1/700 Waterline Series in Malaysia

I’m sure many of you would be familiar with the following three famous Shizuoka companies – Tamiya, Aoshima and Hasegawa (who are all members of the Shizuoka Plastic Model Manufacturer’s Association) and their respective range of model ships for the 1/700 scale Waterline series. While their primary goal is to re-create model ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy (“大日本帝國海軍“ , Dai Nippon Teikoku Kaigun), these companies have also seen fit to expand their range to include ships from the Kriegsmarine, the British Royal Navy, and the United States Navy.

I’ve always been a fan of model ships and so is my brother and dad. During his spare time about twenty or so years ago, my dad would purchase the 1/350 scale Yamato battleship and assemble the whole model himself. Looking back, I don’t recall that the ship was a product of superior craftsmanship, but it was fascinating – to be able to snip the fragile plastic parts off the sprue trees and use super glue (*wrong move – ship modellers should be using plastic cement) to fuse different parts together. We had a 1/700 USS Midway ship sometime in the early 1990s (can’t remember from which manufacturer) and it went missing one day; nobody knows where it went.

In 2004, my brother made a 1/350 KMS Bismarck – a real beauty. It is probably residing in his house now – if not, it’s probably buried many feet deep in some landfill site. For many years after that, we entertained no further silly ideas of piecing together these ships until 2010. In the interim, of course, I played video games like ‘Hearts of Iron II’ and its mods, and grew interested in the Nippon Kaigun again. Of course, once the interest came back, the first stop would be to look for a retail store which stocks this stuff. You could go to ‘Tamiya Underground’ for Tamiya stuff – but where else? DaiSheng in Petaling Street was listed as the distributor for Aoshima model kits (whose lineup of 1/700 Waterline products seemed to be more exciting than Tamiya’s). I rang them up and explained that I was interested in Aoshima ships and wondered if they do stock them. The bemused proprietor of the shop was courteous enough to explain that the 1/700 ship model market in Malaysia is effectively dead in the water. He seemed effusive in clarifying that the exceedingly low interest in this niche market meant that it is not profitable for him to bring in Aoshima 1/700 Waterline ships for sale here in this country. The only alternative left would be to order such products online – which was as helpful as eating ice cream in frigid weather.

Sadly, this is the case with 1/700 Waterline ships in this part of the world as I’ve discovered. Malaysians just don’t build model warships – the demand is not there and the interest iffy at best; they only play with RC cars and dabble in gundam mechs. The plastic model airplanes, though, are quite a hit with Malaysians. I enquired from another leading hobby centre in Kuala Lumpur and was told that they seldom bring in Waterline models as well. Even if they did, the prices are way higher than the 1Utama alternative. I guess the proprietor from DaiSheng may be right after all – having ice cream in cold, Siberian weather could be fun.

Anyway, here are some screenshots of my (unpainted) model ships which I’ve acquired from Tamiya in 2010. I’ve five more boxes of model kits which are still left unopened – KMS Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen, Aircraft carriers IJN Shokaku and IJN Zuikaku, Heavy Cruiser IJN Mikuma, and Light Cruiser IJN Kumano. My immediate project is to recreate the Kido Butai fleet – so that would mean acquiring IJN Soryu, IJN Hiryu, IJN Akagi and IJN Kaga to complete. We would be staring at easily another RM600 – RM700 budget. That’d be fun. Still, aircraft carriers are either a joy to build or a burden to complete. One exception would be IJN Taiho, where I was immeasurably disappointed by its exceedingly simple construction that I had trouble coming to terms that I forked out close to RM120.00 for something with little challenge. IJN Shinano remains one of the hardest to build, given the number of anti-aircraft guns and supporting beams at its flanks to construct. By comparison, I enjoyed building battleships / battlecruisers the most but not heavy cruisers.

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(from left to right, top row: Scharnhorst battlecruiser, IJN Yamato (battleship), Yahagi (light cruiser), IJN Shinano (aircraft carrier), IJN Suzuya (heavy cruiser), IJN Fubuki (destroyer), IJN Taiho (aircraft carrier; bottom row – Gneisenau battlecruiser)

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(IJN Shinano, IJN Suzuya and IJN Fubuki upclose. I added the radio mast on Suzuya’s turret no.3 using unused bits and pieces of the sprue)

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(Gneisenau battlecruiser and IJN Mogami. The latter was quite easy to build, despite its converted aircraft deck which differentiates it from its other sister ships)

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(my brother’s Prince of Wales battleship, which remained unfinished but with so many existing mistakes that I’d not be averse to getting another replacement for him to save face. And yes – you would need a bottle of plastic cement to fix these ships, not superglue. Each jar roughly costs RM15.00)

So there you have it – a hobby which is dying out in Malaysia. I was told by the store managers that our neighbours down south, Singapore are active in this pastime and that in Japan, the hobby is still as addictive as ever. Make of it what you will – but I’d be making my online purchases soon. Now, about that IJN Yamashiro at HLJ which has been tempting me for months already…          

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5 Responses to 1/700 Waterline Series in Malaysia

  1. arthuroon says:

    (Update – 9 June 2011) – I’ve just ordered the 1/700 Yamashiro battleship (1944 version) and 1/700 Nagato (1942 Retake), of which both are issued by Aoshima Bunka Kyozai, from HobbyLink Japan. So far, the Yamashiro kit has been shipped and I should be receiving it soon.

    Basically, if you are a ship modeller in Malaysia and if you are keen on WWII warships, the best places to go would be to Tamiya Underground at 1Utama Shopping Centre or Hobby HQ (address: 52-1 (TKT 1), Jalan Metro Pudu, Fraser BIZ Park, 55100, KL). I haven’t been to the latter store before, so I’m in no position to comment on its stock in any manner.

    Personally, I think that Aoshima and Hasegawa (and to a lesser extent, Fujimi) have a pretty impressive lineup of IJN ships as compared to Tamiya’s rather limited choice. If you can’t get these model ships anywhere in Malaysia, the best bet would be to go online for your purchases. I’ve made the first step with HLJ and so far, everything looks peachy.

    • M.A.H. Wijewickrema says:

      Thank you very much for the info. My mum will be there in the mid. of Feb. and hope she would be able to buy one or two ships. My father and I was in Singapore last year and bought six ships, Royal Navy and Germant Navy from Stargek in S.pore.

      Thank you once again.

      Dhruvin Wijewickrema
      Sri Lanka

      • Artur says:

        Thanks for dropping by, Dhruvin.

        Essentially, what I was saying is that there are only two main hobby centres in Malaysia which still sell warships of the 1/700 scale. You might want to check out the forums: (http://z12.invisionfree.com/ScaleModelsMalaysia/index.php?showforum=15&prune_day=100&sort_by=Z-A&sort_key=last_post&st=15) to get updates on the model kits that you may require. I don’t really like Tamiya Underground for its poorly stocked 1/700 series (sometimes they bring in lots of stock but most times, the amount of stuff they offer are risible + their prices are very expensive) although I agree that German Navy kits are pretty good for Tamiya (Prinz Eugen heavy cruiser, and Scharnhorst and Gneisenau battlecruisers).

        Later, I found out that ordering my ship kits online is way cheaper than the exorbitant prices that Malaysian stores generally charge (even if you include the shipping and credit card charges). I normally make my purchases from Hobbylink Japan or hobbyeasy. Plus, you get to explore a wider variety of kits available from these online stores which include kit-specific photo-etched parts and other enhancements.

        I wish you luck in your shipbuilding hobby.

        Artur

  2. Pingback: Additions to the 1/700 fleet : ) | Leidartikel

  3. Javier Martinez Perez says:

    Hello;
    My name is Javier and I am writing from Spain. I am also a lover of the warships of the second world war, especially of the Japanese navy. Right now in the closet you should have about 40 or 50 in waiting.
    An advice; paint your boats while you build them, you will stop loving them and you will happen to fall in love with them

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