Clubs centered around the hobby of modeling have existed since the 1950s. The Armor Modeling and Preservation Society, Inc. was founded in 1993 by armor modelers as a means of promoting the hobby using the 'open system' of contest judging.
AMPS was formed as a membership club to promote the hobby of armor modeling, with bylaws that prevented any officer from deriving their income from the hobby of military vehicle modeling. The club operated without incorporation until early 2007, when it was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of New York.
AMPS has several purposes:
The AMPS bylaws and constitution provide for an Executive Board consisting of a President, First Vice-President, four regional Second Vice Presidents, and a Secretary. Additional non-elected officers include Treasurer, Publications Editor, and Marketing Director/Public Information Officer. The founder and first President of AMPS was Steven "Cookie" Sewell. The second President from 2004-2007 was Paul Roberts; the current President is Danny Egan.
Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the hobby. Annual membership fees are $25 for members in the United States, $30 in Canada and $35 in other countries. Most members are located in the USA. Currently, AMPS has just over 800 members.
AMPS members often form local 'chapters' of the society. These local clubs operate as part of AMPS but their local base allow their members to meet (usually monthly) and share hobby skills, materials and references.
Current active AMPS chapters and affiliate chapters include:
AMPS publishes a semi-monthly journal, Boresight. Articles in Boresight are written by the members, and the publication itself is edited by volunteers. The journal typically provides several articles on real armored vehicles for reference purposes, along with modeling articles and how-to guides. AMPS accepts advertising in Boresight as a means of providing discounted hobby products to its members. From the foundation of AMPS in 1993 until 2007, most issues of Boresight were 24 pages in length. Recently the publication has grown to 32 to 36 pages for most issues, with the recent "Stryker Special" coming in at 40 pages and the "Halftrack Special" at 44 pages.
The major event hosted by AMPS is the annual International Convention, held each April. This three-day show brings together hundreds of members and non-members to view models, participate in a model contest, buy hobby products, view actual military vehicles, and attend seminars. Recent international conventions have included over 500 scale models on display. The most recent international show was held April 10-12 in Auburn, Indiana at the World War II Victory Museum. This modern venue offers over 150 actual historic military vehicles. Seminar speakers included two World War II tank crew veterans (one each from the UK and Germany), well-known modelers and researchers, and industry representatives from Tamiya and AFV Club. The show set a new record turnout of 547 models in competition.
The next scheduled international convention is scheduled for April 17-18, 2009 in Harve de Grace, Maryland, near the US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen. This will be the final international show in the Aberdeen area. Future shows will be held in other locations to be announced.
Smaller regional and local contests are also held from time to time, typically attracting less than 200 scale models for single-day events. AMPS East is an East Coast USA show, held annually since 1999, normally in the western Connecticut (in recent years) or northern New Jersey (formerly) area. The next scheduled AMPS East is September 27, 2008. AMPS Centex is a midwest show held in Austin, Texas every other year. AMPS West is a proposed west-coast USA show that is being planned for the winter of 2008-09. AMPS Atlanta has announced a regional show for February 2009.
The scale models entered in the contest are judged according to the AMPS Contest Rules, and may be awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals. Scale models are judged for accuracy, level of detail, skill in construction, and paint/markings finish. Some of these models take hundreds of hours to complete. Each modeler is provided with a feedback form showing the points given in each area and what areas need to improve. An 'open' system of judging is used in which each model competes against a standard, not against other entries. Thus, instead of 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place medals, awards are given to all models that reach specified cutoff scores. Since participants are not competing against one another, there is no disincentive to the sharing of techniques and ideas.
The feedback provided in these events is a key factor in helping modelers improve. The AMPS system provides formal feedback, giving specific information about what to improve in the model.
AMPS recently launched a clearinghouse project to gather donations of plastic model kits and supplies for shipment to United States military personnel deployed to combat areas. Well over 1,500 kits and hundreds of supply items and books have been sent overseas to help morale and alleviate stress and boredom; additional shipments will follow.