Category Archives: All News

Become an HSPMS Member, Build Models, and Help Our National Park

If you live the San Francisco Bay Area, here’s an opportunity to build ship models as a National Park Service volunteer – Join the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights.

Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights

Do you like building models? Are you interested in old sailing ships? Do you like talking with the public? Would you like to help our National Park Service? Then join the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights at our workshop aboard the ferryboat Eureka and become a National Park Service volunteer!

Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights is a ship model club, but our association with the San Francisco National Maritime Historic Park requires us to be officially on the roles as Park Service Volunteers. Our job is to be ship modelers and to share what we do with visitors when we’re at our workshop. There are opportunities throughout the year to volunteer in other ways if you like, but there is obligation.

Come to a meeting and see what we’re about. Never built a ship model before? We’ll help you get started!

Our monthly meetings take place at 9:30am on the…

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Japanese Boat Models Display 7.0

My latest Japanese boat models display is taking place again, now through the end of March, in San Francisco’s Japantown. Please stop by and see it, if you get the opportunity.

Come to see the models, stay for some Japanese food and shopping, or vice-versa…

Wasen Modeler

Just last week, on a rainy March 1st morning, I packed up my car with stands, posters, models, signs, and accessories, and drove 2 hours through traffic to set up the latest and largest Japanese boat models display yet. 7 models in all are on display in the window of the Union Bank community room in the Japan Center Mall from now through the end of March.

This year, Woody Joe’s Hacchoro, Higaki Kaisen, and Yakatabune are prominently featured, along with Thermal Studios’ Tosa Wasen, and my scratch built Hozugawa Ayubune, Urayasu Bekabune and Kamakura period Umibune.

Just over half of these models are based on kits, mostly from Woody Joe. And, if your interested in building one of these wonderful kits, of course, I always recommend as your source for Woody Joe, and other kits. Here is some information on the models in this display – click…

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My Next Japanese Boat Models Display Next Month

For those of you in the Bay Area in March and interested in models of traditional Japanese watercraft, I’m setting up my first display of 2018 next month. The models will be in the display window of Union Bank’s community room, located inside the Japan Center’s East Mall, from March 1st through March 31st, 2018.

Models will include kit build models from Woody Joe and Thermal Studio, as well as four scratch built models, two of which will be brand new to the display.

Here’s my original post on

Building the Urayasu Bekabune Model – Part 2

The Urayasu Bekabune is the first scratch-built Japanese traditional boat that I started. It wasn’t the first one I finished. That honor goes to the elegantly simple Gifu Tabune I built in 1/20 scale over a single weekend.

But, the Urayasu Bekabune has many connections. I managed to visit the city museum in Urayasu where these boats came from. This museum was the location of boatbuilder Douglas Brooks’s second apprenticeship in Japan. He details both the apprenticeship and the boat’s construction in his book, Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding.

Wasen Modeler

It took me a long while before I had any hull planking in place, as I considered ways to work on the model with no frames. I also wanted try to figure out a way to build the model as closely as I could to the way the Japanese boatbuilders did it, which is upright, and not on a mold. So, my model actually sat for quite a while.

When I went to Japan, in September of 2016, and visited the museum in Urayasu, I saw that the model builders there had made a special L-shaped fixture that the model rested on with the stem supported by the leg of the “L”.

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Building an Old-Style Japanese Roadside Teahouse

Last year around this time, I purchased a few Woody Joe temple and mini architectural kits from none other than Zootoyz, where I buy all my Woody Joe kits.  Incidentally, if you haven’t visited in a while, you should check it out. Morikawa-san revamped the site and it looks really nice. If you buy a kit from him and build it, be sure to send him photos. Also, the folks at Woody Joe would love to see them too.

In any case, in early January, I had a weekend to kill, so I started one of the mini-kits. This one is called Sato no chaya, or Sato’s tea house. It’s a very simple kit that costs around $26 plus shipping. My guess is that the scale is somewhere around 1/50.

Teahouse Mini-Architecture Kit

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San Francisco Bay Area – January 2018 Ship Model Meetings

With the Government shutdown over the weekend, and the closing of the National Parks, the January Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights meeting had to be cancelled. The group will meet again at their regularly scheduled February meeting, which is Saturday, February 17th at 9:30am aboard the Eureka.

However, this didn’t affect two other groups that met this month. One of these is the South Bay Model Shipwrights, which normally meets on the third Friday of each month at 7pm at the Los Altos Public Library. This is a great and very social group, with several members meeting for a pre-meeting dinner at Chef Chu’s restaurant, just up the street from the library.

This is one of the early ship modeling groups and was started by Jean Eckert in 1982. While the group is much smaller than it was in its heyday, the members still keep it an interesting and active club.

Here are a few photos from the January meeting…

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Shipyard (Paper Models from Poland) Changes Product Lineup

I just found out recently that the polish paper model company Shipyard, is changing its product lineup a little, in order to make room for their new line of HO scale railroad accessories. Basically, the name of the company is now VESSEL, and they now have two separate product brands: Shipyard and Railway Miniatures.


Basically, all HO scale products are now sold only under the Railway Miniatures brand. This includes all HO scale lighthouses, dockyard accessories and some new buildings. I think it’s a great idea, but there are some oddities, particularly for American model railroad enthusiasts, in that the products are a mix of 17th through 19th century dockyard equipment and European buildings. Some new stuff is modern era, but still has a European flavor.

So, there’s probably not a lot in this product line that will appear here in the U.S., but I still think it’s good for VESSEL to expand its product lineup.

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Concord, CA Hobbytown USA Closing

Another brick and mortar hobby dealer has fallen asunder!  Just received a letter that the Hobbytown store in Concord, California is going out of business. They have some big sales starting today, so it’s a good opportunity to stock on some supplies.

This leaves the San Francisco East Bay with few real hobby dealers. The biggest ones that come to mind are Hobbies Unlimited and the Ages of Sail shop, both of which are in San Lorenzo, CA, just a few miles north of the Dumbarton Bridge.

In all honesty, as far as ship modelers, or even plastic model builders, the Hobbytown didn’t offer much. They focussed so much on RC planes and cars that it was mostly a big empty store with absolutely nothing to offer ship modelers, except for maybe glue, paints, and some basswood. So, I doubt the store closing will have much impact on us model builders. It mostly now leaves more business for the other local shops.


2018 International Ship Modeling Conference in Rochefort, France

[Updated 1/11/18]

Approaching the end of the year, I find that my brain is just beginning to start functioning normally again (normal, for me) after having been down with an exhausting cold that struck just before Christmas. It wiped out my holidays, but I’m happy to be feeling mostly better again.

The first thing to deal with after coming out of this mental haze, is some information I just received on a new international ship modeler’s conference, which is being put together to take place in Rochefort, France from October 18th through October 21st.

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Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 1

My latest Japanese boat model project is a 1/32-scale model of a Shōgunke Gozabune – a state yacht belonging to the Shōgun. The model is based on measurements taken by a French officer in the 1860s and published in a French, multi-volume book of drawings of watercraft from around the world and through history, called Souvenirs de Marine, first published in the 1880s.

There is a model based on these drawings in the French national maritime museum.

Wasen Modeler

Kobaya-bune, or simply, kobaya, is a term for a type of military-style traditional Japanese vessel that was fast and maneuverable. The size of the boats labeled kobaya, which translates literally to “small, fast,” seem to vary widely. I have seen boats called kobaya that had as few as 6 oars, and larger ones that had 24 or more oars, but my access to details on these warcraft is limited.

The largest warships were called atakebune. They were big, slow, lumbering craft with a castle-like structure atop. The mid-sized warships were called sekibune, and sometimes called hayabune, or fast boats, ostensibly because they were faster than atakebune. War boats smaller than this seem to have all been classed as kobaya.

During the Tokugawa period (A.K.A. Edo period), which began in 1603, Daimyo were forbidden to have atakebune. During the time of relative peace, the smaller warships, most…

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