Monthly Archives: December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s Christmas! Well, actually, by the time I got to starting this post, Christmas is almost over. But, this is my Christmas post and I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Even to those who don’t celebrate the tradition, you understand the sentiment. Good cheer and peace to all.

Being that I visit my aging Japanese mother at Christmas, we don’t do the Turkey thing. Usually it’s some kind of sushi, omochi (baked rice cake), tempura or something like that. Man, I miss stuffing and cranberry sauce and all the traditional holiday fare! But, it’s okay, because it’s more about the holiday time and family, friends and all. But, who can ignore PRESENTS!

While, I get myself enough ship modeling stuff all year round, here to hoping that you got a special ship model kit or related tools to further your hobby! And, if you’re like me and don’t ever get ship model related stuff from Santa, I hope you can buy yourself something good as soon as you can in the new year.

Here are some of the kit releases that we saw in 2014…

6 new kits from Nordic Class Boats including:

s/s Bohuslän

s/s Mariefred

R/C Svea Nordic fishing trawler

Small Svea Nordic fishing tawler

Solö Ruff classic mahogany runabout

CB-90H modern combat boat

Woody Joe released or re-released more new kits than I can keep track of including:

Hacchoro, Edo period 8-oared fishing boat revised kit

Yatakabune, Edo period pleasure boat revised kit, now with interior lighting! (Note the boatman figure is no longer included)

Cutty Sark, 1/100 scale revised kit

Hobikisen Edo period fishing boat mini-kit

Utasebune Edo period fishing boat mini-kit

OcCre Models:

English Ship Revenge, new kit just arrived from Spain

Shipyard Paper Models:

HMS Wolf, 1752, new 1/72-scale laser cardboard version now available

Amati Model:

English Galleon Revenge kit designed by Chris Watton – well, it was expected, but hasn’t appeared yet.


There are more than likely many new kit releases I’ve missed here, but this is a pretty good example of the work that the ship model kit manufacturers have been putting in.

I think next year promises to see some good stuff too, starting with Syren Ship Model Company‘s planned release of plans and parts for the English Cutter Cheerful, 1806, designed especially for the first time scratch builder. We should also, hopefully, see Amati’s Revenge kit. Plus, I know Woody Joe has a few things in the works, and I hope to see some of those released.

Of course, many of us have at least a small stockpile of kits or projects that are waiting for us. Still, it’s always fun when new stuff comes out. So, I say, let’s get to work finishing those in-progress projects, there’s a lot more great stuff coming!

Happy Holidays!


Amati “Arrow” American Gunboat kit

Ages of Sail

Looking for a nice ship model that’s not too big, not too difficult, but gives you a taste of planking, cannons, rigging and sails? Consider this model of a War of 1812 galley gunboat. Amati’s offering is historically significant, technically accurate, and includes nice quality wood and fittings.

A drawing of this design appears in the book History of the American Sailing Navy, by naval architect and historian Howard I Chapelle. This model appears to be true to these drawings, down to it’s forward mounted cannon and stern mounted carronade, so this appears to be a very accurate representation of a galley gunboat whose design shows a mediterranean influence.

The frames and other wooden parts in this kit are laser cut. There is no balsa, basswood or limewood in this kit. All strips for planking the hull and deck are of nice quality walnut and beech. The hull is double-planked, allowing the…

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First Ship Modelers’ Meet-Up of the New Year

Well, it looks like it’s official. The next online forum ship modelers’ meet-up is schedule for January 3rd at 10 am. The location is again at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. This must be about the group’s 5th get together and it is a growing bunch. The group is still small, but last month was our biggest meeting to date. I think we had some 8 people in attendance, two of whom were first timers there.

Maybe it helped that it was the birthday of one of our members and someone brought a cake. No birthdays this time, but we’ll likely have our usual fare of coffee and bagels. Plus, there are always lots of models at these meetings. In fact, the ratio of models to attendees is the highest I’ve seen in the whole San Francisco Bay Area since I moved up here back in 1999.


What’s a ship model meeting without ship models? Mamoli Royal Louis is in the background and Corel’s Wappen von Hamburg in the foreground.

There are kit models, scratch models and kit bashed models alike brought to our meetings.


New ship modeler Dave Wingate showing his progress on scratch building a lightning-class sail boat.

In addition to the models, there is always a lot of great discussion about the models and about ship model related topics. Plus good company with good people.

If you’re interested in joining us, post a comment with your contact information. Ω


Building Woody Joe’s Iwakuni Castle – An Initial Report

Woody Joe may be the only wood ship model kit company in Japan, but their product line extends beyond the maritime realm. I posted an out-of-the-box kit review of their Iwakuni Castle kit some months ago. Since this is a model I’m building for someone’s birthday in February, I had started the kit early, just in case. It’s a good thing too.

Woody Joe’s website indicates approximately 30 hours to build this kit. Well, I think I’ve finally figured out that these are relative values and can’t really be used to determine how much actual time it will take any individual to build. For this model, it’s 30 hours, for another like Matsue Castle, it’s 60 hours. Well, as a guide as to which to buy, maybe it’s best to just figure the Iwakuni Castle model should take half the time that the Matsue Castle takes to build.

As I’ve discovered. The castle model itself is pretty neat and it’s a relatively quick build so far. By far the most difficult part of the build I’ve seen is the base. I don’t mean the nice molded framing and all, but the stonework that the castles all sit atop.

Castle Rocks

To begin with, you build up a structural base and then you cover it with a stonework mosaic facade. The framework for the base itself is easy. Once it goes together it is covered with a very thin plywood onto which the stonework pieces are glued.

The stonework is actually wood that is very old and weathered so that it takes on a stony appearance. The wood comes in these short rectangular strips, 5mm x 30mm. To get the stone effect, you have to cut these up into odd stony shapes.


The trick is that you need to then glue these on and you then end up with gaps between the stones. To minimize the gaps, you have to choose the stone pieces that fit best, or you can cut smaller pieces to fill gaps. Or, if you keep your stones mostly square, you just glue them on and don’t worry too much about the gaps.

As it turns out, I think I’ve been trying too hard to keep the stone bases from looking like brick work. If you look at the real castles, the sometimes do like a bit like brickwork, on a very large scale. I looked at some photos on the Internet of various famous castles and now I’m pretty sure I’m over doing things.


But it’s okay. I think that whatever you end up doing, the stone work looks like stone work. Once you have the castle sitting atop, it pretty well draws the eye away from the stone work and to the castle itself. So, I’m continuing work and progressing slowly, but it’s starting to come together and I actually finished one wall of the base!


I don’t want to change my construction style now. But next time I build a castle, and I can tell you now that there WILL be a next time, I will look closely at the photos on the Internet and try to mimic the actual stonework better. I think construction will actually prove to be easier. Ω