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An Introduction to Seahorse Kits (photos Courtesy of Seahorse and the author) Regular visitors to MSW may recall having seen some delightful, scratch-built card models made by a member who goes by the username “0Seahorse.” The real name of the man behind the username is Tomasz “Tomek” Weremko, a resident of the small town of Ulanów in southeastern Poland. Happily for us card modeling types (and those who are intrigued by the medium), Tomek not only designs and builds card models – he publishes them, too. At first his designs, mostly coasting craft but which also included the brig HMS Badger, were published by WAK, a well-known Polish publishing house, but like some designers, Tomek got the itch to publish his own work. His first effort, the Dutch exploration ship Duyfken, came out in 2019, and that first effort has now been followed by four additional offerings. Tomek’s earlier designs are still available both at his own website and at WAK. Ever eager to get enterprising card model designers some time in the MSW spotlight, I asked Tomek if he would be interested in having his latest kits reviewed. He agreed to the idea and said he would be sending “sets of models with accessories.” Expecting these to consist of one kit or perhaps two at the most, I was very surprised when the package arrived from Poland containing four Seahorse kits along with their laser-cut accessories. As I have found to be pleasantly normative for packages coming from Poland, everything survived the three week journey in fine shape. Because the Seahorse stable of designs are the products of a single designer, they have similar attributes. As for the earlier review I did of Paper Shipwright, I will treat the Seahorse kits as a collective. The kits we will look at are : · Nr. 1 DUYFKEN 1606 (1:100) · Nr. 2 SAO GABRIEL 1497 (1:100) · Nr. 3 LEUDO VINACCIERE (1:72) · Nr. 4 ARMED VIRGINIA SLOOP 1776 (1:100) The first thing you’ll notice is that there are no steel warships in Tomek’s stable of designs. Tomek says he enjoys older ships, both military and civilian. You’ll also notice there’s no example of Wasa, Sovereign of the Sea, etc. Says Tomek, “I rather focus on smaller ships, so that they are within the reach not only of top modelers, but also to encourage those who do not have a cardboard sailing ship in their collection yet.” Once you get a peek at Tomek’s work, I think you’ll agree that the temptation to try out a card model sailing ship can be great indeed. You might also notice that most of Tomek’s designs are in 1:100 scale. This might cause you to panic a bit, but have no fear. 1:100 scale is considered small for wooden models, but it is actually on the large end for card models, which are most often rendered in 1:200, 1:250, or 1:400. Still, because these are sailing ship models, the finished items will in fact end up being small models. None exceeds 41 cm in length. Another thing worth pointing out is the cost of these kits. This is a strong selling point for card models in general, which I have pointed out elsewhere. The basic Duyfken kit, for example, is only € 6.67, which is pretty darn cheap. Compare that to the same subject offered in a wood kit from another manufacturer at € 209, and you quickly see what I mean. Of course, card model kits usually cry out for after market accessories, which I’ll describe later, but even with those goodies added in the Seahorse Duyfken still only comes in at € 31.51—a real bargain for modelers on tight budgets. And if one has a really tight budget and a lot of time available, the aftermarket accessories are of course only optional, and the kits can be built without them. So, what do you get when you crack open a Seahorse kit? Let’s flip through some pages and have a look. As is typical for card models, each kit comes as a bound, A4 size booklet (American builders will need to keep this in mind if they want to scan any parts pages before building). Covers feature fore and aft views of the prototype models. As much as I appreciate artwork on kit covers, I like to see what the model actually looks like when it is built (assuming of course that I’m half as talented as the prototype builder). Flipping to the first page, one finds the instructions in both Polish and English. Again, card model instructions are usually not very detailed, mainly because there are only so many ways one can say “stick part 1 to part 2,” etc., etc. But where instructions are needed, it is certainly helpful when they are legible. English-speaking modelers will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the English instructions. Tomek has a much superior grasp of English than the average English-speaker has of Polish, and this shows. You will not need someone to translate the English instructions into real English, as sometimes seems warranted with the instructions in Italian kits. There are plenty of diagrams—the key element in card model instructions—to cover every phase of construction. Some of the construction stages even include photo illustrations. One very nice touch in the rigging diagrams is that the various lines are printed in different colors, which makes it easier to visually untangle multiple lines where they cross each other in a two-dimensional representation. Turning to the parts pages, we see that everything is printed on good quality stock, either regular bond or card as appropriate. Colors are sharp and registration is excellent. Decks and other unpainted parts are shaded to imitate natural variations in wood tone and texture. Each kit includes extra color swatches so that any gaps can be filled in with matching card. Hull construction begins with internal formers, covered with three layers of skins. The first layer produces the basic shape and provides an underlayment for the additional layers (Fig. 3 in the image below). The second layer finishes the hull shape in sturdy laminated card (Fig, 5). The seams of the first and second layers are at roughly right angles to each other to strengthen the hull structure. The third layer (Fig. 10) is a veneer consisting of the outer planks. Of course, any sailing ship model done in card stock has a lot of cutting to do as well as a multitude of small, repetitive structures, such as blocks and gun carriages. An ideal and inexpensive way to deal with these issues is to purchase aftermarket laser-cut sets. The Seahorse sets include structural pieces such as hull formers, the second set of hull skinning, and other pieces that otherwise require lamination onto thicker stock before cutting out. The laser-cutting is superb, and parts are laser-engraved with their parts numbers, either directly on the parts or, in the case of small parts, adjacent to them. Hull formers also have laser-engraved lines to indicate the proper locations of joints between mated parts, e.g. between longitudinal profile and bulkheads. Additional laser-cut sets produce blocks, hearts, deadeyes, gun carriages, and other small items. The blocks are made from layers, which when glued together eliminate any need to drill holes into the finished items. Having used similar laser-cut blocks for my build of Wütender Hund, I can attest that these are not as difficult to assemble as they might appear at first glance. They can, of course, be replaced with wooden blocks, but the card blocks are a perfectly viable option. Also available are printed sets of sails. These are single-side printed on fine linen and show panel lines and seams. Each sail set also includes a set of flags. For modelers who want to save a bit of money, each printed kit includes full-size sail patterns. In addition to sails, sets of dowels for spars are also available. These are made of either linden or beech, are cut slightly longer that the spars to be turned from them, and must be tapered to the desired dimensions. Tomek did not send any of the dowel sets for review, since as he pointed out they are “just dowels” (you have to love candor!), can easily be locally sourced, and would have added unnecessarily to the shipping costs. Nevertheless, they are available if one wishes to purchase them. There are a few non-kit-specific items that builders will need to source for themselves, such as rigging cordage and chain. Tomek does sell some of the former at the Seahorse website. At this time, there are also no aftermarket cannon available as kit-specific sets. One can find cannon in 1/100 scale if one searches around a bit, though finding the correct patterns for the older kit subjects, i.e. galleons, might be a challenge. All in all, I find the Seahorse kits to be delightful additions to the card modeling side of our hobby. The quality of the materials and design at their price points make these outstanding values. It is also apparent from reading through the instructions and diagrams that Tomek has indeed put much thought and effort into making these kits manageable projects for intermediate-level modelers. Each kit will produce a finished model that is comparable in appearance and detail to any wooden kit and moreover will not take up a huge amount of space to display. Not one to rest on his laurels, Tomek has already released a new kit for 2021, the galleon Meermann 1627, a participant in the defeat of a Swedish flotilla at the Battle of Oliwa. As mentioned earlier, Tomek confesses a love for older ships, particularly Dutch vessels, so it is likely that we will see additional offerings of these attractive subjects in the not-too-distant future. Meermann, now available in 1/100 scale from Seahorse Thanks again to Tomek for sending out these examples for review. If you would like to purchase a Seahorse kit, you may do so at the Seahorse website. Be sure to tell Tomek that you heard about Seahorse at Model Ship World! MSRPs: Duyfken: € 6.67 Sao Gabriel: € 10.58 Leudo Vinaccieri: € 7.82 Armed Virginia Sloop: € 7.13 Meermann: € 10.12 CDC
Hello Some time ago I started building Sao Gabriel based on the model in the museum in Lisbon. I do not have exact plans, but based on photos, dimensions and proportions of this type of vessels I managed to design a ship quite similar to the original. The progress in the construction is enough to show the first photos. The hull frames were made of 1 mm thick cardboard. I have planned three layers of planking: the first vertical layer, which stabilizes the frames, the second longitudinal one on the cardboard 0.5 mm and the third one in color as the final planks. After gluing the first layer, I added some of the decks and evened the entire hull with sandpaper to remove adhesive residues and greater inaccuracies. On these parts you can see lines according to which I will glue the next layer. Before sticking the next decks, I had to make a few details, which would later be very difficult to access. Then I glued the second layer, so far only to the level of the main deck and then I built a part of the forecastle. The construction of forecastle... Then, step by step, I added the next strips of the second layer and the next level in the forecastle. Because the model has a lot of windows in the stern part, I created some rooms there. Unfortunately, there are not many sources describing rooms in sailing ships from this period, so this is only my imagination. Now I could "lock" the whole with the upper decks. Before gluing the last layer, the whole hull was covered with wood glue, which made it stiffer. I smoothed the whole with sandpaper and started gluing the last layer. Each strip is two boards with a dividing line marked with a blunt needle. Visible white gaps will be covered with wales, so it will look OK. Best Tomek