Monthly Archives: September 2015

Schooner Winston Churchill Kit Re-Release from Woody Joe

Just caught this today as I was doing my rounds on the Internet. Woody Joe has certainly kept busy. At this past weekend’s hobby show in Tokyo showed the prototype of a new kit they’re going to be releasing of a 1/144-scale WWII era I-400 IJN Submarine. Then, this morning, I discovered an announcement on their website of a revamped 1-75-scale kit of the 3-masted schooner Winston Churchill, just released 9/28/15.

I’ve only seen the original kit on the Internet. But from the looks of this new kit, I would say that they’ve not only improved construction of the kit, they’ve also improved scale detail as well.

I wasn’t particularly excited about the old kit. But, after seeing photos of the new kit, I’m impressed enough to want to get this kit. It’s 5000¥ more than the old kit, bringing it up to 30,000¥ (about $250), but the increase in price looks absolutely worth it.

Check it out here: Winston Churchill on Woody Joe Ω


Mini-Yakatabune kit by Woody Joe – The Finished Model

A little while back, I wrote a post about working on some projects while out of town (What Does a Ship Modeling Fool Do When Out of Town). One of those projects was the Mini-Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe of Japan. Well, I added some finishing touches and finished up the model recently. These were mostly little modifications to the kit, which I though added a little realism.

Keeping in mind the Mini-Yakatabune kit is designed to be easy to build, there are some small details that were left off in the design. Mostly, these are rigging lines that aren’t really necessary, but certainly add realism to the final model. In addition, to make construction easier, in place of very thin and fragile dowels, the kit provides brass rod.

Being used to working with very tiny, fragile parts, I replaced the brass rod with thin wooden dowels that I reduced down to size using a jeweler’s drawplate.


Drawplate from Byrnes Model Machines.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod. Small rope coil at bow.

I ended up with a long piece of dowel left over and so I just trimmed it to a reasonable length and used it to represent a bamboo pole used to help push the boat along shallow water and at the shore.

The rigging was a little trickier since it’s such a small model, but mostly, the issue is the delicate nature of the model. First off, I coiled up a tiny piece of line and laid it down at the bow. It’s pretty small, so it doesn’t look like much more than a blob. From building the larger Yakatabune model, I was aware of a line used for raising the rudder. As was pointed out to me by another ship modeler who built his kit before I built mine, there is a hole in the rudder, but the instructions show no reason for it. The line then tied at this hole and the ends of the line reach up and tie around the support beam above it.


Zoomed Image

Again from the larger Woody Joe kits I was aware that in early days, the two pieces of the oar, called a “Ro” in Japanese, had a piece of rope wrapped around the joint. That was a pretty easy addition. The tougher addition was a loop of line tied down to the deck, that went over the handle of the oar. This required me to fashion a loop in the end of a line inserted into a small hole that I drilled into the deck. The loop then slips over the handle that sticks up out of the oar. To reinforce the placing of the oar, I inserted a small piece of brass wire into the oar, which fits down into a small hole I drilled into the oar’s support beam.

Finally, I figured this tiny model is going to get knocked over on someone’s shelf, so I first glues some thin brass rods into the base and drill corresponding holes in the bottom of the model. This keeps the model removable from the base, but it sits securely on the base. I then decided to cut a thin sheet of cherry wood to mount the whole thing on.

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Version 2

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Somehow, I managed to lose the silhouette figure that’s supposed to stand at the oar handle, but the model looks pretty complete as is and I think it will be a very appreciated gift.

As I mentioned before, the basic model kit was essentially completed in a single day. Added details took me a little longer to complete. Overall, this was a really fun kit to build and I found the results to be really nice. I even went so far as to buy two more kits to make into gifts.

Those interested in building the kit, remember that the instructions are in Japanese only. The instructions are very well illustrated and the kit goes together very easily, so the language shouldn’t be an issue. Just remember that any wood that you need to bend needs to be dampened first. Also, there are a lot of very delicate laser-cut parts. Cut away through the tabs that hold the pieces in the sheets, but make sure to remove the knife blade from the sheet before trying to remove the wood from the sheet. Don’t skip steps. And, since these kits are only available from Japan, don’t expect to find/get replacement parts. So, be extra careful not to break or lose anything!

If you’re interested in buying a kit, and if you’ve read this far I really think you should, I recommend ordering from the online hobby dealer Prices are good, shipping is reasonable, and service is excellent. Ω

Midwest Boat Model Kits Discontinued

Just confirmed a suspicion this morning. Called Midwest Products and their boat model kits have been discontinued. These kits are not only nice wooden kits, but they have been the ideal starting point for ship modeling for many builders. Their quality of parts and detailed instructions have helped many of us step gently into wooden ship model building. They have also been an ideal recommendation for ship modelers to suggest to newcomers to the hobby.


I called Midwest because Ages of Sail has been unable to get the kits from the distributors, with no information as to why. Now we know. At the moment, there are no plans that I’m aware of for anyone to pick up the manufacturing of their kits, though I know there is some interest. Certainly, these kits remain popular with many people. In fact, the person I talked to in the sales department at Midwest commented “Do you know how many calls I’ve gotten about them???”



I talked to Roger, the owner of Ages of Sail, and his comment was “That’s not good…” I suspect he’s going to call the company president to find out who is picking up the product line. So, we’ll see if these kits don’t make a comeback in some form. They’re great kits and one of the few that are actually visible to the general public in hobby stores and chains, making them doubly valuable in this hobby.Ω

What Does a Ship Modeling Fool Do When Out of Town?

This past weekend, I was away in my old hometown, a place where I didn’t have a whole lot to do one day. Knowing this would probably be the case, I brought a couple easy to transport things to keep me occupied. Some people would just bring a book or watch TV. Me, I’m a ship modeling fool, so I brought a couple new ship model projects along. One was an unstarted paper model kit, a 1/96-scale model of the British frigate HMS Mercury, by Shipyard of Poland. The other was the Mini-Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe of Japan.

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While the HMS Mercury kit is a major project, I figured getting the framework together would give me something to show at an upcoming ship model meeting. Also, last year I had a paper model of the British cutter HMS Alert that I took with me to the Nautical Research Guild Conference. I was working at the Ages of Sail table in the Vendor Room and the partially completed model made for a good display of these kits. The next conference is coming up in another 6 weeks or so, and I’m working the Ages of Sail table again. I thought it might be good to take a different started kit. I considered taking the HMS Alert, with is much farther along, but I’ve put a lot of work into it and don’t want it to get damaged in the trip.



Bear in mind that this is the 1/96-scale Paper Model kit and not the 1/72-scale Laser Cardboard Series kit. It was fun to get a paper model started, especially since all the frames and sub-deck pieces all pre-cut. So, as far as I got, it was all just cut and slip parts together. I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on it. But then, this was actually project number two, which I didn’t work on until I was done working on project one.

The first project, Woody Joe’s Mini-Yakatabune kit, was something I received a couple months from the Japanese online dealer I’ve been working on the large Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe, so I was already familiar with the craft. While I’d been working on the larger model, I’ve been writing about it on Model Ship World. Meanwhile, a fellow ship modeler has been working the mini-kit. Since I had the unstarted kit on the shelf and was very impressed by the work that the other ship modeler had done on his model, I took the kit along with me. Woody Joe product listings suggest it’s an 8-hour build, so I put that to the test.





I came away from the weekend with everything on my list done, and also managed to pretty well finish up the Mini-Yakatabune. I’ll post more info on that kit later. But, I will say for now that I built it in a day – pretty close to the 8-hour suggested build time. I’ve built Woody Joe’s Hobikisen mini-kit and also have an unbuilt Utasebune mini-kit on the shelf too. But, from my experience, the Mini-Yakatabune is a great kit with lots to do and it looks really nice when it’s all done. It’s more expensive that the other mini-kits, but has a lot more laser cut parts than the other mini-kits. I highly recommend building it!

It’s such a neat model and the subject seems culturally significant, so I personally think the completed model will make a great gift. I’m going to give this one to my shamisen teacher and even went so far as to order a couple more of them to build for my former taiko teacher. With a list price of 5500 yen, about $46 at the time of this writing, building this kit as a gift shouldn’t break the bank account.

Well, this ship modeling fool is now back from the weekend. Surprisingly, I didn’t do much ship modeling today. But, the day’s not over yet! Ω

An Inside Look at Shipyard’s HMS Wolf Laser Cardboard Kit

Recently, Ages of Sail, the importer I’ve been doing some work for this past year, has gotten in a new shipment of card or paper model kits from Shipyard of Poland. The most recent significant addition is the boxed Laser Cardboard Series kit HMS Wolf, 1752, and I managed to take a look at the product and get some photos so you can get a better look at what’s included in this kit.

First off, HMS Wolf was a snow-rigged brig of war, meaning she carried two square-rigged masts, with an auxiliary mast attached to the back of the mainmast that carries the boom and gaff of the spanker sail. The ship was armed with 10 guns.


The Shipyard kit is produced in 1/72 scale and measures about 20.5″ long overall. As with all Laser Cardboard Series kits, the boxed kit has all card stock parts laser cut. Colorful hull decorations are nicely printed on high quality paper, but the bulk of the parts are on plain white card stock, so the model must be painted. For that, the manufacturer includes several jars of nice quality acrylic paint and a pair of brushes.


Parts are neatly stored, while all the instructions, drawings and laser-cut sheets are kept safely underneath.



Blocks are also the same laser-cut blocks that Shipyard sells separately. These are paper and have to be assembled and painted. The low-level relief carvings are laser etched card stock, and look pretty nice. And, of course, the heart of the kit are the several sheets of laser-cut parts. Having been working on a paper model kit where all the parts have to be cut by hand, the sight of these precisely cut and detailed parts just makes me drool.




But, not all paper modeling is necessarily done in paper. For one thing, wooden dowels are included for making the masts and spars, and a set of cloth sails are included as well, though as with individually available sail set for the their Paper Model series kits, these sails are pre-printed and laser cut, so no cutting or sewing is required. Another big time saver of these boxed edition kits are the pre-made brass cannon and swivel gun barrels, which are not only pre-made, saving time and effort, but they’re beautifully turned from brass.


One of the big features of the Laser Cardboard Series kits is that low-relief carvings are made from laser-etched card stock, the figurehead and some of the larger carvings are fully 3D rendered in cast resin. Other parts included in the kit are rigging line, wire for making eyebolts and chainplates and such, clear acrylic for the gallery windows, and colorfully printed cloth flags.



But, maybe the biggest thing that differentiates the boxed kit from its smaller Paper Model Series cousin (HMS Wolf is available as a 1/96-scale pre-printed card model kit where you have to cut all the parts out yourself) is the full-color, 32-page, photo-filled instruction book. This is in addition to the 7 double-sided sheets of drawings.




The new HMS Wolf kit joins the ranks of Shipyard’s boxed kits, which includes the cutter HMS Alert, Schooner Berbice, French lugger Le Coureur, the Santa Maria, the Dutch built Swedish pinnace Papegojan, and the frigate HMS Mercury. Though about less 40% smaller than the HMS Mercury, HMS Wolf is the second largest of the Shipyard kits. It’s less complicated rig and much lower price point than HMS Mercury should make it a popular kit. Having dabbled in card modeling myself, I can say that this kit is on my definite build list. Ω

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

With other projects requiring completion, I haven’t had much time to work on this model. But, I did finish some of the deck furniture and I also managed to get the gun carriages together.








I’ve played around with rolling the cannon barrels from the paper patterns included in the kit, but having been ship modeling for so long, I’m having a hard time bringing myself to using them since I don’t think my barrels are looking very good. Certainly, there are experienced paper modelers that can do an amazing job on them. I’m not one of them.

So, I’ve been exploring alternatives. I could try turning my own, but I managed to find some cannon barrels that look good and seem to be a pretty good scale fit. The barrels are actually 1/4″ scale swivel gun barrels sold by Syren Ship Model Company. I had some on hand for another project and set one onto one of my gun carriages and it makes for a pretty good fit! The barrels aren’t cheap at $11.50 for a pack of 4 and I need a total of 12, so that’s close to $40 after shipping. Still, they look very nice, they’re the right scale, and I won’t have to then make them!

Now for the Alert’s swivel guns, there is nothing I could find that’s commercially available and small enough for the job. So, I may just ignore the swivels on this model. Otherwise, I could try to turn some, but they’ll be so small, I’ll probably end up ignoring a lot of the finer details. Anyway, the barrels will end up blackened and they’re small enough that details won’t be that noticeable.


A Syren Ship Model Company 1/48-scale swivel gun barrel filling in for my 1/96-scale 6pdr gun – A good fit on the carriages I made.

Now, since I was working on some kit details anyway, I started looking at the sails, masting and rigging. I purchased the set of sails sold by Shipyard. They are nicely laser cut and printed on one side, but only on one side.


Now, if I were going to sew them, the lines would be perfect guides. But, since I’m not planning on sewing, there’s a problem of having no detail on the back side of the sails. There are two ways to fix this as I look at them. The first is to trace the lines onto the opposite side of the sail, so the backs aren’t so empty looking. The second is to make new sails, probably from paper or silkspan. But, at this point, since I already have the sails, I’ll try tracing the lines onto the back and see how that turns out.

The last item on my list are the blocks. I made the boom, gaff, masts, bowsprit, and I’m close to the point where I’m going to have to start rigging blocks onto them. I worked out the sizes I basically need and they’re 2mm through 3.5mm. Actually, the block patterns included in the kit are 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.5mm, and I purchased the Alert’s blocks set from Shipyard too.


This is what you get in a 3mm single sheave block package from Shipyard. These are enough parts for 40 blocks.

The question on whether to use these or wooden ones all comes down to how nicely I can make them look. Syren Ship Model Company sells some beautiful pear wood blocks available in 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm sizes. Problem I have with them is that they don’t have 3.5mm blocks, and I find the visual jump from 3mm to 4mm too significant on a small scale model.

i actually had a problem rigging the cannons on my colonial schooner model because I was using Syren’s pear wood blocks and the 3mm size was too small for the guns and 4mm was way too big. What I did there was to use another company’s 3.5mm blocks in that one place. But, for this model, I’m going to see if I can make the paper blocks work.

I spent some time last weekend making the needed blocks, gluing them, trimming them apart, painting them, etc. Though they’re designed with the proper sheave holes, I’m going to drill them out to make it easy to rig them. That will be the test as to whether they’re sturdy enough for me to work with.


Separating the assembled and painted blocks.


The final blocks ready to drill out and test.

I now have enough of all sizes for the model. I really should have 2mm blocks as well, but that’s awfully small to make, I’d have to order more from Poland, and the smallest that the kit instructions call for is 2.5mm. So, I suppose I can live with that. Anyway, I’ll see how well the drilling out of the blocks goes and we’ll find out if I end up using these or switching to wooden ones.