Don’t know if you’ve noticed, as it’s hard to tell from their website, but in the Fall of 2016, BlueJacket Shipcrafters released a few new ship model kits or, more accurately, boat model kits.
I can tell you with all certainty that Ages of Sail, the ship model distributor and retail store located in San Lorenzo, California, is now carrying model kits from the German manufacturer Krick. An official announcement should be coming out today or tomorrow, but the kits are in stock and you can see them at agesofsail.com.
The lineup includes a few wooden display models including a very large scale model of a U.S. revenue cutter and the English built paddlewheel steamer Gulnara of the Sardinian Navy.
Operating models appear to have ABS plastic hulls and include a German Type VII U-Boat, which can be built with an optional dive unit, also available at Ages of Sail, other electric powered models made for RC operation, and a few open steam launches, made for live steam operation.
Unfortunately, Krick seems to be having trouble sourcing the steam engines themselves, so those components are not yet available. But, all else is available including sail sets, fitting sets and the U-Boat’s dive set.
The news doesn’t seem to stop here when it comes to Woody Joe and me. I just posted my update on building the Iwakuni Castle kit, which is very close to being done. And, regarding that build, I can honestly say that I’m a ship modeler! By that, I mean that I’m not so good at castle building. It’s turning out okay, and it’s a great kit, but I know that I’d be doing a much better job if I were building a ship.
Speaking of ships, Woody Joe seems to be constantly releasing products. A few weeks ago, I noticed something new on their website. Apparently, they’ve just released a kit of the Japanese built Spanish Galleon San Juan Bautista. I don’t know a whole lot about the history of the ship, but that there is a full-sized replica, and this kit is based on that replica. This is a 1/80-scale plank-on-bulkhead kit that measures just about 28″ long when complete and lists for ¥38,000, which is about $320. The image here is right off of Woody Joe’s website. But you can find more detailed photos elsewhere on the web. And, that brings me to the next development, Woody Joe has just established a presence on Facebook. So, if you like Woody Joe, go visit their page and give them a Like: Woody Joe on Facebook.
Back to my end of things, I just made arrangements to display my Higaki Kaisen model at the window display of Union Bank’s community room in San Francisco’s Japantown. The display faces into the mall there, so visitors to the mall will be able to see it. The display will run from Friday, February 13th, to probably no than Wednesday, April 1st. I’d like to leave it on display longer, but there are other displays scheduled, particularly for the Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place mid-April. Once it is seen there, I’m hoping the bank manager or mall manager will like it enough to want to display it somewhere more long term. We’ll see how things go in a month or so.
The location isn’t the most ideal, as the mall in split into 2 parts, and the part where the model will be has far fewer attraction. Still, it’s a nice location in that there is another large display case across the courtyard from where the model will be that usually has some traditional Japanese things that the model kind of fits into. Today, I went over to TAP Plastics to pick up some literature display holders and I created a simple one-page write up to accompany the model. I also made a copy of the cover the Nautical Research Journal issue where the model appears. So, I’m hoping to create a nice informational display. I’ll post more once the display is actually up.
On another note, I just finished up a kit review article on Woody Joe’s Charles Royal Yacht kit. The kit has been in production for nearly 7 years now, but it’s still not well known here in the U.S., and it’s a really nice looking kit. I’m also using the article to draw more attention to the Japanese ship model society called The Rope, which uses the kit to teach beginning ship modelers. To this end, I’ve gotten some help from Don Dressel of the Ship Modelers Association (Fullerton, CA) who has in turn put me in touch with Mr. Norio Uriu of The Rope. That group was kind enough to provide some photos of completed models of the Charles Yacht built by their club members.
The Rope is particularly significant to this kit because one of their long time members, now deceased, helped Woody Joe design the kit, and another member created the original carvings used to create the kit’s decorative castings. You’ll just have to read the details when the article is published. An email exchange with the Ships in Scale editors indicated that it might be a relatively quick turn-around from submission to publication this time. So, we’ll see how that goes. I’m sending the article to a couple people to review for me, and then it’s off to the SIS editors.
One topic I see pop up from time to time in online ship model forums and in ship model club meetings is how to get kids involved in ship modeling. There is a lot of lamenting about how kids today aren’t interested at all and how that paints a bleak future for ship modeling.
I personally am not too worried about getting kids building ship models because, as a kid, I was never interested in ship models. I liked tanks, modern ships, aircraft and rockets. My own dad tried to get me into his area of interest, wooden airplanes. I tried building one on one or two occasions, but it never stuck with me, as much as he tried. Plastic kits were in my blood.
My interest in wooden ship models didn’t take hold until I was in my 30s and was as much a surprise to me as anyone. childhood friends I’d reconnected with were truly surprised by the shift. I’ve looked around and seen that many others also made the leap only in later years. So, it doesn’t surprise me that kids don’t take to it so much. Still, it’s always good to expose kids to ship modeling early, so they can develop an appreciation, even if they don’t take up building right away.
One way to get kids exposed to ship modeling is through really simple models they can build quickly and easily. And, today, I ran across a couple kits on the shelves over at Ages of Sail. At first, the kid kits seemed like crummy little kits that are simplified and uninteresting. But, then I’d realized I was looking at it from an experienced ship modeler’s perspective, and not as someone really looking to get kids building something that they might find fun to build.
These kits by Billing Boats are two of four available kits designed for young builders. They have goofy names, like Lobsy, Tuggy and Jolly, but maybe that’s not a turn-off for the intended audience, which is kids 8 years and older. The most advanced is the Mini-Oseberg, which is for kids 10 and older.
At present, there is only Lobsy and the Mini-Oseberg in stock, so I took those out to look them over. All of the kits are simplified to a flat-bottom design and are of basic sheet-wood construction. There is no planking and detail is very simple, so they really should be easy builds. The completed models are touted as floatable, so kids can play with them when they’re done – Something that I think has a lot of appeal for kids as it gives them more incentive to build it.
Of course, if you’re going to put them in water (well, that is, if you’re KIDS are going to put them in water), it would be best to give them a good sealing coat of some kind. Perhaps sprayed with a good coat of primer that can then be painted over by the kids using some kind of non-toxic acrylic paints. Midwest makes a nice little set that Would work well for this.
The Lobsy kit looks pretty good actually. It’s very simple in design and gives a kid a chance to glue a little, paint a little, and maybe apply a little wood stain possibly. The hardest part of the build looks to be the adding of the hull sides to the hull bottom. The kit is almost entire thin plywood, which is strong, but stiff. Adult assistance is very likely to be required, at least to teach the child how to soften the wood with water prior to bending, and maybe how to use a building board and nails to help hold the assembly together as it dries.
Beyond that, this might provide a youngster with the opportunity to be creative with the boat’s paint job, etc. For an affordable $13, I think this kit would be ideal for a ship model club to use to introduce kids to ship modeling. I’m going to bring this up with the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights group. Being that our workshop is at the S.F. Maritime National Historic Park, we could easily do some kind of program for kids one day, or maybe over the course of a month.
The other kit is the Viking ship, the Mini Oseberg, which is somewhat more complicated in that it has a lot more parts, and includes a sail that must be painted and rigged. Accordingly, the age range on that kit is ages 10 and up. But, older kids should love the viking ship with its sides studded with shields, which by the way are injection-molded plastic. The box art shows planking lines, but these don’t come with the kit, as far I could tell without opening up the bag of parts. But the planking should easily be drawn right onto the sheet wood parts.
The Mini Oseberg kit lists at $20. Certainly the box is bigger and there are more parts, but I don’t know if it’s really as good as value as the Lobsy kit. That probably doesn’t matter so much given how much more appealing the idea of a viking ship with sail probably is to a youngster.
I’m looking forward to seeing the other kits in this lineup, and I’ll post more info about them when I do. In the meantime, these kits aren’t on the Ages of Sail website yet, but you can purchase these kits from their Billing Boat USA site.