Quick A/C judging question

And this is the way it's supposed to be done at IPMS contests.

Here is something I wrote a little while ago, first on the IPMS Roundtable discussion and then as a submission to the IPMS Journal Editor.

A little Realism about Accuracy and IPMS Contests

I've been an IPMS member for quite a while now. I've been to my share of local contests, and regionals, and I've been attending the National Convention every year since 1992, and participating as a judge at the Nationals since 1995 when I did my OJT.

Over the years, I've heard (more than?) my share of complaints about judging in IPMS contests. Some people complain that IPMS contests are judged by "rivet counters" and "color police". Others, who probably have a little more experience in judging themselves, complain that we don't take accuracy into account enough.

How can people come to conclusions which are polar opposites of each other.

I would like to contribute the observation that there is a difference between "realism" and "accuracy".

Accuracy is the adherence to some set of particular "facts" about the subject. This is something which is hard, if not impossible to judge objectively, since a judge can't be expected to know all the facts about every subject. In fact for historical subjects, the facts are often in dispute or subject to conventional wisdom which can be wrong. Most modelers wear a historian hat at least part of the time, and we strive to build models which are "accurate" with respect to what we personally beleive the facts to be.

Realism is a different matter. It's the adherence of a model to an "ideal" of the general knowledge about the general subject. For example we know that among other things:

  • Most four wheeled cars have all four wheels on the ground

  • Most aircraft have certain symmetries, wings tend to have the same dihedral, the tail tends to be vertical when the plane is on it's landing gear.

  • Most subjects, if they have seams, don't have seams which look like plastic pieces glued together with gaps.

  • Parts tend to have certain scale relationships to the whole. For example, airplanes and car bodies tend to be made of sheet metal rather than armor plate.

  • Although it's not uncommon for real world subjects to have flaws in their finish, those flaws when scaled down to typical modeling scales, don't tend to look like the same flaws when they appear at their real world scale on the model.

All of these aspects of realism fall into the realm of judging basic construction. Judges shouldn't (and typically don't) count rivets, but they do have a general idea of the range of rivet sizes in a particular scale, and if needed to they judge the model on whether or not the rivets look in or out of scale. Judges aren't expected to know where all the panel lines are or are not on every subject, so we don't judge the presence or absence of the "correct" panel lines, instead we judge whether the panel lines we see look like realistic panel lines and not like the modeler botched a seam, or partially sanded away a line on the kit, whether that line was accurate or not.

One of the reasons we judge in teams is to keep each other honest on this. I've been in situations at the Nationals in which I've had to remind another judge on my team that a black rather than a black-green prop on an Me-109 shouldn't be a judging issue, or in another case, that the flaws and inconsistencies in a large scale scratch-built model just couldn't be outweighed by the amount of time and effort that model represented on the part of the builder. I strive to promote the same philosophy when I judge at local events.

Note that realism and accuracy can sometimes be at odds. If a real airplane has an odd geometry, the modeler should either avoid that subject for contests, or provide ample documentation to the judges so that they will know how to adjust the "ideal".

And judges can, should, and do ignore certain items of specific subject knowledge. For example, I've seen lots of Me-109s in contests. Many have no panel lines at all at the top and bottom of the fuselage, others have very noticeable but realistic panel lines there. Now while I know that most (all?) Me-109s actually did have panel lines there, I don't hold this against the model which (inaccurately?) lacks them, because the modeler skillfully filled the kit seams. On the other hand I've also seen lots of Me-109s which had unrealistic looking panel lines there, because the modeler botched either hiding the seam, or keeping it clean, so the line comes and goes.

This lack of distinction between realism and accuracy causes both complaints that we ignore accuracy, when the complainant is really talking about realism, or expecting omniscient objectivity from the judges; and that we are rivet counters when we are really looking at the realism of the rivets rather than their number and exact positions. It's even worse when guys who only judge at the local level apply subjective "knowledge" and lead to the many complaints we hear about IPMS being "rivet counters" and/or "color police." having just a bit of truth.

Reply to
Rick DeNatale
Loading thread data ...


You didn't touch on one bit of realism......mud, specifically on armor. I've overheard, on several occassions, "He put mud on the suspension, must be hiding a defect"......from judges! Sorry but that's flat out unacceptable, especially if the mud is a subtle application and replicates known photos of the subject. Face it, AFV's are usually dirty and mud is a common fact of life on suspensions. Mud usually equals out of the running at IPMS contests. I've also seen some really well done desert armor pieces on IPMS tables with one huge glaring flaw.....dark wash and no dust!!!! This is *not* even close to realistic but they often place, why? IPMS tends to like "clean and Verlindenized" armor....Verlindenized meaning weathered with that "system" which often looks like crap. I give up on IPMS for armor and take it to AMPS where accuracy is part of the judging and unlike IPMS, you actually get feedback from the judges on your entry form.

There's also a faddishness to aircraft weathering styles in IPMS, currently we have the preshaded, overaccented panel lines and usually over weathered fad and most of them look like the styrene equivalent of Tammy Faye Bakker. I was pleasantly surprised at Region II recently as there wasn't as much of this as usual and IIRC none of the garish examples placed. Weathering is all well and good but subtlety is needed, most of what's currently the fad would be grubbier than your average piece of construction equipment if scaled up and no crew chief worth his salt would let them fly like that.

I'll judge and have a few times, I won't judge categories I have entries in, aircraft of any kind (sorry, I know my biases here and will not hesitate to tell other judges that something is overdone), cars (not my thing and I'm too disinterested to judge fairly) or armor (I simply don't like the IPMS preferred styles here and don't need the arguments over what does and doesn't look real).

Reply to

Aaaahhh, Ronny! Now you've hit a sore spot. I, more years ago than I care to admit, was a tank crew member. MUD! You ain't seen mud till you've seen how a column of M-48's can churn and stir and gouge wet earth into the stickiest, grimeist. suckingist muck imaginable! Sorry, got carried away there by too many memories.

Bill Shuey

Reply to
William H. Shuey

How funny/ironic.....

This is just like the "final straw" incident that was to be my "last time" to participate in an IPMS Regional or National. It was a Regional. Our team-of-three was judging 1/48 single-prop aircraft. There was one FW-190 that totally outshined every other entry in that category. However, the guy in our team (who appointed himself "team leader" due to his "experience"), would not allow an award to be given to this entry, since he "knew for a fact" that by such-and-such date, according to such-and-such regulation; the spinner was not THAT particular color.....

I responded to this by telling him that I was extremely impressed that he had access to the actual documentation, that proved without a doubt, what the spinner color was for THAT particular aircraft, on a certain date......

Oh well...he did not appreciate sarcasm....his loss.....lol

Reply to
Greg Heilers

Is this part of the the same "system" that they seem to use on all of the figures in their ads....which look like thay have been given the burnt-umber "slap-it-on, wipe-it-off" treatment?....lol

Reply to
Greg Heilers

Modelers need to realize, that outside of a "clean room"; there is not really any such thing as a "totally clean" vehicle/aircraft. Look at airliners up close. Evey THEY are "grungy"....with chipped paint, faded paint, re-touched paint; oil/fluid stains, etc....

Reply to
Greg Heilers

Hhhmmm: Sounds like the ones I tangled with at a region 2 convention back in the late 80's. That's why I dropped out. I still go to the occasional IPMS event for the vendor's room.

Bill Shuey

Reply to
William H. Shuey


Sarcasm aside, it's extraordinarily incumbant on individual judges to bring this activity to light for all to see. If this self appointed leader took offense to your comments, perhaps you should have run it up the chain of command to the head judge. Actions such as you describe do a great disservice to participants in a contest and undermine the effectiveness of judging all around. I've never been involved in judging where accuracy comes into play as building items always come before accuracy questions. That's not to say accuracy observations of judges can't be heard and discussed but it's not come to that point -- accuracy of x-model over y-model -- in my experience. If someone, some judge, is going to play that card, he or she must be willing to back it up, then and there. "Accuracy vs. Realism" observations are valid but again, I've never gotten to an actual point where another judge asserted one model was more accurate than another; it's never made it that far.

Frank Kranick

Reply to
The Kranicks

I've helped judge at a number of local contest, where I've seen just the opposite.

What I mean is that a lot of categories end up be>

Reply to
RC Boater

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.