About Us

About Us

About Fine Art Models

Fine Art Models was a small company based in Royal Oak and then Marine City, Michigan with artisans located throughout the world. We began back in 1989 with a single premise: to produce the finest scale models in the world, coupled by exceptional customer service. And, all at a price representing a true value.  As a direct result, our models are equal to, and in most cases, exceed the standards of models found in museums today. 

Our philosophy was simple – a commitment to excellence. The level of accuracy in each of our models was achieved through painstaking research, using only original plans when at all possible – meaning every piece on every model has reference to support it. We always pushed the frontiers of technology. By using progressive lasers, complex photo etching, and cutting edge aerospace materials, we were able to take detail to a level never before seen. It is this detail that distinguishes our models from all others.  In addition, we limited our model productions in an effort to learn from the past and build for tomorrow. We lived every day believing that the next model must be better than the last. Because of this, we feel we forever raised the standard of this rapidly vanishing art form.

We thank you for visiting our web site, invite you to look around and encourage you to contact us at any time with any questions, comments or feedback you may have.

The History of Models

We felt Tom Rose, former Director of Christie’s, South Kensington, located in London, England summed it up best.  Please enjoy his summarization of the world of scale models.

Models, or rather miniatures, have been made by man since he learned to stand upright – in the very beginning as objects of religion, and then as presents or for decoration.  In those early days, the materials used were bone, stone, or rock and wood – materials readily available.  Tools were crude in the extreme, so the results were crude.  Accuracy of representation developed as man’s skill to invent and use tools and new materials grew, and this trend continues to the present day.

By the 14th and 15th centuries, these skills had developed to an extraordinary degree as can be seen in full-size artifacts and miniatures made by armorers and instrument makers.  The majority of models, however, were still rather crude – mostly ships, the “votif” models made to hang in churches by way of thanksgiving for the journey’s end and a safe return.  As they were intended to be hung and, therefore, seen only from underneath, guns are exaggerated, hull shapes simple, deck fittings almost nonexistent and rigging inaccurate.

By the 17th and 18th centuries, standards and faithfulness to prototype had changed dramatically as, for example, the model ships built for the Navy Board.  These were built by the finest craftsmen, mostly of box and fruitwood, as three-dimensional pictures of proposals for future ships so that My Lords of the Admiralty were better able to judge the design.  These models were incredibly accurate in shape and detail, and many have survived, being in museums and private collections around the world.  They are important, not only as a record of ship design of the period but as the first truly accurate models.

During the 19th century, with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, three-dimensional miniatures were made for different reasons – steam, the motif power at that time, is very powerful and, logically, a small machine, if it is going to explode, will make less of a bang than the full-size machine.  Many development models were made, mainly by instrument makers and then by that rapidly developing genre – the engineer.  As the 19th century progressed, on the one hand, the making of a model became part of an apprentice engineer’s life – his test piece had to be of a very high standard to pass.  On the other hand, the salesman needed a model for the same practical reason as did my Lords of Admiralty, all those years before.

About this time, miniatures began to be made, originally by those same self-same apprentices, now fully-fledged engineers, for fun, in their leisure hours – and thus was born amateur model-making as we know it today.  In parallel, there were commercial organizations making models, kits and toys, as for example, Stevens Model Dockyard, Bassett-Lowke, and many others, all trying to satisfy an insatiable desire by man to own miniatures of things he wished to remember for one reason or another.

Models have, however, been made for entirely different and particular purposes; e.g. the bone model ships made by French prisoners of war in England between about 1775 and 1815 (they were made to supplement their rations), or Patent Models made as part of the inventive process.  These fall outside the mainstream of model making but are historically important in their own right.

Now, at the end of the 20th Century, a different problem has arisen. The commercially trained skills of apprenticed engineers are gradually dying out as man’s quest toward computerization develops, and discerning collectors, who understand and seek quality, generally have neither the time nor the skill to make aesthetically pleasing and ever more accurate miniatures themselves. Fine Art Models now fills this role using the best craftsmen available anywhere in the world to create the finest quality short production run of ships, locomotives, airplanes ad road vehicles that have ever been available. They are, of course, built for decorative purposes and so, in a way, the wheel has turned full circle.

Long may serious and discerning collectors exist who demand the best; satisfying their demands will preserve and continue the necessary skills, which will otherwise, gradually, be lost forever.

Model Scales

Models are built in all different sizes depending on the purpose of the model. And while there are often “preferred” scales for high-end, collectible scale models, Fine Art Models’ objective was to build on a scale that allowed us to model with no compromises. At the end of the build process, we felt there should be no difference between the full-size object and the completed scale model. 

Each category of model has its own unique “optimum” scale. Below we attempt to give you an idea of the “typical” scale for each as well as the scale Fine Art Models preferred to build in. In many cases, they are one and the same. However, on occasion, our preferred scale varied slightly from the norm, and we tell you why.


Our trains were built in 1:32 (or 3/8 inch = 1 foot), commonly referred to as Standard Gauge or Gauge 1. This scale dates back to the 1870s when German company Bing began making model trains and has become the premiere scale for collectible trains. We preferred to build in this scale as we felt it is the smallest scale possible that allows every detail to be modeled without compromise.

While our trains are sometimes referred to as G Gauge by the garden railroad community, this is not correct.  The confusion between G Gauge and Gauge 1 began long ago with the German company LGB, who built trains on a scale of 1:22.5 and then used Gauge 1 (1:32) track to run them on. Because of this difference in size between the model and the track, the LGB product became known as Narrow Gauge (as they run on a track narrower than their scale calls for). Many companies followed LGB’s lead and built their models in various scales, all larger than Gauge 1, but still ran them on Gauge 1 track.


The British originally defined the scale of ship models back in the 17th Century (with the British scale calculated in inches and continental Europe using the metric system).  Ships reaching 400 feet in length and longer often result in a scale model of 1:192 or 1/16 inch : 1 foot (with the Continental scale being 1:200).  Ships reaching 100 – 400 feet in length are usually modeled on a scale of 1:96 – 1/8 inch : 1 foot (with the continental scale being 1:100). Ships shorter than 100 feet in length are modeled in many different scales, with 1:48 (1/4 inch : 1 foot) being the most popular.

Builders Models (commonly referred to as study models or presentation models) are typically doubled in size, and in some cases, greater.  As you’ll see, our limited edition Titanic model is 1:192 scale while our builder’s model is 1:48 scale and our limited edition USS Nicholas model is 1:96 scale while our builder’s model is 1:48 scale.

Small boats, such as our Chapman Yacht, Concordia Sloop Boat, and Yawl are modeled on a scale of 1”:1’ (one inch : one foot).  As a result of this scale, we often ended up with was a model that had all moveable, working parts (when working in wood, we find this to be the most satisfying scale of all). 


Because the vast majority of automobiles and many military vehicles are relatively the same size, high-quality automobile models are typically built on a 1:8 scale.   We feel this is, without a doubt, the smallest scale a typical automobile can be modeled in without sacrificing detail (a world-class car modeler once told us they had modeled in 1:10 scale to avoid putting all of the detail into the model, and we have never forgotten this). 

While we have, on occasion, modeled in 1:5 scale, the only advantage to this scale is the visual appeal, however, they do not have any additional detail than that of a world-class 1:8 scale model.


Aircraft do not have firmly established hobby scales, however, you will find the most high-quality models built on a 1:16 scale. We made a decision to build all of our aircraft models in a 1:15 scale. Our decision came about during the build of our first aircraft model, the Nieuport 11.  Since we were building an exact replica, we found that the average human finger could not operate the surface controls on a 1:16 scale model but could operate them on a 1:15 scale model. 

So while the variance between 1:16 and 1:15 scales seems minuscule on the surface, the differences are tremendous. In addition, there is something very special about a 1:15 scale that we can’t quite explain. However, you can see and feel the difference visually, and this becomes apparent with our Mustang and Corsair models.

Why Build Transportation Models?

Back, when we were starting out, we chose, in part, to build many of our models based on “things” we already had in a scale of 1:1 such as : Jeep; CCKW; M5A1; Tank;  JeepCCKWM5A1 TankBugatti 57cCorsair; and Concordia Sloop Boat. After all, what better reference than the real thing! And why did we have all of these “things?”  Because “we’re guys.” And we think most guys, by their very nature, really truly enjoy the mechanical dimension that lies at the heart of what transportation is all about. So, you could say that we build “guy’s” things. And we say this with a smile, since we know many of you guys reading this are smiling as well. 

Over the past years, we have really come to realize and appreciate that men and women really are different. We have personally delivered the majority of our models around the world, from Venice to Tokyo to Indonesia. And, in most cases, our customer is a guy.  And, in most cases, he has a wife. And the three questions most asked by their wives, in every language, are:

“Why do you need it?”
“Where are you going to put it?”
“How much does it cost?”  

Please note, this is not a hard, steadfast rule, but it’s pretty close (that small percentage of women who don’t say this, really have an understanding of the detail that exists on our models and truly appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into them). Like we said above, we know most of you guys reading this right now are smiling.

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