Monday, January 9, 2012

Hasegawa's 1:350 scale Soya Antarctica 1st Corp

Hasegawa is among the few manufacturers that produces very nice quality ships in my book. The others are Tamiya, Trumpeteer, Heller, Revell, Lindberg, Zvezda, Airfix, Italeri ... oh hell, OK, there are quite a few manufacturers out there that produces nice quality ships. However, very few of them had been able to produce one that requires very minimal corrections and out of that few, I can think of only one brand, Hasegawa. Of course I am speaking in terms of non-military ships since I am no pro there.

Lets look at its 1:350 scale Soya Antarctica 1st Corp.

I saw this kit at a local toy store a long time ago before I picked back up my scale modeling hobby. She caught my eyes and I remembered studying her pictures for the longest time before deciding to buy her. For one, she wasn't military, and second, the amount of details on her was mind boggling. So I was sold on her.

The Observation Ship Soya is truly a remarkable ship to have made so many journeys to and back from Antarctica, survived World War II and today, resides as a Museum Ship in Japan. Not many ships are able to share this kind of achievements, as seen with the Antarctic Cruise Ship "The Explorer" that sunk presumably after striking an iceberg. She literally lived through countless dangerous situations and lived to tell the tale.

According to Wikipedia, the ice breaker Soya was originally named "Volochaevets", a real mouthful to pronounce there. It was ordered from the Matsuo Shipyard Koyagi Island in Nagasaki, Japan back in 1963 by the Soviet Union as part of a three ice-strengthened cargo ships but due to growing tensions between the two countries, she was never handed over but rather served as the ice-breaking cargo freighter for Tatsunan Kisen Co. Today she has been renamed the Chiryo Maru.

The Soya is also the very same ship that made famous those two Huskies that were abandoned along with their pack during a severe snow storm and were the only two survivors a few months later. The two dogs, Taro and Jiro, were eventually brought back to Japan where they lived their life as celebrities until their demise.

The ship was also intriguing since she was the ship used in the movie "Nankyoku Monogatari" or "South Pole" as she was released in the US, with its soundtrack "Antarctica" composed and conducted by Vangelis. She was also used in Disney's movie adaptation in the film "Eight Below".

In Nov 1939, the Imperial Japanese Navy requisitioned her and in Feb 1940 she was given the name "Varyag" and assigned duties as an auxiliary ammunition ship/survey vessel. She survived torpedo attacks in 1943 from the USS Greenling, and 10 crew members were killed in 1944 near Truk when a squadron of TF58s aircraft swooped down to attack her, which led her to be temporarily grounded.

In 1956, she was modified and overhauled to make her ready for her Antarctica  Research Expedition. This involved putting in a new diesel engine and the installation of a helicopter deck. She successfully made trips to the Antarctica over the period of 1956 - 1962, with her most notable career on her second trip in 1958 where she rescued explorers stranded from the first expedition at the Syowa Research Station.

During my own research, I came across her upgrade set in the form of photo-etch, and decided to get that one too, but unfortunately I had to back order her since it was out of stock. That was way back in 2007. Would you believe I finally got that set late last year, 2011? I had even forgotten I had pre-ordered her. And at that time, I thought that this was such a set back as I couldn't start on her until I had that PE set, hence that kit had laid among my stash for so long. I also found out then that Hasegawa had produced the 2nd and 3rd Corp Soya Antarctica, refitted for specific missions to the bottom of the world. Well, naturally I got all of them plus whatever upgrade sets that was available. Here's the 1st Corp range of Soya Antarctica under Hasegawa at 1:350 scale.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Academy's Impressive 1:400 scale Titanic

Here's one to mess up your mind, Academy's impressive 1:400 scale RMS Titanic. They came up with the Premium Edition first providing metal and PE parts. This kit is probably sold out in most places.

Then comes the Centenary Anniversary Edition, this time besides brass metal and PE parts, you also get the wooden deck along with a small jigsaw ... jigsaw??? I assume perhaps the modeler would want that beautiful art piece framed next to his/her completed kit.

Its details galore, and what better way to celebrate Titanic's 100th year than to have a kit 99% close to the real thing.

Zvezda 1:72 Scale Black Swan

Black what??? Not familiar with that ship? Well, you shouldn't since she doesn't really exist. Zvezda's Black Swan is technically the Black Pearl, but since Disney has pulled the licensing rights from under Zvezda, the kit had to be repackaged as something else.

That would also explain why so many people had problems trying to buy her. I had to resort to eBay (from a Russian lady seller) before my local hobby store came through for mine. And with the repackaged kit, that would also mean that some time in the future, the original Black Pearl kit is going to be a collector's edition, that is if you manage to get her in her original box.

Its funny that someone from a scale modeling forum mentioned that it would only be a matter of time before the kit is repackaged so that she can be sold in stores worldwide, and true enough, here she is.

As far as I can tell, the only difference I see would be on the figure head, that statue thingy you see at the front of the ship, an additional structure at the bow to support the figure head, and the nameplate on the base.

And I already know of a few people who are keen on this kit as well. At the time of writing this post, I only know of a few places that offer them

1. Whatever Hobby , a relatively new hobby store owned by Bart Van der Taelen and his wife, Anne. I have written to him and he has mentioned that he has sent kits to as far as US, Australia, France, and Germany. He has a Facebook account under the name De Tempeliers Scotty, and is among the first few to advertise the Black Swan. Kits are sold in USD$.

2., another superb store but they charges in Euro. There are also a number of shops in the UK who are already selling her, like and Modelzone and these are in GBP.

So if you are still looking for the Pearl, this would be a good alternative as you would only need to either scratch build the figurehead, or have on re-casted by someone who already have the Black Pearl (don't look at me though, I'm no pro with recasting).