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.

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