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Encore Models 1/232 Protected Cruiser USS Olympia Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2012 Manufacturer Encore Models
Subject Protected Cruiser USS Olympia Scale 1/232
Kit Number 85001 Primary Media Styrene/Wood/Brass/PE/Resin/White Metal
Pros Excellent multimedia training kit Cons Bow and stern crests are not provided as decals
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $99.99

First Look

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The USS Olympia was a cruiser commissioned in 1895 and was assigned to the Asiatic Squadron home ported in Shanghai, China. In 1898, Commodore George Dewey assumed command of the Asiatic Squadron and made Olympia his flagship. Not long after his arrival, the Asiatic Squadron was readied in the event of war with Spain. When war was declared, Dewey took the squadron to Manila Bay in the Philippines to capture or destroy the Spanish fleet based there. Olympia and her squadron mates engaged the Spanish fleet until their surrender shortly thereafter. Dewey remained off Manila in support of US Army forces that went ashore to conquer the islands from Spanish occupation.

On successful completion of their mission, Dewey and Olympia returned to the US where the ship was decommissioned and placed in reserve in November 1899. Olympia was reactivated in 1902 for North Atlantic duty over the next four years followed by training duty in support of the US Naval Academy. In 1916, the Olympia would patrol off the eastern US during World War I. She continued her service in the North Atlantic and training roles until her decommissioning in 1922.

Encore Models has produced a rather interesting multimedia kit from an old Revell classic, the USS Olympia. Encore has taken some other gems from the Revell-Monogram archives and added some new multimedia parts to render a really nice kit, but this release takes that concept to a whole new level.

The kit is Revell's 1/232 (box scale) USS Olympia, first released as kit H-367 which makes this kit as old as my sister (1959). In those days, kit makers used standard-sized boxes so the kits would be scaled to fit inside one of these standard boxes, long before the concept of standard scales. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus a separate display stand. You can see in the first several photos that this was not a complex model but it built into a nice kit with a little care.

Enter Encore Models. There are actually two versions of this kit released: kit 80001 that includes the basic Revell kit plus photo-etched parts and some resin corrections. Then there is this kit (85001) which is an AMS modeler's dream. This edition provides the photo-etched parts and resin corrections, and adds a laminate wood deck, turned brass gun barrels, white metal details, and a wood base with brass stands. What's more the kit lists at $99.99 USD and (if you can find one) has a much lower street price.

The instructions are an interesting mix of old and new. The original graphics used in the 1959 kit are used, but Encore as added some nice graphics to show where the new parts go in the assembly as well as step-by-step instructions on how to modify the stock kit to accept the new additions. The kit also includes nice rigging instructions.

Considering the number of special parts included in this kit, the whole project isn't very complex. One sign of this is with the photo-etched parts - aside from the usual bends to route the railings around the edges, there are no complex bends nor any special origami (complex photo-etch folding) required to render this model (such as cranes, radars, catapults, etc.).

Painting instructions are provided for three options:

  • USS Olympia circa 1898, Battle of Manila Bay
  • USS Olympia circa Sep 1898-Aug 1899 in victory colors
  • USS Olympia circa Sep 1899 in its US return colors

It would have been nice to have the full-color bow and stern crests provided as decals rather than painting instructions on how to render the red/white/blue on those two tiny details.

It is a bit mind-numbing to see the wealth of multi-media detail options that have entered the market in the last few years. While photo-etch has been around a long while, the technology to machine and hollow-out very small metal gun barrels is recent and these laminate wood decks are even more recent. With all of these options that are now on the market, one can be a bit intimidated if you don't have experience with them. Such is the case with me and these laminate decks - I've obtained a few sets for upcoming projects, but I hesitate to jump into those projects as the costs of the decks alone is near the cost of this complete kit.

With this release from Encore Models, you don't have to be fan of the Olympia nor a collector of old kits that haven't been on the market for decades to want one of these. Here is an ideal multi-media kit with which you can try these new detailing technologies and gain some useful experience before embarking on those more expensive endeavors.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!

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