by: Gremlin56 [ ]
This article could just as well have been titled “confessions of a mad modeller”.
What drives us modellers to buy expensive large scale models that will never fit in your home unless you evict the children? What makes us modellers spend more on photo etch detail-up and add-on parts than the original model cost in the first place?
What makes us offer irreplaceable microscopic metal parts to the carpet monster and glue our fingers together with super glue? To be rather blunt, what causes this quest for self defined perfection? I will try and explain the psychology of “the modeller”.
In November of last year Trumpeter’s 1/200th Bismarck arrived at my front door giving me cause for great jubilation and the postman cause for a hernia. Opening and inspecting the model was a party, a banquet, sheer unadulterated joy, especially for me and in a much lesser fashion for Mrs. Gremlin56 who started asking rather pointy questions like “where are you going to put a 1.25m long Bismarck?”.
I managed to withstand the temptation of the Bismarck for two weeks, caressing the box daily and drooling over the contents and instruction booklet. Let’s be honest here, I held out for two weeks but when push comes to shove I am no stronger than other men. I put the Zvezda Borodino I was building at that fateful moment in time in my storage cupboard and succumbed to the temptation of diving into the Bismarck’s box.
Being overcome by the waves of joy a modeller feels when fondling fresh plastic and sniffing the fumes of glue, paints and CA accelerator I ignored the dark cloud on the horizon caused by the dreaded “after market” sets approaching, prophesying doom for my bank balance.
I wallowed in my collection of reference books searching for juicy details to add to the build, then looked with increasing dissatisfaction at the basic photo etch set supplied by Trumpeter with the kit. The first thoughts of being unfaithful to the basic kit were sown, causing furtive visits to Google in search of a solution to the modelling itch that was increasingly in need of a jolly good scratch. There wasn’t much on offer to scratch with at that time though, all of the big photo etch firms still working on their own offerings. I settled for some very decently priced albeit rather small photo etch sheets, some nicely designed life rafts and some highly detailed AAA models from GPM in Poland, giving me some of the extra detailing I was seeking.
The first rumours appeared on-line that MK1 Design were working on a huge after market set for the Bismarck, with lots of speculation on contents and price.
My interest was caught by the rumours and by the reputation of MK1 Design, having used their set for the LHD-1 USS Wasp on my own Wasp build.
Around this time “Modelschlachtschiffe.de” pulled into view, the website offering a huge assortment of photo etch parts for the Bismarck. Once again I lusted after the finely detailed hangar doors, the filigree bridge wings and the artistically weathered name plate. Despite struggling for a few days I was unable to withstand the temptation and placed an order for some obligatory detail sets without which further model building life would not be possible. By doing this I had now successfully boosted the price of my Bismarck by another 50%, a fact I hastily tried to forget, also deeming not informing Mrs. Gremlin56 of this milestone a very prudent way to prolong my life expectation.
Eduard appeared on the horizon, issuing two sets of photo etch, tantalizingly titled parts 1 and 3 luring the unwary modeller into their embrace with the promise of more goodies to come. The sets contained stanchion and chain railings and detailing for the motor launches. The Eduard packages looked very nice but were rather pricey making them not a viable option for my build
Events sped up now with the issue of MK1 Design’s Bismarck sets, beautifully packed and containing a veritable treasure trove of detailing for the jaded Bismarck builder. The price tags were enough to cause heart palpitations and I decided to make a last ditch stand before succumbing to temptation once again and ordering one of the sets.
The final after market offensive set in after a Sunday afternoon model building session spent trying to make use of the Trumpeter photo etch railings supplied with the basic model. Rather unappetising and bland to look at, far removed in appearance from the stanchions and chains used on the real vessel and with the consistency and strength of soggy spaghetti, I binned two lengths of railings in record time. In disgust I went to seek comfort on Google, once again seeking what were rapidly becoming the Holy Grail of Bismarck add-ons. I was scrolling down the list of vendors when Hannants’ list drew my bleary eyes. The MK1 Bismarck value pack! The price was right, (well, sort of…..), and the contents seemed to be what I was looking for so I crossed the Rubicon, broke the eggs to make an omelette, answered “Nuts!” in defiance and ordered the set.
I have by doing this successfully doubled the original price of the Bismarck and in spite of the fact that the Mk.1 value pack is now in my sweaty little paws the lack of detail sets for the main mast and the launches and tenders on board the Bismarck is starting to gnaw away at my firm stand against further purchases, (cowardice being wiser than bravery here though, certainly since Mrs. Gremlin56 caught me trying to smuggle the Mk.1 set into my hobby cave).
After bothering you all with my confessions I consider it only fair to grant you all a peek into the Mk.1 Design Bismarck value edition.
MK1 Design has issued several packages of after market goodies for the 1/200th scale Bismarck: A huge and comprehensive set containing all the extras they have made, a value edition containing the most essential extras and some smaller packs based on specific parts of the Bismarck, (main mast, launches and armament).
The prices vary from horrifying to very reasonable so it is possible to fit your requirements to your budget or even go the whole hog in installments.
I chose to purchase the value pack.
The value pack comes, as usual for MK1 Design, in an elegant, almost understated cardboard envelope with a cellophane window which allows a view of the contents.
The contents are well thought out, the marketing gentlemen did their work well.
The big eye catcher is the wood veneer deck, which is paper thin and gives the most luxurious looking wooden deck you can imagine, heck, I would love to have a floor in my living room that looked this good. The deck also took away my biggest complaint about add-on decks: the pieces are so thin that you don’t really encounter the “step down” look around bitts, fairleads and bollards that some vendors find acceptable.
The marking on the veneer is very well done and gives a very good scale effect after fitting. The underside of the veneer has a plastic layer applied to cover the adhesive ready applied for gluing the wooden deck onto the model,(first conundrum here: is the adhesive strong enough and how will it hold over the years after the build is finished?).
Instructions for using the set are included on three sheets of glossy A4 paper printed on both sides in the now familiar photo style used by MK1 Design. The added parts are shown unpainted on an unpainted built model in these photos which makes for very clear identifying and placing of the parts.
The photo etch in the MK1 Design Bismarck value pack consists of seven brass coloured sheets and one sheet of painted parts, (reminiscent of Eduard’s painted cockpit etch sets for model aircraft).
Three of the brass sheets contain pre-measured lengths of railings which just need cutting from the sheet and bending for any curves encountered where they are to be fit. If they are as accurate as the railings included for the LHD-1 Wasp build they will fit like a glove. They seem to be a bit more substantial than the Trumpeter offering but as always the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I will have to wait until I get to really using them to give a really founded opinion.
The next brass sheet contains parts for the aircraft catapult, ventilation shutters, radar arrays, funnel platforms with supports and hand wheels and searchlight shutters.
The etching is beautifully done with miniscule attachments to the sheet itself to make removal of the parts easy.
The following brass sheet contains scuttles opened and closed, accommodation ladders, ventilation fire covers and perforated deck extensions for the aft heavy AAA positions.
The following brass sheet contains the antennas for the gunnery control radars, catwalks for the hangars, ladders, oars and wing fold insets for the 4 Arado floatplanes included in the model. This makes it possible to stow the aircraft in the hangars.
The next brass sheet contains jackstays for the funnel, superstructure and directors. Also included are more ventilation covers and two rather magnificently etched intake covers for the funnel.
The pre-coloured sheet contains some rather amazing add-ons for the Bismarck: 4 complete cockpits for the Arado floatplanes complete with radio panel, instrument panel and rear MG. Also included are the six gangways and a collection of life buoys about half of which have the Bismarck’s name on them, ( only niggle here being an orange tinge to buoys and I am nearly certain that orange start being used until after WW II but I could be wrong here).
That’s all that the set contains, no more, no less and that for 98 GBP, including postage and packing.
Dispatch from Hannants was excellent, ordered last Sunday and arrived last Friday in excellent and undamaged condition.
After much consideration and on-line comparing I finally bit the bullet and bought the MK1 value pack. Considering what has been included in the set the price is hefty but within reason. I still miss some add-ons though, so the purchasing of more after market sets for the Bismarck has not yet ended. The question I pose to myself is why the heck am I spending all this cash on a model of a warship I didn’t sail on, my relatives didn’t sail on and which was battered into submission and sunk on her first operational sortie? I suppose you have to dive into childhood memories for an answer here. This is the fourth time I am building a model of the Bismarck, (two Airfix models and the Revell offering and I am not even counting two Revell Tirpitz models). I think it’s safe to say this will be the last Bismarck or Tirpitz I will ever build so I want to make it memorable. There are also a lot of other fine people on-line here at Model Shipwrights working on this version of the Bismarck so the ideas, details, paint schemes and links to detail parts are coming thick and fast making this a very enjoyable happening.
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