Niko's 1/700 scale
by Steve Zaloga
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Many years ago, while visiting the Smithsonian's Museum of US History, I was very impressed by a large scale model displayed there of the USS Maine in its pre-Spanish-American War "Great White Fleet" colors. These early battleships offer a certain "steam-punk" charm, so I was happy to see that the Polish resin firm "Niko" was offering a kit of the USS Texas. I hardly ever build ship models, so I wanted a model that would be reasonably fun to build, even if a challenge due to its small size.
The kit is mixed media resin/photo-etch, and quite high-end in terms of resin casting and PE quality. I wanted something out-of-the-box, not requiring a lot of after-market searching, and the Niko kit fits the bill. Having built many Braille scale armor models, I was prepared for the small size of the model. The finished model as shown here sits on a 4x6 inch base, and is quite tiny since battleships of this era were not especially large compared to their WWII brethren. I assembled most of the major hull components together before painting, trying to avoid excessive complications in handling a small model festooned with teenie, delicate bits, while at the same time keeping parts accessible for painting.
Display of ship models is always an issue, and I decided to experiment with using a photo-derived illustration to depict the sea and wake rather than some complicated painted/molded creation. I scoured through the photo images on the US Department of Defense (Defense Link) and US Navy sites for photos of ships at sea, and after downloading a few suitable candidates, I manipulated them in Adobe Photo-Shop to create a suitable sea surface. I printed this on my Epson ink-jet printer, coated it with a gloss fixer to serve as a barrier. I glued this on a cheap 4x6 inch plastic photo box airbrushed in black that I bought at the Michaels art/craft supply chain. The photo was glued to the base using 3M photo spray on both surfaces to make sure it wouldn't lift. Once dry, I gave the photo a bit of wavy surface-texture using some Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel Medium (which is basically a thick, glossy acrylic paste that drys clear). I was very pleased with the results in 1/700, though I'm not sure how well the technique would translate to larger scales.
Overall, this was a fun little project and a welcome change after too many Shermans!
Images and Text Copyright © 2008 by Steve Zaloga
Page Created 13 May, 2008
13 May, 2008
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