Building Woody Joe’s Iwakuni Castle – An In-Progress Report

I started building this kit back in December and worked on it off and on, figuring I’d get a jump on it so that it would be ready by the end of February when I planned to give it to someone as a birthday gift. Well, here it is mid-Febraury and I’m working on it a fair amount now and have put in a lot of hours on it already. I haven’t really been keeping track, but my guess is that I passed up that 30 hour build time estimate a good 30 hours ago.

The big effort was really putting all that stone facing on the base of the castle. Admittedly, I overdid it with cutting pieces to fit. Images of the real castle show that the stones are mostly squarish and there was no need for me to try to make any kind of wild variations in sizes or shapes. That probably more than doubled the amount of time it took for that stage. But, I’ll bet a simplified construction would still have taken close to 30 hours to finish the whole base anyway.

Building the basic structure after that has been pretty easy and lots of fun. The next hard part has been making the roofing. Initially, I’d forgotten that the kit includes a set of patterns to guide you through the cutting of the roof pieces. The trick is that the material simulates a tile roof that has a wave pattern across it, so that the roof is made up of parallel troughs that guide water down and off the roof. So, the wood material has a corrugated appearance on one side. This means that it matters when you glue pieces side-to-side, as a trough must be adjacent to a ridge. Two troughs or two ridges butted up against each other will stand out like a sore thumb.

To aid the builder, the top-down views are color-coded so that gray lines represent troughs and yellow lines represent ridges. The roofing patterns provided also show you edge-on views as a reminder. The pink areas are section that are discarded.Iwakuni Castle roof patterns

Note that the corders are generally squared off at the ends. This is because the corners of the roofs on these traditional Japanese structures flare upwards slightly. However, I still haven’t really figured out how the squared-off corners help that. I’ve just been following the instructions as best I can.

The model has a little ways to go yet. The basic structure is done and much of the roofing is done, but even once that is complete, there are details to add and clean-up to do. As you can see from this photo, I’ve painted the walls flat white and mixed gray paint for the roofing. Because the wood roofing materials is very light and porous, the water based acrylics I used soaked right into the wood and caused it to swell and raised the grain right away. Were I to do this again, I’d probably try to use a solvent based paint. Possibly Tamiya brand acrylics since they are alcohol based. Of course, that’s for another time.


I jump ahead a little bit and started preparing the grass material. There’s plenty provided in the kit – certainly enough to cover the whole base with if that’s your goal. The box art shows just a little bit of grass growing at the base of the stone walls, which makes sense and is probably the most realistic.

The grass itself comes in the form of small wood shavings. I wasn’t sure how well it would work to pre-paint this stuff green, but that was the task at hand. I used a 1 oz. paint mixing bottle and poured in a bit of Liquitex green and yellow acrylic paints, added a few drops of water, and poured in some of the wood. I used stick to stir up the mixture well. When it seemed thoroughly mixed, I dumped it all out on a piece of paper towel and let it dry. The results look pretty convincing, but we have yet to see it on the model.


Only a couple weeks left and I’m confident I’ll be able to finish the model up well before my deadline. I’ll post a final update when it’s all done. Ω




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