At this point in my build of Shipyard’s 1/72-scale laser-cut card model of the 10-gun snow-rigged sloop of war HMS Wolf, I’m behind on keeping my build log up to date. But, I can’t let that get in the way here. Here’s the thing, I am so in awe of how incredible this kit is, that I have to state, categorically, that I’m absolutely building not only the Papegojan kit I have, but the HMS Alert kit, and the Le Coureur kit, and that I’m absolutely going to find the money to buy and build the HMS Mercury kit.
Category Archives: Vendors
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.
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: Zootoyz.jp. This is a great source for Woody Joe kits
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: https://shipmodeler.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/buying-the-tosa-wasen-kit/
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
The Return of Seawatch Books
Good news for scratch modelers! Seawatch Books, which brought us amazing titles by David Antscherl, Rob Napier, Gilbert McArdle, and others is back up and running under new ownership.
The previous owner, Bob Friedman, has been talking about his retirement for some time now, and earlier this year, the store went off-line pending sale to a new owner. Apparently, the early attempts at selling the company didn’t work out. But, then ship modeler Mike Ellison came along and saved the day, and the site just officially went live.
To celebrate and to offer my support, I’ll probably pick up a title. Right now, I’m leaning toward either the book on building HMS Sussex, by Gilbert McArdle, or the two-volume series The Ketch Rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752. Of course, I’ll post a write up about whatever I eventually get..
Will I ever get around to scratch building something based on one of these books? Who knows? But, it’s great “dream” material!
Check out the full range of their offerings at seawatchbooks.com. Ω
Wye River Models
This weekend, I just ran across a model boat kit manufacturer on the Internet. Their website shows that they have quite a large number of kits of American workboats in large scales of 1/4″=1′ and larger.
Looks like they have 15 different kits, including: Box Stern, Chesapeake Bay Bugeye, Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat, the charter fishing boat Breein Thru, a Hooper Island Drake Tail, a Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe, and many others. The prices are very nice too. Of the 15 kits they offer, only five of them list at over $100. Continue reading
HMS Sphinx, 1775 – New Kit from Vanguard Models
Chris Watton has done it again with what looks to be another hit of a kit, the 1/64-scale model of the British 20-gun frigate HMS Sphinx. The Sphinx was a sixth-rate warship built in 1775, the lead ship of a class of 10 ships, armed with 20 nine-pounder carriage guns. This newest kit is the seventh ship model kit produced by Vanguard Models, and their largest one to date.
I don’t have any photos of the fully rigged model, as the photos of the completed prototype weren’t available when I got these pics. The new HMS Sphinx kit is a 1/64-scale kit that measures just over 31″ long when complete. The kit looks like kind of a monster in terms of detail and completeness.
Laser-cut pear wood ladders and gratings are standard, the deck is maple wood with the planking pre-etched for you, including treenail detail. Five sheets of photo-etched brass, 3D-printed cannon barrels, all planking above the wales comes as pre-cut and engraved sections. Even the wales are pre-cut and engraved with the anchor stock planking detail. The kit even has a semi-interior, and the great cabin even has a checkerboard floor.
In many ways, the detail in this kit reminds me of the Shipyard card model kits of HMS Mercury and HMS Enterprise. Those ships are larger frigates of 28 guns as compared with the 20 guns of the Sphinx. But, the internal details are similar, and are a nice feature. For the Sphinx kit, this detailing alone sets it apart from the vast majority of wooden ship model kits.
Availability has been pretty limited for this kit, as there were pre-orders being accepted by the Vanguard Models website, but the first batch of 50 sold out some time ago, and next batch has been held up by a delay in the photo-etched brass parts. However, I’m told that the kit should be available again shortly.
Update: Rigged model details are now available and the new batch of kits include the rigging instructions as well. I expect the additional instructions are getting sent out in some form to the early buyers.
The price of the new kit isn’t cheap. But, this may be the finest ship model kit I’ve ever seen. Current list on the Vanguard Models website is £689.95, or about $943.90. So, this is clearly a very high end kit. Expect Ages of Sail to have these in stock as well in early to mid October. Ω
Paper Ship Model Kits from Seahorse
Most of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been experimenting with making paper ship models. Shipyard’s 1/96-scale HMS Alert was the first kit I attempted and completed. That was several years ago now. Earlier this year I completed Shipyard’s laser-cut model kit of a Hanseatic cog (Hansa Kogge). After completing the Alert, I started playing around with a larger subject, Shipyard’s 1/96-scale HMS Mercury kit. But, that was pretty involved with a full gun deck, lots of canons, plus a relatively long hull. Last year, I started working on a something a little more reasonable to tackle, again a Shipyard paper model kit, the fluit Schwarzer Rabe.
But, though they are quite detailed and well made, Shipyard is not the only source of paper ship model kits. There are other makers of kits such as WAK, Oriel, and others. But one in particular has recently caught my attention, as the designer is has posted some of his scratch builds on the ship model forum ModelShipWorld.com. His screen name and his company name is Seahorse, and while I’ve seen some of these kits and scratch work before, I hadn’t really stopped to take a look at them because I wasn’t paying that much attention to paper models. But, now that I’ve taken a deeper interest in them, I’ve started noticing his kits, and look very interesting.
New Milled Wood Source: Modeler’s Sawmill
With the closing down of Hobbymill, and the scaling back of wood production at Syren Ship Model Company, we’re left with few options for purchasing high end strip woods. There was a an operation called Crown Timberyard that offered the service for about 4 years, but that’s closed in 2019. Now, a new company called Modeler’s Sawmill has just opened up, offering boxwood, cherry, and Alaskan yellow cedar sheets and strips.
Most of these operations are one man shops. That’s usually not an issue. But, lately, it seems that people doing these things are doing them as a hobby, and continue to have a primary job. The problem with that is that the operators get tired of the additional job, which probably pays very little for their efforts. And, sooner or later, they close right back up again. Hopefully, this will be a consistent source that will be around for a while.
So, if you’re in need some nice quality woods, here’s a new option for you. For more information go to http://www.modelerssawmill.com.
An Occre Part Order Follow-Up
It occurred to me recently that I’d written a post about ordering a part kit from OcCre back in December, which had a wrong laser-cut sheet in it. I’d contacted OcCre about it, but I never posted the results of that issue. So, here it is.
To recap, I ordered the first of 6 part kits, or Packs as OcCre calls them, of their Spanish 74-gun ship Montañes kit. It was a nicely packed set of laser-cut wood sheets, wood strips, and kit instructions. Unfortunately, in the process of marking the parts for identification, I discovered I’d gotten a duplicate laser-cut wood sheet and I was missing another.
Artesania Latina’s New 1/65-Scale Vasa Kit
As I announced in a previous post, Artesania Latina’s new Vasa kit is here! Ages of Sail reportedly has several of the kits in stock. This kit seems to mark another step-up for this classic ship model company, which in the old days, was often the first brand that future ship modelers were exposed to, as they were carried in the standard hobby shop distribution chain.
What seems most interesting now is the level of detail in the kit instructions. I don’t know how much of the instructions are included in the kit, as there are something like 400 pages of photo-based instructions. The kit includes a DVD and you can download them off the Internet as well, so I can’t imagine they’d print up such a massive book.
Anyway, check it out. You may find your next ship model project!
We just received a big shipment of products from the “new and improved” Artesania Latina, so we’re finally recovering after the holidays depleted our stocks of this long-time popular brand. In addition, we’ve receive some new kits you might want to check out, as well as the return of an old favorite, the San Juan Nepomuceno. But, the biggest news by far is the release of their brand new kit of the 17th century Swedish warship Vasa.
This spectacular kit is made for the Expert Level modeler and is produced in 1/65-scale, making it one of the largest Vasa kits available at 42″ long and 34″ high. The kit makes heavy use of die-cast and photo-etched decorations, and there are a LOT of them!
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New and Old Products Return to Artesania Latina
When Artesania Latina suddenly disappeared a year or two ago, it was something of a surprise. After all, their products were well distributed and probably the first exposure most of us had to wooden ship model kits. I remember my own experience seeing a wooden ship model on display at hobby shop (when those used to be common place) close to where I worked. The model was one of Artesania Latina’s simplest kits, the Swift.
That model wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t bristling with cannons, it wasn’t very big, it wasn’t super detailed. But, it was wooden, and it was well finished. And, while I’d never built anything from wood, save a couple model airplanes my dad coaxed me into building in my younger days, it really caught my eye.
Well, here it is, some 30 years later, and Artesania Latina has just re-started production of one of their significant, classic kits, the Spanish 74-gun ship San Juan Nepomuceno. This ship one of the Spanish warships that fought with the French against the British fleet at Trafalgar.
I have fond connections with this ship model kit, as the late ship modeler Henry Alsky, of the Ventura County Maritime Museum Model Guild, was a friend of mine who had built the kit and was very proud of it.
At the moment, just about the only shop where this kit seems to be available is direct from Artesania Latina here: https://artesanialatina.net/en/modelcrafts-elite/488-wooden-model-ship-kit-san-juan-nepomuceno.html