In general, the focus of any range of military models tends to be on the items that actually do the fighting. But, as any military historian knows, the fighting units depend heavily on the vital, and often more numerous support services that command, administer, train and supply them. They may not be sexy, but they are essential!
It’s easy to think of the ship range created by Wiking in the 1930s as being old-fashioned, since post-war developments have enabled more complex, more detailed models to become the norm. However, at the time the models set new standards of accuracy and robustness, which were achieved by the application of novel production methods and materials. To appreciate the range properly, you have to understand how innovative they were in the context of the 1930s. To help us on our journey, let’s use as an example an unusual warship which was one of the earliest produced by Wiking.
The German firm of Wiking (pronounced ‘veeking’, and meaning “Viking”) are nowadays known for their range of detailed plastic 1:87 vehicles. However, they first made their name as a pre-war pioneer of metal waterline ship model production, in 1:1250 scale.
Most of the items that I showcase are models, which, according to one encyclopaedia, are “a three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original.”. In other words, they are meant to represent a real thing. And given this, the question of accuracy naturally arises. Is the model a true likeness or does it just have a vague resemblance to the subject it portrays?
People are always excited by innovations, especially where these push back boundaries and seem to offer a glimpse into a future world. Naturally, toy manufacturers were keen to capitalise on this and so often produced models of the most up to date contemporary subjects. Modelling the latest thing is a sure-fire way of attracting customers! A case in point is the destroyer HMS Devonshire, launched in 1960, the lead ship of the new County-class destroyers and the first Royal Navy warship designed to operate guided missiles.