Category Archives: All News

New Kits All Around – OcCre Polaris, Model Shipway’s Dory, Plus Vanguard Models at Ages of Sail

While the Corona virus continues on, the world is on fire, and I sit in the midst of a new city curfew… But, on the up side, there’s a lot of good news on the ship modeling scene.

European manufacturers have re-opened and shipments of kit and fittings have begun again, so the big online shops are able to restock. The main problem for them is the limited number of flights now, which is limiting shipments and making it extremely expensive. So, don’t be surprised if some prices creep upwards a little.

But, just as important are some nice new kit releases and new product line availability.


OcCre Polaris

The first new news is a new wooden ship model kit from OcCre Model of Spain, the Polaris.

Now, may of you who have been building ship models for a while may recognize that this kit appears to be OcCre’s answer to Artesania Latina’s Virginia Pilot Boat Swift. And, with the stocks of AL kits slowly diminishing, this seems to be a good release, filling the important niche of the popular beginning kit.

Making the kit an even better fit for beginners are the illustrated, step-by-step instructions. Plus, OcCre has produced a 84-part series of short videos, showing every step of construction.

Now, I think the kit is already ideal for beginning ship modelers, but this mini video series pretty well seals the deal.  If only they’d added a nice soundtrack…

In any case, you can order yours at an introductory price of $99 at Ages of Sail here:


New Grand Banks Dory from Model Shipways

It’s always nice to see Model Shipways release some new products, and the Lowell Grand Bands Dory is a great subject. With the demise of Midwest wooden boat kits, there’s a big hole in the market for well documented, simple kits with good, english language instructions, and this appears to be just that.

This kit was designed by the very talented ship modeler David Antscherl, who authored the very popular and detail series of books on the Swan Class Sloops, as well as one on the Fireship Comet, the Greenwich Hospital Barge, and others.

This 1/24 scale kit measures 10″ long and comes in at the ideal beginner’s price point of around $35. It features laser-cut basswood parts, and is described as the first in a series of progressive model tutorials.

I’ve exchanged emails with Mr. Antscherl as soon as I spotted the kit bearing his credentials, and we can expect to see a couple more subjects in the very near future.

In the meantime, they were on sale, and I had a coupon(!), so I ordered one for myself. I think the folks at the ship model club will love to see this one. That is, once we can start meeting again…

Check it out here:


Vanguard Models at Ages of Sail

Good news for those who want to find a US seller of kits from the very talented Chris Watton, who gave us Caldercraft’s Nelson’s Navy and Amati’s Victory Models lines of kits. I was surprised to find out that he and the owner of Ages of Sail have been in talks, and the first shipment of Vanguard Models products are on their way to the Ages of Sail shop as you read this.

Vanguard Models, the new venture run by Chris Watton himself, has already released four kits now. One of the most recent is a type of Scottish fishing boat called a Zulu. I’d never seen one before, but it’s a beautiful looking boat. Either that, or it’s such a beautiful looking model kit that it makes me think it’s a beautiful boat.

All the kits from Vanguard Models are 1/64 scale, at least for now, and they look to be very nicely design using innovative engineering and quality parts. Also, the instruction look to be very nicely illustrated with accompanying text in english.

Expect to see the four kits listed soon at  Ages of Sail. Ω





Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 6 (Final)

The Himi Tenma model is complete. Here’s the final post on the construction of the model.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

One of the features of this model is something that appears on many Japanese wooden boats, and dealing with it has been on my mind since this project began. I’m talking about the mooring bits, called the kanzashi. On this boat, they are tapered square posts with a faceted knob at the end.

On the real boat, these were made of honiki, but for a 1/10 scale model, I decided to use a harder wood that I have on hand, some Castello boxwood, which I use in ship modeling all the time, as there is no grain, has a nice tan color, and carves beautifully.

As it turned out, these were pretty easy to make. So much so that I made a pair and decided they were too short and quickly made another pair.

These were large enough that, rather than trying to carve a post to fix them…

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 5

With the stay-at-home situation continuing here in the Bay Area, I’m finding it a bit difficult to stay motivated on some ship modeling work. But, given that this one is a commissioned project, and it’s simple in the greater scope of ship modeling, I’m driven to move forward with it.

This model is nearing completion and sometimes feels like it’s the only thing that is. I’ll be on its way to its new home soon, and I’ll turn my attention to the finishing up of one of my other projects that’s close to completion.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Since we’re still under the stay-at-home order and I have time, I’m plowing ahead with the Himi Tenma. I did manage to get some measurements from Douglas Brooks, but mostly, to verify that my beams are fairly close. Not all exactly like the boat built last Fall, but close enough for this project.

With the beams, or funabari, in place, I went ahead and added the decks at the bow and stern. I don’t recall off hand what the term is for the stern deck, but the bow deck is called the kappa. I fit both decks by first making a templates that I cut to fit as best I could in place of the planks.

I cut three planks to make up each of the decks. For the stern deck, I installed a simple strip of wood onto the transom, or todate, to serve as a shelf…

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 4

Ran into a snag during the build with the bending of the hull planks. Managed to work something out and move on. This bumps up my completion timetable, and I’m hoping to have the is pretty much wrapped up in 10 days or so.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

I started working on planking the hull of the Himi Tenma shortly after my last post. The first thing to do was to cut a cardboard template to the approximate shape of the hull plank.

This was done by taping a piece of cardboard into place on the model. The bottom edge was traced with a pencil onto the cardboard. The shape at the bow was approximated, and the stern end was cut off a little bit long. The top edge was derived by marking the top edge at the ends of the model. I then used a thin wood batten to create a fair curve and traced that shape onto the cardboard template. The template really does not need to be very accurate. It just has to be big enough to work, and a bit oversized is best.

The template can now be used to help select the wood. I…

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 3

This project is moving quickly during the COVID-19 crisis. Hoping to have it complete and delivered to its new owner by the end of May.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

I’m making decent progress on the Himi Tenmasen model and am now working on the kanjiki planks. These are the bottom planks located either side of the heavy, central bottom plank, called the chyou. As I mentioned before, my model will have two kanjiki planks on each side, much like in the tenma drawings, though the boat built last fall actually only used one plank per side. But, this way allows me more efficient use of my wood supply, and if I screw up a plank, I lose less wood. And, while it means more mortises to cut, it also means there is more detail on the model.

Measurements of mortises given are at full size.

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European Ship Model Manufacturers Re-Opening

Good news for us ship modelers during this COVID-19 crisis. It seems that all the European manufacturers are opening up their businesses. This means that your favorite hobby dealers will soon be able to restock the kits they’ve been running out of.

This mostly affects Italian manufacturers Mantua/Panart, Corel, and Amati, and Spanish manufacturers Constructo and OcCre.

HMS Beagle And HMS Terror are two of the more popular kits from OcCre Models of Spain that have been unavailable in the U.S.

So, if you’re looking for a specific kit that’s been out of stock, keep watching the websites of your favorite sellers, or check with them to find out when they expect to be restocked.

Building Woody Joe’s 1/72-scale Kitamaebune Kit – Part 11

Though no decision has yet been made regarding the making of the sails, the kitamaebune project, based on the 1/72-scale Woody Joe kit, is well into the rigging stage.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Sailmaking is at somewhat of a standstill, as I’m experimenting with different techniques for representing the large sails of the kitamaebune in 1/72 scale. There are number of possible things I can try,, including simply stitching the seams as one might do for a western ship’s sails, but I’m still hoping I can show some of the characteristics of the Japanese sails.This is something of a long term process, so in the meantime, I decided to move ahead with some of the other model details.

One of my sail making attempts still being tested and considered.

It had occurred to me that might make the most sense to go ahead and build the various components of the main stay. It took me a while to figure out this is called the Hazuo in Japanese.

Dealing with the stay, or hazuo, requires making/rigging four different parts. Here’s the section of the…

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“Fune” Build by Alexandru Gurau

Some notes on the rediscovery of a build of a Japanese coastal transport based on Paris drawings.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Years ago, ship modeler Alexandru Gurau of Canada had been building a model of a bezaisen, an Edo period coastal transport, based on drawings recorded by French lieutenant Armand Paris, and recorded in the book Souvenirs de Marine.

I was particularly impressed by Mr. Gurau’s work, as the information contained in the Paris drawings are a bit difficult to follow on their own. My own experience with the building a model from Paris drawings resulted in my own Kobaya project. In that particular case, I had discovered that the drawings may have been somewhat incomplete as they were based on vessels that were no longer in use and seemed to be missing features. I believe that problem was unique to that particular vessel, and the other Japanese boats recorded in the book appear complete. Still, not always easy to decipher all the information needed. Not to mention that the…

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Building a Himi Tenma in 1/10 Scale – Part 1

Beginning the second model related to Douglas Brooks’s 2019 research trip to Japan. This is a 1/10 scale model of a small workboat called a Tenma or Tenmasen. The term is a very common one for workboats. This particular design comes from Himi, in western Toyama prefecture.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

You might recall that In the Fall of 2019, boat builder Douglas Brooks had developed a project together with Nina Noah of an organization called The Apprenticeshop, to go to Japan and build two traditional Japanese boats with two different Japanese boat builders.

I wrote about modeling the first of the two boats, the Niigata Honryousen, which he had built with Mr. Nakaichi Nakagawa and Nina Noah. But, it’s the second of the two boats that was the main subject of the project. The second boat was the Himi Tenmasen.

Photo by Ben Meader

The Himi Tenmasen, or Himi Tenma, was built by Douglas Brooks and Nina Noah, under the guidance of Mr. Mitsuaki Bansho, a Japanese boatbuilder who was the only one of five brothers to follow in his father’s trade, who was also a boatbuilder. After his father’s passing, Bansho-san primarily built fiberglass boats…

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Building the DNB Maru – A Niigata Honryousen – Final

Finished up this 1/10-scale model of a small riverboat from Niigata prefecture, Japan. The model is on it’s way to its new owner, who was a donor for Douglas Brooks’s project to build a full-sized version of this and one other boat.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

The Honryousen model is done and been sent to its new owner in Washington state.

The blocks at the ends of the hull turned out to be somewhat challenging to make due to a combination of the way they fit notches cut into the hull planks, plus the angle of the tateita, or the bow and stern planks. Also, the blocks have a peak in the center that look best if they are roughly level with the waterline. That’s not always the case in these types of boats as I’ve seen in photos.

The small deck at the stern wasn’t too much of a problem. I began by making a funabari, or beam, which I notched into the hull planking. As there are no fasteners used, the shallow notch I cut was helpful in holding the beam in place. The inward pressure of the hull planks also help to hold…

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