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by
Paul Jacobs

 

22 November

There seems to be a renewed interest in U.S. Navy ships, as the numbers of models in this category which are now being released or are planned exceed anything that we have seen in many years. Just look at the latest developments...

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun/Navis has released N 1315 RANGER, NM FURST BISMARCK and NM 6 OSLYABIA. Soon to be released are U.S. CVE’s CASABLANCA, COMMENCEMENT BAY and SANGAMON. The cruiser INDIANAPOLIS is in preparation.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   New from Argos are CGN 35 TRUXTON, and DD 968 ARTHUR RADFORD, with the unusual AEMS mast. Argos is also planning to do CGN 9 LONG BEACH, and two angle-deck ESSEX Class, the BON HOMME RICHARD and the INTREPID. Optatus has also released TRUXTON, and both Argos and Optatus appear to be entering a competition to do various modern U.S. ships, including CVN’s, CGN’s and LHD’s. While it will be nice to have excellent quality models of these ships produced at last, it is unfortunate that the two seem bent upon producing the same ships. There are so many things that need to be made, that one high quality model of a particular ship should be enough. On the other hand, it would not hurt if one made a ship in one rig, and the other made the same ship at a different time, and in a different rig. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to enter into understandings that they won’t compete. Here in the U.S., that would be considered monopolistic and restraint of trade. But in an industry this small such agreements actually can help both manufacturers and consumers. It is tough for small manufacturers to survive, and competition of this sort can drive one out of business. There are plenty of different ships that can be made, and limited market to serve. Manufacturers that carve out niches for themselves can survive, and provide collectors with needed models. Where competition IS desired, however is in the perfection of the trade. That is, there is always room for a BETTER model. In the case of Argos and Optatus, however, both are producing top of the line models.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   CM has released two IWO JIMA Class LPH’s, the GUAM and GUADALCANAL, and is planning to do several other versions, some as originally built, others in later rigs.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Classic Ship Collection plans to do CVN 65 ENTERPRISE as built, and possibly LONG BEACH and MIDWAY. Classic Ship produces very high quality models, and these promise to be outstanding. However, expect prices to match. Classic sells only over the Internet.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Trident Alpha hasn’t done many new ships, but has just released TA ORISKANY, in the angle-deck configuration.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Argonaut has released the entire Polish Navy of the WW II era, several new British ships, and the Norwegian minelayer OLAV TRIGGVASON. Plans are underway to do French three and four funneled DD’s. Also in the works are the U.S. cruisers WICHITA and ST. LOUIS, and possibly a BROOKLYN, as well as a couple of BRISTOL Class DD’s.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Informed sources say that the master for the Klabuatermann French BB JEAN BART is ready. When the model will enter production is unknown.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Also, Quadrant has in the beginning stages it’s model of the new French CVN CHARLES DE GAULLE. This model, which will be issued in relatively limited numbers should be a very fine production.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   From Saratoga Model Shipyard comes several new models: The French Navy tugs LABORIEUX and GOLIATH, sloop AMIENS, and the U.S. SC 1-448. In preparation for production are the U.S. Navy ships MELVILLE AD 1, NITRO AE 2, and KANAWHA, AO 1, and the French Navy tugs MAGAUD and SIX-FOURS.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun/Navis is working on their own web site. It will contain photos of all of their models, which will be tremendous benefit to collectors.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    Alnavco has announced that it is purchasing the Superior line of ship models, and will be producing the models themselves. Pete Paschall has indicated his intention to improve the line, and reissue some models that have been long out of production. It is anticipated that the focus will be more toward collector quality, rather than war gaming, in part because the demand for these models by gamers has declined as the popularity of 1:2400 and 1:3000 scale among war gamers has increased.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Langton has recently released a line of ships of the 17th C. Anglo-Dutch Wars with photo-etched brass sails. The use of PEB in 1:1200/1250 ships is gradually being introduced, and should usher in a new age of increased detail and quality in this scale.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    An  examinination of the Neptun and Optatus ERITREA models reveals a number of differences between the two, other than the different paint jobs. It is apparent that after casting the model for Optatus,  Neptun reworked the master some to bring it more in line with Neptun standards.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    Newly released: Neptun 1212 TAIHO and Navis 615 OSLYABYA.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    Neptun's N 1147 EMERALD and N 1551 ERITREA are now available.  OPT 11 ERITREA is the same as Neptun's, except that the Neptun one is painted gray, while the OPT model is painted in tropical colors.   OPT 9, the CG ALBANY is also available, and is as close to Neptun quality as can be expected.  That is not surprising, since the model was cast for Optatus by Neptun.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    For those of you with an interest in Japanese KONGO Class battleships, take note:  There are a variety of different models of these ships available.  Aside from the older Comet/Authenticast and Superior models representing the class during WW II, Navis has KONGO circa 1913 (NM 220), and Konishi makes KIRISHIMA circa 1915 (KO 111), both representing the class as built.  Neptun makes KONGO (N 1206) and HIEI (N 1205) both circa 1939.  Konishi makes several of the class in WW II:  KONGO (KO 109) and KIRISHIMA (KO 110) (which models are identical), and represent the ships during the war, with two more twin 5" AA guns and radar added, thus making the models different from the Neptun ones.   Additionally, Konishi makes KONGO circa 1939 (KO 112)


10 July


redball.gif (371 bytes)  A FOOL AND HIS MONEY ARE SOON PARTED.  This old axiom is still true today. For proof one need only follow the auctions on eBay ( http://www.ebay.com ), the Internet auction site. Actually, one can get some great deals, but the ignorant and uninitiated are being fleeced. Of course, they have no one to blame but themselves, because they haven't taken the time to investigate what they are buying. For the past two months I have been monitoring sales of 1200 and 1250 scale models, to see what is being sold, and what people are paying for them. I have been shocked to see the prices that some models are selling for. There are Superior models, which the knowledgeable collector can find elsewhere for anywhere from $3 to $25 each, going at auction for anywhere from $50 to $150. I have seen old Neptun's and Authenticast's going for outrageous prices. I have seen models that were in such poor condition they were little better than scrap iron being sold. A Superior MISSOURI recently sold for over $100! One older Neptun (at least that's what it looked like-the photo was poor) went for over $200! Often the sellers are unable to accurately describe or identify their models. Many of the sellers are not knowledgeable about the 1200/1250 hobby.  But in their cases, ignorance is bliss, because unfettered by knowledge, they are asking and  getting ridiculous prices. And some buyers clearly have no idea that with a bit of effort, they can get the same or better models elsewhere for significantly less money. There were a few times that I was tempted to contact the bidders and tell them of their obvious insanity. But no. I don't feel that it's my place to interfere in the free market. If some fool wants to pay an outlandish sum for a model he can get for a lot less, well...who am I to stop him. 

I just hope that those of you who are regular visitors to this site will have the good sense not to get trapped in that madness. The eBay site is fascinating and definitely worth visiting.  I have even bought some things there (no 1200 or 1250 tho). But don't bid on things if you aren't familiar with the market.  There's a good chance that you'll get taken to the cleaners.


23 May

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Neptun 1530 Pola, the Italian CA is now on the market.  N 1532, Zara has long been available, but though sister ships, the two differ in significant details.    Expect to see Neptun's British CL Enterprise and U.S. CV Ranger within the next few months.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   If you are a collector of older models, especially Comet/Authenticast, Framburg and Triang, you should check out eBay, the Internet auction house.  Models by these manufacturers are being regularly sold on the site.  It is especially interesting to see the prices that these models command.  A Framburg Alaska recently sold for more than $100, which is more than the cost of the  Neptun  version. A mint Triang Queen Mary in its original box with harbor parts sold for over $150.  Also to be found are occassional Navis, Wiking, and other waterline models, as well as 1:500 scale Comet and Framburg "Teacher scale" ID models. Who is buying and selling?  Hard to tell, but most of  the transactions do not appear to be those of ship collectors, rather antique and toy collectors. Sometimes models are incorrectly described, and it is apparent that the sellers are unaware of exactly what they have.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   As an addition to THE 1250 PAGE, look for a copy of the first COMET/AUTHENTICAST catalog circa 1946 . The catalog contents in their entirety now reside on this page. You can access this most interesting catalog by clicking the "Authenticast" logo on the 1250 scale home page.


16 May 1999

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Informed sources report that Neptun production plans include the release of the following models over the next six months:   Italian colonial sloop Eritrea, British CL Emerald, Japanese CV Taiho, U.S. CV Ranger, and CVE'S Commencement Bay and Casablanca

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Neptun will soon release N 1530 Pola, the Italian CA, and Navis will be releasing 13N, its upgraded Kaiser Class pre-dreadnought battleship


7 March 1999

redball.gif (371 bytes)  GEM has released the clipper Peking, a beautiful sailing ship with full sails. Last moth they released the Rosario, a steam/sail cargo passenger ship from 1881, and the 1958 bark Gorch Fock.  Next planned for release are Barbarossa 1851, and paddle steamer Britannia 1840, Hansa 1849, and Bremen I 1858. These will probably be followed by the great 7 masted schooner Th.W. Lawson and the Gefion 1849

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Navis will soon release its' upgraded versions ("N" models) of N124 Lion, and N32 Roon. Also in the works are the following new Neptun airplanes: NF 33 Devastator, NF 71 SB2U-1 Vindicator, and NF 72 Grumman F2F1. These, combined with the recently released NF 70 SBC-4, should fill most of your pre-war USN carrier plane needs. Rumor has it that Neptun is working on two different CVE models, one of which most certainly is Casablanca

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Navis has released N 13N, its' Neptun quality upgrade of the German pre-dreadnought Kaiser Barbarrosa.   The original was first issued back in the 1960's.  Also released is Copy 8, the Russian armored cruiser Gromboi.  This series of COPY models so far covers only ships of the Russian Navy of the Russo-Japanese War era.  It is worth noting that of all nations in this scale, the Russian Navy of the 1870-1905 era is best covered, with more than 50 different models available, most by Mercator and Hai, with the eight from COPY and several from other manufacturers.  Mercator, which produced the many of the most important Russian ships of that war, stopped producing them some years back, however, they have stated their intentions to reissue them. While they have yet to do so, the models can still be found on the second-hand market.

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Argos has announced the release of the following new models:
AS 33 Platte AO 186, circa 1988, AS 28 Julius Schindler, German AO 1922, AS 38b MTB 74 and MGB 314, British circa 1943, and AS 65 Goya German transport 1945.

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Classic Ship Collection is a relatively new venture by Manfred Bergmann and Gerd Schon, the makers of Carat models.  These models are the same as their CARAT line, except full hull mounted in a case.  See them at their website: www.classic-ship.de


7 February 1999

redball.gif (371 bytes)  A new company, Microfleet, has begun producing models. What is unusual is that the focus of it's new line are ships built by Blohm & Voss, the German shipyard. The first models replicate the first ships built by the company back in 1879-80.


27 December

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Neptun has now released its new models of the German AMC Komet, N 1024, Japanese CV Unryu, N 1211, and U.S. CV Saratoga (1945) N 1317.  British CB Renown (1941) N 1106 is scheduled for release in January 1999.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Also available by CM, its new model of the liner United States, KR-71. 

redball.gif (371 bytes)  Wiedlings' new issue of his Ships Register (Warships) will be available in January 1999.  This comprehensive listing of all 1200 and 1250 scale models ever made is an invaluable resource, and the only thing of its kind available.  The Merchant Ship Register is presently available.  No serious collector should be without it. 

redball.gif (371 bytes)   For those interested in Bassett-Lowke models, Derek Head's book Bassett-Lowke Waterline Ship Models is a must.  Published by Golden Age Editions in England.   And, a new book, Wiking-Modelle by Peter Schonfelt (German text) does equal justice to these now antique models.  Both books are beautifully printed on glossy paper with numerous photographs


14 December

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun's N 1211 Unryu has now been released, and N 1317 Saratoga is to be released this week


25 October

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun has released the long awaited model of the Lexington circa 1940 (click here for a review).  She will be followed next year by Saratoga circa 1944.  Also nearing production is Renown.   Available now also is Edinburgh

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Interested in escort vessels?  Argonaut has one of the most comprehensive lines of destroyers, frigates, sloops and other escort vessels of the Royal Navy, as well as the Dutch, Spanish and Italian navies of WW II.   A number of U.S. ships are also available. 

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Oliver Maertens (Oliver's Welt) is closing his Berlin store and will be selling only second hand models from now on.  Oliver also produces Optatus models, which he will continue to market .

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Clydeside, long out of production, has resumed, starting with some of the ships of the River Platte Battle: Cumberland, Graf Spee, Achilles, etc.   Also available are some Dutch and British destroyers.  These models, made in Britain in 1200 scale, come in kit form and are relatively inexpensive.  They are good starter models, and sturdy for wargaming, but lack the fine quality found in most German made models.


30 September

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Word is that Freidrich Villi the producer of Trident models has died and that production of Trident has ceased.  Ostrowski and Sextant have also ceased business.  However, apparently Peter Krtina, owner of Hai has acquired the mouldsof the above companies and may produce some of their models if demand is sufficient.


13 September

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Newly released from Neptun: the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Edinburgh. New from Navis: Mikasa and Navarin.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun plans to release Lexington (1940) soon, followed by Saratoga (1944) sometime later.  Also in the works for release in the not too distant future are Unryu and Renown.   Also planned for release, are
Argonaut CL Swiftsure, Klabautermann Jean Bart, circa 1960, Optatus CG Albany and Rhenania Dupuy De Lome and Pothau, two old French cruiser models long out of production, and highly prized.


2 August

redball.gif (371 bytes)   GEM is planning to produce a series of steam-sail ships of the German Navy of the 19th Century.  GEM currently produces a number of fine models of  20th century sailing ships.  While the German Navy is of interest to many collectors, especially since a large number are German, we hope that GEM will consider producing 19th century ships of other navies.

redball.gif (371 bytes)    We regularly receive inquiries about how to get listings of what models are available in 1200/1250 scale.  The most complete catalogue of models available is Wiedling's LOTSE catalog, which is released annually, and is generally used as a guide by collectors and dealers.  In addition, any serious collector needs the SHIP REGISTER's by Wiedling which is the most complete listing available of all models ever made in 1200/1250 scale


19 July

redball.gif (371 bytes)    Due in July from Nordzee Modellen (Holland) is the 1:1250 m.v Kedoe.  Launched in 1921, she was the first Dutch diesel engine motor ship on intercontinental service, sailing between Rotterdam and the Dutch East Indies. During WW II she was on charter to the British Ministry of War Transport.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   New releases:  Brand new from Neptun, the U.S. CA Pittsburgh, and the Australian CL Sydney.

redball.gif (371 bytes)   Neptun should be releasing the British CL Edinburgh in the next month or so.  Under preparation for production are Lexington and Saratoga, Unryu and Renown.  Navis will be releasing Navarin and Mikasa (as an N model).

redball.gif (371 bytes)   The price of Mercator models from German dealers has recently risen dramatically.  When queried about this, John Hammond indicated that the strong Pound (Mercator models are produced in Britain) versus a weakened Deutsche Mark is the cause, not price increases by Mercator.  Mr. Hammond indicated Merctor's desire to continue providing an affordable product. 

There is no doubt that Mercator/Skytrex and John Hammond are dedicated to helping preserve and promote this hobby.  Like all the manufacturers, Hammond recognizes the select customer base that keeps the hobby alive.  The problem is that good intentions are not enough to overcome competition.  Most 1250 models are marketed by the Germans.   They are the largest customer base.  And the prices being charged by German dealers now for Mercator models no longer makes the models competitive with their nearest German rivals.  At this point in time, Mercator models are not a good buy as compared to Albatros and CM. 

In the larger economic world, when a strong currency makes a product no longer competitive, the producer must either cut his prices to compete, or face extinction.   One of the reasons why certain industries in the U.S. are now extinct is because they simply could not compete with cheaper sources of production elsewhere.  Unless Mercator takes steps to recognize that it must adjust prices to meet competition, it may well face this harsh economic reality. 

It is to be hoped that German manufacturers will not take advantage of the situuation to raise their prices.  Substantial price increases like those facing Mercator are not in the interest of the industry and could well stunt the growth in the customer base that has blossomed as a result of greatly improved communications through the Internet and other sources of information.

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