Monday, October 20, 2014

1/600 ACW ship models from Shapeways.

I recently stumbled across a designer on Shapeways that made 3D models of ACW ships available. Shapeways, for those that do not know is a 3D printing company. Their printers can lay down a model one layer at a time. The finished product is a one piece model with no (or is some cases a little) assembly required.

Brown Water Navy Miniatures produces several models in 1/600. I ordered two of them - USS Monitor and CSS Baltic. I've been using 1/144 model planes from Shapeways for the past year, but this was the first time I'd found ACW ship models.

The models are durable. If you are familiar with the "White Strong and Flexible" material used by Shapeways, you know that it's a porous, tough material. It's a staple for the 1/144 airplanes and is a great material for table top miniatures - light and tough. The downside is that it's porous. To get a smooth surface for painting, you need to do a bit of prep work filling and smoothing the surface. But hey - it's a relatively cheap model ($6.00 for USS Monitor).

The USS Monitor is well sculpted with easily recognizable details. I've built several 1/600 kits of the Monitor, as a result, I feel comfortable reviewing this model.  Let's start with the basics, for a 1/600 model, it's a little on the small side. Checking Silverstone's Civil War Navies, we find the Monitor should have a length of 179 feet and a width of 41.5 feet. In 1/600, we're looking for 3.58" long by 0.83" wide. The model is 3" by 0.77" which by my numbers is 84% long and 93% skinny compared to the expected result.'s a little small.

The model sports a mix of features that don't cleanly mesh. The pilot house is the post-Hampton Roads refit with the improved angled armor.

But the smokestacks are clearly the pre-Hampton Roads square boxes designed to be removed before action. Post-Hampton Roads these two exhausts are routed into a common funnel.

Here we are side by side with a Peter Pig monitor casting. The SWF 3D model does not have the same level of detail as the pewter cast Peter Pig model. The anchor well and forward hatch are missing, but the rear ventilators and aft hatch are present on the Shapeways model.

Okay...this is just a bad picture. (my bad.) You can see the armored ledge around the top of the turret and sort of see the sloped armor of the pilot house.

CSS Baltic has similar issues at 83% of expected length, but 101% of width.

Bow view of Brown Water Navies CSS Baltic.

CSS Baltic. This view shows off the 'grainy' surface of the WSF material. With a bit of work and a top seal coat, you can get a smooth finish. You don't get the surface detail  or Thoroughbred or BAY, but it's recognizable as CSS Baltic.

The wheelhouses are inline with the hull. Since there is no photographic evidence to the contrary...okay. It's similar to many of the Peter Pig models. It lacks the detail parts you'd get with Thoroughbred.

Not bad models, definitely game table pieces...but tough, durable game table pieces. If I was running a game for kids - this is the way to go. They'd be hard pressed to break anything. But if you are closer to the scale modeling end, you'll want to stick to the Bay Area Yards and Thoroughbred Miniatures stuff. 

I'll likely order some more models from Brown Water Navy Miniatures in the future. There are some interesting odds and ends that look like they scale out closer to true 1/600. Keep your eye on this guy - Brown Water Navy Miniatures and Shapeways could become another player in the 1/600 ACW space. 
resin that is really tough. It takes a bit of prep work, but it pays off in the painting.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Puttering about with the ACW models

I've been puttering with the 1/600 ACW ship models. Did some detailing on Union Casco class "torpedo boats" as well as work on some other models. Below are a few pictures of what's going on on the workbench. It's mostly slow work.

The big accomplishment was getting the primer coat on a couple of models. I'd had trouble getting Gesso to adhere to some of the the resin that Bay Area Yards used. I gave the models a couple of baths in warm soapy water and even tried CRC contact cleaner (don't try this at home kids!) to cut through the mold release agent.

Fortunately, with the recent spell of warm, dry weather, I could go to the old reliable method of using $1.50 a can gray spray paint from Wally World as a primer coat. I had no trouble getting the primer coat to stick to the models. 

Bay Area Yards CSS Texas with a primer coat applied.

CSS Texas is a new model in the Bay Area Yards lineup. The model seems to crouch on the table with the severely sloped casemate. I've got the model based and should be able to get this finished quickly.

Bay Area Yards timberclad USS Lexington.

I had a little trouble with the stacks on the Lexington. Sometimes, I'm my own worst enemy. One of the stacks was out of true, so I tried to bend it...and snapped it off right at deck level. I was able to reattach it, but the stacks are a bit out of true and look a little goofy. We'll see how it looks later with a coat of paint.

The timberclad in front of the Thoroughbred Figures model of USS Tyler.

I do like the variety in models we can access these days. Way, way back in the past, we were lucky to have one model of a timberclad from Peter you can get detailed models of the Tyler, Lexington and Conestoga from multiple manufacturers.

Union Ellet ram Lioness from Bay Area Yards

Last up - an Ellet Ram. Ever since reading Chester Hearn's book on the Ellet Brigade, I've been hooked on the whole concept of the rams on the Mississippi River. Fortunately, I was able to add the sternwheel ram Lioness to my collection before it dropped out of production. I like Lioness because this is a rare model of a sternwheeler and makes a great addition to your model fleets of sidewheel rams from Thoroughbred and Peter Pig. I'm not quite done with this model. It needs another top coat, then some weathering and finally a little touch up on the base. Should be able to join the fleet by November!