Hasegawa 1/350 Hikawa Maru Photoetch and Wooden Deck
Hasegawa knew that modelers wanting to build their new Hikawa Maru ocean liner kit would be looking for aftermarket details, so they simultaneously released two photoetch sets and a wood deck set. One photoetch set is labeled "Basic" and contains mainly railings, while the other is labeled "Super" and contains finer details. The wood deck is self-explanatory, but we'll examine it, and the other sets, in more detail below.
Wooden Deck for Hikawa Maru
Real wood decks have become quite popular in recent years, as they simplify one of the more challenging aspects of ship modeling: creating a realistic-looking wooden deck. This deck set provides a real wood veneer that is literally paper-thin, with finely marked lines for the individual planks. While the grain is not to scale, it is subtle enough to provide a very good looking deck, and all that's needed is to peel the backing paper off and press the deck onto the kit parts. I would recommend painting the kit parts a dark color, just in case the alignment is slightly off, to hide the edges.
However, it's not quite that easy, as there are quite a few parts in this set, and to save space (and wood), many of these parts are centered in other parts. This means that you will need to pay very close attention to the instructions to make sure that nothing gets missed. As the Hikawa Maru has many levels of deck, you will also want to plan ahead to make sure that you're not having to paint around the deck, too, which runs the risk of getting paint on the wood. Finally, there is a small fret of photoetch provided to raise the metal deck areas the same amount as the wood decks.
Hikawa Maru Detail Up Etching Parts Basic
Photoetch seems to be tailor-made for ship modeling, as it accurately represents the finer details. One of the best uses of photoetch on ship models is for railings, and this set provides just that. So, the first step is to assemble stairs, which makes up almost all the rest of this set. These stairs are actually quite nicely done, but you will need to be ready for quite a bit of folding. Each individual step needs to be bent up, then the railings on the side bent up. Given the number of stairs that need to be built, I might work out a jig to fold the steps, to keep them all parallel.
The railings are fairly easy to apply, as for the most part they run on straight lines. Sections of the railings have flat pieces on the bottom, for attaching to the decks. However, should you use the aftermarket wood deck described above, these brass pieces would be very visible. It might be possible to not bend those flat and instead slide them between the deck and plastic parts. The remaining parts on this set cover life preservers, small hatches, and bracing.
Hikawa Maru Detail Up Etching Parts Super
While the photoetch railings are almost essential for a ship model, making the above Basic set pretty much a required element for the Hikawa Maru, the items covered on this Super set are not necessarily needed. However, they do offer a significant improvement over the kit parts (where replaced), and provide additional details that will further increase the realism of the finished model. There are quite a few small bits here, though, so be ready for some bending of tiny pieces.
One of the most prominent details provided in this set are the hoist assemblies. These will require a fair bit of folding to get the assembly done, but once finished, it will look quite nice. As there are lots of these on the ship, the detail is very welcome. There are other details, such as railings for the bridge and a new ship's wheel, but aside from the hoist assemblies, the other major subject area on this sheet involves the boats. These get decking, rudders, screws, and new support braces. There are even template pieces to make sure the support braces are properly spaced.
For those wanting to build a truly remarkable model of the Hikawa Maru, these three sets are well worth the price. Given the uniqueness of the parent kit, it would seem odd to not go the extra step, as there really are few 1/350 scale models of ocean liners out there. My thanks to Hasegawa USA for the review samples. Stay tuned to see them in action!