The Need to Belong

‘Why should I join IPMS (UK)?’ is a question I sometimes get asked when I attend model shows and run the IPMS Membership stand. In principle it’s a fairly easy question to answer. I can reel off the various things that we do, the services we provide, the bi-monthly magazine, trader discounts and the Branch and SIG network and so on. However, it sometimes throws me because the justification for joining is so self-evident in my mind that I have to step back and take a moment to reset my thought processes. The question goes to the core of why I’m there in the first place and it is sometimes easier to answer it by explaining what motivated me to join IPMS in the late 1980s.

I’m unsure what first led me to IPMS as an organisation. I was aware of them before I joined but I didn’t belong to any local clubs or other societies. I’d always built models and had visited several model shows over the years, but never really felt the need to belong to anything like a modelling society. However, soon after I started work, a friend and I decided to sign up because we felt it might help develop our modelling skills. Ultimately I joined both IPMS and MAFVA at roughly the same time – Over 30 years later I still belong to both organisations.

Having joined IPMS, I also joined the local IPMS Branch. Soon enough I had joined two other independent clubs as well. Being a member of those clubs encouraged me to attend more shows and to try my luck in the occasional competition, but it was the friendships I developed that have made a lasting impact, both within the clubs I joined and also within the wider modelling community.

After about 10 years of simply ‘belonging’ to IPMS (UK) and benefiting from all the tangible and intangible things the Society gave me, I decided I wanted to put something back into IPMS. I’d already got involved with judging at the National Championships and the next logical step was to see if I could manage the competition itself. Since that point I’ve been constantly involved in running IPMS in one role or another. I’ve found the level of commitment to be enormously rewarding but I appreciate it isn’t for everyone.

In any organisation there are people who are happy just to be a part of the group. For them, the simple act of belonging is enough to satisfy their motivation. For others, the enjoyment is enhanced by contributing something in return. It could be the occasional article for the magazine, helping out at a local show or perhaps committing an hour or two at Scale ModelWorld, For a much smaller group, there is a need to get actively involved, perhaps as a Branch or SIG Leader, or even going as far as standing for election to the Executive Committee. Each of those levels requires different levels of commitment but people find the balance that suits them and their lives. The balance can change over time, perhaps offering more at some points and less at others as personal motivation and external pressures affect our lives.

IPMS (UK), for me at least, provides a wealth of intangible benefits. It’s not about subscriptions or magazines, discounts or competitions – it’s about being part of an organisation that is at the centre of our hobby; that has grown and changed into a major force within the hobby since IPMS was founded in 1963; a source of knowledge and experience about both modelling skills and the history behind the subjects we make models of.

I’ve said on many occasions that the greatest asset we have as a Society is the way that members exude a pride in being part of IPMS (UK). As long as we can continue to attract that level of support and loyalty from our members, we will continue to be an organisation worth joining.

John Tapsell

IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer