Re: Contests (was: NMRA Sacramento)
Another detrimental aspect of contests that may not have been mentioned are the indirect
effects of "so-and-so always wins" syndrome. At the aforementioned 1988 N&WHS
convention, Dean Freytag brought some massive structure for the model contest. There
was a lot of good natured commentary that nobody else bothers to bring a structure
because Freytag always wins. Nothing against the late Mr. Freytag in this regard - if
that's his thing, so be it. And the commentary, good natured or otherwise, reflected
one unfortunate side effect: I didn't get to see anybody else's structure models.
When you eliminate the prizes, eliminate the judging, eliminate "Dean Freytag always
wins structures", eliminate points, eliminate finish requirements, eliminate
documentation requirements... an amazing thing happens. People who would bring 1-2
models bring dozens, and people who would not normally bring models at all bring many.
One year at a national, a well known modeler showed up in the RPM room and put out four
very nice models that I was interested in. While he was unpacking, I asked a few
questions about the details, and he went into a 5 minute speech about which contests
these models had won, contests he had one in the past, and mentioning some H.S. contest
with a final harrumph proclaimed, "I guess I OWN that contest!" I didn't say another
word, or ask another question, and I received exactly zero information about the models,
details, how they were constructed, etc.
The following year same guy showed up in RPM with more models. He asked me which table
for his category, and I said there's no contest this year. He harrumphed again, packed
up his stuff and left - presumably headed for the NMRA contest room but not really sure
if he made it there.
I think that's the one and only example I've come into contact with in 16 years with RPM
where somebody refused to participate in RPM because he couldn't win anything.
I did make the grave mistake of asking the esteemed Mr. Freytag at the start of the 2005
convention if he would be bringing anything for RPM. Boy was that a mistake. I got a
loud chewing out and an earful of old school NMRA, as if he had been waiting for someone
to mention those evil three letters so he could unload. I basically just got up and
walked away... what else could I do? Some trains are never meant to meet I guess.
That's precisely why I don't bother trying to recruit RPMers from the ranks of the NMRA
or anywhere else. The RPMers seem to have no problem finding each other.