Niko of Poland released a cage mast version of the Connecticut class US Navy Predreadnoughts in late 2008, as the USS Vermont.   A number of us who expressed an interest in building this wonderful kit of at best a little known ship of the pre dreadnought era got together over the internet and decided to do a group build of her. Bob Cicconi, Neal Clarke, Bruno Gire, and Bruce Kapito each ordered the kit from our various retailers and set a start date for commencing our builds. The rules of the group build were simple:

(1)      There would be no competition to determine a who built the best kit
(2)      Everyone would be free and share with the group their observations and techniques used
(3)      There would be no deadline to have our builds completed by a certain date.  This is a hobby and something we enjoy doing.
(4)      We would publish as a group and any member not publishing would be free to decline publishing.

With these rules in mind and hopefully serving as a precedent for further group builds, we all commenced our respective builds.  At one point, Bruno Gire developed his own photo-etch fret for the build and those of us who chose to used his P/E, as opposed to the kit supplied version, which while good nonetheless could use some improvement as far as the railings, cage masts, and yardarms were concerned. Overall, the group build made this one of the most enjoyable builds we each had done.  As we all know it is difficult talking about the ups and downs of building a ship model to those who don’t share our hobby.  Having a group of fellow enthusiasts working on the same build at the same time is wonderful. I and my fellow group members hope to participate in more group builds to come.  They’re fun.  We’re thinking of one for 2011 and welcome anyone who wishes to join us.

Bruce Kapito

Here is Bob Cicconi's USS Vermont.


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Building the Niko USS Vermont has probably been the most rewarding experience I have had so far as a modeler. First of all it is a really great kit. Secondly it was the subject of a group build that I was invited into by (I think Bob Cicconi) and as a result got to know a really great group of guys, Bob, Bruce Kapito, and Bruno Gire. As a result of their encouragement and my experiences in the Vermont Build Group, I decided to enter my first contest, Soonercon 2010 in Moore Oklahoma. My little resin battleship wound up taking Best Ship and Best of Show. The judges encouraged me to enter it in the IPMS nationals, and more out of a sense of obligation to then than anything else, I entered it, and got Third Place in my category. Entering the contests in turn led to me joining a modeling club at long last (our local IPMS chapter) and meeting still more great modelers and great guys, including Rusty White, who encouraged me in scratch building, and whom I have now entered into business with. So, in the space of a little more than a year, I went from being a closet ship modeler who pursued his hobby in almost total isolation, to developing a whole new group of friends, all of whom share this strange passion for historical vessels in miniature. It's also gotten me into the hobby in ways I couldn't have imagined before, and all because of this little cage mast pre-dreadnought I had never heard of before the kit came out.

Neal Clarke

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This Vermont was my first group build ever. I most enjoyed this kind of model making and discovered mutual emulation can bring huge results.
My Vermont won a gold medal for best ship kit and a trophy for best project in a regional contest in Libourne, South West France. And first of all: I got new good friends abroad with plenty of projects for future collaboration, so what else?

Bruno Gire
Bordeaux, France


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Here is Bruce Kapito's build of the Niko USS Vermont.

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