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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. That's a good point.  At our local shows, the judges are instructed that the models are to be evaluated as presented by the entrant, i.e., no picking them up and turning them over to keep the entrant "honest".  If you can't see it as the model is presented, then you don't consider it.

    We also encourage the use of bases.  If we have to slide a model across a table, having it on a base is the better option than sliding it on the entry form.

    Keep in mind that we evaluate one model as an example of a modeler's body of work (as opposed to every model they display) at our shows, and we ask our entrants to place their one model submitted for evaluation towards the front of the table.


  2. Here you go, from the 2023 National Contest Rules:

    D. Dioramas and Vignettes. In diorama categories, regardless of
    class, the number of subjects (vehicles or figures) will determine in
    which category an entry is placed. Entries with a single vehicle
    and/or no more than five figures will be placed into the Vignette
    (Small Composition) categories. Entries with two or more vehicles
    and/or more than five figures will be placed into the Diorama (Large
    Composition) categories.

    Dioramas are story-centric, specifically built to tell a story or convey
    a message. Storyline will be considered equally to construction and
    finish of the individual subjects, figures, and other presentation
    components. A technically well-done diorama with a weak story line
    will be at a disadvantage to one with a strong storyline.
    Vignettes may also tell a story or may simply depict a ‘moment in

    A previous national contest winner may be used as part of a
    diorama, so long as it is not the primary focus of the diorama.

  3. Everything you have stated is true. 

    The modeler who built the Phantom for the article did not remove the stiffener for whatever reason.

    No harm, no foul, nothing to get excited about...


  4. Gil:  Exactly.  To quote the Late, Great Al Superczynski, "Build what YOU want the way YOU want to."  And I don't think anybody in this thread has stated otherwise.  I think most modelers do this anyway--only a very few of my IRL modeling friends really care what others think of their models, they build for their enjoyment/satisfaction and nobody else's. 

    I was merely pointing out things in case somebody reading *is* that guy who wants to be nut/bolt/rivet accurate.  I know a few, and that's their kick.  Not for me to say they are right or wrong.

    Pete:  True, and it is especially true of ships--look at the "old" battleships that were damaged at Pearl Harbor--when some of them emerged from repairs and refits, they bore only a slight resemblance to what they were before (added armor, torpedo bulges, masts, armament).  As new technology enters the fleet, the old stuff is removed and the new installed in its place.

    I've said it a million times--there are as many ways to enjoy this hobby as there are people enjoying it.


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  5. Usually, they don't.  However, some USN/USMC F-4's had a rectangular doubler or patch in the same general area.  And late in their service lives, some USMC aircraft did sport the arrowhead-shaped doubler--there is at least one photo on the interwebs showing it.  IIRC, the debate was whether the stabilator came from a retired USAF Phantom or not, but no matter where it came from, it was clearly visible.

    As you say, if a modeler is a stickler for accuracy, always check those references.  I've found that there are very few absolutes out in the world, there's always an exception to the rule.


  6. There are work-arounds to both. 

    The race cars featured on the 2016 Columbia National Convention sheet were there because we asked for approval from the driver and race shop that built the cars. 

    Hint 1:  Don't do all the markings for a race car--only do the major markings to supplement the kit sheet.

    Hint 2:  Don't do modern race cars.  Find something from the era where the cars weren't festooned with a few dozen contingency logos.  And, ASK.  It's like getting a date with the head cheerleader--if you never ask, the answer will always be "No".

    How was Chattanooga able to feature Coca-Cola logos on the 2019 Convention sheet?  One of two ways:  Either they asked for permission OR they did it hoping to fly under the radar.   

    And for the cop shields?  Go to the Nebraska State Patrol website.  At the top left corner is a full color badge.  Any crook worth the title could rip that image for free.  I'm actually surprised that the Wikipedia entry didn't feature a scalable vector image (.svg or .eps)...

    Also, are there no ships named after Nebraska cities?  Does Omaha or Nebraska not have any armored units?

    All it takes is some imagination to come up with a diversified decal sheet that helps people forget the "International Plane Modelers Society" moniker.


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  7. 21 hours ago, dmorrissette said:

    And for what it is worth, acrylic paint are far, far from benign. They contain alcohols and all sorts of additives. And if you spray anything at all, you need a spray booth


    Or a respirator, or both.  Not a dust mask, not an N95, but a cartridge respirator.

    Respirators are cheap--big-box home centers sell them for around $35.  Buy one.  Use it.  Your lungs will thank you.


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  8. 1 hour ago, JClark said:


                      To spin it that your 2016 experience's happen every year or is the norm is just that, Spin. I wasn't on the NCC then so I can't speak to the delay. But it always the aim and goal of the NCC to get the new rules out at the beginning of the year. Case in point, this year there was a delay as the Head judge came this>< close to loosing his home due to wild fires that ravaged his community where over 600 homes and business were lost in less than 24 hours so I think we all could cut him some slack for having to move out of his home for over week or more  until utilities could be restored which all happened after our final online NCC meeting finalizing the rules. So it took some time to get his life back in order. And I would say we're lucky we got them as early as we did all things considered. Stuff happens, life happens in this all volunteer society. But as I said earlier we all still have 25 weeks to read the rules which I would wager most won't and then act all surprised when they get there.



    I used it to point out that the annual version of the rules aren't always ready on 1 January.  Nothing else was intended or needed to be read into it.

    Whatever the reason, we were told that the rules are ready when the NCC says they are. 

  9. 20 hours ago, JClark said:

    As Mr. Peterson pointed out rules changes for the next convention have always come out around the beginning of the year. This is NOTHING new.


    Beginning of the year at the earliest. 

    If memory serves, the National Rules package for 2016 wasn't complete and ready to post until at least May, maybe later that year--I recall getting a lot of traffic on that subject, as in "When will the rules be released?"  Our answer then, as it is now, is "That's the NCC's baby and when they release them, they'll get published". 

    So, Jim is absolutely correct--This is nothing new.


  10. 12 hours ago, Barry said:

    Good Lord; how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    My thoughts exactly.  When I saw the announcement, my first thought was "How long before the Philadelphia Lawyers come forth with all sorts of questions, having over analyzed these new rules for five minutes?"

    Just making observations...

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  11. A few things that have been touched upon:

    Smaller cities.  Atlanta, Miami, NYC, LA, etc., are pretty much out of anyone's budget.  That's why (here in the former East rotation, anyway) we've seen Columbia, Chattanooga, and Hampton Roads host conventions in recent years.

    Resort cities:  Orlando and Vegas had good shows, I'm told, but that comes at a price, especially when IPMS/USA touts it as a "family vacation".  How many of you guys had to curtail your vendor room expenditures in those two cities because mom and the kids wanted to go see the sights?  As they say, you pays yo' money, you takes yo' chances...

    Multiple hosts.  The first "official" convention hosted by multiple Chapters was Orlando in '99.  While they flew under the "IPMS/Florida" banner, it was a collection of members from the various R11 Chapters.  That was also in the days before the National office was directly involved on the financial end of the Convention, too...

    Fast forward to 2016:  We (IPMS/Mid-Carolina) co-hosted with the IPMS/Piedmont Scale Modelers.  Having a co-host makes it easier, especially if both clubs are small. 

    A few other notes from 2016:

    We had a small committee of 6 people.  Everyone had clearly-defined jobs.  The more members you have on the committee, the more confusing things can get.  We had heard of some conventions that had 20 and 30 people just on the committee alone, not to mention the work force.  Our total work force for the Convention was around 20 people...

    You have to have buy-in from your Chapter members.  Without them, you are sunk.  Come game time, you need to have your aces in their places--and, as the commercial says, you need to have "no cussin', no fussin', and no backtalkin'"...everyone should be ready to go, and they should know their jobs. 

    We made a deal with the Columbia Visitors and Convention Bureau before we even thought about bidding.  If you work with the municipality, have past numbers handy--get the last three or four financial statements.  Why?  Because any good CVB will ask "What will this do for us economically?"  Be Johnny-on-the-spot with numbers.  See what they're willing to do for you--we wangled a deal where the convention center came to us at no charge IF we filled a certain number of room nights at the Convention hotels.  (By the way, for you guys that squeeze the nickels until you get buffalo chips, this is the prime reason you should consider staying at the "official" hotel.)

    So, yeah, cities like Knoxville, Tucson, Charlotte, Greenville (SC), Richmond, etc., might be good choices.

    And who knows?  If someone on your organizing committee in, say, Daytona Beach, San Diego, or Jacksonville, has an "in" with the CVB, you might get lucky...

    It is the age old thing.  You never get anything if you don't ask.  What's the worst that can happen?  They can tell you "no".


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  12. I find that acrylics tend to be tenacious when they start to dry on a metal surface, and the field strip is the best way to keep it clean.  I've tried everything else, including different products that are supposed to break down paint, but nothing beats a quick disassembly.  After a while, it doesn't take longer than 5 minutes to do.

    Lacquer and enamel users can get away with spraying thinner until it comes out clean between colors, but should still field strip the airbrush at the end of a session.

    This might be interesting to you, as well:



  13. You didn't same which model airbrush, or what type.

    I use a Badger 105 Patriot and a Grex Tritium TG.3.  Both are gravity feed dual action airbrushes, the Badger a traditional trigger type; the Grex a pistol-grip type.  Cleaning is similar for both...

    I use acrylics, and between each color I "field strip" the airbrush--remove the needle, tip, and nozzle and clean them thoroughly.  I use Iwata's airbrush cleaner for this, followed by a flush with clean water.  For stubborn spots, I use alcohol or lacquer thinner.  Tamiya's Airbrush Cleaner works well, too.

    I use twisted paper towels to get into those small spaces, or you can buy dental paper points online--they do the same thing.  Some folks use a torch tip cleaner consisting of small brushes.  If you can find a pipe cleaner that doesn't have a wire center, you can also use it.  IF you use one with a wire, be careful not to scratch anything.  Old paintbrushes and toothbrushes come in handy, too.

    After each cleaning, I use a dab of Iwata's "Superlube" airbrush lubricant.  Badger markets theirs as Regdab.  Just a dab will do ya.

    Every year or so, I disassemble the airbrush and inspect for worn seals, etc., and give it a complete cleaning with lacquer thinner.

    As with building models, the key is to be patient and careful.  Be careful not to bend the tip of the needle or deform the nozzle opening.  For the most part, threaded parts should be finger snug--no need to He-Man the parts together, even if they do require a wrench or similar tool.

    And, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

    Now, on to the disclaimers:

    Disclaimer #1:  Some airbrush manufacturers say you shouldn't use anything containing ammonia to clean their airbrushes--it erodes the plating and will eventually corrode the brass under the plating.

    However, you can use ammonia to clean--just be sure to give the airbrush a thorough flushing with clean water afterwards .

    Disclaimer #2: Badger says not to use alcohol--it is a drier, not a cleaner, they say.

    However, alcohol can do a good job of cleaning--it might take some more effort to remove small spots of dried paint.  Badger says you can use ammonia to clean the airbrush--the same comment about a thorough flush with water still stands.

    Disclaimer #3:  Most of them say not to use industrial chemicals to clean their airbrushes.

    They're speaking about Toluene, Acetone, and MEK, mostly, and they have a point--if you airbrush has any sort of soft seal (synthetic rubber), these chemical can cause them to either soften into goo or become embrittled.

    Some folks swear by carburetor or brake cleaner, but the same caveats apply.

    In all honesty, there hasn't been a case of a dirty airbrush that I have encountered that cannot be solved by good, old, hardware store brand lacquer thinner.


  14. 8 hours ago, ghodges said:

    You can use anything for seat belts....they "loosened" that rule a long time ago..below is a quote from the 2021 NCC Rules for OOTB... they removed the wording requiring "Tape" belts and generally allow the builder to use any material, and do not disqualify models with aftermarket belts.

    Exceptions vary from Class to Class, but allow for commonly accepted construction
    techniques and standards, while still maintaining the general OOB
    approach. These include but are not limited to:
    ● Add antennas, rigging wires, seat belts to Aircraft, as may be
    noted in kit instructions;

    Yeah, but there's that pesky "as may be noted in kit instructions" thing, though...  🙂

    I like thermal receipt paper.  It is thin and strong.  You can make the belt hardware from paper (card stock is ideal) as well. 

    Rolled epoxy putty (my favorite is Aves Apoxie Sculpt) can be used, too, for both belts and hardware.


  15. For figures, I will still splurge for the Windsor and Newton Series 7 brushes, and use them ONLY on figures with artists oils--despite them being labeled "watercolour" brushes.  If it was good enough for Shep Paine...

    I have tried a bunch of the others.  The Grumbacher line is pretty good, as are the Royal & Langnickel and Daler-Rowney brushes--these are all available at Michael's.  Some are sable, some are synthetic.  The "store brands" (Artists' Loft, etc.) are hit and miss, so shop carefully.  Incidentally, I find that shopping in person is important when buying brushes... 


    However, if I have to go online for brushes (or any other art supplies like pigments, oil paint, etc.), I like using The Merri Artist in McMinnville, OR.  I have ordered from them several times, and they are great.  The fastest I ever got anything from them (normal shipping) was two days from Oregon to South Carolina.  https://merriartist.com/

    If The Merri Artist doesn't have what I need, I turn to Blick Art Materials.  https://www.dickblick.com/

    I'll always support the smaller business first.  But that's just me...

    In the hobby world, the Army Painter brand gets high marks (I have yet to try them).

    You can do the sprue nub trick Rusty outlined above, you can use the eye end of a sewing needle or a short length of wire shoved into the eraser end of a pencil as a glue applicator.  I break a sewing needle in half--the pointy end gets chucked into a #1 handle and is used as a scriber.  I then cut the "loop" end of the eye (leaving a fork), shove the shaft end into the pencil eraser, and I have a glue applicator.  The smaller the needle, the smaller the eye, and the smaller the eye, the smaller the drop of CA that it will hold.  When I use wire, I'll put a slight kink in it--that helps it "grab" a bit more adhesive.

  16. I can't speak for Vietnam era (or any era) military aircraft maintenance, but in the civilian world, yes, axle jacks can be used on some types--it is a lot easier to jack at the axle than at the jack points, since jacking the axle takes one jack (the jack points requires multiple jacks and personnel).

    Aircraft with dual mains can also be "jacked" on a ramp--the wheel that isn't being worked sits on a ramp while the "bad" wheel is free to be removed.

  17. I get 300 medals at a time from Mission Awards for our local shows, and that lasts for two or three years (depending on attendance, of course).  The package is smaller than a standard box of copier/printer paper.  Extrapolating that out, 1,000 awards would likely be two copier paper sized boxes.  If you stick with the current format, you use about 600 category (1st/2nd/3rd) awards at a National show, which means there will be maybe 400 surplus medals.  So we're back to something the size of a copier paper box as far as goes shipping/storage.

    As far as how many awards should be purchased?  For a 1-2-3 show, this is easy--look at your historic numbers.  If your usage across the last three shows is 600 awards on average, buy twice or three times that. 

    Make this a National office duty--the 2VP adds this to their Convention planning punch list:  "Verify number of category awards on hand, order more if needed".  It can be done at the conclusion of the current show, before the surplus gets shipped to the next host.  And if the margins are shaky, order more right then and there and have them drop shipped to the next hosts.

    In 2016, we had some 60 plaques left over.  They are now sitting in my garage, collecting funk, since they are dated and themed and cannot be re-used (other than to pry the metal placard off and use the wood plaque as a base).  At $6 a pop, that's $360 that IPMS/USA paid out in that cannot be recouped--using standard awards, that money could be used for shipping costs.  And if you can't ship 600 medals (based on an order of 1,200 total--600 used at the current show, 600 left for the next one) for less than $360 bucks, you're using the wrong shipping company!

    And it isn't as if other stuff doesn't get shipped from one host to the next from year to year anyway...
    Attached is an image of our medals.  They are 2" die-struck medals with antique finish.  You can get them with or without the ribbon.  Our last order was made in April 2020, and including shipping ($36, for the record), the total was $861.  $861/300=$2.87 per medal.

    As Gil said, you can have a sheet of round Avery labels available so the entrant can record what the award was for.  In our first show, we actually made custom labels, as shown in the pics, and filled them out as part of the admin duties after judging.  It is labor intensive, though, so the next year we stuck the labels (again, customized for that show) to the medals and let the entrant fill them out.

    Here is our source: 

    Mission Awards, Inc.
    2030 Tonawanda Lake RD
    Grawn, MI 49637


    Phone : (866) 396-5481
    Fax : 231-276-7682

    I've worked with Tim, but anybody on their sales staff ought to be able to assist.



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