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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. 9 hours ago, Dakimbrell said:

    I believe a nuisance fee is a good thing to keep out those that really have no interest, but just happen to be bored and looking for something to do. A fee of a dollar or two is fine. However, bigger fees work against us. I know few people who aren't serious model builders who would come in for more that a couple hours. They definitely wouldn't keep coming back every day.

    In 2003, I told a coworker about the convention and he brought his whole family only to be hit with a big fee which he wasn't willing to pay. He was really angry about it. No good will there. If you want to attract people, then let them in. Trying to make a profit on visitors is counter productive.


    I agree.  One thing that gets lost is that new folks to the hobby will get turned off if you're going deep into their pockets before they even walk through the door.  And it is often overlooked that you will get money from them sooner or later, either via raffle ticket sales, SWAG purchases (T-shirts, pins, and the like), or indirectly via the vendor tables.  That last one sounds odd, but the better the vendors do, the more likely they are to come back year after year, and the patrons will get that taste for the excitement that the Convention brings and they'll likewise keep coming back.

    That's one reason our local show doesn't charge for walk-ins.  Our vendor table rentals cover most of the venue costs, the contest supports itself, and the raffle fills the gap.  As long as we break even on our local show, we're happy.


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  2. Always a tricky issue.

    I believe a discussion was held on this forum years ago about how other organizations (I believe the popular one at the time was the AMA) charge much more (as in half again the member cost) for non-members to attend their annual convention, but the counter was that IPMS wants to encourage non-members to come it, look around, and see what we're about.

    If memory serves, we didn't do "Family Passes" in 2016.  We did offer a 4-day pass, though, and it was slightly more than paying a registration.  We used the goody bag as incentive to pay the registration--you save $5 or $10, and you get a pin, a decal, and (IIRC) coupons for special deals with various vendors.


  3. Modelers spend weeks and months researching what the relief tube looked like on some minor sub-variant of an insignificant airplane, but can't take ten minutes to review flag ettiquette before they use one as what amounts to a tablecloth?

    For those who weren't aware:


    Ignorance is no excuse.  "I've seen..." is no excuse.  "They do it..." is no excuse.  The code and rules of flag ettiquette for the United States flag are published and available to anyone who asks.  I found this by doing a simple Google search--it took all of a minute.


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  4. Another great tool to use, especially when sanding on something cylindrical, is a Flex-I-File.  It is a sanding belt held in an aluminum frame, and if you gently squeeze the frame, it puts some slack in the belt that conforms to the rounded surface.


  5. I built that kit, and with careful cleanup the seam is not too bad.  The key to the exercise it to test fit until the parts fit tightly together when you simply hold them together.  If I recall, I managed to get a tight seam that only needed a light sanding.  I used Tamiya Extra Thin cement, and applied a little pressure to the two halves once they were together to pop out a small bead of plastic that had been softened by the cement.  Let it dry overnight, and sand that bead of plastic down--you should have a smooth surface with no (or a minimal) seam to deal with.

    I use super glue most of the time when I need to fill a seam.  Work slowly and in small sections, sand it as soon as it can be sanded, and don't leave it un-sanded overnight--it gets harder as time goes on.  You can mix it with talcum powder, artists pigments, or microballons, too--it sands easier, but doesn't leave as smooth a finish.

    Try it on a scrap kit to get the feel for it.


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  6. 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.


    • Like 1
  7. 9 hours ago, ShutterAce said:

    Perhaps one day we can do away with the need for electrical outlets supplied by the venue. With the availability of inexpensive rechargeable power supplies I'm surprised people still need it now.

    Exactly.  Charge the power supply and plug it in.  If you're worried about running time, have two.


  8. 18 hours ago, noelsmith said:

    Sometimes I feel that there is an expectancy for judges to know everything and have encyclopaedic knowledge.

    They are only human after all and cannot possibly know everything, and they just do their very best on the day.

    Accuracy or Craftsmanship? I would guess that models have to get judged on both counts on the day.

    A model could be accurate, but if poorly built would be out of contention anyway.

    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:


    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.


  9. 17 hours ago, Dakimbrell said:

    There is a fine line between accuracy and craftsmanship.

    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.

    • Like 1
  10. 23 hours ago, Dakimbrell said:

    But Ralph, are you saying you would accept parts going the wrong direction on an airplane? Or even a wrong part——day Spitfire exhausts on a P-51 or 109? At what point do we draw the line? 

    In a contest, these models might still do quite well compared to others in the category. 

    But you see my point about the reactions of non-judges. Some would argue that the judges were stupid for ignoring the wrong part while others would scream about us being too critical.


    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.


    • Like 1
  11. 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.



  12. 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...

  13. 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")...

  14. 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.

  15. 2 hours ago, SkyKing said:

    The question I (and others) have is: Why would anyone go to the expense and effort to resurrect a business and brand that has had such a bad reputation for the last several years, especially without those components that made it unique? Without Squadron/Signal’s books, True Details resin parts, Superscale decals, Czech Models, and Encore kits, the “new” Squadron is just another hobby retailer competing against the likes of Sprue Brothers, Kitlinx, Hannants, and HobbyLinkJapan, to name just a few. It makes no sense.



    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.

    • Like 2
  16. 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."

    • Like 1
  17. 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...

  18. 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.

    • Like 2
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