Superyacht model makers: Commissioning replica yacht models
Last updated: 02/12/2016
Typically commissioned by yacht designers, naval architects and/or shipyards during the build and refit stages of any superyacht project, or by yacht owners themselves, replica yacht models are extremely popular in the superyacht industry for a wide range of purposes.
Yachting Pages details tips for choosing an accomplished superyacht model maker, and working together for the perfect replica yacht model.
Who commissions replica yacht models?
In the superyacht industry, it is not unusual for many different yacht models to be commissioned throughout the lifetime of a superyacht, by a range of interested parties.
During the design process of any luxury yacht, a superyacht designer or builder will typically commission an intricate scaled model to be made in order to provide owners and other interested parties with a true visual representation of the overall look of their soon-to-be vessel.
Scale yacht models are also typically commissioned by superyacht designers, builders and brokers in the run up to the calendar’s most popular boat shows and trade events, to be displayed in order to drum up interest in buying, chartering or commissioning the build of a superyacht.
As Brian Klassen from Brian Klassan Models explained, “A model is much more effective [in communicating the overall look and feel of a yacht] than computer renderings, as they really allow the viewer to ‘walk around’ the vessel and get a better feel for the work carried out, as if they were viewing the real yacht.”
Superyacht models are also often commissioned by the superyacht owner him or herself, creating a permanent, scaled reminder or status symbol of the luxury asset – often requesting one for the home and one for the office. As Captain Brad Poulos of SD Model Makers pointed out, “The boat may come and go, but the model will be kept forever.
Tips for choosing your superyacht model maker
When choosing a superyacht model maker, there are a few things to look out for to ensure a cohesive working relationship and outstanding result. Prior to commissioning a model maker, always remember to:
- Ask the model maker for detailed photos of recently completed models or previous projects – especially those of a similar nature to the proposed model
- Ask the model maker if they currently work with any boat builders or superyacht owners, and if they would be able to provide a reference
- Look for local model makers, or those who are willing travel, as the model will often form an integral part of a superyacht build process. Shipyards wishing to test out new designs or showcase concept ideas should consider the logistics of transporting the model to their showroom or office and take into account that owners will often want to see a detailed model many times during the build or refit process.
Marco Matulli from Modellismo in Scala explained that a great model maker should always be able and happy to work in any material, from wood and metal to plastics and composites
Working with model makers to achieve the perfect model yacht
As with the traditional superyacht design and build process, it can be a new and time-consuming process for many to construct their superyacht model.
As with most business transactions, good communication is essential with any model maker. To get the most out of any commissioned model, be sure to keep in regular contact with your supplier, give them access to as much information and as many architectural drawings as possible, updating them quickly on any changes to the specification.
In return the model maker should send you regular photographs, design specifications and information on how far through the process they are. If at all possible meet up in person and assess the model together to ensure both parties are working towards the same goal.
Designing a superyacht model
If you are responsible for building a superyacht model, it’s worth bearing in mind that the model maker will often require access to the yacht itself more than once, as well as plans and photographs to ensure that the model is as close to 100% accurate as possible.
Most model makers like to work with CAD files or renderings and photography once the design of the vessel has been finalised – all of which are essential to tune the finer details of the model. Many accomplished model makers will be able to engineer some parts directly from the information alone. Without access to these, the customer may face many unforeseen difficulties.
René le Grand, CEO of AllOnScale explained, “3D CAD has made the model-making process quicker and some parts can be machined effectively from the drawings. Some ships and simple structures can also be 3D-printed directly from 3D CAD, but the detail, quality and finish does not compete with metal or wooden handcrafted models.”
Displaying a superyacht model
Once finished, it’s important to work closely with your model maker to consider the size and function of your superyacht model; for example, if the model is to be a centerpiece, or on display at an international boat show then three to four feet is a good size. If the model will be kept on a bookshelf, however, or is part of a collection then an 18 to 24 inch model may be more suitable.
As part of the commission, it’s recommended to ask questions about the on-going display, protection and repair of the model, should this be required. Remember, models are magnets not only for dust, but also for sticky-fingered children! A great model maker will be able to help with model display cases, lighting and dust covers, which are all very important to the end result.