Re: Iron Modeler competition?

Tony Thompson

Having served 5 years as a Contest Director for an NMRA region (Pacific Coast) and having been a judge in NMRA national contests, I do know contests and judging. I happen to have been one of the folks who, in 1995, got the NMRA “Prototype” category bumped up from 10 to 25 of the 125 points. This does require prototype documentation be supplied. I judged in a contest in which a Westside Lumber Co. flat car was submitted, and it had no sill steps. That happens to be prototypically correct, but the modeler submitted no documentation, and obviously many judges would not have detailed knowledge of the Westside. Luckily a judge in a different category did know.
As a judge, I have seen voluminous documentation submitted that could easily be a novel. NO JUDGE in real time can possibly even skim huge amounts of material. This shows that the entrant didn’t take the time to distill down the information to what is essential. Of course some entrants hope to amaze and baffle the judges, who would thus not read the material, but give full credit.

I personally believe that contest have their place, but each one has a set of rules, and if you want to do well, you have to understand those rules BEFORE you start building, and build accordingly. Certainly in the pre-1995 days, one often saw in NMRA contests models built with odd construction techniques in order to maximize points. This is easy to laugh at, but it can be the result of any set of rules.

Personally, I really like the RPM approach, where models are displayed and the modeler is nearby to chat with visitors about the model. This is immensely more instructive than a judged contest. In fact, as many know, the partly built, or built but unpainted, model can be far more instructive than a beautifully finished model. And no one runs into a “gotcha” in the rules.

Tony Thompson

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