Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Revell's "The Black Diamond" - A Review

This model has been available for a few years now, and as I wrote in my piece "The Sad Tale of the HMS Couldhavebeen", I was struck by just how close the model is to some late 17th century, early 18th century designs. As I wrote then, I felt that the model had some potential. 
I decided to purchase one.

The kit is molded in three colors, black, brown, and tan. The detail is a bit coarse. 

While the box says that the model is in 1/350, the hull length is more appropriate for ship in much larger scale, between 1/144 and 1/240. The hull measures almost 9" (225mm) in length, 8" (200mm) minus the head assembly. Beam is 1 7/8" (47mm). Also, the hull is not "one piece" as listed on the box, but a total of six pieces, including the rudder and transom, neither shown here.

In shape, the hull is a bit of a conundrum. In profile, the low sheer is similar to 18th century practice, but in plan, the hull more resembles mid 17th century practice. The flat stern is another older feature, though some vessels retained that into the 18th century. The stern gallery doesn't resemble anything in reality. 

The headrails are very simple and dead vertical; this would come as something of a shock to the crew. 

The main gun battery is molded integral to the hull halves. There are ten per side. The spar deck has another twelve guns total. This makes this ship a 32 gun vessel, a fifth rate. 
The deck detail is another fictitious design. There is a ship's wheel astern; it may or may not be a feature of a ship like this, being dependent entirely on the decade it was made.
The sail plan is another interesting aspect.
The bowsprit is more in keeping with 18th century practice, lacking a sprit topmast. It is one piece with sprit yard.. The fore and main masts each carry two sails each, but are very crude; the upper shroud assemblies are molded as part of the masts, and are solid. Otherwise, the tops are yet another feature more appropriate to an 18th century vessel. 

The yards are molded separately, and have sails furled; the paper sails printed on the instructions are really an option, and to be honest a bit garish.

The shrouds and ratlines are molded in black plastic, and of course a bit over scale. One interesting thing I noticed is that there is an attempt to mold a rope texture onto them (and onto those on cast with the masts as well, though only on the edges).

In so many ways, this model is similar to those early ship kits from Aurora, specifically the "Black Falcon". In a sense, it is an heir to that unfortunate legacy. With just a little more work, Revell could have made a model of something that was grounded a bit more in reality. They could have made a model of an early frigate, or even a number of ships from the American Revolution. Instead, they chose this route. 
Is there any hope for this model? Maybe, but not without a lot of work. I suppose if you enjoy purely fantasy ships, this kit might be for you, but as a scale model, it falls a bit short.
ADDENDUM - The model is now being offered as part of Revell Europe's "Easy Kit" line as simply "Pirate Ship".


  1. This model is based on the fantasy ship BLACK PEARL in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. It is a Hollywood mishmash.

  2. Greg,
    You could be right. I've not watched the "Pirates" movies, though I suspected that Zvezda has already done one of those ships. Regardless, I really feel as though Revell dropped the ball here. They could have made a more realistic ship and still called it a pirate ship and no one would have been the wiser.
    Sad, really.