Tag Archives: Mini-kit

New Japanese Models Distraction

This week was like Christmas here, as a shipment of Japanese wooden model kits arrived from Zootoyz, my recommended Japanese online hobby dealer. Four model kits came, and none of them are ship model kits. I decided I needed some nice gift ideas, so I found a number of Woody Joe kits that I can build and present as gifts to my Japanese music teacher, and my family and friends.

I have a lot of ship modeling projects to work on, so I don’t expect to spend a lot of time working on these right away. But, half of these are very simple mini-architectural kits that Woody Joe lists as taking about 8 hours to complete. Perfect for a small weekend distraction!

Teahouse Mini-Architecture Kit

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Mamoli Kits are Coming Back

Just heard it from a posting by Daniel Dusek on Model Ship World that he has closed a deal with the former owners of Mamoli to take over the old line of kits. As you may know, Mamoli had a big fire that completely shut them down (see Mamoli Fire post). The kits you still find on the Internet are existing stock from distributors’ warehouses, and are gradually disappearing and what’s left out there gets sold. That’s not to say that they are completely going to disappear for a while – there was a lot out there. But there are some kits that are more popular than others that may have disappeared completely.

 

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Classic Mamoli kit Yacht Mary

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Mamoli’s 42.5″ long Royal Louis

But Daniel Dusek, the owner of Dusek Ship Kits, in the Czech Republic, will be starting from scratch. Apparently nothing had survived the Mamoli fire. He’s brought out many new kits over the past couple years, and should be up to the task. However, it’s going to take time for him to redesign and reissue the kits. So, don’t expect to suddenly see Mamoli kits start showing up everywhere.

America's Cup Yacht Puritan

America’s Cup Yacht Puritan

He announced today that he will begin with the very successful Mini-Mamoli line. I imagine those smaller, easy-to-build kits will take much less time to develop, allowing him to maximize the number of products he can bring back. He didn’t indicate exactly which kits he will be releasing first, so don’t let the images in this post confuse you – they are just for reference purposes!

There were a lot of kits in the Mamoli product line, so Mr. Dusek has his work cut out for him. He’s suggesting an early Fall time frame for the first Mini-Mamoli kits. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in checking out Dusek kits, I recommend visiting Ages of Sail, which is the U.S. importer of Dusek kits. Also, if  you just can’t wait for Mamoli kits to be rereleased, one place you can still find a supply of them is at Nature Coast Hobbies.

(All images are courtesy of Nature Coast Hobbies)

Mini-Yakatabune kit by Woody Joe – The Finished Model

A little while back, I wrote a post about working on some projects while out of town (What Does a Ship Modeling Fool Do When Out of Town). One of those projects was the Mini-Yakatabune kit from Woody Joe of Japan. Well, I added some finishing touches and finished up the model recently. These were mostly little modifications to the kit, which I though added a little realism.

Keeping in mind the Mini-Yakatabune kit is designed to be easy to build, there are some small details that were left off in the design. Mostly, these are rigging lines that aren’t really necessary, but certainly add realism to the final model. In addition, to make construction easier, in place of very thin and fragile dowels, the kit provides brass rod.

Being used to working with very tiny, fragile parts, I replaced the brass rod with thin wooden dowels that I reduced down to size using a jeweler’s drawplate.

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Drawplate from Byrnes Model Machines.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod.

Close up showing the dowels in place of brass rod. Small rope coil at bow.

I ended up with a long piece of dowel left over and so I just trimmed it to a reasonable length and used it to represent a bamboo pole used to help push the boat along shallow water and at the shore.

The rigging was a little trickier since it’s such a small model, but mostly, the issue is the delicate nature of the model. First off, I coiled up a tiny piece of line and laid it down at the bow. It’s pretty small, so it doesn’t look like much more than a blob. From building the larger Yakatabune model, I was aware of a line used for raising the rudder. As was pointed out to me by another ship modeler who built his kit before I built mine, there is a hole in the rudder, but the instructions show no reason for it. The line then tied at this hole and the ends of the line reach up and tie around the support beam above it.

 

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Again from the larger Woody Joe kits I was aware that in early days, the two pieces of the oar, called a “Ro” in Japanese, had a piece of rope wrapped around the joint. That was a pretty easy addition. The tougher addition was a loop of line tied down to the deck, that went over the handle of the oar. This required me to fashion a loop in the end of a line inserted into a small hole that I drilled into the deck. The loop then slips over the handle that sticks up out of the oar. To reinforce the placing of the oar, I inserted a small piece of brass wire into the oar, which fits down into a small hole I drilled into the oar’s support beam.

Finally, I figured this tiny model is going to get knocked over on someone’s shelf, so I first glues some thin brass rods into the base and drill corresponding holes in the bottom of the model. This keeps the model removable from the base, but it sits securely on the base. I then decided to cut a thin sheet of cherry wood to mount the whole thing on.

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Somehow, I managed to lose the silhouette figure that’s supposed to stand at the oar handle, but the model looks pretty complete as is and I think it will be a very appreciated gift.

As I mentioned before, the basic model kit was essentially completed in a single day. Added details took me a little longer to complete. Overall, this was a really fun kit to build and I found the results to be really nice. I even went so far as to buy two more kits to make into gifts.

Those interested in building the kit, remember that the instructions are in Japanese only. The instructions are very well illustrated and the kit goes together very easily, so the language shouldn’t be an issue. Just remember that any wood that you need to bend needs to be dampened first. Also, there are a lot of very delicate laser-cut parts. Cut away through the tabs that hold the pieces in the sheets, but make sure to remove the knife blade from the sheet before trying to remove the wood from the sheet. Don’t skip steps. And, since these kits are only available from Japan, don’t expect to find/get replacement parts. So, be extra careful not to break or lose anything!

If you’re interested in buying a kit, and if you’ve read this far I really think you should, I recommend ordering from the online hobby dealer Zootoyz.jp. Prices are good, shipping is reasonable, and service is excellent. Ω

New Yakatabune Mini-Kit from Woody Joe

 

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I’m a bit behind the curve on reporting on this latest mini-kit from Woody Joe. This kit, released in May, joins the two other traditional Japanese boat mini-kits, the Hobikisen and the Utasebune. The Yakatabune (yah-kah-tah-boo-ney) is an Edo period pleasure boat that become a common site on lakes and rivers in the later years of pre-modern Japan. The appearance of these boats coincided with the rise of the merchant class and the accompanying increase in leisure time and disposable income among commoners. The Yakatabune and boatmen would be hired for a day or an evening for taking in the sights at cherry blossom time to view evening fireworks, or maybe just to drink tea or sake and enjoy good company.

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Woody Joe already produces a large, 1/24-scale kit of a Yakatabune, but this one is small and quick to build and costs less that one-third as much as the larger kit. The kit features a large number of laser-cut parts. The design of the hull is nearly identical to the other mini-kits of the series, but the decking, rudder, and deckhouse means there is about 50% more wood in this kit. As with the others, the wood provided is Hinoki (hee-noh-key), a variety of Japanese cypress that is extremely aromatic, and it easy to work with.

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Parts are always well packaged and well labeled in Woody Joe kits.

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Japanese language instructions are extremely easy to follow, thanks to the well illustrated, 12-page, step-by-step guide.

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Laser-cut sheets are clearly numbered, and each part has its own identifier to make locating parts simple.

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Color printed paper is used to cover the shoji screen walls of the deck house and for the lanterns hanging along the side.

Having been building the larger scale Yakatabune kit, it’s clear that this is a simplified model. But, that’s the whole point here. This is a model that can easily be built over a weekend, and results in something that looks nice on the shelf.

The kit is solidly packed into its box, which measures about 9″ x 3-1/2″ x 1-1/4″. The model itself measures about 8-1/4″ long when complete and includes a nice base and brass tape nameplate.

At 5,500 yen, the Mini Yakatabune is the most expensive of the three traditional boat mini-kits. At today’s exchange rate, that works out to about $45. As always, I recommend buying the kit from Zootoyz.jp. Prices are good, shipping is extremely fast, and service is great.

For those who want to add a little detail, if you’ve built the larger kit, the details you might add are pretty obvious. There are the beams that protrude from the hull under the side railing, there are the rope wrappings around the sculling oars, the lifting rope on the rudder, and copper caps. But, I think it’s a better kit to be built as-is. A nice simple weekend project that would make a nice gift either as a kit or a completed model.

Personally, I’m a student of the Japanese folk instrument called a shamisen and my teacher would clearly love to have this model on her shelf. She’s been hinting to me, showing her collection of all the different things that her various students have made for her over the years. I think the Mini Yakatabune is going to have to be one of them. Ω

 

 

Two New Mini-Kits from Woody Joe – Hobikisen and Utasebune

As regular visitors to this site know, I’ve quite a bit of interest in ship model kits from the Japanese wooden model manufacturer Woody Joe. They seem to be on a spree, releasing new kits and revising old ones. So far this year, they’ve revised their Hacchoro and Yakatabune ship model kits, released a new 1/350-scale kit of Tokyo Station, and revised their two Cutty Sark model kits (1/100 and 1/80 scales). At the beginning of October, they released two new mini-kits, both “wasen” or traditional Japanese-style boats, the Hobikisen and the Utasebune.

I keep an eye on Woody Joe’s new releases and saw these on their website (http://www.woodyjoe.com), and bought them as soon as they were released. I got them through my friend Kazunori Morikawa, who runs the online hobby store Zootoyz. He doesn’t list any of Woody Joe’s mini-kits on his site, but he can get them.

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These two kits basically feature the same hull, with slight variations. Both hulls are just about 8 inches long, with the completed models measuring around 11-1/2 inches in length. The Hobikisen is the taller of the two at around 11-1/4 inches. The Utasebune is closer to 6 inches tall. The exact scale is not specified, but is somewhere around 1/55 for the Hobikisen and 1/45 for the Utasebune.

The Hobikisen is a type of fishing boat employed on Lake Kasumigaura, which is about 50 miles northeast of Tokyo. It employs a method of side-ways propulsion to drag fishing nets through the water. The Utasebune represents a small boat used in shrimp fishing off the Hokkaido coast, Japan’s northern most major island.

I didn’t know anything about these boats until the Woody Joe kits came along, and I had to do a little bit of Internet research to understand, in particular, why the Hobikisen’s sail is set sideways, and why this doesn’t tip the boat over. But, more on the operational and historical details later. For now, I just want to give a peek at what these kits are about.

As expected, these kits are made from the aromatic Hinoki, Japanese cypress. Each contains 9 to 12 small laser cut sheets of wood, a small number of thin dowels, sail cloth, rigging line, brass wire, and a metallic tape printed with the boat’s name. Each kit also includes a nicely illustrated, 12-page color instruction booklet.

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As with all Woody Joe kits, the instructions are in Japanese. But, the parts in the kit are easily identified in the plans with a very clear numbering system and well labeled parts bags. Each laser cut sheet is assigned a number that corresponds with the numbers in the instructions, with each part on the sheet marked with an identifying letter either on or next to the part on the sheet. This is right up with Woody Joe’s excellent standards.

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These two new kits are mini-kits. They are designed to take up little space and provide several hours of enjoyable building at a low cost. Both kits sell for under $50: 4,500¥ for the Utasebune and 5,000¥ for the Hobikisen. I don’t know how accurate they are, and they certainly aren’t super detailed, but they give you enough detail to make a very nice model and should make very nice weekend projects.

I started working on the Hobikisen and can tell you that they go together very quickly and the parts fit very well together. I’ll go into more detail on the building of these kits in the near future. For now, if you’re looking for highly detailed challenging builds, these kits may not satisfy you. But, if you’re interested in small models of traditional Japanese workboats, and are looking for something fun and interesting you can build in a matter of days or even hours and for not too much money, these should do nicely. I’m thinking these will also make nice gifts, either as kits or as completed decorative display models for my former taiko or shamisen teachers.

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My Hobikisen kit going together.