Well hi all,
I've been talking about starting a build blog for this kit for some time, so I figured it was about time to get it started. And why not? I turned fifty-five today.
This blog is (hopefully) going to document the construction of the Heller's kit of HMS Victory, and I hope I can give enlightenment to any who is building, or is going to build, this kit. As a lot of people noted on my review of this kit, the instructions leave a fair amount to be desired. So if I can let people know of some of the pitfalls and workarounds I've found or used, then a big part of the purpose of this blog has been fulfilled.
I've been working on my model since 2010 (the kit was bought in '07). A lot of that time has been spent on painting the hull, cannon carronades, and deck pieces. A lot of the other time was spent clearing my desk, and doing my income taxes!
I've seen a lot of forum posts about how this model kit somehow intimidates people. Myself, I like a big challenge! But if you've never built a sailing ship model before, Heller's Victory is not the place to start. Not only are there a lot of parts (more on that later), but the assembly sequence is a bit bizarre, and you'll find yourself scratching your head quite a bit when it comes to figuring out the rigging scheme. However, there is a belaying pin-to-rope diagram, so taking a few minutes to find where the end of the rope goes to on that diagram, will be helpful. Of course, the amount of painting that is done on this ship is astronomical - not only does the outside of the hull have to be painted, but the inside of the hull gets painted, as well as both sides of all the deck pieces. This is where you'll spend scads of time - trying to figure out, on the hull, the point where a black stripe ends and a yellow stripe begins. I used the box art and the instructions, and what might be some molded-in "lines" to determine what's black and what's yellow (or ochre, if you prefer). Plus, the inside of the hull, on the upper parts, there is the moldings that are to be painted black, against a yellow background. This is where you can get a bit nutty - I found myself constantly re-touching the black, because of some over-run of the yellow, then touching up the yellow, because of some over-run of the black. And the worst thing is, I'll be painting on this thing until after I think I'm finished with it.
About the parts quantity: It looks like Heller, in their finite wisdom, rather than try to get "x' number of similar parts molded on the same sprue, they just throw in two or three sprues with that same part. For instance, the ladders that lead from the main deck (or at least, what the U.S. Navy would nowadays call the main deck) down below, were all molded in black. However, rather than try to get all the ladders on the same sprue, I found that there is one ladder on 3 sprues. And I'm not sure I'll use all the parts on the rest of the sprues. So even if the box says there's some 1000+ parts, take it with a grain of salt. Besides, each cannon assembly has 6 parts: 6 times 100 (cannons) equals 600 parts. Boom - you just slashed the parts count by more than half.
And now, about the lacks of parts quantity: it really rubs me the wrong way that Heller didn't include any black thread for the standing rigging, let alone any kind of anchor cable. Of the rigging thread they do supply, it's in two diameters, and colored white. In the instructions, they tell you to run the thread through a cup of coffee to get it colored. They don't tell you if that should be black coffee, or cafe au lait, or Folger's or Starbucks. I couldn't see brewing a new cup of coffee each time I needed to color their thread. So I went to a Canadian company (www.castyouranchorhobbies.com) to get some various sizes of black thread for the standing rigging. I went looking for some various sizes of tan colored thread for the running rigging, but the sizes weren't what I was looking for. Then, as I was sitting out on the front porch, it hit me: why not get a brown Sharpie marker, and run the thread against it, to color the thread? So that's what I did. It turns the thread a dark brown, but I'll live with it. Besides, the box art shows some of the running rigging to be dark brown, so I can't be too far off the mark.
So, I know a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll try to upload photos so that I can then post them into this blog. Unfortunately, I uploaded a bunch of photos earlier this today, but now, I don't see them in the gallery...maybe I was supposed to "process" the photos to get them to actually upload. So now, it's off to read the forum post about uploading photos and stuff.
Currently, I'm working on step 9 of the instructions - I just finished cementing all the cannons onto the deck, so now it's time to finish painting the fixtures (or columns, or stanchions, not sure what to call them), then the finish painting the upper deck (ha ha! "finish painting" ha ha!) and try to get that installed. The instructions say to spread the hull apart to get the upper deck slid into place, but I'm not sure how that's going to work out.
One thing about the paint I'm using: I'm using Tamiya acrylic paints. Usually I paint with enamels, but I wanted to do something different this time. For everyone who might build this ship in the future, use some kind of yellow ochre for the yellow color (I'm using Testor's Insignia yellow, in acrylic). The problem is, when you look at the hull from a distance, because it's flat black/bright flat yellow, it looks like some kind of industrial warning zone. So don't use too bright of a yellow. And the red I'm using, it's glossy red, not flat red. The brightness looks sharp, but the glossiness doesn't really belong on a warship. And of all these paints, it usually takes at least 2 coats to get good coverage, with at least 1 hour dry time between coats. So if you have a preference for type and brand of paint, feel free to go with it. I have found, however, by using acrylic paint, I can go to the craft store and buy a big bottle of gold colored paint for less than 2 dollars, and I use maybe 3 brushfuls of the stuff. I say that, because up on the bow, there is some scroll work that needs to be painted gold, and I can't see ponying up the 5 or 6 dollars at the hobby shop for a jar of gold paint that is a fraction of the size I got at the craft store.
So for the rest of the blog, things might seem a bit out of sequence, as I've put parts together while waiting for other painted parts to dry or something. So that's all for now, and I thank you for taking the time to read this blog.