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Ralph Nardone

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Everything posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. And they usually wind up in a box at the bottom of a closet.
  2. We buy medals for $2.85 each from Mission Awards. Initially, we ordered 100 each, and that lasted us through two "traditional" IPMS-style shows. We refilled the stock, again with 100 each, and that should last us another three or four years. They are undated and can be used from year to year. We buy plaque kits from BestPlaques.com that range between $7 and $19. We design the artwork (I like Microsoft Publisher, but PowerPoint works, too--even Word will work in a pinch), print it on to card stock, and assemble the plaques ourselves. Cheers! Ralph
  3. Exactly. Charge the power supply and plug it in. If you're worried about running time, have two.
  4. It all goes back to reading and understanding the rules. In the IPMS/USA Modelers Guide to Contests (formerly known as the Competition Handbook), here is what it says about accuracy: ***** Accuracy Absolute accuracy is a noble, but probably unattainable, goal. Despite the fact that no scale model is ever 100% accurate, some people urge that models be judged principally on their accuracy. This is a real minefield. While gross inaccuracy is easy to spot in some instances, the situation quickly becomes murky past obvious things and can lead to unfairness in judging. For example, suppose one of the aircraft judges spent the better part of twenty years as the crew chief of a particular aircraft. That judge will probably be able to find inaccuracies of one sort or another on every model of that type of aircraft entered in a category. But, there's a real risk he will unfairly penalize those who entered those models if he judges solely on the basis of accuracy as he can readily spot their flaws while he may miss inaccuracies in other aircraft types with which he does not have the same level of expertise. Along the same lines, modelers who know the minute aspects of a subject often mistakenly believe judges also have similar detailed knowledge. This may or may not be true. It's simply not possible for all IPMS judges to match the expertise developed by our disparate and incredibly knowledgeable membership. The Chief Judge and Class Head Judges take pains every year to remind the judges to be aware of these problems and to be fair to all on this issue. You can also help yourself by not assuming the judges know all the details you know. Help them and yourself by putting such information on the entry sheet or any other display material you put with your model. Judges are instructed read that stuff and it could make the difference for you. Lest we get too wrapped up in the accuracy debate, remember that IPMS/USA judges concentrate first on the modeling aspects. A model with every component built absolutely accurately probably still won't win if seams between the components aren't filled properly. Conversely, a superbly built model containing an inaccuracy could win. ***** In the past, several Senior National Judges have made a claim that they use accuracy as a tie-breaker. Given what was said by the NCC above, I fail to see how, after they've been instructed not to judge on accuracy, all of a sudden they should use it as a tie breaker. Given how judging teams are assembled, there is a very tiny probability that a four-person team can posses ALL of the knowledge needed to pass judgment on ALL of the models in the category. Possible? Yes. But you have a better chance of being hit by lightning. None of the other modeling organizations I know of uses accuracy as a yardstick in a contest, either. I haven't looked lately, but the National Model Railroad Association may use it as a grading point as people climb the ladder to Master Railroader (a non-competitive program), but that is possibly the only incident of using accuracy as a yardstick. Cheers! Ralph
  5. What you call a "fine line" exists only because YOU drew it. Read the CH: We. Don't. Judge. Accuracy. If the work is "seamless" and consistent with the rest of the work, and you go looking for perceived errors in configuration and placement, you enter the realm of trying to judge accuracy. And you become, by your actions, a "rivet counting" nitpicker, exactly what the modeling organizations have worked hard over the years to avoid.
  6. I guess I'm weird that way, but yes, I would probably ignore the positioning error as long as the fit and finish is consistent with the rest of the model. I've judged a few P-51's with the main landing gear doors on the wrong side, but there were no glue uglies or parting lines, so I let it be. Here is where some sort of feedback would help the modeler, because I would wager that 99% if instances like this, the modeler has no clue the parts have been assembled incorrectly. I've always been told that we (IPMS/USA) don't judge accuracy--and the same holds for most other modeling organizations, too. I haven't judged an IPMS contest in a few years, but at last check the emphasis was still on build quality--how well did the modeler address the molding flaws, construction flaws, finish flaws, and alignment (my "straight, square, plumb, fit, and finish" mantra)? Even if some of the bits are installed backwards, if the fit and finish is consistent with the rest of the model, nine times out of ten most judges don't catch it.
  7. Fit and finish. If there are no gaps, or reasonable gaps (as in it looks as if they were designed to be there and are symmetrical), move on. Every judge in the group won't posses the same knowledge, so how many would pick up on this error without doing the same research you did? Sometimes judges get lost in the weeds. If it looks the part, give the modeler the benefit of the doubt and move along. Ralph
  8. You discovered an anomaly in judging. It happens. We're humans. Going by the facts about how the system is supposed to work, anomalies such as the one you witnessed are not supposed to happen, and that the judges, Table Captains, and Assistant Chief Judges in this instance need further training. The additional discussion within the thread brings up something that I often refer to when discussing judging schemes and systems. Notably, why do we feel the need to compete in the first place? I've said most of this before, so if you've heard the rant or don't care to read it, move on to the next topic... Like all systems that rely on a human opinion, there are always biases and intangibles that need to be dealt with. ANY system of evaluation that depends on opinions is fallible, regardless of the methodology. Watch a tennis match. Check out the line calls. These are simple in/out questions--or should be. The ball is either in or it isn't. It catches the line or it is out. How many line calls get questioned? How many get overturned? Most of the Majors now rely on technology to assist the line judges and chair umpires in making those calls. Unfortunately, most of the questions our scrutiny of plastic models raise aren't simple yes/no questions--there are nuances. And technology cannot assist us. We can say, "How well did the modeler address the seams?", and if the seam is completely unfilled and visible, that's an easy call. But what about a seam that is partially filled, or ghosted? IPMS judges come to a consensus as to how egregious it is, and decide if this removes the model from further consideration. AMPS judges come to a consensus and deduct points. We both look at the same things, we just use the data differently. The action taken is always a judgement call--there is nothing written in the AMPS judging procedures that says "for every inch of seam line, each 3/8" of unfilled, partially filled, or ghosted seams constitute a half point deduction", just as there is nothing written in the IPMS Guide to Contests that says "for every inch of seam line, each 3/8" of unfilled, partially filled, or ghosted seams removes the model from further consideration". You can't. Well, you could, but you'd see participation fall off appreciably. "What, I have to measure my seams? Like fun I do..." People keep saying IPMS contests constitute "healthy competition". Personally, I don't see that when I walk out of a show and watch an irate modeler corner a judge and threaten the judge with "great bodily harm" because his model didn't "win". I watched a parent berate--very loudly--a National Convention Contest director because their kid's model got wet when the roof of the venue leaked (as if the contest had any control over the weather). I've seen similar scenes unfold countless times at IPMS shows. So, tell me again--this is "healthy"? You can tell me these are isolated incidents, and that might be true. But, for all the AMPS shows I've been to, I have never encountered these confrontations. But back to the question at hand: why do we need to compete? What is this obsession with "winning" at an event where (to paraphrase what I've been seeing on this thread) creativity is on display. We don't see competitions at the Louvre or Metropolitan Museum of Art. Why do plastic modelers need to prove they are "better" than all other plastic modelers? That's like asking if you would you pick a Gauguin over a Picasso. How would you evaluate them? Do you think the Masters would want to have their work scored so they can "win" and prove they are "better" than the others? Again, how healthy is that? Competition has a place in society. Products get better. Procedures improve. Innovation happens. But competing in a leisure time activity to me is counterproductive. Whether he actually said it or not, Sheperd Paine had the right idea. "Wanna compete? Go play tennis..." Or, more to the point, think about the words of David Sarnoff (the long time head of RCA): "Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people." Open systems that evaluate the model as it sits, doesn't compare it to the others on the table that day, uses scoresheets and offers recorded feedback, and guides and directly informs the modeler are, in my mind, a better method, because the rewards to the modeler are tangible and something the modeler--if they are wise--will use for the rest of their modeling career. Its not just a Big Shiny that gets put in a box and shoved in the corner (and I have some of those, too). And that's just me. Or is it? According to the 2019 Judging Method poll, the result was split down the middle, and that's without having even a simple block diagram of how the Open System would work in IPMS... I understand that we all like different things and see stuff differently. We're human, that's how it works. It is in our nature. And this brings my rant full circle...
  9. For a one-time or occasional vendor, cash makes the most sense. Credit card services such as Square charge service fees, which usually make them inconvenient for all but established businesses. Ralph
  10. Bring a collection of used plastic shopping bags--if people buy multiple kits from you, it is a nice touch for to offer them a bag in which they can tote their newly acquired booty around. Start saving your grocery bags now... Cheers! Ralph
  11. You missed my point--they may have judged numerous contests, but whomever trained them did not do a good job. During my 11-year tenure (so far) as an AMPS Certified Judge and Table Captain, splits greater than a point and a half used to come back to us as the ACJ's reviewed the scores at our show. It shouldn't be "too easy for one to skew results" IF the judges are properly trained and are paying attention to what the judging team is doing. They're allowed to talk among themselves. They're allowed to ask questions. And, when one rogue member of the team decides to take two points where the other only take a half, well, the Table Captain needs to catch this before the score sheets go to the ACJ, and that one judge needs to go review what they were taught in training. It isn't about savaging a modeler for a barely visible open seam. You find the flaw, you rate the flaw (in half point increments), you make a comment, and you move on. Guys who want to endlessly scrutinize small flaws also are not following the training--if it takes more than five seconds to determine if something is a flaw, the benefit of the doubt goes to the modeler and the judges move on. We were all trained by the AMPS National Head Judge (now the AMPS President)--it sounds as if your guys may all not have had the same level of training. And in AMPS, it isn't about picking "winners" (and, by logical extension, "losers")...
  12. Whoever trained these judges fell down on the job, and the Table Captains and Assistant Chief Judges also failed in their duties. Typically, a spread of more than 1- to 1.5 points will cause the ACJ to go back to the TC and judging team and ask them to re-evaluate. It certainly does at our shows. Apparently, the judges didn't discuss what they were seeing with each other, either. My bet is that there were new judges on the team who thought the object of the system was to "really teach this guy a lesson" by savaging his scores on minor infractions. Here's a hint--AMPS' system isn't about picking "winners", it is about evaluating how well that modeler turned the kits and parts listed on the entry form into that model that is on the table. Done correctly, it does that job quite well. Don't knock the system, knock the training these guys received.
  13. Click on the link to our (IPMS/Mid-Carolina) monthly newsletter. One of our club members paints exclusively with a brush and he wrote an article describing the process--it starts on page 28. https://ipmsmidcarolina.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/may-2021.pdf Of course, you are free to read the rest of the articles, too... 🙂 Cheers! Ralph
  14. Bingo. What's that old saying? "You can never go home again." I left Ft. Lauderdale 20 years ago. I've been back, and all the signs say "Ft. Lauderdale", but it will never be the Ft. Lauderdale I knew as a younger man. It might say "Squadron" on the letterhead, but to many of us, the "real" Squadron died the day Jerry sold it and retired.
  15. Stik is correct--set the tail face-up and place a few drops of water on the image. After a few minutes, you should be able to gently remove it and reposition it. If you've used a solvent, though, you're probably stuck. The only possibilities are to try and re-float and re-position, touch up with paint, or remove it and apply a duplicate decal--you'll have to get another decal sheet. Or, as you say, it can be the "away" side in the display case. But whatever you do, use this as a learning experience. As the oft quoted (and incorrectly used) Beckett line goes: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
  16. Lamenting the passing of Testors has slowly evolved into beating a dead horse. To paraphrase the Pythons: "They're not pinin'! They've passed on! Testors is no more! Testors has ceased to be! They've expired and gone to meet their maker! They're a stiff! Bereft of life, they rest in peace! They've kicked the bucket, shuffled off their mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! TESTORS IS AN EX-COMPANY!!" And as I've posted several times to several forums, there is literally NOTHING Testors marketed than cannot be found elsewhere. Not even the High Gloss and Wet Look lacquers...
  17. As an individual, you can build and display whatever you want to in your home--if you want to depict the inside of an Auschwitz gas chamber or the gallows at Nuremberg, go for it. Incidentally, here is another dichotomy--would the latter be acceptable and the former not? Who's to say? Follow along... In a public setting, there are rules. Society has rules, IPMS/USA has rules. You don't follow the rules, you get asked to change your behavior or leave. Why is this such a difficult concept for people to understand? When a person cries "censorship" and "political correctness", this is nothing more than that person trying to project their values on everyone else, and just because an event is public in nature doesn't give one free rein to do whatever they wish, others be damned. Free speech and expression has limitations. Does Rule 5 have inconsistencies? Sure. No rule is perfect. But it is one of those rules we must obey at an IPMS-sanctioned show. As with all contest rules, you need to know them going in, and if you don't like them you need to either work to change the rule, change your behavior, or simply walk away from the game. For the record, not a lot of what I see on a contest table shocks me, because I know/understand the context behind the events in most cases and can use that to temper my reaction. But someone who only sees people being tortured or put to death without having that understanding might well be disgusted by the scene. And we have to play to that denominator--not everybody is hip to the jive, so to speak. And it doesn't cost anyone a cent to play along, follow the rules, and be a civil human being.
  18. That looks good, Stuart. Decals ought to lay down nicely. Ralph
  19. Answers: Yes, alcohol will clean Future our of your airbrush--the higher the percentage, the better (I use at least 91%). Make sure you flush thoroughly and field strip the gun to get it really clean. Windex also works, but if you own certain brands of airbrushes that warn about using ammonia in their guns, you need to follow with a clean water rinse. We all know that Windex is very, very dilute ammonia, but is says "ammonia" on the bottle, which is enough to throw the airbrush company that uses the bright green handles into a tizzy. In all honesty, it probably is a good practice to flush with water anyway... If you don't have an airbrush, you can use a soft brush to apply Future. You can even use Q-Tips. Brush it on in a thin coat and let it flow out before deciding whether you need a second coat or not. Remember, for decals all you need is a smooth surface, it doesn't have to have a mirror shine to it.
  20. If you apply multiple coats by airbrush, you can start the second coat almost as soon as the first is applied. Just be careful not to apply it too heavily, since it will run. You can airbrush it right from the bottle. Clean the airbrush with Isopropyl Alcohol or Windex followed by a clean water rinse. If you are brushing, follow the instructions on the bottle. To be hones, when I apply by brush, I only ever apply a single coat. The important thing is to let the Future cure out at least overnight before trying to apply decals over it. That will eliminate the potential for the Future to get "frosty" around the images from the decal solutions. However, if this happens, another coat of Future will fix it.
  21. I've been using acrylics since the Dark Ages of the late 1970's. Before I used Future as a gloss coat, I used Metalizer Sealer. I found that if I left Future to cure for 48 hours, I could do oil washes over them, the same as I could over Sealer, without stinking the house up with lacquer fumes. As I said, if you are unsure of a technique, find an old model that is nearing retirement and use it as a Test Mule. Try to technique, and if it works, do it on the new model. If it doesn't work, keep tweaking it until it either works or becomes obvious that you need to try something else. Cheers! Ralph
  22. Stuart, there are no secrets--well, not with me when it concerns model building. The key to getting better is to just keep building. As you move from one project to the next, strive to make it better. Try new things. As you do so you add skills and techniques to your tool box, and as you repeat techniques you refine those skills. I've created and hosted a "Model Building 101" seminar over the years, and if I emphasize one thing more than others, it is this: There is very little that you can mess up on a plastic model that cannot be fixed. You've already discovered that the forums are great resources. Keep asking questions--as I said, there are no stupid questions. My favorite washes are done with artists oils. Why? Because I can control the thinning ratio. I can apply them straight from the tube for one effect, or thin it heavily for another. You can't do that with the pre-bottled products available. And lest I step on some toes, you'll find that a cheap starter set of oils from Michael's or Hobby Lobby will do the same thing as the products offered by MiG, AK, Tamiya, Abteilung 502, etc. If you want to only get a few colors, start with Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Paynes Grey, and Titanium White--from these, you can mix most "grimy" colors. Of course, having a red (Cadmium Red Hue), yellow (Cadmium Yellow Hue), and blue (Ultramarine Blue) also allows you to mix any color in the rainbow. Use odorless thinners--Turpenoid--to thin them. As for application, there are tons of videos on YouTube covering weathering. Night Shift, PLASMO, MMScale Models, Andy's Hobby Headquarters, Flory, the list goes on and on. I love to watch PLASMO--the modeler, David Damek, is not afraid to try new things. He's been at it for a few years, and he's gone from respectably assembling kits out of the box to producing 3D printed parts and resin casting. He also uses whatever is available to him--he doesn't limit his supply locker only to "hobby" products. The best part of his videos is that he makes it look easy for anybody to do. I also use oils when I drybrush. They stay workable for a while, and if I don't like the effect I can either blend it out to nothing with a soft brush or (in extreme cases) remove it with a Q-Tip moistened with Turpenoid. When you're ready to try washes and weathering, use an old model as a mule. Try washes over matte, semi-gloss, and full gloss to see how they lay down over these finishes. I like a gloss surface, some of the top modelers prefer semi-gloss. Washes over a matte surface are interesting, as they create a stain "in the paint" that mimics old, worn-in grime and dirt. Cheers! Ralph
  23. No question is stupid. Here's how I paint and decal my models. 1. Paint the model. 2. Apply a few coats of Future (I think it is called Pledge Revive-It these days) and allow to dry for at least 24 hours. 3. Apply the decals. a. Soak the item in warm water* for about 30 seconds and remove it to a paper towel to soak. b. Test it with a clean paintbrush, wet with water, and when the decal starts to move, it is time to place on the model. c. Wet the area of the model where the decal goes. If you use the Microscale products, the Micro Set (blue label) is used here. If not, water is fine. 4. Position the decal. Use the brush and slide the decal into place. 5. If you see any air trapped under the decal, use the brush to work it out. 6. Now, let the decal sit, face-up, for about 10 minutes. 7. Inspect the decal--it should be starting to settle into and around the details (most aftermarket decals will do this quite well--kit decals, not so much). 8. Carefully apply decal solvent (Micro Set, Solvaset**, Mr. Mark Setter, etc.) on top of the decal. I use a brush to "float" a "bubble" over the image. 9. DON"T TOUCH THE DECAL! It will begin to soften, sometimes wrinkling so badly that you'll question what you just did to ruin the model. Be patient. 10. After about 30 minutes, examine the decal again. It should be pulling tight to the surface of the model. 11. If you see any air bubbles, poke the decal with a sharp needle or the tip of a new #11 blade, dab some solvent on it, and let it work. 12. Allow the decals to dry overnight.*** 13. Once the decals have dried overnight, wash off any residual decal adhesive. I use distilled water and a microfiber cloth to do this. a. If there are any "frosty" areas around the decal where the solvent was, don't worry--another coat of Future will rectify this. 14. Apply a clear overcoat. If you're going to weather with artists oils or enamel products ("panel liners", etc.), or of you got frosty patches, use Future. a. If you weather, do your thing and let the products dry before applying your final overcoat. Now, some tips (the asterisks): * I always use distilled water when I apply decals. Tap water contains chemicals, and well water contains minerals that can cause issues. **I dilute Solvaset with distilled water--I place a few drops into a small container, and dip the brush in water before going into the solvent. ***I divide the decals in four groups--one for the top, one for the bottom, and one for each side. I tackle one side a night--all the decals that go on the top surfaces one night, etc. That way, I can leave the model with that side facing up overnight to let gravity assist in getting the decals drawn down tight to the surface. If you build airplanes, you may need to whip up some sort of prop to keep the sides facing up, but a few rolls of tape or a stack of boxes work--I used to prop them up in one of the kitchen drawers! There are other methods out there. One faction of modelers states that clear gloss overcoats are not necessary--and they're correct, to a point. All a decal needs is a *smooth* surface, but the easiest way to get there is through a clear gloss overcoat. Some of these same modelers claim that Future is "garbage" (its not), "floor wax" (its not), and all sorts of other things. What I've found over 20+ years using it as a clear gloss is this--although the bottle says it is safe to walk on in 30 minutes, it has not cured completely in that 30 minutes. Let is dry for at least 24 hours (more is better). I've found that the longer it cures, the less it wants to frost under the decal solvent, and the better it stands up to odorless thinners used to weather with oils or "panel liners", etc. If you don't want to use Future, there are a myriad of clear gloss finishes out there--do a Google search, or ask here, to find out what some folks are using. FWIW, this is another one of those "ask 10 modelers the same question, and you'll get 15 different answers--all of them valid" deals... Cheers! Ralph
  24. Nice work. Question--are you going to correct the main landing gear (the kits have the struts centered in the trunnion, while on the actual aircraft the strut was offset) and the "sit" of the nose gear? Those are the two big issues with the Hasegawa Neptune, and since they're the only game in town... Cheers! Ralph
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