Re: Iron Modeler competition - Judging
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I found your reply to Larry very useful. I am working on my Cars AP and your advice is right in line with my AP Chairman direction to us.
I love this RealSTMFC group and all the discussions and pictures of Rolling Stock.
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Jason P
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2022 5:34 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Iron Modeler competition - Judging
As someone who has submitted models in contests and have participated as a judge a couple of times myself I will echo Larry's comments. The judge that made such a derogatory comment about the locomotive should have been asked by the contest chairman to pack up and "enjoy the rest of the convention."
In fairness, please understand that being a judge in a contest room is not an easy job by any measure. I've seen more than once a very small handful of these guys in a room thrashing to get through a room slam full of some amazing models, try to make the best call that they can, get the scores tallied up, and the results finalized all before the banquet that afternoon.
As to why the entrant is most often not present during the judging process, from what I've seen one reason for this is to keep the name of the entrant anonymous as much as possible to the judges to prevent any bias one way or another. There was once a situation at a regional convention where I have recused myself from judging a particular model because I knew that model had been submitted by a friend and fellow club member of mine. The current scoring matrix system is intended to be less subjective than previous methods. Perfect? well nothing is but often times you have a judge or a pair of judges on a single judging category (conformity, scratchbuilding, construction, detail, finish & lettering) so as to minimize the effect of any one judge's bias on the total score. Ideally you would prefer to have 3 judges on each category to eliminate bias as much as possible.
One thing that was taught to me as a contest entrant early on is that your writeup is critical to getting the most points possible. You have to assume a judge knows nothing about your model. Call it "spoon feeding" if you will but like I said the judges may sometimes be under time pressure and will likely only be able to read the section of the category that they are assigned to judging. Please help them out in any way you can. This may mean redundant information mentioned in multiple categories. Point out unique features or "neat stuff" in the construction. Attach "in-progress" photos in the construction and detail sections and point out the details and changes made. Remember how MR used to include photos in their kitbashing/detailing articles of those locomotives just before paint so that you could see that Cannon & Co cab and all those Details Associates parts hanging off of that "blue box" SD40-2? That's what I'm talking about.
Do you have a friend that is an experienced contest judge? Give them a copy of your writeup and ask for feedback on how to make both the writeup and the model better in advance of a contest. We have had several MMR's in our club (Larry is included) who encourage club members to have their "prejudged" (of sorts) before hauling to model up to the SER convention. Back in 2019, we had a club member Mike who was a first time contest entrant. We all pre-judged and critiqued his model several weeks in advance, he took what we said to heart, made the improvements to the model, and once he was done he packed it up and took it to the convention. The result? He scores around 100 out 125 points and got his first merit award. The grin on his face was priceless! He was on cloud nine.
I know I've probably sounded like I'm "nitpicking" while I'm judging but when you have several gorgeous heavy hitter models all vying for the gold you HAVE to get down to that detail to figure out an accurate scores and determine a winner. Doesn't mean all of the models aren't well done and beautiful in their own right.
Sorry for being a bit long winded. I know contests may not be for everyone but I really hate to hear how a few people on this list have had such bad experiences with them. In my experience, I can say that participating in it and being around as many MMR's as I have HAS made me a better modeler!
NMRA Steel City Division, Southeastern Region