IPMS Duneland, 6 May, 2006
by Scott Van Aken
This is the first event I attended since the fall of 2003 and it was held in the same venue as that before, an elementary school in Portage, IN. Though beyond the control of the organizers, Interstate road construction on I-80 added a half hour to the up-going trip and nearly an hour to the return, making it a real hassle as we are not used to nor do we like crawling traffic jams.
No flyer from them this year though their website contained all of the information we needed aside from a few of the special award categories. Duneland does a two part registration form with all personal info kept with the judges. We arrived about an hour and a half after the doors opened. Though I had my forms already filled out, I did not breeze through registration, in part because the $10 for all you care to enter encourages bringing a lot of entries and secondly because it seems that if there are gaps in annual shows, there is a re-learning curve.
I should take this opportunity to make a commentary on the categories. The club had about 40 categories, which is fine as one can always split those that get a lot of entries. However, the choice of category breakdowns, at least in aircraft, was a bit odd. For example, they had single engine '1/48 prop, WWII and Korea; Allies' and a similar category for Axis. This does not take into any consideration a neutral country during that period or any prop driven aircraft after 1952/3. It makes much more sense to have either a single '1/48 single engine prop' category or have a 'pre ww2 prop', 'allied and axis ww2 prop' and a 'post war prop' category. In the latter you have four categories to cover everything and in the previous one, you can split when needed.
I discussed this with some of the members and I'd recommend to the club that they perhaps choose categories that would firmly eliminate any confusion for entrants.
Once entry was done, the models were placed in their categories and we looked the place over. There were food sales at very reasonable prices and plenty of tables and chairs were provided for us to sit down upon and relax if needed. As usual, I spent the event on my feet 95% of the time, photographing models and chatting with folks. Vendors were down considerably over the previous event and it is possible that next week's Regional in Toledo was a cause, as was the gap since the last event. There were still bargains to be had if one looked; aircraft and car vendors were light, though the armor crowd had a lot of stuff they could spend their money on. I still managed to find a couple of items to bring home!
The raffle was nicely done and properly organized so one didn't have to be there at the drawing to get their award. One did pick tickets from a drum so there was a bit of a crowd at drawing time, but it was incredibly orderly without the shoving and pushing I experienced at another event this year. Some good awards at a price of a dollar a ticket. I didn't do as well as hoped, but did get a nice kit out of it so that I wasn't totally skunked!
Duneland did a style of judging I've not seen before. From the way I understand it, they had ten judges who each picked 1,2,&3 from each of the categories. Then the tallies were made and awards based on that. No group judging. It seems to me that there were over 200 models to judge. Left me wondering how well model #1 was judged compared to the final one. Seems to me that after looking at so many models, things would become less critical towards the end. Also seems that there would be no 'second set' of eyes to go over things when it comes to pointing out areas of interest. It is an unusual format to say the least and just different from the norm. I'm wondering how it eventually worked out. I should also point out that there were no sweeps, an entrant could only receive a single award in a category.
The awards presentation was later than the time originally estimated and they called out every award, making for a rather long session. Some categories were split, though I found some things a bit inconsistent in this regard. Allow me to give an example, and I welcome club inputs to correct me if I'm in error. 1/48 multi-engine prop, which had about 6-7 entries, was split into Axis and Allies, while (unless I missed something) small scale armor, which had considerably more, was not, despite having what seemed to me to be at least 5 1/48 models with the rest in 1/72.
Another thing puzzled me. I brought two entries for the Small Air Forces award and had that indicated on the form with the models. Yet, though one of my entries won its category and the other placed third in another, the award was given to a non-placing model that was obviously painted with a brush. I was quite surprised by this, though I know the person who won the award and am pleased that he was able to go home with it. As most of you know, I'm not a person who goes to these things expecting to win awards; it is definitely tertiary and always a nice surprise when it happens. But I do sometimes wonder about how things are decided (and it isn't just here). In this case it seemed quite arbitrary and could be the personal taste of the award sponsor. This is fine with me as a person who provides an award has the perfect right to do with it as he/she will.
Some clubs base special awards on the highest placed entrant while others are arbitrary. It would be nice to have this info on the flyer. I can recall a few years back at a contest where the 'Best German Aircraft' was awarded to an F-104! Not what I or many others would have considered a German aircraft, but apparently all that was considered were markings. This is definitely a case of where the ground rules would have been nice to know in advance as I'm sure lots of Fw-190 and Ju-88 modelers had raised eyebrows at that decision.
The awards presented were quite nice with a little sticker on the back of each one stating the date and category. Obviously, the club used their computer inputs to make these and it is a nice touch. I'd also like to give the club a huge THANK YOU from banning smokers from hanging out around the entrance. Nothing worse that having to run the gauntlet of second-hand smoke when you have no option to go around it. If you smoke and are offended by this, then perhaps you should consider quitting.
OK so what is the bottom line. Well, I have to tell you that despite the rather long drive, the $*@& road construction, and the cost of petrol, I'll be back next year and encourage you who live in the area to attend as well. The club members are a fun group, helpful, and can be quite innovative. Makes for a most enjoyable day and worth the 10 hours on the road to attend.
Any commentaries can be directed either via e-mail or on the forum for additional discussion.