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Schmitz

IPMS/USA Member
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Everything posted by Schmitz

  1. Quite a few medals fit in the kind of cardboard box many of us already have stacked in our basement/attic/etc - they are a small part of the contest supplies our club officers already have stashed somewhere in their homes.
  2. About 1-foot square is pretty common; any smaller than that gets hard to include enough to "tell a story" and is more likely to become a vignette (or whatever we're calling small dioramas these days).
  3. Totally agree a World Con is bigger and pricier than the IPMS Nats - they have 3x the turnout and prices are 3x as high. What was interesting was that they essentially finance their shows through (very) early registration. That's a fundamental difference compared to the Nats: a World Con is "built to order" while a Nats is more like a limited-run product where the organizers have to guess how many customers they might have. I was looking at early-registration as a way to avoid the mad rush for hotel rooms, but the business model might also help if we ever want to grow the Nats beyond the 2nd-tier venues we're limited to today.
  4. I'm trying to figure out how the SciFi guys actually do this - it seems... complicated, and I may have gotten the terminology wrong. Here is how I imagined using this at a Nats: 2 years out a location and date are announced. The hosting club puts out a basic outline for their show: convention center, hotel(s), theme awards, special events, registration fees, etc. This probably isn't set in stone, but presumably they will have worked most of this out before getting the bid. For 3 months the hosting club sells "shares" (or "memberships" or "sponsorships"). There can be different levels with different privileges attached. These are just examples - prices/levels/extras could be fine-tuned to the particular site/event: $50 - bronze - pays for convention registration, option to reserve a room 1 day early on a first come/first serve basis. $75 - silver - convention registration, plus banquet ticket, guaranteed option to reserve a room $100 - everything in silver plus special swag (e.g. polo-shirt with show logo) You can cancel your sponsorship up to 6 months before the show, but the refund isn't issued until after the show, and your room reservation is canceled too. Paying well in advance gets you a small discount on the prices of registration/banquet-ticket/etc, plus you get to skip to the front of the line for room reservations. The host club will know how many room reservations they've "guaranteed" and how many are likely, and they can use that to help size the room block. Likewise, they know how many banquet tickets and shirts are already sold - it can take some of the uncertainty out of their planning. And they've generated seed-money, which may not be as important as it used to be before the National organization underwrote the expenses, but money upfront is usually better than at the last minute.
  5. guess no one liked the olympic-tie idea; GSB-vs-123 suddenly reminds me of "Groundhog Day" 🦫
  6. Another year and the prime Nats rooms sold out in under an hour. I understand the complication of sizing room blocks in advance and hotels playing fast-and-loose with their own rules, but maybe there is a better way? The "World Science Fiction Convention" is a big event held in a major city around the world every year, attendance is typically 3-5000 people, with registration costing $2-300 with budgets in the one million dollar range. Interesting thing: there is no national organization running the shows - the event sponsors are small local clubs that raise the funds themselves. One of the ways they generate seed money is to sell "supporting-shares" at $100-250 a share - basically they pay for registration several years in advance, maybe with some sweetener like a discounted registration or special event thrown in. Could IPMS do something like this where the pre-pre-registration sweetener was a guaranteed reservation in the convention hotel (just the chance to get the reservation, not the room fee)? Since you would know the number of pre-registrations two years in advance, the organization could use that knowledge to size the room-block, and reduce the rush for reservations. Just wondering...
  7. If you're going to change how judging works, then you have to change how it works - the contracts change. Adding a few extra awards is not exactly defying the laws of physics.
  8. We're talking about the Nats, we already buy extra trophies for splits, and charge more than cost to sponsor trophy packages to cover extras, so yes - we could order some percentage of extras. Worst case we give some someone an iou and mail their trophy a month later.
  9. Ralph, this seems to be a somewhat special case for the high jump. There is a lengthy website listing all the ties, the general rule seems to be extra medals are awarded when breaking a tie would be unfair or impractical (eg. making two runners with the same time run another tie-breaker race). There is a certain elegance to it that I think would work well at the Nats without the heavyweight change that GSB would entail (leave GSB for local/regional events).
  10. Watching the olympics this summer, I was surprised to see a tie in an event (high jump I think), there were 2 golds and a bronze. Apparently this happens fairly often. The rules seem to be that (olympic) medals go to the top 3 finishers in the event. If there is a tie, finisheres with same score get the same medal. If there are 2 finishers with the same fastest time, they both get gold, there is no silver and then 1 bronze. In theory you could have everyone tie for a of medal, but in practice its almost always 3 and never more than 5 medal winners. So we could let Nats judging teams declare a tie when there was no clear "best" or "second best" and let the awards fall where they may. The big advantage of using something like this for the Nats is that when there are two (or more) models that are both well done, the judging team could award 2 or 3 "golds" and all of them could compete for "Best Aircraft" (or whatever). And it would expand the number of awards slightly, without the problem many GSB systems have with awarding a huge number of bronze medals.
  11. I have suggested a few times that the detailed category descriptions be printed on the table signs identifying the categories, to make it easier for judges and entrants to see when placing models. I've even volunteered to type them up for Omaha. If you think it's a good idea you might want to lobby your favorite NCC member.
  12. I heard "if it ain't broke don't fix it" from my Dad starting about age 12. He was a mechanic and that was his frame of mind: cars either worked or were broke, and if they were broke you put them back the way the manufacturer built them. He sent me off to engineering school, where we learned that the people who designed things were constantly innovating and making tradeoffs trying to make things work better, because their competitors were doing the same thing. It's not obvious to me that everyone who didn't win would leave on Saturday morning. Many attendees would have already made travel plans, bought banquet tickets, raffle tickets, tour tickets, have non-refundable hotel reservations, be waiting for the vendor clearance-sale, or want to take one more circuit through the contest room. A modeler with vendor-money left in their wallet isn't about to leave. As long as there is stuff to do on Saturday afternoon there is no real reason to pack up early. There would be a tendency for non-winners to start packing up around 3-4:00 PM Saturday afternoon to beat the rush, but you could minimize that by having some "big event" about that time: a big name seminar or a pre-awards happy hour that was already included in the price of registration, so that people would want to stay for what they had already paid for. I'll be the first to admit trying this would be an experiment; we wouldn't know if it would work or not. That is the nature of innovation: you study it as well as you can and make contingency plans, but in the end you don't know if it works until you flip the switch and see what happens.
  13. If you like the thin elastic thread, it is available on a spool under the brand name "EZ Line" - check a hobby shop or type that into google/ebay/amazon to find an online seller. Don
  14. In the old days, I used Krylon Dull Aluminum - about $3 for a big spray can at WalMart - to paint anything that was supposed to be non-polished aluminum. It went down smooth - even on bare plastic, dried hard, looked like cast aluminum, and and it took washes extremely well. Then Sherwin Williams reformulated the whole paint line - probably took out all the chemicals that gave people in California cancer - and now the Matte Aluminimum that took its place looks just like silver paint (I'm pretty sure the new stuff has the same part-number as the original - 1403). I've weaned myself from the other Krylon paints, but I would really like to find something as cheap and easy to use as the original Dull Aluminum. Any chance its still available under a different name, or someone has old stock? I'm ready to order a case, but I want to be sure I don't get a case of the new stuff... Thanks! Don
  15. The hardware store paint thinner is great for cleaning brushes; whether it works to thin hobby paint (like Testors) is hit or miss; sometimes it will turn the paint to goop. In general its not a good idea to thin a whole bottle of paint at once - even if it doesn't immediately turn to goo it can happen a few days/weeks later. Don
  16. Monogram tooled a 1:24 scale '65 Convertible and a 65 Shelby fastback back in the 1980s. These two kits are basically the same except for the body, and you can swap the parts around to build a stock fastback or convertible Shelby if you wanted. The convertible kit I remember had Indy-500 Pace Car decals. At some point (15 years ago?) Monogram was bought by Revell, so you may see the same kit in Revell and Monogram boxes. The fastback kit seems to always be in production (it comes in at least 3 versions: GT350, GT350R (with Torque-thrust wheels, front air dam and special rear window), and a GT350H (molded in black plastic and with gold stripe decals). If I remember right, the only difference between a 65 and 66 would be the chrome trim in the side-coves; you could make those with a bit of plastic strip. AMT does have a kit of a 66 Coupe (notchback) - in both 1:25 and (bigger size) 1:16th scale - but you'd have to cut the roof off and find/make a boot to get a convertible out of those kits. All of these kits were re-released recently for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, so they should be easy to find - probably even at your local hobby shop. I typed "revell mustang convertible kit" and "amt mustang kit" into ebay and got a few hits - mostly for under $20. Good luck... Don
  17. Bill, have you seen this website (with pix): http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=156950 The guy who built it sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Then google found this (looks like a painful scheme to mask and paint!) http://www.wikiwand.com/en/World_War_II_US_Navy_dazzle_camouflage_measures_31,_32_and_33:_cruisers Don
  18. The Embassy Suites makes for a really nice venue - the hotel is attached to the contest/vendor rooms, and the room rate includes a really good breakfast bar (omelettes to order) and free-drink happy hour, perfect if you don't want to waste any time traveling between models and food and drink. That probably makes the Embassy a lot more in demand than the overflow locations - I knew a few people making plans to book as soon as the rooms went on sale. Don
  19. John, I'm not sure how to answer you without trying to answer the "meaning of life", and I'm not up for that this early in the morning... A more practical answer is my chapter, which got an infusion of SciFi modelers a few years ago when it was showing definite signs of withering away. I really think that breathed new life into the club. Now our meetings have more people and more models on the show-n-tell table. One of those new guys helped us get our show into a good location and has taken over cooking the burgers at the club picnic. Its nice having younger backs to help set up tables and schlep vendor boxes at the show (our yearly show is still going strong when some of the neighboring clubs have given up). And it turns out the SciFi guys have a lot of the same interests in things like history and sports cars and action-movies (not to mention beer-and-pizza) that fuel a lot of conversations at club meetings. Some of them even build the occasional airplane or armor piece, and now some of our "old-guard" may build a space-ship from a movie or TV show they like. If you look back, the hobby and IPMS has already changed a lot - just so slowly that you probably haven't noticed. At Columbia it seemed that SciFi and Figures and Dioramas were way up in popularity. I can remember when resin and PE were exotic stuff only the "pros" used, and now its everywhere. Modern kits have more parts and (mostly) better fit making a lot of the "plastic surgery techniques" we learned less essential to building a good model. Like everything else, modeling keeps changing but at its core its still the same as when IPMS sent out its first mimeographed newsletter. We used to think of the SciFi guys in our club as "the young guys", but they are getting a little grayer too. I'm wondering who the next new wave of modelers will be the next time we need a kick in the pants. I hope someone is there to pick up the torch, regardless of what they build. Don
  20. I just looked through 200 or so aircraft models that took an award (1st, 2nd or 3rd) at the Columbia Nats (you can see the slides starting here: http://svsm.org/gallery/columbia2016-awards/100_G) There were maybe 5 that I'd call "heavily weathered", and most of those were WWII subjects (mostly Japanese), I think there were maybe 2 post WWII planes that I'd call weathered, and none of them were the extreme "dipped in mud" look you see now and then. IPMS judges can usually tell when weathering has been done to hide mistakes, and it rarely fools anyone. Maybe 10% of those 200 winning models had darkened panel lines and shading that seemed a little heavy handed in photographs, but probably looked better in person. I know real aircraft don't have black panel lines, but I see it a little like stage makeup on an actress - it isn't realistic but it helps compensate for lighting. The fact that most of those models had much more subtle panel-lines and shading suggests that judges don't really like the heavy handed shading either. Its hard to say what the judges at a local model show might like or not like, and there is no way IPMS/USA can really control that, but at least at the Nats it doesn't seem like weathering on planes of any era is common or helps in taking an award. Don
  21. I'm trying hard not to come off as callous and negative. I'm all for members and chapters being family friendly. It would be great if they came up with some sort of outreach program, or worked with scout troops or Big Brothers/Sisters, etc. I don't think a lack of cheap kits is preventing that. There are modelers going into old folks homes with 100s or 1000s of kits in the basement, and their families are selling them for cents on the dollar just to get rid of them. I'm pretty sure if we asked for kit donations at my chapter for a youth program we would average at least 1 decent, buildable kit from every member. Interestingly, the value of those kits would probably be more than my chapter's members send IPMS in dues every year. Look at the business meeting presentation; last year IPMS spent $22,000 more than they brought in. IPMS doesn't have the money to buy make-n-take kits or otherwise subsidize a youth program. IPMS membership today is the result of 10s of millions of kids building models 30 years ago. There is no way IPMS can reach out to 10s of millions of kids. The other ugly truth is that a lot more members would donate a kit than their time. Based on my chapter, most IPMS members are 50+ years old. Many have raised their own kids, they have already been Little League coaches and Scout leaders, and they have taken care of sick parents, and turned around and raised their grand kids because their kids are in two-job families trying to make ends meet. They are not looking to babysit someone else's kids, especially on the 1 day a month they go out with friends. So by all means put together a chapter youth program. Post here how you did it. But don't be surprised if everyone doesn't jump up to help you. Don
  22. GIL, you're right that the hobby will never be the same, but what is? You said that "hot rods" died in the 70s. As a long time "car guy", that's what we believed would happen in the 70s, but it didn't. Kids figured out how to hot-rod Hondas and VWs and other efficient little cars, and adopted technology like turbos and computers to build cars even faster than the big V8 cars of the 60s. And other kids came along and realized how much fun it was to drive those old V8 cars and now there is a second generation of hot-rodders restoring and modifying those old cars (and they have pushed the prices to insane levels). There are car modelers out there building model Hondas and RX7s, and low-riders and other esoteric subjects, but we see such a small fraction of all the car models at most IPMS shows that its easy to think they're not there. Think about the models at Columbia: 20 years ago would there have been nearly that many figures, sci-fi and space models or dioramas on the tables? Were there as many small-volume kits and detail sets and completely scratchbuilt models back in those "golden days"? The hobby has already changed, and it will keep on changing. Revell may go out of business in the next 10 years, but I'm willing to bet there will still be people building models of something - maybe not B17s and Sherman tanks - but something (although they may be stamping out kits on their desktop 3-D printers and stuffing them into their desktop painting robot). Something else that has changed is the path adults take into the hobby. Its taking young people longer to find good jobs and they are starting families later. That means there aren't as many little kids pulling their parents back into the hobby, but it also means those young people have more time and less money for hobbies - a good fit for modeling. There is an opportunity there. In the future, it may be that parents are the modelers first and their kids pick it up from them. Like hot-rodding, building models is too much fun to just disappear. The hobby will change, but I think there will be room for us old-guys for as long as we're likely to be around. Don
  23. Anything IPMS can do is spitting in the ocean: we have 4,000 National members, add in chapter members and we maybe get to 50,000 IPMS modelers vs. 25,000,000 American kids age 10-15 (prime modeling age) It will be a lot easier to reach 1-2000 new young-adult (30-something) members than 25M kids, and I think that's where we should put our limited resources. Sure, we can have outreach programs, but we shouldn't kid ourselves into it thinking we're saving the hobby. I'd bet most chapters could get their members to donate 1 kit a year to run a local make-n-take, and by making it a chapter activity we could probably do a better job of teaching the hobby than slapping a snap-kit together in 30 minutes at a contest. But again, we're just out-numbered as far as having any real impact. Don
  24. I've been to Las Vegas a couple times (once with my family on the way to seeing relatives in AZ, and once when work was paying for it) and I'm sure it will work. I'm not much of a gambler, so the casinos didn't really excite me (and the shows and restaurants outside of the casinos were not all that cheap). As you said, one of the great things about places like Vegas and Orlando is that there are lots of venues that can hold a convention, and lots of restaurants and attractions, and that competition keeps the prices down. I'm not sure that truly makes for a good convention as the theme-parks and casinos distract people from the show. I've taken my family to Orlando for a Nats twice, and I spent less time at the show or talking models at the hotel bar just because I was spending time with my wife and kids. I get it that combining a Nats with a family vacation is the only way a lot of people can make it, but I have to say I really liked the Loveland show where the hotel (and a small shopping plaza) was all you could see in all directions. Don
  25. Pete, not sure what happened with the link, it was to a Census Bureau page, I'll try again: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/maps/2010popdistribution.html There are some better maps out there, but be careful if you go web surfing, as a few of them seem to be used as bait on spam sites. Take a look at your list of metro-areas and consider that Boston-NewYork-Philadelphia-Arlington-DC is basically one big metro-area, and that is 4 of the top-10 on your list. Chicago is the #3 metro area, and comparable to LA all by itself. More importantly, in between are a few top-25 cities that are better places to actually hold a Nats; LA/SF are handicapped by having nowhere big to draw from except each other (guess we could shoot for a Nats in San Luis Obispo). Don
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