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Monday, February 07, 2011 - 12:50 AM UTC
The 2011 AMPS International Convention is scheduled for 6-9 April, at the Hospitality House in Fredericksburg, VA. This is the largest armor modeling event in North America and draws participants from all over the world.
The judging system is designed to have each entry viewed and evaluated by a group of fellow modelers. This is "peer evaluation". The AMPS system acknowledges that judges are human and many judging calls are subjective, not objective. Thus, each model is judged by a team of judges, with the lowest score eliminated. Our system provides an opportunity to give the entrant's work formal, structured feedback from fellow modelers. The AMPS system is set up to reward the modeler for the good work he has done. Each model is reviewed and evaluated on its own merits with NO comparison to any other entry. The AMPS system rates the model in relation to the ability of the modeler, rather than against acknowledged masters of the hobby or everyone else who enters in the same category.

A part of the International Convention is the armor modeling competition. This competition provides a forum for modelers to discuss techniques, improve their skills, and share information about the real vehicles that are of common interest. AMPS created a unique system which both judges the model and honors the modeler for their artistic achievement and historical accuracy.

The following are a few tips you can use as you prepare your entries for this years competition:

1. Know the rules. The AMPS Contest Rules are found on the AMPS web-site http://www.amps-armor.org/ampssite/default.aspx) under Shows and Conventions. A basic knowledge of the criteria the judges use to evaluate the entries is helpful in preparing your models for competition.

2. Select your skill level. If youve participated in an AMPS International event before then chances are you know your competition skill level. If youre a first timer, heres some advice some modelers overestimate their skill level. As a result, they dont always do well in an AMPS competition and walk away disappointed. We will have experienced RamRods checking in your models before they are judged. If youre unsure, ask them for help in determining your skill level. These folks are trained in the AMPS Contest Rules and they wont steer you wrong. Also, for those modelers who at last years AMPS International Convention received a Gold Medal in the Basic or Intermediate skill levels you automatically move up to the next higher skill level.

3. Construction. Up to five points can be awarded in the construction category. Makes sense, but many modelers miss being awarded points on the basics. Here are a few things to watch:
a. Light suspension. Military vehicles weight a lot, but youd be surprised at how many times we see tanks with floating roadwheels and track or wheeled vehicles with not all wheels touching the ground. While on suspension, check the alignment of track, roadwheels and wheels.

b. Those pesky mold seams and injector pin marks. They seem to jump out when you put a coat of paint on the model. Take some time to remove mold seams and fill those pesky injector pin marks.

c. Flattened gun barrels. Even with todays technology, many plastic gun barrels still have mold seams. Go easy - as the tendency is to sometimes use a wood rasp instead of a flexi-file or fine sand paper to remove these seam lines resulting in noticeable flat spots on the barrel.

d. Glue schmutz (a technical modeling term). No matter how careful you are in building some glue will get on your model. After youve finished your build, take some time to give your model a good look over. If you see a glue spot hit it with a bit of flat coat and it might just disappear.

e. Magnetic stowage. AMPS encourages modelers to build more than out of the box models and many answer the challenge. However, each year we see models with personal gear and stowage held on with magnets instead of straps and tie-downs. Take a look at armored vehicles in the field. A majority of the personal gear and stowage is affixed to the vehicle in some fashion.

f. Whats in the hatch? We get questions about the closed verses open hatch categories. Simple answer if the hatches are open with or without interiors the model is placed in the category IV (Open top/open hatch vehicles) and judged accordingly. If you use figure(s) to fill the hatches, the model maybe be placed in categories I, II, III or IV at your option.

4. Finishing and Weathering. Up to four points can be awarded in the painting and weathering category. This is where the modeler gets to apply some artistic techniques. Here are a few hints:
a. Its not the right color of OD. Please! What matters is that your paint should be applied in a smooth, even coat with no drips, splotches or uneven areas. If you apply markings and decals look for edge lifting or silvering. Some modelers hand-apply markings. If you do, they should be viewed "in scale," i.e., the marking must not be too heavy-handed or thickly applied.
b. Artistic verses natural weathering. Artistic weathering is applied by the modeler to enhance the finish. This does not necessarily mean action-related mud, peeling paint, and the like. Weathering should be logical for the scene presented by the modeler. On the other hand, natural weathering is household dust, cob-webs, animal hair and assorted other stuff which accumulates on models as the sit on the shelf. Please look your model over and give it a quick dusting before the competition.

5. Degree of difficulty and Scope of effort or If its from Tamiya its not a difficult build. I want to debunk this urban legend! While Tamiya provides us with some well engineered and generally well detailed kits there is always room for additional detailing. Up to one point can be awarded for the effort a modeler goes through to add additional detailing to create a model that is something special. This is where you should take some time to document the depth of difficulty and level of effort involved in building your model.

6. Optional Research Bonus. The judging teams may award an additional 0.5 bonus for documented research. Most modelers do some type of research when they build a model. To obtain this 0.5 point bonus, the modeler must document to the judging team the link between the research they performed and the finished model. Examples of documentation formats at provided in the AMPS contest rules.

7. Other points to consider:
a. Road warriors. Most of us will be traveling over some distances to get to this years show. Traveling can take a toll on our models. Well have a first aid station set up at registration for you to make minor repairs. However, if there is travel damage you cant repair then add a note to the judges on your entry form that the model was damaged during travel. The judges will take this into consideration
b. Flying tanks. Each year we have a few models damaged because the judging teams are not warned they are not attached to the base. Please note on your registration forms if your model is not attached to the base. This will really help us out.

c. That darn paperwork. Last year we revised our contest entry forms. Each entrant will complete one Master Administration form and one registration form for each entry. Weve gone from the multi-page registration form to a single page. I encourage you to pre-register through the AMPS web-site. Pre-registration closes 28 Mar 2011. If you dont pre-register, well have all the forms available when you register at the show.

8. A final thought - It's no secret the AMPS judging system needs a large numbers of judges to evaluate the entries as the show is occurring. So, if you are visiting the convention for the first time or the seventeenth, I personally invite you to donate some of your time to be a judge. Your experiences at judging models ranging from beginner to advanced level will make you a better modeler. You will also leave the convention with a highly coveted AMPS Crew T-shirt, suitable for creating jealousy among your modeling buddies.

Mike Petty
Chief Judge
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Jim, a very useful item. FYI: the link to the rules website is not working.
FEB 08, 2011 - 03:46 AM