Sunday, August 18, 2019

I'm taking what they're givin' 'cause I'm workin' for a livin'

So, first things first.  The title of the last post was a line from the Dire Strait's song, "Industrial Disease."  Maybe a bit obscure for a first go, but this one should more than make up for that, at least for my US readers.

Now that the Greenpeace ships are finished, it makes sense that I need whaling ships too.  You might think that those would be hard to find.  Turns out, they are mostly quite easy.  The British company Tri-Ang Minic made a whaling factory ship named Vikingen, and a set of three harpoon ships to go with it.  Vikingen does tend towards the toy end of the spectrum, with its simplistic hull and toy masts; however, it is in 1/1200 scale and it looks close enough for game purposes.

The original ship

A model of the original

The Tri-Ang Minic model as usually found on eBay.  If you look closely, you
can see two of the plastic masts on the bow.

I wanted a more realistic paint job, so I put the model in a container with paint stripper.  It was here that I learned the funnels were plastic around a metal core.  I would need to find replacement masts and funnels too.  The paint stripper did work well though, and after a little scrubbing I had a hull that looked like this:

Fortunately for the project, there is a shop in the UK that specializes in replacement parts for ships like this.  If you need parts, or obscure models for whatever reason, I recommend .  He had everything I needed, including replicas of the harpoon ships, which are REALLY hard to find.  After putting the replacement metal masts in place, Vikingen looked like this:

I decided to put the funnels on after the ship was painted, as some of the clearances would be way too close to paint cleanly.  The biggest problem in painting was that, while there are exterior pictures of the ship, I couldn't find any pictures of what color her decks might have been.  I wound up using a picture of another factory ship model, the Sir James Clark Ross:

So, with no further ado, here is the repainted Vikingen:

While the picture and model of the prototype shows the forward and aft superstructures to be have open areas, I decided to go with just portholes instead.  I wasn't sure I could paint it in such a way as to look realistic, and I certainly wasn't about to try and start cutting holes in the model!  Given her beginnings, I think she looks pretty good.  Sharp-eyed observers will note that I didn't put the white stripe that is about halfway down the hull.  There's a reason for that, which I will explain later.

After the factory ship comes the harpoon ships.  As I mentioned earlier, these are really hard to find as originals, and come with prices to match.  Fortunately though, has got me covered there too, as he offers reproductions of them.  They come in two pieces: the hull and a funnel.  This is what they look like out of the package:

It's a bit basic, but given its background that's not really unexpected.  On the bright side, that means that they should be easy to dress up.  Another online search gave me some photos to work with for a color scheme:

Clearly, this paint job was never seriously considered.
So, the first thing my harpoon ships need are some masts.  That first picture shows a modernized vessel, so I decided to not even try to do radar domes or the radar mast on the wheelhouse.  I kept it basic, and used .20 music wire to make my masts.  Even that minimal addition made the ships look much better, but they still needed something else.  It took a while, but I finally realized that the "something else" was the walkway to the harpoon station.  I was out of plastic sheet, so cut them from a flap of a cereal box.  When placed on a base, that gave me an unpainted model that looked like this:

Looking much better . . . .
The models themselves are simple enough that there's no need for any masking, or other painting tricks.  With a fairly simple paint job, they can be done reasonably quickly, but still look pretty good.  Eventually there will be a third harpoon ship, but it's going to be painted just like these two.

I swear that the portholes don't look that bad in person.

Other than the third harpoon ship, this project is almost finished.  I still need to paint the whales, and make some markers for things like fire hoses, mooring lines, and graffiti for the side of the factory ship.  Yes, graffiti.  The protest players are able to gain bonus points by painting graffiti on the side of the factory ship.  When those little things are done, I'll put them in another, quicker post.  One thing I MUST do though, is to throw in a picture of the whale as I promised Stew I would do that.

This is the diecast whale that originally came with the factory ship.  They are not uncommon but can still be rather expensive.  Fortunately,  makes replicas of this little fellow also.  He's only about 1/2 inch long, but that is still a 50 foot whale.  He is awfully generic, but there are some better whales out there from and I might upgrade to those later.

I would love to hear from some of my UK readers about these Tri-Ang Minic models.  There's quite a few of the factory ships left, so did anyone ever actually play with them?  I can understand the smaller ships and whales  getting lost over time; I'm more curious about whether anyone actually played with them as toys.