Monthly Archives: July 2022

Exchange Rates: Great Time to Buy Kits from Japan

If inflation and econimics have been getting to you, there’s one positive aspect of it all right now if you’re in the U.S. and have any interest at all in Woody Joe kits, or any other Japanese products for that matter: The exchange rate of the dollar vs. the yen is the highest it’s been in 20 years.

Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen

Just last year, the exchange rate was ¥105 to the dollar. As of today, July 30, 2022, the exchange rate is ¥133 to the dollar. That’s like getting close to 27% off on your orders from Japan. This makes it a great time to buy the Woody Joe kit you’ve been thinking about.

For example, Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, illustrated above, sells for ¥28,000 on (actually a little less after the online shop’s standard discount). Last year, the price was about $267. Right now, it’s about $210. Of course, shipping costs are high, so that’s an important consideration, but the exchange rate should help to make up for that.

If you buy from Japan, you should shop from whatever vendor you’re most comfortable with, but as always, I highly recommend the Zootoyz web shop, as service is excellent, shipping is quick, and the owner is a great guy: This is a great source for Woody Joe kits

Tosa Wasen kit from Thermal Studio

Of course, Woody Joe kits aren’t the only products you might want to be buying from Japan, but they are what I know. Also, among my past projects is an excellent kit from Thermal Studio in Japan, a 1/10 scale model of a traditional Japanese boat. It lists for ¥17,600 or about $133. You can see my post about purchasing the kit from 2016 here:

Hope this works out to be an opportunity for some of you readers to try out one of these kits. Feel free to leave a reply here if you end up getting one of these kits or have any questions. Ω


Building The Armed Virginia Sloop Paper Model – Part 1

The Armed Virginia Sloop is a rather popular subject that seems to have begun with a book written by Dr. Clayton Feldman for the scratch building of an Armed Virginia Sloop of 1768 that was published by Phoenix Books back in 1991. Up until then, I knew the type of ship as a Bermuda Sloop. But, sometime after Dr. Feldman’s work was published, Model Shipways released a kit of an Armed Virginia Sloop, then Bob Hunt’s Lauck Street Shipyard company had their model too. So now, there’s a kit available in paper from the relatively new Polish paper model company, Seahorse.

This it a 1/100 scale paper model kit, and at this scale, it makes for a pretty small model – only about 15.4″ long, including the very long bowsprit. The kit is very inexpensive. But, to make construction easier, the company also makes accessories for it, including a sail set, laser-cut parts set, and cannon carriage set (laser-cut).

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Shipyard’s Santa Leocadia paper model Re-Release

\Recently, Shipyard, the line of ship model kits from Poland, announced the re-release of their 1/96-scale paper model kit of the Spanish frigate Santa Leocadia, 1777. The ship is a fifth-rate 34-gun warship that was built at the Ferrol shipyards.

Image from Shipyard’s website.

The completed model is 27.5″ long and 21.2″ high, and the re-release almost coincides with the release of their new detail sets that includes one for the Santa Leocadia kit (See my earlier post).

The kit is not yet available through their US distributor Ages of Sail, but it can still be purchased directly from their online shop, along with the detail set, and various other accessory sets, which include a sails set, masting set, and blocks set (blocks, hearts, and deadeyes).

Building HMS Wolf – Shipyard’s 1/72 Scale Laser-Cut Card Kit – Part 1

While I don’t need to start any new projects, as I’ve got a enough irons in the fire, as it were, I started feeling that I need to generate some personal ship modeling momentum. I have had Shipyard’s laser-cut Papegojan kit that I was given about a year ago, but another model in one of my ship model clubs is currently building one, and I don’t want to complete with his.

What I’ve really been interested in trying out is Shipyard’s laser-cut HMS Wolf kit, a 1/72-scale model of an 18th century snow-rigged brig of war. But there are really 3 different kits that I’d like to kind of “test out”. But, one of these is a bit involved to merely test out, and that’s Shipyard’s 1/72 scale HMS Wolf kit.

Marketing photo of HMS Wolf from Shipyard’s website.

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New Shipyard Detail Sets

I just saw that Shipyard (Vessel Company) announced the release of three new details sets for their 1/96 scale frigate paper model kits, HMS Mercury, HMS Enterprise, and their newly re-released Santa Leocadia. These detail sets consist of multiple sheets of laser-cut parts, and are designed to enhance these kits and make them easier to build.

HMS Mercury Detail Set

As you can see, you get a lot of parts with these sets, and they’re all pre-cut for you. This is a big time saver, and you don’t even have to laminate paper together to get the parts to the right thickness, eliminating another step in the construction process.

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Shipmodeler Ed Von der Porten Mention

About a week ago, I ran across an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the Manila galleons. It war of particular interest because the article by Carl Nolte mentions ship modeler and friend, the late Ed Von der Porten. The article included a nice photo of Ed displaying his then-under-construction model of the San Juan, a Basque whale ship, which is very similar to the Manila galleons. You can read the full content of the SF Chronicle article here.

The exact whereabouts of the now completed model are presently unknown to me, or the other members of the South Bay Model Shipwrights club, but it was last known to be on display at the  Sonoma County Museum. I’m hoping it’s still there, so I can see it again.

I did manage to get a nice photo of the model as it was displayed. The photo was taken by Ken Lum, who is currently the  vice-president of the South Bay Model Shipwrights club.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lum.

I dug around further and found a couple photos of my own of Ed and his San Juan model, including a nice close-up I took at one of the club South Bay Club Meetings.

We lost Ed in 2018, but he and his work are not forgotten, so it was nice to see the mention of him in the SF Chronicle article. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing to some follow-up work to see if I can locate his San Juan model. Ω


Ogura Pond Boat (巨椋池舟) in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

Finally writing up some major progress on the Ogura pond boat model.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

I’m playing a little “catch up” on my blog regarding the Oguraike boat. As a reminder, this is a boat used for fishing and sightseeing in Kyōto, which was the former capital of Japan, prior to the Edo period. The boats were used until the pond was drained in the 1930s as part of a reclaimation project. My model is a 1/10-scale reproduction, based on the research of Mr. Tomohiko Ogawa, an artist and boatbuilder living in Kyōto.

Again, I don’t know the term for the bottom connecting plank, but with it now in place, I went ahead and added these mortises. On the actual boat, nails are driven into the side, to fasten the plank to the shiki, or bottom board. Nails are also driven up through the bottom edge, to fasten the plank to the hull plank. On the real boat, it would make more sense for this…

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UV Light to Spot Glue Smears

Here’s something that I’ve found really useful that was posted on ModelShipWorld recently by a ship modeler that goes by the screen name “bridgman”. But, as he pointed out, the original tip was published in the May/April 2022 edition of Fine Woodworking magazine.

Turns out that you can easily spot smudges of wood glue, such as Titebond, by using an inexpensive UV flashlight. I happened to get a little UV penlight flashlight in a UV cure glue set I bought off of Amazon earlier in the year for around $20, so I tried it out on Titebond and Elmer’s yellow carpenter’s glue, and it works, sure enough!

As an illustration, I looked one of my Japanese boat models. Now, there is a suspicious spot on the side of the hull, visible in normal light. It’s actually not that noticeable. But what if I went to apply a wood finish? If there’s glue there at that spot, it’s going to block any finish from penetrating into the wood.

Now, under UV light, the glue shows up very clearly. But, also notice where I placed the red arrow, that there’s another small spot that I didn’t notice before, and is pretty much invisible in normal lighting.

So, it turns out this little UV flashlight that just uses a pair of AAA batteries is going to get a lot more use than curing glue. It even has an adjustable focus beam.

I can’t say I won’t have any more glue spots on my model. But, at least I have a fighting chance to get rid of them all now! Ω

Shipyard Paper Models in Japan

In a recent newsletter put out by the Japanese ship model club The Rope Toko, I spotted a little blurb about some paper models in a display of models by another small ship model club. I may have this completely wrong, but it appears that there is a club called simply My Ship Club, also in Tokyo. They had a display of their works very recently, and there were some photos I spotted and a description of paper models, which I’d never seen before in the Japanese ship model clubs. So, I did some digging around and I found the club’s website. Of course, it’s all in Japanese, but Google Translate comes in very handy here.

1/96 and 1/72 scale build’s of Shipyard’s HMS Wolf kit by Mr. Kaoru Miura.

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