Jump to content

An Introduction to Seahorse Kits: Duyfken, Sao Gabriel, Leudo Vinacciere, Armed Virginia Sloop


Recommended Posts

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.


image.thumb.jpeg.4c4557f253cf2e22304924b5e83e1a8a.jpeg  image.thumb.jpeg.5a2e76d47bbd79a81867520f4c33eb0b.jpeg


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!


Duyfken:  6.67

Sao Gabriel:  10.58

Leudo Vinaccieri: € 7.82

Armed Virginia Sloop: € 7.13

Meermann: € 10.12






Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, VTHokiEE said:

Any feel for shipping time to the US and do you plan on building a log for any of them in the near future?


Anticipate about three weeks for shipping. Don't expect a build log anytime soon -- I really like these kits, and they are tempting, but I know myself. I have a lot of projects stashed away, and I never know which one will strike the urge to be built next.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, VTHokiEE said:

These look really interesting - thanks for the review Chris! I have a card kit in my stash, if that goes alright I think I may have to try one (or 3) of these out. Any feel for shipping time to the US and do you plan on building a log for any of them in the near future?

Here's his log on the Meermann:   Looks to make a very nice model.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ron, the website link is embedded in the review (if you mouse over any underlined text in a post and a little index finger icon appears, that means there's a clickable link embedded in the text).




A useful tip for searching for Polish vendors is to add the word sklep (shop) to your search string. Using "seahorse sklep" as the search string brings up Seahorse as the first hit.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, that is exactly my plan get my feet wet with the Leudo (or even potentially one other card model I have on hand) before tackling the Duyfken - that one looks really neat. I had a short message exchange with Tomek before purchasing - quite a helpful exchange and I'm excited for his company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Chris, these kits look great.


Thanks for bringing them to our attention, because I REALLY NEED more projects!


Especially these relatively inexpensive card model projects, because I can load up on so many of them for so little money. Plus, they take up so little room in my stash that I can fit half a dozen with all the available accessories in the space of one wooden ship model kit! 🤪

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tim,

if you choose EURO currency, PayPal appears directly in the payment selection. When selecting Polish Zloty (PLN), the PayPal option is hidden in the "Przelewy24" payment system in the "Inne / Others" tab.



I hope, it helps.

If I can help you with anything else, the pleasure is mine.



Edited by 0Seahorse
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I received my order recently- very exciting when a package shows up from overseas!   


I got the Armed Virginia Sloop 1776 along with some of the additional parts.

I have to say, it's nice to have a model on the shelf that's as big as an 8.5" x 11" book!

Edited by Tim Holt
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I am currently building 'Saettia' (a late 17th-century lateen-rigged Genoese transport ship), another one of Tomek Weremko's designs published by WAK. 'Saettia' is far and away the best paper model kit I have yet attempted. I was particularly impressed by the way the hull is constructed. I am not the most skillful modeller, but the thing looks excellent: no ribs visible at all, exactly the shape it is supposed to have, and every single plank fits. And if you are no closer than 10 inches, it is indistinguishable from wood. So far, building this model has been an absolute delight.

The Virginia Sloop is next in line, and maybe I will eventually graduate to the Zeven Provincien...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...