Thoughts on judging

Whenever we go to a modelling competition, one aspect that always gets a lot of attention is the judging. It seems as though everyone has an opinion on the judging, and rarely is it the case that those with the most vocal opinions think that the judging was fine.

Now, I’m not going to get into the controversy over whether Jimbo’s P-69 Thundercat should have beaten Cletus’ Blackburn Bastard for best in show at the East Westington IPMS show three years ago, but I do think it is worthwhile to explain the difference between different judging systems and the pros and cons of each, if only to help out new people. IPMS USA is currently discussing switching from 1-2-3 to open system at their nationals, and the style of judging (if you even plan to make it a competitive thing) is one important decision for anyone looking at starting up a local show.

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This guy gets it

There are a couple important caveats to this article that I would like to address up front. This article should not be taken as me being salty over any decision at a recent show, or upset that any show doesn’t use my favourite judging system. That is not the case, and I’ve intentionally saved this for publication at an appropriate time in between shows so it doesn’t read like sour grapes or criticizing any particular show organizers.

Second, I think at the end of the day, it is important to keep things in perspective. Everyone who is proud enough of their work to show it off is a winner, and the true prizes are the friends you make along the way. While competitions can be fun, getting too competitive about your hobby is a surefire road to misery and frustration (see: why I don’t do competitive Warmachine anymore).

Judging systems

The first, and probably the most established, judging system is IPMS style 1-2-3 judging. Here, there are multiple categories and a team of judges simply chooses the best, 2nd best, and 3rd best model on the table. While this may sound subjective, judges are trained to judge models according to standards laid out in the judging document. In these standards, craftsmanship is king. They have wisely chosen to avoid judging historical accuracy to prevent fistfights over the proper shade of RLM 69 or the number of rivets on the glacis plate on the real thing. And since they’re focused mainly on craftsmanship, they tend to be fairly objective – a missed seam line is a missed seam line, regardless of a judge’s level of affinity for the subject.

We also have the open system which is common in figure shows. Instead of competing against each other, modellers are competing against a set of objective criteria. There are generally Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, and each entrant simply gets what the judges think their work deserves. This means that there can be any number of people winning any colour of medal – and zero is still a valid number.

Next, we have systems that are based on rubrics. This is common for Gunpla builders, and I believe it is often used for AMPS shows and paint scores in 40K tournaments, but I’ve never been to either of those. Here, there are a number of categories representing various aspects of a build – construction, painting, modifications, etc. Points are deducted for mistakes and added for things that are particularly well done, and at the end of the day, points are added up across all the categories and all the judges, generating a total score. This score can be then used either to rank the models most points to least, or give out awards to anyone who scores a certain number of point.

Finally, we have a simple people’s choice award, where attendees vote on their favourites and he who gets the most votes wins. The voter base can either be fellow entrants or the general public.

Of course, the differences between these systems aren’t always set in stone. Figure contests regularly feature best in show awards in addition to the gold-silver-bronze system. IPMS shows may use the open system for junior categories, so as not to crush the dreams of any young modeller. An open system can judge every model individually, or a modeller’s work as a whole, only giving out one award per category for his best work. And any show may incorporate a “people’s choice” award in addition to the judged criteria. Further, there are variations in these – IPMS contests can have “no sweeps” rules to prevent one person from taking home all the prizes in the categories, GSB style contests can judge and award every single model or an artist’s work as a whole, and rubrics can be either extremely detailed or very basic and can weigh different aspects of a build.

My thoughts

All of these systems have their pros and cons, and they are all heavily ingrained in the culture of the communities that have adopted them.

The IPMS style is nice and simple, and you can get a lot of judging done quickly. A simple glance over the table can greatly narrow down the number of models that are in contention and that a judge really needs to examine closely. However as anyone who has tried to organize a model show can attest, when you have very diverse builds, the sheer number of categories required to ensure that you have like competing against like, that there are not too many or too few entries per category, and that every possible thing that can show up has a category, ends up becoming a bit of a nightmare. Not to mention when the number of entries in each category is invariably much different than what you planned, judges often have to split or merge categories for there to be any semblance of fair competition. And then how the judges tweaked the categories on the day of the contest can be a bone of contention for those who didn’t win.

Further, there will always be some categories that end up being more hotly contested than others, so in some ways it is less of an objective measure. You can win first place in your category either by doing an amazing model and beating the other couple dozen amazing 1:48 aircraft, or you could be the only entrant in an obscure category and take home first place with a mediocre entry. I know that personally, the amount of hardware that I bring home at an IPMS show within driving distance depends about as much on who else shows up as it does on my quality of work.

There is also a risk of disappointment for those who don’t place. Anyone from 4th to last has no idea how well they did. As one example, I judged a competition a few months ago where we narrowed it down to the final four, figured out the winner and runner-up fairly easily, and then spend a lot of time deliberating over who gets the bronze and who goes home with nothing. If I hadn’t talked to the guy who was in 4th place afterwards, he may have been discouraged simply because he would have no way of knowing how close he was to placing.

Finally, because the IPMS style is comparing the models to each other, there are some logistical challenges. You need to have all the models on the table before you start judging, whereas with points systems and open systems, if the judges know they are going to have their work cut out of them, they can simply judge models as they arrive or get a head start before the entry deadline.

Open System

The open system has a lot of advantages. The main one is that you aren’t competing against each other, you are competing against yourself. How you do on the day doesn’t depend on who else shows up. This gives you a more accurate representation of where your skills are at, and it can help you set realistic goals, such as if you won Bronze one year, to go for Silver the next.

The open system also doesn’t require as many categories as the 1-2-3 system, which makes things a lot simpler. However, the judges tend to have a bit more work cut out for them as under a 1-2-3 system, a quick glance can often knock out a majority of the entrants who are uncompetitive and cut down on the number of models that need a serious look. The open system requires the judges to look at every model on the table (or, at least, everyone’s best work in a category) and give it its appropriate award.

I also think the prevalence of the open system contributes to the friendliness and mostly drama-free nature of the miniature painting community. When you are very rarely directly competing against each other, you are more invested in helping each other build their skills. When your friend wins a gold medal, it’s not bittersweet because he beat you to get it.

Rubrics and points

As for rubrics, to be honest, I’m not a big fan for a few reasons. First, I feel like they are popular because they have the appearance of objectivity, however I’m not sure they are actually that much more objective than something like the IPMS style, where there are no rubrics and the judges just confer and make a call. The theory is that simply choosing the best is open to favouritism, and points systems make things more objective. However, there is nothing preventing a biased judge from simply giving their favourites more points than the rest, either consciously or unconsciously.

Second, rubrics encourage people to build to the rubric if they want to be successful in the competition. Instead of simply approaching the build how they want, people end up having to tick off a number of boxes to get the maximum score or at least a competitive score in the category. For example, competitions that award points for conversions and customization may encourage people to do unnecessary modifications just so they can say that they did a conversion and get the points for that category. If the rubric isn’t well-designed, then you could have situations where it discourages creativity by rewarding certain specific style choices – for example, punishing an automotive modeller who enters a showroom clean car by giving him a big fat zero in the weathering category.

Can the people be trusted?

People’s choice is an interesting one and it makes judging a lot easier by simply removing the need for judges altogether. That said, in model shows as in democracy, the people can’t always be trusted. People tend to be attracted to the biggest, shiniest model with the most blinking lights. However, said model may, on closer inspection, have a ton of seam lines, alignment issues, and problems with the finish which are not apparent to the layman at a quick glance. Good models can get passed over simply because they aren’t the biggest, most eye-catching thing on the table. However, just having a show with a ballot can make for a much more chilled out atmosphere than a judged contest.

Feedback?

While feedback is good, not everyone wants feedback and not all feedback is useful. If you missed a mold line, being told to clean up your mold lines doesn’t really help you as a modeller. You already know you’re supposed to deal with that; that’s not new information for you. However, feedback such as new weathering techniques, suggestions on diorama composition, colour theory and lighting, etc., can actually help bring you to the next level.

I also feel that when it comes to feedback, some people are genuinely interested in improving their skills and progressing as a modeller, and some people just want to be salty that they didn’t win. They don’t want honest critique, they want to know why they lost and use it as ammo to grumble.

Again, I feel like the GSB system lends itself more to honest feedback because judges can tell you what you can do to bring yourself to the next level, rather than comparing your entry to other models and saying “well, Jim over there made something nicer.” Knowing what you can do to go from Bronze to Silver is much more valuable information than knowing which mold line you missed or what tiny flaw in your model caused the other guy to beat you.

If you really want feedback, track down a judge and ask him or her for it. Or, just talk to your friends and fellow competitors and get their feedback. Detailed feedback on a score sheet sounds nice, but it is onerous for the judges and it may not be as useful as simply having a conversation about your work with friends, regardless of whether they have a fancy judge title or not.

Prize Support

This is a tricky subject. I mean, upon initial glance, prize support is good, right? Everyone loves free stuff, and the more expensive free stuff, the better. If we can get hundreds of dollars of stuff and give it to the winner, then that’s great and it will encourage more people to join in, right?

However, there are some issues with large prize pools that may outweigh the draw of free stuff. When you have prizes like free trips to Japan to compete in the GBWC world cup or the $10,000 Crystal Brush, the stakes get higher and competition starts to get more intense. You can see this in things like Magic and Warhammer tournaments with large prize pools; by raising the stakes, you encourage people to be more cutthroat about things and increase the risk of salt and unsportsmanlike behaviour. IPMS deals with this by insisting that the prizes don’t have much if any intrinsic value – instead of wads of cash or expensive uber-kits, you are rewarded with a small medal or trophy, bragging rights, and the warm fuzzy feelings you get from recognition by your peers.

Further, in a smaller community, if you have a small number of people who are winning all the time, it can start to feel a little discouraging for the rest of the modellers. If you have entry fees and the same people winning all the prizes all the time, it can start to feel like same guy is taking your lunch money every day and this can encourage people who don’t have a chance to not show up, not participate, and not learn and grow by competing.

I’m not saying that prize support isn’t appreciated or that free kits isn’t a nice thing to have, but if people want the prizes badly enough that it starts to negatively affect their sportsmanship and attitude towards the competition, it can be a double-edged sword. How much is too much, and if you do have a generous sponsor, what portion of the prize pool should go to reward performance in the competition versus participation prizes like raffles, silent auctions, and door prizes, is worth some careful consideration.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given my background, I like the open system. However, I feel like at the end of the day, too much competition can be unhealthy and perhaps there is something to be said for doing exhibitions and pageants instead of competitions. Aside from the occasional outburst of drama due to disagreements with a judge’s decision, it is all too easy to fall into a trap of comparing oneself to others in a hobby that should be about relaxation and, if you want to push it, self-improvement. Regardless of the format of the competition, one would be well served to go into it caring more for the friends you make and the inspiration on the tables than the awards you win.

Three thoughts on judging

As mentioned in previous articles, I had made it to a few model shows over the past several months. At these shows, people bring their models and place them on display on the table next to other models in the same category to be ogled at by mere mortals and judged by volunteers for awards. Categories vary across all different types of models, from fantasy figures to historical aircraft and everything in between, and can be either fairly general such as “Historical Figures” or as specific as “1/72 Single-prop Inline-engined WWII Axis aircraft.” Judges then decide on first, second and third place in each category. There are some variants to the rules such as whether one person is allowed to sweep the category, scoring first, second and third. And of course, there are pages upon pages of rules.

Generally, judges are instructed to be fair and focus on objective criteria like fit and finish, alignment, etc., rather than whether the model has the proper number of rivets on the glacis plate for the late war model. Also, scope of work is a secondary factor to technical competence, so someone who went above and beyond in converting, scratchbuilding, and doing a complicated paint job will only really help them if they did a really good job of it. Finally, judges are also generally told to ignore bases and the like, except for dioramas, which is fair – people who build armour want to build armour and be judged on the quality of their builds, not on their base.

Anyways, I’ve got three thoughts on judging in the context of the IPMS 1-2-3 system.

  1. Judging will always be a little arbitrary

judy.jpgSo, I’ve taken mostly the same models to a couple shows (my theory being they’re good for a season or until they no longer represent my current skill level) and have noticed something interesting. In one show, Nancy Steelpunch was my highest placing model, while in another, she was beaten out by Laril Silverhand.

I’m not complaining here, but I think this is an example of the limits to how finely we can objectively judge a model. There is always going to be a little bit of subjectivity in the judging process. Different judges will spot different things that they like and dislike about a model. Some may be more lenient on certain flaws and harsher on others. Finally, some (probably most) people may just have an unconscious bias towards certain subjects or colour choices, and a first impression can go a long way. On the two teams I ended up judging with, there wasn’t always agreement right away. That doesn’t take away from the accomplishment of anyone who is skilled and lucky enough to come away with an award, but it means that people shouldn’t get bent out of shape if they don’t do as well as they expected.

  1. How well you do depends on who else shows up

At HeritageCon, the busts section was extremely competitive. There were something like 20 busts on the table, and all but a couple were really good and likely in contention for at least the top three. In part because of the intense competition, and in part because I have no idea how to paint feathers, I didn’t place. Contrast that to Torcan, where there were only a couple busts on the table and my (slightly fixed up) Mary Read edged them out to take home first place.

Now, there are pros and cons to competitive judging systems like the IPMS 1st, 2nd, 3rd, versus the open judging where you are judged against a set criteria and receive whatever award corresponds to the level of skill on display. However, one of the properties of the 1-2-3 judging system is that it isn’t an objective standard that you can measure yourself by because you end up in direct competition with your fellow modellers and painters. As such, the exact same models may get you either showered with medals or going home empty-handed based on who shows up. And that’s without even getting into the possibility of different models being placed in different categories.

Again, this isn’t to say that people who won a sparsely-entered category didn’t deserve it. However, this is the sort of hobby where while there is some competition and it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling to be recognized, at the end of the day, we do it for ourselves. If you’re happy with what you made, there is no shame in coming home empty-handed because someone like Sergo Calvo Rubio or Kirill Kanaev decided to show up.

  1. Volunteer to be a judge

Often at these shows, they are looking for people to judge. I know there is the stereotype of a model show judge as a nit-picking rivet counter, so it can be a little awkward at times – especially when you have to judge models that are better than anything you can do. While judges sometimes do have to go down to tiny details and flaws in order to separate the first, second and third from each other and from the rest, it’s not quite that bad and judging can actually be quite enjoyable.

First, spending an hour or two staring at models in detail together is a great way to meet new people. Doing some judging can help break up a long day, as there is only so much to do at these shows once you’ve looked at all the models seven times and lightened your wallet at the vendor tables. Also, since we learn a lot in this hobby by making mistakes, being a judge gives you the opportunity to learn from mistakes without making them yourself. Finally, you might get a free lunch or something out of the deal, so bonus.

Just make sure you know how many rivets are on the glacis plate of a late-war model.

HeritageCon 2018

This past weekend, I made it out to sunny Hamilton, Ontario for HeritageCon, a large scale model show with a category for figures. I had a fun time, learned some stuff, and came home with a full shopping bag and an empty wallet, so I would say it was a successful couple days.

The convention was held at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which, similar to CapCon, made for a cool experience to look at a 1:72 version of something on a table and turn around to see the 1:1 scale version behind you. The venue was great, though my one little piece of advice is that someone should really make sure to stock up the ATM with cash before opening a venue to a bunch of scale modellers and people selling kits. Lighting was good; perhaps not as great as CapCon, and you could tell by the fact that almost all the figure modellers faced their figures in the same direction that there was definitely one side that had better light, but still pretty darn good.

There were hundreds of models at the convention and it’s impossible to do it justice, but I’ll show off some of the highlights for me — things that either were particularly well-done, or subjects that I found particularly interesting.

IMG_2583.JPGFirst off, in the bantam category for modellers under 10 years old, there was one kid who entered in some scratchbuilt and kitbashed models of imaginary future weapons that were all delightfully Orky. There were a couple tanks made out of random bits and bobs, a mash-up of a MiG 15 and some sort of straight-winged aircraft, and what looked like a Dalek rolling around under propeller power with a couple missiles on stubby little wings. Whoever this kid is, I hope he or she keeps up the level of creativity and passion that encourages him to put a propellor on the back of a Dalek and a radial engine behind that.

IMG_2634.JPGSpeaking of stuff that looks like it’s straight out of the Warhammer universe, the T-35 was a Soviet multi-turreted tank that is probably the closest thing to a Warhammer tank in real life, in that it was boxy, had guns sticking out everywhere, and turned out to be horrendously impractical in actual combat. Still, this five turreted beast makes for an interesting model. There was also a very nicely weathered… some sort of German thing (I believe that is the technical term, though I have no doubt that some armour modeller will correct me) that caught my eye and will be going in the inspiration folder for the next time I do some weathering.

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In the world of aircraft, one of the little games I like to play at model shows is “spot the roundel,” where I look for roundels of aircraft from smaller nations and try to figure out where they come from. In addition to an Irish Hurricane that I remembered from CapCon, I saw roundels from Spain, Colombia, Austria, Thailand, and Czechoslovakia, but I think my favourite was the Iraqi Me-109 from the Anglo-Iraqi war. I am pleased to report that not only was the model nicely done, but a quick google search confirmed that I managed to identify the rather strange looking roundel on the first try.

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L-R: Roundels of Spain, Czechoslovakia, Austria, El Salvador, Colombia, and Thailand

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Iraqi Me-109 – note the hastily painted over Iron Crosses, which totally make sense in the context of a campaign that only lasted about a month.

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Sadly, this model did not survive the show

There was a beautiful P-39 Airacobra at the show. The Airacobra is an interesting aircraft because unlike most fighters of that era, its engine is located behind the cockpit and drives the propeller by way of a long drive shaft. This leaves room in the nose for a 37mm gun shooting through the hub of the propeller as well as nose-wheel landing gear instead of the tailwheel landing gear of its contemporaries. Finally, instead of sliding backwards to open, the cockpit has car-like doors on the side. While it wasn’t the most successful aircraft of the war, it put in some good service, particularly with the Soviets on the Eastern Front. This particular representation was well rendered, with nice weathering and panel line detail, as well as all the doors opened up to reveal details like the engine and the gun. I was lucky to get this photo as unfortunately, in what was probably the biggest tragedy of the show, I saw a dejected-looking builder packing away the model and a ziploc bag full of pieces that had broken off. Clearly, it had taken quite the impact and I just hope that it is fixable, as it is was a wonderful model of a subject that, in my opinion, is much more interesting than some of its contemporaries like the P-51.

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In the world of motorcycles, there was one that had what looked like a cool chrome non-metallic metal effect. I think it was a decal, but if you look closely at some of the chrome on that motorcycle, you can see that the reflection is not a result of shiny finish, but is actually drawn on the motorcycle. This is a more advanced version of the non-metallic metal technique, which I hope to master at some point in the future. Also, someone made a couple cool looking motorcycles out of miscellaneous metal bits and bobs, partly from broken electronics, which made for some unique models.

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Now, to paraphrase Sir Mix-A-Lot, I like big boats and I can not lie, which is good because there were two very nice large-scale U-boats on display. Submarines are always good to look at because if you look closely, you can see a lot of interesting detail in the weathering, as any vehicle that submerges under salt water and resurfaces many times is going to have some interesting weathering patterns. There was an excellent diorama of a sinking submarine, complete with lifeboats, escaping sailors, and realistic looking wave effects, which won best ship.

The winner of the Arthur Redding trophy was one of the locals, for his representation of U-190, a German submarine that ended up being captured by Canada at the end of the war and impressed into Canadian service. I’ve seen this piece before, but this was my first chance to get a really good look at it in some really good lighting and… damn, that weathering.

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That weathing, and all those fiddly bits on the guns and radars… ouch.

Finally, when it comes to science fiction, the gundam guys were out in force, with a lot of gundams done to a pretty high standard when it comes to shading and weathering. There was a red one (I believe that is the technical term) that had some really nice shading and highlights on it, as well as some sort of non-gundam walker thing that was pretty cool. Finally, there was also a robot spider from Johnny Quest which brought back memories of watching cartoons with my sister.

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Gundam

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Not a Gundam. Pretty cool though.

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Figures & Busts

Now, lets get to the important stuff — the figures and busts. There were six categories: historical, fantasy, busts, mounted, vignette and diorama. This was where I made most my entries, and there were a lot of very diverse figures and vignettes and dioramas. One of my favourites was this… well, I don’t know what it is, but it’s cool.

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Nice.

The competition in the busts category was intense. There were nineteen entries, the majority of which were painted to a very high standard. Almost all were historical, though in addition to my entry, there were one or two other fantasy busts.

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Very cool. A+ for composition.

Judging

I was recruited to judge some of the historical figures, obviously stepping aside for the fantasy and bust categories that I entered. This was my first time judging, and it was an interesting experience. At IPMS shows, models are judged in direct competition with each other, so instead of an open system with set criteria, we had to pick out a first, second and third place.

It was an interesting experience. Really taking the time to look at other people’s work closely enough to fairly and impartially determine who is the winner was an interesting challenge, and in the process, I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and it sort of demystified some of the cool things I saw on the table. Of course, I also think I may have dodged a bullet in that one of the categories that I had to recuse myself from was the hyper-competitive busts category. With 19 entries, the other two judges had to spend a long time looking at it to narrow it down to a first, second and third.

My main of advice to figure painters who really want to compete is to focus on eyeballs. The main thing that distinguishes figure painting from scale modelling is the flesh tones, particularly on the face. When I go to look at a figure (or even a piece of armour that has a figure sticking out of the hatch), my eyes naturally go straight to the face. Further, if I’m judging a figure, the first thing I will do is kneel down and look him or her in the eyes. If it doesn’t look right, that’s not a good first impression. And if the category has a lot of entries, a bad first impression might mean that your model doesn’t survive the initial cut where the judges narrow down the field to the few that they think are really in contention.

Similarly, if you have a piece that has certain elements that “pop” and draw the eye, make sure those are well done. In one of the categories that I judged, there was one piece that just narrowly missed out on placing in part because of its bayonet. It had a shiny bayonet which was bright enough that it drew the eye, but was also just done up in plain silver paint with no highlighting or definition to it. This, in turn, pulled my eye towards the gun, where I found a couple more little things to nitpick, and long story short, the piece ended up just barely not making the cut to top three. Of course, this also came around to bite me as well, as one of the weak points of my Mary Read bust was the bird, which also drew a lot of attention with its bright colours.

My results

I entered a few figures, my aforementioned Mary Read bust, as well as throwing in my Victor colossal warjack into the Gundam and Mecha category. Between Yephima, The Black Sheep, Laril Silverhand, and Nancy Steelpunch. My main competition in this category was two large-scale female figures and a nicely detailed Sphess Mahreen from 40K.

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The competition

Against this backdrop, I thought I would be lucky to even place, especially considering the fact that I was working at such a small scale. At 35mm scale (about 1/48), Nancy was dwarfed by even the space marine, never mind the two large-scale ladies. I have to give some credit to my fellow judges on this one; it can’t be easy to look at a 30mm figure next to something a foot tall and try to determine which is better. In the end, Nancy edged out Mr. Space Marine Guy to come in second, behind one of the big ladies.

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More importantly than any ribbon or medal, I talked to one of the judges afterwards and got some good feedback. Basically, I needed to go a little sharper on some of my highlights and get my blends a little smoother, perhaps even trying out oil paints instead of acrylics. On the plus side, the judge told me that my metals are a strong point — which reminds me, I should write that article on TMM Brass that I’ve been talking about for months…

I also have the bust of Nancy in my stash, and I’ve had a lot of ideas rolling around in my head about what to do with her, so hopefully by the next big competition I’ll be able to bring both versions of her. I think she will be done in the same colour scheme as little Nancy, though with a few pink highlights in the hair, and I haven’t decided whether to do the punchy fists in NMM, which worked well for little Nancy, or TMM, which I’m a lot more comfortable with and got some kudos on on Mary Read.

My stuff

Finally, it wouldn’t be a convention if I didn’t spend too much money buying stuff. First, I had an idea for a project for a future contest for a unique take on the Me-109B. I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find, as one can barely walk around in a hobby shop without tripping over a 109 kit. Boy, was I wrong. Apparently the early marks of the 109 are actually not that popular, and it’s the 109E and 109G that comprise almost all of the kits out there. Fortunately, the staff at Wheels and Wings in Toronto were helpful and hooked me up with the only 109B in the store, a somewhat pricy kit from AMG that includes rubber tires, photoetch, and lots and lots of tiny parts…

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Also from Wheels and Wings, I picked up some figures in a box marked Skull Clan – Death Angels, which were just too cool looking to pass up, as well as a book from Angel Giraldez, one of the top miniature painters in the world, on his techniques.

At the show itself, I found some interesting stuff. One of the vendors was selling stuff from Green Stuff World, so I managed to pick myself up a second, smaller leaf punch, some of their colourshift paints, and a couple textured rolling pins for sculpting pavement or cobblestone patterns.

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The spoils of war.

However, I think my best find of the day was some flats that I picked up. Flats are, as the name implies, flat versions of figures which seem to blur the line between painting figures and just straight up painting. My research tells me they had their heyday about 100 years ago, before three-dimensional figures became a popular thing, which is a fact that is corroborated by the vendor telling me that the were being sold from the stash of a nonagenarian. These are going to be an interesting challenge as they will really force me to up my game when it comes to painting in light and shadow, as I will have to represent three-dimensional people with a mostly-flat two-dimensional object.

In short, I’m going to have to pretend to be an actual artist on this one, so it’s going to be tricky.

Final Thoughts

HeritageCon was a great event, and I will definitely see if I can attend next year, as well as start looking around for other model shows that I can compete at. I know there is TorCan coming up in Toronto, as well as the painting competition at the Southern Ontario Open that I’m going all-in on, as I think I have a much better chance of doing well at that than actually coming out with a winning record at playing Warmachine. Even for people who have cut their teeth on wargaming figures, if you can make it out to a scale model show, there will be something there for you and a lot of techniques you can learn just by staring closely at the models on display.