Here is some information on measurements in the Japanese unit called the shaku that I just put together. I discovered that information like this is in my notes somewhere, but I often don’t know where I put them. So, for easy future reference, and for your benefit too, I just added this info to a new page under the Resources menu and called it Japanese Measurements.
I hadn’t heard any word at all from the editors of Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine after submitting my article on the construction of Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit. I submitted the article in late November, so I figured I’d send them a note to ask what the status was. I got their reply a short time later and it’s good news, the article is scheduled to appear, starting with the March/April issue.
Given the size of the article, I expect it will appear across 3 issues. That’s the what happened with my Mary Taylor model article a few years back, and it was of similar size. This one actually might be a little longer, so maybe it will span a 4th issue. I don’t like super long articles, so I hope it gets limited to 3, but certainly no more than 4.
As a reminder, Zootoyz is selling Woody Joe kits again, and they’ve revamped their website a bit and added the newer offerings, like the Kitamaebune. That, by the way, is a slightly beefier cousin to the Higaki Kaisen, built for the long journeys between the northern ports and the large port cities of the south. If you are interested in a less complicated kit, but really like the look of the Higaki Kaisen, consider the Kitamaebune. It’s a newer kit, same 1/72 scale, with simplified construction for about $20 less.
If you don’t subscribe to Ships in Scale, now is a great time! You can find out more information from their website here: http://seaways.com/. Back issues include my reviews of the Woody Joe kits Higaki Kaisen, Kanrin Maru and the Charles Royal Yacht, as well as my article on scratch building the pilot boat Mary Taylor.
At some point, I am considering detailing Woody Joe’s Hacchoro kit too, and writing up an article about that. I already have the kit sitting and waiting in the closet. Too many other things to finish up first!
This should make it easier to get your wasen model kit!
Those of you who are interested in kits from the Japanese manufacturer, Woody Joe, will be happy to hear that after more than a year, Zootoyz is now carrying Woody Joe kits once again. I received word from Zootoyz owner Kazunori Morikawa on Sunday. The purchase links for Woody Joe kits on his website, http://zootoyz.jp, are now active again.
He just made the announcement, so it may take a little time to make some corrections to the site, as there are several new Woody Joe kits that aren’t listed yet, like the new Kitamaesen, and the I400 submarine, etc. There are also some old items that may be no longer available that are still listed on the site. Finally, it looks like the exchange rate calculator may need to be updated, as the prices are off slightly.
So, give him a little time to fix things up…
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Recently, my kit review of Woody Joe’s Kanrin Maru kit was published in Seaways’ Ships in Scale and I’ve since begun looking at Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit. I’ll develop a complete review pretty soon, but I have had a chance to work on the model a bit and I do have some initial thoughts on the Higaki Kaisen kit.
My first impression is that it’s a fascinating looking build of a traditional Japanese ship. There are a lot of laser cut parts and it’s missing the traditional framework we’re used to seeing in ship model kits, but there is a small set of frames that make up temporary building molds that helps hold the hull parts in place during construction.
Building this model is very different than building a traditional ship model. In some ways, it’s a little bit like building a plastic kit in that there are so many pre-fabricated parts. But, the ship’s design is so different from Western ships that it seems like a lot of engineering had to be done to create the kit. This makes it a fun build, but it also means that parts have to be placed very specifically (unlike with most plastic kits which provide alignment pins), and if one part is not aligned properly, it will affect the fitting of other parts later, so it requires a lot of patience and care. This is not a kit that can be rushed.
Looking at the manual in the kit, you can tell right away that this is an involved build – it’s 32 pages long and packed with illustrations. There are so many illustrations that you almost don’t need to know any Japanese to build it. Almost.
The Higaki Kaisen is not like the western style ship Kanrin Maru. A ship modeler who builds the Kanrin Maru pretty much recognized the parts in that kit and has a general idea where things are going to go. If the part is not familiar, the placement in the illustrations are usually enough to clarify things. But, the average ship modeler looking at a part on the traditional Japanese style ship Higaki Kaisen is more likely to have no clue as to what the part is for or how it’s supposed to fit. The illustrations in the instructions help, but there are many places where the builder is told, in Japanese, not to glue certain parts into place. And, if you have no way of reading that text, it’s going to be a problem.
As I see it, the best way to deal with this is to either know someone who can read some Japanese for you, or to look for an English language guide to the kit. So far, I’m not aware of one, so if no one else does it, I may try to put something together. We’ll see.
Even if you can follow all of the instructions, the unusual design of the Higaki Kaisen and the engineering that went into it sometimes requires steps that aren’t all that apparent. For instance, in one step, several beams are added and all of them glued into place except one, which must remain loose until a later time. Also alignment of parts is very critical, so you want to make sure you are extremely careful and look well ahead in the instructions to see what is going to happen later with the part you’re working on. It may actually make sense to jump ahead and fashion some sub-assemblies that are installed later, to make sure that the will fit properly with the parts you’re currently putting into place.
All that said, this is an incredibly interesting model to work on. It’s a lot less predictable than other ship model kits since the vessel is so different. I know my own build won’t be perfect, but with care any mistakes will be fixable, or at least they will be hideable, and its completion is going to be a fun and interesting journey. Ω