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Posted on Oct 20, 2004 in Armchair Reading

Scale Vehicles Measure Up

By Peter Suciu

If space is an issue, bbi of Hong Kong has come up with a solution that provides the detail but doesn’t require the space. The company’s 1/6 F-15C Eagle cockpit features a light-up instrument panel and even a removable ejector seat – yet is compact enough for a desk or shelf display.
For naval simulation fans there is also a growing national hobby that focuses on miniature warships, which can be used in actual fleet-based combat. These kit-based products do require the would-be admiral to actually build their ships, but as with the other miniatures there are ways to lay down money instead of laying down a hull. In addition to radio control receivers and engines these vessels, which can cost more than $700, include a BB cannon system to simulate the massive deck guns as well as bilge pump to keep your ship from going to the bottom sooner than you’d like.

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Much of this hobby involves building highly detailed ships and then heading to competitions that involve organized combat, complete with admirals overseeing the action. And while ship captains never go down with their vessel, ships are almost always recovered after the battle.

“The competitions are usually held in shallow water,” explains Steve Milholland, owner of Swamp Works, an online retailer of mail order business devoted to the hobby of scale naval model combat. “In the 20 years that I’ve been involved with this hobby I’ve heard of maybe two ships that were unrecoverable.”

HMS King George V

HMS King George V from Swmapworks MFG

For those looking to get into this hobby don’t expect to buy the biggest ship and come out the victor – you are more likely to go down faster than the Hood. Milholland offers advice for novices to stick to the smaller and more agile cruisers, which also cost significantly less than the $1200 kits for a large Missouri class battlewagon.

Also a ship to stay away from is the notorious aircraft carrier – especially as aircraft are not present in this sport in anyway. “Rules do allow aircraft carriers,” says Milholland, “But they don’t factor into the game much. They are sort of built as targets.”

Tilting the scales

As with any military collectible miniatures are something that appeal to an acquired taste. However they are a fairly inexpensive way to experience history what books and movies don’t allow. You can pick up a model and see the detail and even pushing a tank across the table or a die-cast plane through the air you are given a sense of motion and it comes alive.

Playthings’ Gerardi adds that as with any collectible, miniatures are a way for people to communicate to others their desires and personalities. “If you have scale replicas of every Panzer that fought in the Blitzkrieg, that says something about your taste for military history.”

For more information:

1/6 Scale R/C Miniatures:
Armor Group South
http://crossswordmilitaria.com/tanks/

Die-Cast Miniatures:
The Motor Pool
http://www.themotorpool.bigstep.com

Model Warships:
Swamp Works
http://swampworks.com/

R/C Aircraft:
RC Warbids
http://www.rcwarbirds.com/

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