Re: [BRHSlist] [RealSTMFC] Popular vote- was Iron Modeler competition?

Steve and Barb Hile

I guess I end up wondering why there needs to be any sort of "Contest" or "People's Choice" at all?  Non technical society RPM events like Collinsville, Cocoa Beach, etc. get along just fine without them.  Modelers can connect with one another over techniques and prototype information sharing.  Maybe that could/should happen at a historical society meet, as well.


Steve Hile

-----Original Message-----
From: <>
Sent: Jan 14, 2022 3:55 PM
To: <>
Cc: <>
Subject: Re: [BRHSlist] [RealSTMFC] Popular vote- was Iron Modeler competition?




If you want a Judged Model Contest then you go to the NMRA or some other contest.


The purpose of the BRHS Modeling Contest is to get people to model the CB&Q….not to raise the different aspects of modeling excellence per se.  If the BRHS would run a strict judged contest there would be few people interested in bringing their models for display.  I think such a move would absolutely kill the RPM movement and I think most all of the hundreds of people that spend a lot of time and money preparing for and attending those events would agree.


Interest in CB&Q Modeling has to be increased otherwise the only reason for the BRHS is appreciation for pure history.   While that happens to be what I am concentrating on at the moment I don’t think there are enough students of history to keep the organization going. The end reason for preserving the history of the railroad is to largely to be able to model it.


It would be nice if the BRHS had a larger pool of active modelers of high caliber like the PRRT&HS or other RRTS have that would not only model but do the work to create and publish an electronic modeling magazine that is open to all modelers.  But we apparently don’t and that inhibits the creation of more locomotives, cars and structures etc. being available in the marketplace to stimulate production of Burlington Route models and therefore enable more modeling.


Since you are an active modeler perhaps you need to network others in and out of the society that would be willing to step forward and do something about the sorry state of CB&Q modeling for the BRHS….


Charlie Vlk


From: <> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2022 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: [BRHSlist] [RealSTMFC] Popular vote- was Iron Modeler competition?


Hi Charlie,


The meet was in St. Paul. I had an email exchange with Jim Singer afterwards about either changing the word ‘contest’ to ‘people’s choice’ or revising the rules to make the process objective through traditional judging. That suggestion went nowhere. NMRA has both judging and people’s choice, but only judging is counted for best of show, and best of show is the model with the highest contest score based upon judging. The BRHS ‘contest’ really isn’t a contest if the voting criteria are entirely subjective. As you state, “I will vote on anything that tickles my fancy “, and that’s entirely subjective. What tickles you fancy may not tickle mine. That’s exactly why it’s not a contest. A contest is or should be determined by objective criteria according to rules that everybody understands. BRHS ‘contests’ have rules, but no objective criteria upon which to evaluate models other than fancy tickling as up so clearly stated. To me, ‘fancy tickling’ is ‘cute factor’, which has nothing to do with craftsmanship, which is at the heart of most model competitions. I stand by my response to Tony Thompson’s characterization of popular vote contests and Dennis Storzek’s antidote on the Soo convention ‘contest’, neither of which you forwarded to BRHS to give them perspective about the real world. You gave them only one third of the discussion.


For perspective, I’ve pasted in Tony’s and Dennis’ comments. My post wis between Tony’s and Dennis’. There were seven posts in this thread, and only these three are available to BRHS.


From Tony:

My observation from 15 or so years of hanging around contests is that the sure way to win a popular vote is to include figures, such as a couple of guys on a flat car, wrestling with a load. Even a happy young couple on the observation platform will do it. Great scratch building?? Great prototype accuracy?? Naw. The voters are just going for stuff that is fun to look at — or anything humorous.


From Dennis:

That exactly mirrors my experience with the popular vote contest at the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society annual convention. It's really disheartening to see scratch-built or kit-bashed models aced out by an O scale custom painted brass Diesel locomotive, but I've seen it happen, repeatedly. I remember one year, ages ago, when someone entered a completely scratch-built O scale bulk carrier lake freighter (from the years early in the twentieth century when the Soo Line had a lake shipping subsidiary). The model must have been over five feet long and had fully detailed interior of all the crew spaces. It didn't win a thing. This was so shocking that the BOD got together and created a "best of show" award on the spot, so we could recognize the model, and its builder, at the awards ceremony.


There’s another issue with people’s choice voting. I asked the contest chair one year how many votes a particular winning model received. He told me five votes. That’s hardly representative, considering the total attendance, Since models aren’t entered anonymously, a modeler can get five of his buddies to vote for him and win best of show.


My BA-19 is published in Railroad Model Craftsman, June 2015. That article covers creation of the shaddowline decals, not car constructions, but it includes several photos of the car.


Nelson Moyer


From: <> On Behalf Of Charlie Vlk
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2022 2:17 PM
Subject: Re: [BRHSlist] [RealSTMFC] Popular vote- was Iron Modeler competition?




I’ve voted in BRHS popular vote contests and the “Cute” factor doesn’t enter into the equation.  While you are correct that there are many BRHS members who are or have a former employee in their lineage, have a historical interest in the railroad, or don’t bring models to the meets, I think their interest in the Burlington Route is the primary criteria that the attendees base their vote on. 


I am not trying to award a model that has the most work put into it, not even the one with the best craftsmanship.  Those factor into my decision but it isn’t like I am mentally totaling up points that are weighted. However, I have passed voting for an entry that was a neat idea but had sloppy craftsmanship or deviated too much from the prototype it was supposed to represent.


I will vote for whatever tickles my fancy….as long it is a prototypical Burlington subject.   I am not going to vote for a stock model, factory, custom or owner painted, brass or plastic, unless it has such a good modeler paint job on it or weathering that it blows me away. I admit I will give more consideration to an N Scale model since I know what has to be done to produce a model in 1/160  but it ought to be an example that good modeling can be done in N!


I also will not vote for a model that is crap even if it is the only one in the category….I cringe when there are such single entries and they get First Place!   In that case an entry probably should get a majority of the number of ballots submitted to get recognition to uphold the purpose of the contest.


I don’t recall seeing your BA-19; it may have been at a meet that I missed.  I likely would have been considering it for my vote as you know I like the prototype…but if I did see it there may have been something in that category that I liked better….or I may actually have voted for it and you just didn’t get enough votes to win. 


I agree that awarding Best In Show to a stock factory painted or custom painted item  is wrong and I would support a provision that models have to be worked over to be entered…at least weathered by the owner.  It is not fair to gather awards for a factory’s work or a custom painter. 


I don’t recall if the BRHS entries are identified as to who the model belongs to…if so, that is another thing that ought to be fixed.


Is it possible that perhaps your thought that your entry should have received Best In Show may have put an edge on your recommendation?


I am copying my reply and your email to the BRHS List as I think the society leadership should be aware of this conversation.


Charlie Vlk



Thu 1/13/2022 7:51 PM on behalf of; Nelson Moyer npmoyer@...

Re: [RealSTMFC] Popular vote- was Iron Modeler competition?


I agree with Tony, with popular vote, the ‘cute’ factor outweighs any amount of originality and craftsmanship, especially when many of the voters are railfans without a clue about what it takes to scratchbuilt a prizewinning model.


Case in point. The Burlington Historical Society holds a model contest at their annual meeting in the fall. Contest rules break models into categories much like NMRA, there is no judging, just a popular vote on each category and best of show. A relatively small percentage of the membership are modelers, and a small fraction of those modelers scratchbuild. I entered a scratchbuilt BA-19 with shaddowline decal artwork I drew in Corel Draw and printed myself. I didn’t even take first in the passenger car category, much less best of show. The models that beat me were commercial RTR models, and the model winning best of show was a factory built and painted brass steam locomotive. After the meet I politely suggested that perhaps it was time to review the contest rules in the interest of rewarding scratchbuilding blood, sweat, and tears. I was summarily ignored. I don’t attend many BRHS meets any more, and when I do, I don’t bother to enter models in the popular vote they call a contest.


Nelson Moyer




Join to automatically receive all group messages.