Ship ahoi!

Last October I attended the Ihobby show in Chicago. As we were setting up our booth and display, a crate arrived from the Meng factory in China. In it was a build-up model of their latest release; the Crossing, based on the latest John Woo film. I hadn’t heard of the movie but the factory supplied a DVD containing a trailer for the film.

The plot centers on the sinking of the steamer Taiping during the Chinese Revolution in 1949 when it collided with the cargo boat Jianyuan near the Zhoushan Archipelago. Sailing without lights from Shanghai to Keelung on Taiwan on the night of 26-27 January 1949, the Taiping struck the cargo vessel and quickly sank, reportedly killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew.

The Taiping, a 2,050-ton Great Lakes passenger-freight ship that had been constructed in the Manitowoc shipyard in Wisconsin in 1920, was rated for only 580 passengers. During its fateful last night, however, it was packed to almost three times its capacity.  A full-scale replica of the ship was specially made for the shooting of the film. The first part of the movie was released in 2014, while the sequel will be hitting the theaters in May 2015.

The kit

Meng has done it again with this kit. Their packaging is sublime to say the least. The model comes in a beautiful box with vacu-formed inlays, lined with black felt with and a cut-out white sleeve to top it off. Trés chic!

The ship’s instruction manual is a hardback book in color. The only down point is that it is entirely in Chinese with some English captions written by a Chinese. So if you are not fluent in Mandarin as I am, you’re in trouble. (kidding!)

Inner Presentation of Crossing

Open Instruction Book

Parts wise, the model consists of a one-piece hull, already primed in hull red and black. It comes with detailed parts in white and buff for the deck equipment, anchor wind assembly, mooring winch, main deck cabin, hull railing, poop deck, second and third deck housing, wheelhouse, lifeboat assemblies, top deck, masts and funnel.

Also included is a sheet of self-adhesive veneer for the planking and a decal sheet for some of the detail. A display base, a nameplate, a screwdriver and two screws also come with the kit.

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Hull Railing

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All in all, the model is a must for the ship builder. This rendition is unique in two ways. Firstly, it is unique in the way Meng approached the subject and its engineering. Secondly it is a dramatic subject that has slipped past the attention of the world and almost disappeared into the dark abyss of history. Now with the movie and the visual 3D interpretation of the kit, a little bit of awareness is reignited about what happened during that disastrous night in 1949.

Up Close Crossing Finished Product the Crossing

I would give Meng my two thumbs up on this one and if you are a history buff and ship modeler and want to build something exceptional, then the Crossing is the way to go!

Cheers,

JV

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • gwetoyking

    Greetings – superior kit which turns into a beautiful model! Meng has outdone itself again. And what a worthy topic they have chosen. Fitting right in with the movie(s) – brilliant move. Sad thing, however, is the ill-fated decision to overload the passengers to almost three times capacity, and also to not employ any running lights. It’s not mentioned if there were any survivors but supposedly not. Even with lifeboats, there were not enough present to accommodate everyone, akin to the Titanic disaster. And from what I gather, the sinking was immediate, allowing no time to utilize the lifeboats. There is a redeeming factor, however, in that the ship was built in Manitowoc, WISCONSIN, by a renowned shipbuilding firm. GO Wisconsin!
    A huge plus to this kit, in addition to the numerous, and excellently molded, parts is the fact that Ming chose to factory paint the hull in its true colors, ala Pyro Plastics ships of a long time ago. As an aside, I’d built Pyro’s Nantucket lightship as a kid, and desired to again build it. Unfortunately the reissues did not have the pre-painted hull, and to boot the latest reissue was not inexpensive. So instead, I scored the original Pyro issue, with factory painted hull, on eBay, and got it much cheaper than the latest re-issue.
    Meng’s kit is a rendition which is near perfect! Unfortunately, the 1/150 scale really does not permit the addition of crew and passengers – even N scale figures would not really be apropos. The next step for Meng would be to issue this kit in 1/72 scale, but the price would then be prohibitive, probably three times the price of this kit. I also see the kit’s high price as a major drawback. Although there are die-hard modelers, such as myself, that would pay Squadron’s discounted price for this marvelous kit, I really don’t surmise that this item is going to be a hot seller for Meng, given the subject matter, and if Squadron does not offer it in the future at a big discount, I’m sure it will be able to be had on eBay relatively cheap, and probably in the not too distant future. Then again, because of the ship and its story not being that well known, or even remembered, it possibly could attract modelers, myself included, who have become jaded with the run-of-the-mill, repetitious “new” kit subject issues being produced (I think we’ve seen enough Spitfires, Bf-109s, Sherman and Tiger tanks), and reproduced, ad infinitum, by many kit manufacturers; and generate interest in this kit that is really NEW and “cool” and off the beaten track and, based on its history is really interesting, and actually relevant. I “WILL” eventually buy this kit, but it’s like buying the “new” Sony PS4, I’m going to bide my time until the price comes down.
    Cheers, Gary
    gwetoyking@yahoo.com
    eBay – gwetoyking1

    • Paul Ingraham

      This ship model is great for use in port scenes with N scale railway models. Even though N scale is 1:160 in North America and Europe, Asian N scale is 1:150, the same as the ship model. There are models of Taiwan Railway trains available in this scale and the modest size of this ship model at only 535mm length makes it very usable on N scale model railway layouts. With the after market laser cut wood deck from Artwox, the detail, already quite good, is improved even more.

      There are also many high quality 1:150 scale figures available from Japanese railway model companies such as Tomix (Tomytec) and Kato, although, if you wanted to model the ship with 1000+ figures as it was on its fateful night, you’d be spending a LOT! Since people come in many sizes, N scale figures at 1:160 will work and there are some figure sets of train crew in uniform that will work fine for ship’s crew.
      With precious few N scale ship models available – and virtually no others of this type of ship – this model should be welcomed by N scale railway and diorama builders.

      In other sources on line, I have found that there were 37 survivors who were picked up by a passing American ship. One website has interviews with some of them still living in Taiwan who remembered the details, but preferred not to talk about this painful experience that decimated their families. There is a monument to the disaster in Keelung, Taiwan and the event is well-known in Taiwan, though not in mainland China.

      – Paul Ingraham, Coordinator, AsiaNRail N scale modular modeling group

  • Paul Ingraham

    I did some further research on the Taiping and found several posts by both ship modelers and marine historians that show the history of this ship is not quite what either Meng or “The Crossing” movie producers give us.

    To condense the story, the Taiping was originally the Choluteca, one of three custom designed sister ships built for Cuyamel Fruit Company of New Orleans, later to become part of United Fruit, for the central American banana trade.
    She was not built in Manitowoc, but in Newburgh, New York by Newburgh Shipyards, Inc, in 1921. She was indeed then sold to China Pacific Shipping and Trading Company and rebuilt as the passenger ship Taiping. The dimensions of the Choluteca scale quite closely to the dimensions of the Taiping model, so it should be fairly accurate.

    And a correction to information in my previous post: The rescue ship was the Australian destroyer Warramunga who took the survivors to Woosung.

    I’m going to build my model as a “convertible”: I’ll waterline her for use on my model railway diorama, but keep the hull intact so I can place the ship on it when I want a different one at the dock on the railway diorama.

    – Paul Ingraham