M CON 2008 Event Report
report by NEOFAUX

FOREWORDS

It is curious, sometimes, why we ask ourselves the reasons for our actions. Some call it reflecting, some call it justifying. Whatever may be the case, I can say for myself, M CON 2008 is a beginning. Whether it will be recognized as a watershed event in Singapore’s scale modeling scene remains to be seen, but the first step has been taken.

M CON 2008 is for me, a dream come true. I have always wanted to organise a good event for modelers, one where the point is not the competition, but the learning, community building, and of course, fueling the passion.

I have been to a couple of European modeling shows and have always come away immensely impressed. The standards of the entries were invariably high and the shows very professionally organised. I was also very impressed with the concept of ‘open judging’ which I thought truly helps facilitate the personal learning of competitors. They weren’t there just for the prizes. It is these wonderful experiences which I very much wanted to bring to my fellow modelers in Singapore.

The dream finally materialised when I caught wind of available exhibition space at Sculpture Square. It is a perfect venue. To me, scale modeling is an art, and if I were to organise a modeling show, only an art gallery will suffice. This is not personal vanity, but my pride as a scale modeler. In Singapore, scale modeling does not command much respect. People think we are playing with toys, wasting our time. I want to change that. I hope that by organising a professional show, an art show, our wonderful hobby can be seen in a different light, and scale modelers be given the due respect.

Bernard Cher
Creator of M WORKSHOP

About M CON 2008

The modeling scene in Singapore is still largely restricted to a niche group of hobbyists and there are few public events and conventions to unify the modeling community or bring more publicity to the hobby. Indeed, modeling shows and conventions are limited to a notable few, such as the annual Tamiya Competition, organised by Stargek Pte Ltd, and the Bandai Action Kit Universal Cup (BAKUC), organised by Sheng Tai Toys Pte Ltd, covering the military and science-fiction genre respectively.

M CON 2008 aims to be the premier scale modeling event in Singapore, providing modelers with the ideal platform to share and learn, congruent with its motto: Our Event, Your Platform. M CON 2008 set about achieving this aim in a few ways. Firstly, M CON 2008 is the largest local scale modeling event seen in recent years. Incorporating the national Tamiya Modeling Competition, there were a total of 15 competition categories, covering all major genres in scale modeling. Thus, modelers of different genres in scale modeling were all brought together in a single event, creating an opportunity for interaction and learning.

Secondly, M CON 2008 is by far Singapore’s first modeling convention, breaking away from the traditional emphasis on competition. By incorporating live demonstration of modeling techniques, seminars by modeling artists and an exhibition of models done by the judges themselves, M CON 2008 provided modelers with a robust experience focused on sharing and learning.

Finally, transparency and integrity in the judging process was of the utmost importance in M CON 2008. Judging criterions were announced early before the competition and readily accessible from the official website. In addition, judges were present during the event to answer queries from participants. Thus, participants looking to improve may seek out the judges and ask for advice. Most importantly, the judges are all experienced modelers themselves, with their work displayed for all to see. Participants were thus assured that their work were given the due recognition and judged credibly. Finally, a grading system, M CON Awards, ensured that participants went home knowing the standard of their entries, and not simple, ‘no prize’.


Event venus: Sculpture Square

Objectives

M CON 2008 had its singular purpose set in the betterment of Singapore’s fledging modeling scene. M CON 2008 had three objectives, as follows: Quality in modeling standards, Respectability and Credibility as a hobby and art, and last but not least, Unity in the modeling community.

Quality
First and foremost, M CON 2008 aimed to improve the standard of modeling in Singapore. In order to do this, M CON 2008 employed two approaches. One, a series of live demonstrations of modeling techniques, seminars and exhibitions provided both basic tutorials for fledging modelers as well as advanced techniques for veterans. Secondly, M CON 2008 employed an Open Judging system, whereby each piece was judged and graded according to its own merit. In this way, participants knew how their models fared, and not where they stood in the pecking order.

Respectability and Credibility
Most modelers will be able to recount occasions when they have had to face mocking sentiments from friends and family with regards to their hobby. The image of ‘big boys playing with toys’ is still difficult to dispel from the Singapore public’s perception of modeling as a hobby. However, such a perception cannot be further from the reality of this hobby. Each piece made is a painstaking endeavor in research, craftsmanship and art. In Europe and Japan, the hobby enjoys a positive image and is even respected as an art. M CON 2008 strived to establish this measure of respectability and credibility for the hobby in a number of ways. Firstly, every effort was made to run the event in a professional manner. These ranged from an online registration to the employing of qualified personnel for the conducting of seminars, workshops and judging. Secondly, M CON 2008 is also the first local modeling event to be held at an art gallery, Sculpture Square, symbolising the organisers’ belief that this hobby is nothing less than an endeavor in art.

Unity
Last but not least, M CON 2008 is also about community building. In the words of Marijin Van Gils, a positive and cohesive atmosphere where modelers share and learn from each other is the best way to improve in this hobby. The organizers of M CON 2008 share this sentiment. Thus at M CON 2008, an interactive atmosphere was emphasized throughout.


Judging

Objectives
The judging system employed in M CON 2008 serves the single purpose of improving the standard of scale modeling in Singapore. It is an open judging system, whereby each entry is judged according to its own merits. Thus, in M CON 2008, every contestant is their own competitor. That said, the judging system is designed to be both fair and transparent, with the judging criterions easily accessible, and judges readily available for clarification. Importantly, all judges are either professional modelers or winners in past competitions, thus ensuring the integrity of the judging.

Awards
The M CON Award comprised of: Commended, Highly Commended, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Best of Category and Best of Show. Participants who achieved Bronze, Silver or Gold standard were awarded with certificates in recognition of their effort. The judging criterion and score structure is as follows:
M CON Award Score Structure
Gold 90%-100%
Silver 80%-89%
Bronze 70%-79%
Highly Commended 60%-69%
Commended 50%-59%

Tamiya Modeling Competition 2008 Awards
All Tamiya entries in M CON 2008 competed for awards. All prizes were generously sponsored by Stargek Pte Ltd.

Best of Brands Awards
Finally, entries from other brands such as Academy, Italeri, Trumpeter and Dragon also competed for the Best of Brand Awards. Here, entries from the same brand vied for prizes generously provided by both local and overseas sponsors.

Event Coverage


Banner setup by STARGEK, Tamiya main distributor in Singapore


Getting ready for action


Left - Max of Plamo, setting up the registration workstation
Right - Shane Ho, our "Video Man"


Day 1 - Registration
After months of arduous preparation and planning, the big day finally arrived. A great deal of effort and attention was given to Day 1, Registration Day, as it was crucial that the registration process ran smoothly. Thus, registration of entries for M CON 2008 was conducted in two phases. The first phase, pre-registration, was conducted prior to Day 1. Participants registered themselves through an online portal. For this purpose, an electronic registration form was specially written by Mr Yee Soon Tuck. Having registered themselves, participants brought their entries for submission at Sculpture Square on 19 November but were directed to an express lane, where they were promptly led to place their entries in the display area. Participants who did not pre-register online were directed to workstations where they completed the electronic registration form. As a substantial portion of participants had pre-registered, the registration process on Day 1 run along smoothly.


Left - Our DIY registration program by, of spruecutters.com
Right - Mr Yee Soon Tuck M CON 2008’s very own IT Consultant


No age limit in scale modeling
Left - One of youngest participant, aged 14, with one of the biggest entry of the event!
Center - Dr Lum, entered with a very detailed model which later won a M CON Bronze Award
Right - Whoever said this hobby is only for boys?


The judges also met up on the first day, and were briefed on the judging process by the main organiser, Mr Bernard Cher, and the Chief Judge, Mr Calvin Tan. As the judges themselves had day jobs, and all the results had to be ready by Friday, judging began right after 9pm, when the last entry was submitted.


Left - Mr Bernard Cher, briefing the judges on using the score sheet
Right - Mr Calvin Tan, internationally renowned figure painter, briefing the judges


Left - Directing operations
Center - One of our judges, Mr Dinesh Ned having a closer look at a potential winner
Right - Nothing is going to escape the Chief Judge’s eyes


Day 2 & 3 – Exhibition & Seminar


After the fury of Day 1, the show was opened to the public. Despite being weekdays, visitors, both modelers and members of the public, streamed in steadily. The judges also came in during the evening on Day 2 to grade the entries as all the results had to be ready by Day 3, Friday.

Seminar by Mr Calvin Tan: The basics of figure painting.


On 21 November, Mr Calvin Tan, internationally renowned for his figure painting skills, graced the event with a seminar on the basics of figure painting. The limited tickets were quickly snapped up by participants eager to watch Singapore’s figure maestro up close and personal. Participants were treated to an intense two hours, where Mr Calvin Tan shared how he goes about setting up his workspace, his perspective on figure painting and even how to sculpt a figure!


Day 4 – Exhibition & Live Demonstrations


Day 4 kicked off with Mr Calvin Goh’s live demonstration of airbrushing techniques and know-how. A crowd quickly gathered and a lively and interactive two-hour long demonstration went underway. Participants were enthusiastic and raised numerous questions for Mr Calvin Goh, who was in turn able to answer their queries on the spot by demonstrating. Participants were thus able to understand, and appreciate concepts and techniques which are difficult to explain in print.

Surprise appearance!


Someone was looking elsewhere


Left -
Staring contests were ever popular
Center -
I got three. You?
Right -
Even monsters have to wear shoes!

As Mr Calvin Goh was busy extolling the virtues of pre-shading using an airbrush, Kamen Rider and company crashed the show! Actually, they are cos-players (short for costume-play) heading for the Anime Festival Asia 2008 held at Suntec City, and had graciously volunteered to stop over at M CON 2008 to spice up the atmosphere.


After Mr Calvin Goh’s practical airbrushing demonstration, it was time for some theory work. Mr Calvin Tan and Mr Dinesh Ned led a two hour seminar on armor modeling theories. Participants were taken for a heady ride on the rainbow, as Mr Dinesh Ned expounded on the virtues of color modulation in creating realism in scale modeling. Not to be outdone, Mr Calvin Tan then confused the audience with the difference between ‘representational’ models and ‘narrative’ models. It was literally mind-boggling.


After the deep session, we turned to more light-hearted stuff. This time round, Ming held a little discussion on the basics of garage-kit modeling. Given the heavy anime bias in this genre, Ming hauled out a humongous, but utterly beautiful 1/4 scale Rei Ayanami from the popular anime, Evangelion, as a reference piece. Participants were able to glean from the session the differences between a Thai-recast and an original cast kit, how to paint the soul’s windows, eyes as well as the pitfalls to avoid in garage-kit modeling.

Day 5 – Prize Presentation


Finally, after a tiring, but fulfilling five days, the event has come to the finale. The prize presentation ceremony was slated to take place at three in the afternoon, but by 2 p.m., the venue was thoroughly packed. Despite the heat, participants were all very lively, actively engaging in discussions with the organizers and judges.


Left - Bernard was never one to pass up a chance to evangelise
Center - Overwhelmed by the excitement
Right - It is never too late to learn from the master


Winning a lucky draw is always shiok.

Before the prize presentation began in earnest, we had the “must-have” of any event: a lucky draw! All participants who had pre-registered were eligible for the draw and the winner walked away with a Tamiya F16C!


The prize presentation ceremony took place promptly at 3pm. Mr Calvin Tan kicked start the ceremony with a rousing speech, encouraging all participants to continue to strive for excellence. In particular, Mr Calvin Tan noted that while there is still room for improvement in the quality of this year’s entries, on the whole the standard is not ‘far off’ in comparison to overseas modeling events.
Following that, Mr Calvin Tan presented the judges with a token of appreciation for their help in judging the entries.


Having given out the tokens of appreciation, it was time to duly award the participants for their efforts, and we had a total of 128 prizes! It took quite a bit of time to get through the prizes, but everyone present was really sporting and gave a resounding applause for all winners.


Winner – Best of Show!


Winner – Best of Tamiya


Whoever said this hobby is only for boys?
Not one, but two! Girl power!



This hobby is never too early to start!

Concluding Remarks

M CON 2008 was thus concluded. It was a long journey, involving much time and sacrifice from everyone involved: organisers, judges, sponsors, volunteers and of course, each and every participant of M CON 2008. On this note, the organisers of M CON 2008 would once again like to thank everyone for making this event a success.
However, it is but the beginning. As with any art, the journey towards excellence never ends. M CON 2008 has begun the first lap, and it is up to all of us modelers in Singapore, to pick up the baton and continue the journey.


Organising Committee,
M CON 2008

More photos here