THE IPMS/USA 2000 CONVENTION

Reported by Richard Marmo
Photos by Tony Weddel and Terry Moore

The 2000 Convention is history and focus now turns to next year in Chicago. But that's the future. What was the Dallas effort like?

In a nutshell, very good. Held in the Hyatt Regency hotel, it was about as central a location as you could hope for in the Ft. Worth/Dallas Metroplex and still have sufficient room. If you're not familiar with Dallas and trying to figure out exactly where the Hyatt Regency is, think Dallas Mavericks. The hotel is not much more than a long stone's throw from Reunion Arena, where both the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars play their home games. And if you've ever seen the Dallas skyline, the Hyatt Regency is the hotel that has the rotating restaurant on top that's enclosed with a lighted geodesic sphere.

Do keep one thing in mind, though. I attended as a vendor (and IPMS member, of course), but I didn't register. And due to the fact that I live thirty miles from Dallas (in Ft. Worth), I drove over and back each day. Considering that we were fortunate to have a string of extremely hot days (it peaked at 106) that coincided with the Convention, that was an experience in itself! Especially when you consider that I did it with no air conditioning!!

The Convention itself had something for everyone. There were a range of symposiums and workshops that ranged from the familiar Make and Take program for the younger modelers to open house at Squadron (another place to spend your money) to tours of the Cavanaugh Air Museum and the Ft. Worth Zoo. And I believe there were also trips available to some of the area malls for the distaff side.

Of course, one of the most popular areas…until you ran out of money…was the vendor room. And well it should be.

Located in Marsalis Hall, there were some 300 (you heard right, 300) tables occupied by vendors of all kinds. The great majority had huge collections of kits that ranged from the expected selection of new releases to a wide variety of old kits that, in some cases, went all the way back into the 50s. Tools, display cases, display stands, figures, books, magazines, etc., ad infinitum. And publications weren't just limited to print media. ProWeb Ft. Worth was there showing their CD-ROM E-book, "B-36: Saving The Last Peacemaker".

Tamiya had a space and spent a lot of time demonstrating a Tiger I radio control tank that was, I think, 1/24 scale. Complete with realistic sound effects, it had a lot of people trying to figure out where the cannonfire was coming from.

The Tool Man was there with his usual collection of strange and wondrous items, including a nifty little item that I call a squissor. It's actually a small set of squeeze handle scissors that are ideal for cutting tiny decals from a tightly packed sheet.

While limited to only two items, and both of'em high dollar, a table featuring Zeiss magnifiers did steady business throughout the show. These are sharp focus surgical quality optical instruments that put every other headband magnifier in the shade. And at some $400 a throw, so does the price. But as they say, when you need'em, you need'em and there were quite a few people who decided that they did.

Revell-Monogram showed test shot buildups of the 1/48 F-86D (no paint, no markings, just the bare parts) and a SnapTite kit (again, just the bare parts) of a 1/25 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Though I personally can't see the appeal of the real Chrysler design, it's proven to be immensely popular, so the SnapTite kit should do very well indeed. They also had both the Revell-Monogram catalog available, along with a separate catalog from Revell Germany.

Accurate Miniatures displayed their 1/48 B-25C. And if you haven't heard, Bill Bosworth is no longer associated with Accurate Miniatures.

Resin was everywhere, from complete kits to virtually any aftermarket accessory or conversion you can imagine. Quality, for the most part, was very high with engraved surface detail. Ejection seats, for example, were detailed to the point that you began to wonder how they ever got'em out of the mold. And speaking of molds, a manufacturer of RTV products was also on hand.

Meteor Productions and Black Box both had a major presence. I won't even attempt to describe what each company had on hand. After four days, I was still finding things that I hadn't seen before. One subject that Black Box did have on display was a builtup model of their injected styrene 1/72 Boeing 727 w/American Airlines decals.

The more you looked, the more you found, including Bill Koster and his magnificent 1/48 Focke-Wulf Fw-200, Craftworks and their line of 1/32 resin WW-II fighters (Macchi C.202, P-40B and more), Aeromaster Decals and on and on. And let's not overlook Paper Models International and their line of…what else…paper model kits. One look at their Bomarc Missile mounted on a launcher and you'll have a whole new attitude toward paper models.

Scale Aircraft Modelling was there, as was Scale Aviation Modeller International and their sister publication Scale Auto Modeller.

And there was a new American model publication that was displaying and selling their premiere issue. Aviation In Miniature is, as the name implies, devoted to aircraft models. It utilizes an 8 1/2 x 12 format, is 100% color and currently follows a quarterly publication schedule. This is one you'll want to support.

The one part of an IPMS Convention that can simultaneously inspire and depress you is, of course, the contest room. Quality ranges from the "very good but I can match that" to the "Omigawd". Subjects are all over the scale, though aircraft tend to dominate.

One aircraft that got a lot of attention was a georgous 1/48 B-58 that sported a very realistic natural metal finish. When you consider my personal opinion on most natural metal finish attempts, that's saying something. There were also a number of large scale scratchbuilt entries, such as a 1/18 TBD Devastator, that could just root you to the floor. And a full-size AIM-120 missile model was on display. Whether or not it was judged I can't say, because I heard a couple of people mention that it was produced in a commercial shop. But it was impressive, nonetheless.

Detailing and superdetailing was exactly what you'd expect, with some of the interiors taken to a level that could make a grown man cry. You should have seen some of the junior entries. For example, there was a D-Day landing craft scene that could've run some of the adult entries a race.

Science Fiction had quite a number of entries, including a Lunar Models Discovery One from 2001, several totally fictional original design ships and more. Complimenting that category were real or factual rockets and spacecraft.

Dioramas were well represented in all categories. A large scale armor diorama even had horses and men standing in a creek while a vehicle waited just behind them. You could almost hear the participants breathe. As serious as that entry was, the flip side of the coin was an entry in the humor category. This one, called The Last Meeting Of The IPMS… showed the interior of an aged building, crammed with a wide range of partially completed model projects. Sitting at the bench was the skeleton of a devoted modeler, his bony fingers still holding his last project. In another part of the scene was a couple of boots attached to the ground with a leg bone sticking up out of the boot. Apparently, that particular modeler had been there so long that everything else had turned to dust, joining all the other dust that had long since settled on the entire room. It does make you wonder if this is the ultimate fate of every serious modeler. Hmm-mm-m?

Another humor diorama was very small, simple, based on a real event and absolutely hilarious…even though what happened to the zoo keeper wasn't. Remember the news story about the zoo keeper who was trying to unblock a constipated elephant? After massive doses of laxitive, which had no apparent effect, the zoo keeper finally decided to administer an enema…alone. Anyway, the end result was that the zoo keeper was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the elephant finally began to clear the blockage. The zoo keeper fell from the impact and hit his head, becoming unconcious. The dung from the defecating pachyderm continued to accumulate (to the tune of several hundred pounds) until only the zoo keeper's legs and boots were visible. As it turned out, the elephant felt much better but the same couldn't be said for the zoo keeper.

Anyhoo, the diorama consisted of a large brown pile of elephant dung with a pair of legs and boots sticking out. Simple, but an absolute scream if you bothered to read the copy of the news story that was lying alongside the diorama.

Then there was the stealth ship (invisible without special glasses), but that's another story.

One diorama that got a lot of attention was called Das Boot (The Boat) and was based on the German U-Boat movie of the same name. Designed as a closed box diorama, you had a small viewing port to look thru. Inside was an ocean scene that showed the conning tower and part of the deck of Das Boot, partially awash, under attack by a PBY-5 Catalina. Some of the U-Boat crew were manning the deck gun, firing at the PBY. An expanse of ocean met sky at the horizon, the sky was partly cloudy and black bursts of flak could be seen superimposed in front of the white clouds. The very small PBY was in a steep left bank and was wired so that the right engine was turning at normal rpm. In a very imaginative piece of work, the left engine had been wired to turn at a slow and erratic rpm, implying damage from some of the flak. The overall effect was extremely realistic and, because of the restricted visual access, virtually impossible to photograph. If you build dioramas, this level of quality and conception is one to aspire to.

Another subject that's becoming quite popular are dinosaurs. Quite a number were entered and quality was extremely high. Some of them were realistic to the point that you were left with the feeling that you would be next on the menu.

Figures ran the gamut from very plain straight out of the box to truly sophisticated efforts. Subjects ran all the way from fantasy and horror to some fantastic american indians and military.

I could go on and on, but this (combined with the photos in this article) should at least give you a good idea of what transpired over four days. If you've never been to an IPMS Convention, you need to try to make at least one sometime in your life.

Happy modeling.


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