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Nautical Resources

Model Ship Buying Guide and Rating Key

What to look for when buying a model ship?
We realize that purchasing a model ship is a significant decision. If you are not a model builder, it can be very difficult to determine what is a "great" model or a "great" value. To further complicate the matter, not being able to examine the model in person, or not being able to compare models of different builders to examine the small details, makes the decision even more confusing. In summary, a ship model might look good from afar, but when closely examined it is far from good.

We have seen and fully inspected each and every model we sell close up, it's why all of our models are 100% quality guaranteed. We are your reputable online nautical agents, our business is based on integrity and honesty, but don't simply take our word for it, use the buying guide below to compare for yourself and make the best model ship buying choice you can.

Model Ship Quality
Quality can be one of the most confusing parts to determining which model ship is perfect for you, and even more so when trying to decipher the information provided from those who are selling the model.

Ask these questions: How many pictures does the seller provide of the model to assess the quality? How many angles of the model are shown? What is the quality of the picture? Are certain angles of the ship noticeably missing? When examining the pictures, is the model historically accurate? How much research is done before building the model? How is the model constructed? What components are used to build the model? How detailed is the model? (take particular note of the deck details) Does the seller have quality control or inspect all models prior to shipment? How is the model packaged, does the seller show pictures?

All of these questions can be exhausting, but we make determining quality simple and easy. We are confident we have the highest quality model ships for the price in the world. We offer three different quality levels: high, gallery and museum to suit every taste and budget. Make sure you check out our "Rating System" for a quick guide, just look for the dolphins! We also provide the following items to assess a model ship's quality:

~Model Ships Index

To show our quality we show many high quality images that show all angles of the model. If you would like more pictures of any given model ship, just browse our pages or contact us and we will provide them.

Our models are constructed of various rare exotic woods, including walnut, cherry, oak and teak to name a few. Many of our models include very deatiled accessories as shown here on the whale boat by AM USA.

Model Ship Historical Accuracy:
All of the models available at NauticalHome are authentic replica scaled models. The Manufacturers we represent take advantage of every available resource to ensure that our models are as accurate as possible.  Abordage™, AM USA™, Handcrafted Model Ships™ and Old World Trading™ use copies of the original plans, pictures, period paintings and visit the actual ships whenever possible (HMS Victory in Portsmouth England, USS Constitution in Boston, etc).


To build our models, we use a combination of old-world skills and 21st century imaging technology for starters. The thousands of pieces and components that make up each model are created using 3-D modeling for exacting tolerances, and assembled by master craftsmen from scratch. The sails and riggings are meticulously tied by hand, and each ship is masterfully painted to match its historical counterpart.


All of our models are professionally packaged in a wooden crate and are guaranteed to arrive in perfect condition. 
This is obviously one of the most important aspects in buying a model ship. In theory, quality should be related to price, but that is not always the case. So before you purchase a model ship, ask yourself, "Am I getting the highest quality (see section below) model ship for the price?"
When looking to purchase a model from a company, how many total different models do they offer? How many versions of a specific model do they offer? Do they offer various quality levels and price ranges? Can they custom build or change any item on the ship? Do they offer display accessories custom built to fit your model?

~Model Ships Index

The NauticalHome "Dolphin Model Ship Rating System"

We understand that all this information about model ships & selection can be a bit overwheleming in iteslf so we created a quick reference rating guide to help you understand the differences in quality and explain some of the reasons for the differences in price.

Over 95% of all NauticalHome model ships are in the superior quality hand made model categories, HIGH, GALLERY & MUSEUM; these are not likely the toy models of your childhood, they are collectible gallery and museum quality plank on bulkhead or "plank on frame" hand made works of art. Our rating system is not perfect, but rather designed to give you an idea of exactly why prices can vary so much from model to model and site to site. Please note that even within categories there may be a wide range of prices, these variances are due to size, total shipping costs and features specific to certain models i.e. copper-plated hulls or brass cannons and "Limited Editions".

Please keep in mind NauticalHome listed prices always include delivery to home or office.
Beware of hidden shipping & handling costs from other dealers.

NauticalHome Model Ship Rating Table
A small basic toy or very primitive model made from soft wood or plastic. General price range $5 to $30. LOW

A smaller basic model less than 24" in length or "higher-end" toy with some basic features like cloth sails, ship wheel and minor deck details-not plank on frame made.
General price Range $30 to $100.

Plank on frame models, usually over 24" but less than 35", collectibles with good deck detail, canvas sails with hand-painted lacquered features and most working lines.
General price range $150 to $300.

Plank on frame 30"+ tall models, machined hardwood and metal components, may be limited edition, highly collectible with canvas sails, intricate details and working lines. Hand-painted with lacquered finish or copper-plated hull features.
General price range $350 to $900+ GALLERY

Plank on frame 30"+ tall models and speedboats, machined precious hardwoods and only the finest metal components-stainless steel & marine grade brass are used, may be limited editions. These models are exceptional highly collectible heirlooms with canvas sails, extremely intricate details and working lines. Hand-painted with multiple layered lacquered finishes-at least 6 layers of lacquer, some models with copper and other precious metal-plated hull features. General price range $1000 to $8000+ MUSEUM

~View our Model Ships index here or shop by category below...