Saturday, March 14, 2015

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club model contest tips

  Do you want to create an award winning model? These valuable tips will show you how!
By Morgan Turney - WMRC Model Contest Chairperson

So, You Want To Enter A Model In The Model Contest - Here Are Some Tips To Help You Get That Trophy!

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club hosts its annual model and photo contests each year at the club's Open House in the Spring. Why does the club have these events? It has been a tradition in the club since its beginnings and the club, over the years, has developed trophies to honour modelling achievement. It's an opportunity for Club members to highlight their modelling skills to others and learn to produce better models through an achievement program.

Many modellers enjoy showing and sharing with others the models they have built throughout the year and this is their opportunity to do so. In order to select which models in their respective categories are trophy winners, a points system is used which the club has adopted from the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). The NMRA standards of achievement are high. However, there are some easy 'rules' to follow to earn the points necessary to earn a trophy.


I'll begin with the categories that are judged. These include steam locomotives (includes shays, climaxes, etc.), diesel and other locomotives (other being electrics, self-propelled, etc.), passenger cars, freight cars, non-revenue cars (cabooses, M of W, work cars, etc.), structures (buildings, water towers, coal tipples, etc. not mounted), displays (modules, scenes, etc. mounted) and a special event category (each year, the Special Event changes). Trophies are also awarded for the best model built from a kit (the kit can be from any of the above categories); the best model entry in any category for anyone who has never earned a first place trophy (Tyro Award); and the best model entry in any category from a Junior Member (under 16). There is also an award for the model that most represents railroading in general (Clark Summers Award). And just a note here: if your model is mounted on a

All model categories are basically judged in the same way. The idea is to accumulate as many points as you can in the five different sections that the judges consider when awarding points. The five sections are: construction, detail, conformity, finish and lettering and scratch-building.
Obviously, the more work you have put into your model, the more points will be awarded in each respective section. Keep in mind, too, that it's not just one judge that judges your model in all the sections. There are usually 3 or 4 judges, each one looking at only their assigned section. Judge number one will judge only the construction section; judge number 2 will judge the detail section; and judge number 3 will judge conformity, etc. Therefore, judge number one doesn't know what is written in the detail or conformity section. If you have done something to your model that fits into more than one section (let's say weathering), be sure to mention that in detail, finish and lettering and perhaps conformity. The more information you give to the judges (as written down) the more points that judge can award to that section. If there is nothing written down, there can be no points awarded!

Judging Tips

So, what are some 'tips' from the judges that can help you get those points? There are several. First of all, don't wait until you have finished a model before you take a look at the Judges' Score Sheet to see how it will be judged. Study each of the sections to see what the judges look at in each and keep them in mind as you do your model. Fill in the sheet as you go along. Secondly, to the judges, the most important category (other than construction), believe it or not, is the conformity section. After all, you are trying to duplicate the prototype so why not show the judges what you are duplicating? If you supply a photo of the prototype that you have based your model on, that will show the judges that your model conforms to that prototype. If the photo shows a rust streak down the side of a box car, and you added that detail to your model, more points can be awarded because it conforms to the photo. The same with a horn or bell that you moved to conform with the prototype. If you have a photo of the prototype with the bell moved to the underframe, and you modelled that feature, you will get more points (assuming that you wrote it down as being moved). And again, these items can be mentioned in more than on section.

Gaining Points

Each section is allotted a maximum number of points so, as you gain points in each section, you'll end up with more points in the end. If you don't write anything in a section, no points are awarded - the judges can't give points for nothing done. Therefore, try to do something to your model so that you are legitimately able to write in what you did in that section. As mentioned before, much of what you did will qualify to be entered in more than one section.

Let's look into each section in more detail. The construction section is fairly self-explanatory - there are boxes to check-off for the work you performed. This section actually mirrors the scratch-building section so the more you have scratch built on your model, the more points will be awarded. Be sure to write a detailed description of the work performed. Some modellers keep a written record as they make a model so that, when the time comes to fill out the judges' sheet, they already have the work they did written down.

In the detail section, the judges want to know what details you added to your model to make it look more prototypical. Were the details from a manufacturer or did you scratch-build them? If you replaced the front pilot on a locomotive with, lets say a Miniatures by Eric detail part, write it down. If you added a tack board on the side of a box car that wasn't on the original model, that too, is added detail. Also, if you added a decal that wasn't on the model before you started, that also counts. And don't forget your weathering details. If you haven't weathered your model because you want it to look factory-fresh, write it down. But remember, a building or a box car that's 30 or 40 years old doesn't look brand new - put some weathering on it.

In the conformity section, the judges look for how the model conforms with what the prototype looks like. Photos, drawings and plans are essential if you want points in this section. If you have used a magazine article to build your model, be sure to mention that in the written portion and have the magazine article spread-out with the model. If you weathered an engine to conform to a photo of the prototype you have, be sure to write it down. Remember - pictures are worth a thousand words.

In the finish and lettering section, be sure to fill in the boxes that apply to your model and write down how you painted the model (air brush or hand-painted, etc.), what decals you used, how you painted the building's roof, etc. If you made your own decals and applied them, tell the judges. Don't forget to tell the judges how you weathered the model (chalks, paint, eye shadow, etc.) and how it conforms to the prototype photo you provided (see how all the sections fit together?).

And finally, in the scratch built section, tell the judges what you have built from scratch and added to your model. If you bent grab irons and added them on, write that in this section as well as in the conformity, detail and construction sections. If you cut your own logs to simulate a log load, this qualifies as scratch building, too. Anything you added that was manufactured by your own hand is considered scratch built.

In summery, filling out the Judges' Score Sheet isn't that difficult if you follow some of these simple rules. The best part is that now you know what the judges are looking for! The contest judging is designed to help you become a better modeller.

In 2013, the WMRC introduced a medal system to signify achievement. Models are judged on a points-type system as above and the accumulated points determines whether the entry receives an Honourable Mention, Bronze Metal, Silver Metal or a Gold Metal. This basically eliminates the 'category' system of first, second, third and/or honourable mentions, replacing it with non-category achievement. The trophy for each of the categories (steam, diesel, passenger car, non-revenue, etc.) can still be presented but only with the achievement of a gold metal in the category.
All models entered in the contest are judged in the same way and from the scores accumulated. Personal awards (Kit Award, Tyro Award, Junior Award, Clark Summers Award, Special Event Award and Best in Show Award) are still be up for grabs, with or without a gold metal placement.
The point awards for medals are established as follows:

Honourable mention - less than 45 points
Bronze Metal - 45 to 65 points
Silver Metal - 66 to 86 points
Gold Metal - 87 to 125 points.

Each person entering a model is entitled to receive only one metal from each class (bronze, silver, gold) and if a second is achieved, they will receive a recognition bar to go with their metal in either bronze, silver or gold.

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