Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ship Build Update

I’ve made a good bit of progress on my sailing ship build test. I’m building 2 74 gun ships of the line in different scales (1/2400 and 1/1200) to see which scale fits my needs. The 1/2400 scale is from Hallmark/Figurehead and the 1/1200 from Langton.

Both models are excellent products. From a cost and ease of construction the 1/2400 win hands down - only 4 parts including the base vs over 20 for the Langton. I did find the painting the hull on the Figurehead model to be difficult. The gun ports are moulded onto the model and my hand is just to shaky to highlight them. I resorted to dipping the hull to try and show off the detail. Total build / paint time for the 1/2400 is roughly an hour. If this were a business class we would likely say 1/2400 is the most efficient, therefore it wins, class dismissed.

However, miniature wargaming is something that I would never describe as either a practical or “logical” hobby - we do go to extremes don’t we? So why should the norms of standard business judgement apply here? Besides, look at the mess that the application of standard business judgement has gotten us into. Can anyone say “Credit Default Swaps plus Cross Collateralized Risk is a big boo-boo?” But I digress....

Our other build, the Langton model is about 60% complete. Most of the structure is done as is the major painting but I still have to attach the spanker sails, do some paint touch ups, seal the model, complete the rigging and add on the ratlines. By the way, it’s important to build the model in that order. While a challenge, the model has been a real joy to build. I’ve got about 8 hours into her now and likely have another 6 until completion. I’m estimating the normal build time to run around 8 hours once I know what I’m doing - if that’s ever possible :)

The most challenging part of the build was the sails, but if one reads the instructions and takes your time it’s rather fun. I got the process down after completing the first mast. In all fairness, the manufacturer, Rod Langton did point out that the brass sails are not for beginers. Langton does offer a cast option for the sails which appear to be much easier to build but I like the look of the brass sails when completed. The brass sails are more than worth the moderate extra effort.

I’m building this model as a US ship of the line (the Ben Franklin to be precise) and she will be part of a 10-12 ship US fleet that will have 4 74’s as it’s backbone.

So here are my conclusions - both products are excellent. If you’re on a tight budget or consider yourself more of a gamer than a modeler then the Figurehead 1/2400’s are the way to go. They’re not as detailed as the larger scale but you can field a very large force with a limited investment in time and money. However, if you’ve got some more resources to invest and like the modeling aspect as much as the gaming aspect, then there is no better choice than Langton. I’ll be choosing Langton.

Please note: neither model is attached to it’s base - they’re just on them for the photos.

One comical build note - as I was building the Figurehead ship, I manage to drop the stern mast sails onto the floor. While small, the part isn’t that tiny - it’s roughly 3/8 inch by 1/4 inches. After looking for about 20 minutes I couldn’t find it. Like most modelers, I have a black hole under my workbench that occasionally consumes small parts and I thought the sails were on their way to another dimension. I went upstairs for some coffee and my wife started laughing at me and asked, in a mocking tone, why I was at full sail? Apparently, as I got down to look for the sails, I managed to glue them to my left elbow!

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