Building the 31″model Nautilus Part 1

Back in 2011 when I was recovering from a broken back, I decided to tackle building what I consider to be one of the holy grail models from my childhood. The Nautilus from Disneys Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

As such it was always a model subject I have wanted, and though there have been many variations of this iconic boat through the years, no one was yet to do the subject accurately. Let alone in a styrene. So we are left with kits like this little resin beauty by Scott Brodeen. I decided that I was going to do as much to this build as I can. The first was to add some lighting then add some people. Try my best to make a detailed salon interior behind the two big observation windows. I also added a 200 second sound card.

The kit itself is pretty basic per sae. By that I mean it is cast in resin with only several main parts. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures of the separate parts before I began assembly. I blame that on the painkillers at the time. When I received the kit from the states, I made a conscious decision to enhance the build as much as I could. The first and obvious thing would be adding lights and where possible add some crew and passengers. I was also adamant in making a detailed salon interior behind the two big observation windows. I also decided to try out a sound 200-second card and see if I could animate the propeller. Back then I wasn’t sure which of these additions were going to be the greatest challenges. As it turned out, each of them and others provided their own unique challenges.

The model is sold and supplied as an advertised 1/69th scale kit but I later found out that figures in that scale were just too large to work with. With additional research, I found that 1/87th scale or HO railway figure worked a treat. Because the kit was supplied as primarily just a top and bottom hull with a wheelhouse assembly and some minor parts. tyhe only interior setting it had was the wheelhouse. The parts supplied was a wheel & binnacle assembly, the dive plane controls, depth tube indicator and a ballast control lever. to use under the resin wheelhouse exterior part. It also came with inserts fro the interior wall and although not entirely screen accurate they were pretty damn good.

Once I checked all the parts I did some test fitting and found my first problem per sae. The supplied white metal parts for the dive controls and the wheel were slightly out of scale so I had to rework the dive controls and scratch build the wheel. I also added a small disc of plastic to the binnacle which on the live set piece has a chain run around it but at that scale to add the chain, which I wanted to do, meant my ambitions went beyond my abilities. As for the figures Well the generic railway worker figures needed some serious rework and carving to get them to work. Challenge number one! I left the original wheel in the picture to compare it to the new scratch built one constructed from thin styrene sheeting and copper wire.


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