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James H

1:100 Santa Maria 'First Step' - Amati

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1:100 Santa Maria – First Step
Amati

Catalogue # 600/03
Available from Euromodels for £69.99

 

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Santa María was built in Pontevedra, Galicia, in Spain's north-west region. She was probably a medium-sized nau (carrack), about 58 ft (17.7 m) long on deck, and according to Juan Escalante de Mendoza in 1575, Santa Maria was "very little larger than 100 toneladas" (about 100 tons, or tuns) burthen, or burden, and was used as the flagship for Columbus’ expedition. Santa María had a single deck and three small masts. She was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

The kit
Everyone has to start somewhere in this hobby, and few manage to build a fully rigged Man ‘O War or clipper without at least some experience of how to work timber etc. Of course, being any sort of modeller who can think on their feet is always an advantage, but there a whole demographic who would like something just to kick-start their passion, whether they are of our generation, or a whole new generation of younger modeller who may progress to the lofty heights you see here on Model Ship World. For that latter group, Amati have their First Step range, and today we take a look at the first of three of these kits that they’ve sent to us for review.

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Santa Maria is packaged into a small and attractive box with an artwork of a finished model on the lid, and some vessel history on the side. As you can see from the box, this particular model has a length of 28cm, a height of 24cm, and a width of 6cm. So, it’s still a reasonable size. Lifting the lid reveals a set of plans, instruction manual, sail cloth and printed paper sheet for flags, two pre-carved wooden hull halves, a bundle of strip wood, a packet with two MDF laser-cut sheets, a wooden display base, and a whole box of fittings. 

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Unlike your traditional model ship/boat, where you either plank over a series of bulkheads or frames, the Santa Maria comes with two pre-carved hull halves. Looking at the other kits in this range, these halves appear to be of the same shape, but it’s what you add that really makes these models look very different from each other. Note the two holes. These are used to align the halves, and also peg through a centre plate which forms the keel. Instructions will show you how to paint and stain your model when complete.

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Here you see the main 4mm MDF sheet that contains the main keel/profile with the alignment holes and mast sockets, plus a deck section. Parts are all laser-cut and are clean and precise. Of course, you will need to ensure that any sanding that’s to be done with these parts means you will wear a face mask. Wood dust isn’t great for the respiratory system, but MDF can be particularly bad. Important that youngsters are aware of this.

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The second and last sheet is also MDF, but 10mm thick. There are ten parts here, for raising up the fore and aft decks, creating the correct shape of this ship and totally transforming the shape of the basic wooden hull halves.

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When your model is complete, you’ll want to display it properly, and this kit includes a neat wooden base. Nicely turned pedestals are also included that will glue to this and into which the keel will slot.

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A small bundle of timber is included for masts, spars, wales, bulwarks etc. Timber quality is excellent, as we have come to expect from Amati. 

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These plastic fittings boxes are very common to Amati releases, and even these First Step kits get one, stuffed with goodies to adorn and detail your model. All parts are bagged and compartmentalised, and the clear lid holds tight, keeping everything in place whilst in the kit box.

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Unlike other kits, this one has a brown plastic-moulded grating which you will need to cut to the required size. Note the mast top/crow’s nest is manufactured from a piece of turned walnut and is silky smooth to the finish. 

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Some white metal parts are included too, such as doors, windows, and the ship’s launch. Casting is very nice, and with a lick of primer/paint, should look very good once installed. Remember, this is a very small model when complete, and therefore these parts are also small. We also have a packet of nails for general construction. 

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Of course, you will also need an anchor or two. A packet of two is included with this release, complete with wooden stocks and brass ring fittings. The anchors themselves are blackened and ready for use.

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A couple of small packets contain the decorative shields for the upper, rear exterior bulwarks. These are designed to be painted. Also, we have some small copper and brass fittings, such as rings and eyelets.

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There are a few small staircases on Santa Maria, and these are cut from these pre-formed lengths of timber. Note also some parts for the windlass and rigging blocks. There are only a couple of the latter, as the model is designed to be simple to build (and rig).

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Here are the aforementioned turned walnut pedestals onto which you will mount your completed model. These are high quality and require no extra finishing apart from some varnish, perhaps.

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Only two spools of rigging cord are included, one being in black for the standing rig, and the running rig being in natural colour, as a general rule.

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You will need to make your own sails, but this is fully explained, and is very simple. Plenty of material is provided for this. For the flags and pennants, a sheet of colour-printed paper is included. You can also go to town with fabric paint and add the familiar Maltese cross to the main sails. Again, this is shown so you can copy from the illustration.

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One large plan sheet will show you everything you need to know for your build, and everything is simple to follow. Several 1:1 scale images are shown for you to measure against, including the masting diagrams. 

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Amati’s instructions tend to be well illustrated and easy to follow, from my personal experience, with many of the very new kits having the best I’ve ever seen in any of the modelling genres. This kit also has a nicely illustrated manual that takes the construction through in a series of easy to follow steps complete with English text. I can’t see anything here that would thwart even a young modeller, with the various drawings. A handy parts list is also supplied at the end of the manual, which is handy for you to check your supplied parts against.

 

Conclusion
These kits fulfil several roles on the market. For me, the first is to introduce a young modeller to our hobby and initiate them with a number of the skills required to advance a little and create more complex results. Another is to allow a modeller who may never have used timber before, to build a very nice replica of a ship and to help them also pursue a line of attack into a more challenging project. Lastly, these could well appeal to a seasoned modeller who fancies a little fun between larger projects and may want to build something they could gift when complete. So many possibilities. The kit itself is actually a high-quality product that is well thought out and executed. There are also some classic vessels in this range too, with something that should appeal to most ship builders, or soon-to-be ship builders. Price-wise, these kits are also relatively inexpensive and will provide a good number of happy hours at the modelling bench. Wherever you are in the hobby, or whether you’re starting out, give one of these a try!

 

I have already given this model kit to a young man who will send me some photos of his progress. I will post them here as he builds this model.

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My sincere thanks to Amati for the sample reviewed here. To purchase, click the link at the top of this article.

 

 

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I gave this kit to a young man who wanted to try building model ships, and he has now started!

 

Great to see the next generation at work :) 

 

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Nice looking kit and some brilliant ideas to make it very straight forward to build. And the future of the hobby needs the younger ones. Iooks like the young lad is having fun with the build  B)

Martyn

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Seeing the young lad building away makes me smile.   I'm seeing other logs where the children (both boys and girls) are building with dad.  Wonderful.  

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It would be nice if these kit producers would at least try to market something that would look like a real ship.  With that huge transom extending to the keel, it is hard to see how the ship could have been steered in a straight line let alone making it to the American Contintent.

 

Roger

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2 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

It would be nice if these kit producers would at least try to market something that would look like a real ship.  With that huge transom extending to the keel, it is hard to see how the ship could have been steered in a straight line let alone making it to the American Contintent.

 

Roger

 

I don't think the exactitudes matter too much to an enthusiastic youngster, as they do to more seasoned modellers with knowledge of ship design. This modeller is just really enthused to be building a wooden ship ;) 

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