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Found 40 results

  1. 1:70 Hannah Ship Model Okumoto Catalogue # Available from Ship Model Okumoto for ¥ 33,000 (approx. $290) The schooner Hannah was the first armed American naval vessel of the American Revolution and is claimed to be the founding vessel of the United States Navy. She was a fishing schooner owned by John Glover of Marblehead, Massachusetts and was named for his daughter, Hannah Glover. The crew was drawn largely from the town of Marblehead, with much of the ships ammunition being stored in Glover's warehouse now located at Glover's Square in Marblehead before being relocated to Beverly, Massachusetts. The schooner was hired into the service of the American Continental Army by General George Washington. Washington commissioned Nicholson Broughton to command the Hannah on 2 September 1775 and ordered the vessel to, "...cruize against such vessels as may be found . . . bound inward and outward to and from Boston, in the service of the [British] army, and to take and seize all such vessels, laden with soldiers, arms, ammunition, or provisions . . . which you shall have good reason to suspect are in such service." Hannah set sail from the harbour of Beverly, Massachusetts on 5 September 1775, but fled to the protection of the harbour of Gloucester, Massachusetts two days later under the pursuit of HMS Livelyand a second British vessel. Leaving Gloucester Harbour, Hannah captured HMS Unity. Hannah's brief naval career ended on 10 October 1775, when she was run aground under the guns of a small American fort near Beverly by the British sloop Nautilus. After a 4-hour engagement between the British ship and Beverly and Salem militias on the shore, Hannah was saved from destruction and capture. According to legend, soon after Hannah's decommissioning, the schooner was towed to Lee's Wharf in Manchester, where its name was changed to Lynch. There, the vessel was restored to working condition by 7 carpenters over the course of 3 weeks. In March of 1777, Lynch was sent to France with congressional correspondence for Benjamin Franklin, who was there as U.S. Ambassador. Upon embarking on their journey back to the U.S., Lynch and its crew were captured by British ship HMS Foudroyant. Lynch was sold as a prize by the British and documentation indicates that the schooner was used as a merchant vessel thereafter. Edit courtesy of Wikipedia The kit Hannah is the fourth release from Ship Model Okumoto and has only been on sale for a week or two, so my thanks to those guys for getting this out to me from Japan so quickly. According to their website, this is the kit specification: Scale: 1/70 Total length: 335mm Height: 90mm Width: 100mm Wood: Agathis Build time: 100 hours Parts count: 310 laser-cut parts, dowel As with my previous reviews for La Couronne, Endeavour and Santa Maria, this kit is packaged into a transparent, lockable box. However, this one is smaller, and our postie actually managed to pop it through our letterbox! As well as being smaller in general size, it’s about half of the depth of the previous releases and has some separate green plastic locking clips to hold it together. Inside, we have eight sheets of laser-cut Agathis wood, a small bundle of dowel, plans, instructions and a parts list. A hallmark of Okumoto’s kits is the very low scorch that results from cutting via laser. You can see that very little heat has crept into the area adjacent to the cut, and there is no discolouration of the parts. A simple clean-up of the edges is all that’s needed, so remember to do this to each inner frame edge and component before assembly. All parts are also nigh-on cut through in their entirety, so lengths of tape have been attached to the rear of the sheets, holding each part securely in place. Removal of the parts shows that no sticky residues are left behind either. As with the other kits, there is no part nomenclature on the sheets, and you need to refer to the paper plan sheets to identify each component. There is a little laser etching on each sheet which indicates the sheet number, for reference, and also the sheet thickness. Timber quality is excellent, with the Agathis being very fine grained. This should be nice and easy to work with, and you shouldn’t get any splitting etc. The slightly golden colour is also very attractive. Note that whilst these kits are POF, there are some simplifications in their construction. For example, these models don’t have cant frames. However, each frame is constructed from a number of individual components that would be similar to the way the actual ship frames were constructed. A small bundle of short dowel lengths concludes the timber items in this kit. Underneath the colour image of the completed Hannah, lies a profile plan that’s roughly A3 in size. This contains a port elevation as well as a partial upper and lower plan. Annotation is in English. We next have three sheets that contain the parts maps for the eight sheets of timber supplied. These are exact duplicates of the timber planks with regard to layout. Now, unlike the previous Okumoto releases, this one has a far more comprehensive instruction manual, again making this an ideal introduction to POF. Twelve sheets of paper are printed double-sided and stapled, creating a 24-page manual. Whilst this is still in Japanese, the photos are very good at explaining the steps. You can also use a smartphone app, such as Google Translate, so scan the text and convert it in real time. Lastly, a series of sheets are included which show the frame and detail assemblies. For the frames, you simply put these together over the top of the printed paper, after applying a little wax, maybe, to prevent the timber from sticking to your plans. Conclusion Out of all the Okumoto kits now on sale, Hannah has to take the place of Santa Maria as the first one that a newcomer to POF should tackle. Whilst Santa Maria is a beautiful and relatively uncomplicated in comparison to La Couronne and Endeavour, I feel that Hannah is well-pitched in complexity and price, to possible be the first POF from Okumoto that you consider due to its straightforward design. It’s worth noting that despite being an easier build subject, it still has almost twice the number of parts, according to their website, than Santa Maria. It’s also a little gem with its length of just over one imperial foot (13 inch, 335mm). A superb project that will look perfect on the mantlepiece and one that also won’t break the bank. Estimated building time is around 100hrs too. Please let Ship Model Okumoto know that you saw this review on Model Ship World. My sincere thanks to Ship Model Okumoto for sending this sample out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of the article.
  2. Why this kit? Hey, friends! Welcome to my review of the 1/72 scale Cannon Jolle kit from Master Korabel. As near as I can tell, "jolle" is a Swedish word for a small boat, and this particular type of gunboat was designed for operation in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea. I prefer to use the term "gunboat", since "jolle" strikes us English-speakers as kind of funny-sounding -- at least to me, anyway. I chose this kit because, believe it or not, I am in the midst of a very long modeling drought. I have not finished a model in four years, though I have started several. I decided I needed to get myself something relatively simple to work on, just so I can actually finish something. This kit looked like a good candidate, since all of its parts are pre-cut -- no cutting, spiling, etc. I ordered the kit off eBay from an outfit called V-Hobby in Moscow. Yeah, that Moscow, not the one in Idaho. Between my $5 coupon code from eBay and the $15 shipping charge, the kit and a set of pre-sewn sails set me back $83. The folks at V-Hobby kindly combined shipping for the two items, and I'm sure they'd do the same for any other interested buyers. 10 Long Days Later ... ... my kit finally arrived from the Rodina, securely wrapped in bubble wrap and tape. The box inside had not suffered any damage during the arduous trip from Moscow to Greenville. As you can see, the box art is very nicely done. The kit contents were packed loosely, but the more delicate parts were wrapped in cling wrap or sealed in bags, so everything arrived in good shape. Kit Contents Wood I knew when I ordered the kit that the model it produces is on the small side (finished length is 215 mm), but I didn't fully realize just how small until I started unpacking the parts. It's little -- but I digress. All of the kit's wooden parts are laser cut. Some of the wooden sheets have some charring on the back side, but the fronts are flawless. Hull formers and other structural components are cut from 2.5 mm plywood. Section lines for fairing the hull are laser-engraved onto the formers. The false decks are cut from 2.5 mm MDF board. Other parts are cut from various shades and thicknesses of what appears to be walnut (2.0 mm, 1.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.2 mm). Plank seams and treenails are laser-engraved into the decks in very fine detail. It took me a moment or two to notice that the kit doesn't have any strip wood or dowels -- all of the parts are pre-cut, and any that are supposed to be round in their final cross-section will need to be sanded into that shape. Other Materials The remaining parts consist of: * 3 spools of rigging line (0.4, 0.3, and 0.2 mm) * pre-blackened metal cannon with period-appropriate imperial crest * 2 small PE brass frets containing anchors, oarlocks, pintles, gudgeons, strops, and other small parts * a bag of wooden blocks * sail cloth * a length of brass wire * a laser-engraved nameplate (in Russian). The blocks are a cut above the usual kit-grade blocks, not Syren Ship Model quality, but definitely something that other manufacturers could stand to take a cue from (I'm looking at you, Corel). Plans and Instructions The kit includes step-by-step instructions in both Russian and English, a full-color illustrated construction guide, and a single two-sided , full-sized plan sheet that shows an outboard profile, deck plan, sail plan, spar dimensions, construction details, and options for either stayed or unstayed masts. A key to all the parts sheets and an itemized parts list are also included. This is truly a wealth of documentation, and it's hard to imagine what else the designers could possibly have included. A set of optional pre-sewn sails is available for $6. I'm normally not a fan of pre-sewn sails, since I feel that I can do them better from scratch, but I wanted a simple project, so I splurged for them. They're about what I expected in terms of quality, that is, not as good as mine, but better (especially in terms of the fine-woven cloth used) than I have seen in some other kits. Overall Impressions If you've had a chance to see some of the other Master-Korabel kits being built by our members, then you know that MK has created a little bit of a buzz with their designs. For folks who do not care so much for the tedium of spiling and planking or having to fabricate everything from scratch (some people just enjoy putting things together), then these kits are worth a look. MK seem to have taken pains to ensure that their design will improve the success rate for modelers with a modicum of skill. So far, I'm favorably impressed with the quality of the components, the documentation, and the innovative construction technique. I think the pricing is competitive as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how well this little gem goes together. Cheers!
  3. 1:64 Catalina Mini Mamoli Kit Dusek Ship Kits MM61 Catalina NEW In 2016 Daniel Dusek bought all rights for producing of all Mamoli and MiniMamoli kits. Since then the kits are released in batches. History The first Lemster barges were built in 1876 in the "Gebr. De Boer" shipyard in Lemmer, Friesland. The original length of the wooden barges was initially 36 feet but gradually increased to 38, 40 and 42 feet. In 1902, the shipyard started building the Lemster barge with an iron hull and the length increased to 45, 47 and 50 feet. The Lemster barge was originally a fishing vessel for use on the Northern part of the then still open Zuiderzee, where, during wind against tide, often very foul seas developed. Therefore the ship was designed to be very seaworthy and she had very good sailing capabilities. These properties and her flowing lines make the Lemster barge one of the best and beautiful Dutch round sailing yachts. Originating in Friesland in the Northern part of the Nederland, the Lemster barge still carved herself a place in the fishing fleet of Zeeland in the South-western part of the Netherlands, were she was used for mussel fishing. The Lemster barge also won the heart of many yachtsmen, and in 1907, the "Gebr. De Boer" shipyard built the first iron-hulled sailing yacht, called Antje. The best known Lemster barge is undoubtedly "De Groene Draeck" (The Green Dragon), designed by A. de Boer and built by G. de Vries Lentsch Jr in Amsterdam, and on June 15, 1957 presented to the Dutch crown princess H.R.H. Princess Beatrix. Technical data Scale 1:64 Length 310 mm Height 265 mm The kit 5 sheets of plans and instruction (english, french, dutch, german) Prefabricated wooden hull 6 sheets of lasercut wood (2 sheets in pear!) round timber for masts and yards Photoetched brass parts Fine-meshed sail cloth All parts of the kit are stored safely and tidily in the box so as to minimise any movement of items within. Let's look deeper at this kit. The Prefabricated wooden hull makes it easy even for beginners to create the typical Dutch fuselage shape in a great small model. All small parts are well stowed away. Also the castings make a very good impression. Let's start with the cleanly lasered wooden boards. First of all, there is the deck of the Catalina with all planks pre-lasered in a beautiful pear. And this in a beginner kit. Wonderful! More parts lasered in pear. Other boards are laser-cut in beech. But there is nothing wrong with this either. Very very less laser char. All is clean and crisp. Some parts in plywood. Photoetched parts for portholes and rudder fittings round everything off. And last but not least, for all those who would like to make sails, a very nice fine-meshed fabric is included. The multilingual manual should make it easy for beginners to build a wonderful little model with a lot of fun. Conclusion With high quality components (where to find pear wood in a "beginner's kit"...) a revised manual and a really attractive price Daniel Dusek leads the Mamoli Mini Kit series into a successful future. This little kit is really great. For the beginner, but certainly also for the advanced, who are simply looking for a small, loving intermediate project, this small model promises a lot of fun. Dusek Ship Kits currently lists this model for €95, and I think that represents really good value for money for this beginner kit. My sincere thanks go to Daniel Dusek for sending this kit for review here on Model Ship World. To buy, go to your favorite Dusek dealer or directly to http://www.dusekshipkits.com
  4. 1:64 Revenge 1577 – Elizabethan Race Built Galleon Amati/Victory Models Catalogue # A1300/08 The Elizabethan Navy Royal warship Revenge was built at Deptford and launched in 1577. Revenge was a new type of warship, a ‘Race Built Galleon’. She was built following the direct ion of Sir John Hawkins and supervised, it is thought, by the master shipwright, Matthew Baker. Revenge was about 500 tonnes and carried a crew of around 250 men. Contrary to popular belief, the new race-built galleons were not dwarfed by the Spanish galleons but were of equal or sometimes larger size. It is very easy to see the lines of Revenge as a precursor to the Prince Royal of 1610, the Sovereign of the Seas of 1637, or even the Prince of 1670. The armament of ships of this period varied greatly; guns might be added, removed or changed for many different types of reasons. Revenge was particularly heavily-armed during her last cruise. On this, she carried 20 heavy demi-cannon, culverins and demi-culverins on her gun deck, where the sailors slept. On her upper decks were more demi-culverins, sakers, and a variety of light weapons, including swivel-mounted breech-loaders, called ‘fowlers’ or ‘falcons’. She was considered the best all-round warship in the fleet, and in 1588 she served as the flagship of Sir Francis Drake, and was involved heavily throughout the Armada campaign. In 1591, Revenge and her captain, Sir Richard Grenville, both earned their place in history when the Revenge was overtaken by a Spanish fleet off the Azores. Sir Richard Grenville fought the Spanish fleet for 16 hours, crippling and sinking many Spanish ships before being forced to surrender. The kit Revenge 1577 is an Amati/Victory Models joint venture, as was the HMS Vanguard 1787 that I reviewed recently. However, this particular kit was only released in 2015, having been designed by Chris Watton. Like Vanguard, Revenge is packaged into the same monster-sized box so will look pretty imposing when it arrives, plus it will really please your postman who will have to bring it to your door! If you are remotely interested in this particular kit, you will have doubtless headed to Amati’s website for information on this release. That is given as thus: 20 sheets of plans 96 pages full colour building manual with step by step instructions Laser cut plywood, hardwood and MDF Double planked hull Highly detailed photoetched brass parts Precious paper decorations Brass culverins and burnished metal casted cannons …now it’s time to look deeper at this kit. Amati’s artwork for the box is perhaps a little more restrained than that of Vanguard, but still looks equally as impressive, with images of the completed model on the sides of the box. It’s also a fairly weighty box too. When you lift off the lid, you’ll note that the lid is merely decorative, with a single-piece rigid corrugated card box underneath. The lid is secured via large tabs and lifts up to reveal contents. The box is designed to hold large weights within and is very robust. Inside, we have several packets of laser-cut MDF, ply and walnut, a heavy pack with 20 plan sheets, a full-colour perfect-bound instruction manual, bundles of strip wood and dowel, printed flag set, and three large boxes of fittings/components. Everything is packed so as to minimise any movement of items within, and indeed, my sample looked like it had just been packed at the factory. Opening the first components box, we see a pack of sail cloth, just in case you wish to fit them to your model. I know the convention is to leave sails off, but at lease the option is provided for you here. The material is very pale and would benefit from some ageing using whatever your preferred method. Two thick clear bags are now seen, and these include parts for the cannon, in two sizes. The main bags themselves contain some beautiful cast guns with decoration on them, and these have an antiqued finish. I would personally paint these in iron, and the embellishments should look excellent if you then buff them up. Unlike Vanguard, this kit provides wooden gun carriages, machined as a single piece. Again, I am more than happy with this inclusion, and they appear to be walnut. A long piece of thin, narrow copper sheet is included to make the straps from. Two further packs include the eyelets, plus wooden wheels and axles. Very happy with those. Underneath these bags lie a few clear sleeves of photo-etch parts. Here you’ll find parts for the chain plates and for deadeye securing, doors, grates (maybe they were cast iron on these ships?), and also the Royal crest that adorns the transom. This is built up from two layers of PE and will require some painting. Two name plates are also supplied for the base. You will need to paint the lower relief and then drawn the part over fine abrasive paper to remove anything on the upper relief. The second box contains rope, rigging cord, anchor set, culverins, pre-shaped rudder hinges, brass pedestals to mount the model to the base, brass pins, copper eyelets, etc. Our last box has more goodies for the rigging, such as various-sized deadeyes, blocks and belaying pins etc. You will also find here some brass wire, cast figurehead ornamentation, barrels, stair kit, and parrel beads. All components are securely bagged within their own compartments. Amati include some nice timbers in their releases, and here we have bundles of strip wood for the double planked hull (lime for first plank), deck etc. The deck planking actually has a paper identifying tag. Dowel is of walnut, and again, quality is excellent. A single sheet of laser-cut ply contains the channels and rear gallery doors etc, and a further three sheets of ply are taken over with more channels, facings for the cabin access bulkhead, and the unusual Tudor circular mast-tops. Two small sheets of wood (not ply) contain rudder and windlass parts, chain knees, and the lower keel. All parts are finely cut and will of course require any charring to be removed, although this is a fairly quick job. Two reasonably large sheets of ply contain the beak grate platform, transom, and more bulkhead walls with pre-cut windows and doors. These will of course be individually planked, and various timber fittings and rails added to them. Smaller parts can be found here too, such as cannon shot garlands and rigging cleats. A further two thick ply sheets hold parts for the various decks, with the exception for the lowest main deck. The largest ply sheets are fairly thin and for good reason, as they contain the upper bulwarks and sides with the gun port positions pre-cut. These will need to conform to the concave curvature of the hull at that point, hence the thinness of them. They are also joined by an interlocking pattern, so you achieve the correct placement of them. More laser-cut ply here, with garlands, rudder and forward bow keel section etc. Five MDF sheets contain all main constructional components, such as the false keel, bulkheads, lowest main deck, deck beams etc. Whilst the curved sides of the bulkheads look very fragile, several builds here on MSW show that there shouldn’t be any real concern as long as you exercise some care and attention. You will doubtless have noticed that instead of the carved embellishments we see on later and Spanish vessels etc, this Tudor warship has coloured panels along the outer bulwarks etc. Thankfully, you won’t need to paint these at all as they are provided as pre-printed items. Now, the paper they are printed on is heavier than writing paper and is of a type which means that the printing won’t fade. I’m presuming it’s all acid-free paper etc too. Printing is super-high quality and against a wooden texture background for a reason I can’t fathom. Still, these look amazing when added and really bring the vessel to life. All paper parts are numbered, and sections of the sheet listed as for right/left side. There are 20 sheets of plans for this model, but as well as parts maps which cover several pages, the remainder generally looks to contain information for masting and rigging the ship, plus adding the sails, if you wish. There are other illustrations of the model too, but the hull and fitting out is mostly done using the instruction manual. When it comes to instruction manuals, Amati really do go to town. Their latest releases, such as the Orient Express Sleeping Car, contain glossy, full-colour photographic instruction booklets with clear English text (Italian also shown). Each stage of the build is clearly shown, and nothing should be ambiguous with this particular presentation. Lastly, unlike most model kits, this one does include a base, as previously mentioned. This is machined from MDF and will need sealing and rubbing back before painting. The edges of this are profiled too. With the brass pedestals and name plates, this should look very nice when complete. Conclusion This model was released in 2015 and comes from the stable of those designed by Chris Watton. Unlike his Nelson’s-era kits, this little gem doesn’t seem to get the recognition is deserves, although as I say, we do have some logs of the build here on MSW. Tudor warships, for me, really are beautiful in their style and execution. I’m a big fan of the Mary Rose (for which I also have a kit), but this particular vessel is more ornate than the Mary Rose and has the galleon-style features that we expect from a ship of this period. Timber quality is excellent, as are the various fittings, and of course, the instructions means that you shouldn’t go wrong during your build. The pre-cut gun ports and jigsaw bulwarks will also ensure a trouble-free project. Cornwall Model Boats currently lists this model for £364.99, and I think that represents really good value for money for a ship of this size (Length: 885mm, Width: 380mm, Height: 655mm) My sincere thanks to Amati for sending out this kit for review here on Model Ship World. To purchase, head over to your favourite Amati-stockist of online retailer)
  5. 1:72 Ragusian Galley 18thCentury MarisStella Available from MarisStella for €147 plus shipping The Republic of Ragusa was a maritime republic centred on the city of Dubrovnik (Ragusa in Italian, German and Latin; Raguse in French) in Dalmatia (today in southernmost Croatia) that carried that name from 1358 until 1808. It reached its commercial peak in the 15th and the 16th centuries, before being conquered by Napoleon's French Empire and formally annexed by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1808. It had a population of about 30,000 people, out of whom 5,000 lived within the city walls. Its Latin motto was "Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro", which means "Liberty is not well sold for all the gold". The Dubrovnik galley was an integral part of Dubrovnik's war fleet, which in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had only a few small warships (at most ten), operated solely because of frequent harassment and looting by pirates and cargo ships at that time. The Galleys were stationed in Dubrovnik and Mali Ston. Other Croatian coastal centres had this type of ship, along the eastern Adriatic coast: Kotor, Omis, Senj, and others. The Dubrovnik galley was driven by both wind and rowers (Galiot), who were both sailors and soldiers, as was appropriate, but there were also condemned criminals that rowed the State ships. Their main feature was their speed, and they were used for military, police and customs purposes, courier services, and for the transport of diplomats and senior civil servants. They were also used for the transportation of goods at the expense of the State. The kit MarisStella’s kit range is currently undergoing an upgrade, and most certainly in terms of their boxing. This one comes to me in its original incarnation, with a deep midnight blue thin card lid with all printing and imagery in gold ink. This does look quite stark but very attractive. I’m told that the new appearance will have finished model imagery on the box. MarisStella have said they will send over examples of the upgraded kits for us to look at on MSW, so we’ll get to see those changes first-hand in the next months. This release comes in a fairly weighty box, and lifting the lid off, we are first presented with a product leaflet, sheet of printed flags and a thick 122-page manual which is spiral-bound. All of these items sit on a cardboard tray which when lifted out, reveals the kit materials below. A large cardboard cover first needs to be lifted out to access the kit itself. Inside, several bundles of timber and dowel sit on top of two laser-cut sheets of plywood for the main bulkhead and keel construction, two sheets of laser-cut walnut, several fittings packets, another very thin sheet of laser-cut ply, one fret of photo-etch brass parts, pre-sewn sails, and a packet of rigging cord. Apart from the main sheets of ply and the timber bundles, all other elements within this kit are packed into clear sleeves that are either stapled closed or heat-sealed. My sample arrived with everything in good order. This POB model is designed very traditionally and is constructed around a 3-part false keel and a set of 15 bulkheads. The ply used for this is 4mm thick, and like all other parts on the main two constructional ply sheets, everything is very cleanly laser-cut, with an absolute minimum of scorching. One thing I noticed on all of the ply sheets is the laser-engraving and marking of where other components will fit to. I quite like this approach as it helps to ensure correct and precise construction throughout. That engraving has also been put to good use on the display stand elements that can be seen on these two sheets. These are also supplied in English, Italian and Croatian text, and contain a little engraved scroll work. You may opt for something a little glitzier with your build, but then again you may be perfectly happy with the parts that MarisStella provide here. In between the various bulkheads, some 8mm² lengths of lime have been included that can be cut to length and wedged in to keep everything straight. I believe some of the other kits have lengths of dowel which slot continuously through the bulkheads. I would’ve liked to have seen similar here, but at least the timber is included. It is also suggested that this material be cut up and used to create the bow and stern filler blocks, although you might like to use balsa for this purpose. Two sheets of walnut are supplied, one of which (the narrower and thicker sheet) contains the keel components. Although you will need to cut the rabbet into these, the positions for this are engraved onto the parts and the manual clearly shows how this is done. The other walnut sheet is lighter in colour and thinner than the previous, containing parts for the gun carriages, rail cap strips, cabin bulkhead, and transom, channels etc. Again, and where appropriate, more engraving is present for constructional accuracy. All walnut sheet timber is of high quality with good grain that shouldn’t split etc. A very thin sheet of birch ply is included for the head rails, transom and cabin door detail etc. All strip stock in this kit is also of the same standard, with numerous bundles of timbers of different sizes and types, including European Walnut for the hull planking. There is some natural variation in the colour of the walnut planks, so I would look at possibly grouping them, so wood of the same tone is used the same for both sides. This model also has a single-planked hull, unlike the double-planked that we so commonly see these days. However, the deck is double-planked, and the planks sit directly atop of the bulkheads, with no thin ply deck to lay first. The second layer of deck planking is supplied as beech strips. Various lengths and diameters of dowel are included, and all supplied in walnut. These are tightly grained and have excellent natural colour. This is one model that really would benefit from having sails fitted, just to highlight the elegance of the shape. A feature of MarisStella kits is that the sail material is pre-sewn. By this, I mean that the shapes are lightly printed to a piece of pre-aged sheet and the inner stitched lines are present. All you need to do is to cut out the sails and sew the outer edges. Sail colour is akin to natural linen and looks good to use without any further ageing trickery. Two anchor packs are included. These contain a metal anchor that is painted black, a separate walnut stock, and some brass bandings that would look nice if they were also blackened. Another pack contains 3-eye rigging blocks, single blocks, eyelets, belaying pins, and parrel beads. There is some colour variation in the block colour and all look to be made from walnut. One length of 1mm brass wire is included in one fittings pack, as are two 4mm cannon for the bow. These are finished with an antique patina and may benefit from being blackened in some way. I would use Gunze Dark Iron paint which is then burnished to an iron finish. A reasonably thick sheet of photo-etch parts is also included, containing head rail decoration, transom decoration, rudder straps etc. Quality is again excellent, with reasonably thin tags to remove the parts from their positions. Tag positions are the only clean-up that will be required with these parts. A single packet is included that contains four spools of natural finish rigging cord in 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1mm diameters. One length of 1.25mm is included separately, as is a 1mm length of black rope. Every vessel of course needs a flag and both this and a pennant are supplied here, laser-printed in colour onto paper. You’ll need to furl these realistically and they could’ve done with been thinner, possibly from tissue paper, but will still look very attractive when flown. Instructions This 121-page spiral-bound A4 manual also has a clear plastic cover to protect it. Each of the constructional stages are illustrated by generally uncluttered CAD line drawings that are annotated in English, Italian and Croatian. Some drawing details are a little small, such as the eyelet positions, footplates etc. so maybe magnify those a little. A very comprehensive section on making the sails is also included. Illustrated construction takes place over 83 pages, and this is then followed by the building instruction text and list of parts. Plan A large single sheet plan is included that contains pretty much every dimension/measurement you'll need and the line drawing quality is excellent. To prevent any piracy, I have only included a portion of that plan here, with no bulkhead shapes. Conclusion A very nice kit of a very unusual subject. I’ve seen so many model ships of antiquity, but this is one that seems to bridge the gap by being of a generally ancient style, whilst being an 18thCentury vessel. MarisStella’s design is nice and easy to follow and is coupled with high quality materials and drawings. In all, an excellent package that will provide many hours of pleasure for a very reasonable price. As this is single-planked, I would recommend this to intermediate modellers. My sincere thanks to MarisStella for sending this kit out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of the page, or head over to your local MarisStella stockist.
  6. Navarino Models - 1/72 scale - Brockley Combe - 1938 British Cargo Ship The Brockley Combe was a small (171’ x 29’ x 13’) British cargo ship built in 1938 by the shipyard Charles Hill & Sons of Bristol City. It ran aground on May 12, 1953 in the Channel Islands and broke in two, with no loss of life. Charles Hill and Sons was originally Hillhouse and Company, established in 1772 with several name changes until Charles Hill took control in 1845 and named the company Charles Hill and Sons. Charles Hill and Sons went out of business in 1977 with approximately 560 ships built and over 2,000 repaired in their yards over their 205 years. The 1/72 scale model kit by Navarino Models of Athens, Greece builds into a model that is 29” long by 4 7/16” in beam. There are two sheets of full size plans and a six page instruction manual with twenty full color photographs to supplement the instructions. The kit is plank on bulkhead style with a two-part false keel and 11 frames of very good quality five-ply plywood, 0.242” (6mm) thick. The deck, bulwark, roofs and cabin sides are cut from 3/64” (1mm) three-ply plywood. There is also a bag of 21 plywood parts of various thicknesses of three-ply and five-ply. I did not observe a single void between the plies of any of the plywood parts. All of the wood appears to have been CNC routed rather than laser cut as the edges are char free and very smooth. The bulkheads fit to the false keel piece very snugly and being CNC cut there is no angle to the cut like with laser cutting. I dry fit all 11 bulkheads in place without any fit issues. Solid blocks of basswood are supplied for the bow and stern blocks that are carved to the shape of the hull to be planked over. There are also 20 pieces of 0.006” thick aluminum sheet pre-cut into 1” strips for the hull plating. Planking material is 1/16” (1.5mm) x 5/16” (8mm) basswood. The deck planking is 0.021” (0.6mm) x 0.081” (0.2mm) of an unidentified dark wood. Various other sizes of basswood strip are also supplied for the hatch covers. There are a number of very well cast resin parts with very little flash and no pinholes that I noticed. Brass stanchions, brass tube and rod, rigging line, eyebolts, brass wire, anchor chain, cast metal anchors, 3 blade nylon prop and eight each of 3mm and 5mm single and double blocks make up the misc. pieces. There are also British flag and ship’s name decals provided. The instructions are very brief and without the twenty photographs provided would not be adequate for a beginner. Prior plank on bulkhead construction experience will definitely be an advantage. Anybody with just a bit of experience should be able to build this model without a problem. I am looking forward to seeing just how the aluminum hull plating material will conform to the hull. Rivets are absolutely needed at this scale and the instruction photos show a good representation of rivets on the built up model. I plan to use a rivet press by North West Short Line but there are a lot of sources now for rivet heads for those without a rivet press. The photographs and plans show the placement of all of the supplied components of this vintage cargo ship, but supplemental research materials will be needed to make it an accurately detailed model. The supplied kit parts and instructions will provide a nice but not highly detailed model and like all kits can be upgraded with additional details to the builder’s level of detail with some additional research and some scratch building. I think that small cargo ships are underrepresented as a modeling subject and I think this kit is a good representation of a classic design. Review previously published in the Nautical Research Journal Issue 62.4 (Winter 2017)
  7. 1/2” Scale Queen Anne Style Royal Barge 1705 Syren Ship Model Company Catalogue # SKU QABK01 Available from Syren Ship Model Company for $225.00 A royal barge is a ceremonial barge that is used by a monarch for processions and transport on a body of water. Royal barges are currently used in monarchies such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Thailand. Traditionally the use of royal barges was of high importance in southeast Asian monarchies such as Siam, Burma, Brunei, Riau and Cambodia. The River Thames in London was a regular thoroughfare for the Sovereign until the middle of the 19th century, on state occasions or between the Royal Palaces of Windsor, Westminster, Hampton Court, Greenwich and the Tower of London. In the UK, there is currently no State Barge in active service, but until 2017 the Royal Nore, owned and maintained by the Port of London Authority, was used whenever a member of the Royal Family travelled on the river Thames for an official engagement. Royal barges are typically elegant in style, and those built in the period of Queen Anne were still striking, despite their relative simplicity in relation to other vessels of the same stature. Resplendent in ornate carvings and decorative panels, these barges provided a comfortable and stylish method for the monarch to move between their residences and their courts. Edit courtesy of Wikipedia The kit This is my first experience of dealing with Syren Ship Model Company, and of course, the Royal Barge kit is designed and produced by them. My kit took around 9 days to reach UK shores from New Jersey, via USPS and Royal Mail. Of course, I got hit by the obligatory import duty, but it wasn’t too bad. After paying their ransom, I picked up the package a couple of days ago and now spent some time flicking through the contents. The kit itself is packaged into an extremely sturdy corrugated cardboard box with tabs that release so you can flip up the lid. With the lid open, the plans are the first thing seen, and these are gently curved over the components underneath, along with a contents checklist which has been manually marked to show the contents are indeed in there. A nice system that gives peace of mind to the buyer. I’ll look at the plans further down the review. With these lifted out, some very soft packing foam is included so stop the contents rattling about. Inside the box, there are two robust clear sleeves which contain all of the timber planks, three narrower sleeves with strip and dowel, a card box with resin, wood, wire and black fishing line, a length of thick black cartridge paper with laser-cut elements, a packet with friezes for the interior of the barge plus some decorations for the sweeps, and two flags. Onto the sheet timber. Syren has produced all of the main parts from a superbly milled cherry wood, and the finish is silky smooth. The quality of the wood is also amongst some of the best I’ve seen since I started in this hobby almost 20yrs ago. The colour, which I hope I’ve captured in most of my photos, is a very pale golden colour which looks quite muted. The grain, as you would expect, is very fine. Laser-cutting quality is also on a par with the best kits I’ve seen, with almost zero heat effect, and small tags that only just hold the parts in position. Edge scorching is also very minimal, and it’ll only take a few swipes with some sandpaper to remove them totally. You will of course need to do that thoroughly as this model is only partially planked, as it the style of barge models of the era Circa 1700. Cherry was also chosen because it best replicates the colour of the wood used on these models and allows the kit to be affordable too. Also among the thicker sheets of cherry wood is a two-part building jig which needs to be assembled. The zig-zag edging of this will make the job easier. Each frame slot is also numbered so there’s less chance of human error. When the model is later released from this jig, it will be modified to accept the keel for the remaining construction, using more supplied parts. This is probably the time to explain roughly how this model actually does assemble, and I’ll add a few images here to illustrate things. Each of the frames has an infill piece still attached, and this is what will slot into the building jig. When the outside planks are added, this can later be carefully cut away to reveal the interior of the barge which then needs to be fitted out. Before slotting those frames to the jig though, you will need to add the floor frames. The position for these is finely engraved onto the waste material within each frame. You can use a straight edge along this and then fit the floor frame up to this mark. This way there’s no reason to use pencil on the parts faces themselves. This technique is superbly illustrated here by Rusty, in his MSW build log: https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/17889-queen-anne-barge-by-rustyj-syren-ship-model-124/ Looking at the timber, you can see that just about every shape is either cut with laser or engraved for reference. All planks for this are supplied spiled, need bevelling from the laser-etched line. These planks are supplied in suitably thin sheets of cherry, and for extra clarity, each sheet is labelled PORT or STARBOARD. The keel is built up from scarfed sections, as the real thing would be. Very impressive. The rabbet is created my inserting thinner keel parts on the inner edge of the keel, creating a recess into which the limited planking will sit. When it comes to the thwarts, these are also laser-engraved to create the stepped edges to them. Also included with the laser-cut parts are the mounting pedestals (you just need a nice piece of polished/varnished timber to use as plinth), and also the sweep (oar) racks so those can be decoratively mounted on the plinth, adjacent to the barge. Now, this model has some ornate and intricate carvings adorning it and these are provided as laser-cut items for which you can try your hand at carving. Does that sound scary? If so, don’t worry because also available for this kit is a set of resin-cast carvings which are more or less all ready to be attached and provided as an upgrade set which you can buy either at the same time as the kit, or later if you struggle with the boxwood blanks. The resin parts are supplied in a small white box to protect them. With this sample, they were supplied directly in that small box that sits within the main package, and the extremely delicate filigree parts were packed into two zip-lock wallets. Very little clean-up is required with these, and to give them a nice natural appearance, weathering powders are suggested. You can also airbrush them and apply an enamel-based wash which would bring out the details superbly. It’s all a matter of preference. These carvings include the scrollwork for the port and starboard side, the quarter-based figurines and the Royal monograph. They really are superb to look at. Other parts were included inside this box. These include some extra boxwood parts for things like the internal panelling that the friezes will sit within. Extras are included in case you screw up. There is a length of wire and also some black 20lb fishing line that you will use to simulate the black nail heads on the planking. A length of resin-impregnated black card is also to be found in this kit, and like the timber, all parts are laser-cut. Parts here are provided for the keel banding and rudder straps etc. Three sheets of colour-printed paper are included that hold the parts for the friezes and the ornate decorations for the sweeps. These will need to be carefully cut out with a fresh blade and then attached to the model using a very dilute PVA or children’s glue stick. Two period flags are also included, printed on thin tissue paper and with good colour definition. Note the union flag, minus the diagonal red cross, which is of course accurate for 1705. I’m presuming the quadrant flag is either of the period or even related to the monarch of the period. It should be quite easy to make these drape realistically due to the thinness of the paper. Certainly easier than some of the materials some companies use for their flags. Two large plan sheets are included, clearly depicting construction in clean line drawings, and of course, the images are at full scale for any measurements you need to take. Please note that no instruction manual is included with this release as it helps to cut down on price. It also helps reduce weight for shipping. There are three manuals for this, in full colour PDF format, and these can be downloaded from the Syren Ship Model Company’s website. These are extremely comprehensive and beautifully describe the whole build process, including hints and tips for your project. Conclusion I’m not usually the sort of guy who gets enthused by barges and narrow/longboats etc. but the sheer beauty and ingenuity of this kit appealed to me instantly and I followed the kit development here on MSW. The kit is just exquisite, with beautifully milled timber and laser-cut parts, printed materials etc. The construction process has been made as easy as possible at every stage of construction with such things as the laser-shaped thwarts and planks that have been spiled ready for you to shape. An amazing kit, intelligently designed, and with the very best in materials. Syren has this model on sale for $225.00 and I think that represents excellent value for money for what will give many hours of building pleasure and a real ornate stunner for the display shelf! My sincere thanks to Syren Ship Model Company for sending this kit out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  8. 1/80 Santa Maria Ship Model Okumoto Catalogue # SM-SMO-K80 Available from Ship Model Okumoto for ¥ 39,960 La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción (Spanish for: The Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception), or La Santa María, originally La Gallega, was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa. Santa María was built in Pontevedra, Galicia, in Spain's north-west region. Santa María 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 the expedition. Santa María had a single deck and three small masts. The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the smaller caravel-type ships Santa Clara; one particular ship sailed for 46 years and was remembered as La Niña ("The Girl"), and La Pinta ("The Painted"). All these ships were second-hand (if not third- or more) and were not intended for exploration. Niña, Pinta, and the Santa María were modest-sized merchant vessels comparable in size to a modern cruising yacht. The exact measurements of length and width of the three ships have not survived, but good estimates of their burden capacity can be judged from contemporary anecdotes written down by one or more of Columbus's crew members, and contemporary Spanish and Portuguese shipwrecks from the late 15th and early 16th centuries which are comparable in size to that of Santa María. These include the ballast piles and keel lengths of the Molasses Reef Wreck and Highborn Cay Wreck in the Bahamas. Both were caravel vessels 19 m (62 ft) in length overall, 12.6 m (41 ft) keel length and 5 to 5.7 m (16 to 19 ft) in width and rated between 100 and 150 tons burden. Santa María, being Columbus' largest ship, was only about this size, and Niña and Pinta were smaller, at only 50 to 75 tons burden and perhaps 15 to 18 metres (49 to 59 ft) on deck. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit This is the last of the first three ships that I have received for review here on MSW, until I receive the new release, Hannah, in the next week or so. Out of the initial three, this is the simplest of them all, and the least expensive, producing a nice rendition of a POF version of this legendary little ship. As with all Okumoto releases, this one again is packaged into a lockable, clear plastic box through which you can see the contents. Okumoto’s stats for this kit are as follows: overall length: 378 mm height: 139 mm Width: 103 mm Wood: Agathis Build time: approx 120 hours, laser-cut parts: 173 This kit has notably fewer planks within, with there being a dozen sheets of laser-cut Agathis wood, compared to double that of the Endeavour kit that we recently reviewed here on MSW (see end of article for links). Fewer sheets of timber of course yield fewer parts, with there being less than a third of the Endeavour, and a total of just 173. The model, whilst of the same scale as Endeavour, has a total length of 378mm, so in itself, is still a very reasonable size for display in a cabinet or on a mantlepiece etc. Looking at the various sheets, it is obvious that any scorching that inevitably results from laser-cutting, is at an absolute minimum as there is very little local heat transfer shown on the wood, and this is clearly seen in the photographs. Indeed, releasing a small number of parts from the Endeavour kit showed that the edges of the parts only seem to be a slightly darker brown, and this will be very easy to sand back to the nice bright timber colour underneath. Agathis wood can be cleanly cut with a knife when it comes to making any parts adjustments during construction, and the fine grain means that you shouldn’t experience anything untoward such as splitting or feathery edges when finishing the model. All parts are retained within their planks by the use of tape which holds things in position on the rear of the sheet. Removing the tape leaves no sticky residues either, and the parts will be ready for construction almost instantly. As no parts numbers etc. are etched to the sheets, for obvious reasons, you will need to reference the sheet against a paper parts plan. The sheet is easily recognised as each is etched with the sheet thickness and number. As per the real vessel, each frame is constructed from a number of timber parts, and these are built up over the frame plans which you should first smear with wax or cover with grease-proof paper so nothing unwanted sticks to your completed assemblies. You will note that not only are the regular frame parts etc. included, but also the strip wood, finely cut by laser. Be careful with these parts as they could well be fragile. To complete the timber contents, a small bundle of dowel is included for mast stubs etc. A colour-printed sheet showing the completed Santa Maria sits on top of the kit’s paper contents and provides the box-artillustration for this release, seen through the clear plastic container. Underneath this an A3-size plan lurks, with starboard and top-down views of the ship, clearly showing the main timber placements. Annotation is in English. Three pages are now included for the instruction/assembly sequence sheets. At the moment, these are supplied in Japanese only, but Okumoto tell me they will eventually provide these in English language text too, opening up their market possibilities. For the time though, you can use a phone app to translate in real time, such as Google Translate, that shows you the English equivalent when you hold the camera over the Japanese text. Four sheets of paper now include a parts plan for all of the sheet timber, providing easily referenced information when you come to locate specific elements for your build. The majority of the paperwork in this release provides plan layouts for the many frames in this ship. These are built directly over these sheets, and the frames are clearly numbered and identified. A handful of last sheets provides drawing data for specific elements of construction, with all annotation supplied in English. Conclusion I feel that this kit could be an ideal first introduction to a POF model, as it’s definitely less complex than La Couronne or Endeavour, and with a lesser parts count. General assembly looks easier too, but still maintains the overall busy look of a more complicated model. You’ll note that Santa Maria only has single frames and not the double of the previous releases, of course cutting down in the required number of timber parts. Production is excellent with cleanly-cut laser parts with hardly any charring, and a clear set of plans. The only drawback, at the moment, are the Japanese instructions, but that is easily overcome if you purchase now, and then there will be the English sheets which Okumoto will add in the future. In all, a very pleasing looking model and one at a size that will nicely fit in a small display cabinet. Give it a go!
  9. 1:80 Endeavour Ship Model Okumoto Catalogue # EV-SMO-K80 Available from Ship Model Okumoto for ¥ 60,480 HMS Endeavour, also known as HM Bark Endeavour, was a British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded to Australia and New Zealand on his first voyage of discovery from 1769 to 1771. She was launched in 1764 as the collier Earl of Pembroke, and the navy purchased her in 1768 for a scientific mission to the Pacific Ocean and to explore the seas for the surmised Terra Australis Incognita or "unknown southern land". The navy renamed and commissioned her as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour. She departed Plymouth in August 1768, rounded Cape Horn, and reached Tahiti in time to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun. She then set sail into the largely uncharted ocean to the south, stopping at the Pacific islands of Huahine, Borabora, and Raiatea to allow Cook to claim them for Great Britain. In September 1769, she anchored off New Zealand, the first European vessel to reach the islands since Abel Tasman's Heemskerck 127 years earlier. In April 1770, Endeavour became the first ship to reach the east coast of Australia, when Cook went ashore at what is now known as Botany Bay. Endeavour then sailed north along the Australian coast. She narrowly avoided disaster after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef, and Cook had to throw her guns overboard to lighten her. He then beached her on the mainland for seven weeks to permit rudimentary repairs to her hull. On 10 October 1770, she limped into port in Batavia, Dutch East Indies (now named Jakarta) for more substantial repairs, her crew sworn to secrecy about the lands that they had visited. She resumed her westward journey on 26 December, rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1771, and reached the English port of Dover on 12 July, having been at sea for nearly three years. Endeavour was largely forgotten after her epic voyage and spent the next three years sailing to and from the Falkland Islands. She was sold into private hands in 1775 and later renamed as Lord Sandwich; she was hired as a British troop transport during the American War of Independence and was scuttled in a blockade of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island in 1778. Her wreck has not been precisely located but is thought to be one of a cluster of five in Newport Harbor. Relics are displayed at maritime museums worldwide, including six of her cannon and an anchor. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit This is the second Okumoto kit that I’ve looked at, with the first being La Couronne. Read the review for that kit HERE. As with all of these kits, this one is also presented in a clear plastic, lockable box through which you can see the contents on offer. A colour print of the completed model is sat on top of the instructions, providing a kit identifier for you. Okumoto’s Endeavour is the most complex of the three kits currently on the market, with there being 626 laser-cut parts, and hence more timber. Of course, this is reflected in the cost of the kit too, with this one retailing at ¥ 60,480 (approx. £400, inclusive of taxes, at time of writing). This substantially heavy package also contains 44 sheets of plans and drawings to guide your build. Okumoto estimate that this project will take an average of 240 hours, so that would work out at £1.60/hr for your building enjoyment. Opening the lid and removing the paperwork, reveals a small bundle of dowel, some 1mm strip, and TWENTY-FIVE sheets of laser-cut Agathis wood, in 2mm, 3mm and 5mm thicknesses. Each sheet is around 30cm in length. The Agathis is a very nice-looking timber with a fine grain, and also a soft, golden colour. Of course, as these parts are laser-cut, there is some very localised scorching of the edges that you will need to sand away. As with the La Couronne kit, unlike some other laser-cut kits I’ve experienced, the char is very minimal (check my photo), and you can see from the photos how little of the heat has transferred into the timber. Another feature of Okumoto kits is that you don’t really have to use a knife to free any of the parts from the planks. All parts are 99.9% laser cut and are more or less sat in their respective holes and held in from behind with strip/strips of tape. The tape also doesn’t leave any annoying residues when removed either. Being a POF model, all timbers will be seen from one angle or another, and thus the parts numbers must be referenced against the sets of parts plans that are also included. The sheets do have the thickness of them laser-engraved, plus the sheet number to reference against the parts plans. Timber sheets not only include the various frames, beams, knees etc. but also strip wood which is also held in position with tape. These will be nice and easy to just pick one from the tape put it to use. Take care in removing any scorch though as these could be a little fragile. Overall dimensions of this model are very reasonable, with a length of 429mm, beam of 125mm, and a height of 130mm. Of course, this isn’t a masted model, but simply has the stub masts in situ, as seen on shipyard-style models. A colour-printed sheet is included which shows you the completed POF Endeavour, and very attractive it looks. Under this sheet is an A2-size plan which has a starboard and upper profile, with English annotation. Next, a 5-page instruction manual is supplied, with photographs used to guide you through construction. Unfortunately, all the text is in Japanese, but you can use a phone-based app to translate this in real time. Okumoto also tell me that they will start to include English language instructions in the near future. Nine sheets of paper are included as a parts plan for easy identification of the 626 components that will go to create your Endeavour. These also have some English-language annotation in areas. Twenty-three sheets now show the frame construction, including deck beam positions etc. These need to have the parts sat upon them and positions of the various components marked out on the wood. It’s a time-consuming task, but that’s the nature of POF. The result should be very impressive. A further 11 sheets show Endeavour in more plan detail, with particular areas of construction singled out so you know exactly where each component will fit. Conclusion Another high quality release from Okumoto, and certainly the most involved of all the three releases that I have received. As with La Couronne, no gratings are included, so you might like to source them yourself. I think a little deck planking would also enhance the model further, applied in sections so as not to obscure the majority of the deck beams. As this is the most complex of the three releases from Okumoto, I would perhaps suggest one of their simpler models first, as an introduction to POF. That would be the Santa Maria (reviewed next week), or their soon-to-be-released kit, ‘Hannah’. If you are already proficient in our hobby though, then this kit shouldn’t really challenge you too much, and you’ll end up with an extremely attractive model for your shelf. Okumoto’s approach to construction should provide a very satisfying workbench experience and something a little different too. My sincere thanks to Ship Model Okumoto for kindly sending this sample out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  10. 1:123 La Couronne Ship Model Okumoto Catalogue # LC-SMO-K80 Available from Ship Model Okumotofor ¥ 51,840 Couronne (French for "crown") was an emblematic ship of the French Navy built by order of Richelieu. The Couronne was the first major warship to be designed and built by the French themselves in accordance with Richelieu's plans to renew the French Navy, after a series of warships had been built by the Dutch. The construction was supervised by Isaac de Launay Razilly (died in Arcadia 1635), and overseen by the famous carpenter Charles Morieu, from Dieppe. She was being constructed at La Roche-Bernard and was one of the most advanced units of her time. After launch in 1632 or 1633, she was moved to Brouage in September 1634 where she was completed around 1635 by Mathieu Casteau. She carried up to heavy guns, most on her two-deck broadside but also 8 firing forwards from the bow and 8 firing aft, an unusual feature until Dupuy de Lôme redesigned naval artillery. Couronne took part in the Battle of Guetaria on 22 August 1638, and another expedition to Spain in 1639 under Henri de Sourdis. The ship was disarmed in 1641 and scrapped between 1643-1645. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit Ship Model Okumoto isn’t a name that you’re likely to have encountered much, if at all, during your exploration of this hobby. They are one of an extremely minor number of Japanese companies who are producing wooden ship kits. In fact, the only other company that I can think of is WoodyJoe, and they don’t sell these frame-style models that Okumoto are now selling. At the moment, Okumoto only produce three of these kits, with a fourth being released in the next weeks. Model Ship World has been sent all three current releases for review, so I thought we’d first take a look at this most famous of French ships. If you expect your model ship to be packaged into the typical cardboard box with glossy box art and other such niceties, then this might just surprise you. Okumoto has chosen a lockable, clear plastic case to package their kits into, and there is no box art. This simple approach has its identity defined by the set of instruction sheets that has a photo of the finished model sat on top of the timber parts. It’s as simple as that. Whilst unconventional, this approach is actually quite charming and certainly engaging. Opening the box reveals three stacks of laser-cut wood (Agathis), a small bundle of thin strip wood, short dowel sections and a packet with five bundles of toothpicks. The latter have quite ornate turning on their blunt end and have obviously been chosen for this purpose. I remember using the same thing when I built my Panart San Felipe. There are 26 sheets of accompanying plans and drawings, plus the colour laser-printed image of the finished vessel. I know that there are a number of modellers who aren’t fans of laser cut wood due to the scorched edges, but the heat from this laser seems to have been very localised and not caused as much as is seen on contemporary kits. Look at this photo to see what I mean. On the reverse of each sheet are a few lengths of sticky tape. This is designed to hold the parts in their respective places because with this kit, there is no reason to cut the parts from the sheets! Yes. They are completely cut out and ready to use! Removing the parts also shows that no sticky residues are left from the tape, so this isn’t a concern. As this model is going to be POF, it’s pretty important that there aren’t any unwanted nasties to overcome, such as numbering of the components. This is also correct as the part numbers for each sheet are supplied on the accompanying plans. Another feature of each laser-cut sheet is the thickness of the timber and sheet number, laser-engraved onto the end of each one, making identifying even easier. Most of the strip material is cut from the same timber and in the same fashion with the tape holding the strips in place. Dowel and separate strip wood is high quality too, but I’m unsure as the material used for the latter. Those bundles of toothpicks are very good too, with no low-quality material that splits and splinters. Underneath the colour print of the finished La Couronne, lurks a 6-page photo driven instruction manual. Now, here’s the rub…it’s all in Japanese! The various sizes etc. are understandable, so you will need to the aid of a mobile app, such as Google Translate, so scan and change the language into your own native brand. That app actually works pretty well on this sort of thing. Check out this screenshot comparison. Next up is an A2 sized plan, printed at actual scale to the model. All text and dimension on this is printed in English, and the drawings include an above elevation and a starboard side profile. A further six sheets show the parts plan for the laser-cut timber, simply for referencing purposes. Each frame is now shown on the next series of drawings, indicating joints and positions for the deck beams. There will be course need to be some tracing of positions from these to the timber parts. The remainder of the plans contain drawings which pertain to the fitting of rails, lodging knees and just about every other aspect of the model, in more precise detail that the previous plans. Whilst Japanese text is present, so is English text, so there shouldn’t be any confusion in what you are studying. All plans also show the specific part numbers for just about everything, whether you need to know them or not. Conclusion La Couronne is, according to Ken at Okumoto, one of the most popular model ship designs in Japan because the shape is very appealing to wooden ship builders. This kit, at time of writing, is their latest release, and Okumoto misjudged how popular it would be with customers and as a result, they quickly ran out of the first production batch. Whilst the model itself is superbly designed and produced with high quality, there are perhaps a couple of areas where artistic licence/vs simplicity might have crept in, but that really doesn’t detract from what is otherwise a highly attractive and authentic-looking POF build of this historical vessel. You could, if you wished, go even further with the model and add internal deck planking etc. For me, the model is perfect without any added embellishment and will provide the modeller with a challenge and a great introduction into the world of POF ships, and without any real compromise in the standard of the finished build. These aren’t cheap models by any stretch of the imagination, so I would ensure that you’ve a number of completions under your belt before diving into an Okumoto kit. I would say these are an excellent transition kit between POB and POF, if POF was what you really wanted to tackle, but didn’t have the tooling to do so. I think the only thing I would’ve liked to have seen included are the gratings. I don’t know how easy they would be to replicate in this scale, but may try to add them myself. There are two previous releases to this. These are Santa Maria and Endeavour, and I will be looking at these too over the next weeks. My sincere thanks to Ship Model Okumoto for kindly sending this sample out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.
  11. Review of Billing Boats' Colin Archer (BB606). Approx $100 USD kit. http://www.billingboats.com/da/20/2/boats/the-beginner/P-bb606-colin-archer.html The Colin Archer is a beautiful Norwegian rescue ship, and I had the privilege to help a friend renovate such a (full size) ship in Malaysia a few years ago. Main parts from laser cut plywood. Planking from balsa wood and mahogany(?). Masts from cheap softwood. Some parts from brass, but most parts like anchor, cleats, deadeyes, etc from plastic and softwood. No die cast metal parts. A few parts missing (forgivable), but a few parts like rudder handle shown in diagrams not included and not even listed (unforgivable). Marketed for beginners, but severely lacking in instructions to be easy for a beginner. I would say that kits like this is the reason beginners give up this hobby without even getting started. Its just feels overwhelming to look at all the parts and not be given adequate instructions on how to put the ship together. The actual process of building the ship is not hard at all, and a nice pleasure, once you know how to do it. If not, be prepared to spend hours on the Internet looking at old pictures of this ship. Kits like this have a potential to teach a lot of interesting things about ships, shipbuilding, sailing, and general history. A very easy lock-in of a new customer to come back for more ships, so I think it is very counter productive to have them lacking like this. For me (49 yrs, lots of practical experience of building various stuff, including model ships) its was fairly easy and fun to put it together. But as I said, for the average person it can quickly become a headache. Not recommended. Quality of parts slightly too low to be really enjoyable.
  12. Hello All, I just wrote up an out-of-the-box review of the Sir Winston Churchill kit that Woody Joe revised and re-released last year. I posted the review on my blog, but though I'd go ahead and put it here too. I was originally going to write this for Seaways' Ships in Scale magazine, but I've already written three Woody Joe kit reviews for them, and I figured people might get tired of reading them in the magazine. So, I put it here. Of course, I don't get any money when I post articles online (and I could really use the extra income), but I was going to write it regardless. Hope you find it useful! The sail training schooner Sir Winston Churchill is a beautiful looking 3-masted, steel-hulled schooner that was originally launched in 1996 to compete in the Tall Ships Race. Woody Joe's revisted kit was released in 2015. The model is 1/75-scale and measures 24" long and just over 20-1/2" tall. Like other Woody Joe kits, the model features plank-on-bulkhead construction, using Woody Joe's box-frame structure, which is designed to help the modeler more easily achieve good alignment of the parts. The kit features lots of laser-cut wood parts, with a healthy supply of both cast metal and photo-etched brass parts. The only plastic parts in this kit are the lifeboats and rigging blocks. It no longer surprises me to look inside the box of the Woody Joe kits. Their ship model kits fit well in the box, and everything is plastic bags, so that the box is full, and the bags are so numerous that they provide a certain cushion, keeping items from getting knocked about and damaged in shipping. One sheet of styrofoam fills the remaining space underneath, keeping things from bouncing around in the box. Small parts are organized into separate bags, with each bag carded and labeled with the part numbers, descriptions (though in Japanese) and quantities in the bag. Small bags are stapled to a cardboard insert that keeps the box nice and neat. A small coardboard tray at one end seems to be a standard packing feature of Woody Joe kits, and contains any loose packages of parts as well as the spools of rigging line. The plans consist of 7 sheets of A3 sized paper, 13" x 19" each. Six of these sheets are pairs, so that they make up 3 larger drawings. Registration marks are provided, allowing you to align the sheets properly. Some of the older Woody Joe kits have larger sheets, but I expect that there is a cost-cutting move to these smaller sheets as they can be printed on a large office laser-printer instead of a dedicated plotter. Given the alignment guides, this shouldn't be a problem for the builder. There is one oddity, however, in that the models is about 1/4" too long for the plans. The result is that the top of the jackstaff at the stern is cut off. This is a minor issue, but it's a little odd to look at. I don't it will create a hardship for any builders. Instructions The instruction book is extremely well illustrated with steps clearly identified, and lots of color drawings and photos. Being that this is a Japanese kit made for the Japanese market, all the text is in Japanese. This may put off many potential builders outside of Japan. However, if you are an experienced ship modelers, you shouldn't have any trouble with the instructions. That may not be true of complicated kits of non western-style ships like Woody Joe's Higaki Kaisen kit. But, for the schooners, galleons, clipper ships, yachts, and sailing ships and barks that Woody Joe makes, there's probably nothing out of the average ship modeler's experience. Most of the text in the instructions and plans are labels. There are some instructions, but most are pretty simple in nature. If you look at the example below, Step 8 tells you to use a strip of wood to help you determine the correct bevel of the bulkheads. A close-up of a frame edge highlights the beveled edge. In another example, Step 11 shows you to use alignment marks laser-etched onto the bulwarks piece to get the position correct. Woody Joe does a good job at "dummy-proofing" the process by putting two alignment marks, one for each edge of the bulkhead, so you would have to go to extreme measures to mess up the step. The same step also shows you to pre-bend the bulwarks piece with a photo illustrating how you can bend it over a curved surface, like a large bottle, to apply the curve. One suggestion though, make sure you dampen the wood before you try to bend it. Another piece of advice. Look ahead a step or two, particularly when you see red text in the step your on, to make sure it's telling you not to glue something in place yet. Sometimes, a part, like the deck in this case, is just used temporarily to aid in alignment. If you look at the next step or two, you'll notice that the part is no longer in place. That's a good clue that you're not supposed to glue that part. Also, in any red text, look for a step number. If you jump to that step, you may see where the part does get glued into place, helping you get a better handle on the big picture. Being that this is a model of a steel hulled vessel, Woody Joe's method of hull construction is particularly well suited. The stern, in particular, requires a stack of laser-cut blocks that you must file to shape. This works just like bread-and-butter style hull construction, with the blocks pre-defining your contours for you, making it very easy to get exactly the right shape. My steel-hull comment above refers to the fact that with some models, you want the lines of planking to show. But, this method used the stern block un-planked and flush with the hull planking. On a model of a steel-hulled ship, this is a non-issue, as you want a good smooth surface anyway. And the method results in an accurate hull shape. On this model, the deck is not planked. Instead, you are provided with a single laser-scribed sheet, with all the deck planking and waterways already marked for you. Wood The wood in the kit is made up of at least three types. The frames are made of some type of plywood that resembles birch; the remaining laser-cut parts and most of the strip woods are Hinoki, or Japanese cypress, a very pleasantly aromatic wood that is stiff and slightly brittle when dry, but bends easily when wet; and some structural parts, such as the stern blocks, are a fine-grained, grayish wood called Ho (I don't know the western equivalent name). The laser-cut parts are interesting in that there is almost no char. Either a lot of care has gone into the manufacturing of the kits, or the woods used are thin enough or possess some other quality that makes the laser cutting process easier. Probably, it's a combination of both, as Woody Joe tends to use parts that are a bit thinner than other manufacturers All laser-cut sheets are also laser-scribed so that part numbers are clearly identified on the part or next to it. Woody Joe also makes good use of scribed lines to create alignment guides and beveling guides or, in the case of the deck sheet, the outlines of the planking. Fittings As I mentioned before, fittings are well packaged and identified. Each pack is carded, includes the part number and quantity. Note that Woody Joe's quality control is very good, and I've yet to hear of missing pieces. But, if the model calls for 20 turnbuckles, as shown below, that's exactly what you'll get. There's no extras thrown in, so make sure not to lose anything, as it's not going to be very easy to claim that the kit was just missing a piece. Those who don't like plastic, can easily upgrade these few parts using commercially available fittings. My preference for wooden blocks would be for those made by Syren Ship Model Company. Being that this is a 1960's steel-hulled schooner, perhaps metal blocks such as those sold by BlueJacket Shipcrafters might be more appropriate. Cast metal parts are plentiful and the castings are of excellent quality. I've had someone ask me about them before and I'd send them photos, and after getting the kit, they told me the photos didn't do justice to the high quality of the castings. They're very good. There's also a nice sheet of photo-etched brass parts, some turned brass parts, etc. Rigging and Sails The kit includes three sizes of black line for the standing rigging, and one size of tan line for the running rigging. These are provided on plastic spools, so there's no worry about your line getting tangled and knotted. The sails are a stiff cloth, possibly, this is pre-stiffened in some way, as the cloth comes rolled, not folded. The material is printed on one side, and the ink used is a beige color, so the lines of the sail are subtle, as they should be. Weaknesses in the Kit Really, this is an excellent looking kit. I think the detail is better than the Kanrin Maru kit that was the first Woody Joe kit I'd ever reviewed. I was actually pretty excited by what I could see of this revised kit when it was released, and I haven't lost any of my enthusiasm for it when I looked it over in detail. Wood Joe kits are, however, designed to be relatively easy to build, and there are sometimes simplifications that experience ship modelers might not like. But, these seem to be pretty minor in this kit. In fact, some things that I might consider a weakness, are just a matter of personal taste, like the use of a plastic for the blocks and dinghies. There is really just one weaknesses that I can see in the Woody Joe kit, and that is that the laser-scribed deck sheet is thin and a little delicate, and will require some care to work with, as I've discovered in working with the kit. In particular, the deck is weak along the laser scribed planks. If you run into any issues, I recommend reinforcing the deck by gluing some short wood pieces underneath. Just make sure that they don't interfere with where the deck rests on the framing. You might even want to do this before you run into any issues. Less of a weakness, and more just a simplification, is that the way the mizzen sail attaches to its mast. The use of mast hoops are shown, but I believe the real ship doesn't use mast hoops there, because the spreaders on the mast would interfere with the raising and lowering of the sail. Instead, I believe there is some internal track inside the mast to which the sail attaches. I don't know how a kit manufacturer would design this in a kit thats supposed to be a fairly easy build. Certainly, just using mast hoops is simple. Another simplification are the yokes on the ship's squaresail yards. These are simply made from stamped brass in the Woody Joe kit. This is the same thing they do in their other kits as well. I've tried to catch a glimpse in photos on the Internet of what these look like on the real schooner, but I've had no luck. I'd probably replace this with something that looks a little more realistic, even if it's not accurate. Woody Joe versus Billing Boats The Woody Joe kit's of scale of 1:75 is the same as the Billing Boats kit of the same ship. I had hoped to find the Billing Boats kit to do a comparison, but it's been hard to come by. However, I'm pretty familiar with the Billing Boats offerings and their instructions and plans. Pricewise, the Woody Joe kit lists for ¥30,000. At this time, that's about $300. The Billing Boats kit, by contrast, lists for $280 at Ages of Sail, which is the U.S. distributor for Billing Boats. Having seen other Billing Boats kits, the main comment I can make here is that the packaging of the Billing Boats kits doesn't even come close to the care taken with the Woody Joe kit. Most Billing Boats kits are put in oversized boxes that are sturdy, but leave the parts to slide around inside, often allowing the heavier wooden parts sheets to potentially damage the bags of fittings. I've seen this in many cases, where the parts bags get torn in shipping and small parts fall loose in the box and either slip out of the box or end up damaged. Also, the parts in a Billing Boats kit are usually just all piled into one bag, requiring you to sift through them to find out what's what, and to make sure you received everything you're supposed to. Both the Woody Joe and the Billing Boats kits offer laser-cut wooden parts, stripwoods for planking, dowels for the masts and spars, rigging line, etc. Both offer turned brass fittings, photo etched brass, as well as some plastic parts. But, one difference is that the only plastic parts in the Woody Joe kit are only the blocks and the two dinghies. The Billings Boats kit provides quite a few detail parts in plastic, including the props, cabin doors, fife rails, binnacles, ladders, boat chocks, anchors, etc. Most of these are either cast metal or laser-cut wood in the Woody Joe kit, which certainly adds to the cost. However, the Billing Boats kit does have the advantage of including one page of instruction in English. You can check the Billing Boats instructions out for yourself, as they have the instructions on their website and you can download them here. As for the Woody Joe instructions, simply from the images I posted above, you can see that with any experience, you should be able to build this model just from the numerous color photos and illustrations. And comparing the two brands, Billing Boats gives you 9 pages that have a large black and white, labeled instructional photo or diagrams, many of which simply show you where things go, plus 3 pages of illustrations of the included parts. Woody Joe provides 33 pages that are packed with color photos and illustrations. That said, I actually do like Billing Boats kits. They seem to do a nice job on overall accuracy of the basic structure of the subject. Where they may be a little lacking in detail, they can be enhanced by a good modeler. And, I for one, am the kind of person that will buy a kit and replace the fittings with ones I like better. So, a cheaper, but accurate kit isn't necessarily a bad thing. But, if your expectations are high for a kit, and you appreciate quality and want something that will build into a beautiful model with a minimum of fuss, the Woody Joe kit is hard to beat. To purchase the kit, you might be able to find it on Ebay or Amazon, but I recommend the Japanese online seller Zootoyz. I've worked with the owner, Mr. Kazunori Morikawa, for the past couple years and his service is very good. He stopped selling Woody Joe products for a while, but resumed a couple months ago. Ω
  13. I'm a confident modeler and have built a few good boats, but This will be my first 18th century tall ship kit. It's the HMS surprise. I know its a fictional ship , based on other ships. but I'm a Patrick O'Brien fan and have been waiting for a kit to come out. I found one on eBay. that looks ok but just before I committed to buy. I got worried. Its a Chinese, laser cut kit 1:75 scale. I cant find a brand name in the description. if you go to eBay and look up HMS surprise kit. you'll see it. Its the $398.00 one and says Russian Federation. Does anyone have any info on this kit or know someone who bought it?
  14. Ahoy Mates Please find my initial “out of box” review of Corel's Frigate Berlin. Please note that I am relatively new to this hobby and "easily impressed". I found the quality of the parts in this kit to be of a very high standard. The kit includes four sheets of single sided plans, an instruction manual, a vacuum formed plastic organizer of bits, another containing the gilded metal fashion pieces, canvas sail material and of course some wood. Also included was a very nice “coffee table style” book/catalog of Corel’s products and a small wooden bending jig. In the future, I will do a full inventory all of parts and post any issues or changes. The wood supplied in this kit was "gorgeous". There was no trace of any laser burn on any of the parts, bulkheads and keel parts were all precut, packaged in bags. The plywood bulkheads and hardwood keel items were impressive in their size and the thickness of the wood used; this is a big kit. The planking and other lengths supplied were clean, straight, and rich in color suggesting pieces were individually selected. There were very few dowels leading me to believe that I will be making masts from "scratch". The only disappointment so far in the kit supplied wood; the instructions suggest scribing planks for the deck. This leads me to believe I will be purchasing some additional wood for this kit. The long boat is a pre-carved “plug” style build and again; nicely done. The four sheets of plans or plates were crisp, highly detailed, and very informative; including images showing systematically how to complete some of the steps. The two dedicated to rigging were clean, well organized and gave the reader a very good understanding of the task. I cannot attest to the accuracy of these plans however. Although very well thought out and clear, there is no sheer plan, half breadth views, or planking layout on any of the included sheets. The plan notes are all in Italian too, and 'for me" will need to be translated. Overall I found the plans to be very good and of exceptional quality. The rigging plot is the best I have seen to date. I will use the word “included" to describe the instructions: They only convey an order to the build and not much more (It is listed as an advanced kit). On a plus, the index in the back of this book was very informative providing an excellent resource/appendix to the plans. Images and print quality were top notch. English translations were understandable and at times humorous. The bits were well packaged and again of a high quality. Quite a few are boxwood (Blocks, deadeyes and belaying pins), all are either hardwoods or metal (brass, copper, or the gilded metal). I found no Britannia or plastic except for the lantern glass. The photo etch was copper and much thicker then any I have seen before and well done. Five types of rope are included. In the minus column, the instructions state that the kit does not contain any blocks for the cannons. The cannons themselves are "gilded metal"; a milled piece of hardwood creates the carriages. The Gilded metal pieces are all nicely detailed. They are cast and quite heavy. I am uncertain of their make-up but can tell they will need to be securely mounted. I have a small reservation regarding how these parts will handle any tuning, changes, or touch ups. The construction of this kit will require some additional tools and skills for me to work the harder wood. Look for my build log sometime in 2014/15 here on MSW. Please feel free to post any questions you might have regarding this kit. I will do my best to answer them. For now I have re-sealed all the packages (less the plans and instructions) and stored the box in what I hope will be a safe location. I purchased this kit on sale from Model Expo (Presidents day sale). I feel I received much more then I paid for.
  15. This is a review I originally published as part of another thread back in 2014. I have updated some of the comments to reflect the current status of the companies mentioned in the review. Enjoy! When I bought this kit back in 2014, Freedom Song Boatworks were still in business, but they have since folded. One of the reasons I wanted to get hold of a FSB kit was to compare it to a Midwest Products kit. Interestingly enough, Midwest is also now out of business. Kits from both companies still turn up on eBay, although since far more Midwest kits were made and distributed, they remain much more common on auction sites. Evangeline comes in a box about 18" long by about 3.75" square. There is a color photo of the prototype model on the box. The contents were packaged neatly. I can't say for certain, but I always got the impression that FSB was a cottage industry, and this is certainly reflected in the kit's design, materials, and packaging. The kit comes with three plan sheets showing hull construction details, hull top and side views, and sail plan. The plans are nicely drawn and easy to understand. At 1/24 scale, you can see that the kit produces a fair-sized model. There are two two-sided sheets of simple instructions and a one-sided sheet of basic wood modeling techniques. This of course pales in comparison to what's found in any Midwest kit. No parts list is included. Evangeline's hull bottom and sides consist of four pre-cut pieces of pine. All other sheet parts are printed and must be cut from two sheets of balsa, one sheet of pine, and one small sheet of ply. The kit's strip wood and dowels are of good quality. One of the dowels is slightly crooked, but considering the age of this kit, I'm not too surprised by that. The included sail cloth has a nice, fine weave. The fittings include various kinds of wire and cordage, eye pins, nails, aluminum tubing, brass portholes, and 'blocks' that are actually plastic (or perhaps ceramic) beads. As you can see, there is a very small quantity of parts and materials here, which reflects both the smallish nature of the craft being modeled and the simplified design of the kit. So, what are my impressions? Overall, I am satisfied. I knew up front that the kit builds straight out of the box into a simplified version of a Tancook whaler and is intended for beginning modelers, and I also knew about the printed parts, so I'm not shocked by those features. My only disappointment is with the plastic beads for blocks -- those will absolutely have to be replaced, but fortunately there are not too many of them. The rest of the kit components are of good quality -- no complaints there. As I said in the introduction, one of my reasons for purchasing this kit was to see how it stacks up against comparable offerings from Midwest Products (of which I have built two and have a third in my stash). There is, IMO, no comparison between the two when it comes to considering their suitability for first-time builders. Midwest Products kit instructions are the gold standard for kits of this sort - they are extremely detailed, profusely illustrated, and as fool-proof as kit instructions are likely to be. The two sheets of instructions offered by Freedom Song are well below that standard. The other big knock against Freedom Song is the large number of printed parts that must be cut out. Seriously - printed parts is ancient kit technology. If I'm going to shell out the $59.95 MSRP for this kit (Note: all prices mentioned in this review are listed 2014 prices; keep this in mind when bidding on any eBay offerings), I expect all the parts to be at least die-cut, same as Midwest kits are. Additional style points must be deducted for the plastic beads for blocks. I cannot fathom why the more usual wooden blocks were not included, or even plastic or cast metal blocks. And lastly, we should look at pricing. The most expensive MSRP for any kit in Midwest's beginner's line is $89.99. Four of Freedom Song's similar kit offerings are listed at $99.95. When you consider what you get from Midwest for significantly less money, the choice is pretty easy. However, there is a final point to be made. Freedom Song does offer several kit designs that are not available elsewhere, of which Evangeline is but one example. For a modeler wishing to build one of these designs, or for someone intending to super-detail the basic model, Freedom Song kits are certainly acceptable. Be advised, though, that if you want to keep an eye out for FSB kits on eBay , you may have to wait a very long time for one of these uncommon models to turn up. Cheers!

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