Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, United States, et al. The list seems like a committee of the United Nations but is really a list of countries, which have companies that produce resin model warships or accessories. At one time Canada was among this grouping with the company of Armada, which produced some 1:350 scale Canadian destroyers in resin but that company is long gone. Well now Canada is back on the list.
From the Great White North, the country that has given the world maple syrup, the NHL, Moosehead Beer, Dudley Dooright and Ray Bean comes a new producer of resin accessories in 1:350 scale. The company is Paper-Lab run by Darius Lipinski, from Toronto, Ontario and has been and still is offering card stock ship kits. For their first foray into resin after-market accessories, Darius has chosen the always popular USN 5-inch/38 enclosed turrets of World War Two as well as two types of 26-foot whaleboats. Frankly, this is already a crowded field, especially with the single mounts. So the question is: Does Paper-Lab bring anything new or different to the modeler with their offerings? The answer is yes.
The approach taken by Paper-Lab is to cast as much detail as possible as part of the casting. The result is a part that is very simple to assemble and yet has a high level of detail. If you look at the gun houses for both the twin and single mounts, you will find that the bolt detail and access plate detail is very noticeable, if not prominent. You can readily count the bolt heads. This detail appears slightly over-scale to bring it out as a design decision. Because of this the detail really "pops" on the casting and creates high visual interest. The Paper-Lab castings are certainly not boring. I personally like it but I will certainly concede that others will like a more subtle treatment. The one item that I would be tempted to replace with brass photo-etch would be the vertical ladder on the rear face.
Another area that is brought out with the extreme magnification of the macro photography is the texturing of the flat faces. Each gun house is not totally smooth but has a very slight and with the unaided eye, almost invisible, texturing. Was this present in the original? I have seen tanks with a textured surface to their armor but what about 5-inch WWII gun-houses. I had taken a number of photographs aboard the USS Alabama, including a number of the 5-inch/38 twin turrets, so I checked those photographs and no texturing was visible. However, when I looked at other photographs from the same shoot, I did notice that armor plate was textured, at least when it came to the armor of the conning tower and main turrets. If you examine the photographs of these two areas aboard the Alabama, texturing was apparent. The odd thing was that it was easy to see in some photographs and wasnít seen in another photograph of that that exact same area. It seems to be a factor of light. The angle of light and how it catches the flat surface of the armor plate seems to determine whether the texture on the armor plate is apparent or not. I donít know if this texturing was a design decision or was a product of the casting process but if it was, it was an interesting design decision. If it is a result of the casting process, it is almost invisible. As with original armor plate aboard the Alabama, whether you see the texture in the 1:350 scale turrets or not, depends upon the angle of the light in the photographs.
Initially Paper-Lab will market seven resin accessory sets in 1:350 scale. They will be available directly from them at www.paperlab.com but is also interested in marketing them through hobby distributors. The available packets and prices are as follows, (assumption is that prices are in US$, since Paper-Lab did not indicate US or Canadian Dollars):
|FT350/01||Dual 5" mounts used on cruisers and battleships. Set contains 5 mounts, 5 bases, 10 barrel sets (5 sets in zeroed and 5 in elevated positions). Price $12.|
|FT350/01A||Dual 5" mounts used on destroyers. Set contents and price as above.|
|FT350/02||Single 5" closed mount, double knuckle. Set contains 5 mounts, 5 bases, 10 barrels (5 in zeroed and 5 in elevated positions). Price $10.|
|FT350/02A||Single 5" closed mount, single knuckle. Content and price as above.|
|FT350/02B||Single 5" closed mount, single knuckle with gunsight and blast hood. Content and price as above.|
|FT350/03||26-foot Motor whaleboat decked version. Set contains 2 boats plus PE tiller. Price $7.|
|FT350/03A||26 ft Motor whaleboat undecked version. Set contains 2 boats plus PE tiller. Price $7.|