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Maraudercon 2012

November 11, 2012

I attended Maraudercon 2012 today.  It had an excellent turnout of competition participants and vendors.

There were definitely numerous standouts to my eyes in 1/48 propeller aircraft, 1/32 propeller aircraft, and 1/32 WW1.  I was surprised that there were only three Wingnut Wings kits: W.29, LVG, and E.III.  The E.III was impressive to see so quickly after the release date.  All three were built OOB or close to it and all were solid builds.  I stood and reviewed the 30+ planes in 1/48 single and dual engine propeller categories for an extended period.  I would hate to judge that category.  My favorite aircraft builds were the three 1/32 Hasegawa 109’s.  I just could not stop looking at them…The paint and weathering on all of them was well done, but I think I am just drawn to the lines of the late model 109.  I can’t wait to build my Hasegawa 109 G-6 and may have to pick up some of the other versions.  I didn’t spend too much time reviewing the other categories, but there were certainly some excellent armor models, automobiles, dioramas, etc…  To my surprise, the 3+ kits in the 1/72-1/76 armor category caught my eye.  I have at least one piece of armor in that category that I started 20+ years ago.  I am anxious to see if I can resurrect what I started so long ago.

As an afterthought, I am interested in how my tastes have changed from the time I started modeling as a kid until now as I rekindle my modeling efforts.  I used to live and breath 1/72 and only built only WWII aircraft.  I am just not drawn to 1/72 scale and associated level of detail like I used to be.  The kits in 1/32 and 1/48 scales, both WWI and WWII, are just incredible these days.  Today’s event even raised my interest in some post WWII/modern aircraft.

The most valuable thing I did today was shadow some judges and act as an apprentice judge (they were light on volunteers).  I quickly realized several things about competition that I had not really thought about before.

First of all, there are 2-3 reasons to compete: 1) Pay for someone else’s opinion and feedback, 2) Measure yourself against others 3) Pride in placing.  One must not forget the most important reason though–Make sure you have fun in building/finishing a kit.  I am not sure I would have realized that when I was younger.

Second, in general the judges follow an outside-in process in evaluating competing models.  I understand and agree with this approach as it places emphasis on the basics first.  This includes (for aircraft):

  1. Symmetry in wings, stabilizers, landing gear, wheels, propellers, flaps, canopy, rigging, cannon, tubes, ailerons (typically opposite hanging position), bombs, etc…
  2. Do the seam lines show? Are there any part gaps? Were panel lines sanded away and not rescribed?  Are there any signs/smudges of glue?
  3. Is the paint applied correctly (no orange peel/dust, smudges, missed spots, gross pattern issues)?
  4. Is there any decal silvering?
  5. If weathering was applied, is it applied throughout? Is it over done?
  6. Are there exterior detail features that standout and show skill/effort beyond normal?
  7. If the judges make it this far, are there interior detail features that standout and show skill/effort beyond normal?

In general the judges I shadowed were able to quickly able to filter the categories to the top 3-5 models with items 1 and 2 above.  If needed they would go to items 3 and 4.  This was an important lesson for me.  If your model makes it to that point, the judges have to painfully start picking out any flaw or issue.  You are at their mercy at this point and each judge may have a differing opinion.

Summary for competition building:

  1. You don’t have to detail a model.  Out of the box (OOB) will generally be judged against detailed models in the same category, but also have the chance to win OOB for that category.
  2. The competition rules will generally not allow sweeping of categories, so keep that in mind when choosing what to put in a competition.  If you put more than one model in a category, only your best one will be judged against the builder’s models in that category.
  3. Check you symmetry during dry fitting and after gluing.
  4. Keep a silver marker and flashlight at your bench to check your seam lines and gaps.
  5. Test your paint mixtures.
  6. Don’t forget to lay gloss/future for your decals and test them on a dummy model if you can.
  7. You don’t have to apply weathering but if you do, don’t over do it and make sure it is applied throughout.
  8. If you do decide to add detail, focus on the exterior as the judges rarely look in the cockpit.
  9. Create a legible flyer/bulleted list for your model detailing unique things you did that you want the judges to see and more importantly make sure to cover items that they may perceive as flaws.  This would include intentional gaps and seams plus irregular positions of flaps, ailerons, armament  landing gear, etc…

Of course each modeler has to decide what is critical for their build at hand if they plan to compete.  I do think that these pointers and techniques will become easier to understand/implement as you become more experienced.  I certainly have a ton more to learn.

Finally, I will definitely attend future events.  When visiting vendors, I noticed incredible deals and several hard to find kits.  As the event progressed many of the vendors seemed to become more flexible with prices as the likely did not want to have to repack and drive everything back home.  Do not hesitate to haggle, but make sure to give respect as everyone has different levels of investment.  I walked away with some incredible deals and some great connections for the future.

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