by: Dave Shick [ ]
IntroductionHouston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.
These words define what I call a "where were you when" moment. Unfortunately, this is one of the few (or only) one of these that is actually a positive event. Too many others (Kennedy assassinations, 9/11, Challenger, MLK, etc.) are totally negative. To pin down my age, I was in my college apartment with a few friends, and lots of beer.
Not that it needs an introduction, but here's a brief summary of Apollo 11's mission:
• Launched: July 16, 1969
• Landed on moon, July 20, 1969 on the Sea of Tranquility
Commander: Neil Armstrong
Lunar Module Pilot: Buzz Aldrin, Jr.
Command Module Pilot: Michael Collins (the forgotten man)
• Landed on Earth, July 24, 1969
The Apollo 11 "spacecraft" actually consists of three components:
1. The Service Module (SM) - the large cylinder and rocket
2. The Command Module (CM) - attached to the SM, until re-entry
3. The Lunar Module (LM) - the Eagle
The combined CM and SM are usually referred to as the CSM.
Dragon has released a series of kits that cover various phases of Apollo 11's mission. The kit I'm reviewing represents the LM eagle on the surface, and the CSM overhead.
The kit This kit, and the others in the series, is actually two kits on one (the LM, and the CSM). Each kit also includes some form of display base.
The LM kit consists of the following sprues:
• A - Body
• B - Body and antennas
• C - Legs and support structure (two times)
• D - Small rocket nozzles
• F - The lower body in one piece
The CSM kit consists of the following sprues and bits:
• B - Docking components, and antenna support
• C - The body of the CM, end caps of the SM
• E - Body of the SM
• Photo Etched antennas (four)
A display base is included, which represents the moon's surface. This also includes an arm to display the CSM "in orbit".
One sprue includes the astronauts in their spacesuits.
A four page instruction book is included.
Two decal sheets are included.
The reviewAs the pictures show, I have built this kit(s) to judge fit and accuracy. I've completed the LM further than the CSM.
Generally speaking the kit components are very well done, and seem up to current standards being delivered by Dragon's armor kits.
The parts that make up the LM are especially well done. Various pins and slots are provided that force that parts into near perfect alignment.
One disappointment was the fit of the landing legs and their support parts. I think this may be because these are designed to be modeled open for landing, or closed in flight (in other versions). I had to use a bit of "liquid putty" at each joint to fill the gaps.
The CM consists of two large pieces (the body, and heat shield), plus some small bits that make up the docking apparatus. The detail here, is to me, quite soft. For example, the windows are just molded, and covered with a black decal.
The SM components are bit tricky to assemble with tight seams. The instructions (more on that) aren't clear on how the two rings (E4 and E8) are to be oriented (they're not symmetrical). I've included a picture of how I figured they should go. I ended up with a bit more liquid putty here.
The instructions included are probably the worst I've seen in as long as I can remember. For example, step 6 covers assembly of the landing legs of the LM with only two diagrams for how the various pieces fit. Typical notations for left and right C15 (C16) are provided, but there are FOUR legs, not two. The parts aren't interchangeable, and I had to experiment to find the best fit.
Exacerbating the already weak instructions is the lack of any painting guide or decal placement guide. Some clues can be found on the box sides, but not enough.
The display base is supposed to represent the moon's surface at Tranquility Base. However, somebody went a little overboard with craters and such. Pictures of the actual landing site show it as quite smooth (that's why it was picked after all). To soften this, I purchased some super fine sand from a local craft store and spread it over a slurry of thinned white glue. Two layers of this provided a much softer looking surface. The surface color I attempted is just some layers of various "earth" colors ending with gray.
The pictures of the LM on the "moon" show some work is still to be done. The CSM is far from finished, and I may not complete it. My interest lies more with the Eagle.
ReferencesThere is, of course, a ton of information about Apollo 11 on the Internet. However, to my surprise, there are not pictures of the LM that cover all four sides well. The pictures included of the actual event are from the following NASA site, and are "public domain": http://next.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/images11.html#Maps
ConclusionOverall, I think these are nice kits, especially of the LM. The poor (and missing) instructions do, however, detract from my overall impression.
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