Here I offer a brief study of my little ship-making history. In an earlier post I shared three bombers and discussed the ways in which my building of large aircraft had developed over the years. This is a similar idea!
The oldest of these British destroyers are two Tamiya 1/700 O Class destroyers. I probably built them twenty years ago, though I don’t rightly recall at this point. At that time, I didn’t know that some people might be adding extra details like rigging or Photo-Etch railings (if those even existed at that time) or other accents of any kind — or if they were, I was unaware of it. The thought of going to such lengths never crossed my mind.
So these two vessels have none of that. Although my HMS Orwell seems to have a historical camouflage scheme, HMS Onslow isn’t painted at all accurately, if the box art is to be trusted. I saw the camouflage on the box, thought it looked too hard, and just decided to paint my own random geometric shapes. Of course, the anticipated audience for the two Os was never more than two or three people at most — me, whoever my girlfriend might have been at the time (o joy for her!) and maybe a roommate — so it didn’t really matter what I did to the models.
The fact that it does seem to “matter” nowadays how we make our models may be because so many of us now endeavor to share the fruits of our labor with a larger audience; we no longer build stuff with just ourselves in mind. (At least I don’t, and I wrote about the phenomenon here.) Ultimately, I’d say the prospect of showing my models to anyone with an interest has invigorated my work.
However, ten or so years ago when I built the next destroyer, the E Class escort that came with HMS Hood by Tamiya, I was still not interested in adding all those extra layers of detail. I’m not sure I even knew yet that anyone was doing it. I purchased the kit in the Akihabara district of Tokyo in 2006 when my wife and I took a school group to Japan for a visit. (The fact that finding a previously unfamiliar kit in Japan could have been so exciting that I had to buy it and lug it home in my carry-on bags seems quaint, now that one can procure anything from anywhere at the click of a button. I miss those old days, actually!) I believe I painted this E Class more skillfully than the older Os, resulting in more precise lines between deck and superstructure, for instance, but you’ll note that there is still not one piece that didn’t come in the box.
The first time I did try adding railings and rigging, it was to the Revell Germany 1/700 HMS Kelly. The little Revell kits may not have the finest details, but I think they are decent — and I have long been on the lookout for any new Royal Navy subjects, so I was more than happy to give it a go. (How come there are no 1/700 RN cruisers in polystyrene, anyway?) I was and still am pretty pleased with the results (shiny gray paint notwithstanding…).
On a different trip to Japan in 2008 I bought a repeat of the O Class units, thinking that I could probably do them better. These two, and the HMS Eskimo from Trumpeter, were finished most recently and show how far I’m now willing to go — and how much more time I’m willing to spend — for “that extra touch.” I actually did not build the Trumpeter kit entirely. Our Japanese home stay friend from this past summer wanted to build a ship while he was here, so he did most of the assembly. I painted and finished it in September.
I finished the new Os just this week. Railings, rigging, weathering… I think they look pretty cool. Though I greatly admire some of the kit-bashed custom upgrades I have seen online of the same kit, I myself haven’t yet reached the point where the out-of-the-box inaccuracies of these models bother me much.
Now that I’ve finished my little essay on ship-building, I can’t imagine there are very many people in the world who would be that interested to read it through, but if you’ve come this far and are still with me, you must be one of the select few! Congratulations, and thanks for your time.