A model should be judged in its entirety,

not simply as a collection of faults


What is Gold, Silver, Bronze (GSB)?

Before we go any further, if you aren’t familiar with GSB, you might want to read this part.  IPMS Clubs that host model shows normally use a First, Second, Third (1-2-3) format for the contest part of the show.  In it, the models are split up by Class (Aircraft, Armor, Car, etc) and then further sub-divided into Categories (1/72 single engine fighter, 1/48 twin engine, 1/32 Jet, etc).  The best three models from within each category are selected and receive the appropriate award.  While from a competitive perspective, there is nothing wrong with this format, we feel it falls down in at least one important aspect.  What if there are 4 really nice models in that category?

Enter GSB.  A GSB show isn’t really a contest.  A modeler isn’t competing against another modeler.  His model will be evaluated against a set of guidelines (see our judging and scoring guidelines) by a number of judges, and the appropriate level of award made for each model.  In this way, every model deserving of recognition will receive it, not just the top three in a category.

But it is very important to remember that for the purposes of the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, models will not be compared to one another.  The only point at which a model may or will be compared to another model is when the time comes to decide on the “best of’s” (again, refer to our judging and scoring guidelines).

Although we are a small group, several of our members are well versed in IPMS Judging and routinely judge at local contests, Regional contests, and the Nationals.  We understand IPMS judging is designed to arrive at the “best” three models entered in a category, and are comfortable with the system and what it does.  However, we aren’t sure that what we value in models and modeling is always well represented by that contest format and judging.  So when we decided to host a show of our own, we decided to try some different things.  One thing to keep in mind is that the ideas presented here, and in the specifics of the judging and scoring, are evolving.  They incorporate features of shows other organizations have run, and lessons we learned.  We expect these ideas will continue to evolve with lessons learned from our first show.  We hope that modelers will give our show a try and give us their honest feedback, and then trust us to improve what needs to be improved for future shows.

While we know judging for GSB is different than judging for 1-2-3, we believe there are more similarities than differences.  We need judges to use their judgment and experience.  They won’t be using normal IPMS practices to reduce the field to the top three models, but they will still be looking at the same general things…construction, paint, decals.  In the end, we think Judges know what a good model looks like, and that’s what we want them to identify…good models. 

Understanding that the judges will all bring an individual bias to the judging, we have set our system up for all models to be evaluated by 3 judges whose scores will be averaged.  We feel that most judges will be very close to one another with their evaluations and we hope that if one is particularly “tough” he or she will be counterbalanced by another judge who is relatively “easy”.

Our basic premise is that a model should be judged in its entirety, not simply as a collection of faults.     If you approach a model that looks fantastic, but on close inspection has a wheel out of alignment, that model may very well still be a Gold medal model.  Likewise, a few minor issues shouldn’t preclude silver, and a collection of issues may not preclude bronze.  On the other hand, if a model looks pretty good except for one major flaw that draws your attention, it probably shouldn’t be awarded a bronze.  The point is to try to view the issues you see in relation to how much they detract from the overall impression

A point of contention is often accuracy.  Many judges know a great deal about a few subjects.  Most judges know a good deal about a few subjects.  Most of the modelers whose work will be judged will be the same.  But some may have also chosen to build a model of something they are not intimately familiar with, or for which they did little research.  Details that only subject matter experts would know should not seriously effect how the model is scored.  If there is a question about the historical accuracy of a subject, the benefit of the doubt should go to the modeler.  Another issue is the accuracy with which a particular kit is molded.  For the sake of discussion, we’ll pick on F-16’s.  In both 1/48 and 1/32 scales the Tamiya kits are generally considered the best available.  An F-16 expert would probably notice the reported problems with the 1/32 Academy kits or the 1/48 Kinetic kits without any other references.  We might all be able to see the problems if the inferior kits were displayed next to the good kits.  But if the modeler has done a good, great, or excellent job building, finishing and displaying the shape challenged kit; he should be rewarded accordingly, even if the accuracy issues inherent in the kit haven’t been addressed.

Another thought is intangibles.  Effort.  Degree of difficulty.   Presentation.  These are ideas that can’t be fairly considered when judging a contest and awarding first, second, and third places.  But when contemplating whether a model deserves a bronze or silver, or, silver or gold, we believe they can be fairly considered.  As modelers and judges, we think we can give a little extra credit for attempting something more difficult.  We would suggest that if the model is on the borderline in your mind, that you give the extra credit.  We believe stretching one’s skills and trying new things should be encouraged, not discouraged.  We’d also like to consider what we do as an art form, or at least a craft.  As such, we think display and presentation can be considered.  A nicely done base or display setting certainly shouldn’t lift a very poorly done model into contention for an award, and neither should a stunning model displayed with no base at all be passed over for an award. But with the goal of making what we do more interesting to view, we’d like to encourage well done bases or display settings.

Something else that we feel is important to what we want to accomplish is feedback for the modeler.  It seems like at a typical show knowing what the judges found on our models that we need to or can improve on is difficult.  The judging wraps up, awards are placed, and the stampede for the doors begins. Even if you know who judged your model, finding him and getting some feedback can be tough.  With the scoring format that we will be using, and the scoring sheets themselves, we hope to give the entrants to our show that elusive feedback.  All the modeler will need to do is ask for his score sheets at the end of the day.  The notes will be brief by necessity, as the judges will hopefully have a lot of models to evaluate, but even a few brief lines of constructive criticism can point out somewhere a modeler can devote attention to the next time out and build a better model.