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Colin Archer - Billings Boats


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Review of Billing Boats' Colin Archer (BB606). Approx $100 USD kit.




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.


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Hello Les here. I feel your pain. I have built the BB 605 St. Roch and the BB 720 Oseberg.  The St. Roch required extensive research to get it right. The instructions were hard to follow.  I also agree that some of the parts were not the best quality. I purchased after market to upgrade. Laser cut wooden parts can be a pain to work with. Sanding out small parts to get rid of burn marks so they can be clear coated adds to the overall  work load. In the end both kits worked out well, but this company needs to do a better job with the plans so a builder isn't left guessing. Overall I would not recommend their kits to a beginner.

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