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Does anybody know anything about the Modelshipmaster company?

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I stumbled over the modelshipmaster company website by accident.  http://www.modelshipmaster.com Their website touts that they will make any ship model, anywhere, any time, at the highest quality available about as loudly as anybody could. They claim to produce models for the Smithsonian and other highly respected museums, for the film industry, and the military. Nothing wrong with having a high opinion of yourself, I suppose... if you can back it up. In my humble, but not uninformed, opinion, I found the quality of the many models they pictured in their extensive, and interesting, website to be... shall we say... "uneven," particularly given their high opinion of their products. While they pictured some well done models and restorations of some very interesting antique models, a lot of what they featured were detail-less modern models of cruise ships and megayachts of the sort frequently found in travel agency and high-end yacht brokerage lobbies. There were a lot of other models that were purely decorative and of absolutely no historical value (e.g. "pirate ships.") as well as models of which they spoke highly, but which were, at best, "folk art."


A careful review of their site led me to suspect that they are as much an agency which has modelers with whom they contract to build their bespoke models as anything else. They have a sub-site soliciting modelers to work for them which is interesting: http://www.modelshipmaster.com/about/work opportunity.htm They seek "master modelers" to work for them, being quite specific about how good they expect applicants to be. The catch is, it seems, that they "own" the modeler for the duration, demand a minimum of 20 hours a week working time, and, among other restrictions, the modeler has to agree to be contractually bound not to build another model of whatever model he builds for them for a period of something like five years.  They don't mention what they pay for the described "highly skilled labor," of course.


Anyway... there's a lot of pictures of ship models on their site and it's worth a visit for that reason alone. I'm just curious, though. These guys seem to think they're the Second Coming of Gibbs and Cox, which they ain't... but it's the first I've heard of a model building firm of this kind operating today.*


* For those not familiar with them, Gibbs and Cox is probably the foremost American commercial and naval marine architecture firm of the Twentieth Century. They've not only designed some of the most famous vessels in the last 100 years, but they've build the finest models of them ever known to have exist. See: https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Carderock/Resources/Curator-of-Navy-Ship-Models/US-Navy-Ship-Models-built-by-Gibbs-Cox-Company/


Gibbs and Cox Model Shop builder's model of USS Missouri (USN):




Gibbs and Cox Model Shop builder's model of unnamed landing ship model (USN):



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I had contacted them once to see what a display case would cost me and after shipping added, it was going to be like $2500.00. I bought one from Abordage for less than  $1000.00. I used to build model on commission as well as sell models through a site call Tallshipmodels.com out of Canada owned by Morey Benton. I had several posted through his site at one time and wound up selling several models through his site and shipped them throughout the United States. I believe Morey went out of business after got hooked up with some Russian exporters and he quickly lost most of his builders in the US after that, me included. I can tell you that I averaged about 50 cents to as much as $2.00 an hour for my time. The higher fee was for commission pieces. So to me it's a hobby and only a hobby and not something you can retire on.  

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One can make a small fortune in model ship building.  The trick is starting with a large fortune.


I went to their site and looked at a bunch of the models and agree that the quality is all over the place.  However, this is a business and time is money and it looks like they are able to deliver high quality - BUT the customer has to be willing to pay for the level of quality they desire.  It all depends on what the model is for.  Up on a shelf to be a decoration item (less detail) or in the waiting room or board room of a shipping company - a lot more detail.


As to the contractual limits on building the same models after leaving the company that's not unusual.  If a company's product or IP isn't protected they can soon find themselves competing with former employees unfairly. 



Kurt Van Dahm






Nautical Research & Model Ship Society of Chicago

Midwest Model Shipwrights

North Shore Deadeyes

The Society of Model Shipwrights

Butch O'Hare - IPMS

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Protecting intellectual property is common in industry but I am not certain that five years would be enforceable. A couple of courts have even balked at two years.



Build logs: Colonial sloop Providence 1/48th scale kit bashed from AL Independence

Currant builds:

Constructo Brigantine Sentinel (Union) (On hold)

Minicraft 1/350 Titanic (For the Admiral)

1/350 Heavy Cruiser USS Houston (Resin)

Currant research/scratchbuild:

Schooner USS Lanikai/Hermes

Non ship build log:

1/35th UH-1H Huey


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