually enter something just because I can. If there's a lull in the action, I'll enter something spur of the moment. I have, on occasion, prepared something specifically for a competition, but it's fairly rare. Overall, I just have fun with it, and like the others, I get a chance to compare my work against others, just to see where my progress lies. You never know when the stroke of inspiration for that next conversion is going to jump out at you, and I get alot of inspiration from seeing other's work.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Monday, June 9, 2003 11:30 PM
If you guys are going to enter a show, I would give you one bit of advice..... Toughen up. I'm not pointing at anyone, nor does anyone come to mind. Its just my culminated experience that most people do not like to be judged.
I have judged several times for several types of activities. Art shows, model contests, jewelry shows, craft fairs, photo exhibitions, I was an art director for a major corporation, a buyer, and now I own my own business as a graphic designer/illustrator and screen printer. I have been on both sides of the fence. And unless you have a very specific criteria from which to base judging on either technicaly or design base criteria, judging is subjective, personal and capricious. The reason I say toughen up is that you can destroy yourself trying to figure out the whys, whats, and wheres. If you don't think you can handle being scrutinized, criticized and not understanding the judging criteria....don't enter. Go and see the entrys. Buy something from the vendors and get a t-shirt. But don't enter. You'll only get mad and poo-poo the show.

People are not used to criticism and become very self concious about their babies that they put on display, what worse is they become defensive. And like a mother bear protecting her cubs, they hear only what they perceive as a threat to what is theirs. i.e. Judge: "I didn't like the seam lines on that aircraft"
Exhibitor: "My plane sucks?!!!"
Judge: "That's not what I said or meant, I just feel that compared to ....."
Exhibitor: "You turd! You don't like it cause your buddy is in the contest! I'll bet your sleeping with his wife!"

o.k. extreme but I think you get my point. Criticism is the hardest pill to swallow and not many people like it. It hard to put that much jam on the spoon to make it go down easier when the person is not used to taking criticism or doesn't kow how to take criticism.

Other threads have discussed the advantages of praise and how it encourages new modelers and will bring them into the hobby. This is good, but they must also be taught how to take criticism as well. With todays society, we are getting farther and farther away from that ability. Kids can't play dodgeball in school anymore because it promotes the idea of singling someone out. Teachers must pick the teams now at randome rather than the old line up, pick two captains and let them pick, for the same reason. We complain about how PC everyone is getting and the forced civility of society. Yet we are forgetting how to take criticism. And give it without becoming defensive. We get too wrapped up in "leave no child behind...." "let everyone play", "there are no winners and losers, only palyers"..etc.

I'm not talking about the friendly cajoling that goes on between people on the forum because of their familiarity. Its not like me showing off a paintjob on a tank and Shermanfreak asking if I stuck it in cake icicng to paint it. I'm talking about the constructive criticism. i.e. "looks good, but the paintjob looks a little heavy, maybe next time thin the paint a little more". This is part of the learning process and one of the valuable assets of this forum.

When you enter a show, or post something on the forum, you want people to see what you're doing. To show off your artwork. But the pitfall is that art is subjective and one man's art is another's grafitti. And while they may not be so cruel as to say, "wow that looks like a 5 year old built it" they may not be as complimentary as you would like. Or they may offer criticism because they feel thats what you wanted. And you may not agree with it. But thats part of it. And thats a part of going to shows and entering.

Go to the show to learn, to be inspired, to let people seriously look at your work, or to stack yourself up against other modelers. Accept all criticisms graciously, digest the stuff that you think will help you out and you know what to do with the restWink [;)] When judging, be honest, be helpful, be kind be critical, be constructive but don't be cruel.

Go, have fun. Keep your expectations grounded and think of it as a seminar. Or a chance to learn. There are no bad experiences in shows, only bad expectations and the inability to accept or take or be criticized. Contests are just that, a race. In every race there are winners and losers. Anything not in first place is a loss for the entrant. And that doesn't mean anything. I've seen gold medal winners not even place in subsequesnt shows.

My art teacher did a great experiment once. He held up a painting by Picasso once. Everyone oooed and awed. He held up two more painting without telling anyone who did them. The calss yawned at one and yucked another. Later he told us all three were by Picasso, the other two were ealry studies he did. The moral being is that art is perception and not everyone percieves the same.

I apologize for the length, I was trying to figure out a way to make it short and brief, but this is something I feel really strong about and I think hurts this and any other hobby the most. The misunderstanding that goes with putting something on display. It just kept comming out like War & Peace.

Usually when I get asked "why did you mark me down for this" my first response is "how do you know I didn't mark you up?" and then I try to explain my reasoning.

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
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, June 9, 2003 11:53 PM

I don't really think that anyone here was saying that contests are a bad thing, or that they won't enter because they are scared of being shot down, so to speak. The only real criticism I have about the contests around where I live is that the judges themselves have no experience in doing their job. I know that everybody has to start from somewhere, but when those in charge of the competition ask their friends, wives, neighbors, or whoever happens to be free that weekend to judge an event, it makes it very difficult.

In the same competition, I was in a Warhammer tournament judged by a gentleman that didn't even know how to play, much less make rules decisions. Fantasy miniatures were judged "Historically Innacurate" if they weren't knights in armor. One of the games in the tournament was decided on a case of "He's my friend." Was my model better than the Dwarf Gyrocopter that won the category? Some would say yes, some would say no. I tend to agree with that, but if you entered a model and it lost because the judge took no consideration into the overall quality of the piece, he just didn't like the subject, would you feel disappointed? Cheated?

All of us have had bad experiences at contests, but we've also all had great ones. My point is that if there is a competition where judging is involved, the judges should at least be somewhat versed in the subject that he is judging, be it aircraft, armor, ships, or miniatures. I wouldn't really want Ethel Merman telling me wether or not I could sing...
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 12:20 AM
I agree with you on that. I see that alot in dog shows and horse shows here. My wife has a tough time with that same attitude from the judges. But she also tempers it with the knowledge before hand going in that , that is an aspect of judging. Just like in boxing, we know who won the fight, despite what the judges say.

Its important though that when people go into a show that they understand its not always fair. The criticism and the confusing judging practices can be discouraging to new modelers more so than practiced ones. That more than anyting can ruin someones experience if they are unprepared.

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
    January 2003
Posted by shermanfreak on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 1:24 AM
IMHO ... Mike has hit the whole criticism at and before a model contest right on the money.

As modeller's we'd all like to see just how our little treasures stack up against all the other modellers out there. But can we accept the criticism that goes hand in hand with competition. How do we prepare ourselves for this element, a part that can and is a very tough pill to swallow.

If we belong to a modelling club then the criticism of our projects can sometimes be a part of every meeting. We bring our little "child" with us and show everyone how far along we are and what we did to improve it. Then we ask for feedback. Most of it will be positive, I hope. But some will be negative, a criticism of what we did wrong and what we can do to improve it. But we learn from that experience and many others to accept these constructive criticisms. We learn from our peers what we are doing right, but most of our growth comes from learning what we are doing wrong.

Now many of us are not involved with clubs for one reason or another. Some simply because there are no clubs anywhere near them. So how do they learn, how do they grow, how do they improve. Well many of these very people are members of forums like this one here. They come to ask questions. They come to be with and communicate with other model builders. These forums become their model club. And just like at the club house they bring their little "child" to show us. Looking for that attention that it so needs. Once again we see the positives happening. But what about the constructive criticisms that should be occuring. They seem to be almost non-existant. This is an important, if not the most important step in the modeller's development who may want to step into the circle of competition some day. Not only does a modeller need to learn the techniques, sometimes learn the history of a vehicle they are working on, but if they want to compete, they need to learn to accept criticism.

If you are thinking about going into competition at all you need to thicken your skin a little.

How are you going to do this?

Post more pictures of your models in these forums right from the start. Some in progress pics will save a lot of grief later.

Ask for ..... no, on second thought .... demand honest, open, and constructive criticism of your project.

As the reviewer .... give honest, open, and constructive criticisms of the projects before you. If "wxyzmodeller" shows pics of their model and it needs a little work .... then tell him/her that. Find some things that are praiseworthy but let them know where they are not quite making it. If you make it sound like it is a museum quality piece and they take it to competition, they will be destroyed when their "child" gets disected by the judges. For every criticism find two things to praise.

Let's help each other to become the modellers that we want to be. Some of us build just for ourselves and there's nothing wrong with that. Others picture themselves as the next Tony Greenland, and they might be, but I know that Tony took it on the chin a few times in competition and learned to accept the criticisms and grow from them.
Happy Modelling and God Bless Robert
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 7:16 AM
On another note. I think presentation is everything in a show. A display base, with a little placard even if its paper run through the laser printer makes a big difference than just plopping the model down on the table. It shows you care and dresses up your piece. It also gives people something to touch to be able to view your entry from differentt angles rather than have to handle your entry itself.

A clean, well prepared presentation base will enhance your entry. Something is better than nothing. Tiles, slate, wood, something that compliments the piece, will work. It sets it apart, keeps it relatively safe and can really help.

phew! see guys, short. I can do it.
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
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 8:56 PM
I agree completely with the comments here regarding criticism. You definitely have to be able to accept it graciously and learn to sort out the "wheat from the chaff".

There is also the other side of the fence as well, though. Meaning those that never think their models are "good enough". I know the old adage is "we are all our own worst critic", but there are people out there that really do "tear their models apart" and never really seem to see the good work they do. I know for myself, personally, I have a really hard time with this. Whenever I look at a model I have finished, all I see is all the mistakes, problems, etc and I never see it as it is - a decent model that I had fun building. Now I'm sure that thousands of dollars and a "good" therapist could sort that all out for meTongue [:P] but that's just not in the cards. Having gotten involved with the local modeling club and attending (and participating) in the local contest the year is helping but for some of us it's almost harder taking praise than criticism.

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 11:24 PM
I will try to put it the best way I can.

If your afraid of failure then you should'nt do it.

No one wins every contest they enter.
Yes it is hard on the ego,after all you are allowing total strangers to critisize a piece of you for a simple reason.
Any modeler that tells you that they don't take it personal when they lose lies.

Contests are very exciting too.
That frog that jumps in to your throught when they read off the winners ,theirs nothing like it.
Plus you meet alot of really cool people who often times share their secrets freely(that alone is worth the price of admission).

My goals are this: reagonals,1st,best of show (or) judges choice award.
Nationals,1st,any catergory.1st,best of show (or)people and judges choice awards.

No I am not greedy.
I just set high goals for myself.

What I enter is what ever I have built in the past year or so.

I plan about 3 months in advance.

why do I enter contests?

to better myself.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 12:23 PM
hi i have to agree with the majority of the above postings , i no longer enter , reason is very simple , i reach a standard that i was happy with , having in the past won at nearly all the major UK model shows , I think the most important thing is not to take it seriously , if you do you will come away very down hearted , eg , i won at Trucks and Tracks best in class , this is a europian standard, ,next week same model in local club show , not even placed , enough said.
the truest statement i ever heard was over 35 years ago , The light you paint in is not the light you are judged in , cheers ian
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Saturday, June 14, 2003 2:20 PM
This is what I was talking about regarding presentation. A simple clean display base with a small placard of information.
The backside of the placard has my name on it and when the piece was built as well as te detail info of what alterations, scratchbuilt , pe, etc.

See below

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
    April 2003
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by RonUSMC on Sunday, June 15, 2003 3:03 AM
I renamed that gallery renarts, its now in

and here is your picture you posted above. Active Kits: 1/48 AM Avenger 1/35 Sd.Kfz 251 Ausf C

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