2007 Show Me State Model Fest

This last Saturday (April 28th), I threw five models into the 2007 ShowMe State Model Fest, hosted by the West Central Missouri IPMS Chapter. This is the same chapter that hosted the 2006 National IPMS Convention in Kansas City last year. With that in mind, I would’ve expected things to go a little differently than they did. Overall, it was a good event. They had a nice facility–the "Holy Spirit Catholic Church" in Lee’s Summit, which had a very large gymnasium and break area. A number of good vendors were present, and a lot of good modelers showed up to compete. I’ve also gotta remember that I’m still very new at this. I’ve been in the IPMS for less than a year, and this was technically only my fourth model contest outside my local chapter. So I dunno… Maybe my expectations were askew, based on the events I’ve already been to.
Here’s what went well:
    • Registration was absolutely painless. They had all the materials needed for people set up in the break area, if they hadn’t done their paperwork in advance.
    • And when you brought your models in to the display area, event staff (chapter members) were right on top of you, making sure you knew where you needed to go and assisting you with finding your tables or anything else you might need.
    • The vendors were all set up along the outer walls of the gymnasium (which is also where the models were). This made it extremely easy to browse the vendors or look at models. Despite the fact that everything was in the same room, things felt well-separated but still cohesive.
    • The kit raffle was great–they had a ton of models, so I think they were giving away well-over a dozen kits every half-hour. Outstanding. And I’ll go into that a bit later.
    • The opportunity to socialize with other modelers–as always–was great. I had a chance to talk with a few folks I’d met at the Omacon–and recognized a few faces from Nationals last year. And I had a chance to talk with Matt, again–the guy making outstanding aircraft on his own online build journal–here. And congratulations, by the way–he placed in more than a couple categories. He certainly deserved the awards. Just take a look at his aircraft–and yes, I’m going to be stealing his technique for wood grain one of these days.
    • The awards ceremony was well-prepared. Even though they were a little late getting it started, they had seats set out for everyone, with enough room between them for people to go up and get their awards.
Here’s what they seriously need to improve on–and leads me to wonder if I’m coming back next year:
    • The display tables were (mostly) round tables–one per category. Although this worked out very well in most instances, there were some instances (like the "Out Of Box" category), where the table became downright crowded with entries. I think the long, rectangular tables would probably have worked better here. The round tables made for nice viewing of the models, but in those few instances where tables filled up, it really befuddled things.
    • The categories themselves were just a little screwy, at least, based on the other two IPMS contests I’ve been to. In those other two contests, they adjusted the categories (usually by adding a category) to put a more reasonable number (or more appropriately grouped) entries together. But they didn’t here. As a result, my Sopwith Camel was grouped together with ALL single-engine aircraft in that scale. My little 1916 biplane was competing against jet aircraft and everything else. Of course, on the other hand, I don’t think there were many other biplanes in the contest, but still. It was much worse in the sci-fi category. There were well-over a dozen entries, which could have–and should have–been broken out into at least two categories: "space ships" and "mechs". But they weren’t. Everything was lumped together. In normal contests (at least, those I’ve attended), they leave themselves "wiggle room" to move entries into other categories as they see fit or create sub-categories to adjust to the number (and variety of entries). It should’ve happened here and didn’t. I have only the judges to blame.
    • The seminar on building aircraft was outstanding. The information given was absolutely invaluable. I’ll probably be writing it into an entry in the future, just so I don’t lose it. The problem lies in that the seminar was given in the break area–right next to the hallway. This is also where the kit raffle was. So… while this expert in aircraft modeling was trying to impart his knowledge (without the benefit of a microphone or loudspeaker), there were people walking from the exhibit hall to the restrooms, or people right behind us talking about buying raffle tickets or what-not. To call it "distracting" was an understatement.
    • Finally, there was the high-dollar raffle. This is a raffle for only four kits, each ticket costs $5, and the value of the kits is easily over $100 apiece. One guy won three of the four kits!!! And I don’t think he would have minded only winning one kit. The fact that he won three of them? Ridiculous and stupid. I only put in one ticket. And I wouldn’t have minded not winning. It would have been nice to win, but it would almost have been just as nice to see four separate people win. Of course, it didn’t specifically say that you could only win once, so… that guy’s gotta be extremely happy with how it turned out. And I’m happy with how I did in the other raffle. But that’s about it.
It’s not any one single thing that was a fatal problem to me, but it was certainly a combination of all those things that really start to add up, in retrospect. It was obvious that the contest was very well organized. Great facility, good vendors, ample staffing, and good support. The contest? I didn’t like the way that was handled. The seminar? Should’ve been more isolated from everything else going on. And the premium raffle? Ridiculous.
It is my sincere hope that someone from that IPMS chapter reads all of this–not just the bad, but also the good. The good was great, but the bad was awful. They could take a few hints from how OMACON went this year–and hopefully they’ll get some similar feedback from others, as well. In the end, I’ll probably drop most of this in an email to them. I’d like them to know what I appreciated about their efforts, and also what may keep me from coming back.
And, just a few more random comments about the whole thing:
    • On a sad note, I broke my little Sopwith Camel, and then attempted to repair it on the spot with CA ("superglue"). This was probably a bad choice, as it left a little shine on the part. I’m sure it wouldn’t have won, anyways–but that didn’t help.
    • I did end up taking one second place and an "Honorable Mention". The Heinrich managed to snag the Honorable Mention in the sci-fi category, despite numerous and entirely-too-diverse competition. The Luna Pawn managed to snag a 2nd Place in the Out Of Box category. This absolutely shocked me, as it was the last category they read and everything else I had did so poorly up until then. I was, however, very thankful for it. It beat out some very worthy competitors.
    • In the raffle (the "cheap" one), I won six kits. This was after sinking $15 into eighteen raffle tickets. I won a 1:35 M2 Bradley, 1:35 British Challenger 2 tank, a 1:35 Matilda Mk.II tank, a 1:200 U-Boat, 1:24(?) American Graffiti die-cast model, and a 1:72 Matchbox Spitfire. If I were to sell these off, they would most likely cover my expenses for at least the day, and possibly a portion of the weekend. At least two of those are reasonably rare and/or special kits.
    • The guys there from Sprue Bros. Models were, as always, great. Nice as heck, handing out plenty of their pens (which are some of the best pens I’ve ever used). I also like it when they’re there because it gives me a chance to pick up things my local hobby shop doesn’t carry. In this case, it was some Tamiya Putty and very thin sanding sticks. I also picked up a little bargain-bin 1:35 samurai set, to which they just opted to throw in another set of similar figures. Although they were just doing it to clear the inventory, I did sincerely appreciate the gesture. And I’m sure they’ll make great painting practice (which I apparently really need, after how I fared in the judging).
As I said, this was–overall–a good event. Not "great", but not bad. I’m glad I went this year. Next year? We’ll just have to see what my schedule looks like. I’m not going to get all ramped up for it. On the other hand, we had a great weekend in Kansas City. Ate some delicious barbeque, and hit Worlds of Fun for a good chunk of the day on Sunday. It’s been more than fifteen years since I’ve been on a roller coaster, and we had a great time building wonderful memories. Sunday night, we had great chicken-fried steak at my favorite diner in the whole wide world. We also got some great pictures of our first mini-vacation together. In one of my few-and-far-between personal notes on this journal, it means the world to me to have such amazing support from family, friends, and loved ones. My beautiful Alisha is beyond wonderful. She actually enjoys going to these model shows, which–as I understand it (and fully believe) is a very rare and special thing. I’m the luckiest/happiest guy on Earth. Not only that, but I learned at Omacon that the raffle goes much more in my favor when she holds on to the raffle tickets. The fact that she tells me she’s proud of me and the hard work I put into these little "toys"… Well… there’s just no way to begin to tell you how much that means.
In retrospect (and after thinking about it and re-reading this entry), I went into this thing with a slightly off-center attitude. In previous shows, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the works of my fellow modelers. I really didn’t do that in this contest, and there’s a few reasons for it–all of them directly my fault, of course. I did study the competition in the sci-fi category, but outside of that I barely glanced at any of the other models there. That’s not right at all. If I’d brought a camera, it might’ve been different, but I forgot the camera. Instead, it was all about winning. I wanted to get my models in the contest and I wanted to win kits in the raffle. Simply put, that ain’t the right way to be. I’ve learned more about what’s good and what’s bad by walking around the contest area and talking to fellow modelers than I have just about anywhere else. Coming off my success at Omacon, maybe the attitude is somewhat understandable, if not justifiable. The fact that I didn’t do particularly well here was a wake-up call, though. It shows me that I’ve got a long way to go. And that’s good.  
So… with all that’s been said and done, in the last two contests, I’ve entered a total of six models. One has won twice (counting the "Honorable Mention" certificate"), and the only one that didn’t win anything between the two contests probably shouldn’t have ("seam issues", apparently). In short, it’s time to retire the "winners". I need to get some new stuff done. Get that out there into the contests. Heck, just get it done. That won’t be happening for awhile, though. I’ve only got a month until the big move and most of that time will be spent packing. Probably won’t be much time for model-making. As such, entries might be a little sparse for the next forty-five days. I’ll try to get something up. I’m just not sure what.

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