Thursday 11 May 2017

Grand River Express 2017 - Contests

One of three entries in the freight scratch-built
I took four models along for the contest part of the convention. I arrived at the contest room with my models and an entry form. I found most of the models displayed included under construction photos, prototype photos, drawings and a booklet typed up about what they did....all these add to the point total one needs to win or at least receive a Merit Award.

The modeling was over the top. I realized quickly these models are built using the NMRA guide as to what should be included on the model. Its all about the points. My models were just grabbed off the layout, picking models that would travel and package well. The judging is tough and very judgemental giving one positive comments and ideas for a better model.

Using the points and NMRA standards system my rolling stock and diorama lacked what was needed. I don't build my models as contest entries, just what I feel I need to fit my layout needs. I was really surprised when my O scale structure won a merit award and first overall for structures. There was a lot of structures entered, and I thought each one entered was presented far better than mine...but it is all about the points system as to who wins and which deserve merit....I might take a closer look at the NMRA judging guidelines in the future but I doubt it will change how I approach my modeling...George Dutka

An overall look at the middle of three tables full of contest models.

This was the winning diorama.

This CNR caboose is scratchbuilt and won three awards.

Another award winning model and once again scratchbuilt.

There was a lot of very detailed and well built structures. This tower was one of my favourites. My scratchbuilt O scale freight house that won this category is seen in the background.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PAPERWORK. - One thing I did not realize when I arrived with my contest entries was the paper work required. As one can see each of these models had a book of information included with each model..there had to be 30 pages of text, photos and drawings. My magazine articles are not as well detailed. Each of these models won merit awards. I truly believe the modelers spent more time preparing the paperwork than building the model.

Another of the structure entries.

BX tower from St. Thomas was one of my favorites, scratch-built including a full interior. As one can see the builder included plans, prototype photos and a write-up. But even with all this included the judges were hard on this model which did not receive enough points to get a merit award...merit award is a minimum of 87 point out of 125. My model won the category by just squeezing over the minimum with a score of 89 point. I did not have any photos, plans or a write-up which I think cost me a lot of points.


  1. And that's why I don't normally enter models into contests. My hobby isn't about ticking boxes on someone's form, but about enjoyment and trying to create/recreate things in miniature. Full credit to those who do, but seeing NMRA contests in actions gives me a nervous tick that has helped keep me out of sharing my work with anyone for years until the past couple of years and getting involved in some social-first groups in the hobby.

    I have no issues with those who do want to do this, its just not my cup of tea and seeing your comments on it only further re-enforces that position.

    Thanks for sharing though, there are some fine looking models in the photos.

    1. Hi Stephen:
      I have displayed models at RPM meets before which is not judged and really a better way to go...George

  2. Hi George,
    Having prepared paperwork for AP judging quite a few times, I don't think it takes all that long. I typically spend an hour or so preparing the entry for judging. Photos - both in-progress and prototype reference - really seem to help.
    Congratulations on your merit award! Like you, I started in the AP simply by grabbing some models to show and so I could participate in the meet. I don't especially care about the competition, but I do enjoy the participation.

    1. Being judged is always tough, but what I found was the comments are really helpful for future modeling projects or an update to what I have built. I did not feel there was anything negative about the entries just not what I expected to see...great models though...a few were over the top...George