Category Archives: Woody Joe

News about Japanese wood kit manufacturer Woody Joe and their products.

Building the 1/150-Scale Horyu-Ji 5-Story Pagoda from Woody Joe

Here’s a quick, one-page overview of the building of this very nice Woody Joe kit, purchased from Zootoyz.jp. This was a very quick, weekend build that I just wrapped up. The kit is a 1/150-scale model of one of Japan’s 5-story pagodas. This one, is located at the Horyu-ji temple in Nara prefecture.

If you follow my builds here, you might recognize that this is a smaller version of model that I started, but has been on my shelf to finish up for quite some time. That one is twice the size of this one. That’s precisely the reason I decided to get this kit.

If you’re interested in the larger version, you can see the logs of my unfinished build here: https://shipmodeler.wordpress.com/category/non-ship-models/horyu-ji-5-story-pagoda/

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Normal Shipping from Japan is Available Again

Some great news for those of us who like to buy products from Japan, like Woody Joe kits and things: This Summer, after nearly a year of Covid lock-down,  Japan Post has begun allowing shipping to the United States again. In celebration, I bought a bunch of stuff from Zootoyz.jp that I don’t really need just yet! After a couple weeks, I received my first package from Japan in about a year.

No, there was no ship modeling stuff here in this order. Well, not exactly anyway. I did get a new Hishika Industries Super Fine Cut Saw to replace the one I’ve worn out. That’s something I do use with ship modeling. The rest is mostly to work on some very small scale (1/150) diorama ideas.

But, you’ll also notice two kits in the photo. These I got mostly to make and share with my 96 year old mother, who is now in a nursing facility. She doesn’t have much room for personal stuff, but she likes to look at these things, particularly if there are people in the model display. And, I’m hoping it jogs her memories a little. She probably doesn’t remember anymore that I’ve visited the Kaminari-mon (the small model) or Matsumoto Castle (the larger model).

So, yes, shipping from Japan is available again, however it is more expensive than it used to be, and it was already pretty pricey. But, in reality, shipping from Japan to the U.S. was still available, even during the lockdown, via a Japanese shipping company called Yamato Transport. In fact, I used the service last year to ship a small model to Japan last year. Shipping to Japan using Yamato is a little bit of work, as you have to find a convenient drop-off location. However, getting stuff from Japan is pretty easy, as their stuff apparently gets passed along to UPS to do the actual delivery.

And, actually, this is how the above items were shipped to me, as it was a little bit cheaper than EMS service via Japan Post, which is how I’d always gotten deliveries in the past. Still pricey, but nice to be able to do business again direct from Japan. Ω

Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 4

After the modification of the bulwarks, the rest of the model should look pretty much like the plans. The Woody Joe kit seems to be pretty well spot-on with the Dutch maritime museum plans as far as hull shape and deck layout. So, it’s basically the smaller details that I need to consider.

The scrollwork for the bow is a cast metal piece, which looks fine. There are a few artifacts from the casting process which need cleaning up, but this is pretty easy to do. I just used a sharp, chisel pointed blade to cut them away.

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Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 3

Notice anything special about that photo of the fully planked hull in my last post? If you look closely, you may notice that the center section of some of the bulkheads are missing. If you’ve followed any of my wooden ship model building, you’d probably be aware that I can’t leave kits well enough alone. One of the things I’ve always liked to do is to add a hint of an interior. Nothing blatant, just a hint to create something of an image in the observer’s imagination.

Arrows showing where bulkhead sections were removed

I’ve discovered that I don’t like building full interiors and I don’t like lighting a model’s interior. That’s too blatant and too showy for me. I want the observer to look at the model and discover an open door and to catch a glimpse of more detail without actually being able to see beyond it.

You’ll notice in the photo below where I’ve started to make my modifications.I figured I might leave the aft companionway doors open, and have clear skylights, giving a glimpse of the lower deck. So, I cut away the centers of a couple bulkheads, painted the interior bulkheads white, planked a some small floor pieces, and inserted them into place.

Now, to be clear, I went back and forth quite a bit on how much detail to include on the model’s interior. In this case, I decided that all I really want to do is to have some planked deck space down below the hatchways and companionways. For the planking of the lower deck pieces, I used some 3/32″ wide strips of South American boxwood – the same as I will use on the main deck.

Section of interior deck in place. Note the cutout for the mizzen mast.

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Building Woody Joe’s Nihonbashi Bridge Kit

Earlier this year, I decided to take a short break from ship modeling projects and spend a week or so on something fun, but a little different. I have several small kits in my stockpile (what’s in yours?) of miscellaneous Woody Joe kits, including one of the famed Nihonbashi Bridge.

The bridge was originally built in the early Edo period, around 1603. Built in the heart of Edo itself, It was extremely significant, as it was officially the starting point of Japan’s 5 major roads. Yes, all roads lead to Nihonbashi, and the bridge appears in many Japanese woodblock prints.

So, I decided to start the kit, which I purchased from where else but Zootoyz.jp, for about $41 plus shipping. One of the driving factors in building this kit is that it would allow me to exercise some of my basic diorama building skills. After all, there are trees, the bridge itself, the canal, a couple boats, and tiny people. Also, I knew that my 95 year-old mother would love to have it on display in her living room, and her birthday was coming up quickly. So, I needed to get it done.

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Woody Joe’s USS Susquehanna Now Available!

Here’s some good news for ship modelers, particularly those interested in the early sail-rigged steamers. Woody Joe has just released their new U.S.S. Susquehanna kit. This is one of the famous “Black Ships” that were party of Matthew Perry’s squadron to open trade with Japan in 1853.

The 1/120-scale laser-cut kit measures just about 34″ long when completed. The cost is about $400 plus shipping. That makes it one of the pricier kits, but it is also one of the few kits available anywhere of an American paddlewheel steamer.

When I get caught up on projects a bit, I’d really love to build this. The kit, like many Woody Joe kits, is designed to be easy to build. They list it as 190 hours construction time, which is in comparison to 200 hours for their big Cutty Sark kit and 100 hours for their Sir Winston Churchill kit.

I’ve found Woody Joe kits to be accurate, but leaving room for the builder to upgrade the kit by adding details beyond what’s provided in the kit. Of course, you will need to deal with instructions that are only available in Japanese. But, the instructions are extremely well illustrated, and pretty easy to follow, and there is actually very little text or need for it. But, if you have a smart phone, the use of the Google Translate app will help you make sure you don’t miss anything.

You’ll probably find the kit on Amazon or Ebay. But, as always, I recommend the Japanese online shop Zootoyz.jp for service and support. Here’s a direct link to the kit on their site: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/contents/en-us/p24912_USS-SUSQUEHANNA-Wooden-Sailing-Ship-Model-Kits-by-Woody-JOE.html

At the moment, I’ve noticed that the product does not appear on the original Zootoyz.jp site, but does appear on the newer “wooden products only” site (accessible from the Zootoyz home page). But, just click on the direct link above and it will get you there.

Ω

Building Woody Joe’s Horyu-ji Temple Five-Story Pagoda – Part 4

Being primarily a ship modeler, I set this project aside for a while. Part of the problem was that I’d discovered that I was missing one small set 4 parts, all the same. There are a lot of parts in this kit and they are well packaged and labeled, but it took a while to go through and check and re-check and then to figure out exactly how the part was shaped and how it fit on the model.

The pieces are parts of the lower roof and cover the corner joints. Outwardly, they just look like simple wood strips, but they need to be groved on the underside in order to sit down on those corner joints. Also, they need to be thicker than the other roof boards to allow for the groove.

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Buying and Building Japanese Wooden Model Kits

I’ve been getting a couple emails from a Japanese friend who sells kits internationally. He’s been a bit dismayed lately, as marketing to North America and Europe opens up some new issues for Japanese products, particularly with builders who lose parts or mess up their builds.

Woody Joe kits have lots of parts, well organized into bags and well labeled. Photo of a Japanese pagoda kit.

He goes out of his way to work with the customer to get parts from the manufacturer. But, some customers upon learning they need to pay for replacement parts (as opposed to parts that are missing or faulty), suggest that either he or Woody Joe is practicing poor customer service. But, this is how things are done in Japan.

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Woody Joe’s New USS Susquehanna Kit in the Works

I just saw an exciting post on Woody Joe’s Facebook page today. Woody Joe is developing a new 1/120-scale wooden model kit of the USS Susquehanna, one of the famous kurofune or black ships of Commodore Perry’s squadron that sailed into Edo Bay in 1853 and 1854 to force a trade treaty with Japan.

These are photos posted on Facebook by Woody Joe of their prototype. There are many details that need to be worked out yet, so there is no word yet on pricing or availability. But, it is clearly a plank-on-bulkhead kit of the 3-masted barque-rigged paddlewheel steam frigate. At 1/120 scale, the model will measure about 34″ long.

Again, no price is set yet. But, based on their kits of similar size and detail, my guess is that it will run somewhere around 45,000¥ or about $400. We’ll see how close I come to the actual total. This kit appears to rely on more photo-etched brass than past kits, which can add a lot to a kit’s cost.

There’s a general lack of mid 19th-Century steamship model kits. This will join their own Kanrin Maru kit to help fill that gap. I, for one, am really looking forward to the release of this kit. But, I guess I should finish my own Kanrin Maru build before I get started on this one. So, it’s just as well that it’s not quite ready for release yet.

Zootoyz.jp will have the kit for sale as soon as it becomes available. I’ll make sure to post an update as soon as I find out more. Ω

Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer – Part 2

Planking the hull of the Kanrin Maru is pretty easy. The ship has a sharp bow and the run of the planks is easy, needing little bending. You might be tempted to taper the planks at the bow, but that’s not what the instructions have you do. And, if you do, you may very well run out of planking material. If you want to more authentic planking, you’ll need to supply your own additional planking material.

I chose to build the hull straight from the kit at this point, so I simply laid the planks as is, starting at the bulwarks and working towards the keel. Hinoki, or Japanese cedar, is the material used for much of the kit, and it’s a bit brittle when dry. To bend or twist planks, the wood doesn’t need to be soaked, just wet. But little bending or twisting is required for this model.

As the model is intended for painting, the planks stop abruptly at the stern bulkhead. Here, the stern shape is provided in the form of a stack of thick pieces that have to be filed down to shape.

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