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  1. Space: 1999 Eagle 1 1:48 MPC/Round2 Back in the 70s the year 1999 seemed so impossibly far away that Gerry Anderson's prime time live-action near-future TV series was called Space: 1999 when mankind had begun using the Moon as a dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste. The Eagles were the spacefaring workhorses used to carry men, machines, and cargo around with interchangeable pods in the same manner as Thunderbird 2 providing specialised equipment when needed. When an out-of-control Eagle crashed on one such dump it triggered a chain reaction that blew the Moon out of earth's orbit, and we're left wondering whether earth even survived, as they lose contact with it very quickly. Through a number of plot devices they spend two series travelling around the galaxy meeting new species and entities who all conveniently speak English fluently. Eagle 1 is Commander Koenig's personal transport and features heavily in the show in various configurations. After a rather trippy second season, the show was cancelled by Lou Grade's production company, but it never quite left the consciousness of boys of a certain age, as well as later generations that became interested in the show. The Kit For years we have had the choice of either the old and inaccurate MPC/Airfix kit that purported to be 1:72 scale, or resin kits that came and went, some of which were rather expensive. This is a completely new tooling from MPC's new owners Round2, based upon masses of data accumulated by an avid Eagle aficionado who had access to the real 44" studio model on which this kit is based. It is 22" long, which makes it half the size of 1:24 scale original. It has also been designed to feature the fittings and livery of the first episode, because the models underwent some changes during filming, partially due to the wear and tear they suffered from handling, crashes and so forth. If you plan on painting your Eagle at a specific point in the series you should check your references and get some stills from the show if you're able. Now that both series are available on Blu-Ray, you've got no excuse and there's a new book out called "Modelling the Eagle" by well-known Anderson buff Mike Reccia that specifically documents the research and build of this very kit. It's ISBN-10 is 0993032052 and ISBN-13 is 978-0993032059 in case you wanted to pick one up. The kit arrives in a large box that is perhaps a tad too flimsy for the sheer size of the kit, but has a large brown cardboard bridge inside to prevent crush damage, which you should probably keep inside if you are planning to stash the kit. It also has the lower edges of the top folded back to stiffen the package further, so at least some thought has been given to it surviving shipping and years in your stash. Our review sample was the last of the current batch brought into the UK, but we understand that a new shipment will be arriving around August time, so get your pre-order in now while you can! Inside the nicely retro-style box is a host of plastic that pretty much fills it to the top, and as most of it is a rather fetching cream colour, it does hark back to days of yore, and evokes echoes of the old kit, even as far as the instruction booklet layout. There are eighteen sprues and a single part in the cream styrene, four in a light grey colour, two identical clear sprues, four springs, two small screws, a decal sheet and as folded-up concertina style instruction booklet. Adding to the retro feel is a Product Information mail-in card, and finally a little concertina-fold glossy booklet on the rest of the Round2 product line. First impressions are that this thing is a monster!!! The crew compartment or beak is almost the size of my fist, and at 22" long, it is a substantial piece of plastic. This has been taken into consideration however, as some of the attachment points are pretty substantial, especially around the sponsons so they don't break off when you test the springs of the suspended landing gear legs. Because it has been designed as a direct mimic of the studio model you will doubtless spot some replica kit parts, such as the engine deck of a Tiger 1 dotted around, as well as the crew figures that are moulded to look like the Gemini capsule figures used in the real model, which was twice the size of this kit. Construction starts with the beak, which has clear windows to allow the inside to be seen once construction is complete. The rear bulkhead is well detailed, and the pilot figures fit to small stand-off blocks attached to points on the bulkhead. The figures have decals on their environment suit controls, and a few more are scattered around the bulkhead, which is detailed on the sides of the lower box, so remember not to throw that out too soon. The beak shell then fits over the crew, and you can leave this un-glued to allow better access to the crew, or lighting if you have decided to fit your own. The bulkhead has a detail panel behind it that forms the back of the compartment. And has the sockets to link the attachment points to the framework, while the beak front has four depressions for the manoeuvring thrusters. The largest feature of the model is the long ladder of tubing that forms the spine of the ship, and this is constructed from two frames made up of front and rear sections on each side, linked together with cross-beams on the top and bottom sections. Two pairs of these have stringers with a slot cut in them to attach the equipment pod later in the build. The two sections of fuselage that mount the landing gear pods are correctly build as an inner "box" with detailed surfaces, within an outer cage that is constructed around it after completion of the inner painting. Two of these are made up, and then four of the gear pods, which have a large structural member running through them and out into the fuselage, with the pod skins also creating a laminated two-layer sandwich of strength. A scrap diagram shows the correct orientation of the pods and their surface details, and it might worthwhile marking them to ease the installation later on. The landing gear struts have springs added to give them realistic sag and rebound, which requires a number of parts to be left unglued so that they can move. Four of these are built up and set to the side until final completion of the ship. The engines are next in the queue, with the main framework built up along with the complex mass of feeder piping and structural members. With the main structure completed, the large combustion chambers are added at an angle, going through loops at the rear and clipping in to the front, plus four expansion tanks/fuel tanks and their attendant hoses that are shown on a ghosted diagram to ease fitting of their hoses to the existing framework. The passenger pod is built from slabs of styrene on a flat base, with optional attachment pins on the front and rear to add extra strength to the assembly if you plan on leaving the pod in situ. The faces are all detailed as per the original, and the roof lights are all present in clear styrene, although there is nothing to see inside, so perhaps a smoked finish may hide that fact. The roof is made of three parts, so take care with fitting, and the floor has a number of detail parts added before the framework is attached to complete it. Final assembly begins by bringing the front and rear compartments together on the ladder, and then screwing in the passenger compartment using the provided cross-head screws. The gear sponsons are then added in the order stated earlier, and the assembled landing thrusters and Vernier jets are added to the undersides and sponson outers respectively. The landing gear pads are inserted in the holes on the lower of the sponsons, four feet are added to the passenger pod, and the engine bells are finally installed at the rear. There are on the grey sprues, and the bells have been made as two parts each with the cruciform diffuser added to the rear as shown in the diagram. There is a "deluxe" set of metal engine bells and thrusters that accurately depict the materials used in the real model, but with the modern metallic available to the modeller, a saving on budget could well be made with the aid of careful preparation. Markings The decals have been printed to match the pilot episode scheme, and there are plenty to detail up your model after painting, with the decal instructions shown on the colour printed sides of the box's bottom tray, which also includes the painting guide at the same time. It's an unusual method to me, but it's nice to see an actual model being used to show the colours and markings. Whether it would have been cheaper not to print the box and to add a single sheet of glossy printing for the markings guide is anyone's guess and a moot point at this stage. There is a long screed of copyright ownership at the bottom of the sheet, with the implication being that the decals were printed in China, but their quality seems to be more than adequate for the job. Registration, colour density and sharpness are fine on my sample, with three choices for the trapezoid Moonbase Alpha logo. Conclusion Whist I wouldn't describe myself as a fan of the series (That's no disrespect to the show, it's just the way I am about TV/movies), I did/do enjoy watching it. What I did love was the pseudo-realism and practicality of the Eagle's design, which made it look like it could actually do all the things they tasked it with. The interchangeable pods will doubtless start coming out for those of us with a hankering for personalising our models, and a landing pad would just finish off the look. I remember building the old Airfix/MPC kit in my bedroom as a young lad nursing my first hangover, so it will always have a special place in my heart, although I can't say the same for drinking too much booze. It's a BIG model, and nicely detailed into the bargain. With careful painting it can look stunning, as some of the early builds have already shown. There's a little flash around some of the sprues, but most of the parts escape, so it's not really much to talk about. Available in the UK in small quantities that are getting harder to track down by the day, but it will be back in stock at Amerang (the UK importers) in August 2016. Make your pre-orders when you can! Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for
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