Encore Models 1/232
USS Olympia

Reviewed by Sean Hert

USS Olympia C-6, is one of the oldest steel-hulled vessels afloat. Olympia is the sole member of her class of protected cruiser. Laid down in 1891 and commissioned in 1895, she rose to fame as Commodore Dewey's flagship during the American victory over the Spanish Asian Fleet during the Spanish-American War at Battle of Manila Bay (Philippines) on May 1, 1898. It was on board Olympia that Dewey uttered his now famous phrase to Olympia's commanding officer, "You may fire when ready, Gridley." After service in the Pacific for the remainder of the war, she engaged in diplomatic "showing the flag" missions and then was used as a training vessels for cadets at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She returned to the line for service during World War I, with her final honor being the return home of the remains of the Unknown Soldier.

Olympia was decommissioned for the final time 1922, and in 1957 was saved for preservation and became a museum ship in Philadelphia, where her appearance was altered back to that of 1898. In 1966 USS Olympia was designated a National Historic Landmark. USS Olympia is now in dire need of extensive repair and restoration, and her future is in question.

Encore Models is a new brand from the well-known company, Squadron. Encore, as the name suggests, releases limited reissues of old plastic kits with various aftermarket-styled upgrades. This is Encore's first ship kit, Revell's 1/232 USS Olympia. It was first released in 1959, and holds up surprising well for a kit that's over 50 years old.

This review covers the "Premium Edition" of the kit from Encore. It includes the original plastic kit, 2 sheets of photoetch, wooden deck veneers, brass barrels, and few resin upgrades. The photoetch and decks are from KA Models.


This 50+ year old kit starts with the two-piece full hull, sectioned down the centerline. They fit together well, and have some great detail, with raised plating and rivets which hold up pretty well when compared to modern kits. On the other hand, some details have not aged so well, like the attached railing stanchions, bilge keels, and casemates. These issues are resolved by included modern details, but will need to be trimmed to allow the upgrades. There are also 2 post on the bottom, where the model would fit into the original base that will need to be removed, and then new holes drilled into the bottom for the new base that is included.


The two sprues which comprised the original kit are shipped in a large plastic bag; this was good packing decision, as there were parts knocked off the sprues loose in the bad. These sprues are the old-style, with no outer framework providing rigidity; the parts support sprues are allowed to flex and flop around, leading to parts being removed or loosely attached. These old parts also show some flash which will require a bit of cleanup before assembly.


Like Sprue A, Sprue B is molded with no exterior frame, making the sprue somewhat unsupported. One of the bulkheads for the superstructure was badly malformed in our review sample, due to the unsupported nature. Likewise, there were some parts knocked loose in shipping.


Olympia comes with raised planking detail molded on the decks, a nice detail 50 years ago, but unsuitable for many of today's discerning modelers. Capitalizing on the current trend of replacement wooden decks (veneers), Encore had KA Models craft a set of self-adhesive pre-cut decks. There are 13 pieces of veneer for covering the main deck, boat deck, bridge and conning stations.


Encore has included 3 types of machined brass barrels in this kit, for replacing the original plastic ones. All of the them have open muzzles and mounting pegs at the rear.

5" casemate
8" Main

There are four white metal breech assemblies for the 6-pounder deck guns to replace the plastic ones in the kit. Also included is a length of metal anchor chain.

These white metal guns provide only a modest improvement over the square plastic of the original kit parts. The tapered end will need to be drilled to receive the brass barrels.


This kit also includes a few resin parts to replace some deficient plastic ones; the twin props, the bow and stern mounted torpedo tube doors and the hull notch above the rudder. The props are a one-for-one swap for the plastic parts, but to use the other resin parts the hull and rudder will need to be modified; not everyone will undertake these steps.


There are 3 pieces of KA Models photoetch in this kit; two sheets of with multiple parts, and an etched nameplate. These sheets of relief-etched brass have a wide variety of upgrade parts and are all well done.

Sheet A has the railings for Olympia, replacing the molded-on stanchions. There are also a number of replacement watertight doors, a new wheelhouse, ladders, funnel screens, bases for the 6-pounders and a replacement crest for the bow. There is also a nice assembly for upgrading the engine room hatch and skylights.

Sheet B is a long thin sheet, and has the bilge keels as well as a few remaining parts, like hose reels and chocks for the boats.




This kit has two display options; the original plastic base, and an unstained wood base with brass display hardware.


A sheet of paper flag variants is included.


This full-color instruction booklet is laid out differently form a normal booklet, but well done. It has a mix of illustrations and real pictures showing each part of the assembly sequence, with numbered steps on the bottom of each page. Some of the steps also reference "Details", which smaller thumbnails to illustrate the particulars indicated in that step's text. The text of these steps indicate a fair amount of items to be removed and replaced, and in some cases filled and modified. The last page of the instructions are a color and painting guide, with color schemes for 3 eras, including the Battle of Manila Bay. As always, please read through and study the instructions before assembly.

Also included with the instruction is an appeal to Save the USS Olympia.


This premium edition of Olympia includes many upgrades and replacements to really enhance this 50 year old kit to close to modern standards. The box-scale of the kit should not be a deterrence to those considering a purchase of this model, as this classic kit is still worthy of building.

Thanks to Squadron Products for the review sample. It is listed as #85001 1/232 USS Olympia with a MSRP of $99.95 US. The standard edition is listed as #80001, with a MSRP $59.99; this kit does not include the deck or barrels. Encore Models is exclusive label from Squadron Products.