National Contest Rules

IPMS/USA's National Contest Committee (NCC) has submitted the following list of Rules and Definitions for the 2013 National Contest.  A few new definitions have been added, and are noted by red text .  Just review this list carefully, to avoid any surprises!


1.  The IPMS/USA National Contest is open only to members of IPMS/USA or other national IPMS branches.  Any current member of IPMS/USA or any other national branch of IPMS is eligible to enter any number of models in the National Contest.  A member may also serve as a "proxy" to enter models for a fellow member who is not attending the convention.  Entry fees for proxy models may be set at the discretion of the Host Chapter.  All entries except chapter/group entries must be the sole work of the individual whose name is on the entry blank.  Commercially built and/or finished models that do not require significant additional work by the modeler will be ineligible.

2.  Juniors. Junior Division categories are limited to members 17 years and younger. Those categories will be split into two age groupings: Pre-teen for ages through 12 years; and, Teen for ages 13 through 17 years.  Junior members may, at their own discretion, enter any or all of their models in Senior-Division categories; however models entered in Senior categories will not be eligible for any special Junior-Division awards.

3. Models that have won First-, Second-, or Third-place, or Out-Of-The-Box awards in any category of any previous IPMS/USA National Model Contest may not be entered in any subsequent IPMS/USA National Model Contest for awards, except as provided in Section III , Rules 4 , 5 , and 6 .  Basically, previous award winners can be used as noted in Collections, Triathlon and Group entries.  Models that have won an award as part of a Collection, Triathlon or Group entry may also be entered individually in subsequent National Contests.  However, models that have won individually, and as part of a Collection, Triathlon or Group entry, are not eligible for subsequent National Contests.

4. "Test Shot" or pre-production examples of kits not yet commercially available may not be entered in any national competition for awards.

5. The Chief Judge will exclude/remove from competition any entry considered by Contest officials to be inappropriate or offensive to generally acknowledged standards of taste and acceptability.
A. The following are prohibited in competition and may not be placed on display at any IPMS event:
i. There shall be no depiction of excretory functions depicting any human being or animal.
ii. There shall be no depiction of sado-masochistic activity, equipment, settings or situations, to any degree, regardless of whether there are figures in the model and regardless of whether any figures present in the model are clothed.
iii. There shall be no depictions of explicit sexual conduct, bilateral or autoerotic, regardless of degree and regardless of the clothing-status of the participants, that involves the touching of the breasts or genitals or other erogenous zones of any depicted figure.
iv. There shall be no depiction of any nude human male or female figures where the genitalia of the figure is exposed where the clear intent of the same is to portray a sexual scene.
B. The following may be entered in the competition or put on display but can be presented only behind opaque screens or similar visual barriers and only where visitors are provided with a fair description, in written format, of the contents of the models behind the screen.  This screened presentation covers competitors and the general public, but no person younger than 18 will be admitted except in the presence of an adult responsible for the young person, subject to the provisions of governing local law:
i. Depictions of any nude human male or female figure, subject to the provisions of 5A , above.
ii. Models or dioramas of historic events ( e.g. general dioramas or specific depictions of the result of the activities of the communist Cambodian Pol Pot regime, a Soviet Gulag, or a Nazi death camp) where the suffering of human beings, or the result of a pogrom, is depicted.  Where the theme, content or subject matter of presentations is graphic or would violate any provisions cited above, then the presentation is prohibited in any setting.

6. Modelers entering pieces that exceed three feet in either width or length, or that require special power support or special placement, must notify the Convention Contest Chairman at least one month in advance of the Convention.  The limited space for the Contest requires pre-planning for such entries.  Failure to provide advanced notification for such models could result in their being unable to compete or inadequate special support.

7. Exhibitors are encouraged to leave their models in the display room until the awards banquet is over and the attendees have had the maximum opportunity to view them.


1.  Judging. Models will be judged for skill in construction, finish, realism, scope of effort, and accuracy.  Additional criteria are considered for special categories such as Dioramas, Collections, Conversions, and Triathlon.  Models are judged as three-dimensional objects and are examined in all aspects.  Entries will be handled by judges, both for proper category placement and for judging, as required.  Models in the Contest Room may be covered by cases while on general public display, but such cases must be removed from models for judging.  Judges will not remove cases from models unless the modeler has given explicit, written approval in advance.  Models in cases will not be judged, except in instances where removal of a case could cause damage, and in the judgment of the respective Head Judge the case will not impede effective judging; in such instances, a display case may be left on during judging.  Such an arrangement must be made prior to judging and noted in writing on the entry form by the Head Judge.  The Head Judge will have the final and exclusive authority to allow or deny this exception.

2.  Composition. The use of plastic is encouraged; however, the use of other modeling materials is allowed as the builder sees fit. Judging standards of finish, attention to detail, and authenticity will be the same, regardless of the materials used.

3.  Scratch-Built models may incorporate parts from other kits, but these should be generally unrelated to their original identity, except for minor parts such as wheels, guns, etc.  Models determined to be scratch-built must be entered in the proper scratch-built category.

4.  Conversion category entries must represent a version different from that provided by the basic kit.  The conversion must contain significant structural modifications to the basic kit involving extensive changes in contour or configuration.  In addition to the normal judging criteria common to the entire contest, judges of the Conversion Category will give special consideration to the complexity of the conversion.  A conversion accomplished with primarily commercial aftermarket parts will be at a disadvantage, therefore, against a conversion accomplished primarily by the builder’s craftsmanship - assuming both are finished to similar standards.  Simple conversions may be entered in regular categories.  More extensive conversions, however, must be entered in the appropriate conversion category. The builder must describe in detail the conversion changes made to the base kit on the entry sheet or accompanying documentation.  Judges have the ultimate authority to determine a model’s category placement, and such decisions by judges will be final.

5.  Figures. Figures-Class entries will not be classified as Dioramas by the inclusion of accessories supplied in the figure kit.

6.  Markings. Aircraft categories are generally defined as Military Aircraft unless otherwise noted.  Entries carrying only civil markings will be placed in the appropriate Civil Aircraft category.  They do not need to be marked with a national civil registration ( e.g. N-number for the USA) to be entered in a Civil Aircraft category.  Models of CIA, NASA, Treasury Dept, and other government-marked (but non-military-marked) and operated aircraft will normally be placed within the Civil Aircraft categories.  Movie planes, warbirds, and those with combined civil and military markings ( e.g. NASA band and USAF titles) likewise will usually be placed in Civil Aircraft categories.
The same general principle applies for entries in the other Classes: markings will determine the category in which a model is entered.

7.  Missiles. Winged 'airplane-type' missiles will generally be entered in a UAV Aircraft category.  When a missile's transport vehicle or launcher is the predominant portion of the system ( e.g. Patriot, SCUD), the model will be entered in the appropriate Armor category.  Military launch vehicles ( e.g. V-2, ICBM, IRBM), civilian launch vehicles ( e.g. Scout, Saturn), and military launch vehicles modified for civil missions ( e.g. Atlas/Agena, Jupiter C) will be entered in the Real Spacecraft category.

8.  Jets. Jet Aircraft categories include manned, rocket-powered aircraft such as the Me-163, X-1, X-15, X-24, etc.

9 . Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) . The UAV categories are to include drones, flying bombs, winged missiles and other aerial vehicles, powered or glider, designed to fly without carrying a crew.  Aircraft originally designed for manned control but converted to remote-control operation ( e.g. F6F-5KD, QF-104, DeHavilland Queen Bee) will not be considered as UAVs for the purposes of this contest, and shall be entered in the appropriate regular Aircraft categories.  Conversely, a pilotless machine does not have to meet the ‘modern’ definition of UAV to be entered in this category.  Qualifying UAV models, regardless of markings, shall be entered in the appropriate UAV category.

10. In-Flight Aircraft . Generally, Aircraft models in an “in-flight, gear-up” condition mounted on stands will be entered in this new category.  The model must depict a retractable-landing-gear prototype, modeled with the landing gear fully retracted.  Models of fixed-gear prototypes or aircraft with fully or partially extended landing gear displayed on stands will be placed in the appropriate regular Aircraft categories.  So will seaplanes displayed on stands, unless the depicted prototype has retractable landing gear modeled in the gear-up position.  Spinning props and jet exhaust emissions may be simulated, but are not required.  Similarly, crew figures are optional.  This is not an “in-flight diorama” category; models will be judged solely as individual aircraft.  Note that aircraft models on stands fitting the 1/144 scale definition are to be entered in the appropriate 1/144 regular or OOB categories.

11. Automotive - Documented Replicas . This category is for models built as a precise replica of a specific real-world vehicle.  The competitor must also display documentation to authenticate the actual vehicle upon which the model is based (can include photographs, copies of brochures, magazine articles, etc -- materials should be collected in a standard 3-ring binder or file folder, for judges’ review).  Evaluation of the model may include the completeness of the documentation and how well the model agrees with the information presented.  As usual, the builder’s basic construction skills will still be the primary judging criteria.  Adding more documentation will not make a poorly built model compete better than a less-documented better-built model.

12. Automotive Technology and Culture . This category is for models of automotive subjects that do not meet the definitions or requirements of the more specific auto categories.  It can include: automotive toys, such as pedal cars; caricature or cartoon vehicles; small motorized vehicles not intended for on-road use and not derived from road-capable vehicles (go-karts, mini-bikes, quad-runners, powered skateboards, etc); ‘slammer-style’ models (models of a complete vehicle with painted-over windows and no interior or mechanical components); stand-alone engines or other mechanical components; cut-away/engineering models meant to show the internal construction / operation of an automobile or part of an automobile; wrecked or ‘junk’ vehicles that are no longer complete or drivable ( e.g. driveline and/or body panels have been visibly removed); bicycles.

13. Bases / Dioramas. Bases will be allowed in all categories and will not be considered in the judging except in the Dioramas-Class categories.  A base may be a piece of undecorated wood, plastic or glass or it may simulate the natural surface on which the prototype would be found; however, nothing other than that surface may be used.  Aircraft and military vehicles may rest on simulated ground or paving, and aircraft that need beaching gear or dollies may be so equipped.  Ships may be displayed in water (no drydocks).  The base must not be the predominant feature of the entry and must be of a size proportionate to the model.  The Contest Chairman and Judges reserve the right to exclude oversize bases.  The model may include primary crew figures.  The addition of any other figures or equipment outside or not attached to, the model ( e.g. support equipment, shell splashes, or buildings) will make the model a Diorama, which must then be entered in the proper Diorama category.  Dioramas are judged not only on the technical merit of their construction but also on the strength of the theme or story they present, so that if two dioramas were technically equal the one having the stronger theme or story would win.  A previous national contest winner may be used as part of a diorama as long as it not the primary focus of the diorama.

14.  Judges. A Chief Judge must be chosen and he must brief all judges before the contest judging.  Only Judges fully registered at the Convention are eligible to join judging teams.  Junior members may not serve as voting judges, but may be assigned to judging teams as participating observers.  Judges may not judge a category in which they are entered.  Judging teams will be composed of multiple judges, preferably representing different regions.  Strict impartiality will be observed, and violators will be removed from judges' lists for future National Conventions.  Any judges disqualified for cause may not assume any role related to the contest at future IPMS/USA National Conventions and may not be present in the room during the judging for any reason.  This will include, but not be limited to, administrative, scoring, photographic and other support responsibilities.  Judges will be provided with a special ribbon or other device to allow their easy identification during the convention.  Specially designated judging teams will monitor the contest room prior to judging to ensure models are in the proper categories for judging.  They will also move models to accomplish the “splits” required in the larger categories.

15.  All Judges' Decisions Are Final. Contest registrars will help determine proper entry categories for models during registration, but final category placement is at the discretion of contest judges. Judges may split categories during final judging.

16. The IPMS/USA National Contest Committee (NCC) is solely responsible for the creation, modification, addition and deletion of all Rules and Categories for the IPMS/USA National Contest.  Any exceptions sought by the Host Chapter must be submitted for consideration by the National Contest Committee at the time the Convention is bid.  The Host Chapter will provide a sufficient number of trophy packages to account for all categories and preplanned splits.  It may also add provide up to, but no more than, 15 trophy packages for additional, unplanned splits at the Convention.  At its discretion, the Host Chapter may also add up to five additional “experimental” or local-interest categories into the contest for that year only.  These categories must be announced at the preceding Convention.

17. No liability for loss or damage to contest entries is implied or assumed by IPMS/USA, the Host Chapter, the convention hotel, or the contest judges.

18. The Chief Judge may waive any rule if circumstances warrant.


1.  Out-of-the-Box (OOB). The IPMS/USA National Contest will include separate categories in selected Classes for OOB entries.  An exception to this rule is the Junior Class, where OOB awards may be selected from among the entries in the standard categories.  Juniors must indicate on their entry form if they are entering their model as OOB.
A. Models that meet the OOB criteria (outlined below) may be entered into the OOB categories, but they are not required to be there.  Modelers may, therefore, choose to place their model in a standard category, where it will be judged against the other entries with no reference to it being OOB.  It will not, in that case, be considered for an OOB award.
B. The general OOB approach is to build what came in the kit.  In some cases, however, this may result in an incomplete or inaccurate model.  For this reason, the OOB requirements allow for some exemptions beyond what was strictly in the box.  These include but are not limited to, for example, the addition of rigging wires, seatbelts and antennas on aircraft, antennas and closed sponsons for military vehicles, and rigging and deck railings on ships.  Exemptions vary from Class to Class, but allow for commonly accepted construction techniques and standards while still maintaining the general OOB approach.
C. All possible exemptions cannot be pre-defined, so modelers who are unsure of whether their work falls under these representative exemptions are strongly encouraged to check prior to the judging with the respective Category Head Judge to avoid being disqualified in the OOB categories.  In complex cases, the Head Judge will initial the entry sheet to inform the judges of his decision and prevent subsequent errors or reinterpretations.

2.  Out-of-the-Box entries will be governed by the following rules:
A.  Kits. Any commercially available kit may be used.  Any parts provided in the kit may be used, regardless of their material (i.e., brass, resin, plastic, etc.).  Generally, only parts that are included with the kit and found in the bag or box may be used.  As provided above, exemptions may be allowed but must be approved by the respective Head Judge in advance of the judging.
B.  Finish. All finishing techniques are allowed.  Decals other than those included with the kit may be used.  Insignia, markings, and instrument panels may be hand-painted instead of decaled.  Weathering is permitted.
C.  Construction. The modeler may fill seams and gaps; sand off rivets; drill out gun ports, exhaust pipes, or other appropriate openings; thin to scale such parts as trailing edges, flaps, and doors; re-scribe panel lines lost in construction; and add rigging and antennas.
D.  It is Not Permitted to: vacuum-form, manufacture, or replace any part, or substitute parts from another kit; cut or separate canopies, surfaces, hatches, doors, etc. (no major surgery); combine a standard kit with a conversion kit; add anything other than specified on the instruction sheet except as shown in Section C above or specifically exempted by the respective Head Judge.
E.  Instruction Sheets. Modelers must attach at least the first page of the kit instruction sheet to the entry form and have the rest of the instruction sheet accessible to the judges for review during judging (preferably, directly under the table from the model).  Models entered without an attached kit instruction sheet will not be considered for an Out-of-the-Box award.

3.  Humor (Category 810). Models entered in the Humor category will be judged on both their humor content and the degree of modeling skill which they represent.

4.  Hypothetical (Categories 820, 821).  In general, models that do not represent a factual, physical prototype will be entered in one of these hypothetical categories.  Each Class has its own definition of hypothetical, dependent upon the tradition and practice within that Class.  Class Head Judges will determine whether models will be judged within the regular Class categories or moved to one of the Hypothetical categories.  Entrants may chose to enter their model in either the overall Hypothetical categories (820 and 821), or in the regular categories in their Class (armor, aircraft, etc.).  Final placement, however, will be determined by the Class Head Judge.  Models placed in category 820 are based on kits, with the hypothetical component being the result of markings, finish, etc.  Models placed in category 821 are hypothetical as a result of being scratch-built or kit-bashed.

5.  Triathlon (Category 830).  Three models of different classes grouped and displayed as a single entry.  The models will be judged as a group, with overall quality determining placement.  Credit will be given for diversity of entries.  Entries must be composed of three models selected from three of the following Classes: I , II , III , IV , V , VI , and Categories 800 , 820 , 821 , and 860 .  No more than one of the three models comprising this entry may have won as an individual entry in a previous National Contest.  To be eligible for an Out-of-the-Box award, all three models must be Out-of-the-Box.  Models constituting a Triathlon entry may not, simultaneously, be competing in other parts of the contest.  Models comprising a winning Triathlon entry may subsequently be entered individually, if they were not themselves previous winners.

6.  Collections (Category 840).  A Collection is any group of five or more closely related items.  Past National Contest winning models may be included as part of a collection, if they comprise no more than 40 percent of the collection.  The entire collection must be the work of one person.  The closeness of the relationship within the collection is a significant factor in judging.  For example, a collection based on variants of a single airframe is a tighter relationship than one of different aircraft operated by a unit.  Models comprising a winning Collection may subsequently be entered as individual entries, if they were not themselves previous winners.

7.  IPMS Chapter/Group Entries (Category 850).  The Chapter/Group entry shall be the only exception to Rule I-1 calling for the model-making work to be done by a single individual.  The intent of this category is to provide a forum for displaying a project that is too extensive or complex for a single individual to complete in a reasonable time.  It is also intended to provide a vehicle for an IPMS chapter or a group of IPMS members to exhibit a project that may have been prepared for an event or display other than the IPMS/USA National Contest.  Subject-matter, time-frame, scale, location, etc, are open.  Models comprising a winning chapter/group entry may subsequently be entered individually if they were not, themselves, previous winners.  First place in this category will be acknowledged by a “Special Award,” presented in addition to the normal category award.  This will be a rotating award: the winning group or chapter will have its name engraved on the award and retain it until the next convention. At that next convention, they may defend the award with another entry, or turn it over to the next winner in rotation.  The original winners will retain the normal category award.  This rotating award is intended to promote club activities and a healthy competition.

8. Where space and finances permit, conventions are encouraged to add a Class IX, “Display Only.” This should be open to any model by any registered entrant, regardless of its having won or not at a previous convention.  No awards will be given in this class, nor will it be judged.  It will serve to exhibit the full range of work accomplished by IPMS modelers.  Space restraints could limit or eliminate this option, which should not impinge on the space required for a full and safe contest.


1. No awards associated with placement in the contest will have any intrinsic monetary value beyond the cost of their materials and production.  Monetary awards, certificates and scholarships tied to placement in the contest are expressly prohibited.

2. First-, Second-, and Third-place awards will be given in each category.  Individual contestants are eligible for only one award per category entered, that is, no category “sweeps” are allowed.  The only exception to this rule is in the Junior Class, where the same junior modeler can be awarded a First-, Second- or Third-place award, as well as be designated best Out-of-the-Box entry in that category.


4. Additional theme awards (“Specials”) may be presented at the discretion of the host chapter. The host chapter is encouraged to make use of incentive awards or other non-trophy items as it sees fit, to develop and encourage participation in the Junior categories. The host chapter may add up to five theme special awards for its convention only.  These additional theme special awards must be identified to and approved by the Executive Board at the initial bid presentation for that Convention.  Special awards will be judged by IPMS National Judges working for the Head Judge, Miscellaneous. The sponsoring committee, however, may at its discretion ask that qualified judges who are members of the local group be included on those teams as long as they do not constitute a voting majority of the assigned team.

5. Special awards may be named in honor of individuals, with the approval of the National Contest Committee.  Such awards will remain named for a period of three years, after which they will either revert to a generic name, or be renamed in honor of another individual.  Selection criteria will be very high and named awards will remain the exception.

6. Besides the Judges Grand Award and Popular Best of Show , 'Best' awards will also be presented for each class in the contest and are listed below.  The 'Best' entries in each class will be determined by a vote of the judges assigned to that class, lead by the Class Head Judge.  The Judges Grand Award will be chosen from among the Class Best award recipients by vote of the Class Head Judges, led by the Chief Judge.  Models entered in Senior categories by Junior members are not eligible for special Junior awards.  The Judges Grand Award must be the final award presented at the Awards Ceremony.

7.  Best Awards. The following 'Best' Awards will be presented at the National Convention:
George Lee Judges’ Grand Award
Popular Best of Show
Tom Kolk Best Junior Model
Best IPMS Chapter/Group Entry
Best Aircraft
Art Gerber Best Military Vehicle
Best Figure
Best Ship
Best Automotive
Best Spacecraft
Best Diorama
Best Miscellaneous

8.  Manufacturers'/SIG Awards .  Various manufacturers or organizations and interest groups can present other awards each year.  These awards must conform to Rule IV-1 , above.  As the screening/selection for these awards is not accomplished by IPMS/USA judging teams, they will be chosen while the contest room is open to normal viewing, and the awards presented prior to the banquet at the convenience of the sponsor.  Any such awards expected to be announced by IPMS at the Convention or in its Journal Magazine must be accompanied by sponsorship of at least one regular trophy package.

Additional information may be found in the IPMS/USA Competition Handbook .

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