After a hiatus of a few years, one of the two Memphis Tennessee IPMS clubs, the Road Warriors continued with the King Con events (King after Elvis, for those living in Papua, New Guinea who may not have been aware).
The club has no website so if one was not an attendee of a previous event, to whom flyers were mailed, then information could be gleaned from flyers in various hobby shops or the IPMS/USA web site.
Directions were provided on the flyer and though a tad confusing at one point, we were eventually able to find the locale, thanks to signs posted along the route. The event was held in what used to be a church gymnasium. Entry fee was $10 with an additional $1 per model. While I realize that costs have increased, I find this to be rather high for an invitational. Many other clubs who charge $10 have that for as many as one cares to bring. It did influence what I brought and how many I brought. I do like that the club has one form on which you place your personal info and list your entries, while there are separate forms for the models you are entering that have nothing but model data on it. While it won't stop 'home cooking' as most club members know each other's stuff, it does eliminate one area of complaint. I should also mention that I didn't hear any requests for judges outside the club, but it may have just been timing.
There was plenty of space for models, though the greater-than-expected turnout did cause a lot of scrambling to provide sufficient table space for some categories. To my understanding, it was well over 400 models, and not surprising when one saw several entrants bringing in a dozen or more. Those are what I call dedicated modelers. This may have been a result of the club allowing sweeps where one modeler could win all the awards in a category. My personal feeling is to not allow these as 'no sweeps' spreads the wealth. However, since only the 'Best' awards were announced, there was no way to know if there really were any modelers who completely swept a category. I know that in 2 of the categories I entered and won awards, this was not the case as I generally enter but one subject per category. I should also mention that the lighting was less than perfect as the lights were way too high up and several had burned out (being a gym and all, it is normal, but it was dimmer than I'd like).
A goodly selection of vendors were there, with some being dedicated to cars, aircraft or armor. However, there were sufficient to relieve me of some of my cash and I was able to find a few kits for which I had been seeking for a most reasonable price. The space between rows of vendors was the greatest I've ever seen and it was a joy to browse the tables without constantly bumping into someone. There was easily room for another row of vendor tables, though things would have degraded to tight quarters had that been done.
Food and drink were available there for a fee, though it wasn't cheap as a $1 for a can of soda was a bit much. I realize that the 60-75 cents a can profit went to a veteran's organization, but it was still high. There were lots of places very nearby to eat so lunch wasn't a problem. Actually Memphis has a lot of great restaurants and there was tons of time to find them if one wanted.
Raffles are illegal in that part of the state, so an auction was held. I brought a number of kits to donate to it and I would very much encourage those of you who attend these events to bring a kit or two to give to the club for these things. Manufacturers are basically not providing the goodies like they used to so a club either has to buy these things or rely on vendors for generosity. One of the reasons we attend these events is to help out the club putting on the show and one way to help is to donate kits, preferably still in the shrink or the bag as there is nothing worse than winning a kit that is missing parts or has been nearly completely built, such as an 80% finished (and very crudely so) 1/350 Yamato I won at a Kansas City event, or a box full of sprues a friend won in a Chicago show.
Thanks to not having to announce every Tom, Dick or Harry in the awards ceremony (the awards were placed under the model), the event was over by 3:30, allowing those that had to travel an opportunity to get on the road at a most reasonable time.
The only inputs I have are two.
One is for the club to start up a web site. Talking to some of the members, there seem to have been promises made but nothing happened. Folks, doing these things isn't difficult. Anyone willing to sit down with a proper web program can have a basic one up in about two hours.
Second, I'd encourage to club to drop the sweeps thing. The idea of having a contest is to have people attend. People will attend if they think they have a chance to take home a memento, and will return the next year to get another. People will not attend if they know that Joe Blow, who wins at nationals, is going to swamp a category with five of his models, thereby grabbing all the awards. Now I know you are thinking that a nationals winner has nothing to prove by hogging the awards at a local show, but there are modelers for whom awards are everything. I know we've discussed things like this on the Forum and through editorials so I won't go into it any deeper. If there is a plus side to this, it is that folks will build for the less populated categories where the competition is generally less lop-sided.
Overall, the experience was quite positive. The club members are friendly as you can get (well, not THAT friendly), there were some great models, especially amongst the car guys, and there were a goodly number of junior entries, which I like to see. It was great to have a show in Memphis once again. I've always enjoyed these events and encourage you in the general area to attend next year's event.
Scott Van Aken