Taking a Break: Building Meng’s Warship Builder Series USS Lexington
I was in the mood to take a break from the more complex models I was building, so I was trolling through the hobby shop and saw Meng’s USS Lexington in their Warship Builder series. If you aren’t familiar with these kits, they are “caricatures” of the actual ship and aren’t intended to an accurate representation of the ship. Meng and others have made airplanes and armor that are caricatures for some time, but this is the first ship I have seen. The kits in this series are pre-colored and designed to be press-fit assembly. You might dismiss these kits as something designed for kids, but you will change your mind when you open the box. The first clue that this is a serious kit is when you see the minute size and detail on the ship, weapons, and aircraft. The parts are very small and fit perfectly together. There is absolutely no flash anywhere. Meng does have an irritating tendency to have sprue attachment points on the mating surface of a part, but this is easily sanded away. I used liquid glue to assemble the model, and some painting really raises the level of the kit. You will find that if you choose to paint the pieces that the thickness of the paint is enough to make the fit too tight. Although the look of the ship is exaggerated, the basic features of the ship are accurate and well-detailed, and the planes are clearly identifiable as Wildcats, Devastators, and Dauntlesses. There are even tiny torpedoes and bombs where appropriate. If you choose to assemble the kit without paint, it could be completed in far less than an hour. My time was increased by an hour or so since I decided to paint and add light weathering to the ship. The kit comes with press-on markings, so I also decided to use my wife’s Silhouette Cameo die-cutting machine to cut masks for the lettering required. I didn’t discover until afterward that the “L” on the funnel should have been white rather than black, but I decided to leave it. I lost another hour or two when I started working on the planes. I wanted an appropriate camouflage scheme, which then led to adding 1/350 insignia decals from my spares. Then I decided to paint the propeller hubs, which led to painting the prop tips yellow. Then I decided to paint the canopy frames, and then…… You get the idea. Anyway, it was fun to build and looks good when you are done. I discovered that Meng has also released a U-Boat, the USS Missouri, and the Scharnhorst. I plan to acquire and build them all so my Lex doesn’t feel lonely. If you aren’t a naval person, Hasegawa, Meng, and others make similar “caricature” models of both tanks and planes. I have built several of these planes and tanks and enjoy them for the same reasons. If you want something that is fun and relaxing, you can’t go too far wrong with these ships, planes, and armor.
7 additional images. Click to enlarge.