The Origin of Revell’s “Golden Hind”

I think I may have discovered the origin of Revell’s Golden Hind kit. It was a British TV series from about three years before the Revell kit appeared, entitled “Sir Francis Drake.”

According to the Wikipedia article, the ship on the TV show was a replica that was built for filming. It was destroyed by a storm in 1987. One look at it and you can see where Revell got some of their ideas–including some of the wacky stuff that never “made sense” to the old salts who have tried to analyze the origin of this thing.

A look a the TV show (see link above) will answer all questions about the weird layout of the Revell kit and explain just what Revell thought they were doing. You can also figure out how to paint and detail parts of the ship where the Revell instructions are imprecise.

The Revell kit is not a model of a 16th century ship. It’s a model of replica that was really a television prop. I’m sure that Revell considered some kind of TV tie-in, but that never happened, for unknown reasons.

What he have, then, is a model of a TV ship.

Stuff like this was always “in the air” with Revell. They had a strong relationship with Disney (maybe Disney nixed a tie-in with the British company ITC?). They also nurtured relationships (some better than others) with Detroit auto makers. They tried to tie-in their model kits with whatever was going on, and they often worked overtime to make sure that TV news items became kits.

A very American way of doing business, I must say.

8 Replies to “The Origin of Revell’s “Golden Hind””

  1. Hello! The origin of the Revell kit is the German language book “Risse von Schiffen des 16./17. Jahrhunderts” by Rolf Hoeckel, one of the canonical books about Renaissance era sailing ships. In the book are included full sets of plans, the first of which is titled “Expeditionsschiff Golden Hind”. The plans are down to each detail same with the Revell kit. You did a wonderful build, true inspiration from this old gem. Cheers

  2. I am quite elderly, but I wasn’t yet born i 1577, so I’m not an authority on how the original Golden Hind looked. Revell’s interpretation is very similar to other depictions of the Hind I have seen, and I doubt that it is actually patterned after the ship on the British TV show, which is dissimilar in overall shape.

    A really nice kit though, and your building of it is just superb.

    1. I’ve seen only one episode of “Sir Francis Drake” and I admit that I based my theory on a single episode of that series. I could be wrong.

  3. I am currently, at this very point in time, building the Heller version of Revell’s Hind. (Bought on Amazon for roughly the same inflation-adjusted price as the Revell kit I bought in 1970.) The Heller version has molded styrene ratlines, which are a poor replacement for the admittedly wretched plastic-coated thread ratlines in the original Revell kit. Also, the original crew figures in the Revell kit have been left out of the Heller kit.

    I assure you that I have nothing like your skill and discipline, so what I am doing is building my kit straight out of the box without paint. Were I to attempt to paint it, I would soon quit in frustration, and any painting I did complete would be ugly and inept. But building the thing without paint, piece by piece, and only a few pieces a day, is something I can do.

    Also, I won’t be rigging it. Because that would be too much trouble and pain.

    I have in fact built most of Revell’s ships (including an original, 1959 edition of the 1/96th Cutty Sark, and four of Heller’s this way. This is enjoyable, and I end up with an attractive little work of art that I can take out and admire.

    But of course I have great admiration for you craftsmanship.

  4. Like the Wizard of Oz, I believe that most things lack dignity right up to the moment that they’re assigned a name. Then, wrapped in a word, they glow. I’m going to take the liberty of naming what you’re doing Primitive Style. Primitive Style model building has a long and honorable history. I am inclined to think that more than a few of the U.S. Founding Fathers had model ships, sans rigging and paint, stashed under their seats in Philadelphia.

  5. Okay, Primitive Style. I’ll take it. Actually a less generous person would call it Goof-off Style.

    I am 70 now and I built most of the Revell ships as a boy. I’ve built a few as an adult by buying them from mail order outfits in their original issues, and this evokes in me intense feelings of nostalgia. I can get more pleasure out of an old box of plastic than a drunkard can get out of a case of whisky.

    Right now, building my Hind, I’ve completed the guns, longboat and masts. Also, I’ve installed the gunwale fittings on one of the hull halves, which was something of a chore, because you have to install 12 eyebolts. A tweezer job, and my eyesight is a little off these days.

    When I was a boy, I built quite a few kits by Aurora, which, unlike Revell’s, were designed to be assembled by children. The instructions for an Aurora kit had a couple of paragraphs of basic information (use glue and paints for styrene plastic, stuff like that) and the first sentence of the directions was, “Don’t rush.” Good advice for modellers of any age. You get in a hurry and you make a mess.

    1. I saw a Revell Charles W. Morgan for about a third of what it usually goes for, so I snapped it up. I may have to start in on it to break out of a feeling that model building in general is not worth the aggravation. I have a wall of airplanes but they’re all equipped with “be sure to fix the blah blah blah” and it’s only when I’m in unknown territory that I feel comfortable. I’d much rather be fouling up a ratline (or is it a shroud?) than perfecting the flame holders on a PW F-100 engine. There’s something about a plane sitting on the ramp that bores me

  6. I have planes, cars, tanks and figures, but sailing ships were my first love and remain the subject I most enjoy. If I were to buy a model for a twelve-year-old (and help him build it) which would I pick? Revell’s Santa Maria. This is a simple kit. Not a lot of parts, and it produces a lovely little ship. The crew figures are astonishingly beautiful miniature sculptures. Just a beautiful kit.

    Planes are are also quite good for children, because they are simple. The only thing really complicated about, say, a p-51 mustang is the landing gear.

    The most difficult are cars. I have built at least a hundred, and I couldn’t get all four wheels to touch to table at the same time on most of them.

    Figures are the easiest. I was eleven when Aurora first released its Universal monsters series, and for a couple of years there they were a source of perfect joy. A monster model has about 25 parts, and takes no great understanding at all to assemble. I painted mine too (very badly) but I had a wonderful time with that. Unbuilt monster models are quite difficult to find on places like ebay because children who got them for Christmas were able to build them, so there aren’t a lot of them out there to be had. You can easily find ship models from the 50s, because children who got them as gifts were daunted by their complexity and left them in the box.

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