Mat Irvine: Two kits from Great Wall Hobby (GWH) represent the recent Chinese space station Tiangong-1 (‘Heavenly Palace’), termed on the box a space lab module, and the spacecraft Shenzhou-8 (‘Divine Vessel’).
Components are moulded in mid-grey plastic and of the fine quality now expected from a Chinese model company, something that perhaps could not be said of some early model kits.
A word here about the company name, as there has been some confusion. The overall company that makes these kits is the Shanghai Lion Roar Art Model Company Ltd., which started in 1996. Initially all models were sold under the Lion Roar name, but more recently, the subsidiary Great Wall Hobby (GWH) was introduced. This is now used for all complete kits, leaving Lion Roar for accessories, including conversion kits and a wide range of photo-etch parts for other model companies.
About the real spacecraft
Tiangong-1 was launched in September 2011 on a Long March rocket. Shenzhou-8 was launched at the end of October 2011, and docked with Tiangong-1 on November 3. It then undocked and redocked on November 13. Shenzhou-8 was uncrewed for this mission, which was designed for rendezvous practise. The first crewed flight was Shenzhou-9 in June 2012, the mission that also included Liu Yang, the first Chinese female taikonaut (astronaut). The third and final scheduled mission to Tiangong-1 is due in mid-2013.
Great Wall Hobby Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8
Length: 360mm (14in)
Components: 68 including 5 for the stand
Manufacturer’s reference: L4804
Great Wall Hobby Tiangong-1
Length: 195mm (7.7in)
Components: 29 including 2 for the stand
Manufacturer’s reference: L4805
Basically, a fine pair of kits. I haven’t built them yet, but will do so at some point, so ‘watch this space’ for comments. However, for photographs of assembled models in realistic settings, visit expert space modeller Keith McNeill’s website here. He has plenty of other spacecraft on show, so scroll down to find the Chinese pair.
More space kits here.