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1:48 Eagle Transporter ‘Space: 1999’


James H
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1:48 Eagle Transporter ‘Space: 1999’

MPC
Catalogue # MPC825

Available from AnticsOnline for £117.50

 

 

 

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I was a child of the 70s. It’s the decade that I was born, and the decade that I became a modeller. It was also a decade that I became engrossed with Sci-Fi, from Star Wars, Dr. Who, Blake’s 7, and of course, Space: 1999. As over three more decades have passed though, I’ve become estranged from that particular interest, only recently being rekindled with the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. I’ve occasionally had minute lapses though, and remember sourcing an old Airfix Eagle Transporter kit, as I’d built it as a kid. The rose-tinted glasses soon fell away though when I decided to tackle it. The kit was crap, and I mean….real bad. Simplified and missing detail, and chunky, clunky tubular frames. Simply bloody awful. Kit, meet the trash can. They’ve been happy together ever since. That was it. A company called MPC did make a rather nice 1:72 kit, but as I’m now primarily a builder of larger scales, that kit didn’t float my boat. Last year though, things looked like they were going to change. A Facebook page showed that MPC were developing a 1:48 kit, now whilst that still sounds small, I assure you it isn’t. In that scale, the model would be around 22 inches long, and quite imposing. I watched the development with interest, and when the pre-orders opened, I placed my order. For some reason, I missed the confirmation email and thus the kit. The thing was already SOLD OUT! Dammit! This was one of my Holy Grail kits too.  

 

 

In April this year, I visited the Shropshire Model Show at RAF Cosford, and there was a built up kit on a club stall. Whilst chatting with the modeller, he told me another production run was going ahead. A little while later, I was chatting with Spencer Pollard who was just about to have his worst ever show experience with a nutjob and an Airfix Shackleton (another story), and the guy from Antics was there. A chat later, and after being told to check out the website, I managed to get an order in from the second production run. Two days later, the kit arrived safely, and my grail subject mission was complete.

 

The kit
First of all, this isn’t some anonymous interpretation of the Eagle Transporter. This model has been designed by a team that had access to models that were used for filming the TV series. A number of models were created for such, including a 22inch model, but the one that was used for this kit design was the 44inch prop. By all accounts, this model is entirely faithful to that original creation, including the quirky details that were used to build the TV prop, including those Apollo lunar-lander and Tiger tank details that the prop-makers used to busy-up their creation. Tasty. Now let’s take a look……

 

This kit comes in a large and attractive box that has a gorgeous painting of the Eagle on the lid, painted in the red/white stripes that were indicative of a rescue machine. In the background, you can see Moonbase Alpha. Text artwork has the TV logo, providing more nostalgia to the bargain. The box sides give the spec of the real machine, plus some TV images and a photo of Brian Johnson who created the original TV models. On the rear of the box, more Eagle imagery, and some spiel regarding the kit itself.

 

  • Over 300 parts
  • 2 plastic colours, plus clear parts
  • Researched for authenticity
  • Cockpit wall detail and pilot figures
  • Removable pod
  • Extensive water-slide marking decals
  • Spring-action landing gear
  • Full colour deco guide
  • Decorate 1 of 3 ways

 

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Lifting the lid reveals the colour paint scheme and decals placement guide printed around the edge of the outside lower box tray. A corrugated cardboard stiffener is used to give a little more rigidity to the box and protect the many sprues within. One thing I immediately notice is a chemical smell. The parts are a little whiffy, but that should dissipate once the sprues are open to air. I don’t usually wash sprues, but maybe it could be an idea with this release, in case that smell is of any mould-release residue. This kit contains a total of THIRTY white sprues, some of which are separate, and some interconnected. A further EIGHT light grey sprues are also included, as are TWO clear sprues. If you like sprue-count, then this kit should satisfy that need. Six metal parts are included, and these are the springs for the landing gear, and a couple of screws for removing and attaching the pod. A small instruction sheet is included, folded up into a pretty small size. I’d have quite liked to have had an actual manual for ease of working, but hey-ho! I’m now in Sci-Fi land, and things here are different.

 

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Unlike the Airfix kit, with much of the forward and rear tubular framework that was moulded onto the module within, this model takes full advantage of that research and design technology in order to replicate it in the same manner as we saw on the TV, all those years ago. That means the tubular gantry and associated frameworks are just that…..actual frameworks that need to be assembled, and THEN attached to the detailed modules that sit within them. I have to say it, as I keep thinking it, but this model is a total work of art. There, I said it.

 

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Construction starts with the command module. This readily identifiable unit comprises upper and lower halves, onto which a rear cockpit wall and external rear shell are fitted. That cockpit isn’t fully detailed, but it doesn’t need to be as internal vision is quite limited. Clear windows are supplied for the upper quadrants, and the rear wall detail is very indicative of the the classic TV series set. Pilots are included, and these are fitted to the rear wall with small spacer parts. Decals are also provided for the interior. Now, if you can do this, I suggest you fit a medium brightness orange LED within the nose, and simply plug this onto the pod rear wall, instead of gluing it. This would mean you can incorporate the switch in there too. This certainly isn’t my idea. The model I saw at Cosford had exactly this, and it looked excellent. I know I’ll be using that idea when I build this for Tamiya Model Magazine International in a few months. Instructions do actually say that gluing the two command module parts together is optional. Once assembled, the first frame wall is attached to the rear of the module by means of separate explosive bolt fitments. Lastly, four small steering rocket faces fit into the sides of this module. I suggest these are painted first and inserted after completion of the module itself.

 

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The next stages concern the construction of the gantry framework, and the forward and rear module enclosure frameworks. For obvious reasons, the latter are only finally completed once they contain the internal modules. Installing those modules comes next, as does fitting a tank and pipe assembly to the side of the forward and rear service modules. I assume this is something to do with the small reaction control thrusters that sit on the outside of the shoulder pods.

 

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These shoulder pods are almost identical, and of course, four of them need to be built. The only difference between the forward and rear pods is a plastic pin that needs to be sliced from the upper and lower rear pod parts. An orientation illustration clearly explains how these will fit to the specific corners of the Eagle Transporter. As with this whole kit, detail is faithful to the TV prop, with separate refuelling ports being included, as well as those reaction thrusters that will be fitted towards the end of the model construction.  One thing this model is famed for are the landing struts, with spring suspension. Having seen the completed model and that suspension in action, I do know that it takes a little effort to make the struts compress any distance, but they do indeed work. Springs are supplied for this area, with some beautifully detailed landing pads and working compression scissor mechanisms.

 

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Without a doubt, the most complex section of the Eagle is the rear engine section. As well as a fully-featured and involved frame, this holds the plasma accelerator and Deuterium tanks, with their drive coil assembly details. These last parts are moulded as halves and will demand full eradication of seams for full effect. According to the instructions, these also fit cleanly into the completed framework, and will simply pop onto the rear of the model during final construction.

 

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One thing the Eagle was famed for was the passenger module. Many TV scenes were filmed in these. For building the rescue module, you will paint red stripes onto this area. White seemed to be a standard, but if you want the VIP module, the unit was painted orange. For info, this latter scheme was only ever seen in the first episode, “Breakaway”. Still, its inclusion is good. Construction seems straightforward, with a floor, four side walls and three-part roof into which windows are fitted. Now, the module itself has no internal details, and the solution for this from the model I saw at Cosford, was to paint the rear of the windows in black, so they are still shiny, but maintain a little mystery. Of course, you could build a full interior. There’s plenty of photos available that show what this was supposed to look like, and you could illuminate it too. It’s a shame that the external access doors weren’t moulded as separate parts so they could be posed, but I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility to do this yourself with some nifty moulding and casting work. The underside of the module is as detailed as the rest of the model, with landing pad and thruster detail.

 

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A nice touch here are the main thrusters. These are moulded as forward and rear parts, with separate internal detail. Moulding the housing like this, instead of as halves, negates having to remove awkward seam lines. Now, I can tell you that MPC have released two sets for this. The first contains the main thrusters and some metal legs, with the second set holding just the reaction thruster cones. I really can’t see the point in any of these sets because the thruster set is MORE EXPENSIVE than the kit itself, whilst offering little advantage. Assemble the kit parts properly, and use some good metal paint to create the same effect. Lastly, final assembly looks easy enough, and this seems to be backed up by the guy who built the one I was admiring at Cosford. He was seriously waxing lyrical over the kit, and the results very much sounded out what he was saying. I just wish I’d photographed it.

 

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All sprues are bagged as multiples unfortunately, but thankfully, there was no damage anywhere to be seen. Parts are generally moulded very well, with some great detail finesse to be seen. A little flash will need to be cut back here and there, but nothing at all worrying.

 

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Decals

 

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Instructions

 

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Conclusion
I see so many models nowadays, that I’m guilty of feeling a little nonplussed and even jaded at times. Certain releases really grab me and get my synapses firing at full throttle, and I have to say that this particular release particularly excites me, perhaps at the wrong time too, as I’m in the last throes of a magazine deadline, but I’m sure I’ll be good and hold out! This particular kit has everything. It has detail, presence, and possibility. Referring again to the completed example, I can say that it looks exactly as it should, and appears to fit beautifully. Price-wise, I also think you get a lot of model for your money, and I’d even contemplate another of these for stashing too. If you do want one though, I really don’t know how long they will be available for. I don’t even know if this is something they will just keep running and running. I’d advise you pick one up as soon as you can. You may well regret it if you don’t.

 

Recommended? Without a doubt!

 

My thanks to AnticsOnline for getting this out to me in super-fast time. To buy direct, click on the link HERE.

 

 

 

 

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