At 10:27 PM 7/13/2011 -0400, you wrote:
One difference between RR modeling and military modeling is that often theMilitary modelers generally don't operate their models prototypically either. Perhaps we railroad modelers don't have to worry about brake shoe wear, but military modelers generally don't have to make sure their wheels are in gauge... nor do they have to worry about gun barrel recoil. Imagine model contests where the loser is blown up!
Railroad modelers are really the only "serious" modelers who play with our toys, although this is certainly expanding now to RC cars, boats, and aircraft - but I'm guessing that their compromises for operation have more impact on prototypical fidelity than they usually do for us.
I don't completely grasp why so many military modeling groups thrive on contests. There are also some RR historical societies that have some fairly serious model contests - I believe ATSF and UP both are highly competitive in this regard, although I have not been to any of their events.
The last time I entered a contest of any type was at the 1988 N&W historical society convention. Even then, I would rather have just displayed but it wasn't really presented as an opportunity to do that. I brought my three newest (at the time, best) models - whereas at an RPM meet (which I had not yet been to), I bring a lot more models, including unfinished ones.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the unfinished aspect of RPM. Unfinished models generally don't have a place in a model contest, but they are a welcome and in fact a very important part of RPM meets. If everyone left their unfinished projects home, I would feel like I was missing out on a lot. I bring my own unfinished models... sometimes the same ones in the same state of (in)completion, year after year... LOL.
I may have mentioned it before but I owe my clarity on contests to a professional photographer and WWII veteran I met on line some 20 years ago. When he was prodded to enter something into the forum's contest, he declined with a rather decisive finality. When I met him face to face some time later, I asked him why because the contest thing had always bugged me but I couldn't put my finger on it. He said two words: "It's demeaning". It just all clicked for me at that point. If this man, who could have easily won the contest he declined to participate in, believed having his artistic work judged at all - for good for for bad - was demeaning, well - it just made perfect sense to me. Up to that point I shied away from contests, and had never exhibited a model outside of the local NMRA show in years. And at that show, I dealt with this line all the time: "You're not entering these in a contest? And they aren't for sale? Then why are you here?"
Since I discovered RPM, I haven't had to field any questions quite that stupid. I do occasionally get quizzed - pressured even - as to why my models aren't in the contest (when I used to go to the NMRA conventions). The most polite response I could give was, "that's not why I build them".