The annual Austin IPMS contest was today. Despite falling on the same weekend as ACL and the TX/OU game, turnout was actually pretty good. There were a lot of entries, hopping vendor tables, and blah blah.
Contest-wise, I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.
My Bf 109G-10 and Leopard C2 won their categories, which is great. Particularly the C2. Yet again, a last-minute completion ends up winning the category the following day! It’s also the first time I’ve taken any armor category.
More baffling is that the AH-1Z and Corsair were completely and totally shut out. Compared to the choppers that won, I’m baffled as to how the AH-1Z didn’t place at all. And the Corsair…it won the category in San Antonio earlier this year, over the 109G-10. That’s just a hands up WTF for me.
But whatever. Despite the IPMS rules, judging is capricious and subjective. Shit happens. Instead, I want to explore a few takeaways from the show, hopefully food for thought for all of us.
1 – Why even bother with the “Judge’s Comments” box on the entry form?
I’ve never seen or known anyone who has received feedback in this box. And you know what? It’d be really damn helpful to learn what put something over the top – or didn’t. I think I’ll volunteer to judge at the next show I attend – and will make it a point to write a few comments.
2 – The bias toward German armor is alive and well
Among builders and judges. Category breakouts in armor were almost entirely “German ______” and “Non-German ________”. Best armor was awarded to, shocker, a Panzer.
3 – Pay attention to the little things!
There were a ton of “three foot” models. Builds that look really impressive – until you get close. Then you see gaps that should not be there, canopies 10 or more degrees out of alignment, and other signs of sloppiness. I’m all for cutting corners and the principle of FICE (fuck it, close eough), but come on.
For example – there was a 1/32 F-105 on the tables. Nicely done. The paintwork was a bit bland for my tastes, but well done. But then I looked into the intakes and they weren’t even painted. There were still ejector pin marks! And not buried way in the back, but right on the lip, in plain sight. Maybe if the judges utilized the comments box, they could make the builder aware that this is a contention-killing oversight.
4 – People should buy airbrushes.
When I walked in from the registration table and glanced at the helicopter section, the first thought that went through my head was “oh shit”. Because there was a 1/35 Mi-24 Hind sitting there.
Then I got close to it. And it was brush painted, and painfully, obviously so.
Look. If you can afford a kit like Trumpeter’s big ass Hind, and can have room enough to build it, you can afford a damn airbrush to finish it right.
5 – Overweathering is a problem. But underweathering is a bigger one.
The modern AFV category was baffling. Probably two thirds of the entries weren’t weathered at all. There were several Soviet T tanks in contention, and only one of them went any further than just painting it green. Even parade-prepped tanks have some kind of wear and tear and color irregularities here and there. These didn’t even look like die cast to me. They looked like plastic toys.
Even just a filter. Or some drybrushing. Anything would have massively elevated them.
I spend so much time on forums and Facebook pages seeing amazing work and getting into debates about how much weathering is too much…but seeing those T tanks with none of that really rammed home…something.