Title: Yankee Modelworks USS Boston

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Rant Pt.I: My YMW USS Boston (CAG-1) Odyssey

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Since writing this tirade, Yankee Modelworks has unfortunately ceased operations. I do not know the whys or what-fors that led to this event: none of my business, thank you very much. I had considered removing this rant as a result, but in the end decided to leave it as-is. I figure there's a better-than-zero chance that someone might resurrect this kit in the future, and these pages might help potential buyers calibrate their expectations based on my experience.

My experience with YMW has not been that good. To be fair, I have only purchased two items from them:

  • USS Montana BB-67 (described elsewhere on this site)
  • USS Boston CAG-1
The Montana kit was "just ok." The deckhouses were horribly out of square/plumb, the surface detail on the deckhouses was questionable at best, and the white metal parts were absolutely horrible. The barrels were completely unusable and the directors and other parts (flag bags, etc.) were mere lumps or blobs. To be fair, I will say that although the non-uniform shrink rate between the upper and lower hull halves amounted to a nearly 3/4" discrepancy between the two, the hull itself is above-average and the PE is outstanding. HOWEVER, $500+ for a hull and a couple frets of PE... well, I think YMW must be laughing all the way to the bank about morons like me.

Ok, you say... "If you have such a low opinion of them, why did you throw good money after bad and purchase a USS Boston kit?" And I will be the first to say "that is a very fair question." And here is my rationale for doing so:

  • I've been told that the Montana was tooled by "some other person and that YMW just bought the molds"
  • The marketing for Boston looks pretty first-rate, and
  • with their new website face, I bought into the "Maybe they've retooled themselves" idea.
So far so good. But to be honest with myself, I have no idea if that bit about Montana being tooled by "someone else" is accurate; the marketing I've seen on the Boston kit consisted entirely of CAD drawings, and I realize anyone can create a new face for a website. But still, I decided to take the plunge because frankly I LIKE USS Boston and I thought that just maybe things would be different this go-around.

As I've said elsewhere in this site, "Fool me once..."

The Hull

Anyway, I took the plunge and purchased the kit from FreeTime hobbies: I received it four days later. The first thing I did was inspect the hull, which as usual is split into two pieces at the waterline. Right away I realized (with a sinking heart) that something was amiss. I realize large pieces of resin cannot be expected to shrink at similar rates: however this hull had other significant problems. When aligning the two halves at stem and stern, a large (3/8" + ) offset appeared amidships - specifically the top half of the hull was shifted to starboard by nearly one-half inch. Even more disturbing was the shape of the lower half of the hull: it appeared to have a "kink" in it about 1/3rd of the way back from the bow (click on image to view larger version, then use your browser's BACK button to return here).

Yankee Modelworks USS Boston lower hull        Lower hull. Note the overall asymmetrical shape, including the offset chine strakes. Most disturbing to me was the obvious differences between the left/right profiles from bow back to about 1/3rd length. Additionally, looking at the whole piece at once, it appears to have a significant "bend" to port along its entire length.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Upper hull, showing the large longitudinal offset amidships. A corresponding "underhang" was present on the starboard side.

As a result of these issues with the hull, I contacted YMW. After several emails I was asked to return the hull back to their shop so it could be evaluated. I sent the hull out as requested (at my expense), and waited. Over a week later, having heard nothing I contacted YMW to ask for status. I was told the hull had been received and that replacement parts would take a week to prepare. I didn't question this position: however I think it not unreasonable for a reputable company to, once they realized the magnitude of the problem, immediately ship a replacement kit.

The Deckhouses

At this point I decided to adopt a "wait and see" posture. In the meantime, I began inspecting the rest of the kit's resin components. Immediately it became clear (in my opinion) that most of the deckhouse parts in the kit were entirely unusable. See photos below for examples.

Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R4a - showing excessive warping and overall "stucco" texture on vertical surfaces.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R4a close-up again showing "stucco" texture on all vertical surfaces.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R4b. Trying to be as "fair" as possible - this part looks ok in photograph but actually contains a large amount of vertical surface texture.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R4c - this part looks pretty good and is probably the best of the bunch.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R10a - showing heavy texturing of all surfaces and details.
Yankee Modelworks USS Boston main turret        Part R10b.

The list goes on, but I think I've shown enough to satisfy anyone's skepticism. I again contacted YWM and informed them of this new situation. I was told that these parts looked as if they were from a pre-production mold, and that my issue would be handed off to someone within the organization with the authority to make the appropriate decision. Once again, Yankee Modelworks should have immediately sent me a replacement kit - probably even overnighted it - instead of forcing more delays and uncertainty on me.

More than a week later, again having heard nothing from YMW, I contacted them and asked once again for status. This time I was told that replacement parts were ready for shipment, but that a ship-to address was needed. Hmmmm... not to be a smart-ass, but I wonder how long they were planning to wait before asking me for my address?

A week later, a box arrived from YMW and although I have not yet thoroughly inventoried the contents, it appears YMW shipped me a complete replacement set of resin components. First contact with YMW was 2/7/12, and I received the replacement kit on 3/2/12.

What did I get for my patience? Click here to read on!

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