On April 23rd I attended a game gathering at the Chehalis Veteran’s Museum. A delightful day. The weather was good, which is saying something in these parts this spring. I love the Museum. Gene Anderson does a super job of hosting. Played one game, helped run another. Just a good day.
However, in between those games I had one of those moments in which I could choose to do something new at a very minor cost. Gene had a box of dozens of 1/1200 Superior WWII ships he was getting rid of on behalf of a neighbor. I really didn’t look inside the boxes much because I thought they’d be a lot more than I’d be able or willing to spend after all my spring purchases and Enfilade just around the corner. As I looked and headed out the door, Jim Denberger asked if I was going to make an offer. I made a bunch of excuses, and said I’d give Gene the five dollars I had in my pocket. All I heard was, “I’ll take it,” followed by David Sullivan’s voice saying behind me, “I’ll give you twenty.” Oh fer gawdsakes. I bought David’s lunch and claimed the ships for myself.
A mere handful of the ships I’ve got stashed in my garage. Clockwise from upper left-USS Alabama, pocket battleships Graf Spee, French battlecruiser Dunkerque, Japanese battlecruiser Kongo, USS West Virginia, a pocketful of U.S destroyers, with Sumner in the foreground
I managed to somehow get them in my carry bag and the crate I brought down for my Vietnam figures, and got ’em home. I’ve offered them to my friends, but not exactly any takers. The previous owner was a collector, and I really don’t want to say bad things about him, but I think he was in over his head. Superior ships are kits, some with parts. He seemed to love battleship, so there are buckets of those. Some are cliche: Yamato and Musashi, Iowa, Tirpitz and Arizona. Some are cool like the French battleship Richelieu and battlecruiser Dunkerque, lots of the old American battleships raised from the mud at Pearl Harbor, plus the ancient Arkansas that shot it out with the Germans at D-Day.
Clearly, unfortunately, he wasn’t a gamer. There was pretty much one of everything. Great if you’re showing off stuff, not great if one is trying to fight battles. You can see where this is going, right? Sadly, he wasn’t much of a painter either. Some, not many, weren’t painted at all. Others were painted wrong. Many more were painted badly. Some of the American ships are solid, the rest will need work. I have work to do.
I’ve been chatting this up with Daveshoe. We’ve been angling for a way to convert this mass of ships into a collection we can do some Pacific war battles with. Unfortunately that means buying more. Hah, I can hear you laughing. I’ve already made an order to Alnavco for some Superior ships. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there are some holes in their stock, but I did receive some nicely updated American and Japanese destroyers that will allow Dave and I to play the Battle of the Komandorski Islands somewhere at some future time.
I’m also taking a look at some 3D printed options. XP Forge which is an Etsy business has an extensive list of 1/1200 ships so I gave that a whirl. They arrived within a few days. The ships are okay with some serious and obvious problems. They generally have decent detail. Not as nice as the Superior ships, and much less nice than Navis/Neptun, but they are cheap. A destroyer was five bucks, and the Omaha class light cruiser was 11 dollars. The problem is with long thin things, such as masts. They are telephone poles. A bit less noticeable on the Omaha’s tripod mast, but with the destroyer’s mast/telephone pole, this is huge problem. It does make the gamer proof which is a bonus. Doing the obvious thing, which is to replace the log masts with brass rod, is easier said than done. The damn thing is cast into the bridge of the model, so removal might lead to collateral damage. It was only a five dollar investment, so it might be worth the risk, but it is at best annoying.
XP Forge Omaha, left, and Benson. Cheap, but quality is an issue.
Tiny Thingamajigs is a Shapeways 3D design store that also offer some 1/1200 scale printed ships. They look a bit more promising. The detail seems finer. The ships are more expensive in the higher grade plastic. They have a lot of ships available in scales smaller than 1/1200 and I’ve sent a note to designer Matthew Atkinson about the possibility of printing more vessels in the larger scale, so it will be interesting to see his response. I’ll probably give him a whirl and order an Atlanta class CL which seems pretty nice.
I have started working of stuff. I painted the Japanese heavy cruiser Aoba. Along the way, I made some repairs-it was missing a seaplane catapult- added a little detail-a crane for the seaplane, and I lengthened the masts and added a radar array. I learned a bunch about paint schemes for the US and Japan in WWII. Plus I invested heavily in paint for the period. Unsurprisingly it cost much more than the ships themselves. I’m using the Life Colour paints for the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. It’s very nice stuff. I have six Japanese destroyers, none of them the new ones, primed and ready to paint. I’m hoping I might finish them before the convention.
My first re-imagined ships from the great pile-Japanese heavy cruiser Aoba. Missing a rear catapult, I constructed one, added a crane and lengthened masts before priming over the electric blue spray paint. Painted Aoba Kure Gray and Linoleum deck brown.
Ah, another rabbit hole to follow . . . I confess I’ve always loved this scale and this period, and it more or less fell into my lap. The expense has been minimal. It’s something Dave and I can do together and I think it has a lot of reward potential . . . if I don’t go off the deep end. Yeah . . . right.
Yesterday I finished six Japanese destroyers. From left they are Wakatake, Mutsuki, Hatsuharu, Fubuki, and two Kagero class. Waiting for acrylic bases from Litko before mounting them.