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Oranges and Tomatoes


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I really enjoyed Chris' Editor's Brief in the latest Journal. I'm not saying our system is perfect or that I haven't seen the odd travesty of judgement. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, I will continue to complain the models were ill judged until I win.ūü§™

But most of the biggest critics I have met know little about judging and often can't remember any of the others entered if their favorites didn't win. They never took the time to carefully examine the other entries. Models often look very different when standing up three feet away and down on your knees at 12 inches.

But what most don't grok is that we are always comparing Oranges and Tomatoes. Tiger tanks and Shermans. P-51s and Fw-190. Even when they are all Sherman tanks, they are M4A3, M4A2, or Fireflys. We never judge a category of King Cobra Jumbo Sherman tanks from the Meng kit. The judges continually have to juggle all these different kits and subjects choosing which are the best of the entries on that day.

The critics also ignore that past performance is no guarantees of future performance. Too many think because their model won at other shows it is an obvious winner at the Nats. I remember one guy bragging about all his previous wins and then not placing at all at the National. 

As the IPMS judging has matured over the years, I have come to think of it as "free range judging". Not regimented as the numerical systems and more professional than simple popular votes. The system is well balanced and generally produces honest results. It is far better than other types as a contest.

Dak

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Great comments, David.  I helped photograph the aircraft entered in the 2015 Nationals in Columbus.  There were so many excellent models, choosing the winners had to have been difficult.  I remember hearing some of those comments & thinking why weren't you in there judging.

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Recently, we had a local contest. The chapter sponsoring it went in with the local AMPS chapter to split the cost. AMPS handles the basic armor categories. I rarely enter armor, at this show, because I don't like the AMPS methodology and here is why.

My friend Mark did enter a Sherman tank. The three scores on his sheet were 9, 8.5 and 6.5. Now, a point spread of perhaps a point is to be expected, but 2-2.5 is way too much. I understand they like to throw out the low score, but this raises questions. What did the low judge see that two others----one who I know very well as an extremely meticulous individual---did not see. Or why did he judge more harshly than two other experienced judges? Were the other two being negligent? The remarks left by this judge clearly showed he did not read my friend's remarks about what and why he did things. (FYI, my friend got a silver medal, and is quite satisfied with it, but we are both a bit disturbed by the judging numbers.)

The IPMS system doesn't let this sort of thing happen. The judges have to reach a consensus and then explain it to a head judge. That just seems like a much better system. The judges learn from each other and the head judge.

Model building is basically a creative activity and trying to reduce it to set of numbers is a poor idea. Just because a system is different, doesn't mean it is automatically better.

Dak

 

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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.

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Ralph,

FYI, these were not new judges. All had done it many times before.

I am familiar with the AMPS system having entered it's contests and even judged under the system  All that made me like it even less and come to love the free range judging of IPMS much more. However, I'll admit my perspective is limited to my region. Additionally, IPMS and AMPS are looking for two different things. AMPS is looking to rate an individual's model. Tag it, and say this is how good we think it is. IPMS is simply saying on this day, in this category, these are the three best entries. Tomorrow, at a different event, the results may be quite different.

IMO, in the AMPS judging, it is too easy for an individual to skew the results. Personally, I find judging with the AMPS method too rigid and very unpleasant. The IPMS method is more free flowing with the sharing of observations and information.

In the end, both methods are opinions based on the experience and skills of the judges. I just feel the AMPS system applied to an IPMS contest would ruin the conventions.

On a secondary note, at this event, the method is to hold the models away from the public until it has been judged. That means most of the models don't get seen by the public until late in the day (they are brought out one at a time). Early visitors never get to see all the armor and that really sucks.

Dak

 

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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")...

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Ralph.

My point is that the AMPS system is just as susceptible to errors as any other system. The IPMS system is no more inclined to to pick "losers" than AMPS. IPMS is only saying these are the top three at a given place and time. AMPS doesn't give awards to ALL entries, so that could be construed as choosing "losers". A loser is someone who is slower than the tiger we are all running from.

My main argument is that it is ridiculous to try to grade creativity with a score sheet. AMPS has never objectively tested the system. Like strategic bombing in WWII, they insist it works, but actual results show it isn't any better, just different. It works only because that is how they have chosen to do it. If you like to participate in the AMPS contests, that's fine. However, I choose not to and really don't want IPMS to adopt that sort of judging system. It seems unpleasant to have a number placed on your model. A number which, in theory, it would get in any AMPS contest. In IPMS, every contest is a new day. No place at the regional and get a third at the National. A whole different contest.

I'd be happy to see the the IPMS system go to a GSB style as long as they keep the actual judging in the same format they currently use.

I was a member of AMPS 20 years ago and dropped out because I got tired of bellyaching about IPMS and because I found it to be too regimented for my taste. I attended the local chapter when they started, but dropped out for the same reason.

Dak

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So, is OKC Metro providing the post-show debrief and feedback on judging which Mark Persichetti (NCC) described in his March/April Journal article?   If the forms are not in-hand, the R6 Coordinator (Sean Glaspell) can provide them, as can Mark or other NCC members

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I have no idea as I am not a member of that group.

My remarks are based on examining the AMPS judging sheet of a friend. I did not judge but the IPMS side seemed to be fine.

Dak

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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...

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Well, I see this discussion is still alive and rolling around in the world of modeling. I think it is best to reach the point that - "We agree to disagree" period. It's a hobby guys! It is something we do in our spare time. I like to enter the Nationals - not to win but to just be at the convention and contest. If I should happen to win an award I leave happy if I don't win I still leave happy. By simply having my models sitting on the table at a National Convention with all those other beautiful models makes my day. 1,2,3 or GSB (which by the way is the same thing - G=1, S=2 and B=3) it makes no difference to me as I am there for the fun and seeing friends I only get to see once a year.

Just have fun with the hobby and build what you enjoy.

David Von Almen, Gentleman modeler in paradise

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5 hours ago, Ralph Nardone said:

why do we feel the need to compete in the first place? 

Why do we have the Super Bowl, World Cup, Grand Prix, NASCAR, the PGA, March Madness, the America's Cup, cheer leading contests, the Olympics, etc. People enjoy competition and it is probably hard wired into our brains.

Ralph, you are being a bit pedantic, but probably I am too.

Perhaps we should set up an experiment as a seminar at a national and see what results we get from the different judging systems. The exact same set of models judged by two different teams and perhaps a popular vote. We could show which is faster, and see if they come up with similar results. Then open up for questions and comments.

Model building at our level is creative and you cannot really evaluate it with numbers because those numbers are still based on the opinion of the Judge. The AMPS system doesn't do this well because of it's design and methodology. If you participate and like it, fine. I and many others prefer the free range IPMS system. It is far more flexible and does not button hole a model.

If the AMPS system works as designed, then there is no reason to take your silver rated model to another contest. Its value has been set. If that is not true, then the system isn't working. IPMS judging is for one brief point in time. Another contest with a different set of entries and it is a whole different game. A numeric judging should produce the same results every time, right? Most of those who whine about IPMS judging being cruel would suffer worse under a numeric system.

David Von Almen, please speak for yourself. To me model building is a way of life, and an art form, not "a hobby". The outcome of the contests is as important to me as World Cup is to Manchester. However, I do agree I am there for the fun. I want to win, but if I don't, there is always next year. You can't win, if you don't play.

Dak

 

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10 hours ago, Ralph Nardone said:

..."why do we feel the need to compete in the first place?" 

  You answered your own question earlier in this paragraph.  We're all "human", and competing is just part of the human condition.

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Dak, I always speak for myself. I just learned a long time ago that there is more to life than just siting at the workbench. If my model building had been "a way of life" I would have missed out on a lot of very interesting things that happened along the way. But like I said we just have to agree to disagree.

I am heading to the beach this morning then maybe I will work on my convention entry this afternoon.

David Von Almen, Gentleman modeler in paradise

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David,

For me, model building as a way of life has led me to some very interesting things in life. It is far from just sitting at the work bench. But it quit being just a hobby fifty years ago. In that time I have traveled to far away places and see and done many things, but at all times I was thinking how can I do this as a model. The time wasn’t just spent at the work bench. Your view is extremely limited if you think modeling is only about the model. Everything is a modeling subject if you see it as art like me. 
 

Dak

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Oh, but you do see competition at the Louvre. The ‚Äúwinners‚ÄĚ have¬†their ‚Äúentries‚Ä̬†hanging on it's walls. The losers are waiting tables at some sidewalk bistro across the street. And if you think our judges or AMPs judges are capricious, inconsistent, arbitrary and inconsiderate, how much better are that vaunted body of good judgement - Art Critics?¬†Good grief, some of the ‚Äúwinners‚Ä̬†in the Louvre, Toulouse- Latrec ( spelling?) for example, didn‚Äôt pick up their¬†‚Äútrophies‚Ä̬†until they were¬†almost dead or even later. At least our winners get their recognition before the show ends.¬†And when was the last time an embittered modeler cut off part of his ear or worse?

No, there is no competition in art. But, if so, why isn’t my Senior Year final creation for my studio painting course right up there with Apres Midi sur le Grand Jatte instead of being jammed behind the book case in my den. Because some twisted minds decided that Manet was a better painter than I am- and they were and are right. 
 

Some people are just better at some things than are others. That’s what makes a horse race- and a model competition. 
 

Nick Filippone, Senior National Judge

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Strike a nerve, did we Nick?

I can’t speak for your Senior year creation, but I agree, art critics  can be fickle as well as model judges. 

Well duh,¬†of course some are better at some things than others. Just because you can do an airplane model very well doesn‚Äôt mean you can do cars well. Me, I‚Äôm a renaissance modeler and do many things. (How well is for others to decide ¬†ūüėČ)

But my point was and is that AMPS judging is not superior to the IPMS method, just different. Also, that it is  a myth that IPMS picks winners and losers any more than AMPS. The models are awarded for a specific place and time at an IPMS show and the whole thing might change the next day. Many top winners in years past would not do as well now because everyone got better. 

I believe Van Gogh cut off and ear to show how much he love a girl. The modeler’s equivalent is throwing out or selling his stash because a lover thinks they are childish. 

Certainly, there is competition in art. I’ve seen many art contests over the years. I remember one where someone did a small painting of a Stug III. Students in art school get graded all the time. You often see the ultimate winner’s works on our highways and box art. Dragon would not have done near as well without Ron Volstad.

I do think the the IPMS judging system is superior to the AMPS system because while not perfect, it is more flexible and (at least for me) much more fun than judging for AMPS.  And I hope we never adopt a point system. 
 

Dak

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I assumed someone would point out, correctly, that Van Gogh cut off his ear over a failed romance. But this only emphasizes again how competition and winning and losing is innate¬†in the human condition- in this case, Van Gogh played the game of love and lost. But then, as the poet said, ‚Äėit is better to have entered the model contest and lost, than never to have entered at all‚Äô - Not!!!¬†
Nick

 

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If you don’t play, you can’t win. It applies in Vegas and model contests.

Nick, you are off topic now. This was about judging systems  Not whether we should have contests or not.

AMPS pigeon holes the model. IPMS does not. When it comes to picking winners or losers, AMPS certainly does by through its regimentation. You always stand a chance at winning at an IPMS contest.

Dak

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It wasn‚Äôt I who asked ‚Äú why do we feel the need to compete in the first place?‚ÄĚ So that is where the thread went off¬†topic. But so what! This discussion takes place annually. For me, participation is merely a rhetorical exercise and an opportunity to brush up on one‚Äôs grammar and spelling¬†skills- usually ( but not always)¬†¬†with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with either judging system, other than the fact that both are implemented by flawed human beings. This thread has been dissecting¬†a distinction without a difference. Nick

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I dIsagree Nick. Here I pointed out a particular point as proof that the oft vaunted AMPS system is no less flawed than the free range IPMS system. I also showed that the IPMS system does not pigeon hole the model as does the numeric systems. And that those who complain IPMS is too harsh or critical would probably do worse in a numerical judging system. I think that is very much a distinction WITH a difference.

And at this point, no one has shown that I am wrong. 

Worrying about why we have a contest is somewhat pointless. Obviously, plenty of our members as well as other groups want and enjoy the competition.

Dak

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Very interesting discussion, but there's a few things that's been missed...

IPMS JUDGING IS MISCONSTRUED AND MISUNDERSTOOD FOR TWO BASIC REASONS:

1) The general population of model builders world wide think that detailing is what determines how "good" a model is, and

2) The general population of model builders world wide think that accuracy is what determines how "good" a model is....

Even many of our own, less contest experienced IPMS members think that....

And why shouldn't they think that way? Almost EVERY model build you see in print (even in the Journal) and on-line emphasizes WHAT was done to a model to better detail it and/or correct it to be more accurate!

Then those same people go to an IPMS contest and all of their detailing and correcting of flaws seems to be ignored! Less detailed and less accurate models beat them out! Is it any wonder that many go home baffled and disillusioned?

IPMS has generally done as good a job as possible in explaining that we DO NOT judge by detailing and accuracy, BUT BY THE BASICS! Yet it seems to fall on deaf ears, or seems to be a foreign idea to most of the general public.

Judging is an inexact, HUMAN endeavor, and thus will always be flawed. Even when we agree on what a flaw IS, judges may disagree on its severity and how much to "penalize" a build for it. Judging experience and the lack of it will play a part in the results. Our ANSWER to THAT is simply that as long as those judges reached HONEST conclusions (mistakes included), then their results are valid!

I do not like, and disagree with any "point based" award system that requires math. In my experience, judges using that system will go back and simply change the numbers IF their "math" doesn't result in what they think deserves awards. And under circumstances mentioned above, judges will change numbers to avoid the controversy of being "too spread" as long as the NUMBERS determine an outcome.

I prefer the committee based system; i.e. 3 judges conferring in real time to come to a consensus. Whether it's 1-2-3, or GSB, these people CAN come to a conclusion without the need for math, even if it's not a unanimous conclusion.

I also dislike the emphasis on COMPETING TO BEAT SOMEONE ELSE as the determinate of what is a "winning model". The 1-2-3 judging system FORCES IPMS to do that, eliminating too many VERY well built models from any sort of recognition, especially at the Nats where there are so many well built entries. Models ARE indeed an art form, requiring a blend of methods (and with many variations) in both assembly AND finish to achieve what's considered a superior result deserving recognition. I believe GSB gives us a better way to do that: reward deserving builds while allowing for them to be judged less "technically" and have no model eliminated due to anyone else's efforts.

Most criticism of judging is based in ignorance....and in general is simply an expression of unexpected outcomes. Most true judging anomalies can be chalked up to honest human error, and is still more often than not the exception to the rule. My best reply to anyone who questions any judging is "did you judge?", followed by an encouragement to do so in order to learn HOW to have a better chance at being rewarded.

 

Gil

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Basically, I agree with Gil.

Personally, I wish IPMS would evolve into a system where there just awards but no placing and that more that three could be given in a category. Perhaps base the number relative to the number of entries. 

For many years it seemed that the judging in dioramas was poorly done. (note that dioramas usually get left until almost last at the awards presentation and often pushed to the side or back tables at the show). I think in part, because dioramas were seen as the ugly stepchild and many times the most experienced judges wanted to deal with the more main stream categories. But that has started to change. At Chattanooga, dioramas were a killer class. 
 

Also, up to about 20 years ago, IPMS was EXTREMELY aero centric, which is why AMPS got created in the first place  that now has changed, too.

Still, the free range committee judging we use works best. The system is flexible and fast. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Dak

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42 minutes ago, Dakimbrell said:

For many years it seemed that the judging in dioramas was poorly done. (note that dioramas usually get left until almost last at the awards presentation and often pushed to the side or back tables at the show). I think in part, because dioramas were seen as the ugly stepchild and many times the most experienced judges wanted to deal with the more main stream categories. But that has started to change. At Chattanooga, dioramas were a killer class. 

There is one major flaw in most dioramas:

A weak or non-existent story!

From the rules:

"Dioramas are story-centric, specifically built to tell a story or convey a message."

For a while, I was a diorama judge on Friday nights, and was taught by Art Gerber that this was the key. A diorama should be 60% story, 40% construction.

Without a clear story, a composition is little more than multiple models and figures on a base,and often "the more, the messier," to paraphrase Art. In essence, the model should be a "snapshot" of the description.

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