Monthly Archives: June 2014

Woody Joe’s Hacchoro Kit – Out of the Box Review

My highly anticipated, newly released kit from Woody Joe arrived a while back and I’m just now getting around to writing about it. It took a couple extra days to get the shipment this time because I ordered it pretty much right at the release date, which meant my supplier still had to get the kit from Woody Joe before he could ship it out to me.

As with all my Woody Joe purchases, I bought this one from Zootoyz in Japan. However, rather than order from their regular site, I thought I’d help them out by trying out their new store front on Amazon. Unfortunately, ordering from a new vendor on Amazon is a bit troublesome as you have to find them and it takes a while for the vendor to get up to speed with the intricacies of selling on

My transaction went smoothly, but I think it’s better just to buy directly from the Zootoyz website. That way, there is no middle-man to take a cut, it’s easier to ship with the vendor you want, and the savings gets passed on to you. I could have ordered directly from Zootoyz and, as it turns out I could have paid as much as $20 less that what I did pay. Still, I was really happy just to be able to order the new kit and receive it quickly.

And, just for the record, I do not get any profits from either Zootoyz or Woody Joe sales!


The Kit

The Hacchoro is an Edo Period work boat and it is the subject of the latest kit release from Woody Joe of Japan. The 1:24-scale kit relies heavily on laser cut parts and the final model measures about 23″ long, 20″ high, and 12-1/2″ wide, considerably bigger than their Higaki Kaisen model. Woody Joe’s estimated completion time of this model is 50 hours, which is half of what they list for the Higaki Kaisen. The kit lists of ¥18,000 or about $180. I got mine for about $208 with Express Mail shipping.

Background of the Hacchoro

Since my last post about this craft, I managed to learn something interesting about its origins. It turns out that fishing boats during this time were limited by law in the number of oars they carry. This apparently was to keep boats from overtaking with the Shogun’s boat.

But, the first Tokugawa Shogun enjoyed falconry and after his retirement, he would travel by sea to the hunting grounds. 24 fishing boats were commissioned as escorts, but since there were limited in the number of oars they were allowed to use, they had a difficult time keeping up. To remedy this situation, the fishermen of this one region were given special permission to mount 8 oars, hence the name Hacchoro, which basically means 8-oared boat.


Inside the Box


Opening up the box, which is somewhat smaller than the previous boxes I’d gotten from Woody Joe, I’ve come to expect the company’s usual quality packaging. Beneath the sheets of plans, instruction book and their one-page catalog sheet, the wooden parts are all packaged in plastic bags, grouped together in sets – I haven’t figured out the rationale for what the sheets are group together as they are, but I think each set is made up of sheets of like thickness. Finally, there is the usual cardboard tray in one end with the spool of rigging line, the banners, a small sheet of etched metal and a laser engraved name board.




The first thing I noticed about the instructions is that the images are much sharper. It looks like these were created on a color laser printer as opposed to lower resolution traditional printing. The colors are more vibrant and the illustrations clearer. The booklet is 16 pages long, and the instructions are broken down into 30 steps. In comparison, the Higaki Kaisen kit is 32 pages long and breaks down construction into 96 steps. On the cover is a nice image of the completed model, with the parts list on the inside front cover. Again comparing with the Higaki Kaisen kit, the Hacchoro’s parts list is about half as long.


As with all Woody Joe kits marketed in Japan, the instructions are written entirely in Japanese. But again, as with all Woody Joe kits, the instructions book is extremely well illustrated. Add to the fact that this is a much simpler build than other kits like the Higaki Kaisen or any of the Western-style ship kits, and this kit seems very build-able regardless of the text. And, I did look through the instructions as best as I could and didn’t see any sign of construction steps warning “do not glue” in Japanese.


Three black-and-white half-sheets of plans are included in the kit, each measuring about 13″ x 19″. All drawings are in scale with the model. What’s called Sheet Number 1 is actually two of these half-sheets put together and shows a full exterior side profile of the hull, an interior side cutaway of the hull, a mid-ships cross section, and a top view. Sheet Number 2 shows details of the masts, yards, sculling oars and poles for the banners.




I didn’t mention it earlier in this review, but as with all other Woody Joe kits I’ve gotten, upon opening the box, you’re hit with the wonderfully fragrant scent of Hinoki or Japanese Cypress. This seems to be the standard Woody Joe material, much like Model Shipways kits all use basswood.

Hinoki, besides smelling really nice, is a nice wood to work with. While it is brittle when dry, it only has to be wet and then it will take bends quite easily. Unlike many hard woods, it doesn’t really need soaking, it just needs to be dampened.

The kit includes 11 small laser cut sheets. The majority of these seem to be around 14″ long and probably not much more than 1-1/2″ wide. Some are smaller and a few are much longer. One thing I hadn’t noticed before was that there two of the laser cut sheets are actually what look like birch plywood. These are larger sheets that are made up of the bulkheads parts (yes, bulkheads on a traditional Japanese “Wasen” kit).

There is, of course, packages of strip woods and dowels and one package containing the parts for the display stand. The stand’s design looks like it complements the Hacchoro’s traditional Japanese-style hull quite nicely.

One small sheet of etched copper provides the pieces that form caps to fit over the ends of beams. That and a coil of brass wire which appears to be used for shaping the sails, are the only metal parts in the kit.


The sail material is very interesting. It’s a very fine weave material. I would say the quality exceeds the stuff in the Higaki Kaisen kit. To me, it seems like the nicest quality sail material I’ve seen in a ship model kit to date. The material has the seams printed in black as well as the Tokugawa mon or family crest.


The rigging line is the same quality stuff that I’ve seen in other Woody Joe kits. The stuff is very nice and I would actually consider acquiring some more of it to use on my other models. On this model, the rig is very simple, so there are only two spools of line included.


Lastly, there are the nobori or the banners that fly at the stern. Unlike Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, which gives you blank banners to try to drawn your own Kanji (the Chinese characters used in writing Japanese), one the banners (there are two included) is pre-printed with the characters spelling Hacchoro, plus a line of characters that I haven’t translated yet, and the other displays the Tokugawa Shogun’s crest. The material used for the banners is a veil-thin fabric that shows the writing and crest almost equally well on both sides, which is kind of neat.



Kit Design

I don’t have much knowledge of Woody Joe’s past traditional Japanese-style boat (Wasen) kits, but unlike the Higaki Kaisen kit, there is no attempt to show the traditional-style construction. In fact, since there is no interior to view, the model is built western-style, with inner keel and bulkhead construction that most ship modelers will find very familiar. While it’s not authentic and doesn’t try to represent the way these ships were actually constructed in any way, it simplifies things a great deal and I think most non-Japanese ship modelers will probably feel more confident working with this kit, even without English language instructions.

Building the Model

I have so many projects in the queue that as much as I want to build this kit, I need to hold off, at least for a while. This looks like it should be a really nice short-term build however. So, if I get stuck on my other projects, need a break from them or whatnot, I’ll definitely be giving this a go. And, with the experience I have from the Higaki Kaisen build, that 50-hour rating might actually be just that. Heck, that should be like a 2-week build. Maybe I’ll just have to find a good spot to take that break after all. Ω


Custom Laser Cut Parts – Part I

After much struggles with trying to make some perfectly circular rings for the paddlewheels on my USS Saginaw model, I’m about to try my last resort, custom laser cutting. So, a few months back, I found a company in Nevada that seemed like they might be reasonably priced, and this week I finally broke down to give them a try.

The company is called Pololu ( and they’re located in Las Vegas, Nevada. They actually specialize in robotics and electronics supplies, but they also offer a custom laser cutting service.

I always assumed that such services would be outrageously expensive, but when their website suggested that you can get started with making custom laser-cut parts for only $25, that was enough to get me interested.

There are various requirements and restrictions regarding their laser cutting service. First, there is the art work. They can create artwork for you if you provide sketches, but for something as exacting as shipmodeling, you’re probably going to have to provide the artwork yourself. Fortunately for me, they take not only AutoCAD files, they also take Adobe Illustrator files. Having some past experience with Illustrator, I’ll be seeing how well I can draw up the parts I might need.

Another requirement is that while they can laser cut all kinds of wood and plastics, in terms of metals, they can only cut stainless steel. I was hoping to cut brass, but I’ll give steel a shot. If I’m attaching the rings to wooden spokes, I might be able to use CA. I’m not sure, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I made the artwork and I decided to try adding some fine holes so that I can run pins through the steel and into the wooden spokes to help hold them firmly. It’s all experimental right now, so we’ll just have to see what happens.


I did send the artwork today and they had a problem and asked me to save the file down to Illustrator CS5 (I’m using Illustrator CC, which is the next version after CS6). An email from the guy at Pololu today confirmed that the file looks good and I should expect a quote in the next day or two.

Bay Area Ship Model Meetings in June

I’m a little bit late on the draw with this entry as we’re already half way through June and a couple meetings have already passed. However, the meetings left to go are really the ones that require some mention.

South Bay Model Shipwrights

First off, this coming Friday, 6/20, would normally be the South Bay Model Shipwrights meeting in Los Altos. However, the group was unable to secure the regular meeting place and time, so it is taking place instead on Friday, 6/27. The meeting location and time will be as usual at the Los Altos Library at 6:30 pm. Your’s Truly will be giving a talk this month on the building of Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, along with some background on Japanese coastal transports of the Edo Period. I’ll be bringing my completed Higaki Kaisen model and will probably bring my second Higaki Kaisen kit and the new Hacchoro kit as well.

Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights

While last month’s meeting of the Hyde Street Pier group was cancelled, this months is somewhat critical, so it will be taking place for sure this Saturday, 6/21, at 9:30am. Anyway, a lot of members that were away last month will be here this month. Since the Eureka is still temporarily closed, the meeting will be taking place instead in the conference room under the bleachers of the Aquatic Park. Entrance is through a bottom floor door on the side of the Bath House that faces the bay. The door is locked, but will be open prior to our 9:30am meeting.

Ship Modelers Meet-Up in Vallejo

While it has already passed, I should mention that the little local gathering of members from online ship modeling forums, took place just over a week ago on Saturday, June 7. It’s a small group that’s been meeting on a roughly quarterly basis since late last year, usually at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Attendees have come from as far west as San Rafael, as far south as San Jose and as far east as Citrus Heights and Valley Springs.

This past meeting, some of us went to visit the Mare Island Museum afterwards and had a great time. Next meeting is tentatively set for some time at the end of September. Location TBD. Watch this blog for announcements.


Woody Joe’s Hacchoro Kit Re-Release

In a matter of just over a week from now, Woody Joe will be officially re-releasing an updated version of their Edo Period “Wasen” (Traditional Japanese style boat) kit, Hacchoro (or Hattyouro). The kit went out of production for a short time as the updated release was prepared.


This is apparently a type of fishing boat that was adopted for service by the Tokugawa shogunate. At least, that’s what I think. I really haven’t done much homework on this craft yet, though I did find some Youtube videos of what look to be some local rowing competitions using these boats. They’re a lot bigger than I’d imagined. If you want to do a search, you’ll get better results using the Japanese text in your search: 八丁櫓

I don’t have a lot of details on this vessel except that it should now be laser cut and remains a scale of 1:24. The completed model should be about 23″ long, 20″ high, and 12-1/2″ wide. According to Woody Joe, this is a much simpler kit than the Higaki Kaisen and they estimate a 50 hour completion time.

Probably the most surprising change to the kit is the price. They have it listed for ¥18,000, about $180, where the old kit listed for ¥25,000, or about $250. That’s considerably less and I don’t know why yet. The kit looks the same and the completion time estimates are unchanged, so I’m not sure what’s different, if anything.

I asked Morikawa-san at Zootoyz about the kit and he said it will be in stock and on his website on June 8th. By the way, he has just set up an Amazon store for those preferring to buy through that site. Prices should be the same, but Amazon takes a cut of his revenue. I’m planning on buying the Hacchoro kit from his Amazon site so I can post a review of his service, which I’ve always found excellent.

In any case, as soon as I get the kit, I’ll post a review here. Should be up within a couple weeks.