Judging models

OK, IPMS judges how do you judge this as a kit?

“If” you could actually see to engage the enemy, what a mess to deal with.


The judges would be more interested in looking at the bottom.


You would be surprised how much people leave issues exposed.

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IPMS Judges seem to be the butt of routine scorn. Not least because we’ve all seen pictures of actual equipment lately that if reproduced in scale would immediately be discounted as fantasy by the judges.

Do IPMS judges have a sliding scale of subjective pedantry depending on the skill/age of the modeller?

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Looking for an explanation on this M1 MBT

Yes/No. It’s not in the rules for that but human biases do happen. At most contests there are categories for younger modelers that will compete against each other. At the Nationals this year they had 14 categories for teen and preteen modelers.
“Pre-Teen includes entrants through 12 years old.
Teen includes entrants 13 through 17 years old.“


That is actually far more comprehensive a range of categories than I thought existed.

I think if it was me and I was using a photgraphic evidence resource as inspiration for my effort, i’d include that as part of my submission.

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I would second that advice. However in the IPMS system, if we are being honest in most cases (Nationals maybe an exception) that will be overlooked by judges. Not the judges fault, just simple math of x models judged in x time doesn’t allow for this. Not to start an argument on styles as each has its place for that governing body and participates know ahead of time how they will be judged. If an AMPS style judging event, that would almost be expected as you can get points for the research and potential dinged points if not supporting your modeling choice. Example, if your tracks are mounted opposite of each other. Is that correct for a particular vehicle at a certain time or a modeler having a careless moment? If presented with no information other than the model itself, you would probably go with the later.


My experience from the very limited judging I have done for IPMS Stockholm is that we were expressly told that historical/factual correctness was NOT a judging criteria.
Full points for incorrect camouflage applied without faults (runs, fingerprints, paintbrush streaks wide as irrigation ditches et.c).
Deduct points for correct camouflage complete with all the faults listed above. Paintbrush streaks could be accepted if there was a figure by the tank painting with a bristly broom and a bucket.
No points for a gazillion PE-parts where the CA glue had smeared all over the place.
Shot down in flames when the roadwheels were not aligned, unless it was a burnt out wreck …

Hide the whole thing under bushes and foliage?
Sure. Just watch the paintjob, no glue marks, fingerprints or other sh*t, if I can see the roadwheels they better be aligned. A feather light tank floating on the tops of the grass?
Green foliage when the rest of the base plate is snow and mud? Gimme a break …
Complaints like: “That species of bush does not grow near the Dniepr front” doesn’t fly.


Too bad the tracks in the turf point right at the vehicle’s location…


To clarify:

There is nothing in the rules for AMPS that allows for judges to DEDUCT any points for perceived technical inaccuracies. The rules only allow for an ADDITIONAL one-half point (the “Reseach Bonus”) and that BONUS value is tied to the modeler presenting the minimal required information to support a connection between how the model was constructed OR finished and the research done for the build.

The judges are, in fact, admonished to NOT adjust any scores over their own, individual, interpretations of “technical accuracy.”

Here, taken directly from the AMPS rules:

( AMPS Judging System Page )

AMPS Judging Philosophy

Models are not just technical scale miniatures of their prototypes, but also artistic representations of historical, hypothetical, or imaginary subjects. While mechanical precision and fidelity to detail are highly desired, there are few other absolute rights or wrongs with most of the aspects of our builds. There are many different construction and finishing techniques and methods that can be employed to create the artistic representation of our subjects. These combine to create each model-builder’s unique “style.” Although judges are expected to assess and score the models, they are also expected to do this within the context of the individual modeler’s style and not their own.

And here, taken directly from the on-line AMPS Judges’ Training:

( Publicly open and available to EVERYONE here -

AMPS Judges’ Training Presentations )

Note the admonishment highlighted in red. Judges are explicitly told that their job is NOT TO ASSESS the technical accuracy of the models. (There are many reasons for this, but that’s another discussion.)

Here is an example of the actual score sheet used by each judge (called “Tally Sheets” in the AMPS show vernacular). You will note that NOWHERE on this score sheet is there any place for a judge to deduct (or award) any points for accuracy or inaccuracy. Period. There are simply no point values awarded for this - except for the ADDITTIONAL “Research Bonus” one-half point (which is earned by the modeler as long as he or she submits the supporting information IAW the rules).

Since this question (and the example postulated in the previous post) is about construction (installing the tracks oriented in two different directions), here is what the rules actually allow the judges to assess under the “Construction [Scoring] Group.” Again, note, there is no assessment allowed for accuracy.

As to the detailed assessment or evaluation guidance given to the judges for each of the areas in the “Construction Group,” here’s what they are taught:

Once again, you will note that in NONE of the sub-group areas is anything about “accuracy” evaluated.

Now, AMPS judges are not only encouraged to write comments to the modeler, but they are also required to do so. The Table Captain will ensure that each Field Judge writes AT LEAST ONE comment about the model. TC’s generally use a management technique where the first Field Judge to note some issue is told by the TC to “write that comment down,” so as to spread the written comments around as many of the judges observations as practical.

However, judges may write MORE than one comment (and most do). It’s not at all uncommon for a judge to note some basic technical inaccuracy in his or her notes, but the actual score awarded will never be based on that observation about accuracy. (In fact, many judges will preface such comments with something like, “This did not effect your score, but… .”)

So, it is possible to have accuracy notes (comments) returned to the modeler, but these are never reflected in the numerical scores awarded. There is simply no place in the scoring system to do so even if the judge wanted to.

As most folks know, a full AMPS judging team consists of four judges, but only the TOP THREE scores are counted. The low score is dis-regarded for the total, or aggregate score that determines what (if any) medal has been earned by the modeler.

Finally, with regard to awarding the “Research Bonus” (if such material has been provided by the modeler), the TC will take a vote of the team (this is also noted by each judge on his or her Tally Sheet - “Research Bonus: Yes/No”). Since all disputes within the judging team which require a vote are resolved in the modeler’s favor in the event of a tie vote, you can see that it only requires TWO judges in favor of the bonus to have it awarded. The VAST MAJORITY of modelers who do not get the “Reseach Bonus” fail to do so because they do not submit any research material with their model entry. It’s really that simple. If you make an honest effort to satisfy the requirements in the rules to get the bonus, you will almost always get it.

Also note, that earning the research bonus does not actually require any standard of technical accuracy. The bonus is NOT awarded based on accuracy but rather on the evidence of “research effort.” Also, the bonus covers ALL of the potential entry genres for the show, so the bonus can be earned for dioramas, vignettes, figures, and HYPOTHETICAL or SCI-FI. Reseach can be done by way of consulting ANY reference material, even if that material is not what most of us think as a “reference.” A modeler who enters a hypothetical or sci-fi type model could easily earn the bonus for providing supporting material that has been taken from a novel, a graphic novel, a video of a movie or TV show, etc.


Administrators, @HeavyArty , this thread has gone way out of tangent. Judging stuff should be a separate topic, and nothing to do with M1 SEP V.3. Could you move the recent discussions? Thank you.

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Realocate it to the diorama category and let the grass sniffers judge it :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

On a more serious note, just my 0.02$ (10+ years as a judge at our IPMS Nationals)

  • Judging a model is easier than building one

  • Historical accuracy should be a very small fraction of the total score (max 10%)

  • We use an open system e.g. models are judged based on standards, we do not compare models to each other. If four models deserve a gold medal based on the score, then all four get a gold medal.

  • Photos of the real thing one modelled next to his entry are welcome but this is a double edged sword since we (the judges) can see the real thing and what aspects of the build the builder missed e.g. wear and tear, markings etc

  • Color shades should be appropriate but we do not bother if someone used the correct grey shade or the correct sand color. If it looks right we are good.

  • If you enter a tank at the competition than the crew and surroundings are not judged.

  • There are two main categories, basic and expert. In the expert category judging is more strict and more points are deducted for mistakes.

  • Each judge has to bring a model of his own for the category he is judging. I find this very motivating, the look on people’s face when we discuss their model mistakes and they ask “and what did you build” and you show them your model is very rewarding if you have done a good job at it. :sunglasses:

And last but not least, the biggest problem with judging is that you need to be objective. I do not like German armor for example, but if I have to judge it I try my best not to be subjective. There are lots of people who do not do that and if the model they have to judge is not of their interest/liking they tend to be biased.


:+1: :grin:

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@Uncle-Heavy My comment had nothing to do with the judging?

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At a model in a contest, I’d ask myself what host of defects is that modeler trying to hide in the foliage. That’s my first impression and it is very negative.

How terrible can the finish be that the model must be hidden from view in foliage. I’d have to fight my personal biases against the model from the word go. That means keeping my mouth shut until the other two judges start talking about the model and what they observe.

Since I’m biased against it from the start, I know to listen to other judges more and talk less. I’m aware of my biases and acknowledge them. I’ll strive to be objective. I’ll ask to step to side if I can’t do that.

Regardless, that one like all contest models gets the Full Ray of Death Treatment. Everything gets the death ray. It’s only fair. As judges we know this model has defects. We must find these defects and pronounce verdict.

This is a Holy Undertaking :flushed:
(Joke, joking? No, not really.)

Whip out the mini-mag flashlight like a light saber, flicking back and forth looking for shiny spots (super glue).

Laser beam the road wheels looking for floaters. Check those tracks for tow in and tow out.

That MG on top? Realy check hard looking for punch marks, mold seams and glue spots.

Laser the vision blocks, searching for potentially unpainted plastic.

Take the end of that gun barrel to task. Looking for seams and flat spots.

Of course, ever model will get scoured and teased exactly the same way until, it’s defective secrets are revealed to the IPMS judges team.

That’s the honest answer.

PS - I had a lot of IPMS judging experience between 1996-2004, judged at three IPMS Nationals, was trained by several excellent IPMS judges from the old R3.


I was asked to help with judging at a big IPMS contest this year. I had never judged before and so tagged along with two more experienced judges .
I recognize that rules are rules and of course I deferred to my fellow judges but I think the system is flawed. In several instances models exhibiting much effort and beautiful paint and detail and obvious improvement over a known difficult kit were beaten by a simple shake and bake kit because of a ghost seam or other minuscule flaw.
As stated I am new at this judging bit but I think there is room for improvement in the IPMS system.


The one with the seam will lose every time. That’s a basic modeling skill.
There’s a guy who regularly posts on here who consistently has visible decal film on his builds, as well as crooked decals. Those sorts of models make the judging system much easier. :slight_smile:


The typical flaws help weed out the poorly assembled kits from the well built models.

Every added detail, PE or after market resin piece is one more possibility to make a mistake