A 1/72-Scale HMS Mercury Card Model

This past weekend, we had a vendor table at the IPMS show in San Jose, and had a chance to talk to many people, including a number of customers. One of them, Ron Palma, is building a 1/72-scale model of the British sixth-rate frigate HMS Mercury from Shipyards Laser Cardboard Kit series.

Yesterday, he sent along some progress photos and said that we could share them, which we are very excited to do!

Ron has the hull mostly completed and copper sheathed. Keep in mind that while the frieze work is included in the kit, the whole model does not come pre-printed. So, the excellent paint job is Ron’s handiwork. He commented that the cannon barrels have been taped to protect them from the clear-coat overspray he gave the hull.

Ron’s done an outstanding job, but commented on how well this Shipyard kit has been engineered. He’s getting pretty close to starting the rigging on this model. When completed, the 3-masted warship model will measure 34-1/2″ long.

We’ll keep you posted on Ron’s very inspiring card model. In the meantime, if you are interested in this particular kit, you can find it here on Ages of Sail: HMS Mercury Laser Cardboard Kit. These kits include all parts laser-cut, with pre-printed frieze art, cast resin figurehead, pre-cut and printed cloth sails, turned brass cannons and swivel guns, wooden dowels for the masts and yardarms, rigging line, paint and brushes, plus an a nice photographic set of instructions.

We also carry the smaller 1/96-scale Paper Model kit. The Paper Model series kits are more basic, but include all the basic parts pre-printed in color on high quality paper. You are required to laminate paper to create the necessary thickness for the parts. You’ll also have to provide your own dowels and sail material. However, we’ll soon be adding Shipyard’s masting sets and sail sets to our website as we have all those items in stock now. Check out the kit on Ages of Sail: HMS Mercury Paper Model.

Watch for future updates on Ron’s HMS Mercury model.

The Crowdy Head Lighthouse – A Shipyard Card Model, Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the article on building Shipyard’s Crowdy Head Lighthouse card model kit. Ship modeler Clare Hess describes some of his experiences building this Laser Cardboard Kit.

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1/72-scale Crowdy Head Lighthouse model by Clare Hess


To recap from my previous post, this is my second completed paper model. The first was the British naval cutter HMS Alert, which I build from Shipyard’s line of Paper Model kits. The Crowdy Head Lighthouse kit, I chose from Shipyard’s Laser Cardboard Kit line because it is not all that much more expensive than the other versions of this model, plus it includes paints, brushes, and landscaping material consisting of fake grass and real sand.

The kit provides all the paper parts pre-cut, which is a big time saver, and ideal for people who don’t mind paying a little more money for a simpler project. This model took me about three weeks to construct, though I only worked on it a bit at a time.

Construction begins very simply, as the thicker card stock pieces fit together quite cleanly, and your model become 3-dimensions very quickly.

By the way, don’t every punch out the card stock pieces unless you want an ugly looking model, you bend, crease, and damage the integrity of the card stock. Always cut with a sharp knife, the sharper and thinner, the better. I often use a scalpel, but for this model, I found a #1 handle hobby knife worked well, just make sure your blades are sharp.

Also, if you don’t have one, get yourself a cutting mat. The one shown is a Fiskars brand, which I picked up at Michael’s craft store, but Ages of Sail carries the Modelcraft Tools brand that includes a large range of sizes. You don’t really need anything big for this model, so the small or medium sized matts should do fine.

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For glue, I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue almost exclusively. This stuff is like a thick Elmer’s white glue, and it was a pleasure to use – I highly recommend it. But, get the 4 oz bottle, not the little 2/3 oz ones that come in a the multi-packs.  I picked up the stuff at Ace Hardware, but you can find it at most fabric or craft stores.

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Later on, there are some other glues that will prove helpful, specifically thin cyanoacrylate or CA glue, which is useful for strengthening small pieces made of thick card stock. More on that later.

You’ll need to do some painting pretty quickly. The doors and window frames need to be painted before mounting and you can do that right on the laser-cut sheet. Don’t worry about glue not sticking to paint. I found that Aleene’s holds well, at least to the paint that’s included in the Shipyard boxed kits.

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Now, on the matter of the Shipyard paint, it appears to be the same stuff they used to include in sealed tubes, which was an artist’s acrylic brand from Poland called Renesans. They’re now in jars, which seem to dry out a bit on the shelf. If this is the case with your model, not to worry. I found that adding water and stirring the paint worked very well, though it took a bit of stirring on my kit to even it out.

Now, I’ve used various brands of paints, but I have to say that I REALLY like this stuff. It dries to a matte finish and has a little bit of transparency to it, so if you paint over printed parts with a thin coat, you can still see the printing. I used it on my HMS Alert model and thought it worked very well on both paper and wood surfaces. The only problem is that the brand is not sold here. But, if you buy enough of these boxed kits, you should end up with a small supply.

You’re going to have to mix the paint a bit. The brown paint is VERY dark and you might want to lighten it up a bit with one of the provided colors. The same is true later on for the lighthouse’s blue trim.

Now for the windows, the kit includes a small sheet of clear acetate film. You can easily cut this to size with scissors. Gluing these into place, I used just a small touch of Aleene’s at the outside edges, top and bottom, keeping it from marring the window surface. When dry, I applied more to the sides. Don’t worry too much about the appearance of the edges of the window frame as they’re applied from the inside of the walls and are hidden from sight. The same is true of the doors.

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The biggest issue I ran into was just making sure to double check that you got the right piece on in the right direction. There are a number of pieces that look very similar and it can be a little confusing. So, look carefully at the directions.

If you cut a part free and it does not have a part number you may want to lightly mark it in pencil on a side that will not be visible on the completed model. This is particularly true with the parts that have the same shape. Of course, you don’t want to remove anything from the laser-cut sheets that you don’t need to, but sometimes they pop loose on their own.

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Instructions

The instructions in these boxed kits seem to be better than for the Paper Model series kits, though I have to admit that I’ve only seen the Paper Model series of ship models.

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I showed this same image in my previous post, but it bears looking at again. As you can see, the instructions have essentially no text, but outline all the steps clearly in detailed diagrams. The asterisk (*) next to a part indicates that it should be painted prior to assembly, and the letter F indicates a piece of clear acetate.

Some parts may be hard to find, but they’re there, somewhere on one of the sheets. Particularly difficult are the door knobs. But, honestly, I found them so hard to cut free from the laser sheet that I ended up destroying some and giving up. If I want door knobs, I’ll use pin heads. This was a detail I simply chose to omit.

Details like the window sills, I found to be a bit confusing, but the photos of the completed model helped a lot and it all made sense in the end.

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The Light

I think the hardest features of the kit include the railing around the light and the assembly of the windows of the light. The window frames are very thin and delicate. What I learned was to use scissors to carefully cut the frames free. Cut close to the laser-cut line and the exertion will generally pop the laser-cut loose, nice and cleanly. If there’s a little extra, don’t worry about it.

Lay the frames out on the acetate piece on a flat and level surface, then take some liquid floor finish, they used to call it Future but now it’s Pledge Floor Care Finish (you can buy it at hardware stores or the grocery store, though you may have to look around for it), and drip it onto the acetate, so that it fills the frames. Let it dry as long as it takes. The floor finish will seal the frame and the glass together… and just look at that shine!

85263135When it’s all dry, you can then use scissors to cut free the frames with their windows attached. Then, you can glue them to the model using the Aleene’s Tacky Glue. I’m sorry I don’t have any photos of the process, but it’s pretty straight forward. Just keep in mind that any contaminants in the floor finish and on the window will be permanent fixtures.

Now, dealing with the railing, the stanchions are all laser cut, as are the holes for the wire railing provided in the kit. However, getting the wire into these holes will require you to drill them out. I don’t recall the size of the bit, probably something between a #72 and a #68.

The problem you’ll run into is that the cardboard will want to come apart if you start drilling it. This is where the thin CA comes in handy. After cutting the parts free from the laser-cut sheet, carefully touch some thin CA into one end of the stanchion, just be careful not to get whatever your holding the stanchion with glued to the stanchion.

If you take a straight pin and poke it securely into the hole for the railing (do this by laying the part on the cutting mat so you don’t bend up the part), you can probably hold it enough to allow you to wick the CA into the part. After the CA has dried, you’ll find the card stock piece much stiffer and easier to drill.

Now, I used a pin vise for drilling, but still ended up bending up some of the stanchions. I suspect a high speed drill, like a small hobby drill press or a rotary tool is less likely to cut the hole more cleanly and with less stress on the part. In any case, like I said, I had a few bent stanchions, but I made due anyway. Once on the model, you can straighten those things out a bit.

Next, you can just thread the wire through all the stanchions, then space them out to fit on the lighthouse deck and glue them down carefully. You’ll need to cut away any excess wire, and try to get the ends cut close to a stanchion, so you can use some gap filling CA where it won’t be so noticeably.

 

I’ll leave the painting and landscaping to the kit instructions and your own sensibilities. I will just say to use light coats and don’t soak the paper, as it will wrinkle or get soggy. Let things thoroughly dry first if you intend to add another light coat.

This was a fun and interesting project and a nice, quick diversion from wooden ship modeling. It is the smallest of the Shipyard lighthouse kits, and I think it makes a great starter kit – a perfect introduction to paper models and to modeling in general.

Here are some photos of my finished model. I intend to mount it on a nice wooden base. I hope you’ll try out one of the Shipyard kits, even if it’s not a lighthouse. Check out the ship kits and the quay port dioramas at Ages of Sail, the US import for Shipyard products.

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The Crowdy Head Lighthouse – A Shipyard Card Model

On our blog here, ship modeler Clare Hess will be taking a look at one of the more unique lines of model kits carried by Ages of Sail: Shipyard’s 1/72-scale Laser Cardboard kit of the Crowdy Head Lighthouse.

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Article by Clare Hess –

I’ve completed one paper model sailing ship, but always thought the lighthouse kits from Shipyard were interesting looking. The Crowdy Head Lighthouse is, I believe, the smallest of the lighthouse kits available, and the least expensive. I chose this kit, in part, because I have a lot of projects on my plate and I really wanted to do a write-up of one of these kits, so I picked one that seemed fairly simple to construct.

Crowd Heady Lighthouse photo from Wikipedia

Crowd Heady Lighthouse photo from Wikipedia

But, I also wanted to find something simple because I want to figure out if this would make a good introduction to paper/card models, or even a good introduction to model building in general. After all, few people have tried one of these Shipyard kits, and I think they’re pretty neat kits that a lot of people would enjoy building.

Different Lines of Kits

As with nearly all the subjects in the Shipyard line of kits, there are actually 4 different versions of the Crowdy Head Lighthouse kit. This selection makes things a little confusing.

  • Laser Cardboard Kit, 1/72 scale
  • Laser Cut Model, 1/72 scale
  • Laser Cut Model, 1/87 scale (HO)
  • Paper Model, 1/87 scale (HO)

Basically, Paper Models have pre-printed parts that you cut and glue together and they are very inexpensive. Laser Cut Models require you to paint the model, but the parts are all laser-cut for you from appropriately sized card stock. Laser Cardboard Kits are basically Laser Cut Models, but include paints, brushes, and greenery, all in a nicely boxed package, and are the priciest choice, but can easily be the best value.

For a relatively small model like this, there isn’t a huge difference in price between the range of kits, so I figured $37 was good. After all, it includes 5 jars of paint, plus it comes with greenery and sand, and a couple nice quality paint brushes. All of that is probably worth the $15 price difference from the 1/72-scale Laser Cut model version.

The Kit

The Laser Cardboard Kit comes in a neat package. Having built other Shipyard kits, I can attest to the fact that the box is VERY handy for keeping your parts safe until you need them.


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Inside, besides all the part sheets and instructions, a little cardboard caddy at the top of the box keeps your paints neatly organized.

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The numbers and color chip identify each of the colors, but there are no other labels. In fact, the kit instructions don’t identify the colors you are to use on the model, but it does provide a nice set of color photos as a guide.

The paints provided in the kit are excellent quality and I really like using them on paper models. They are water-based artist’s acrylics of a brand called Renesans that’s made in Poland.

The paint has a slightly coarse texture when it goes on, giving a nice flat finish. The paints are also not totally opaque, so if you don’t apply too heavy a coat, you can see the pre-printed or laser-scribed lines through it. Some kits, perhaps only older ones, provide tubes of paint. This kit, and most of the Laser Cardboard Kit series that I’ve seen lately, all provide paint in jars.

There is good and bad to this. The jars make it easier to work directly with the paint, but I find it’s best to apply the paint onto a piece of glass, where you can easily thin and mix paints as needed. The downside of the jars is illustrated with the kit I bought, where the paints were partially dried out. Fortunately, this paint revives perfectly with the addition of water and some thorough stirring.

With a limited selection of colors available, you’ll find that you have to mix colors to get the exact shade you want. It may take a little practice to match colors, but there’s plenty of paint in the kit to experiment with.

Parts

If you’ve never seen one of these laser-cut kits, they are really fun to look through. The detail and precise cuts really make you want to just start building.

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There are a couple different thicknesses of parts. Most of the structural parts are cut from a heavy card stock. Parts that make up the lighthouse’s facade are cut from thin card stock, with heavy use of laser scribing to create textures and details.

The window frames, in particular, are a bit tricky to work with as they are very thin, so you want to make sure that you work with a VERY sharp, thin blade. A lot of Laser Cardboard Kits even come with a razor blade, but not this one. That’s just as well, because I would want something to recommend for kids, and that wouldn’t be a kit that includes a razor blade.

Still, you’ll need a sharp hobby knife, or even a scalpel, which is a lot thinner and sharper, and make sure to carefully “chop” through the tabs that hold the part to the sheet.

That brings me to one of those items you don’t want to be without if you’re building one of these card/paper kits, and that’s a cutting mat. Ages of Sail carries a nice selection of self-healing cutting mats from Modelcraft Tools.

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Other items in the kit include wire for hand rails and a piece of clear acetate for the windows.

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There’s also bags of fake sand and grass to landscape your completed model when it’s done. Finally, there are a pair of very nice quality brushes included, which I really liked using.

Instructions

Of course, no kit is complete without instructions. If you’ve ever built a paper model kit before, you’re probably accustomed a general lack of written instruction. If not, you want to get used to building by diagrams and part numbers. Fortunately, for a relatively simple subject like a small lighthouse, it’s not difficult.

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There is some written instruction included, but it’s mostly just there to tell you to build the kit in the order of the part numbers, and to pre-paint any parts marked with an asterisk (*). It does this in English, Polish, and German.

Again, there is no paint guide, but there is a very nice color photo page.

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As I mentioned above, building is basically by the numbers. Just look very carefully to make sure you know whether a part glues onto the edge of another part or on TOP of the edge, etc. Test fit, and look carefully ahead in the instructions. Find your parts, and don’t cut out anything that you don’t need yet.

Next Time, I’ll post some pictures of the build and describe some of the challenges I came across in building the model…