Kit Review: Revell 1/48th scale Kit No. 85-5090: Apollo Lunar Spacecraft - Buzz Aldrin Rocket Hero Edition; 171 parts (170 in white styrene, 1 clear acetate); retail price US$59.95
Advantages: re-release of one of the inspiring Revell kits of the1960s; provides for assembly and disassembly of the entire component to show how the Moon landings took place
Disadvantages: based on prototypes of the actual Apollo vehicles; a Revell kit of the 1960s
Recommendation: for all fans of the US Space Program
Back in the 1960s many of us who were inspired by John F. Kennedy and his focus on putting a man on the Moon before the end of the decade were drawn to the spacecraft to be used. And at that time Revell was the clear leader in this field with its excellent H-18xx series of spacecraft and missile kits. Like many other teenagers I picked up each one as it was released.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore college years, Revell released a series of Apollo kits in varying scales. Their top of the line ones were the gigantic 1/96 Saturn V with Apollo mission and the 1/48 Apollo Lunar Spacecraft kits. I didn=92t have the room for the big missile but did have a place for the entire nose section and eagerly plunked down my $4.98 for one after work that summer.
The kit originally came with the great Revell directions of the period which called out each and every part and told the modeler what he was assembling, plus it came with a neat little booklet about the Apollo program. The kit provided the command module with three seated astronauts, the escape tower, the service module with a section that opened to show its interior, the complete Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that folded up to fit inside the Saturn V connector section, and even a Moon base with two astronauts and the fixed American flag that they would plant on the Moon. Alas, while I was in Vietnam it =93disappeared=94 from my bedroom in one of those purges parents occasionally carry out.
Of all the Revell kits from the 1960s that I built three stand head and shoulders above the rest for the fact they really caught my imagination and interest. One was the Atomic Power Plant =96 I built two over the years =96 and another was the =93Coffee Can=94 Space Station (three). But number three was the Apollo Lunar Spacecraft kit.
While the first two seem to have gone to kit collector heaven and cost a small fortune if they can be found =96 and according to Revell- Monogram will never see the light of day again as their molds were damaged or lost =96 they have happily re-released the Apollo as part of their =93Buzz Aldrin Rocket Hero=94 series. (Note that the latter term is copyrighted and copyright holder is held as =93StarBuzz LLC=94 =96 hmmm...) But the new version is molded in China (!) and as is par for the course now costs 12 times its original price (which still beats kit collector prices).
The kit is as complete as I remember it, but as many sci-fi and space fans have noted it IS only of the mockup of the system and needs a lot of reworking and detailing if you want to turn it into a mission vehicle. As nobody had finalized the interior of the command module at the time Revell made the kit, it is populated with decals based on the mockups of the interior - at least it was apparently totally faithful to the painted and decaled mockup it was based on! These are covered by six big decals (grey with black and white icons for the instruments) for the interior.
The saddest thing is that - as with many other new Revell-Monogram releases =96 somebody redid the directions in the inane =93point and stick=94 format. The good news is that they did (showing them smarter than all of the other =93point and stick=94 dimbulbs) provide a list from the original directions of what each component actually represents. This makes it somewhat easier to sort out the build options, as at least the modeler understands what the parts may do.
For example, parts 3 and 4 are the canards for the emergency escape tower that deflect the Apollo capsule away from the Saturn V if activated. Also when the directions use their silly =93no cement=94 icon at least you can see why that part is to be left free (e.g. the base of the escape tower is left loose so the access tunnel locking collar (29) will be able to mate with the LEM.
For those who saw =93Apollo 13" you also get to see where the infamous oxygen tanks (37-38) were that terminated that mission and nearly terminated the astronauts on the mission.
Cleanup will take some time as the kit provides every single vernier control rocket motor bell and all of them seem to have heavy sprue attachment points. There are 16 on the Service Module and 16 more on the Ascent Module of the LEM.
As this was a kit of the 1960s everything is supposed to work, so some parts are a bit overscale so they can reliably operate once installed. The entire landing mechanism of the LEM folds up to fit in the Saturn V section and thus are rather sturdy. As many fans have noted, as this was a mockup it is also missing nearly all the detail the actual LEM sections had fitted to them, starting with the gold foil insulation shroud. A separate bridge (89-90) and descent ladder (86) are provided for the LEM but the directions note they are not to be cemented in place if you want the LEM landing gear to operate.
The astronaut figures are a bit dated and have broad comic-book style faces, but as they have no visors they will need to be filled in with a clear substance or filled and painted with gold reflective paint.
The directions give a limited amount of =93monkey-see-monkey-do=94 coverage of how the entire system operated, which is a shame as any good science teacher or kid from the =9160s can show how the entire mission was run from start to finish.
If the modeler goes into this project with the view that it is a =93child of the =9160s=94 and not a state-of-the-art kit the result will be an enjoyable project and a return to the days when man could achieve anything. Diehard space modelers may wish to get a more modern LEM such as the ones from Monogram proper or DML and use those as a basis for a proper mission craft.
Overall, it=92s a big thrill for me to see one of my three favorite Revell kits of all time return to the market. Now for numbers one and two...