1/350 Mikasa
Photo etch set by Gold Medal models
The new Hasegawa Japanese Battleship Mikasa is out and appears to be a major step forward in 1/350 scale injection molding from the Japanese mainland. The kit builds nicely out of the box, but if you want to do this famous flagship justice you need a super detail set to take it to the next level. Gold Medal Models has just released this new set to allow you to do just that. When this kit hit the market, there was quite a outcry for a photo etch set to detail it on the forums. But Loren Perry, Gold Medal Models owner, calmly replied that he would not release a detail set until he had a kit in hand to verify the fit and dimensions of the parts. I'm willing to bet that the wait was worth it for all you that will be using this set. It is custom designed to fit this kit so you will not be cutting and fitting parts, or using bits and pieces off various sets. This one has everything you need to detail the ship including a few items you would not have thought of.
click images to enlarge
click for a larger view
The parts are relief etched on a .008" brass sheet where needed to give them a more realistic 3D appearance. Some things that really jump out at me are the cool drooped chain railings that appear to have actual chain link. Funnel rings will turn the plastic tubes into an attention getting part, especially when you add the funnel cap grills and platforms. A handy and much appreciated funnel ring alignment jig is included to help you put them on in a uniform fashion, a real nice touch. The relief etched skylights will allow you to realistically display them in the open position. You also get boat details such as rudders, davit pulleys, two sizes of oars, and some really nice boat cradles that when folded have a nice 3D look to them. 

The anti torpedo net catwalks are perforated and very fine. They include braces that locate in the notches etched into the bottom side. The gun doors are etched so that only the port hole ring is full thickness, another major improvement over the plastic kit parts. I really like the bridge wing and mast braces, they too are etched to leave only the raised detail at full thickness. You also get accommodation ladders to get your sailors aboard. If you are planning on adding rigging, you will probably love all the turnbuckle, eyebolts, and pulley details included. 

You can even give the bow some attention with the anchor chain hoops and releases. A scale thickness pilot house and rear bridge will drastically improve the kit. Add to that the little details such as ships wheel, stand, and compass mount. The stern of the ship also gets some cool details. The captains walk has ornate style railings, and perforated walkway and a nameplate with Japanese characters clearly etched in place. What good would a captains walk be without a relief etched sword wielding Admiral Togo to walk it? A paint guide for the Admiral is included.

Additional detail shots of the photo etch fret.
Scan of the back side of the fret.

I don't usually show the back side of a photo etch fret as the details are usually all etched on the front side. But this fret also has relief etching on the backside! Note the canvas covered railings and you can make out the railings.

Back side of fret
click for a larger view
 Also I noticed that the Captains walkway has notches etched on the bottom for the braces. Take note of the door and window frames for the Pilot House on the front, with the fold lines etched on the back. 
In case I left something out, here is Gold Medal Models parts breakdown: 
  • Custom fitted and pre-shaped main deck railing featuring "drooped-chain" detailing and with pre-positioned cutouts for chocks.
  • Specialized and pre-sized railing in all the correct styles for all upper decks with choice of simulated canvas-covered or non-canvas-covered styles
  • Watertight doors in all the correct sizes and in several styles
  • Inclined ladders in all required sizes; vertical ladders
  • Two accommodation ladders with perforated platforms and associated rigging
  • Relief-etched replacement bridge wing supports and mast top supports
  • Pre-shaped footropes for all four yardarms
  • Fold-to-shape forward and aft bridge pilot houses with see-through windows and separate doors
  • Helm and binnacle for interior of pilot house
  • Pre-shaped handgrabs and funnel cap grilles for both funnels including an alignment jig to ease assembly
  • Pre-shaped perforated catwalks for both sides of the hull
  • Relief-etched gunport covers for gun casemates; rudders, oars, and chocks for ship's boats; turnbuckles, eyebolts, and pulley blocks for custom rigging work
  • Highly detailed skylight covers in several styles
  • Two pre-shaped ladder well railings for gun decks
  • Detailed captain's walk with accurate handrails and relief-etched ship's nameboard
  • Three anchor hawsepipe screens; anchor handling hardware
  • 3-D relief-etched figure of Admiral Togo in full uniform with sword and binoculars.
The instructions as usual are excellent, with a variety of well drawn sub assembly views. Parts locations are clearly indicated as well as how the parts integrate with the plastic ones. The instructions call out the sections of railings you will need and show you where they go. No need to measure the part with dividers and cut railings to fit. Note that the fold points are also shown for each railing section. The illustrations are very good, and I even learned some new naval terminology when reading the assembly notes on them. When it comes to instructions, I usually have something to complain about, but I can't find any fault with these. 
click to go to Gold Medal Models website

This is an excellent set for anyone who wants to build a first class Mikasa. It has everything even the picky model ship builder would want and there are even extra parts included in case you lose or damage some. It is set number #350-35 Mikasa and has a retail price of $40.00 US. A great price when you consider the extra value it adds to your kit. You can order direct from Gold Medal Models or pick your set up wherever fine ship accessories are sold.

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