How Judging Occurs at the GSL Championship

The GSL Championship has a three-judge panel that, as a group, views and evaluates each entry in every Class. GSL judges are expressly prohibited from competing in any juried Class, and must consciously set aside personal preferences and preconceptions about every entry. The judging starts on Saturday afternoon (at which time the Contest Hall is closed to the public) and goes into early Sunday morning. This procedure ensures privacy and the unrestricted ability of the judges to exchange their views openly and candidly. In this setting, each judge discusses and debates their individual perspectives about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each entry with the other judges. For GSL-XXVI, perennial GSL Judges Mark S. Gustavson and Bob Wick will be joined by three-time GSL Best of Show winner Randy Derr.

An overview of the GSL judging process for each model is described below. Please note that the following is presented only as a general description of how GSL judges proceed.

Initial Determination, Basic Craftsmanship. Entries in each Class are first evaluated by the judges for basic craftsmanship, with the top models identified for further judging. This initial evaluation can mean that sometimes well-detailed models are rejected from further consideration because of poor craftsmanship or poor basic assembly techniques. The GSL judging philosophy places a premium on basic model-building competence and craftsmanship, upon which sophisticated details can be added. Each model is examined critically for the neatness of the build, for how the parts are assembled, and with what level of fit and finish. Removal or repair of all manufacturing evidences or flaws, including molding and parting lines, sink marks, ejection pin marks and copyright notices are expected. Evidence of adhesive residue, complete and appropriate finishes on all visible surfaces, clean and accurate assembly, and how the model “sits” is all considered. In essence, have fundamental craftsmanship issues been addressed by the builder before more aggressive steps were undertaken?

Detailing. The next item to be evaluated is how mechanical and other details are handled. Is the detailing convincing, authentic, and realistic, given the definition of the Class in which the model is entered? Said another way, a high-gloss custom paint finish isn’t appropriate for a factory-stock Fifties Ford, any more than chrome reverse rims are appropriate on a factory-stock Model A. What about ergonomics—can someone sit on the front seat and operate the controls, and is there enough headroom if the model was scaled up to 1:1? Is there enough room for all the parts to work? For instance, can the front wheels rotate, turn, and clear the fenders, inner panels, and suspension components? Are the chassis, body, interior, drivetrain, and suspension all persuasively presented? The judges also check to see if the mechanical, hydraulic and electrical lines, brackets, hoses, fittings and clamps are used realistically and consistently within accepted 1:1 mechanical standards. The judges also look for subtle detailing like “blueing” on chrome headers, and signs of weathering, wear or use where appropriate, and realistic details such as open grills and louvers. Are “glass surfaces” clean and polished where appropriate? Are factory overspray, assembly and code markings, and similar details present where appropriate to the Class? If relevant, are the parts used consistent with the time frame, era or theme that the model represents?

Scale Accuracy and Consistency. Are the sizes and scale of parts, major components, wiring and other elements in scale to the overall model? Are panel thicknesses realistic? Does everything “look right” on the model?

Working Features. Any functional elements are evaluated for proper, realistic and accurate operation. For example, do the doors open inward or outward on the hinges from the fenders or cowl, as they do on a full-size vehicle? Has the builder successfully created particularly difficult or unusual working features?

Fit and Finish. Do all body, chassis and other major components fit together properly? Do panels line up evenly with adjacent panels? Are there appropriate panel line gaps, whether or not those panels operate? Do bumpers, grilles, lights, trim and other details fit the bodywork as appropriate or do they sag, or fit unevenly side-to-side? Does the “glass” fit the opening authentically? Is it clean and polished, or realistically dirty if appropriate? Are the finishes in scale or are the metallic particles too large for a factory finish and look like custom metalflake paint? Are the colors and levels of gloss appropriate and/or accurate? (A vintage factory paint job would be not clear coated.) Do metal finishes persuade the viewer that they represent the kind of materials portrayed? If appropriate to the model, are weathering, wear, and “patina” realistically represented, or is such evidence of use overdone? Are subtle details (like cowl vents and gas door reveals) clear and visible, or obscured with heavy coats of paint? Is the paint too thick or thin? Does the painted surface reveal consistently-applied paint (e.g., the absence of “tiger stripes,” light and dark metallic splotches, or paint rubbed through to reveal the primer)? Is the paint heavily “orange-peeled,” or does it show scratches or other imperfections? If two-toned, are paint separation lines sharp, and show no presence of bleed-through? If used, are decals appropriate and well applied (without silvering)?

Documentation. If required by the rules of that Class, is the documentation present and sufficient to inform the judges of the authenticity of the details portrayed on the entry? Regardless of whether the Class rules require documentation, is any research clearly presented, well-organized and easily accessible to the judges? If there are “in process” photos of the build, do these images and accompanying text adequately inform the judges of what the builder intended to accomplish, and reveal the steps taken to build his/her model? A portfolio assembled by the builder is of great value to that entrant because these materials will assist the judges when they are faced with a tough decision between two models. Such a documented narrative can also make the judges aware of the details and work undertaken on an entry that might not always be clear from simply viewing the model.  GSL Judges DO carefully review the “builder books” that competitors prepare!

Additional Judging Considerations. The Best of Show Master Award is selected only from the Best of Class winners. When evaluating models for the other Master Awards, the GSL judges evaluate all models entered in the GSL Championship. In making the selections for the balance of the Master Awards, the judges evaluate only that relevant aspect of each entry (e.g., the finishes for Best Paint), and ignore all other aspects of the model. This is why a model that didn’t win fourth through Best in Class might, for instance, win the Dave Shuklis Award for most/best working features. Finally, the GSL Popular Choice award is selected only by ballot distributed to both competitors and registered attendees at the event.

The GSL judging standard depends upon knowledgeable and thoughtful judges who enjoy the confidence and support of those entering the event. Similarly, the judges have a serious and solemn responsibility to completely disregard any personal preference or bias for styles of vehicle, favorite Classes, and the “gotcha factor” a model may exhibit. Rather, GSL Judges work to discipline themselves to the standards that reward the amalgam between the excellence of the final model and the work and chances the builder undertook to create that model. All GSL judging decisions are unanimous and final.




Section A. General Rules and Guidelines.

The GSL Championship encourages the development and display of the greatest range of building skills and techniques in each competitor’s scale model. Ideally, each scale model entered by a GSL Championship competitor will be of a complete vehicle that will demonstrate his or her mastery of a full range of craftsmanship, fabrication, construction, painting, and related building techniques and skills within the rules of each Class. For example, if a model of a complete vehicle and a model of a component of a vehicle (both entered in the Miscellaneous Class) are equivalently rendered, the model of the complete vehicle would prevail. Another example: If a model of a complete vehicle wins Best of Class (in any Class but Miscellaneous), and is competing against a model of a component that is the Best of Class winner in the Miscellaneous Class for a Best of Show or other top award, and if the two models are of equivalent quality and craftsmanship, the model of the complete vehicle would win . However, while there is a strong preference for scale models of complete vehicles exhibiting a full range of building skills, a sufficiently complex and exquisitely rendered scale automotive component, or auto-related subject (e.g., a diorama), will be eligible and compete equally for any award, including Best of Show. The style of a model isn’t a factor in judging or competitive success.

Entrants are reminded that the first goal for competitors in the GSL Championship is the mastery of excellent basic craftsmanship. An expertly rendered “basic” model will prevail over a more aggressively detailed model that displays less skill, care, effort, and expertise in meeting basic craftsmanship objectives.

GSL entrants should carefully reconsider the common assumption that successful entries must display either a pristine factory/show car appearance or a heavily-weathered appearance. Carefully crafted entries, in any GSL Championship Class, that display evidence of occasional or regular on or off road use (e.g., light stone chipping, modest road debris, or fluid leaks) might present some unique challenges and competitive opportunities for entrants.

Generally, the GSL Championship does not permit any contestant to enter any model that features a pre-painted body, or pre-painted or preassembled components, whether the parts were painted and/or assembled by the kit manufacturer or by an aftermarket company. The exceptions to this prohibition are kit manufacturer pre-painted metal diecast and plastic kits that may be entered ONLY in the BOXPLUS Class (This exception does not permit the contestant to have an aftermarket company or individual paint any model that is entered in the BOXPLUS Class). With the sole exception of the BOXPLUS Class, only the contestant may apply a finish to (paint, decals, foil, upholstery materials, etc.) or do the assembly of any part of his or her entry. You can use an aftermarket company for plating parts for all Classes except for BOXPLUS Class, which imposes some restrictions on plating.

Except for limitations specified in some GSL Championship Class definitions, each contestant may use any building techniques and construction materials, and may build in any scale or style. Each contestant should note that the rules for each GSL Championship Class, as specified below, will be strictly observed by the GSL Judges, including required documentation in some Classes. Please be careful to avoid disqualification by not meeting applicable Class rules and requirements.

A combination of vehicles may be entered and judged in any GSL Championship Class as one entry if they are a logical combination (e.g., a car and trailer; a race team car, truck and trailer; a truck tractor and semitrailer, etc., may be entered as one entry). If there is any ambiguity concerning in which GSL Championship Class a model should compete, the GSL Judges will make a final determination, prior to the actual judging if possible, and will also make every effort to notify the builder of their decision.

If a contestant wishes to describe the features of the model and the work done, the material must fit in a standard size 9″ x 12″ 3 ring binder. These albums are placed on a common table to prevent inadvertent damage to adjacent entries that occurs when these “builder books” are placed next to the entries. (See B-6 below for more details).


The contest hall was filled for three straight days with eager and helpful contestants and visitors.

Section B. Model Eligibility, Classification and Presentation.

To better understand the rules of the GSL International Scale Vehicle Championship and to make sure that your entry(ies) will meet the qualifications for competition, please carefully review these eligibility and classification rules:

1. Model Eligibility/Individual Craftsmanship. The GSL Championship rewards and encourages individual craftsmanship and creativity. GSL rewards individual effort, not partnership, committee or “contract” construction of entries (except as noted in the BOXPLUS Class regarding models pre-painted by the manufacturer). To be eligible for competition, each model must be constructed exclusively by the entrant. No one other than the builder/entrant may: I) install any upholstery, materials or kits, ii) apply any finish/paint job/graphics design work (aftermarket painted kits are not permitted in competition under any circumstances, and manufacturer painted kits are eligible only for BoxPlus Class); iii) install any component preassembled by anyone other than the builder/entrant (such as a prewired distributor), or iv) do any assembly tasks.

However, contestants may use any aftermarket/unassembled part(s) including: a) decals from any source (except where prohibited by specific Class rules), and b) parts or components specially-manufactured for that contestant, as long as such specially-made parts are not assembled, detailed or installed on any part or element of the entry by anyone other than the builder/entrant. Where two entries display equivalent basic craftsmanship and advanced building techniques, but where one entrant has individually constructed the parts (as opposed to using commercially-available parts or parts made by another source) on his or her entry, that model will be preferred by the judges to the equivalent model featuring commercially-available parts or parts specially made by others.

2. Classification of Models. Though the greatest possible latitude is afforded each contestant in the placement of a model in a particular Class, the final determination of the appropriate placement of each model is reserved for the three GSL Judges. The process of determining the classification occurs as follows: First, one of two specially-designated GSL Championship registration personnel will assist each entrant in making an initial Class determination if there is any question about Class placement. Second, the GSL Judges will review all entries placed in each Class for appropriate placement before the Contest Hall closes at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. In the case of an incorrect or questionable placement of a model in a particular Class (where disqualification from that Class might occur — see section 3 below), the GSL Judges will attempt to notify the entrant (or the entrant’s representative) to discuss the problem(s) before judging starts on Saturday evening. Often, problems can be resolved by a clarification or simple reclassification of the model. If the GSL Judges cannot locate the entrant (or the entrants representative) to discuss the issue, and if a simple reclassification will permit the model to remain in competition, the judges will reclassify it. To avoid Class disqualification (see section 3, below), it is essential for GSL Championship contestants to provide documentation where required by Class rules, and to observe all Class requirements. Whenever possible, during judging when the final Class-placement determinations are made, GSL Judges will move a model to another Class in order to avoid disqualification.

3. Disqualification Rules. Any model entered in the GSL International Championship will be disqualified from competition in any Class (but not necessarily from the Championship) if:

i). It is unfinished, defined as lacking a major component or components necessary to be eligible to compete in the Class in which the model is entered. The GSL Championship Judges recognize that the lack of any particular detailing element (e.g., the existence of a throttle linkage) does not necessarily characterize any model as “incomplete,” but the absence of a necessary element, such as an exhaust system in Factory Stock Class, or a missing interior, or missing glass, would disqualify that model from competition in that Class. In this case, the model will be disqualified from competition; or

ii). Isn’t a subject matter recognized by GSL (e.g, a model of an airplane) in which case the model will be disqualified for competition in any Class;

iii). The model does not qualify for the Class in which it is placed initially, whether because: a) of an inconsistent subject matter (e.g., a custom 1949 Ford entered in the Street Rod Class), or b) the contestant has not provided the documentation required by the rules of any particular Class (e.g., Replica-Class entries), or c) because necessary equipment (as determined by Class rules) is not present on the model. As stated in Section 2, the GSL Judges will reclassify a model in these events to avoid disqualification if possible; or

iv). The model has been previously awarded a Best in Class or any Master Award in any GSL Championship. In this case, the model will be disqualified from competition; or

v). The model has been “team built.” This prohibition includes club-built dioramas, such as a drag strip or a street scene. These jointly-built modeling projects, however, are welcome if placed in the “display only” area. (There is no entry fee for these display-only models). Each competing model must be EXCLUSIVELY constructed by the entrant as described in General Rules, Section A (above). For instance, if any basic assembly or craftsmanship tasks were performed by anyone other than the entrant, (e.g., prewired distributors, pre-painted bodies where prohibited, and so forth), that model will be disqualified from competition.

4. Restricted Access During GSL Championship Judging. No contestant, GSL Championship attendee, or other unauthorized person is permitted in the GSL Championship Contest Hall during judging. Only GSL Championship personnel and preauthorized representatives of the hobby media are permitted in the Contest Hall. Additional administrative personnel may also be admitted at the discretion of the GSL Championship Judges. In addition, the GSL Judges may choose to clear the Contest Hall during certain portions of the judging process, and will notify the additional personnel when they can return to the Hall.

5. Entries. Once a model has been officially entered (defined as registering, paying the Registration Fee for an adult contestant, receiving a registration sheet and placing the model in the Contest Hall), a model may not be withdrawn from competition and must remain in the Contest Hall until Sunday morning after the Awards Brunch (except where special arrangements are made with GSL Officials). No work may be done to any entry (other than repairs) once it has been officially entered, and any repairs must be made in the Contest Hall at an official repair station, except with permission of a GSL Championship Official. Models may be generally retrieved from the Contest Hall on Sunday morning, just after the Awards Brunch, or earlier by special prior arrangement with a member of the GSL Championship Staff. All models must be placed in the Contest Hall by 4:00 p.m. Saturday. NO late entries will be accepted.

6. Research and Construction Documents/Display.  If a contestant wishes to describe the features of the model and the work done, the material must fit in a standard size, 9″x12″ 3-ring binder.  The contestant may also choose to provide a series of stacked note cards, in any size not to exceed 4″ x 6″. Where the Class rules require the presentation of research materials, the contestant should carefully and economically organize these materials to avoid taking up too much table space or posing the possibility of damaging another model. Entry forms for each model will be available at the registration table.

7.  Displays, Including Dioramas. If any measurement of a diorama is larger than 18″ in any dimension, or if the entry (not a diorama) will include a display base or similar presentation element more than 4″ larger than the models(s) in any direction, regardless of scale (this size limit does not include your research materials), the contestant MUST write to GSL Championship Headquarters, no later than April 1, 2017, to make special arrangements for its display. (See the “How to Reach GSL” section at the end of this document for contact information). Every effort will be made to accommodate the large diorama or model with a display base based upon the space available, but only if the contestant writes the GSL Championship Headquarters in advance.


The contest hall tables are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of high-quality models each representing untold hours of work

 8. General Standards of Good Conduct.  The success of the GSL Championship depends on the personal integrity and good faith of everyone:  participants, contestants, GSL Championship staff and the GSL Judges. Everyone’s enjoyment of the GSL Championship is enhanced when all abide by the written rules and observe rules of common courtesy, and when no one tries to “bend the rules,” or take advantage of the rules by entering a model not built in accordance with the “letter” and “spirit” of the GSL Championship rules.  Lobbying of the GSL Championship Judges is grossly inappropriate and is strongly discouraged.