CoNZealand Competition to Design 2020 Hugo and 1945 Retro Hugo Bases

CoNZealand is now soliciting proposals for the 2020 Hugo Award and the 1945 Retro Hugo Award base designs in a competition open to artists living and working in New Zealand.This competition gives New Zealand-based artists the chance to create a lasting piece of the most prestigious and popular award in the science fiction community.

The Worldcon has presented the Hugo Award for achievement in science fiction and fantasy, named after author and editor Hugo Gernsback, annually since 1955. Each award features a standardized metal rocket as the central element, with a base design that changes every year, often reflecting the location in which the Worldcon takes place.

Rules for Entry

Entry in the competition is open to artists living or working in New Zealand.

Design proposals must be submitted by Friday, 31 January New Zealand time (GMT+12) – note, this is a extension from the original deadline of January 17, 2020, New Zealand time (GMT+12).

All submissions should include:

  • Drawings, sketches, and/or a fabricated sample of the proposed base unit accommodating the provided specifications.
  • Cost estimate per base, and estimated total cost for the fabrication and shipping of minimum 40 base units. As a guideline, bases should cost no more than $250 (NZD) each to fabricate.
  • Lead time needed to make the bases. The contest winner will be selected by early February 2020, and announced shortly afterward. Delivery of approximately 36 bases each for the 2020 Hugo Awards and 14 for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards to CoNZealand in Wellington, New Zealand, will be expected in June 2020.
  • Proof of your ability to either craft the bases or arrange for the work to be done.

Photos of past Hugo awards can be viewed at the official Hugo Awards website.

To enter the competition, submit proposals either electronically or via mail. Please include your name and contact information. Two bases will be chosen, one for the 2020 Hugo Award and one for the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards. An artist may submit multiple base designs and could be selected for both bases. The winner(s) of the base design competition will receive a full (five-day) Attending membership for CoNZealand, where they will be invited to take part in the public unveiling of their design at the convention’s Opening Ceremonies, Retro Hugo Award presentation, and at the Hugo Awards Ceremony. The bases will also be added to the physical archive of Hugo base designs, and thus be part of the Hugo History exhibit that travels to each Worldcon.

The winning design is kept secret until the Worldcon, therefore strict confidentiality applies to the winning design until the convention. We regret that competition entries cannot be returned, and CoNZealand reserves the right to not select from the competition entries.

Electronic Submission

Please email proposals to Include the requested information, and a JPG, TIFF, PNG, or GIF image of your design.

Postal Submission

Please send the requested information, along with a sketch/drawing/sample base (or a flash drive containing your sketch/drawing), to:


PO Box 15483




New Zealand

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Base Specifications

Your proposal must conform to certain general and technical specifications, as follows:

  • Bases may be made of wood, metal, lucite, or any other material that has a fixed form. Native materials such as native timber or Oamaru stone would be welcome, subject to international customs and transport. Materials that are fragile, or change form with age or extremes of temperature, are not suitable.
  • The theme for both base designs is “Exploration and Discovery”. A strong New Zealand influence is required. For the Retro Hugo, stylistic elements consistent with the 1940’s are also welcome. Copyrighted/trademarked elements should not be included, and designs featuring them will be disqualified.
  • Space must be left on the base for affixing a plaque or plaques indicating (in an easily readable, 12 pt font) the names of the convention, the winner, and the category of the award.
  • Bases must be designed in such a way that the silver Hugo rocket, supplied by CoNZealand, is an integral part of the design. In addition, the base should be large and heavy enough to keep the award from being unstable, but should not be too large or compete with the rocket for focus.
  • Rockets will be bolted to the bases from below the tailfins, and must be able to stand on a flat surface. Hanging designs, or those which rely on gravity other than Earth standard, are not acceptable.
  • Specifications for the Hugo rocket itself are:
    • 33.02 cm tall
    • 5.08 cm across from fin-tip to fin-tip
    • 1.42 kg in weight
  • Attaches to base with a #5/16-18 Bolt machine screw thread. A detailed technical sheet is available here.

Additionally, keep in mind that trophies and bases will be (a) traveling home in people’s luggage or (b) need to be shipped. Parts that are fragile, fiddly, or prone to fall off are strongly discouraged, as is anything that would make transportation security officials too nervous (the rocket requires enough explanation just by itself). In recent years, a majority of the Hugo Awards were delivered to their recipients by mail, as even winners who are in attendance often prefer to have them shipped. Base design should take into account ease of shipping and/or include shipping containers. Thank you for participating and best of luck!

Download this article as a PDF press release.