Sunday, 5 May 2019

Save the Whales!

Around about 25 years ago I kicked off my Cod War project with a set of rules for an NWS participation game at the naval museum in Portsmouth. In 2006 I wrote a variant set covering the "whale wars", as Greenpeace and (more latterly) Sea Shepherd's attempts to frustrate Japanese whaling fleets hit the news. This was a fun, if somewhat controversial set but it was fun to play and I even had a marine biologist in New Zealand send me some feedback on how to make the whales (controlled by the game process) more realistic. I think they played it at the university in Auckland.

The big problem was models. Nobody made wargaming models of the ships involved. There were one or two 1/1250 collectors' models but they were hellishly expensive and of such fine construction that they would never stand up to the rigours of the wargames table. The release of Decapod's "Cod War" range on Shapeways gave me hope that perhaps some Whale Wars models would follow but alas not. Cardboard counters for ships and whales would have to suffice, as they had for many years. And so this part of the project languished.

Until now.

With a half decent 3D printer on hand the way was open if models were available. Whales - not a problem, loads of them out there. Some of he more unusual Sea Shepherd craft were available as well, notably the Ady Gill and the Brigitte Bardot. Further hunting around revealed a 3D graphics model of a Japanese whaler available for a very reasonable price. Downloaded, the model was converted into a format that I could work with by a good friend and was set up for printing. I wanted at least one of the larger Sea Shepherd ships and I found that Decapod had posted his "St Giles" trawler on Thingiverse (an online repository for free 3D models). Not white the right ship for what I had planned but I used it as a training opportunity in basic 3D modelling, cutting out the middle quarter of the ship and reattaching the bow, adding a flight deck and adding boats and davits to the working deck to make a rough approximation of the Steve Irwin.

So now off to the printer and after a few days (I was burning off Jem Hadar fighters and German R Boats in 1/600 and 1/300 at the same time) I had a decent collection of whalers, protester craft and whales, and the project is back on. The models aren't to a consistent scale - the whalers and the Steve Irwin are roughly 1/850, the smaller craft printed to a slightly larger scale to give them more presence, and the whales similarly larger. I'm quite leased with the results and I'm fairly certain that what I have just now is a pretty unique little set.

I need to make a few additional bits and pieces, some icebergs and one or two helicopters, but the main bulk of the collection is done.

Japanese whalers close in on a pod of whales as Sea Shepherd craft move to intercept

A trio of Japanese whalers

The Sea Shepherd fast craft fleet

"Almost" the Steve Irwin

Another view of the Steve Irwin

The Ady Gil - like something out of a science fiction film so I added the red light bridge windows

Th Sea Shepherd squadron

Another view of one of the Japanese trawlers


  1. Very original. Can't wait to see the icebergs!

  2. Very nice. Have you thought about doing any commision pieces for rare/non existant ships .. you have a great talent. Very jealous

  3. Those are VERY nice indeed! I have thought about doing "Whale Wars" with the rules, but it seems that there might need to be some small changes here and there. After all, it's as much about getting the TV show on the air as saving the whales.

    I would second the comment about doing some commission pieces.