It was just about a month ago that I found myself in the middle of ship modeling withdrawals, as I had to take a break due to a family emergency. As I mentioned in recent posts, a Shipyard paper model kit got me through most of it. But, one thing that helped was splurging a little and making another ship modeling purchase. So, it was the purchase of a “Part Kit” from OcCre of Spain that filled that need.
Now, I don’t really need another ship model kit. I have a stack of projects, some underway, and many un-started kits in my closet stash – I’m sure every ship modeler who reads this is familiar and has his or her own. But, I’m always looking for good blogging materials – interesting stuff to write about. Anyway, that’s my excuse, or one of many excuses I use in justifying kit purchases. That one will work for now.
Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of smaller models and shorter-term projects for a while, and I’ve been itching to do something bigger for myself. I have inherited a couple bigger, partially started kits, but I’ve been really curious lately about these Part Kits that have been put out by De Agostini and OcCre and others.
I looked at De Agostini builds first, and have been particularly taken, not by a sailing ship kit, but by the bit WWII Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi. A pretty neat looking kit, but noticed that the part build version is currently unavailable. In fact, the majority of their part build kits are marked out of stock with only the full kits available. This may be the result of shipping issues created by the COVID crisis, or it may be for some other reason. But, the short of it is that the part builds are mostly unavailable there. Anyway, the one issue with these is that these lock you into a regularl subscription, and I could imagine getting behind after a few months with stacks of shipments piled up in a corner of the workshop. Also, the cost of these kits will add up to around $1300, not including shipping.
Then, I looked at the Spanish wooden kit manufacturer OcCre. This is one of the few ship model manufacturers that actually offers a kit available in multiple parts, which they call “Packs”. They only have four kits available in Packs, all are large kits of Spanish warships: the first-rate ship of the line Santisima Trinidad; the 50-gun frigate N.S. del Pilar; the 74-gun third-rate ship of the line San Ildefonso; and the 74-gun ship of the line Montañes.
Now, for some reason, I’ve developed an interest in 18th century Spanish warships. I even have the framework started for the Spanish 34-gun frigate Santa Leocadia. But, it’s a card model and I got it primarily because it was a very unique and limited edition product and I really just wanted to check it out (though I may attempt to make it into a full-on model project someday). But, Spanish warships have a certain elegance that is highlighted by their names. I love the way their ship names are so tied to the Christian church, not that I’m religious. They just sound wonderful: Nuestra Seniora de las Mercedes, or Our Lady of the Mercies. Who names a warship like that?
Choosing the Montañes
Well, I decided that I want to build one of these part kits from OcCre, so I looked carefully at features and decided on the 74-gun, third rate ship of the line, Montañes. What happened to the cool names? Well, the ships I seemed to like the best were the 74s, and the only other one was the San Ildefonso. Not much fancier that the Montañes, but I liked the look of the completed model just a little more than the San Ildefonso, so I ordered it.
By the way, the Montañes was one of the Spanish ships that fought the British at Trafalgar. She was one of the few Spanish ships that escaped British capture. According to one Wikipedia entry, she went on to recapture the ships Santa Ana and Neptuno from the British after the battle. However, a read another entry about that particular event in which the ships involved were listed, and I did not see the Montañes mentioned.
But, I have since found that there is some interest in the ship, as she was the lead ship of her class, which was apparently the last class of 74’s and 80’s built by Spain, and her construction was based on the successful design of the Ildefonso, which is the subject of another of the OcCre part kits. There is a nice website post about the ship in Spanish here: https://www.todoababor.es/historia/como-es-por-dentro-un-navio-de-linea-de-74-canones-el-montanes/. That site has some nice drawings and information about the ship.
Also, I discovered a very nice build of this same kit on Model Ship World, though the builder did a lot of scratch detailing that I don’t think I want to get into on this project. This kind of extra detailing always results in projects that I never finish. But, I am considering using different wood types, and modifying the cannons a bit. Maybe, I’ll even consider “upgrading” the decorative work, but I’m trying not to think about that now. The only thing I am pretty certain I want to do is to give the decks a little camber. The decks on these OcCre kits look dead flat, which they certainly wouldn’t have been. I have some thoughts on fixing that, which I will probably try. Anyway, you can find that Model Ship World build here: https://modelshipworld.com/topic/82-montanes-by-garward-occre/.
Puchasing the Montañes Pack 1
Navigating OcCre’s online shop is easy enough. The shop can be accessed in English or most any other major European language. I found the Montañes packs, there are six in all, and they are priced at €89.95 except for the first pack, which is €49.95. Those prices include the Europeat VAT tax, so actual cost to purchase from the US is less. So, I bought the first pack. It’s priced lower than the other packs, but is much heavier, so the shipping is more expensive. All together, it cost about $93. Future packs are more expensive, but lighter and look to cost about $110 each. All together the model should cost about $650. That’s really not that bad considering the full kit would cost about $500 for the full kit, shipped.
Nicest part of getting the part packs is that when the times comes that I’ve gotten as far as I can with the model, I can then move on to the next pack for a little over $100. A model of this type and size will take a while to complete, so that $100 will certainly keep me busy for quite a while.
Shipping from OcCre to the US is via FedEx, and is very quick. I placed the order on October 12th and I received the package a mere 7 days later.
Montañes Pack 1
I happened to be out of town for all of October, so I didn’t get to see the first pack of my new Montañes kit until I got home – a simple, plain brown cardboard box. And, for all of you who are considering starting one of OcCre’s part kits, here’s a photo pre-view of what you’re going to get.
The instructions look very nice. As you can see in the first few photos, there are two booklets. One is a full-color, photographic guide, taking you through the major construction steps in the first half, and containing rigging plans and drawings of all the laser-cut parts sheets. The other booklet contains the text of the assembly instructions that describes what’s going on in each of the photos of the first booklet. It’s a large booklet, as the instructions are repeated in Spanish, English, French, Italian, and German. It works out to about 5 pages of instruction in each language. Also contained in this book is the parts list, so you can easily identify how many of each part you’re supposed to have.
If you really want to get a good look at these instructions, rather than post photos of a random bunch of pages, you can download the instructions right off the OcCre website (the instructions are actually stored on Google Drive), or just click HERE.
First thing I did after I opened up the box, was to go through and identify all the laser-cut sheets against the drawings in the instruction booklet. The laser-cut sheets and their parts have no identifying numbers on them anywhere. This you must do yourself. So, I went through and scribbled the sheet number on each sheet, and checked them off in the instructions.
The process is important, as I found out, when I checked off two of sheet 15000-1 and no sheet 15000-2! Yes, first thing I found was that I was missing half the keel. The first actual construction step could not even be started, as I had been given the wrong sheet!
Well, strike one for the OcCre part kits. Very disappointed with the pack. But, also, rather surprised since these sheets were sealed in a shrink-wrapped bundle inside the box. Well, I guess these things can happen at any point. Hopefully, it’s not a sign of things to come. But, on the plus side, this will give me an opportunity to test OcCre’s customer service. And, I’m sure anyone reading this would prefer that I go through the process and report on it, rather than have to learn about it first-hand.
Now, OcCre has a nice link right in the main menu for parts requests, so it’s easy to find and fill out the form.
Note the text at the bottom of that last page, which points out that parts are sent by postal mail. Now, the pack was sent by FedEx and only took 7 days to get. I have no idea how long postal mail will take, particularly given the impact that COVID has had on everything. Still, I’ll remain optimistic. Besides, I have so many projects to work on that a delay here doesn’t really mean much. Plus, like I said before, it does give me a chance to share what I learn about their customer service. I’ve heard it’s very good, so we’ll see.
Actually, it’s not like I can’t do anything with this part kit. The application of the deck planking is done off the model. That is, the decks are planked first before they are installed, and there are two large decks to plank. I also need to go through and number all the parts on the sheets that I did get. So, I really do have quite a bit of work I can do. But, this is a report on the experience of buying the OcCre part kits. Check back for a follow-up report on OcCre customer service! Ω