Contest. Do you go? Why or why not?

As a somewhat related topic to my previous thread do you go to contests and why do you go?

I go to the contest for the people. Love to talk to folks and pick their brains about how they do things. Learn something new almost every time. Don’t just talk to armor guys either but I pick up tidbits from ship builders, car guys, etc. The other aspect of contest I enjoy immensely is the group of guys I travel with, especially if its a multi day event like an nationals. We’ve become a pretty tight bunch over the years and we all get along very well despite coming from different backgrounds. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
One of the best days I ever had was at IPMS Nationals in Chattanooga. Went to some mountain and there was a restaurant/bat at the top. Ordered some drinks and appetizers and just sat around for a couple of hours joking, busting on each other, and telling stories. Later that night we had dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. Sometime I go to contest without taking anything just to enjoy the company of our group.


I go to contests that are nearby. I rarely have anything worthy of entering; but I do like looking at other folks’ work. I also help with the armor judging. It’s good to be around others with similar interests.

There’s also the vendors! You can never have too much plastic on the shelf! :slight_smile:

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The adventures of contest related road trips with a group of friends is probably the best part. We had a many excellent discussions back in the day on all sorts of topics, autocross, hunting, model building etc. The shopping aspect to seeing what vendors have for sale or working trades amongst the group was also a key fun factor for many. The competition & judging were also a key elements back in the day.

One best memory, after the contest visiting The Butchers Block steakhouse in Knoxville, TN. We had little idea we were in store for just about the best steaks any of us had ever had. We talked about for a long time afterwards. Sadly BB closed several years ago.

Today visiting model contests are a very different experience and are solo as all the old gang moved on, have serious health issues or are inactive. I knew back in the day we had something special with the club. Good memories.


I have had a love/hate relationship with contests. I have gone mostly for the people, not a trophy hound as my kits don’t place. Since moving back to NC in 03 I have been to many from NC, SC and VA then I ran a few contests and it kinda has soured me on them. Seeing and making the sausage can sometimes not be pretty. Have started going back to a few both in VA this year. SC has a big one (for this area) coming up this weekend, I will not be able to attend. Maybe the one downeast later this summer, idk.


I recently went to the AMPS International event in Newport News, Va. I went for the models (much better work than I could ever achieve) and the vendors. I met some cool people and even joined an AMPS chapter in the Pittsburgh area. It’s really awesome to see people’s work close up instead of a computer screen. I also found some great deals on kits. Can’t wait till next year.

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I like going to contests,love to look at and marvel over the entries,and of course I love the vendor tables !!! Also as you mentioned,its fun meeting up with members from this and other forums.I wont fly or go long distances to get to one,but if its in decent range I will usually go.When I lived in NJ I used to go to Armorcon in Danbury and Mosquitocon in Wayne every year.I went to AMPS International in Danbury in 2017,even stayed overnite with the wife.

Since I move to NC, the timing just hasnt been right,I regret missing Chattanooga which was pretty close by,but had another vacstion planned.Looking to go to Columbia SC next year.

I go if distance permits. I like looking at what the vendors have but seldom buy because of all the un-built stuff I have

I enjoy putting my work on public exhibit and looking at other work and (hopefully) getting a chance to talk to the builders about things that particularly catch my eye (especially techniques and methods). The vendors are usually worth checking out (even the local “closet cleaners”), and I don’t begrudge the entry fees since I know how expensive it is to put on a nice model show.

I don’t enter models for any sort of competition anymore (and haven’t for years), so I only put models in a show in “display only” or mark the entry forms “do not judge.” I like to think that I build models in a “post competition” world. While I appreciate the time and effort that the judges put in at contests, I no longer need or want that sort of feedback (such as it may be). I’m totally confident in my skills and comfortable with my own “style.”

In short, I build for myself, the way I want, with no need to satisfy anyone but myself.


The local contest scene has died as the brick and mortars closed. What is left that I am aware of is the Washington State Fair (The old Puyallup Fair if you have been around for a while). I am not aware how that one is judged. They were sorta picky about the drop off and pick up times so I haven’t tried that one yet. Maybe someone in the know can provide me some useful information about it.

I use contests as motivators to finish models. It’s nice to get feedback from those contests that give it rather than simple 1-2-3 awards.



Like Armor Buff, I’m always down for an excuse to go on a road trip. I’ll probably head to the Nationals this year. Planned “events” include spending a night at Camp Ashland, visiting a motorcycle museum my wife discovered, and testing out my “adjuticator” coin at the Continental Hotel in Centerville, Iowa. If we aren’t assassinated during our stay it will have worked.
I haven’t entered a contest in decades. No point. I really DO build for myself. I want to see other people’s work. I no longer feel the need to display mine. This has the added benefit of not having to watch dudes with mag lights break off antennas and small details trying to see inside my builds.


I only go the three shows a year: IPMS Syrcon (Syracuse, NY), Fulton Model Car & Truck Show (Fulton, NY), and The Spring Thaw Show (Utica, NY). The shows are pretty good, and I generally don’t bring anything, as like Richard, I rarely feel that I have anything contest “contest worthy”; and transporting 1/25 semi-trucks is a real pain in the you-know-where. I do like to go to see what other (better) modelers have built, and sometimes the vendor areas can be pretty good. Mostly I go to meet up with friends, which seems to be a common theme in this thread. Never been to NNL East, but I’ve hear that’s a good show. Went to an IPMS Valleycon (Chicopee, MA) when I lived near there.

Oddly, or maybe not, I find modeling more relaxing now that I don’t bring anything to the shows. I found that I was stressing over adding details to the model that after the show no one was going to see, or care about ever, again. So I build for me, and to post here on the Forum. I also found that contest judges can’t seem to read. Has anyone else found that to be true? The contest form clearly states that the judges are NOT to touch the model, yet they pick it up & flip it over anyway!


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I enter 2 or 3 contests a year. I don’t win much, as there are a lot of great modelers here in Southern California. I go to get inspiration from other builders. Often I will see a great model of a kit I would have otherwise never thought of getting, and I will get that kit myself. It is great when there is a good selection from the vendors. With so few brick and mortar stores left, contests are often where you will find the biggest selection of kits. You can often score some great kits for $20-$30.

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Well said! :+1: Same as my thoughts.

In Germany we have a different kind of show I guess. In general they are display shows without a contest. If there’s a contest, it’s especially announced with extra tables where you have to pay a fee. I don’t do that because I don’t see the point in contests in our hobby. I only build for my pleasure and not for medals. If others like my works than that’s fine for me, but there are more important things in life. On our shows I like to chat with other models builders, look at their works and have fun. I’m open to all kind of genres.
Before Covid I attended about 10 model shows per year as exhibitor. This year I will go to 5, which is quite good for a re-start. Most of our shows are over 2 days. I avoid one-day-shows. It’s too much expenditure for too little time. This is my table at the show of my club in May this year …

Happy modelling guys!



i love contests, I usually go to wonderfest and anything within a 6 hr drive depending on the show. for instance i always try to make the buffalo show, indianapolis and wrightcon in dayton ( all 3 are excellent shows) .
I go to be inspired, buy stuff ( thats a big part of it) and to compete. going to nationals in omaha in july.

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Good luck at nationals. Went last year to Vegas. Great time with the crew.

Ok lads, Brit perspective here. As a general rule, I don’t bother. I’ve been to a few shows. Used to go to Euro Militaire back in the day. I entered a couple of figures at Sword & Lance a few years ago. Didn’t get anywhere. Hoping they do it again soon. I’ve improved since then. Figureworld North has just been & gone. Really wanted to compete in that but, it fell on my Wedding Anniversary. Sorry Dudes, my wife is more important! At the end of the day, I do this stuff for my own enjoyment. I really don’t have anything to prove anymore. If I can pass something on or, if anyone likes my stuff, great! If not, oh well, try again. The biggest buzz for me? When my Grandkids see one of my builds and ask about it. I can then explain how I did it and more to the point, can explain the history behind it. That gives me more pleasure than anything! Three of them are already building. They’ll probably do better than I ever will. That’s my legacy! As for shows, maybe sometime in the future….


LOL! I’d say 85% of judges try to do a great job, are considerate, diligent and fair. Based on my experience of hitting ten to twelve shows a year back in my “competition phase” and heavy involvement in judging etc. The other 15% well, 5% are inexperienced and learning, 5% are tired modelers who can’t see very well and 5% are clueless idiots that do whatever they please regardless of rules or guidelines.

Example - held judges meeting, instructed judges not to judge based on color accuracy. Given judges written handout with guidelines including do not judge on color accuracy. Remind judges not to judge on color accuracy. Sometimes you’ll end up with a couple of judges that - guess what - judged on color accuracy. I know because I had two judges do exactly that at a contest where I was head judge. One of the judges had been through our clubs judge training class…but still did as he pleased. Sadly I discovered it after the fact when discussing results. They were well aware of the do not judge on color accuracy but felt the “issue” was too extreme to over look.

Despite a few “unfortunate examples” like that the vast majority of the time the judges really do try to the best job possible under the circumstances.

As a good friend used to say about model contests, we pay our money and take our chances.


Do I go to contests? Hell, I run a contest! Have been for 22 years!

I am fully immersed in modeling life with Armorcon. The show is in October and I “Light the fires and kick the tires” in April. It is a boatload of constant work for me and my small staff. Once the show kicks off, though, and those treadheads start streaming though the doors, it makes it all worth it. Every one of them is so genuinely appreciative of me putting on the show, giving them a place to come for a weekend of tank geek goodness. They can’t wait to see all their friends in person, enjoy a cold one and dinner with them, talk tanks, hit that 80 table vendor room, spend all their money on stuff that would otherwise be mailorder, and enter the contest to see how their work stacks up. Some win medals, some don’t, but I’ve never in 22 years had anyone say they didn’t have a great time.

I go to and enter every contest I can (Usually a 2 hour radius, plus the AMPS Internationals) for 3 reasons:

  1. Building for a contest makes me a better modeler. I build better. I add more detail. Yes, I count rivets. I do my research. I strive for perfection and I enjoy it. I paint more precisely. I weather more carefully. I go for “That Look”. Does my work medal? Yes, most of the time.
    Sometimes I just build OOB and enjoy that, too, but nobody ever cut that first part off the sprue with the intent of building a piece of crap.
  2. The Vendors. Walking into a good vendor room is like all of your Christmas mornings rolled into one. Everything your tank geek heart desires (and some stuff you didn’t know you needed) is all before you in those aisles. At up to 40% off retail. In your sweaty little hands - no shipping. You get to open it and look in the box right there. Shop till you drop and who needs cash for gas to get home? You’ll put it on your emergency credit card and explain it to SWMBO later. Then there’s the thrill of the quest - searching stacks of kits for that one model that’s been out of stock online for years and suddenly spying it, grabbing it before anyone else does, and basking in that “Holy Grail” feeling as you proudly show it around to your friends.
  3. Modeling Buddies. There is nothing better in this hobby than going out to lunch or dinner with a bunch of treadheads. Getting together with online friends that you only get to see every couple of months or once a year is a special privilege. Even though ours is a solitary hobby, modelers in general are great people with an excellent sense of humor and great stories. I have never laughed so hard in my life than at a restaurant table full of modelers. My best friends are from my model club. I have also formed lifelong friendships with guys that I met online and got to know in person at model contests.
    So yeah, I go to contests, and I enjoy every one of them, even if I don’t win.

Looking forward to getting back to ArmorCon. Lately 1:1 has kept me away from the last two. Build on. :grin: :grin: :+1: :+1: