* Prices may differ from that shown
I don't think I really need to tell you what the Titanic was. But in case you live in a cave... with internet access oddly, the Titanic was constructed as an Olympic class steamship built between 1911 and 1912, the very epitome of luxury and technological advancement being the largest ocean liner ever built, and which ironically ended up ramming into an iceberg one April night during its maiden voyage and sunk, taking about 1500 people down with her. After that the ship and its fate has garnered itself a bit of a mythical sheen and its memory has been kept alive prior and after its re-discovery in 1985 in books and movies right up to this day, the high point of its fame in popular culture coming with the 2001 film adaptation of the tragedy called "Titanic: The Legend Goes On..." that features such classic moments as a rapping dog, Mexican mice, Cinderella (complete with an evil step mom and sisters), and a love story developed in the space of only two scenes. However, this review isn't about that animated masterpiece. Oh no, instead what I'm here to tell you about is something almost as great: Revell's 1/400 scale RMS Titanic plastic model kit. My personal history with this model came as I grew fed up with the - frankly - undetailed, poorly put-together, and small (1/570 scale I think it was) previous model - also of Revell build - I had of the ship. Thus I went on an epic quest... to the model shop in town, and stacked a whole bunch of money to buy a larger model. In fact, I actually had TWO choices when I entered the shop: an Academy/Minicraft one that had won some pretentious award, or this similarly sized Revell one that was slightly cheaper. After deliberating on the two, I figured the Revell model had the advantage due to its more affordable price tag (though it was still admittedly pricey) and the product pictures looked about as decent as the Minicraft's did. Thus, this is what ended up being carried to my home and I've certainly been quite happy with the choice.
The model is comprised of 159 numbered parts ("numbered," since some identical pieces of plastic have the same number), and the reported skill level is Revell's highest (5). However, if you're even slightly an experienced modeller, it shouldn't be a major problem to put this together, and I think the skill level really just denotes that this has a shoite load of small parts that small kids would be stupid enough to eat (aka. "stay the **** out of my room, you little brats" rule). The kit comes equipped with a 20-page instruction manual that I suppose you don't really need to use if you want to guess where all the parts are supposed to go, but is recommended to be used as a reference regardless. Drawings are clear cut and simple, so it is unlikely that there should be any problem in following the manual, and it even takes dyslexics into consideration in having barely any words outside of number parts and paint letters printed on the pages... unless you don't take the "History of the Titanic" opening bit into consideration. Past that, I didn't really have any particularly big problems in putting the ship together and I don't believe anybody else should either if you know what you're doing. Due to the higher cost of the model and me wanting to really make it a good representative replacée of my previous shipwreck (har har) of a build, I also spent about five days in building it, taking one step at a time in consideration, and this may have helped in lessening any building problems that a hastier construct could have brought about.
The largest part of the assembly really is focused on the decks with the amount of small parts like air vents and other sorts of junk you find on top of ships taking the most amount of fiddling with, and all this done will then require you to stack all the individual decks on top of each other like on a cake. Of course, the very topside of the A Deck (Boat Deck) is the one that needs the most amount of attention due to the funnels being there as well as lifeboats, compass platform, and the railings going over the raised roofs + funnel rigging. It is really mostly little twiddling with small parts that require you to be pretty nimble with your fingers, and do expect your skin to be pretty gluey when you're finally done, but at this scale level you should pretty much expect that anyway. And I don't suppose I really should need to tell you, but whatever you do, do remember to paint all the parts before putting them together. This should be pretty basic, but well, I suppose it needs to be mentioned anyway. It does, however, make things simpler that the deck material is moulded in white and the hull itself is black plastic, so it's easy to take an advantage of not having to paint everything unless you're one of those sticklers that feel the need to paint absolutely everything no matter if the pure plastic looks just as fine as it is. Thus the wood colour of the decks and the hull's white and red paint schemes are the only truly major pieces of acreage that require painting - as well as the buff on black funnels that is.
Aside from the lot of little tinkering with all the small parts mentioned above, there are two other areas that require more work and which are definitely the hardest parts of the assembly process. The first of these is the hull, which is split in two halves. The major challenge here comes from the fact that all the interior decks must align perfectly with the hull to avoid problems later in the assembly. Though this should again prove to be no problem if assembled with care, you do need to be mindful that the hull halves really are first attached together firmly and as straight as possible. And in what seems to be a general problem in models of this kind (many other ship models I've built in the past seem to feature this problem too), it is also likely that the hull parts aren't entirely straight. At least my model's bottom is slightly warped, causing it to not line up perfectly, though thankfully this does not effect the more critical top side of the hull parts, where all the decks need to be slotted into. But do be mindful that all the decks DO align without being tilted somehow, as well as making sure that the two hull parts are firmly attached together without cracking apart in the middle of the build. Thus it is best to attach the hull parts, use some kind of clamps to keep them together overnight, and only then continue using the hull for further construction. The second major area past the hull and the deck alignment, is the rigging of the funnels and the masts. In this, it is advisable to apply rigging to the funnels first before attaching the A Deck to the hull - and how the instructions also tell you to do - as it is infinitely easier to move the deck around without being encumbered with the below decks, while all the rest of the threads can be pulled once everything else is in place. But past these two major building sections, there's little of real challenge in assembly.
Decals aren't particularly numerous, consisting of a golden strip running around the hull of the ship (separated into multiple parts), "Titanic" titles for the bow and stern, three flags, three propeller warning plaques for the poop deck railing, and depth markers on top of name plaques for the ship's stand. A note on the decals, though, is that the depth markers (namely the series of numbers in the bow and stern showing the depth of the water's edge) are incorrectly marked in the instructions. Not only are they placed far too high and far too recessed from the edges, but they are also flipped on the opposite sides! Of course the one that curves should go to the bow and follow the curve of the bow's edge, while the one that is straight goes at the edge of the rudder. I have no idea how such an elementary error could have crept in here, but for the unsuspecting builder can turn out to be an unfortunate mistake. Also as regards the rigging, the instructions - while making for a decent cross-section of the threads that needs to be pulled throughout the ship - are still limited in omitting some prominent cords. For my own modelling, I perused several additional sources as reference from period photographs and detailed technical schematics, to text descriptions as well as J. Cameron's Titanic movie (the latter particularly for the paint advice) for an end result that was at least closer to the real Titanic than what it would have been by simply referencing to the instruction booklet. Also the model itself isn't 100% accurate to the real Titanic, but whatever inaccuracies there are will most likely only bother the most pedantic Titanic buffs out there, so I would think this is only of a very infinitesimal concern (and I'm sure the Minicraft model isn't perfect either in this regard no matter what awards it has).
So there you have it. The 1/400 scale Revell RMS Titanic is a very good model in the larger scale models of the ship, and should more than enough please most people wanting a good, detailed plastic model of the ship. And apart from the few little criticisms I mentioned above, they are ultimately of fairly little concern. Fitting of the parts together is largely tight and there're no big gaping holes or cracks to the point of distraction. Follow the price info on the Amazon links for purchase info, or see if your local hobby shop is packing one (note, though, I bought this years ago, so you may have better luck online). Overall, this comes highly recommended for any Titanic fan or fan of well-crafted scale model kits if you're not nitpicky on little details (for those, the newer Minicraft might be the better choice).
Here's a couple of pictures: http://berlioz-ii.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1zkapc
*Note: model does not come with additional Angelica and William figures you can play them having a happy ending with post-sinking... nor the rapping dog, either.*
© berlioz, 2010