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IPMS/USA 2019 National Convention

IPMS/USA 2019 National Convention

By Michael Benolkin

Introduction

The IPMS/USA 2019 National Convention is now in the history books and is one of the best we've attended. This year's convention was held at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the host chapter, Chattanooga Scale Modelers, did an outstanding job putting together and running this year's convention. They were assisted by a number of chapters from around the country and you could see how smooth everything ran from registration to judging. While I don't have the official numbers, the team leaders believed that they had some record-breaking attendance and entries, and I'll leave those statistics to the IPMS/USA website. What I will say, of all of the National Convention locations I've attended to date, Chattanooga will be in the top three.

We had three tables this year in the vendor room for both our Cybermodeler Online and HobbyZone USA businesses, and we arrived mid-day on Tuesday to unload and set up. After cramming an eight-hour trip into 11 hours, we were tired and simply unloaded our stuff into our booth, offloaded a bunch of raffle items to the raffle team, and then dragged our bags over to the hotel. We stayed at the Marriott connected to the convention center and before we could even get to the check-in desk, the staff had complimentary adult beverages in our hands. The following morning, we had everything ready for the opening of the vendor room and wandered around to get some photos of the new releases coming in our near future. Walking around the vendor room, there was plenty of room to display and move about, even though the chapter reports a record number of vendors' tables in the room for a national convention. If the ceilings had been higher, I think they could have shoved a few 747s into the space.

One of the nice things about Chattanooga is the public transportation - there are free busses that run between the aquarium and train station, with the hotels and convention center inbetween. There are a wide variety of restaurants and stores along these routes which makes it nice to leave our vehicle in parking for the duration and let the city do the driving.

Once the convention officially opened, it was clear that if they didn't break the attendence record, they were close, and the number of model entries was staggering. The contest room was just as huge as the vendor room. Several things really came to light through the convention:

  1. We've noted in the past how the average age of attendees was rising as we all simply get older. I saw many of my friends from over the years in attendence and missed those who have gone west. That said, the average of this convention was much lower than previous conventions I've attended, and there were many more children there as well.
  2. The quality of the models in the contest room was also greater than before. I'm used to seeing master-level models at an AMPS or Wonderfest, but this is the first time I've seen so many outstanding models at a national convention. In talking to others, we didn't know whether to be inspired or intimidated, but we were all humbled by what was on display throughout the great hall.
  3. The show runners had some interesting innovations this year, including dispensing with the awards banquet and instead, letting everyone enjoy one last night among the fantastic restaurants in the area and then reconvene for a dessert bar and awards ceremony.

Click here to see the contest room.

News from the Vendor Room

As with each IPMS/USA National Convention, this event hosts the world's largest hobby shop for a few days, and the huge hall full of vendors to satisfy the variety of hobby interests attending. Rather than going through the list of attendees, I'll focus on some of the noteworthy news on display:

Tamiya

Tamiya had a variety of recent kits on display, but the star of the show is their upcoming P-38F Lightning in 1/48 scale. This kit will be released in November, but a number of lucky modelers had a raffle ticket in their registration bags which entitled the winner to purchase one of the pre-release copies at the show.

Wingnut Wings

The Wingnut Wings team had a variety of upcoming kits on the table including their 1/32 Lancaster B.I/III (early) and Dam Buster, the O/400, and Fokker Triplane.

Zoukei-Mura Inc.

The Z-M team had a smaller area this year, but there were still many things to see including the latest 1/48 F-4J and 1/32 Ki-45 kits being released, plus test shots of their 1/32 Hs 129 and a 3D print of their latest gem - the 1/48 F-4E Phantom II, this one being a later block slatted E-model with TISEO. They also displayed many of their recent releases for inspiration as well.

Kitty Hawk/Panda Hobby

While they had some nice build-ups of their recent kits, they didn't have a display for their good news - the 1/32 Mirage 2000 should be reaching store shelves very soon.

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