IPMS Duneland, 11 October, 2003

by Scott Van Aken

First off, the folks at IPMS Duneland had sent me a flyer and copy of the registration form several months prior to the show. The flyer included a list of categories (41 in all), entry costs, special awards, rules, and a map to the show. Their website also included a copy of the entry form, a map to the show, and the front page of the flyer. It would have been nice for the website to have included the rules and categories. A few minutes of scanning the flyer would have taken care of that. I also found out while at the show that there were  more special awards offered that were not listed on the flyer or web site. This meant that out of towners did not know about all of the special awards and, by omission, we were not able to compete for these unless it was by serendipity that we may have brought something that fit into the category. I discussed this with folks from the club and they were aware of this. Apparently the web person has been too busy to take the few minutes required to provide full info on the web and the other award possibilities were just missed from the flyer. A promise to take care of these items for next year was made and I'm sure they will put efforts into correcting any problems.

The venue is extremely easy to find, being just two blocks from the freeway exit. It is held in an elementary school cafeteria. Parking was not a problem with sufficient space for all. Both the contest and vendors were in the same room. I felt that the lighting was quite good, but heard some complaints. Registration was quick as I'd already filled out my entry forms the day before. The group was efficient and, as with other events I've attended, the atmosphere was cordial and friendly. The form is a two part page with the builder's name on the lower part and not included with the sheet that goes with the model. Registration was $12 and included 5 models. Just to go in and plunder the vendors; $3. I overheard several complaints about the high cost and I tend to agree as such fees are more appropriate for a Regional than a local invitational. One member of my party did not bring any entries because of the high cost. I might suggest that the fee be lowered to $7-8 and then charge a dollar a model.

The room had contest table on small stilts which not only kept entries out of reach of young hands, but brought them up to a pleasant level for viewing. Spacing between tables was adequate, which means that two people could view models directly across from each other without bumping butts, but if a small conversation group started, then the aisle was blocked. This is not out of line with most events so not a complaint, just an observation. The day was unusually warm for mid-October in Northern Indiana so it soon became quite warm. Two large fans were turned on, but were not enough to overcome the temperature generated by all those in attendance.

The club sold sodas and some foodstuff so that attendees would be able have lunch there. Plenty of restaurants dot the area for those who decided to go elsewhere to eat. There were a number of vendors offering a wide range of goodies. The range in prices were from retail to really good deals. I managed to accumulate a few items that I just couldn't do without! It was a good mixture of retail and individuals with plenty of room for all. It seems they sold out all the available tables though at least one vendor did not show.

A small area was set aside with a few tables and chairs for those who wished to eat there and for others to have a place to sit down and relax. As usual, I spent 99% of the time on my feet!

The club also held a very nice raffle. Tickets were 6 for $5 or $1 each and they had a 'super raffle' for some high cost items at $3 a ticket. The raffle items were all quality goodies; no True Details wheel sets or out of date Verlinden catalogues here. Tickets were assigned to each item and though the winner did not pick out of a box, there were good items left up until the very end. I did hear some complaints that the tickets were not mixed up well prior to picking them, and this seemed justified as I noted that one winner had 5 numbers listed during one drawing that were almost sequential.

Judging was from 12:30 to nearly 4:00 when the awards ceremony was held. The judging seemed to be fair and conscientiously done. There were a few raised eyebrows in our group when hearing about one thing or another, but overall I feel things were as fairly done as possible when dealing with things as subjective as standard judging. The awards were very nice plaques with the name of the club and event, but with no date or category other than the special  and 'best of' awards. Every winner in every category was announced, which made for a rather protracted event. I must confess that I left as soon as the last category our group had entered was announced so that we could be on the road for our long drive back. Unusually, Juniors were not the first category announced as is the case with many other events. I should also mention that several categories were split due to the large number of entries.  

Ok, now for the overall assessment.

Good things: entry forms, registration, venue, vendors, raffle, table height, availability of refreshments, and the overall friendliness of the club.

Things that could be improved: entry cost; web site; mixing raffle tickets. I hesitate to really whine about the awards ceremony as some clubs find it important that all be recognized, however, from my point of view, I just want to get on the road home as usually I have 4-6 hours of drive ahead of me so a quick awards ceremony is a good thing.

Things beyond their control: temperature.

Will I return next year? Sure! I had a good time and enjoyed the experience.

In closing, I'd like to make an observation that is not singularly a result of this event. As with many contests, there was little encouragement for small scale modeling other than in armor. There was no 1/144 and smaller aircraft, no 54mm and smaller figure or any small ship categories. Perhaps this is due to past experience with few entries into these categories. One thing I do know about modelers is that if no attempt is made to encourage entries into these categories, few will bring things to enter. Face it, a 1/144 Hurricane is completely overmatched by a 1/72 version, yet that is where it would have to have competed unless entered in OOB. Same with a 1/700 ship against a 1/350 version, or a 1/48 figure against a 1/4 version. Just something to think about.