2008 IPMS/USA National
Convention - Virginia Beach, VA
fortunate to be able to attend this year's IPMS/USA National
Convention being held from Aug 6-9 in Virginia Beach. Here
Update: Sunday, August 10
For additional photos see (http://www.ipmsusa.org
and follow the links).
Sat. August 9
first activity of the morning was to attend the presentations for the
convention. Portland and Phoenix (my home chapter) made
bids. Then I made another (this time slower) round thru the
room to look at more of the models that I missed yesterday. With
most of the day in seminars and the evening judging S+SF, I did not see
the latest arrivals in the other categories. Talking to people it
became clear that the overall quality of the entries this year is very
high. I won't disagree with that. I also checked the vendor
room and simply talked to a lot of people. Brian Nicklas (of the
DC area) made it down for the day and it was nice to see him. By
late afternoon I was beat so I took a break in the hotel room and
changed into my IPMS - Craig Hewitt polo shirt for the banquet
(although I sat with the spacers - we were not far from the Phoenix
banquet was fun and I sat with some of the space modelers (Sven,
Idacavage, Dom + Lynda and later Troy). The presentations and
electronic slide show of the winning models went off without a hitch
and everything went smoothly. (Unless you consider that the wait
staff apparently were told to disappear once the program started.
That meant the dirty dishes sat on the table for the next three hours
and most people got no coffee service.) Aris and Bill did another
great job reading the results. Winners included the "Unamed
Starship" as best Space + Sci Fi and Ben Guenther's Juno I rocket as
best in Real Space. Dave Week's Apollo 1 CSM won the Best NASA
entry. After the usual mad rush to the contest room to watch
folks pack up, we said some goodbyes, and a few of us went back to
Croc's for a post-con drink. Overall I had a great time and it
was nice to spend some face time with people you otherwise only
communicate with electronically.
year's event will be in Columbus, OH and it was announced that the show
will be back in Phoenix in 2010. Here are some
more of my photos. To look at a photo, click on the link at the
right and it
will open in
a new window.
Knudson and Brian Nicklas send their greetings
poses with the nicely populated Real Space display table
Lynda show off their trendy space shirts prior to the banquet
a general shot of the banquet and awards ceremony ballroom. I
wanted to show folks what a huge event this is.
Tally of entries per category:
600. Real Space - 23 entries
605. Sci Fi & Fantasy from Kits. Splits:
605a. Star Trek/ Star Wars - 20 entries
605b. Other - 21 entries
606. Mecha - 18 entries
610. Sci Fi & Fantasy, kit bash + scratchbuilt - 19 entries
698. Out of the Box Space and Sci Fi - 18 entries
(No paper models this year)
There were 2474 total entries in the contest, and about 600 people
registered for the
convention. This was the second largest ever in model count
behind Atlanta in 2005. See details here.
Friday was a full day of seminars and judging. We had an
afternoon full of space and sci fi
seminars and they went very well. Everyone seemed to have a good
time. Here is the run down:
am - Mat Irvine - Space, as It Should Have Been!
A look at what and where we thought we'd be back in
the 50s and 60s. This was more of a cultural history review than
a modeling seminar.] Still, Mat's talk struck home and generated
a spirited discussion of what the USA (and other countries) should be
doing in space next. The wild card is likely to be the private
sector and whether space tourism and similar commercial endeavors will
push the technology and make real exploration affordable.
As a little aside here, this is the first year in ages that I skipped
Aris Pappas' "What Judges Look for" seminar. As I am no longer a
head judge, I don't need to personally support this meeting. That
freed me up to actually leave the convention center and get lunch with
some of my Phoenix pals.
- Mat Irvine - Not Yet Dead - Miniatures vs Computers.
Here, Mat gave a short history of the use of scale
models in science fiction film and TV) productions. It was a nice
glimpse of his many years of working at the BBC making miniatures for
"in camera" special effects shots. His main point is that
computer generated graphics (CGI) will never completely replace
physical scale models.
- Mike Mackowski - Building Real Satellites
pm - Mike M. hosting D. Weeks (Apollo 9 diorama) and R. Schorry
I followed Mat with a captive audience and gave a
photo show on how the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) was
constructed. I worked on this program as an engineer for General
Dynamics in Gilbert, Arizona and had the privelege to be very involved
in the final assembly, test and launch of this NASA satellite. I
also kept the audience happy by providing door prizes to just about
everyone in the room.
For this session Dave Weeks started out with a nice
overview of how he built his Apollo 9 recovery diorama. Last year
he talked about his research on the recovery helicopters used in
pulling astronauts out of the water after their mission. This
time he talked about the modeling techniques used in the aircraft and
(scratch built) Apollo capsule.
Several of us (I think it was Idacavage, Sven, Krista, Troy, Dom and
Lynda and myself) went back to Croc's for a nice dinner before
judging. That little bar-restaurant is only a block or so from
the convention center and the food is really good.
There was a Judges Meeting at 6 pm and judging got started around
7. Here, Aris Pappas (chief judge) announced this was his last
year in that position as he needs a break. Judging was
tough. This was the second largest model count in IPMS Nationals
history and Space and Sci Fi was no exception. The quality was
excellent as well. In the areas I judged there were multiple
occasions of trying to distinguish between two models of very similar
quality. And often it was an apples and oranges situation where
one entry may have had a lot of rework and parts added but the builder
got a couple minor things wrong. It's competitor would be a much
simpler model (lower degree of difficulty) but maybe he missed one glue
seam. How do you compare those? I try not to simply count
glitches ("negative judging") but I try to mentally apply the degree of
difficulty and maybe also how hard we had to look to find the
problems. There is no simple formula for judging and it was a
challenging four hours.
Finally around 11 pm we finished the Space and Sci Fi division and
noticed most of the other major divisions were also working on their
"best of" selection. Later I heard the final judging was done
around 2 am. That's typical, and thanks to Manny Gutsches in his
first year as S+SF head judge, doing a fine job in the role I held for
20 years or so.
|Mat Irvine giving one of his two
talks on Friday
|Mike M (far left) handing out door
prizes at his Friday talk. Rob Schorry (front) checks them
out. I think everyone got something.
|Rob Schorry's talk on scratch
building space probes
|All the space and sci fi judges pose
for a photo Friday evening. Or was it early Saturday
morning? We actually finsihed judging the category a little
before 11 pm.
Muroc Models X-38
Thu. August 7
I managed to get to five seminars and the trip to the "Fighter Factory"
(warbird museum) today, which made it a good day. I am also
taking photos for the IPMS website (http://www.ipmsusa.org
and follow the links). I did not get a chance to look at the many
models much, but hope to have more time on Saturday. I also broke
down and bought some resin kits (Anigrand kits from Nostagic Plastic)
for my McDonnell - St. Louis collection. Idacavage kicked off our
set of Real Space seminars with a very informative talk on tips and
tricks for building the 1/200th scale Man In Space set. The hints
were very helpful and the photo illustrations were very well
done. He is in the process of turning this into an article for
the IPMS Journal. The attendance was a little lower than we have
had in the past, perhaps only 15 attendees rather than the 30-40 we
usually get. But they did have three concurrent tracks running
and some very attractive tours.
am - David Merriman - Effects Miniature Making
- Dennis Rodgick - Sci Fi Vehicles, a History
- Mike Idacavage - Man in Space in 1/200th scale
I went to the Fighter Factory event, which had a great catered BBQ
dinner and a Stearman flying around. After that we checked out
the contest room, where I mostly looked at the Space and Sci Fi and
made another photo run for IPMS. Lots of good stuff and another
day to go. The room closed a 9 pm, which I think is a bit early,
but I imagine it must cost a lot to have security hang around much
later at a facility like this.
To look at a photo, click on the link at the right and it will open in
a new window.
|Late Thursday evening - the contest
room is starting to fill up. Reports are the show has over 2500
models so far.
|Mike Idacavage starts his
presentation on building the AMT Man-in-Space kit.
|Lynda Pelly shows off her airplane
shirt that she made herself. This is at the Fighter Factory
outing that included a very tasty BBQ and some nicely restored old
|Dave Weeks, Mike Idacavage, Mike
Mackowski, and Manny Gutsche make friends with a Russian spacesuit at
the Fighter Factory.
model of Stardust showed up at the Real Space theme table.
1 space station (NewWare) was entered as out of the box.
Corley, Manny G, and David W discuss the models in the Real Space area.
Wed. August 6
registered and ran some errands for the registration team. Caught
up with Mike Idacavage, Manny Gutsche, Dave Weeks, Gordon Fessenger,
and others. Did not really find anything to buy. I need to
live 500 years to build what I already have.
The SIG table is filling up nicely as is the real space (category 600)
table. I should have some pics of that Thursday. We got
seven o f the space modelers together for dinner
tonight. We had a great time. Here are some photos.
To look at a photo, click on the link at the
right and it will open in
a new window.
|Main registration area
|HobbyLink Japan had some great prices
and was an excellent example of how much stuff is available in the
|The contest room is large and only
beginning to fill up.
|This is the Real Space Modelers
display (SIG) area. Ben Guenther brought some stuff to get
|A very nice Friendship 7 dominates
the Real Space contest category.
|Dinner at Croc's tonight. L to
R: Sven, Krista, Mike I, Dom Durocher, Lynda Pelley, and Troy
Tue. August 5
to Norfolk via Nashville with Bruce Briggs, a fellow member of the
Phoenix chapter ("Craig Hewitt") of IPMS. We found the Quality
Inn across the street and to the side of the new convention center,
probably as close to the facility as main hotel (the Doubletree).
It's not fancy but should be fine. We ran into some other club
members and six of us (myself, Bruce, Steve Collins, Jim Clark, Mike
Ronnau, and Keenan Chittester) had a nice dinner at a seafood
restaurant on the Atlantic Ave. strip in VB.
So far so good, and since the convention does not open until 2 pm
tomorrow, I am planning to sleep and maybe take a morning walk on the
beach. Perhaps a museum will keep me busy until later in the
afternoon when I will sign up for the show. I did not register
for any tours so tomorrow might be a good day to head out on my own or
with some of the other guys. Bruce is here early to help with the
convention registration software (which he developed).
updated Aug. 10, 2008