Hi Scott. I wouldn't let a couple bucks in the price affect my choice for a ship model..the price, once you factor in the time that a ship will take to build (200 to 800 hours), becomes rather secondary. Cost per hour, even with the expensive kits, is really quite low.
It is VASTLY more important to choose a subject that will sustain your interest over an extended build time! This is probably the most important factor when choosing a ship model in my opinion, not the price.
When I build a Yamato a few ago, I started reading "Requiem for Battleship Yamato" by Yoshida Mitsuru while doing the build and it became a most enjoyable tandem experience...read about the ship (its a GREAT book btw) and then work on the model! Fun! And thats what its all about.
Well, I'd recommend Trumpeter's Saratoga, if you'd like to build a carrier, and you don't want to build something dirty. In her pre-war configuration, she was kept pretty clean, haze grey, mahogany-stained flight deck, and a nice complement of yellow-wings aircraft. You could also build the kit as the Lexington from the same period. Out of the box, it's a decent kit, but you can add more photo-etch and really turn out a nice model.
Great thread guys.
I have often though a nice watercraft would look great in the cabinet and have brought random thing from 1/35 landing craft to 1/700 carriers and even a space battleship yamoto, on impulse, which normally ends up in regret and them being sold on again so I really appreciate the input in making sure the next purchase makes it to the workbench.
I had the same question three years ago. I was fascinated viewing build logs of ships with a lot of after-market products such. I wanted to give it a try. I decided on a 1/350th scale Japanese destroyer. Unfortunately, I made a mistake of buying the Hasegawa 1/350 scale Isokaze (which is a Kagero class) plus the Lion Roar Yukikaze upgrade set (which was designed for the Tamiya Yukikaze, also a Kagero class). It made it a lot more difficult to match out the photoetch intended for a Tamiya to the Hasegawa kit. That project ended up being shelved.
While lurking around various ship model forums, I saw a build log by Tim Reynaga about Revell's USS Olympia. I decided to buy Encore Model's 1:232 USS Olympia Premium Edition. This kit pretty much has everything you need. I started my build November last year and I'm actually enjoying it. I recommend this because, it gives you a taste of working with photoetch parts (if you haven't had experience), laser cut wood planks, plastic and resin. I didn't take a lot of in progress pictures but I'll try to post a thread at a forum sometime. Here is where I'm at right now with my build:
This is the farthest I've gone building a ship and I'm looking forward to completing it. Good luck with yours!
When I decided to go to 1/350 I bought a Revel Mo to get used to the scale since it was so much different than normal for me and it wasn't nearly as big as investment, actually only $10, so if I mess up it's not a huge thing. But I have mostly Trumpter and a few Dragon escorts. The Dragon kits are way more detailed but that's not that big a thing when they both are so good compared to the Revel.
Hope that helps.