Tips for a beginner

Good morning everybody!

Reading week approaches, and I have Tamiya’s 1/350 IJN Yamato (the version without PE) on deck.

See what I did there? I’m a master of comedy.

I’ve dipped my toes into the world of shipbuilding with their 1/350 I-400, and I quite liked it. My question for all you experienced shipbuilders here is what sorts of tips would you have for a beginner such as myself? I’m specifically looking for ways to improve the appearance of my ship without having to splurge on expensive upgrade sets, but any advice is much appreciated! Thanks in advance!


This seems to be a contradiction; improving the appearance without buying expensive upgrades. This all depends on how far you want to go in improving the appearance. Maybe establish what enhancements you want to make. Buy generic Japanese deck railing instead of a dedicated PE set. You will have to do some careful measuring and cutting of railing lengths to make them fit. Buy a set of Japanese boat/aircraft cranes, if needed. Same for any radars. Ditto for turned brass barrels. Sometimes you’ll find that buying parts separately will cost the same, or more, than a dedicated set. You will have to weigh all the options and compare prices of separate PE sets vs. a dedicated set. Some limited, but dedicated, PE sets ie; WEM is a lot cheaper than sets from companies like Pontos, or Flyhawk.
:smiley: :canada:

1 Like

A contradiction for sure! I’m eyeing up a comprehensive upgrade from China that’s $50 CAD.

I suppose that’s probably the best value I would find. See, I know parts such as the wooden deck are already moulded on by Tamiya, so I wasn’t sure if there was a trick to making kit parts look more realistic. But I do suppose you can’t beat a real wood deck, or real metal cannon barrels.

Take your time.

The guys I know who built the kit or similar Yamato’s, paint in stages and pre paint parts. Don’t wait till the end or you will go mad. Ie do sets 1-6 without props and paint the hull. Build and paint the super structure without the do dads.

Rigging was made from stretched sprue. Going bottom to top and inside to out. Leave the sprue loose and sagging. Tighten with heat.

The aftermarket wood decking and barrels looks nice but do you want to invest all that into your second ship. Me no, but I have all that for the 1/72 Revell Uboat.

For the deck painting, you could try something like this,707.msg3312.html#msg3312

As I recall the rear aircraft area was concrete so paint accordingly.


1 Like

Thanks!! I appreciate the tips.

I don’t recognize this particular manufacturer as the logo and name are all in Chinese, but all that for only CAN 55.76, and free shipping, can’t be beat. Timos Modelworld is a reliable vendor, although delivery time from China may be quite long.
:smiley: :canada:

1 Like

My first piece of advice would be don’t start with the Yamato. She is a big beast and though Tamiya are easy builds, she is still going to be a bit of work. I would say start with a fletcher or other smaller ship just to decide if you like building ships (subs are a very different beast than a full size BB)

As to making her look better without a massive outlay, I agree you need some railing and PE radar. All other things considered that’s the one thing that brings a ship to life. I am not sure I agree that you need turned barrels as with a bit of patience and care you can make the kit barrels look pretty good. (The caveat is the smaller caliber stuff definitely needs turned brass but the smaller it is, the harder to put together and the more of them there are. I.e. 9 x 18 inch guns vs 160+ 25mm AA guns)

Also, and this is just my personal experience, if you go for a limited PE set I would recommend Eduard over WEM. I prefer Eduard as I find thier PE to be a bit more robust than WEM. Maybe not quite as detailed but if you have big fat fingers like me then that extra sturdiness is a help. Also their instructions are a lot more informative than WEM.

I have used sets from the company listed above and I am not a fan at all. The PE feels weird, the instructions are not great.

1 Like

Well instructions are important, so if I decide to get any photoetch I’ll take your suggestion. I’ve never used Eduard, but everybody I talk to really likes it so I’ll make note of that.

image image

…I’m specifically looking for ways to improve the appearance of my ship without having to splurge on expensive upgrade sets…

Hi Dennis,

I’m a big fan of aftermarket rails, radars, barrels, decks, etc., but you are right - they do get expensive! Still, if you don’t want to invest in any of them you can still come up with a pleasing model with just the plastic in the box and a little resourcefulness. My Revell Midway, for example, was built out of the box with the only extras being a wire yardarm and rigging.

And yes, you can even have an appealing Yamato without aftermarket :

In this case the mast was built up with cheap brass beading wire from a craft store, but the rest (other than paint) was out of the box. Of course, the 1/350 Tamiya Yamato is a much nicer kit than this 1/1200 version, but you get the idea.

A warning, though - once you have built one or two this way you will be seriously tempted by aftermarket goodies. And once you try them, there is no going back!

1 Like

Well contrary to Rory I don’t like Eduard pe for ship builds as I find they like to replace part not because it’s needed but because they can.
I prefer to use Toms, GMM or WEM.
You will want to add rigging, even some rigging looks better than none so bear that in mind.

As to building the Yamato as your first ship (subs don’t compare) I would first go smaller either a destroyer or small cruiser, Yamato is a BIG ship with lots of detail to get right and improve, also be aware that there are 3 different Tamiya kits, original, improved and new tool.

Lastly look at other BLOGs on the site and see how some of the talented builders here do things.
We all started somewhere.

1 Like

I don’t have any tips specific to ships, but I do have some for models in general:

If it’s too thick, thin it out. PE is often used for this of course, but plain old .010 or .005 styrene works quite well. Railings (like on my Revell 1/72 Gato) are often far too thick. Replace with inexpensive piano wire.

If it’s cast on, shave it off. Mainly applies to pioneer tools on tanks, but I could see life rafts or rings being cast on. If you can’t replace the ones that have been cut off, you can always undercut them a bit to give them a more 3D appearance.

If it’s supposed to be hollow - hollow it out. No. 11 blades are indispensable, especially for this. Ends of main guns comes to mind…

There are more, having mainly to do with getting rid of/replacing details, i.e. overly excessive panel lines, raised rivets, etc., but the above three have always served me well.

A detail that is not quite the correct shape or size or dimension may not always stick out to most people, unless they’re standing next to your model with a 200 photo walk around, but the things I mentioned above will stick out no matter what.


A destroyer at 1/350 scale is a small ship and really not any larger that say a battleshiip at 1/700 scale. I suggest a WWI battleship at 1/350 scale. They don’t have a lot of weapons and stuff to clutter up the decks and superstructure. Yet they have pletty of detail right out of the box. These kits only require a railing upgrades, but most have railing PE included.
There ways to paint the decks so they look natural without having to upgrade to aftermarket wood deck. I suggest start viewing youtube videos of ship builds to see what other modelers are doing.

Mark :beer:

1 Like