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Stew art Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2017 12:48 p.m. PST

So after playing an age of sail game at a convention recently, I got the urge to do some Napoleonic sail games. I got some rules that I like (Form on Admiral's Wake) but am looking at the ships.
The game I played in at the con just used sails of glory ships, which seem to be 1/1000. This would be easy to do and I could just get some ship packs as I see fit. But I also discovered the ships of GHQ and Langton in my internet searches, which seem to be a little smaller but really pretty.

So I know this is a subjective question, but how hard are the 1/1200 ships to put together, paint, and rig? I'm a decent painter for a wargame standard, but I can't paint eyes on a 28mm figure, but I'm pretty confident with a wash. I can paint gun barrels on an 18mm ACW figure. Are these super fiddley?
I'm thinking specifically of the Langton series as they are often described as a little bulkier / larger than the GHQ ones.

Thanks ahead of time for any advice on ships that you can offer!

whitejamest06 Jun 2017 1:55 p.m. PST


You should definitely give it a try, it's a lot of fun. It's true that Langton ships are a little bulkier, which can make them easier to paint, and the masts are a little stronger too, which can make them a little easier to rig. I personally like the hulls of GHQ a lot more, but the detail is indeed a lot finer.

I'd recommend going with Langton's white metal sails to begin with, as opposed to the much fussier brass sails on offer.

To a large extent, these models are as difficult as you make them. It is a lot of work to do all the painting and all the rigging that you can manage – but nothing says you have to take it that far if you don't feel like it.

I'm sure other guys on here will chime in about rigging. I think Rory, Vol and Julian have all made excellent tutorials to walk you through it step by step, so those are definitely worth taking a look at.

In short – go for it! Take the plunge!

StarCruiser06 Jun 2017 4:44 p.m. PST

Yep – absolutely recommend giving it a shot! You DON'T have to get it perfect the first (second or third) time you build one.

Here's a site that has some of the basics you would need to know to start with:


Like anything you take to, it's a habit forming need for more and more.

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2017 7:10 p.m. PST

I definitely have little patience for rigging, but even with just a very small amount to suggest the rigging, 1:1200 ships can look quite presentable:


As has been said, you csan do as much or as little as suits you.

BrianW06 Jun 2017 9:51 p.m. PST

Well, they're harder than painting WWII Soviet infantry, but it's totally worth it. I enjoy my sailing ships, and after a while rigging them actually became a way to relax after work (I used to have a high stress job).

Don't think you have to do all the rigging. I would recommend doing the standing rigging, because when one gets dropped/knocked off the table, that rigging makes it easier to align everything again. I would also recommend that etched brass ratlines, because it does make the mast a little tougher. I do agree with whitejamest about starting out with the white metal sails.

If you want, check out some of our blogs for inspiration. Vol has an excellent blog at:
My blog is here:

Like starcruiser said, once you get started you will want more and more of them, so just be prepared. The great thing about them though, is that you can start out with just one ship per side.

basileus6607 Jun 2017 2:19 a.m. PST

Painting is not difficult. Rigging, on the other hand, might be a trying experience. Get Langton's guide, though. It is very useful.

Note: I use silk thread (black), tweezers (my fingers are too fat for delicate work such as rigging), a toothpick and superglue.

keithbarker07 Jun 2017 2:48 a.m. PST

It depends I think on two things. What are you interested in and what do other gamers nearby have.

If you are more interested in gaming than in modelling then go for SoG because they can be played with straight away. And later on u can improve the painting, wash the sails and add whatever rigging and flags that pleases you – there is a whole forum devoted to improvong SoG models on

If you are more interested in the modelling side, then Langton are wonderful. Get their guide like basileus66 says. In fact get Langton's guide even if you go the SoG route.

KniazSuvorov07 Jun 2017 4:29 a.m. PST

Hi Stew! couple of recommendations for you:

1. DON'T start small. The usual train of thought is, "I'll start with a small one and see if I like it". Well, don't. A SMALL 1/1200 model is much, MUCH harder to assemble and rig than a LARGE one. Make your first one a giant, whopping 120-gun first rate, and see how you do with that.

2. You don't need the bloody Langton rigging guide. I've done some ludicrously-complicated rigging jobs (see TMP link TMP link TMP link etc for my credentials), and I used Vol's free online rigging guide ( That's all you need. It's got step-by-step pictures, which is more than you'll get from the Langton book. Unless you've got money to burn, you can give it a miss.

3. Langton's photo-etched brass ratlines are nice… But they do add a level of complication to the model. Maybe try doing one model with and one without to start, just to see whether you personally feel the effort justifies the result. If you DO use the ratlines, make sure you clean the hull before painting and use a very good primer. The ratlines will be glued to your paint, after all, and it's a giant pain in the butt to have to keep reattaching ratlines that have flaked off.

4. On that note, when assembling, glue metal-to-metal where possible, rather than paint-to-paint. You don't want your sails falling off every time your model gets bumped.

5. Ask questions here if you have rigging trouble. I'm always shocked by the sort of obscurely-helpful information the lurkers can provide!

ModelJShip07 Jun 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

I think like keithbarker, if the details do not matter so much, SOG has a collection of boats ready to play.

If it helps, I did a little tutorial on how to convert a SOG boat with Langton pieces. It is not a very exhaustive explanation but it may serve to give you an idea.

Regarding GHQ's ships, I can not comment since I have not painted any.

Regarding Langton's ships, I like them very much. They have a very grateful deck to be painted using ink wash techniques. I recommend starting with white metal sails, easier than brass sails.

I add other link about a tutorial to paint this ships. Regarding painting tips, nothing new, but can help you other things.

Be patient with yourself because the first time will not be a great ship but will be your First Ship.

My first ship:

Best regards,

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2017 5:38 a.m. PST

So much excellent advice here, the only thing I would add is, as in anything new to you, get stuck in, try one (yes, bigger the better!), see how that goes, learn form it, learn what the model demands and what you are willing to put in and be satisfied with, and go from there!

SgtPrylo07 Jun 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Couple of things on this:

1. Welcome to the addiction!
2. Agreed with the start big: they are 'easier' because there's more room to work in.
3. There are guides for free out there and some excellent examples from those on this board: vol, BrianW, Julian, whitestjames, KniazS, etc. But the Langton guide does add more than just rigging. There's paint schemes and some history, ratlines, etc.
4. If you can find it, there's a good painting and rigging guide in the back of the old Warhammer Historical Trafalgar rules – that's where I started. It covers rigging up to the standing rigging only.
5. The brass ratlines add strength to the masts. They look good as well. I use the bottom sets only, and I would not build without them.
6. Try one! That's the best way to get stuck in.

Out of curiosity, where did you play Form on the Admiral's wake? You don't see that rule set too often.

Volunteer Fezian07 Jun 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Welcom to the Age of Sail Stewart. So much excellent advice here. No need to direct you to my blog as others have already done so, thank you Brian and Mike.
I will add just a few things here.
GHQ: As James says, GHQ are beautifully detailed hulls and accurate to the original ship plans, if that is important to you. The drawback is the flimsy soft masts. Also they do not sell just the hulls. They are the only place to get anchors and ships boats and each ship comes with several. I order packs to use with all my ships. Their model line is limited.
Langton: Nice sturdy models, plenty of detail and a large multi-national selection. They sell individual hulls, sail-mast packs both white metal & brass, as well as buildings-forts-harbors, etc. If you are in the USA, Waterloo Minis is your source.
Navwar: Another source with a large variety. Not as detailed and some of the molds are very poor, but with a little extra work they can take the table with the best. The real advantage here is their low price. The disadvantage is they don't sell on the internet. It's snail mail only or if you have a shipmate in the UK that can pick them up for you.
Rigging: I have used synthetic thread, cotton, monofiliment nylon, bead wire, even horse hair. The best I have found so far is fly tying thread. It is dirt cheap and comes in a huge variety of colors and thicknesses. It doesn't stretch or fuzz over time either.

Anyone here will be more than happy to help you with any question you have. Just enjoy yourself.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

Thanks everyone for the replies and good advice! I am greatly encouraged.
Here's another rookie question while I have everyone's attention;
What's the main difference between white medal sails and the brass ones? Do you still have to paint the while metal ones? Are they just sturdier?
I have already found the great blogs linked above with my internet searches, and I thank you for taking the time to post such nice pictures and good guides for those starting out.
So I've settled on Langton ships because a little more heft, and I'll take the advice and my first ship will be a 120 French ship of the line. Though I am tempted to go in whole hog with a British starter pack.
I do like the Warterloo minis website, as it tells you clearly what you need to get for each ship.
For rigging, I was going to go with the method described by War Artizan (I think) where you make the thread stiff with glue.
Though to be honest, the details don't matter too much to me, I don't need these to be a particular ship at a particular date, but just a generic SoL. So I could go with SoG ships but I deep down inside I want to try to model some pretty ships, and it's the rigging that really puts it together. Plus it'll be a fun challenge, and I think I'm going to top out at about 10 ships anyway.

You guys are the best. Thanks again!

Rules: this all started because at Kublacon (a convention on the west coast in Ca), where I played in a game of Form on Admirals Wake. These were the rules that the host used, I had no knowledge of them ahead of time, but were fun and simple. The game host put me in touch with the author through email, and I was able to purchase the rules.
I'm open to other suggestions for rules as well.

Here's what the game looked like :

ModelJShip07 Jun 2017 2:20 p.m. PST

Hi, I reaffirm the idea of starting with a big boat. I am able to build a large boat in half the time it takes to make a small one. But I want to clarify one thing, I consider that the French boat of 120 guns is a bad start. For several personal reasons that I will expose:

1) It's very ugly.
2) The deck is not well defined, the slats are too thick and give a feeling that is not well scaled. As you said that you are only going to do ink washes you will not care that the slats are thinner.
3) It's very ugly.
4) It's very ugly.

Therefore, I suggest you start with the british boat with reference NB53 Queen Charlotte (100). It is a boat with a well defined lines, possibly the mould is more recent and for that reason has a better detail.

I also want to clarify that you should start with a boat with the portholes closed, not open. So do not start with the ships that say: 'at quarters'. For example NB53 has these portholes closed.

Remember that when you buy the boat you have to choose the type of sail you are going to use. To begin with, I recommend ES1A. It will be easier for you to rig the boat.

Regarding the type of sails material. There are opinions of all kinds. I tell you my experience about it.
The sails of white metal are easier to handle at first because the sail are all together in one block ….. but …. the problem is in the bowsprit. The white metal sails of the bowsprit are often not well aligned with the rigging ropes and you have to make a hardwork to match and for me, personally, is very annoying. One solution to this problem is to cut these sails from the bowsprit and glue them once the boat is rigged. Like everything, it depends on the level of meticulousness you have. If this does not matter to you, then, do not consider this advice.

The difficulty of the brass sails is that they are all separated and you will have to glue one by one. But I think that translates into time and not into difficulty. Being able to glue the sails one by one allows you a lot of freedom to glue the sails more comfortably with respect the rigging.

Another issue is if you like the final look of one or the other. I must admit that the sails of white metal have a different final look than the brass sails but the thickness of the brass sails is much more realistic than the other, not counting the added weight of white metal sails that can give problems of detachment and even bend the masts, ruining the general appearance of the boat.

After this pain … I leave you to your choice you want.

BrianW07 Jun 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

I ave you a shoutout about the Eduard figures over on the blog. Also, could you tell me some more about the fly fishing thread? I looked online, and there are all different types, just as you said. My email is:


devsdoc07 Jun 2017 4:22 p.m. PST

I would say all of the advice above is all good.
I would only say one thing.
I would start with a 3rd rate ship! 64 to 80 gun 2 decker.
It is big enough to work on and handle.
Also the bulk of the fleets are made up of 3rd rate ships so one can hide your frist ships in the large stock of 3rd raters. You don't want your frist ships to stand out e.g. Flag ships and the stars of the fleet, which are your bigger 1st rates and less in numbers!
O.K. more than one thing! W.G. Trafalgar rule book guide is a "nick" from Langtons book. My guide in Vols blog also uses Langtons guide. Wish my photo's where better, will redo them one day! Lucky for me Rod Langton liked my guide.
I would drill all the rigging holes before painting.
Use Langtons rat-lines they make the model stronger.
No matter what you do or how far you go in painting and rigging you will always get the Wow! factor when they are on a table top.
Good luck, have fun and enjoy.
Be safe

JAFD2607 Jun 2017 6:33 p.m. PST

Salutations, Stew, and gentlefolk !

You may want to check out, for their .PDF files of paper ship kits. I downloaded their free trial, talked about it, about 20 threads below, at _A War Artisan 64-gun SoL model_

Am working on some 1/1200 versions of that (notched down the printer setting). Will have report and more pictures in near future.

You definitely want a couple of 'cross-action' / 'cross-clamp' / 'Hemostat' tweezers. Will make rigging much easier.

There's a 'Close Action' email list at Yahoo Groups.

"Listen now, and I'll tell you
The secret of success
Is; Every day you make mistakes
Just less and less and less"
– Someone wiser than I

Good luck!

Volunteer Fezian07 Jun 2017 11:09 p.m. PST

Brian, e-mail sent

StarCruiser08 Jun 2017 7:31 a.m. PST

I second the idea of starting with a 3rd rater – those were the backbone of every major navy from the 18th through the beginning of the 19th century.

A classic "74" is probably your best choice and yes – easy sail, whatever brand or fleet you choose.

SgtPrylo08 Jun 2017 10:42 a.m. PST

Stew art, thanks for the nod for the WM site. I tried to make it as easy as possible with the subject matter to find what you need when you buy a hull. I'm still working on it, as I find other ways to describe things.

Do you have the author's email? I bought a copy of Form on the Admiral's Wake from him back at Fall In in 2013. I've made some changes and I'd like to talk to him about it. Plus I get asked all the time when I run games at cons if people can buy it, and I have no contact info for him.

email: waterloominisATyahoDOTcom

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2017 10:42 a.m. PST

whose excited? I'm excited.

just ordered my first ship from Waterloo minis as an early father's day gift for me, from me. : )

I went with the earlier advice about doing a 'big' ship so I got a 100 gun, white metal sails in 'easy sail,' the ratlines, and the base.

thanks again to everyone for the pics and links and input. every response was valuable.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

Hi SgtPrylo,

I just commented on your other thread, as I somehow missed your response in this thread.

I'll send you an email.


Stew art Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2017 2:00 p.m. PST

thanks again everyone for the advice. I completed my first ship and just thought I would share. I'm also learning how to link photos from blogger, so let's see if this works…

anyway, can see some more pics on the ol' blog at


Special thanks to War Artisan for his guide to rigging using thread stiffened with glue (thanks again sir!).

I am by no means a great modeler or painter, but I think it came out alright, and I now encourage anyone else to start their own AoS project.


SgtPrylo31 Jul 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

Well done for your first ship, sir!

ModelJShip31 Jul 2017 9:22 a.m. PST

Well done, your first boat was very satisfactory.

StarCruiser31 Jul 2017 5:29 p.m. PST

Very well done indeed!

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2017 8:14 p.m. PST

thanks everyone!it's very appreciated.
just proof that if I can do then anyone can.

an now i need a whole fleet…


devsdoc03 Aug 2017 2:32 p.m. PST

What a lovely start to your fleets. You must do two fleets or the 1 fleet will just sit on the shelf!
Looking good
Be safe

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

Thanks Rory! I appreciate the comment.

yes, I have the hook now, there must be two fleets.


KniazSuvorov12 Aug 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

Looks good, Stew! If you want to make the sea base look more realistic, get some high-gloss varnish to go over the paint--although if you are trying to match the look of your sea mat, maybe it's not such a good idea.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 10:19 a.m. PST

Sorry Kniaz, I missed this response.

Thanks for the tip and compliment. That is something I want to do, but I thought I would settle on a sea mat first so eventually I might need to repaint the bases.


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