1200 & 1250 Scale Models
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Paul Jacobs

You cannot build a good model without good plans: The first requirement for building a good model is adequate source material. No matter how accomplished a model builder you may be, you cannot build an accurate model with inadequate plans. Photos are also a must. Beware, however. Ships are often altered during their careers, and plans for one period in a ship's life may differ from photos or other materials. 

While there are excellent models built from wood, there is no better material for scratch building than plastic. It is more versatile, and easier to use than wood, and the same model maker working in plastic will produce a better product than in wood. Your local hobby shop should carry strips and sheets of plastic in a large variety of sizes and thicknesses. Those who build master models for the European model companies all work in plastic. So the Neptun model that you own, was first produced in plastic. 

Brass and Mesh
Brass wire is easy to use for masts, spars, gun barrels, antennae, and other similar items. It is easily cut with scissors. Fine wire mesh, easily obtained at hobby shops is useful for radar screens. Increasingly, photo-etched brass is becoming available in 1:1250 scale. 

Get the Right Tools
You'd be surprised how few tools you need to build a model. But have the right ones, and it never hurts to have a few that you don't need, but will make your task easier. Among those you absolutely need are a hobby knife, a pin vise and drills, tweezers, sandpaper, a hobby saw, putty (like Squadron), a ruler, scissors, and cyanoacrylate (CA) glue. Other useful tools are a Dremel tool, soldering iron or butane torch, and metal files. You can paint your model using paint brushes, but an airbrush and compressor are far easier to use and produce excellent results. 

Cast Your Own Parts
There is nothing more inefficient than having to make identical small parts like boats, rafts, winches and other items one by one. You can eliminate the tedium, and assure uniformity by casting your own parts in resin. It is easy to obtain the material to make latex molds and liquid resin in order to cast your own parts. Make one master and then cast hundreds of copies. You can devote a great deal of effort to one really good master, rather than a lesser amount to each item. Using pre-cast parts is one of the ways to make your model making more fun and your models much more accurate. 

Don't be afraid to try new things. Cocktail straws can make good funnels, and other little odds and ends from packaging materials, fasteners, etc. can be useful for a variety of purposes. Keep an eye out for things that may prove useful in model making. You never know what little items that otherwise might be considered garbage, may in fact come in handy in some future project. 

If it Doesn't Look Right, Redo it
There is no substitute for your own eye. Yes, plans, and drawings are critical, but ultimately you have to live with the finished product. As the model comes together, be sure that you are satisfied with what is developing. If something doesn't look right, don't hesitate to tear it down and start again. Make it right before you go forward. It is dissatisfying to complete a model, only to have to be constantly reminded of a flaw that leaves you unhappy with the result and wishing you hadn't left it that way. 

Decals Make Better Models
Never paint what you can decal. Decals for numbers, stripes, lines, insignia, etc. produce a uniform result, are easy to use, and can rarely be matched by painting freehand, no matter how skilled the model maker. Be sure to use a solution like Solvaset to melt the decal into the paint on the model. After you've done that and then sprayed the model with Dullcoat or another flat spray, you won't be able to tell it is a decal. 

If you have any model tips that you'd like to share,
 please write me and let me know.
I may add them to the list.