Straight Out-of-the-Box: Monogram USS Chicago
I have always really liked the naval vessels of the Cold War. I usually build aircraft models, but I got first started building ships with a 1/500-ish Renwal re-release, and I just stayed with the scale. This model hasn't been available for some time, but I picked it up at a really good price at a local hobby show. The kit parts are stamped with the date 1976, but this release of the kit was probably in the 1990s. The box states the scale is 1:500, but I think it is closer to 1:506.
The actual USS Chicago is an interesting subject. It began life in WW2 as a Baltimore class heavy cruiser (CA-136), but was converted after the war into an Albany class guided missile cruiser (CG-11). I really like ships from the Cold War, since many of them were conversions of earlier ship classes. This ship conversion added a really tall bridge section that is rare in American ships.
I built this ship straight-out-of-the-box, with nothing added that wasn't in the kit. The basic kit is simple to build and produces a nice looking model. I never add rigging to my ships, preferring to keep the build simple and streamlined. There are a lot of things you could do to really make this old kit a standout, including adding railings, replacing the stairs with photoetch, and so on. Photoetch in this scale is fairly scarce, but it can be found. The Chicago hasn't seen a lot of coverage in the world of model manufacturers, as the only other kit I have ever seen of the Chicago is a really expensive resin version.
The Chicago only took a week or so to build, was very relaxing, and soon joined the rest of my 1/500-ish fleet. If you ever want to step away from super-detailing your latest kit and do something relaxing, then this is just the kit for you.
8 additional images. Click to enlarge.