My highly anticipated, newly released kit from Woody Joe arrived a while back and I’m just now getting around to writing about it. It took a couple extra days to get the shipment this time because I ordered it pretty much right at the release date, which meant my supplier still had to get the kit from Woody Joe before he could ship it out to me.
As with all my Woody Joe purchases, I bought this one from Zootoyz in Japan. However, rather than order from their regular site, I thought I’d help them out by trying out their new store front on Amazon. Unfortunately, ordering from a new vendor on Amazon is a bit troublesome as you have to find them and it takes a while for the vendor to get up to speed with the intricacies of selling on Amazon.com.
My transaction went smoothly, but I think it’s better just to buy directly from the Zootoyz website. That way, there is no middle-man to take a cut, it’s easier to ship with the vendor you want, and the savings gets passed on to you. I could have ordered directly from Zootoyz and, as it turns out I could have paid as much as $20 less that what I did pay. Still, I was really happy just to be able to order the new kit and receive it quickly.
And, just for the record, I do not get any profits from either Zootoyz or Woody Joe sales!
The Hacchoro is an Edo Period work boat and it is the subject of the latest kit release from Woody Joe of Japan. The 1:24-scale kit relies heavily on laser cut parts and the final model measures about 23″ long, 20″ high, and 12-1/2″ wide, considerably bigger than their Higaki Kaisen model. Woody Joe’s estimated completion time of this model is 50 hours, which is half of what they list for the Higaki Kaisen. The kit lists of ¥18,000 or about $180. I got mine for about $208 with Express Mail shipping.
Background of the Hacchoro
Since my last post about this craft, I managed to learn something interesting about its origins. It turns out that fishing boats during this time were limited by law in the number of oars they carry. This apparently was to keep boats from overtaking with the Shogun’s boat.
But, the first Tokugawa Shogun enjoyed falconry and after his retirement, he would travel by sea to the hunting grounds. 24 fishing boats were commissioned as escorts, but since there were limited in the number of oars they were allowed to use, they had a difficult time keeping up. To remedy this situation, the fishermen of this one region were given special permission to mount 8 oars, hence the name Hacchoro, which basically means 8-oared boat.
Inside the Box
Opening up the box, which is somewhat smaller than the previous boxes I’d gotten from Woody Joe, I’ve come to expect the company’s usual quality packaging. Beneath the sheets of plans, instruction book and their one-page catalog sheet, the wooden parts are all packaged in plastic bags, grouped together in sets – I haven’t figured out the rationale for what the sheets are group together as they are, but I think each set is made up of sheets of like thickness. Finally, there is the usual cardboard tray in one end with the spool of rigging line, the banners, a small sheet of etched metal and a laser engraved name board.
The first thing I noticed about the instructions is that the images are much sharper. It looks like these were created on a color laser printer as opposed to lower resolution traditional printing. The colors are more vibrant and the illustrations clearer. The booklet is 16 pages long, and the instructions are broken down into 30 steps. In comparison, the Higaki Kaisen kit is 32 pages long and breaks down construction into 96 steps. On the cover is a nice image of the completed model, with the parts list on the inside front cover. Again comparing with the Higaki Kaisen kit, the Hacchoro’s parts list is about half as long.
As with all Woody Joe kits marketed in Japan, the instructions are written entirely in Japanese. But again, as with all Woody Joe kits, the instructions book is extremely well illustrated. Add to the fact that this is a much simpler build than other kits like the Higaki Kaisen or any of the Western-style ship kits, and this kit seems very build-able regardless of the text. And, I did look through the instructions as best as I could and didn’t see any sign of construction steps warning “do not glue” in Japanese.
Three black-and-white half-sheets of plans are included in the kit, each measuring about 13″ x 19″. All drawings are in scale with the model. What’s called Sheet Number 1 is actually two of these half-sheets put together and shows a full exterior side profile of the hull, an interior side cutaway of the hull, a mid-ships cross section, and a top view. Sheet Number 2 shows details of the masts, yards, sculling oars and poles for the banners.
I didn’t mention it earlier in this review, but as with all other Woody Joe kits I’ve gotten, upon opening the box, you’re hit with the wonderfully fragrant scent of Hinoki or Japanese Cypress. This seems to be the standard Woody Joe material, much like Model Shipways kits all use basswood.
Hinoki, besides smelling really nice, is a nice wood to work with. While it is brittle when dry, it only has to be wet and then it will take bends quite easily. Unlike many hard woods, it doesn’t really need soaking, it just needs to be dampened.
The kit includes 11 small laser cut sheets. The majority of these seem to be around 14″ long and probably not much more than 1-1/2″ wide. Some are smaller and a few are much longer. One thing I hadn’t noticed before was that there two of the laser cut sheets are actually what look like birch plywood. These are larger sheets that are made up of the bulkheads parts (yes, bulkheads on a traditional Japanese “Wasen” kit).
There is, of course, packages of strip woods and dowels and one package containing the parts for the display stand. The stand’s design looks like it complements the Hacchoro’s traditional Japanese-style hull quite nicely.
One small sheet of etched copper provides the pieces that form caps to fit over the ends of beams. That and a coil of brass wire which appears to be used for shaping the sails, are the only metal parts in the kit.
The sail material is very interesting. It’s a very fine weave material. I would say the quality exceeds the stuff in the Higaki Kaisen kit. To me, it seems like the nicest quality sail material I’ve seen in a ship model kit to date. The material has the seams printed in black as well as the Tokugawa mon or family crest.
The rigging line is the same quality stuff that I’ve seen in other Woody Joe kits. The stuff is very nice and I would actually consider acquiring some more of it to use on my other models. On this model, the rig is very simple, so there are only two spools of line included.
Lastly, there are the nobori or the banners that fly at the stern. Unlike Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit, which gives you blank banners to try to drawn your own Kanji (the Chinese characters used in writing Japanese), one the banners (there are two included) is pre-printed with the characters spelling Hacchoro, plus a line of characters that I haven’t translated yet, and the other displays the Tokugawa Shogun’s crest. The material used for the banners is a veil-thin fabric that shows the writing and crest almost equally well on both sides, which is kind of neat.
I don’t have much knowledge of Woody Joe’s past traditional Japanese-style boat (Wasen) kits, but unlike the Higaki Kaisen kit, there is no attempt to show the traditional-style construction. In fact, since there is no interior to view, the model is built western-style, with inner keel and bulkhead construction that most ship modelers will find very familiar. While it’s not authentic and doesn’t try to represent the way these ships were actually constructed in any way, it simplifies things a great deal and I think most non-Japanese ship modelers will probably feel more confident working with this kit, even without English language instructions.
Building the Model
I have so many projects in the queue that as much as I want to build this kit, I need to hold off, at least for a while. This looks like it should be a really nice short-term build however. So, if I get stuck on my other projects, need a break from them or whatnot, I’ll definitely be giving this a go. And, with the experience I have from the Higaki Kaisen build, that 50-hour rating might actually be just that. Heck, that should be like a 2-week build. Maybe I’ll just have to find a good spot to take that break after all. Ω