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Which pre-built ship to buy?


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Hi guys!  I'm not really into ship building.  Maybe it's a hobby I'll consider in the future, but too busy at the moment.  But I would like a decent looking, reasonably priced model to put on my fireplace mantle.  So I'm considering some pre-built models (sorry, I'm sure this is blasphemy around here).


I want something in the 30" to 40" size range, hopefully $250 to $300, probably the USS Constitution.  I was looking at this one:




Although that particular ship doesn't have any Amazon reviews, other Hampton Nautical brand products seems to be reasonably well reviewed on Amazon.


There's also this one on Ebay, which is supposedly a "Decor Models" brand, though I can't find any reviews of that brand anywhere, Amazon or otherwise.  So mainly I'm wanting to know what you guys think of this one, versus the Hampton Nautical model on Amazon.  Which one looks nicer?:




I know that they both probably look terrible compared to a well-built kit, but in your opinion, which is less terrible?


Thanks guys!

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Well, to be blunt, IMO they both look ghastly, but the second one is slightly less so, but only because the hull looks better. The all-black rigging is kind of an eyesore. But, in all honesty, without paying someone the moolah that a true scale model would command, the items you linked to are probably typical of what's out there. Still, if it were me, I'd shop around some more -- there are vendors for such models beyond what you'll find at Amazon or eBay.


Good luck!

Chris Coyle
Greer, South Carolina

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
- Tuco

Current builds: Macchi C.200 Saetta

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I would have to think that if you want a quality model, some member here would be willing to part with a few, however i doubt if they would for $300. You have to appreciate that a lot of models take a few hundred hours to finish.  The places you are looking are massed produced.  There is no way any builder would be able to build the Constitution for $300.  I  don't think you could even buy the kit for that.


I'm glad that you have an interest but, trust me, you will get what you pay for.  You're better off buying a kit and having a go at building it.  You will get a lot more pride that way.


If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea  

Antoine de Saint Exupery


Current Builds

Bluenose - Model Shipways - 1:64 Scale

Fair American - Model Shipways - 1:48 Scale

HMS Winchelsea 1764 - Group Build

On Deck

Guns of History Naval Smoothbore Deck Gun - 1:24 Scale

Finished Builds

Mare Nostrum - Artesania Latina - 1:35 Scale

Guns of History Carronade - Model Shipways - 1:24 Scale


Member of the Nautical Research Guild


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Wow. That $300,000. Constitution is a joke. But it illustrates the problem of finding an existing model that is of reasonable quality yet affordable. The Constitution shown at the link above is NOT "museum quality" but most people have not immersed themselves sufficiently in ship model culture or nautical history enough to be able to make an informed judgment. I would value the above model (as long as it still had its case) at well under $500. But the guy selling it is delusional, or exceedingly unscrupulous.

Here is my advice if you want a reasonable model for your mantalpiece: put an add in the paper. Or on Craigslist. Say how much you are willing to spend and then sit back and wait. Keep the add running.

It's possible you will find a perfectly presentable model this way. Maybe it's a little dusty.

What's most likely though is that someone has a broken model that is very dusty in the attic or basement and you should buy this model after negotiating an even lower price. Don't offer more than $75, be prepared to walk away from delusional people that think they have a priceless heirloom. This strategy is the same as buying a car that no longer runs then investing in repairs. You can wind up having paid less for what you wanted this way, but it's more trouble for you to make the repair.

On the matter of a repair, I would suggest trying it yourself-depending on how far gone the model is.if all the masts are completely broken off, maybe you can clear everything off and display it as just the hull?




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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I have to agree with ccoyl. They are both awful, but the second one slightly less awful than the first. It comes down to you get what you pay for, and $300.00 doesn't buy much. The Bluejacket USS Constitution KIT alone is $650.00. My guess is those models might be OK for a high shelf along the ceiling in a cheap seafood restaurant, but for a centerpiece of a room it wouldn't be very satisfying.

From about as far from the ocean as you can get in North America!

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the two you gave links for are not scale models.  They may be  decorative representations, But not scale.

Neither has a copper bottom, not to mention many other shortcomings, i.e. the first one looks way too short.

Find a good model ship builder near you (check out the MSW membership roster) and see if you can work out a deal, maybe even barter depending upon you occupation.


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Why is it that you want a display ship so badly, and why the Constitution? I'm not being sarcastic, it's a serious question to help you understand what you want.


Do you live in an area with a significant nautical tradition and want to fit in? If so, cheap and low-quality models like that are just as likely to get you laughed at as respected. Anyone who knows anything about the Constitution will be horrified if you show them either of those models, and anyone who doesn't won't really care what ship is on your mantle.


In all honesty, consider buying a nice painting instead. There are quite a few options for well-done nautical artwork that would look quite attractive on a mantle, be just as much of a conversation piece, and would support a real artist instead of whomever is producing those crappy knockoffs. Wouldn't need as much dusting, either.


If you really, really want a model, buy the plastic kit for the Revell Constitution at 1:196. It's pretty manageable for just about anybody to turn out a decent looking model without taking too long at it, it'll inherently be more accurate than anything you linked to, and having built it yourself will make it a much more interesting conversation piece.

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It's not blasphemy at all. I have built ship models for clients who wanted a model for various reasons and I didn't question who where or why as long as their money was green and the colors didn't run when wet :rolleyes: The ship models you get on Amazon are a joke at best and would be fine if putting in a childs room as decor. Now for Ebay, most if not all of those so called museum quality ship models listed on ebay if decent looking are usually made in some sweat shop in Indonesia or other third world country where the works are lucky to get a few pennies a day for their time. They are built mainly for export.


I built two Constitutions for sale, a smaller 38" Connie that I sold to a Computer software firm in New Jersey and then built a second Constitution which was larger at 48" long and it was commissioned by an Insurance Corp in CT. The smaller version I sold for around $1200.00 and took about 8 months to build, the larger version I sold for around $2500.00 and it took over a year to finish. I averaged about 50 cents to 75 cents an hour for my time. A tad better than sweat shop prices, but it was by choice as a hobby and not forced or having to do it as a living.


So my point here is this, why not save your money and when you get about $1000.00-$1500.00 then go looking for that special ship model, which you will find a much better quality with a ton more detail at that price range than those travesties you are currently considering.




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