Balsa you say? I’ve seen tutorials by Don Featherstone about how to make “modern” warships from balsa. Does your friend have any pictures? I suspect the ships would have about the same level of detail as 3D prints. With balsa , however, you can be creative and probably eek out a bit more detail. There is just a limit on what you can do with 3D printing, especially FDM style printing. I have seen some really nice detail coming from resin printers though.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."