IPMS Santa Rosa Club show 2024 is happening!

You heard that right, I’ve held off of announcing it until we had a few things locked in but we will be holding a club show again this year! For the sake of my sanity have enlisted the help of my VP as Show Coordinator. But Don’t Worry folks. I’m still sticking my oar in constantly. I have an agenda that I want to push during my presidency, and this will be my last year so it’s now or never. It’s time to drag IPMS Santa Rosa and lead Region 9 as a whole into the 21st century. I want us to continue embracing the future of this hobby. Not at the expense of the fine history of the hobby but in addition to it. We have plenty of scope to be awed, wowed, and blown away by 1:72 fighter planes, Sci-Fi scale models, figures, dioramas and gunpla (Gundam models) all equally. 

Ok ok I hear you all say, this has been my soap box for the last two years, this is nothing new… what’s new?

OPEN JUDGING BABY!!!

That’s right people. I have brow beaten the club into agreeing to everyone’s favorite form of judging – the Participation Award! So if you want to come along and get a prize for whatever PoS scrap of plastic you can scrounge up… come on down! I am single handedly making the entire concept of a club show a total farce, I am taking all value out of the noble art of judging and showing models. I am going to be ruining the whole hobby for everyone. And I am very much looking forward to the dozens DOZENS of letters telling me in no uncertain terms that this is exactly what I’m doing. So if you’d like to weigh in yourself please by all means drop me an email at dontgiveamonkeys@gmail.com or even my real email address if you feel so inclined.

Alright now that we’ve sent the folks that have no interest in actually changing their mind scuttling off to unearth my real email address and shout into the void… here’s what I am actually trying to achieve with all this:

It is my belief that Podium judging (1st,2nd,3rd) in IPMS has been watered down to the extent of being little better than a participation award in many instances. Everyone knows those people that will build subjects they don’t have much passion for because it’ll be a light category… IPMS breaks down categories to more and more granular subjects to ensure there aren’t too many entries in a single category. This is required for judging but it also means that you’re really not competing against as many other entries as you might think. We ran the numbers on last years show and almost half of the entries got an award of some kind.

So why is Open judging the solution? Well there is one thing that I value that a well run Open Judged Contest (Sometimes referred to as Gold, Silver, Bronze or GSB) provides that is not present in standard Podium judging: The ability to easily assess how you are progressing as a modeller year upon year. Did I finally get a Bronze this year? Amazing. The effort paid off! AND I can work towards a Silver next year, then Gold after that…. ok so what about those talented bastards that get Gold every year? Well they STILL get to compete against the other talented bastards for the Best in Category or event the Best in Show. This judging format, in my opinion (if you haven’t realised this whole blog is just my opinion… honestly why you’re reading it at all is quite beyond me), is capable of encouraging and growing our hobby far more effectively than Podium judging, People’s Choice or No Judging (aka Display only). You are able to get input on how you are doing, without necessarily feeling like you have to be the best of the best. If you’re new to the hobby, you get to see what others are doing and see how you can progress as well as peg where you are now. And of course it still has the awards for the top competitors.

Ok ok but what about it just being a participation award I hear you thinking loudly at the computer screen. Well that’s entirely dependent on the calibre of the Judges at the show, the Judging standards being used and the running of the show. I already mentioned how much I value consistent judging year on year and assuming the club chooses to run this again in future years, I want to establish a rigorous judging basis that considers and carefully weighs both technical and artistic merits with consideration for the specific category being judged. This is still a work in progress and I am working closely with my nominee for Head Judge to establish this. I am in fact putting more work into this than I did in planning all of last year’s show. It is a task I do not take lightly. This is the biggest thing I want to achieve in my presidency and I have only one shot at making it a success – a fact I am very mindful of. What are the details of this judging? I confess they are not ready to be shared yet, BUT! They will. in the next few weeks I hope we will have initial guidelines and from there we can start selecting and training judges. (That’s right – we are looking to establish the judging teams BEFORE the day of the show).

So have I convinced you this is a valuable way to run a show? WONDERFUL! Looking forward to seeing you and all your latest creations at our show on October 12th

Still skeptical? I ask that you give it a chance. We are working hard to run the best show we can and hopefully it will be one you can enjoy! Put that date in your calendar now, just in case – October 12th

Not interested in changing your mind? No way Open can compare to Podium? Come to the show! I’ll be there all day and with a show coordinator doing all the hard work, I’ll have nothing better to do than hear you lecture me, at length, about how wrong I am… while you’re at it – why don’t you bring some of your worst models to demonstrate how it’s nothing more than a participation award? I’ll be there with my earplugs and polite British Accent ready to face your ire and outrage.

During our last business meeting – we settled on the theme for our show: Evolution! Is it on the nose? Hell yeah it is but it’s also going to give plenty of opportunities to get those dinosaur models painted up and on the table!

2024 IPMS Santa Rosa show – Evolution

October 12, 2024

Rohnert Park Community Center Multi Use Room

5401 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Full fliers and details to follow in the next few weeks.

One last thing – This show will be our first time at a new location, with a new judging format, with a very strict time window for the show. Things will go wrong and we beg you all to be patient with us as we work through it all and if you feel so inclined, consider volunteering and lending us a hand to make this a success.

Meetings of 2023

Our club meetings are held on the first Monday of each month. We meet from 7pm to 9pm at Fundemonium in Rohnert Park. Our general format is a brief business overview for the attendees followed by Show ‘n’ Tell. When members are finished discussing their models, we have a demonstration/presentation and a door prize giveaway to round out the evening. The executive branch holds the club business meeting during the hour before the regular meeting, at 6pm. All are welcome to attend our club meetings, and everyone is highly encouraged to bring any completed projects or anything in progress.

Fundemonium is located in the Expressway Center located at 579 Rohnert Park Expy, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

2023 Meetings
  Theme Presentation Quarterly Contest
January New Scribing with Randy N\A
February Oldest Model Wood Grain with Jack N\A
March Ugliest Model <skipped> Gunpla\Mecha
April Worst Model Faces with Dev N\A
May Most Colorful IPMS Judging Clinic N\A
June Shiniest Model Static Grass with Bob Random Raffle Category
July Patriotic Ambulance Kits with Mark N\A
August Hottest Model Sludge Washes with Jack N\A
September Learned A Lot TBA Figure Painting
October What Have you been working on? Making Water with Bob N\A
November What Have you been working on? TBA N\A
December What Have you been working on? TBA Christmas Mayhem

A Year in Review

Well it’s time for those trite, year in review posts that pop up every year around this time. It’s mid-way through my second term as President here at IPMS Santa Rosa and it’s been a busy year. We got this new website launched, we hosted our first Club Show in several years, held a couple of field trips, our club nights, regular build nights and best of all – we’ve seen a few more members regularly attending! Both returning and new.

It has, in all honesty, been exhausting. Juggling both President and Show Director in particular was a mistake I think in retrospect. I’m glad we pulled it off and that it was so well received from what I’ve heard from members across Region 9 but it did take a toll and has really left me looking forward to having another take over both roles. The whole club membership pulled together in an incredible way to make it happen. Steve at Fundemonium was a fantastic host for the show and 

We are already planning out Show for next year, although it looks as though it will be pushed back a few months. Stay tuned for more info as it may well prove to be a most memorable show that you won’t want to miss.

I am thrilled with how the club has come together since the pandemic. It feels lively and all encompassing. We have broadened out a little from the traditional AAA staples into more figures, Gundam, fantasy and sci-fi. We have a member that scratch builds buildings, 3D printers and more. I am so glad to see us embracing this diversity of interest in our hobby. There are definitely more things I’d like to do to grow our membership but I think it may need to wait for a new president with a new burst of energy to keep that growth and vitality going.

One event I’d really like to highlight is our Summer Picnic, it was likely to be the last we hold at Lower Jackrabbit picnic ground as the area has been closed as a result of the tree being deemed unsafe. I love the Summer Picnics that we hold as a club, it’s a chance for the club to get together and have some fun, play some games and generally just relax a little – it’s also an event that Jack kindly does everything for in terms of planning and prepping meaning I get to just show up and enjoy myself. I definitely don’t want to lose this event so we need to start considering where to host it in future!

Of course the other part of any of these retrospectives is a chance to look to the future and the coming year. We are of course busy planning the next show, we’re going to reassess some of our events – particularly field trips and quarterly contests which have been fun but maybe not had the adoption we’d like.

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and a prosperous and productive new year!

Things to be Thankful for

Welcome folks,

For those of you looking for more juicy, click bait-y hot takes on all the drama in the IPMS nationals and the continuing mess of the aftermath… I’d point you to a podcast I do with some east coast friends, you can find the latest episode here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/00SD4FNzxT38INNCC4ljFm?si=0d3faf9f5d2f4339

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, one that I only adopted after moving to my new homeland about 10 years ago. Every year, I take some time to review the last year and write a blog post to highlight the a few of the many things I have to be thankful for. You can view some of my past posts on my personal blog: https://www.ragados.com/

This year though, I thought I would co-opt this site and write a Scale Modelling and miniature painting focused blog! (None of that banal I’m grateful for my health and my family nonsense… although of course I am deeply thankful for those things and more.)

Firstly I think it’s important to highlight that we are in a golden time in this hobby of ours. Kits are better than ever before, more subjects, higher detail, better quality, easier assembly and although prices are going up in a lot of cases – they are, I think, worth the price point. Dropping $120 on a kit, and another $80 on all the bells and whistles (and let’s face it – a lot of the kits these days either come with all the bells and whistles or are so good, they don’t even really need them). That $200 will likely last you a few months of work… Throw in another $100 for paints, glues, etc etc… you’re looking at maybe $100/month to keep your hobby going… Try telling a wargamer or a boardgamer that’s what your hobby costs you. Recently I got sucked into a great little collectible card game called Disney: Lorcana, it has been blighted by supply issues and street prices are often 3x msrp. I’ve been very fortunate and been able to get almost everything at msrp but even that is ~$1000 for a full playset… and a new playset drops every 3 months… so all things considered, it’s an affordable hobby.

I am fortunate that IPMS Santa Rosa has been able to attract many newer, younger hobbyists over the last few years. Folks that have no interest in AAA, that have come into the hobby either through Warhammer or, increasingly, through Gundam. This is, undoubtedly the future of the scale modelling from what I can see. Gen Z likely has never even met a person that served in WW1 or WW2. Vietnam ended almost 50 years ago. Modern aircraft are neither as sexy as the classics, nor are they romanticized to the same extent (not even Top Gun seems to really swing it). The time of those models holding mainstream appeal is over. So what is there to be thankful for here? For myself, I have discovered a whole new range of exquisitely designed figures, that don’t need glue, don’t need painting, assemble to a push fit and you can even pose like action figures! Not just that but there are some excellent shows out there featuring all these models! Do I love the Gundam aesthetic? Not really… but I kinda love some of the bad guys and I really enjoy the zen of assembling these models. And if you want to paint them, want to glue them, want to make a diorama, they work for all of those things!

This year we had our first club show since before the pandemic. From everything I’ve heard, it was generally well received and I am massively thankful to everyone that worked to make the show happen. Obviously everyone in the club that helped plan, source trophies, set up, tear down, print fliers, get vendors. Also to Steve and Fundemonium for hosting. It was great to have the club back involved in the show circuit.

All in all, my first year as president of IPMS Santa Rosa has been a fantastic one with good friends, good stories and many great models.

IPMS Controversy

David Lockhart (IPMS USA President) has caused a bit of a stir in the latest volume of the IPMS journal and just when I was searching for a new topic to write about in my blog post…

For those of you that have not read the article, President Lockhart describes people that attend IPMS Club Meetings / Shows without being paid members of IPMS USA as ‘freeloaders’. So I guess if you didn’t read the article because you aren’t a paid member of the IPMS USA… well that makes you a freeloader too?

So what’s my spicy hot take? Are you ready for some extra sriracha on the side?

President Lockhart isn’t entirely wrong. His method of expression in the article (aside from the use of the word ‘freeloader’ which was maybe ill advised) was fairly moderate and reasonable. The thing is, IPMS chapters are struggling for membership across the country. Even our club sees a lot of regular attending members who don’t actually pay dues to the local chapter. At a national level I think membership is even more of an issue. The President’s point about insurance in particular cannot be underestimated – our own club has needed event insurance twice so far this year alone (for the auction and again for the club show). There is NO WAY we could have made those events happen if hadn’t been for the existence of the national organization to provide that support. And yet, every time we, as a club, need to re-up our membership – it’s a struggle to find enough members to meet the minimum basic requirements for the club to renew. And this is despite our club being relatively healthy and seeing a surge of new interest. There is a clear downward trend to membership levels in IPMS and we need to confront that situation.

The thing is… the whole argument neglects a key element – this past time as a whole is dying… or at least the way it’s envisioned by many long time IPMS members is dying. The ‘classic’ plastic model kits just aren’t of interest to younger generations, tastes change, where once a beautifully painted M4 Sherman was sex on… tracks? – these days new members, by and large, are going to be much more interested in the latest reissue of an RX-78-2 or Sicarian Battle Tank. So IPMS at both the local and national level need to change their approaches if they want the organizations to continue beyond the next 10-15 years.

This is not a new topic to anyone that has really spoken to me about the hobby for any length of time (and I touched on it a little in a previous post). Tastes change with time, maybe there are fewer folks interested in historical subjects these days, but does it really matter? The process, the techniques are largely transferable, and maybe the most important – the appreciation of the skill is 100% transferable! Sci Fi and Fantasy subjects may not engender the same ‘historical research’ but as anyone who has seen the Tested YouTube channel knows, there is plenty of opportunity to practice those research skills in movie accuracy, sourcing the actual parts used in some cases, accurate gundam markings (especially for mechs from later shows).

We need to welcome and encourage a much wider segment of the hobby than we have traditionally. Wargamers? Sure, Gunpla builders? Absolutely! 3D Printers should be welcome too. There should be space for everyone and we should all share in and encourage this hobby. And who knows? Over time, new comers may also learn to appreciate some of the historical subjects as well!

And whilst I genuinely believe this to be the biggest issue for IPMS (especially at the national level). There is no hiding the fact that there are many folks showing up to regular meetings without paying dues to IPMS USA (or even the local chapter in some cases) and that is something I encourage them to reconsider. These clubs run on a lot of passion but they need financial support as well at both the local and national level.

Facing your figures

After the demo that I gave in our last club meeting on painting faces. A few of the attendees had follow up questions so I thought I would make this blog post a little more about my process and various methods of application.

For those of you that weren’t at the club meeting, I used a roughly 1/8th bust (pictured on the left) that was kindly printed for me by Chris some time ago. To accelerate the process, I ended up airbrushing the demo guiding through zenithal (aka grisaille), verdacchio and facial temperature zones.

Despite my efforts to shortcut things – I still ran longer than I’d like and it was a bit of a flood of information.

This is also a much larger scale than I would normally paint, chosen for visibility during the class so I thought I would provide some examples of what I would normally do for a higher end model using a piece I am currently working on – Sam Vimes from the Discworld Novels. This particular model is from Micro Arts Studios and is roughly 1/60th scale. (NB: my version of this model is several years old and is cast in white metal rather than the resin indicated in the current listing).

This model is obviously quite a bit smaller and I am applying the stages using a brush rather than airbrush; however the underlying principles remain unchanged.

Starting from a black prime, I applied a white ‘zenithal’ (sprayed white down from above to imitate the light source and provide initial shading and highlights). The next thing is to block in some basic ‘underpainting’ in this case using greens, reds and blues. This provides more depth, realism and visual interest to the piece.

Underpainting

In the case of Sam Vimes we can see what that looked like from this quick WIP picture above. Although I am applying these undertones, I am not flooding the whole model with colour and the colour I use is pretty heavily thinned. (I also remembered to tint the lips this time).

Some folks may ask if this is really necessary, couldn’t you shade over the top or mix the paints as you go? The answer is that you can of course do these things but it is (in my opinion) a lot easier to work with a preshade.

Why? Well I find it to be more forgiving. If you are heavy handed in your application, you can layer the skin colour more heavily over the top to knock back the effect. It also encourages you to push the colours a little more heavily for greater visual interest than you might be inclined to if you mix the paints or glaze over top. Lastly – paints are complex, generally consisting of multiple pigments (particularly for fleshtone paints) – mixing those with another strong colour can result in odd effects and often rapidly desaturate the paint giving a weaker end result.

Once you have that underpainting laid down, it’s time to lay down the basecoat of the skintone. I thinned what is normally an opaque paint, with some glaze medium to ensure a single pass wouldn’t totally erase the underpainting. Remember we can always go back and layer up more.

The last thing I wanted to speak to is painting of eyes. At this scale, I think it is perfectly acceptable to just black out the eyes (typically with a dark brown rather than a full black which can be a little stark). However if you want to show off, you can paint in the sclera with an off white or ivory (don’t use a pure white unless you want it to look like they glow in the dark). With the sclera painted in, you can paint in a pupil/iris with either black or a dark brown.

So there we have it. There is still more to be done on this model, even with the face as I want to move the hue a little, increase the contrast a bit further but this should provide a good starting point on painting faces.

And remember! The Club’s Q3 contest will be Figure painting so you’ll all have a great excuse to put some of this into practice.

The cost of the hobby

I feel that I mention this in pretty much every post I write but I come from the gaming side of the hobby. I feel this gives me a very different perspective on many aspects of our hobby. (Apparently the thought of painting the eyes on a 1/50th scale figure is terrifying to many scale modellers?). It also has introduced me to a world of little things that I find curious as I continue to become more familiar with the scale modeller side of things.

One thing I’ve found particularly fascinating is the perspective on spending in the hobby. Games Workshop models are notoriously expensive but even other brands will frequently charge a couple hundred bucks on a starter set and gamers will often drop as much as fifty bucks on a single 28mm (1/50ish) model… something that puzzles even me. (Despite the reality that I have in fact done this myself once or twice). Scale modellers seem to have much lower thresholds for model kit pricing despite generally needing to purchase many fewer (you don’t need to assemble a 100 model army to field for that tournament next week after all!). Of course the modelling isn’t the end point for gamers and generally these models are being painted for use in a game so there’s arguably additional utility there but it is a marked difference in approach.

The opposite seems to hold sway for other areas of the hobby. I am not sure I know of a single scale modeller without an airbrushing rig. Even if they may not be completely comfortable with it, yet for gamers… it couldn’t be more different. Things have changed a lot over the last ten years but my default assumption is that a gamer WON’T own an airbrush and if you dare suggest they should consider getting one… you better buckle up because you’re invariably in for a tirade about the cost, the space, the noise… I’m sure I’ve missed things and if you’re one of those gamers – feel free to send angry emails about how unreasonable it is to expect poor hard working gamers to afford the outrages sums demanded for airbrushes to idontcare@ipmssantarosa.org I mean I’m not going to read it but if it’ll make you feel better then go for it.

I am being a little hyperbolic but sadly not far off the mark in many cases. Of course it’s ridiculous, SprayGunner.com now sell a pocket sized battery powered compressor and gun kit for $50 that works surprisingly well, is quieter than the music I have going on my computer and will literally fit in my admittedly large pockets… but that’s the inertia of the zeitgeist I suppose.

Going back the other way I feel modellers have a reluctance to venture into new paint lines. Of course there is a lot of loyalty to brands and particularly when those existing lines are thought to provide good colour accuracy. For myself, I’d rather find a paint that sprays well, and is easy to work with than provides perfect colour accuracy, but then I’m not much of a ‘details’ guy when it comes to my hobbying! Are most paint lines a rip off? Yes. Should you be painting $33 for a can of Games Workshop spray paint? Under NO circumstances! However if you find a different line of paints that works better for you and achieves the results you’re looking for then you should absolutely investigate other lines.

All in all this has been a bit of meandering stream of consciousness from me but hopefully one that’s given you pause to rethink your preconceived notions on what you should and shouldn’t drop some cash on. Meanwhile for club members there’s SWAG to be had! Go check out your email inbox and spam filter if you can’t find it.

Dev

March Madness

To this day, I’ve never actually watched any games from March Madness… I do however feel like March in a more holistic sense tends to be a crazy month… the end of quarter crush after a slow start to the year leaves me frequently trying to play catch up and generally paying for my slacking off in January and to a lesser extent February.

This year is no exception as I desperately try to crank through a load of Star Wars Legion Snowtrooper models for NOVA Open’s charity foundation, prep for convention and weekend painting classes that are happening throughout the year. Not to mention all the real life work projects piling up!

I think I will have something to enter for the quarterly contest although it’s nowhere near as far progressed as I had intended… it will be something at least. It’s my first time really working on sophisticated masking in a long time and although it’s coming together… that dread moment of truth when you peel off the tape has not yet manifest at the time of writing so we shall see…

On the subject of teaching painting. I have been asked a few times why I feel I can charge for classes when there’s a wealth of information out there for free, YouTube, Twitch, Club Night demos, asking buddies… I get it and I certainly try to make the most of those avenues myself but fundamentally there is nothing like being taught by a person in the room that can give you feedaback as you work through an exercise for shortcutting the learning process. I work hard on my presentation style, my topics and content as well as the skills needed not just to achieve the end result but to be able to communicate that so that my students can walk away knowing that they too can produce something of a similar calibre. Is that worth it to you? well only you can say! For myself, I attend every in person class I can from any instructor I respect and feel I can learn from because nothing has made me a better modeller and painter as fast as those classes and the practice in their aftermath.

Seeing as this is my blog – why not put a little shameless self promotion out there. This is my next class – a weekend class down in the SF South Bay:

Airbrushing class

For those of you interested in really pushing your airbrushing skills to the limit, this weekend class is going to blow your mind. Whether you normally paint figures / armour / aircraft / gunpla – I promise you that you will learn a ton. It’s also being held at a great venue run by a friend. Tickets here.