Ships spend a lot of time docked in harbours loading and unloading, and a dockside diorama is a great way to display a collection, so it’s only natural that Wiking should have produced a range of harbours. As we have already seen in Fighting Toy Stories, Minic did the same and took the opportunity of presenting their harbours with modular components, that could be assembled and reassembled in various configurations. How did Wiking, some 20 years earlier, approach the subject?
Initially, Wiking released harbour sets as complete dioramas, with quays nailed to the baseplate so that the layout was fixed. In 1936, however, they released a modular harbour construction set and also made the component pieces available for sale individually. These harbours remained available through WW2 but were not re-introduced after the war when production of the ships restarted. Nonetheless, a good range of infrastructure and accessories had been produced, including quays and buildings, lighthouses, buoys, and harbour craft.
To get a feel for the range, we’ll inspect a typical component, the small quay.
The Wiking Quay
Wiking H662 Small Quay
Year first produced:1936
L150xW30xH17, Metal 18g, Scale 1:1250, Features: 0
Our quay is fashioned from wood and consists of three components. The quay itself is a flat length of wood, and to it are glued two different wooden buildings, possibly representing a warehouse (on the left, with a sloped roof) and an office or administrative building (on the right, with a pitched roof).
The three parts are painted, presumably before assembly. The quay is grey overall. On each side of the quay is marked a thick black line, probably representing the quayside railway lines used for moving cargos. See my Minic story for a description of the usual layout of such quaysides.
The warehouse has been painted green with a brown roof, and the office yellow with a red roof. Both buildings have detail added in black, presumably via a stamp or stencil. This is on both sides for the office but only on the front of the warehouse.
We can date our quay to 1936-7, as from 1938 Wiking slightly narrowed them from 3cm wide down to 2.7cm. There are no markings on the quay, not even on the underside where a stamp is usually to be found identifying the part and its sale price. Maybe this quay was originally sold as part of a set?
The Wiking Harbour
The quay is only a single component in any harbour design, and being a simple rectangle with a standard height and depth can quite happily be abutted to other quay pieces to form a dock layout.
In itself, I find the piece colourful and quaint, if a little minimalist in terms of decoration and volume. The buildings are quite small on the quay, so obviously our Wiking port is not short of land. For a contrast, see the postcard below of the port of Hamburg in the 1930s.
But fear not, we can go some way to recreating the busy, cluttered feel of the real Hamburg by adding a couple of other accessories to complete the scene.
The first addition is an H668 Crane. The model is made of metal, and painted gloss grey with a black roof. The painter has also picked out a small window on each side of the cabin, and in the rear a door for the operator to gain access. The crane is mounted on a base upon which, in real life, the crane would swivel. Simple but charming.
The other addition is an H669 Harbour Railway. This is, specifically, a steam train pulling three mixed goods carriages, also fashioned from metal. It is painted black overall with added white, red & grey detail all in gloss. It’s another lovely piece with a warm, vintage feel.
Comparison with Minic
Those readers who have seen my story on the Minic harbour may be interested to consider how the Wiking quay compares. The two are really quite different. The Minic quay is a large, sturdy, heavy metal component, designed to be a basic building block of a layout of the owner’s design. It is functional and flexible. The Wiking quay is a more petite, lightweight, wooden component that can stand on its own as a representation of a length of quayside (though it looks better if accessories are added). You can’t swap the buildings as you can with the Minic system, but with its hand-crafted feel and naïve decoration it has a charm that the Minic lacks.
Curiously, both of the quays suffer from one common problem. Both have clearly visible rail lines stretching along the long edges which will, of course, nicely link up if placed end-to-end with other quays. They will, however, look awful if you should want to place another quay at right angles. With the Minic quays, there is no solution to this short of grinding the moulded lines down, which is not a job for the faint-hearted. For the Wiking owner, on the other hand, all you need is some paint…
There are a variety of other harbour parts made by Wiking that could be matched with our small quay. These include H659 Breakwater, H664 Storage Tank Quay and, in metal, H681 Harbour Bridge.