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In Box Review of Alex Creation Blue Arcadia


By Olivier Cabourdin - images & text © 2005

Scale: 1/1450 - About 27cm long when completed (without the bow slicer)
Parts: 59 resin parts, 1 fiber optic wire, 1 photoetched sheet
Instructions: 3 color pages of building painting and decaling notes and diagrams, followed by 2 pages of reference materials
Decals: 1 sheet color waterslide decals
Molding Quality: 9
Detail: 10
Accuracy: 9.5
MSRP: $140 USD (~$174CAN / ~ 110 EURO) available from Alex Creation
Overall Rating: 9 - see review

[Finished prototype]

The Arcadia, highly reconizable with its galleon stern, is the space battleship of the famous Captain Harlock, also knowned respectively as Atlantis and Albator in French speaking countries.

[Click to enlarge]

^ What you get

Image: Rear hull half, backside

Image: From the front

Image: Wings and antennas


^ Front hull half

Image: Port side

Image: Underneath

Image: Starboard side

Image: Bridge and 'poop deck' parts

Image: Another look

Image: With main wings

Image: Small parts

Image: Mostly armament

Image: Closer look

[Upper hull]

^ Upper hull

Image: Photoetch

Image: Decals

Image: Test-fitting the major components

Three injection kits of this ship were produced by Takara at the time of the show in different scale : a tiny one, like the Bandai Yamato/Starblazers mini-mecha kits; a mid size one in 1/1500 scale, and a bigger one in 1/1100. From these three kits, the mid-size is the more accurate, the bigger kit being too toyish. Only limited quantities of these products were distributed in western countries, so they are now very dfficult to find and very expensive.

Another kit was produced by Atlantic, an Italian brand who usually focused on tiny plastic soldiers. Aside from being inaccurate, the plastic used for this kit was the same as for the soldiers, too soft and ungluable, which made it more a buildable toy than a model!

Curiously, despite its notoriety, the Arcadia was not really treated by the garage kit makers: I am only aware of a resin recast of the Atlantic kit and a recast of a toy. A few years ago, Jesnet provided us with painted resin kits that were nice but rather bulky in the details. So, there was nothing really interesting to put under the teeth of a modeler ... until this new Alex Creation kit.

First Impressions

The kit arrived well wrapped in a sturdy box with the parts grouped in three ziplock bags well protected by foam peanuts.

There are lots of parts, with sharp details. The molding seems of good quality, with some complicated parts, particularly the front hull. A dry test shows that the accuraccy seems also very good. Take care to not miss the photoetched board that is secured with adhesive tape in the instructions. As the reviewed kit is a first run, the instructions are not complete as Alexandre would complete it during the construction of its first kit. Later kits will include the complete instruction.

The Kit

The kit is based upon a heavily modified version of the Takara 1/1500 kit. There are so many major modifications that the scale became 1/1450th ! Anyway, as usual in most anime subjects, the scale is always something difficult to verify; the accuracy to the shape you see on screen is there the main subject to check.

Alexandre has once again progressed in his molding skills. The parts are clean and smooth. Few (<10) little bubbles (<2mm) were noticed in viewable faces. There are some bigger ones, but they will be completely hidden once the kit is built. Most mold seams are visable, but there are no mis-alignments for the majority of them, so only a light sanding is required. The hull's two parts will require more sanding, particularly on the port side of nose in front of the "ear" (front intake).

Three parts leap immediatly to your attention (front hull, back hull and upper desk), not only because they figure the shape of the ship itself, but by the casting quality. They present important undercuts without any bubbles. The quality is here equal to some well-known Japan resin brand (Yellow Submarine, Wave, Club-M...). Some little parts (the antennas particularly) are a little less well-cast than the big parts and will required more work to clean, but once again, no mis-alignment here.

The most difficult point on the building of this kit will certainly to glue the front and back hull parts together. They fit rather correctly, and the cut is intelligently placed where a panel line runs, so the puttying and sanding stage will be quick here. The trick is to keep them aligned while gluing.

For those who are lucky to own some Takara kits, and also some of the Bandai kits of the Green Arcadia (1/1000 and 1/1600), here are a check-list of the modifications made and details added to the original kit :
  • Althought it is difficult to notice, the most important modification, and certainly the hardest to realize, is the correction of the curved shape of the main hull, restoring its traditional galleon shape.
  • The nose and front hull are thinned, combined with an lenghtening and widening of the fuselage (about 1cm each)
  • The galleon stern is not at all the one provided in the original kit : the sides are from the Bandai 1/1000 Green Arcadia kit, but with the mouldings of the Takara 1/1500, the back is the original part, the upper is a scrach with details coming from the Bandai 1/1400 one and the lanterns come from the Bandai 1/1600 Green Arcadia.
  • The thrusters are new, with engines from the Bandai 1/1000 kit
  • The bridge, comand tower, the computer dome and upper desk are also scratchbuilt
  • Lots of sharp panelling and details have been added over all the hull, and on the big upper antenna
  • The wing roots are modified to include intakes (forgotten in the original kit)
  • The shape of the cannon turrets are upgraded
  • All the profiles of the wings, fins and pylons have been thinned
  • The bow slicer (the deadly weapon against mazones ships) is added to the kit. It will need some work to adapt on the bow of the ship (cutting of a underside stabilizer)
  • The access ramp for the Space Wolves and Cosmowing fleet (Harlock's fighters) have been scribed on the underside of the hull,
  • And the funniest to end this list, the airlock, masked in the orbits of the skull, have been added on the hull sides.

    The photoetched board contains two tiny antennas and two grids to box the running lights on each side of the bridge. They are not as sharp as the other parts of the kits, but will enhance the overall look of the ship.

    The optic fiber provided in the kit will be used for the shrouds, located behind the bridge and command tower. I suggest to kepp this operation as the last thing to do on the kit, so after painting, as they will be very fragile and prone to breaking off while manipulating the kit.

    Instructions and Decals

    As said before, the instructions provided are not finalize and still in progress (Editor's note: Since this was written instructions have been completed). For the moment, it includes one page of recommandations, one page on the contruction, presenting how to make the turrets movable, one page of painting, decaling instruction, the template of the skull and crossbones flag, and 2 pages of reference material (arcadia drawings) from some "making of" books and manga comics. The color palette is not completed, as Alexandre is currently in the process to determine it while I am writing this review.

    The decals are sharp, mainly skull and crossbones for the hull and flag. The red running ligths decals are provided, but not bright enough for my taste, so I will certainly paint them on my kit. For note, this ship appears also in a green livery in the recent OAV Cosmowarrior Zero, with its name changed to Death Shadow.

    Conclusion

    While not being a difficult kit to build, it is not for a beginner. Without hesitation, I can say this is by far the best Blue Arcadia kit as for now ! Strongly recommended for any anime modeler and a must have for any Harlock/Albator fan. Personally, this is THE kit of the Atlantis/Arcadia I was looking for since I watched Albator on TV when I was a little boy.


    Many thanks to Olivier's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

  • Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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    This page copyright © 2005 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 6 January 2005.