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MSW Artist Profile~Mike McCabe

In this ongoing expansion to the MSW News Department, we present to you, the next installment of the "Model Shipwrights Artist Profile" interviews, this time, meet modeler Mike McCabe!

"The Model Shipwrights (http://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/) Artist Q&A is a monthly feature. Itís an interview with artists of the ship modelling world. These artists may include sculptors and painters; commercial and private modellers; well-known and lesser-known artists. Whoever they may be, the artists featured in Model Shipwrights Artist Q&A are highly respected members of our global community; people who have greatly influenced our world in their own way. As we honour these artists with this humble Q&A and photo feature, they honour us by sharing a piece of their world."

About meÖ

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. Your age? Where do you live? Married? Kids? Your job? Your other hobbies and interests?

A. "Iím 44, live in North Wales with my partner Jill, and our cat Oscar, we donít have any children. We live in a tiny 200 year old former quarrymanís cottage just on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. I work as a nature conservation advisor, so other interests include walking, bird watching and generally seeing what is going on in the countryside. We also spend time in the garden, enjoy cooking especially what we have managed to grow ourselves. I follow football (Everton FC), cricket and a few other sports and spend some time buying and selling mainly books on eBay."

"Though I tend to stick mainly to ship modelling I am also interested in Napoleonic history and do some figure painting (1:72 plastics, cheap and cheerful) for light relief, the nice bright colours make a change from all the shades of grey."

More Q&A...

Earliest modelling moment
Q. [Tell us about both your earliest modelling moment, and your earliest ship modelling moment.]

A. "I canít remember when I started making models but I canít have been more than 7 or 8, probably an airfix spitfire. My first ship model would probably have been an airfix Bismarck or similar, though I also remember building a Frog destroyer and painting the decks orange. Like many people I stopped and started through my 20ís and 30ís and came back to the hobby Ďseriouslyí about seven years ago."

Do you remember the first time ship subjects appealed to you?
Q. [Tell us about when ship modelling in general, starting appealing to you above other modelling genres.]

A. "I had built a couple of ships over the years in preference to other models, but gradually I got more interested in these over aircraft and armour, when I started doing a lot of modelling again and found out about how much the hobby had moved on, then I became hooked."

Who or what inspires your ship modelling?
Q. [Tell us who, what or where do you draw your ship modelling inspiration from? This may include reference books, other artists, etc.]

A. "I think it is having a group of like minded friends who have all gradually got to know each other over the internet, Rob Kernaghan has mentioned the names, but to have such a genuinely supportive group around is a great inspiration. We all help each other out, and are willing to share new found tips and hard learnt experience, though Jim Baumann is, as far as I am concerned, the best modeller of 1/700 scale ships around. In terms of inspiration of what to build, I am often inspired by a single photograph and will try to recapture the scene with a model."

The best thing about ship modelling
Q. [Tell us about what, in your opinion, is the best thing about ship modelling.]

A. "As I said above, I think the ship modelling community, because it is quite small, is a more friendly, less competitive genre than aircraft and armour. Swapping emails with and meeting up at least once a year with some of the gang is always great fun, and especially rewarding to see how the numbers are gradually growing each year. In terms of actual modelling, I only so far build 1/700 scale, as I enjoy the challenge of working in that scale, there is great satisfaction from looking back at a completed model and seeing how it almost takes on a life of its own."

The worst thing about ship modelling
Q. [Tell us about what, in your opinion, is the worst thing about ship modelling.]

A. "Dropping, damaging, making a mess of a paint job basically anything where you are near to the end of a build and some accident happens that sets you back days or even weeks".

Favourite modelling era/period
Q. [Tell us about your all time favourite modelling era/period. Why do you prefer this period above others?]

A. "I find this changes all the time, there are so many great kits available I want to build so many of them. Originally I built mainly WW2, mainly destroyers and mainly RN ships at that. More recently I have expanded this to build interwar, WW1 and pre WW1 models and have found them a great challenge and learning experience. The modern era is still something I havenít ventured into but I would be tempted by ships probably up until the very modern era depending on what they were."

Favourite modelling competition to enter
Q. [Over the years, which has been your favourite competition to have entered? And why?]

A. "Well, I enter the Telford competition, but the reasons for doing so are more to do with trying to encourage the hobby, than trying to win anything. The ship categories account for such a small number of the overall entry, that I think entering is important to try and showcase the hobby. To my mind competitions are pretty much a lottery, especially with ships, as Iím sure we have all seen inaccurate but well built models win prizes. I think if you are going to enter a competition, then it has to be done in the right spirit, and I think at least for the moment that has been the case for all the competitions I have entered... but as soon as it takes on that edge which other modelling areas seem to have, then I will stop."

Most prized award ever won
Q. [Which has been the most prized, or precious, award you have won? Note that this need not be the most prestigious award you have won.]

A. "I entered my HMS Bedouin model in the IPMS Norway trophy at Telford last year and won, the trophy was a nice little wooden plinth with a longboat on the top, though Iím not really bothered about medals and such, Iím actually very fond of this one."

Favourite modelling things
Q. [Tell us about your all time favourite modelling things. Examples of these may include tools, reference materials, or particular ship or ship model kits. Basically anything related to ship modelling.]

A. "Probably my airbrush and compressor, sometimes it isnít my most favourite things, but when I manage to get the results right, then I wouldnít trade it for anything else!"

Favourite modelling purchase/ship kit
Q. [Tell us about your all-time favourite modelling purchase or ship model.]
A. "Difficult, but I think in terms of satisfaction it would be the Russian minelayer Amur I completed recently...not previously my period, from a kit which needed a lot of extras, adding a frightening rigging experience, but probably given all of that, the one that at the moment gives me most pleasure."

Best recent modelling/ship kit purchase
Q. [Tell us about the best modelling or ship kit purchase you have made recently.]

A. "Iíve probably bought too many recently, but ones that stand out include the Kombrig Dreadnought and Khrabri, Niko Gendreau (for a Captain Class) and ORP Orzel, HP HMS Jackal and HMS Sabre."

How do you evaluate the present situation of the ship kit and its future?
Q. [What is your assessment of the current state of the ship kit industry and its future?]

A. "Extremely healthy at the moment, but I mainly build resin ships, and there is always the fear in the back of my mind that at some point, some of these companies wonít last the pace. Moral : get them while you can."

If you could paint or build a ship subject, what would it would be?
Q. [If you were allowed to paint or build a ship kit of any naval vessel, any time frame, nationality, etc., what would it would be? And why?]

A. "One kit I canít see being made is of a Merchant Aircraft Carrier of WW2, and there just so happens to be one called Empire MacCabe, so that one would be good!"

Q. If you were allowed to build and paint only one ship for the next year; which one it would be? And why?

A. "Well, I have an HP Oktyabrskaya Revolutsia in my stash, and if I had a year to do only one ship, then it would definitely be this one, as it will probably take me the best part of a year to build in any case, so I might as well do this one!"

Ship modelling ďno-noísĒ
Q. [Tell us about what you consider being the all-time modelling ďno noísĒ. In other words what no respectable ship modeller should ever do.]

A. "I think Rob beat me to this one, but it is good advice...donít take yourself too seriously, remember, itís only a hobby, and itís meant to be fun!"

Ship modeling secret
Q. [Go on, tell us one (or two) of your modelling secrets.]

A. "I donít honestly think I have any secrets, I think Iím fortunate to have a crowd of fellow modellers, who will happily share their hard won techniques, and so there are no secrets. If I can help anyone out I hope I will, you only need to ask.

  • tigport
  • wicher_st_stern
  • tigmidclose
  • vos6
  • wicher_st_bridge2
  • thrasherstbow1
  • IMG_06541
  • cotptbow2
  • starbowlow
  • starmid
  • kortenaerstbowlow2
  • kortenaer_02
  • IMG_0706
  • tigbowqtr
  • starstbd
  • amstqtrlow
  • campan_030
  • campanpt1
  • bed31
  • 012e
  • bbeda
  • attacker_deck
  • attacker_bowstbd2
  • amstclose
  • amststnlow

About the Author

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...


Thank you so much for sharing Mike. It's always great reading these profiles.
AUG 27, 2007 - 12:39 PM
great one again, thanks for sharing Mark! I just really love the variety of settings / colours of the pictured models -when seeing those pics you just want to see more of the dioramas -like the one with the small landing with the Hurricane on the top. Special mention on the sea of the "K18" which is one of the best i have ever seen on such reduced scales great Russian ship Koreetz-like too!
AUG 28, 2007 - 07:10 AM
Very Nice looking ships. Great work as always, Mike! H.
AUG 28, 2007 - 09:54 AM
Thanks everyone, Jean-Bernard, the photos don't have captions of course but just to clear up some of the names, the ships are 'K18' HMS Campanula, the Russian ship is the minelayer Amur and the small diorama is an embarkation rather than a landing, Dunkirk. I will send some more of these in once I sort myself out. Cheers Mike
AUG 28, 2007 - 11:12 AM
Excellent, excellent Mark for publishing it Mike for sharing part of his life Keep up (both of you!) Skipper
AUG 28, 2007 - 01:02 PM
Thank you Mark, and Mike for sharing with us your life and those wonderful pictures of your excellent work. Thank you both (que bowing smiley) Ciao Luciano
AUG 29, 2007 - 05:21 AM
Hi Mike, Thanks for sharing this. You have a brillient collection of boats, every scene looks alive, just outstanding work. Cheers Al
SEP 09, 2007 - 06:41 AM