Category Archives: Woody Joe

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

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

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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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Building the Kanrin Maru – Japan’s First Screw Steamer

It’s been just about three years since I last wrote about researching the Kanrin Maru, and I really haven’t done much about it lately, but I did start construction of the 1/75-scale model based on the kit from the Japanese wooden model kit manufacturer, Woody Joe. The model is being constructed with modifications based on my research.

I started construction long ago on this model, but set it aside for other, higher priority projects. Recently, I realized that I don’t have any models on permanent display anywhere. My only models on display are my Japanese traditional wooden boat models that I put on display in San Francisco’s Japantown a couple times a year.

There is a possibility that I could build this model and have it on display at the Mare Island Museum, where they have an existing display dedicated to the Kanrin Maru’s 1860 diplomatic mission to San Francisco.

Woody Joe’s 1/75-scale Kanrin Maru kit.

The Build Plan

The hull of the Woody Joe kit is very close to the line drawings I acquired of the ship, so it’s an excellent start to building what should be a pretty accurate model. There are a few details of the kit that I will change or am considering changing:

  • The planking and shape of the hull at the bulwarks
  • The presence of a winch above the propeller well in the kit
  • The shape of the hawse pipes from the kit
  • The location of the hawse pipes on the deck of the kit
  • The armament
  • The location and configuration of the ship’s wheel
  • The size of the turnbuckles provided in the kit
  • The configuration of the fore-and-aft sails
  • The presence of mast wooldings in the kit
  • The presence of a mizzen mast top in the kit
  • The absence of coal loading ports in the kit
  • Miscellaneous small details

I’ll deal with these as the build progresses. Continue reading

Building Woody Joe’s Horyu-ji Temple Five-Story Pagoda – Part 3

With the construction of the base of the temple completed, I proceeded to paint the completed assembly using smokey beige satin-finish Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover spray paint. I also decided to go forward with construction of the mounting base. This was actually from Step 27 in the instructions, but I had the parts out and didn’t see any reason not to go ahead with this assembly.

The base of the pagoda painted a stoney gray color. If I wanted to get more authentic, I would have painted it earlier in construction and masked off areas to create different shading for the different stone blocks.

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Japanese Diorama Products Now Available from Zootoyz

Just saw that the online Japanese hobby store, Zootoyz.com, has just added Woody Joe diorama products.

[Note: This was announced on Zootoyz’s Facebook page, but there is currently no link on the website itself. Until the site’s navigation is updated, here’s a link to the new products: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/contents/en-us/d2045761143_Diorama-products-by-Woody-JOE.html]

This line of products includes sakura, cherry blossom trees, Japanese pines, cypress trees, box trees, cedar trees, generic broadleaf and conifer trees and other vegetation. There are also bags of ground cover for simulating grass, dirt, and gravel.

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King Khufu’s Solar Boat – Woody Joe Kit – Model Built by Don Dressel

Several years ago, Woody Joe came out with a unique wooden model kit of the Solar Barge of Khufu, also known as Cheops, King of Egypt from 2589 B.C. to 2566 B.C. The ship was buried with King Khufu, and intended for use in the afterlife. It measures 143 feet long and is one of the most well preserved, largest and oldest vessel ever discovered.

Woody Joe produces this 1/72-scale kit, making heavy use of laser-cut wooden parts. It’s a beautifully designed kit, with the model measuring around 23″ long when complete.

It’s designed to be fairly easy to build, though of course the instructions are in Japanese. Mr. Dressel reported that he did have some difficulty interpreting some of the instructions until he downloaded the Google Translate app on his iPad.

Zootoyz, an excellent online seller featuring Woody Joe kits, lists the kit as a Level 2 kit on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult. Woody Joe suggests that completion of the kit should take about 25 hours, which makes it one of their quicker builds.

The kit has a list price of ¥22,000, which is around $200. And, with Zootoyz new wooden model online shop and it’s introductory discount extended through the end of June, the price comes down to $184 plus shipping.

For more information about King Khufu, see this Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khufu

Or for info specifically about the solar boat, there is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khufu_ship

Mr. Dressel says he will be displaying his model at the upcoming 2018 NRG conference in Las Vegas, which is just a few months away.

Zootoyz: All Wooden Kits, Discounts, and Revamped Website

Zootoyz, which is my go-to online shop for all things Woody Joe, has created a new website dedicated to wooden model construction and is currently featuring special discount pricing in celebration.

If you’ve ever visited them before, you may recall seeing a few lines of plastic kits and some various odds-and-ends kits. While the main Zootoyz online shop still exists, to make it easier for those of us interested specifically in wooden models from Japan, they’ve created this specialized site, which you can find here: https://www.japan-wooden-model-kits-zootoyz.shop/index.html 

But something else to note besides a much more organized site, is that they are listing a couple brand new architectural kits from Woody Joes new line of models featuring places from the famous woodblock prints of Hiroshige’s 53 Station of the Tōkaidō . The new kits were only just announced by Woody Joe and are the famous Nihonbashi bridge and the Arai Sekisho, one of the many stations which regulated travel on the major roads. These are mini-kits that sell for around $40 each, plus shipping.

Note that the trees are included, but the figures and grass are not. This one has nifty little boats and a couple 2-D silhouette figures though.

Note that the trees are included, but the figures shown are not. There are, however, a few 2-D silhouette figures inside the building, checking the records of travelers.

Being small, you might as well buy more than one, as I think the shipping will be the same. Also, if  you’re getting one of the bigger kits, these mini-kits are a nice add-on to your order and they make nice quick diversions. Woody Joe lists them as 8-hour kits. So, they should make nice weekend kits.

Also, if you place an order from the new site, there’s currently an introductory sale going on through June 24th – Just remember Japan is a day ahead of us in the U.S.  So now is a good time to get your new Woody Joe kit! Ω