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Model ship difficulty level


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I've finished one boat and really enjoyed it.  I was looking at ModelExpo at the Rattlesnake and the Syren.  The difficulty level on the Rattlesnake is medium and the Syren is advanced.  I notice the Fair American is also medium, as is thier Bluenose. 


I like the look of the Syren better- but having only completed one ship, I'm a little afraid of the "advanced" level.  I have a 1980's LA version of the Swift I could start on, but the ship does not appeal to me for some reason.  I really enjoyed the small detail work (limited though it was) on the model I did.


I started wondering what these lables mean.  Is the advanced actually harder to do or it there just more of it? 


I will avoid asking the "what should I build" question directly, but really, maybe that's what I want to know.

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Think of it as a warning of how much patience and commitment each kit will take. The more advanced the label the more time you should devote to it. I don't think there is any skill in boat modelling that can't be achieved by practice and patience.

Kits owned: Mamoli Royal Louis, Mamoli Friesland, Mamoli HMS Victory 1:90, Occre Santisima Trinidad, Constructo HMS Prince

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I agree with demon. There generally is more plans and detail work to be done in advance status. If you pick one that someone at MSW already has it is a big help. Because this site rules we your stuck. There is no such thing as a dum question. It only where you list the question that becomes a question. Welcome aboard you'll find a lot of help regardless of build you choose.

Current Build:

La Nina, Latina - Wood / 1:65


On The Shelf:

San Francisco II, Latina - Wood 1/90,     U.S.S. Constitution, Revell - Plastic  / 1:96 (Remake),     H.M.S. Bounty, Latina - Wood / 1:48,     H.M.S. /Mayflower, Latina - Wood / 1:64,     La Pinta, Latina, Latina - Wood / 1:65,     La Santa Maria, Latina - Wood / 1:65,



San Francisco / Cross Section, Latina - Wood / 1:50,     Coastal Submarine, Revell - Plastic / 1:144,     Cutty Sark Wall Plaque, Revell - Plastic / 1:50,     H.M.S. Victory, Revell - Plastic / 1:146,

H.M.S. Bounty, Constructo - Wood / 1:50,     Oseberg, Billings Boats - Wood / 1:25,     Clipper Ship (Sea Witch), Unknown - Wood / 1:46,     U.S.S. Constitution, Revell - Plastic / 1:96,    

Man Of War, Scientific - Wood / 1:50,     Robert E. Lee, Scientific - Wood / 1:45,     PT-109, Revell - Plastic / 1:72,     U.S.S. Enterprise, Revell - Plastic / 1:720,    

R.M.S. Titanic, Revell - Plastic / 1:720,     Numerous other wooded tall ships and boats from companies named: Ideal, Dumas, Pyro.

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if you are dedicated you can finish any ship. there are plenty of buildlogs on here for the Syren so should you get stuck there are plenty of people to help you


Current builds : HMS Bounty, Constructo Pilar

Next build : undecided

On the Shelf : AL San Juan, Mamoli HMS Victory

Builds on hold : Ochre Gorch Fock, Hachette/Amati Black Pearl

Previous Builds Gallery : Virginia; King of Mississippi

Previous Builds logs : AL King of Mississippi 1/80

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Guest midnight

An advanced model like the Syren is way better than say an intermediate kit from AL .Great instructions , plenty of others building same kit ,  and the designer Chuck is an administrator on the site so any difficulty you get in to I'm sure others have hit the same snag and will be able to help . As has been said , as long as you have patience and go slow i don't see  why you cant complete it .

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I'll have to agree- I think the level of difficulty has more to do with the level of detail and especially the time required.  I dove in with an intermediate for my first build, but with the help here and my slow, patient dedication it's coming along rather nicely.  :)  So be patient, ask questions, research, and most importantly HAVE FUN with whatever kit you choose!



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I agree. I don't think you'll have any problem building the Syren. The instructions are excellent, there are plenty of build logs to help, and Chuck and many other skilled ship builders are here to provide advice.



In progress:
Medway Longboat 1742 - Syren Ship Model Company -1/2" scale

USS Constitution - Model Shipways - Scale 1:76

HMS Granado - CAF Model - 1:48

HMS Sphinx - Vanguard

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Go for the Syren. It is a beautiful kit, extremely well done and the practicum/instructions are by far the best you will ever find in a commercial kit. You can actually download these instructions from the Model Expo web site, under the Syren page.


By the way, the vessel once finished is a little marvel. Just take your time to do it and remember that Model Expo will provide you with spare parts if you goof at one point or another.



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I would agree with everything above - build a model that calls out to you!  The difficulty ratings are meant as a general gauge of the amount of time, effort, and complexity.  as somebody's signature on here says - think of them rather like the Pirate Code - the Code is more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules.




Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.

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I advise NEVER to start a model that doesn't appeal to you -- unless you never intend to finish it.  Passion for your subject goes a long way in giving impetus to overcoming challenges during the build.



Chris Coyle
Greer, South Carolina

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

Current builds: Brigantine Phoenix, Salmson 2, Speeljacht

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You Should find a model that excites and inspires you. I have come to believe The level of difficulty the manufacturer give are : Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced;  translate into:   Hard, Harder and Hardest.   This to is relative because what is difficult for one person is easy for another depending on what part of the model you are doing. Best of luck with your new build



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I think it was on the old site that someone pointed out that the only difference between "beginner" and "experienced" kits is the amount of work needed to build the kit, not degree of difficulty of the work itself (e.g. how many guns to rig, how many planks, etc.), and that the techniques used are exactly the same for a small boat and a first rate.


Current project: HMS Pandora (1779) CAD build

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From my own experience a kit labelled as 'easy' or 'beginner' could mean that if you just follow the instructions given and use only the parts provided you can put it all together and obtain a model fairly quickly. I reckon I could have finished my kit of the Sherbourne in a few months if I had done that. The trouble is that as soon as you do some research on the web and come across a forum of enthusiasts, your eyes are opened to what is possible. As soon as those eyes glint with the challenge, you are then drawn into a series of tweaks and alterations that will take up as much time as you want or have available.


If you take on a kit labelled as 'difficult' the expectation of the manufacturer is that you are already aware of tweaks and alterations that might be necessary and have already had experience doing that. So they deliberately play the game you want. Think of it as a computer game. In a computer game there are often different levels of 'difficulty'. This just means that the manufacturer of the game knows that those who attempt the more difficult levels already have some knowledge of the 'rules of the game' and the skills involved in order to achieve it. Most humans will be able to reach the top levels with perseverance, but with practice and knowledge. Humans like puzzles and challenges, and ship modelling includes lots of both if you want them.


The time for the completion of my kit has been lengthening ever since I joined this forum, and also since I found I was having more work to do outside of ship modelling. Each new piece or stage of the kit brings new skills and challenges not that I have to learn, but that I want to learn. As I learn those skills I find myself more confident of wanting to make parts more accurate (or faithful to an original) and taking on new skills.


Some of these skills may not be entirely necessary. There is an air of masochism to the obtaining of some detail. For example may modellers like to be sure that observers can see the treenails on decks and hulls even though on real ships they are barely noticeable. Is this accuracy or showing off or personal satisfaction at getting to that 'level'? I don't know, but on my ship I decided not to show treenails on the hull, but did so for the deck. For me it was a matter of obtaining a skill. If I hadn't done it,  I would still end up with a lovely model and as I don't know any other modellers in my circle of family and friends, nobody would have known the difference.


It is up to you how far you want to go and which challenges you decide to take up. Whatever you decide, it's probably best that you do it because you're happy to do it and not because others have done it.


Whichever way you choose, you can be fairly confident that those around you who have not done any modelling will admire the work you put in. My family look at my model as it grows and say they are amazed at the detail and skill. I try to explain that it is nothing like the skill of others, but to them it is a thing of beauty. And the truth is that I am amazed at myself as I achieve each new stage.


I can't possibly rate what I have done in terms of 'difficulty'. I can only rate it in terms of satisfaction. And that is very high indeed.


Every model can be as difficult as you want to make it. Some of the supposedly 'easy' models are difficult because the instructions as so awful that people give up.


Just some thoughts!



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Tony, I think in many cases you are right, but there are also many "Beginner" kits that have an expectation that you have built models before or know some terminology. When I look at my Harriet Lane by Model Shipways (Labeled a beginner kit) versus my husband's constructo Victory (labeled advanced) instructions-wise, I think the Victory would be much more attainable for a true beginner (though more discouraging due to the number of steps)  


What is really nice about the Model Shipways is that you can look at the instructions ahead of time under their documents section.  Whatever kit you pick, these guys on here will be able to help you if you stumble on anything.



Current Build:

Krabbenkutter CUX-87

Harriet Lane

Fishcutter GO-38


In the Wings:

Corel Victory Cross section


Completed Build:

USS Missouri minimissouri.jpgHMS Bounty's Jolly Boat thumbnail.jpg Peterboro Canoe tiny.jpg

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knowing what has been said before me, opens more options to you, other than the two you have mentioned.

The higher the skill level, does not always mean it is out of reach with one build beneath you, it does mean though a lot more time to complete the build, and more research to get the desired result 


So pick a kit that you fancy, and go for it, there are plenty of people on MSW to help


good luck

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