Most ship modelers donít choose to take on small scale sailing ships, but for those who do a major challenge has always been creating convincing ratlines. These can be accomplished, but the difficulty of keeping the vertical shrouds and horizontal footropes aligned, to say nothing of the sheer tedium of placing and adjusting all those assemblies in multiple sets, makes the prospect truly daunting.
Alliance Model Works has come to the rescue with their set NW35045 - Ratlines Various Sizes for All Rigged Ships. The brass photoetch consists of 26 sets of shrouds/ratlines in 9 different sizes. Each is etched as a single unit with shrouds, horizontal footropes, and complex tightening tackle with deadeyes and attachment fittings at the base of each one. In addition, there are optional separate tightening tackle units to attach to the shrouds in place to give the units a more three-dimensional appearance. The etch is remarkably petite with outstanding detail throughout, most notably on the tightening assemblies. There is even a slight droop incorporated into each of the horizontal footropes Ė brilliant! The set is generic and not intended for any specific vessel, but the units can be easily customized to fit a wide variety of sailing ships.
I was especially excited to see this set because it addresses the one significant shortcoming on the otherwise excellent 1/350 scale sailing ships released recently by Zvezda, the ratlines. While Zvezdaís parts are well done, injection molded ratlines simply cannot compare with photoetch. The scale thickness of photoetch is order of magnitude more accurate than anything possible in injection molded plastic. Not only that, but when I compared some of these for size with injection molded ratlines from Zvezdaís 1/350 scale Golden Hind, the fit of many of them was quite close even without modification. Wohoo!
Highs: Accurate, in-scale, simple to use parts. Reasonable cost. Lows: Minor customization may be needed to fit specific ships.Verdict: Photoetch ratlines offer a vast improvement over injection molded kit parts.
About Tim Reynaga (TimReynaga) FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
I am married with three daughters and a son, and I oversee the team of regional workforce policy advisors for the State of California. My wife is an elementary school teacher.
Iíve been building models since I was five years old (my first model was a NASA lunar module bought for a dime from a mag...