By John Lester - images & text © 2000
There's just something about the Space:1999® Eagle transporter that just makes you want to build a BIG one. Cottage industry manufacturers have been vying to out-do each other with an "ultimate" Eagle kit for several years, with one offering reaching a whopping 44" long!
Image: Landing gear pods.
Image: The rest of the pods, plus rear of command pod.
Image: Various structural details, plus the little thrusters.
Replica's Unlimited is new to the sci-fi modeling scene, but if their priemer release is any indication, they'll be a player to be reckoned with in short order. This eagle is almost two feet/ 59 cm long, and weighs over 3lbs/6.6 kg when complete.
What You Get
The sturdy shipping box is litterally crammed with 70 resin pieces in several bags, plus aluminum tube, brass wire, and assorted screws and other fastners. Six "Moonbase Alpha" logos adorning a small decal sheet and a hefty assembly/parts guide round out the package.
The parts are sharply cast in a familiar smooth tan resin. You have to look hard to find bubbles or other flaws; there are some, but not many, and not in obvious places. Exterior surfaces are free of pitting or the grainy surface one often finds in resin kits, and mold seams are virtually non-existant. A large number of the pieces, especially the smaller ones, were cast in open molds, so some sanding and shaping will be necessary on their back sides. The large open cage that dominates the "spine" of the model is cast as one piece, with two steel rods cast inside to provide the support this baby will need. Most of the flash I found on the model is here, between the girders. It's easily removed and cleaned up, though.
The command pod is cast as three separate pieces. It's hollow, so one could - theoretically - install a cockpit. However, the "walls" are almost 1/4" thick, and no parts are provided for such an endeavor. Various springs and metal parts are provided so one can build it with actuated, spring loaded landing gear, just like the studio models. The engine bells are very nicely done, complete with the "baffles" inside. The only cargo option available at the moment is a standard passanger pod that bolts to the spine (a lab pod is expected to be available soon). This is a hollow affair one builds up from several pieces, reducing the weight (and hence stress) placed on the spine.
A parts guide and multi-page assembly guide are provided in a thick sheaf of 8½ x 11" paper. The instructions consist of diagrams and minimal text - sufficient if you are an intermediate or experienced modeler. Mention was made of a paint guide, but I did not see one in the stack; regardless, the folks who will get this kit doubtless already have resources for getting the finish accurate.
Finally, a small sheet of decals bearing six "Moonbase Alpha" logos is provided. These look to be ALPS printed, so they'll be quite thin. There is no evidence of the "speckled" effect one often sees with this type of transfer; in fact, they appear as if they could have been silk screened. The various red and black stripes you'll have to do on your own, but that's a simple matter with the various stripe and solid color decal sheets available at any decent hobby shop.
So it looks good - but is it accurate? To my eyes, mostly. I've compared against the Baldassari drawings and our own Space:1999 Hardware Reference, but I am not the Ultimate Eagle Expert, so take that for what it's worth. My specific reservations center on the engine baffles and the side structures behind the landing gear pods. The engine baffles have four full circles around a center circle; the studio models, I believe, had four slightly indented circles. This can be easily corrected by cutting a circle from thin styrene sheet, drilling the appropriate holes, and plopping over the resin (turned at an angle to cover the incorrect detail). The cage structure immediately inboard of the landing gear pods should be open, and have detail inside. The cage pieces here will need flash removed, just like the spine. Missing in my review sample are the detail structures that go behind the girders, as well as some additional bracing in the rear.
Assembly & Finish
Dry-fitting the parts doesn't reveal any potential heartaches. Clean-up should be straightforward, with only relatively minor sanding required before one can start glueing. The biggest challenge, I think, will be drilling the necessary holes for the mounting hardware and landing gear. You'll want a drill press or jig of some sort to keep the hole properly aligned. I'd also suggest building in sub-assemblies and painting as you go - all that girder work is going to make it difficult to reach the inner surfaces when everything is assembled. Of course, that applies to any Eagle.
You certainly get your money's worth in the sheer amount of resin packed into this kit. The good quality of the materials, as well as the cast-in steel spine, will make this much more sturdy than some of the other large-scale Eagles out there. It's a model I would love to build - if I had the room to properly display it! It's almost guaranteed to stop traffic and turn heads, no matter where it's displayed - especially if that happens to be on a contest table. However, due to the complexity of the kit, I would not recommended it to the novice.
Click here to read a build-up review by master modeler and Eagle expert Jim Small.
Many thanks to Federation Models for the opportunity to review this kit. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2000 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 3 August 2001.