The 2019 Ottawa Scale Auto Contest Report

Now I know what you are thinking: Are there model aircraft at a model car show?  Absolutely!  And I will get to that below, because there were some great ones!

The 6th Annual Ottawa Scale Auto Contest was held on a very rainy Sunday on October 27, 2019.  Since its inception in 2014, it has been held in various venues but it made the switch to the Holland Armory (an actual working Armory) in the south end of the city.

This is a “model club style” show hosted by the scale auto club that meets at the Hobby Centre.  There has always been a focus on the Auto categories and away from IPMS Style judging.  Winners are determined by popular vote (from fellow modelers) and there are 1-2-3 awards in each of the categories.

Sure it is a “smaller” show with limited non-auto categories, but it gets a lot of things right:

  1. The show website was incredibly clear and there were social media updates on FB;
  2. The venue was easy to find and the show room (think of a huge gym) had plenty of room for both the contest and vendor tables.  The only nit here was that it was hard to find parking but it was a work day at the armory so parking was hard to come by.
  3. Registration forms available on line and a quick registration process on the day of the show;
  4. The show schedule was respected and the awards ceremony was well timed; and
  5. There were a lot of friendly volunteers.

The registration process was painless and there was a category for Junior modelers to come out and compete.  This marks the first time my little one entered a model and she was very excited about it.

Aviation Models that Caught my Eye

This has always been an auto model contest but the organizers opened the non-auto categories somewhat this year. The result was a table chock full of excellent aircraft models as well as a few others sprinkled in other categories (juniors, judged and dioramas).   Here are a few that caught my eye:

Lindberg 1/32 GeeBee Pearl Harbor Defender


I don’t get to see many Lindberg models at contests except at the rare vendor table.  I didn’t know they made a Gee Bee racer until I spoke with the builder.  Necessity is the mother of invention and in this case, it was a 2nd hand rescue build with no decal options.  So out came some bits to arm it, some olive drab was painted for an early war paint scheme and a mishmash of decals were used to complete this not-so-outlandish what-if.  What a great model.

AMT 1/48 A-20 Havoc

There are some aircraft where, if you want to build one, you have to go get an AMT kit.  These would be the F7F Tigercat, the P-70 and the A-20 (there might be others).  I have an AMT F7F and to call it a “fixer upper” would be charitable: a ton of flash, misaligned molds, soft plastic.  I’m not saying AMT models are no good – but they need TLC to get good finishes.  I imagine a lot of love went into this this A-20.  I have a weakness for bare metal finishes and I love the finish on this one as well as the light weathering.

Tamiya 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt

A clean, simple build with a nice fade to the olive drab paint.  I have a couple Tamiya Thunderbolts in the stash and they are great kits.  It’s about time I started one!

Atlantis 1/144ish B-52 with X-15


This is a recent re-issue of an old Revell kit.  Normally I would not pay any attention to this type of model but seeing is believing.  This is a value priced kit that is currently on the shelves.  Even at this small scale, the model is impressively large and it has just enough detail.  The builder told me the decals were excellent.  Sold.

The rest of the aircraft entries

Not as many as at an IPMS show but the quality was definitely up there.  Check these out:

Some of the other models that caught my eye

I know there will be others posting about the car models.  The thing is, I know a lot of work goes into getting the perfect finish for auto models but I have a very hard time figuring out which models are “better” than the others in these categories.  I snapped a few pictures of the non-aircraft models that caught my eye.  I have to say, the guillotine was pretty much the most unique model I have ever seen at a show:

1/24 AMT Ford GT90

Well, there was one car that I thought looked pretty great and that was my daughter’s car!  “We” won this car in the raffle last year and she wanted to build it for this year’s contest….except it had to be purple!  We built this thing in phases over the summer and fall.  She got to use spray paint and glue for the first time.  It went together well and after some initial confusion about how model parts go together, she “got” the process quickly.  There was no way she was going to sit with this thing for more than 20 minutes at a time but it turns out that was perfect – because we got 4 mini sessions.  She enjoyed seeing it gradually come together and she is already talking about her next build.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it: A club show that delivered a fun day meeting up with my model friends and one happy little girl.  A big thank you to the show organizers and we hope to be at the show again next year.

So what do you think of “voting” model shows?  I have been to a few and I do try to cast my ballot(s) but it can be difficult to be a good voter in categories where I have no clue (such as autos, ships & figures).  I usually throw a “peoples choice” vote at something I’ve never seen before which, I guess, may not be fair to someone who did an amazing job on a BF-109 or other popular subject.  Anyhow, I’d like to know what you think in the comments.

10 thoughts on “The 2019 Ottawa Scale Auto Contest Report

Add yours

  1. Nice purple car!

    Regarding the Guillotine, there is actually some interesting history behind that kit. It was originally produced in the ’60s by Aurora, and in the early ’70s there was a moral panic around it and some similar “torture chamber” kits which allowed kids to play campy horror movie villains and torture models of buxom damsels at home. At the time, Aurora had recently been purchased by the food manufacturer Nabisco, so once the poop hit the fan, the parent company was not happy that one of their subsidiaries had this line of products that was ruining the family-friendly image they used to sell cookies and ended up recalling and discontinuing these and a lot of Aurora’s horror-themed kits.

    As for voting… there are some obvious advantages, such as not needing judges, saving a huge number of volunteer hours on the day of the event. It also makes it harder for people to question a judge’s decision because the people have the final say.

    There are also some issues. I hesitate to call it bias because that implies that there is one group doing it perfectly objectively and everyone else being biased (I prefer to just say that different contests weight things differently), but it does seem that larger, shinier models with blinking lights tend to do better in popular vote contests, even if they have some of the flaws in construction that would ding them at an IPMS style contest like seam lines or alignment issues.

    Also, there are, of course, all the issues with a standard first past the post voting system that we saw last week in Canada – splitting the vote, unusual and unrepresentative results, etc.

    I think the biggest risk, however, is that if it isn’t carefully designed, a voting system could encourage tribalism and division. If you have a cross-category vote for something like best in show, with all the car guys voting for a car, all the airplane guys voting for a plane, all the gundam guys voting for a gundam, etc., that can cause drama. Or, people can feel like all those car guys and figure guys don’t know what they are doing when they are voting for figures or planes.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this, particularly post-CapCon where I was privy to some post-game chatter about judging among a couple groups. Fundamentally, I think we need to balance the draw of competition to encourage people to bring their models out, with all the negatives of competiveness like unhealthy attitudes towards the hobby, drama, resentment after a loss, etc. My personal opinion is that the open system does this best, but regardless of the judging system, people need to make sure they are going into the contest with the right attitude and not getting distracted by shiny medals and plaques.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good points. I have noticed the “bigger is better” for the people’s choice. It would be some amazing 1/72 fighter to pull off a win there.

      I agree with you on the various systems – none are perfect and all depend on having a lot of reasonable humans on a reasonable timetable. I judged for the first time at CapCon and now I know how difficult it can be where there is tight competition.


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