Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Proper Santa Maria Model... As A Radio?

During my occasional eBay searches, I come across some very unusual items that still fall into the purview of maritime history, and even modeling.
For a long time, I was fairly convinced that if you wanted to build the Santa Maria as proper nao in plastic, you could either 1.)buy the old small Pyro/Life Like/Lindberg Santa Maria and be content with the fact that it while it is based upon one of the more popular versions, it is probably way off in reality, 2.) buy any of the various Guillen y Tato Santa Maria's and add a forecastle, 3.)buy the small Imai/Aoshima Santa Maria, a veritable gem of a kit based upon Bjorn Landstrom's first version from bis epic tome, "The Ship", 4.) Buy the somewhat scarce Heller Caracca Atlantica and use it as a starting point (base kit is their Guillen Santa Maria) or 5.) Shell out even more money for the rarer still Pyro Venetian Carrack and convert it. For some reason, models of the Santa Maria with the proper features of a late 15th century seem to evade manufacturers.
Interestingly enough, there is a Santa Maria in plastic that has many of the proper features, though with some wildly wrong ones to boot. In fact, it is one I had seen in my youth many times.
In the 1970's, you could buy novelty radios in all sorts of forms. I had one that was a locomotive (the 4-2-4T wheel arrangement historic Central Pacific locomotive C.P. Huntington, and it was good enough a representation in 1/32 that I converted it into a working model for my garden railway. Anyway, whenever I visited our local Pic-n-Save Store, I would see them over in electronics, but generally paid them no mind. In one of my searches on eBay, I stumbled upon this - 

It is a Santa Maria transistor AM radio!
The price was very right, and it became a Christmas present for me.

The rigging was a mess, hung from solid steel masts. It also had anachronistic features such as gun ports, a figurehead and a ships wheel - 

And, of course, it is a radio.
But look at that hull. 
I did not buy this because I needed an AM radio. The hull won me over to its cause. So, I stripped out the radio and all of the anachronisms, taking it down to just the hull - 

So, what we are left with is a model that borrows from the Martinez-Hildago Santa Maria as well as a few other interpretations. Proportionally, it works out very closely to the uno-dos-tres rule; the keel is almost twice the beam, and the length between perpendiculars almost thrice the beam. As far as shape is concerned, it is lovely. It is two pieces; an upper and lower hull, separated along a lower wale. Scale is between 1/100 (for the smallest interpretations) to 1/130. 
There are still issues, however. Deck planking is too wide, there are slots where the tuning and volume wheels used to be, the decking is closed between the main and quarterdeck, the remnants of the gun ports have to be filled and removed. 
But it has plenty of potential, and will one day be a good solid start. 
My apologies to all vintage radio collectors.

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