The subculture of model ship making dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptians who often placed small replicas of ships inside tombs in the belief that it could be used for the soul to travel across the Nile. The Greeks and Phoenicians were also known to create representations of ships for pottery and paintings. A modern boost in ship modeling arrived in the 1930’s when the designs of ship builder, E. Armitage McCann were published in Popular Science Magazine.
So it’s no surprise that at the dawn of the 21st century, model ship making is still a challenging and rewarding hobby. Some choose to do it due to a fascination with the sea itself. Others enjoy the creation process as the model slowly takes shape. Still others are amazed by the amount of detail that goes into many ship model designs.
Toy Boats or Much More?
To those who are new to the model ship culture, they may see these small boats as children’s toys. While some are made for the purpose of play, many other ships are meant to be placed on display. In fact, upon witnessing the precision that goes into many of these designs, you would not expect to see them floating sideways in a child’s bathtub.
Some models are seen in captain’s cabins to show pride in the craft he or she commands. Ship building companies keep miniatures of all their current designs on display in board rooms and offices. These scaled down versions are also often used to understand how ships in centuries past were built.
Plastic vs Wood Models
Since many nostalgic boat designs were made out of wood, a lot of early model ships were made the same vein. In many cases wood was one of the only materials available and easy for hands to manage. Many collectors and diehard enthusiasts even now stress the need for accuracy, so they will only work with wood, string, and in some cases even small metal parts for cannons and anchors.
After World War II, the innovation of plastic models started to become more popular due to supply and demand. Many of these models were made from master designs of wood, plaster, clay or other materials. These designs are then used to create plaster or epoxy molds for mass production.
Some of these assembly line-styled model ships come preassembled so they can be displayed directly out of the box. Others arrive in various pieces in order for you to enjoy the achievement of making the model. In either case, the accomplishment of these kits has made model ship collecting more accessible to the general public.
Are Model Ships For You?
The hobby of model ships does require patience to go along with a passion for the seafaring crafts they represent. What’s most important is that the experience can be fulfilling and even provide you with a wonderful story about the boat and even some information about the period in history it came from.