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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. It doesn't matter what style of contest you enter, you are still building to "a standard".  Those not familiar with Open Judging hold that out as the stinky diaper, when, in effect, "the standard" is exactly what is laid out in the IPMS Modelers Guild to Contests as it is written and published to the IPMS/USA website.  And what, you might be asking, is the standard?  It all hearkens back to craftsmanship:

    1. Molding defects (ejection pin marks, sink marks, mold parting lines/flash, mold shift, excessive draft angles, etc.) addressed.
    2. Tight, gap-free glue seams with no glue slop.
    3. Model properly aligned (everything straight, square, and plumb).
    4. Construction defects (gaps, seams, steps, scratches, knife marks) addressed.
    5. Finish flaws (thick paint, thin paint, runny paint, rough paint, sloppy paint, decal silvering) addressed.

    In a nutshell, that's what ANY contest judge worth his or her salt looks for, regardless of whether it is a "1-2-3" or "Open Judging" system.

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  2. "Everyone posting here..."

    There's the rub.  Not everyone who goes to a contest posts here--some of them have no idea IPMS exists, or they refuse to join for whatever reason.  THOSE are the people we try to reach.  We've discussed this before, you and I.  Some people are beyond help--they won't read the rules, they won't check out the Competition Handbook, they just plop the model on the table and come back a few hours later and expect to be regaled with their riches.  These folks don't yet want to be reached.  But many people do want the help and have said so.

    A few short comments on the form should--note I said "should" and not "will"--help the entrant understand what the judges found that put their model out of contention, or why it won a Third instead of a First.

    "Everyone also knows judges are often unfamiliar..."

    You're talking accuracy here.  Let's see what the CH says:

    "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 if it is, in all other respects, the best model in the category."

    "How can you explain to a contestant..."

    I don't believe I've ever judged a contest where the difference between First and Second was because the judges "liked" one type of finish over another, or one subject over another.  There's always something--however minute--that will push one model over the bar.  YMMV and all that, but I've never seen it.

    Your final comment also helps make the case for Open Judging.  If two models are SO good that you have to drill way down to find some minuscule flaw--even saying you like Model A's camouflage over Model B's bare metal finish, then both should earn an equal award.

    Can of worms?  In the immortal words of Jules Winnfield, "If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions." 



  3. 1.  Most people who are against comments don't seem to fully grasp the concept.  They are meant to be used in two ways--as Gil states, the first is to point out areas the judges found that saw the model cut from the top three, and the second is as Rusty states--to be used as a reminder for next time.  Very few people will do as Pete did and de-construct and rebuild a model, but they are out there...

    2.  Model building, an art?  Maybe in the finish stages, but the basic construction of a model kit is craftsmanship, no more and no less.  You building a model is no different from Norm Abram building a bookcase--you want to have tight seams, no glue slop, and the model (unless it is an organic form, and even these have their own set of rules) needs to be straight, square, and plumb.    It is craftsmanship all day long. 

    Now, applying finish--that group of techniques that includes painting, weathering, distressing, polishing, washing, modulating, lighting, forcing panel lines, etc., etc., well, that's where the art comes in to play.  In effect, what you are attempting to do is fool the viewer into thinking that the model on the table is actually an example of the actual subject that you've put through the de-bigulator...

    3.  The comments, done correctly, should point the entrant towards those errors.  Writing "Dress your seams" is nebulous, but "The right wing root seam is inconsistent" tells more of the story. 

    Obviously, you can't document all the places on the model where it fell short.  All that the comments are meant to do is direct a modeler towards problem areas noted on that model so they can learn.  If comments don't do anything for you, that's on you.  But don't trash the concept because you personally don't care for it.

    Another topic for perhaps another thread is expectations and reality.  I would wager than none of us goes to a show not expecting to have a favorable showing--yet the reality, especially in a 1-2-3 structured contest, is that there is only one "winner".  By definition, everyone who didn't "win" is therefore a "loser".  That's where we all need to temper our expectations, and maybe change our focus on what a model show should be--a place to show off our work and hob-nob with other folks who share our interests.  If we happen to take home a big shiny, so much the better.  And yes, I hear a lot of people say they believe and live this, but at shows I've seen a few of these same people turn into purple-faced hobgoblins when they come up empty...  

    Is competition bad?  Well, David Sarnoff, the guy who made RCA and CBS big in the day, was known to say, "Competition brings out the best in products, and the worst in men."  I'd say he was more or less on the money with that...    



  4. https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/hyperscale/for-sale-entire-collection-400-kits-t502166.html


    Just putting this out there.  Apparently, a seller using the same screen name has made the rounds on multiple forums.  He takes money via PayPal's "Friends and Family" option (meaning you have no recourse to get your money back), entertains multiple offers (and collects the money from said offers) on the same kit, and in general fails to deliver most of the time.

    Some have reported that they received the goods they paid for, others have not received anything since they paid for what they wanted.


  5. 14 hours ago, Dakimbrell said:

    What gets me is all the people who seem to be totally blind sided by the rules. The stuff is readily available and yet, many appear shocked when they get moved to a different category or simply don't win.



    Between the contest rules and the Modeler's Guide to Competition (as Nick reminded us, it is the document formerly known as the Competition Handbook), most questions should be answered well in advance of any model show. 

    Rules.  Huh!  What are they good for?  Well, absolutely everything...

    They get updated at the National level annually (more or less), and most other IPMS-sanctioned contests base their rules on the Nationals rules, so you need to read them in advance of any contest.  Ask questions.  If the rules don't suit you--if you have some fundamental disagreement with them--you have the option not to play, or ask for some "Display Only" space.  More and more shows offer it these days...you may still have to pay an entry fee, but you can still show your stuff.

    The information is readily available.  As Brad Hamilton told Jeff Spicoli in the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "Learn it.  Know it.  Live it." 

    • Like 1
  6. IPMS/USA no longer has a plastic content rule.  

    My take on 3D parts is that they are, at best, scratchbuilt parts (if the user is also the person who made the CAD file, whether they actually own the printer themselves or went through an outlet such as Shapeways to have them printed) and at worst, aftermarket parts in the same realm as resin, white metal, or limited run plastic parts.



  7. I see "Shelf of Woe", and all I can think of is the professional wrestler ("rassler") Kevin "The Prince of Darkness" Sullivan speak about the "Tree of Woe":

    "I did go to the Tower of Torment, I did climb the Thirteen Steps, and I did strap myself to the Tree of Woe.  And the Sifu did come to me, and he did give to me the Beetle Nut, the Cosmic Cookie, for that I was to chew on as I did hang from the Tree of Woe.  And as I did chew on the Beetle Nut everything became clear in the Amazon river of my mind..."

    Ahhh, professional wrestling in the late 1970's-early 1980's.  Kids today don't know what they missed...   :)


  8. I've only used the "old" formulation of Squadron putties.  I still have most of a tube of White that I bought a few years ago.

    The main reason, I think, that I don't use many solvent based putties these days is simply because I do a better job at cleaning up parts and test fitting.  Also, I got tired of having fillers crack, or not scribe, or need repeated applications, so I started using the various combinations of CA, microballoons, Evergreen, Apoxie Sculp, and stretched sprue.  None of those will shrink and fall out of a gap.  Evergreen, used to fill a gap, adds structural stability to the joint.  I can build contours with Apoxie Sculp with no fear of the weeks-long-to-dry issue or shrinkage.  I can use a scribing needle on cured CA.  I can use CA to install and fair clear parts, then polish it glass-smooth.

    I still have, as I said, a tube of Squadron White, as well as a tube of Perfect Plastic Putty and Vallejo putty on the bench, and they do come in handy as scratch fillers and (with the latter two) to fill small defects without sanding the surrounding detail away--apply a dab, let sit, wipe with a damp cloth.  

    I have tried most of the putties you mentioned.  I stopped using red (I used the Testor/Dr. Microtools stuff--boy, was that a deep red!) and green (Squadron and one of the auto body putties--the auto body stuff was a mint green, while Squadron's was the green we all know) putties because I was building a lot of airliners at the time, and it is difficult to cover red and green putties.  When Squadron's white putty hit the market, that's what I used.

    I tried the Tamiya Basic Type, and had a mess on my hands--I filled the wing root seams on a Revell Germany reissue of the Monogram 1/48 F-84F, and the putty generated a bunch of gas bubbles in the plastic that was softened by the putty and in the putty itself.  It must have been a reaction with the plastic, since I only applied a thin skim coat (about 1/64").  I wound up having to remove most of the damaged area and fill it with Evergreen and CA.  It was a royal PITA, and I believe that's when I started using CA as a filler more than I had previously.    

    Of course, it helps that I finally learned over the years that less is indeed more...



  9. I rarely use putties as fillers these days.  But a few tips:

    1. As you build, test fit.  If something doesn't fit, make it fit.  Minimize the amount of filler you need.
    2. Once the parts are assembled, dress the seams with sandpaper to see exactly what needs to be filled BEFORE you apply filler.  As a kid, I used to glop Squadron Green Putty over every seam as soon as the glue was dry.  In reality, I probably sanded off about 98% of the putty I applied.  Less is truly more...
    3. Apply thin layers of filler.  1/32" is about the thickest I will go, and I prefer to go half that (1/64", about the thickness of an index card).

    As to the question at hand, my favorite fillers:

    1. CA, aka ACC, aka Super Glue.  I use it either straight from the bottle or bulked out with Microballoons.  I rarely use an accelerator, by the way, nor do I ever use baking soda.  Applied correctly, you shouldn't need to accelerate the bond.  Gel-type works well on wider gaps, the thick stuff is good for the smaller gaps, and the thin formulas work nicely on hairline seams.  
    2. Apoxie Sculp or Superfine White Milliput.  This is to fill gaps larger than 1/32"
    3. Evergreen sheet, strip, and rod.  Again, this is to "pack out" gaps wider than 1/32".  Fit it to the gap, secure with CA or plastic cement (I use Tamiya Extra Thin), let dry, and sand/trim to shape.
    4. Stretched Sprue.  An alternative to using Evergreen.
    5. Perfect Plastic Putty or Vallejo Putty.  I use this to fill small defects.  Apply it, let it sit a minute, then smooth with a Q-tip that had been dampened with water.  Don't wet sand Perfect Plastic Putty--it dissolves in water.  If you have to go back and add more, let the first layer dry completely, then re-apply more and smooth as before.  Don't let the first layer get too wet!
    6. Squadron White Putty.  My former Go-To.  I haven't tried the new formulation, but the old stuff was, well, our standard for many years, especially the Green Putty.  I only used the white because I was building a lot of airliners at the time, and it was easier to cover with white paint than was the Green putty.
  10. 5 hours ago, Mark Aldrich said:

    OK, we all know that Trumpeter has released both the A & B versions of the Dart in 1/48?

    And they did both in 1/72 scale as well.  And Meng's F-102A and F-106A are pure gems.  Valom's 1/72 scale single seat Voodoos also fill a niche, as do Kitty Hawk's 1/48 kits (they're typically Kitty Hawk, but you can build one of them, convert a Monogram kit, or scratchbuild).

  11. Yes, I introduced the other judging structures so that people could read for themselves the various ways scale models are judged.  I'm willing to discuss methods other than IPMS, bu tin this case my reply would have been very heavily slanted away from the topic at hand.  No harm, no foul, and I agree, it doesn't work for some folks.  The comments about the people who project were not directed towards you at all...apologies if you thought they were directed at you.

    As for the rest, you "get it".  Like you, I am able to judge pretty much any category at an IPMS show.  Why?  I build all types of models, and I have an understanding of the rules particular to those categories.  It isn't difficult.  It doesn't take a degree in Advanced Engineering to do.

    Honestly speaking, I prefer a Model Show (exhibition) to a Model Contest.  But exhibitions without contests will never fly in the U.S.

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  12. David, there's so much going on in that statement, much of it geared towards "that other scale modeling organization", and really has no place being debated here.  I'll just say that we have different takes on things, and that's cool--difference makes the world go around.  

    My original point was that people need to take time to read the rules and understand the criteria used at that particular show or for that particular organization.  If they did, there would be far less gnashing of teeth and "whining" going on.  

    But people don't engage in the process.  They don't read the rules.  They don't volunteer to judge.  They show up, pay the fee, plop their models on the table and catch a cool breeze for the rest of the day until the awards ceremony, where they expect to pick up their haul of medals, plaques, or whatever (I can only guess, but I suppose this is because they feel that much superior to the rest of us mere mortals who stick plastic toys together).  When they don't "win", they get pissy and start badmouthing the show, the judges, the other modelers, etc.--everyone is, and pardon my French, "an a**hole."

    I used to have an employee who couldn't work with anyone else on the team--"He's an a**hole."  Every time I teamed him with someone else, I got the same complaint.  I finally told him, "You know, if you think everyone around you is an a**hole, maybe it might be time to look into the mirror so you can get a good look at the actual a**hole."

    The same logic stands.  If all a modeler can do after a contest is blame everything around him (or her), maybe they should look in the mirror to see the actual root of the issues.



  13. 1 hour ago, Dakimbrell said:

    I have participated in AMPS competition and found the Judges feed back to be totally worthless. 

    In all cases, they missed the flaws and gigged things that were correct. For example, in one case criticized the tracks as too rust even though I provided a color photo showing exactly what I did. 

    I do not say all AMPS feed back is bad, but that for me it did nothing but make me angry. I would rather NOT know what the judges thought. Give me an award or don’t, but don’t try to tell me how to build models.


    Did you inform the show's Chief Judge? Did you inform the AMPS Chief Judge (Dave Vickers does it now, Mike Petty used to do it).  Those are things AMPS judges are specifically told NOT to do (i.e., there is no such thing as too much or too little weathering).

    Part of any judging structure is participation on the part of everyone involved.  Entrants need to understand the rules prior to the show.  Entrants need to see the rules in action, and the best way to do that is to judge.  And when something isn't right, the entrant needs to speak up--go all the way up the chain, if you have to.  Bad judging is just that--BAD.  Sorry you had that experience--I've only had positive experience with that system.



  14. Jack Ryan:  "It is wise to study the ways of ones adversary. Don't you think?

    Captain Marko Ramius: "It is."

    Rather than repeat everything I've posted over the years on the common judging structures in use, and rather than spending a lot of time speculating how the "other guys" do it, why not read?

    First, the IPMS/USA rules, 2018 edition:


    There's a lot of bad, misleading, and false information flying around about "that other" modeling organization and how they do it.  Get the news from the source:


    And, finally, here's the Old Grand-Dad of open judging, and their take, including on the International scene:


    Is there a "one size fits all"?  Nope.  But I can tell you which one I prefer--the words "judges' feedback" should clue you in.  To me, that's more valuable than any plaque, medal, or trophy.



  15. I often use Tamiya's Superfine White Primer in the aerosol can.  No decanting, no airbrushing, just a few light coats of primer right from the can.  It flashes quickly, you can recoat in 15 minutes.  Allow to fully dry/cure for a few hours (overnight is best), then move along with your other colors.  I usually use the primer as the final white, unless the "white" I need is off-white--in which case, I'll overcoat with the proper color...

    If you build airliners, it is the perfect white for fuselages, and it offers a good base for whatever metallics you want to use for the wings, etc.


  16. As a semi-retired aviation wire stringer, smoke herder, electron wrangler, and spark chaser, a good looking, well-tied, well-routed, and well-secured wire bundle--whether in scale or in the 1:1--makes me smile.  The neater they are, the easier they are to work on later.

    Also note that most modern (since the 1970's, at least) wire has a white jacket.  Sure, you *can* get it in colors, but for the most part it is white (easier logistics and inventory control).  Yeah, I know--"White is visually boring!"  And yet it happened...as Gil says, the visual interest comes in the bundle ties and cable clamps.

    Geek stuff, or trivia you can use to stump your know-it-all uncle when he starts making wisecracks at the Thanksgiving table:  Most aviation-approved wire these days is M22759/16 (single conductor or twisted, unshielded conductors) or M27500 (shielded conductor with a shielding braid) series with a Tefzel jacket.  At one point, Kapton was used as the insulating jacket, but it proved to be troublesome.  I've seen Kapton deteriorate to the point that it looks like beads on a string.

    Most modern MIL-C-17 RF cable jackets are now a bronzeish-copperish-goldish tone.  They used to be black.

    These days, too, some systems use Cat 5 databus cable.  These usually have a light blue jacket.

    Some specialty systems and low-loss cables have clear red, clear blue, or lime green jackets.

    Just so y'all know.  :)

    Now, I'll give bonus points to anyone who tries to replicate the actual wire numbers...  😄



  17. If you have an auto body supply shop in town, they should be able to provide glazing putty.  The new darling of the modeling world is the Heckler and Spies Permacron M, but you can still get 3m Acryl, only not the Acryl Blue as it went the way of the dodo.  You can get white, red, or green, and they work just as well--and you get a tube that should last until the next millennium.

  18. I'm with Nick on this.  When the website for the Columbia Nationals went live (and it went live as soon as the Columbus show was declared "over"), we posted links all over the modeling forums and included the links to our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter), too.  Every now and then we'd give the posts a bump, but otherwise, if you wanted info you went to the "Official" website and social media pages to get the up-to-date 4-1-1.  All the information available was posted to the website.

    Jodie updated everything several times a day (or more, if warranted) on the "News" page, including posting when hotel blocks opened up and making almost hourly updates early on when the Hampton Inn had a booking glitch.

    As Nick says, you can only do so much.  Sooner or later, people have to do for themselves.


  19. Our Junior Categories at our June show in Columbia, SC were at the front of the model display area--anyone who walked into the show area walked past them.  We only had four models entered in the Junior Categories, though...

    We also gave away model kits to ALL the junior modelers who attended the show.

    Can't comment on the contest you were at, as I wasn't in attendance...


  20. Perhaps it has nothing to do with huffing paint.  Perhaps it has nothing to do with a "Nanny State".  Perhaps it has *everything* to do with the fact that we can't have nice things anymore.

    Rather than taking pot-shot guesses as to why this is, I simply asked the department manager when I was in one of their stores.  The answer: 

    They got tired of having to replace the fixtures every year because they were caked with paint and looked like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece.  As a chain, they take pride in their appearance, and having a paint-splattered area in the model section was outside corporate appearance standards.  Funny thing, too--this same thing didn't happen where the large spray paint cans were displayed with the other craft paint.  The only area of the store where paint was on display that was abused in this manner was by the plastic models.

    In other words, it was done because some people make it impossible for all of us to have nice things.



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