Ahoy, Mates! Welcome to the first installment of Zvezda’s 1/72 Pirate Ship “Black Swan.” One of the things I love about review team duty is the chance to try subjects I wouldn’t normally build. This is one of them. In fact, this is my first attempt at building a sailing ship. I think I’ve avoided it because, like biplanes, there’s usually a lot of rigging. Just can’t imagine building models over a lifetime and never building a sailing ship, so here goes! I’m not up on all the proper terms, so I hope the pictures show what I can’t describe.
After discussing the origin of this kit with a few of my IPMS friends on the forum, we concluded this kit is a reissue of Captain Jack Sparrow’s “Black Pearl” from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series. Licensing issues with Disney have resulted in a name change and one sprue that replaces a maiden with the Black Swan. So how does a pirate get such a nice ship? The movie storyline offers a few clues. Turns out the good Captain was once a legitimate operator for the Dutch East India trading company. That is, until he was ordered to haul slaves and stopped short of his destination and freed them. As a result, the Wicked Wench (the original name of the Black Pearl) was burned and sank, taking Captain Sparrow with it. Somewhere in the process, Sparrow struck a deal with Davy Jones that spared his life and returned the ship to him. Of course, there were very unfavorable conditions to that deal but I’ll let the movies explain them. Jack renamed the ship the Black Pearl. She was famous for her speed, as evidenced by all those sails. As for the Black Swan, the only thing I found was a movie made in 1942 based on a Rafael Sabatini novel. The ships in that movie have nothing in common with this kit. The cool thing about this kit is, because it has no “real” history, you are free to let your creative side wander off the beaten path. So join this landlubber on a wild adventure on the high seas (or in this case, my garage!)
I don’t normally do multi-part reviews but, as soon as I opened the large box, I knew it was going to take time to do this kit justice. The box has a handle at the top so, if you keep the bottom taped, it works very well in keeping things together. There are 897 parts molded in grey plastic and one sprue of clear parts for the Captain’s quarter’s windows. Everything is bagged separately to protect the parts. In addition, there is a small bag with four types of string/thread for the rigging. A ten-page instruction booklet contains 61 steps to complete the model. The box has a painting on the front and photos of the built up model on the back that serve as good references for the build.
Starting with the hull parts, they are cast so that each side has three sections that stack up to complete them. The halves trap three deck sections with a full complement of cannons. There are two versions to choose from, one with cannons moved outboard and the hatches open or the cannons moved back inboard with closed hatches. All of these parts have a nice wood grain pattern molded on them. Some washes and dry brushing should give them nice depth. The detail on the ship’s stern is especially impressive. Very fine detail is the order around the Captain’s cabin windows, including some nice scroll work and sculptures of Neptune that adorn the poop deck.
The lifeboat is a model in itself, complete with lower and upper sections, a sail, oars, and a rum barrel. The masts are molded in halves so they’ll need some cleanup. The sails are all injection molded. No cutting sails from vacuform sheets on this project. This approach doesn’t provide the translucent appearance of a cloth sail but I think, with some shading to accentuate the relief, they will work just fine. Oh, by the way, you don’t have the option of not deploying the sails. This vessel is designed to run full speed ahead with sails furrowed. OK, now for the fun part, all that rigging! I’m happy to report it’s not as bad as you might think. First of all, the ratlines are all molded as single units. Even the block and tackles that tension them are injection pieces. Just have to make sure they don’t warp out the wrong way going on. Zvezda has tried to minimize the actual tying of string by molding a lot of the block and tackle with rope attached. That’s not to say there isn’t some tedious rigging to do. Where its required, the instructions seem to walk you carefully step-by-step through the process. In some cases, they even show specifically how the knots are tied or rope is laid.
The last page contains the painting instructions. There are seven colors called out with ModelMaster equivalents to simplify painting. I’m sure I will use more colors than that to shade, etc… The photos on the back of the box will really help with the painting of this kit.
So, there you have it. In the box, its looks like a winner, especially for a novice ship builder like me. So stay tuned while I get underway.
I’d like to thank Dragon Models USA for supplying this gorgeous kit for review, and IPMS for allowing me the chance to step outside my modeling box and build/review it.