Jotika / Caldercraft HM Yacht Chatham
A 1/64 Plank on Bulkhead (PoB) model ship.
This review is for the JoTika / Caldercraft model of the HM Yacht Chatham, taken from the Nelsons Navy range of model ships, and also my initial impressions of the Jotika company.
Let me start out by saying I am not a seasoned boat modeller, nor am I an expert in any modelling field (in fact this is my first PoB model - and my first model ship). This is simply my impression of the quality of the kit that I have purchased and the after sales service I have received.
I am not new to modelling as a whole, however, I have not built a model boat of this type before. I undertook a great deal of research on the Internet before thinking of buying a model. I had no idea of the scale I wanted to build, or of a particular manufacturer that I wished to purchase from, simply that I wanted to build a model of a sailing ship. This lead me, through my research, to the Jotika website. Its nice to say that JoTika aka Caldercraft, are a good old British firm based in Droitwich.
I warmly suggest that you look the Jotika site up on the Internet (sorry - not allowed to post the web address as its against ebay rules) and have a look through the selection of kits they offer. The Nelsons Navy collection contains 15 models (with more being developed and added as we speak), ranging from the 'simple' - such as the Chatham, through to the likes of the HMS Agamemnon, a 64 cannon ship of the line, and Victory, Nelsons flag ship. JoTika also offer MANY other types of ship and boat models (static, Sailing, Powered, RC etc), but I am only concentrating on one specific type here.
I was initially impressed by the level of detail given on their website, the fact that they offer a growing range of their models manuals as free PDF downloads on their site, and they actively support modellers who build their models, with both advice and by showcasing customers models. There are detailed photos of each model in the range, and many have photo logs showing the prototypes building process.
After looking through their range I decided to settle on one of the Nelsons Navy range, the most of which are a very decent 1/64 scale (the Victory is 1/72 and still a very large model and the HM g*nboat William, which is 1/32). The model I choose was the HM yacht Chatham - a small yacht built in 1741, and then re built in 1793. The model depicts her after this rebuild.
I intended to buy the kit from Jotika directly, but on visiting my local model shop I found that they had this kit in stock, so I bought it on the spot. I have also found dealers on ebay selling the Caldercraft / Nelsons Navy range here on ebay - and at very good prices- so please have a look around for the best deal :o)
On getting home, I opened the kit to find a very well packed and presented contents. The kit comes in a hard card glossy box, and inside I found a spiral bound A4 instruction manual, 5 sheets of very detailed full size plans for both the hull and rigging, and all of the materials required to build the model bar, as far as i can see - glues and paints (which are also available on their website, as well as from sellers here on ebay -)
All of the pre cut parts in the kit are CNC milled, in contrast to many of the kits I have read about that are laser cut. I cant comment if one of these is better than the other - but the machining in this kit seems to be good on inspection. The frame work of this double planked model is made from very good quality plywood, which seems to have no cavity's or splits. Many of the other parts are made from Walnut plywood or from solid Walnut sheet, again all of good quality with no warping, splits etc - and all CNC cut. The deck blanks are also made from good quality ply (which is later planked in Lime) and are well cut.
The box also contains a number of bundles of strip wood in both Lime and Walnut, which I found to be mostly excellent (a small number had little splits etc at the ends or a little wavy grain in the Walnut and one under width plank - total 3) The Lime had no problems at all. There was also a bundle of dowel for the masts and spars, which was of good quality, and a number of packets containing the smaller items such as brass pins, white metal castings for the deck fittings and hull decoration, plus an extensive fret of etched brass parts for both hull and rigging fittings. There is also a bag containing reels of black and natural coloured threads, in various sizes, for the rigging and anchor rope. A sheet of clear plastic and a piece of black card are also included for glazing etc.
I have to backtrack a little and mention in more detail the quality of the white metal castings provided with this kit. I have seen a few in the past, and not really thought a lot of them, but these are crisp and well cast, with little if any flash to clean off.
As this is my first planked model, I am not going to describe my build process (for a start I have only just started it) and I really don't think I am qualified to do so at this time - This review is simply on the quality of the materials supplied in the kit and of my experience with the firm.
I carried out a full inspection of the kits contents part for part and checked it against the contents list in the back of the manual (also using the pages showing the kit part numbers and diagrams) and found the end of one small CNC machined 'fret' of Walnut missing - the 4 parts being a few small deck fittings. I sent a quick email to JoTika and within a few hours had a reply asking me to supply my address and the parts would be in the post asap - excellent service.
The only slight letdown to the kit (in my humble opinion), would be the printed manual supplied with it. It is of good quality, but I would say its detail is slightly lacking for a kit meant to be aimed at modellers wanting an introduction to plank on bulkhead modelling (as stated on the first page of the manual.....). The instructions are fairly clear, but the addition of a few diagrams would go a long way. HOWEVER- I do take heart from the newer manuals being supplied with many of their newer kits - as these are of first rate quality and include a step by step guide of what is to be undertaken with many photos. I found that the other manuals I downloaded from their site, especially the HMS Pickle manual, contain all of the information that I required to make the construction of the HM Chatham clear in my mind. I hope JoTika will re vamp the Chatham manual in the future to the standard of those available on the website.
In my opinion, the kit I have from Caldercraft is excellent, and hopefully (my skill allowing) will build into a lovely static display model. The support I have had from JoTika has been excellent, and I am very pleased so far. I hope to build many others kits from the Nelsons Navy range, so perhaps there will be other reviews in the future.
I hope this may help anyone thinking of taking on this great little kit - Once I finish the model I will update this review with some details from the build.
I have taken a few photos of the kits contents and will upload them as soon as I get the chance.