Shipyard’s 1:96-scale HMS Alert 1777, Paper Model Kit – Part III

So, now that I’ve given props to the larger boxed edition HMS Alert kit with all its laser cut parts, I’ll say that I’m having a great time with this small 1:96-scale kit. It’s frickin’ neat! I brought the model as it is now to last month’s meeting of the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights, and I think I’ve got a couple people interested in buying the kit, or at least interested in trying a paper model.


One of them became interested after we had a discussion on how this kit might actually be really useful for a ship modeler looking to scratch build a wooden model of the Alert, which seems to be a very popular subject. I’ve even considered doing this, though for now I have the paper kit.

I suppose I should use the term “card model” because I think that’s how most builders refer to these models. I think it does sound a little more sophisticated than calling them paper models. I just use the term “paper model” because that’s what the manufacturer calls them. Probably sounds better in Polish.


Anyway, the idea with using the card model for wood ship modeling is that the planks are pre-spiled and nicely printed out. These might actually serve well as patterns for cutting wooden planks. It seems like all you would have to do is blow up the paper parts to 200% and you’d have templates for a nice 1/4″ scale (1:48) wooden model. So, we may experiment with that idea.

In the meantime,  the lapstrake planking worked out really nicely and goes on very easily. This gives the hull a third layer, with the hull shape getting smoother with each layer.


I ended up painting the hull using paints I bought from Shipyard. These paints are interesting because they seem to use a fairly coarse pigment, at least that’s the way it seems to me, though maybe I’m misinterpreting the finish I’m getting. The reason I say this about the pigments is because of the texture of the finish. Not only is it very flat, but it remains that way even after repeated applications. Also, the texture of the dry, painted surface is rough to the touch.

The paints are fairly transparent, so you can still see the printed lines in the paper, even after a couple applications. This also means that  it takes more coats to cover up problems, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve been going to town on this over the past couple weeks. A bit of a distraction from my other projects, but it can’t be helped – this model is too much fun to build. What’s more, I’ve actually been approached by a fellow ship model club member about buying the completed model from me. It really is that neat!

2 thoughts on “Shipyard’s 1:96-scale HMS Alert 1777, Paper Model Kit – Part III

  1. David Alsop

    Hi Clare, I am looking for an intermediate step in a ship’s mode kit to lead me from plastic kits into a plank on bulkhead ship, one that might give me a few pointers first as to construction without going to any great expense. I like the looks of the Alert card model but as you mentioned at scale 1:76, a model with better achievable detailing. Ideally I would like to construct the HMS Success, Mercury or Enterprise, frigates of Nelson’s period. Also, I would like a complete kit with masts, rigging and sails. Please advise, David

    1. catopower Post author

      Hello David! Let me start with giving you my “easy” answer. If your goal is to build in wood, then I’d say, just jump into wood and don’t worry about paper. Just start with something fairly simple and don’t worry about being historically accurate in the build yet. Just start with a sloop or schooner with no more than a few cannons on the deck. If you go for a planked model, later period, sharper vessels are easier to plank than the bluff bow type. So, something like a Baltimore Clipper is ideal.

      The more complex answer is that paper is a different animal than either plastic or wood. I don’t know that it’s necessarily a stepping stone to wood from plastic. It’s just different, though in places it can be more like one or the other. Plastic kits are three-dimensional objects made up from three-dimensional parts, whereas Paper and Wood modeling are similar in that they both use basically two-dimensional parts (that have thickness) to build up a three-dimensional object. Wood kits more commonly use pre-made, three-dimensional fittings to supplement your build, as do some paper kits. But, wood is probably the more forgiving and versatile medium.

      That said, there are some wood kits and some paper kits that go together a bit like plastic kits. On the wood side is one that, given your interest in the Nelsonian ships, might not appeal to you. But Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit I built recently is ideal for someone who is accustomed to pre-fabricated parts, like those of a plastic kit.

      Of paper kits, I think the Laser Cardboard series kits might be a consideration for you if you’re interested in paper. Shipyard has several, all in 1:72-scale, including HMS Alert. The others are the French lugger Le Coureur, the Dutch ship Papegojan, the schooner Berbice, and a really amazingly complete HMS Mercury. That last kit is big and it’s a little pricey, around $400. It is on your “ideal subject” list, but I’d really suggest one of the smaller kits first, like Alert or Berbice. The reason is that paper can be a bit delicate and a 3-masted square rigger is difficult enough without adding the extra level of delicacy.

      (Note that Shipyard just recently added the two-masted Snow rigged sloop HMS Wolf, 1768 to their lineup of Laser Cardboard kits – very intriguing!)

      While I’d wholeheartedly suggest the smaller Laser Cardboard subjects to anyone considering them, if you’re thinking about moving to wood anyway, I’d still suggest going right into it. 20 years ago, when I tried a small solid-hull wooden schooner kit, I was in the middle of a big plastic frigate build – never touched a plastic ship model kit again.

      Hope this helps!



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