Tuesday, June 30, 2009


If you thought Z gauge (1:220 scale) was small, then think again - the new small is here, in the form of the Japanese T gauge, made to the remarkable, almost nano-size 1:450 scale. T actually stands for ‘Three’ as it’s the distance (‘gauge’) between the rails in millimetres.

T gauge is roughly half the size of Z, and manufacturer KK Eishindo has really thought the tiny new world out in detail, as you can see from the video. Apart from the trains and track, the range of items available includes people (a six-foot human scales out at about 4 mm high) plus animals, buildings and vehicles, trees and even a set of bicycles.

At present there is just one type of train available, a Type 103 Electro Motive Unit (EMU), available in four shades, representing different Japanese rail lines. A small controller is powered by three AA batteries. The tiny electric motors are similar to the ones that make mobile phones vibrate, though we’re betting that model rail is a new one to the motor maker.

This is real table-top stuff, and is absolutely ideal for Japan’s apartment dwellers, indeed anyone with a space problem. Instead of giving up the loft or a spare room, you can fit a basic oval of track on - get this - a sheet of A3 paper. For people with more ambition and space, there are quite a few 1:450 scale model ships available, which would make a dockside scene an interesting possibility.

You can see the T gauge range here.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Here is an odd story, which goes way back to when the 1:32 scale Monogram Apollo CSM kit was new in 1970. It was issued with the Command Module (CM) plated in ‘gold’. In reality this was a ‘gold’ lacquer sprayed over a chrome-plated finish (which is actually a fine aluminium mist, deposited in a vacuum chamber, but comes out with a chrome-look, and is commonly used on model car grilles and bumpers.)

However, the gold finish was a misinterpretation of NASA photographs that showed the returned CM bobbing on the ocean. The CM had indeed taken on a gold colour, but it came from the extreme heating of re-entry which had turned the exterior to a goldish tinge. See the photo (top) which shows the Apollo 11 CM.

In reality, at all stages before re-entry Command Modules had a ‘chromed’ appearance, where strips of shiny Mylar-type, flame-retardant tape had been applied - which also shows up on the left of the CM in the photo). In the model, this resulted in the ironic situation that as Monogram had to chrome-plate the CM part before gold lacquer was applied as a top coat, it would have been better to have stopped there! 

The kit has been reissued as part of both Revell Germany and Revell US Apollo 40th anniversary lineup, (the only kit shared between the two divisions), though both feature ‘Revell’ logos.

However, and this is even odder, whereas Revell-Germany has used neither gold lacquer nor even chrome plating, Revell-US presents the kit exactly as the Monogram original, complete with a gold-coloured CM - and both kits were produced in the same Chinese factory!

If you want to go the chrome route with the Revell-Germany issue, this can be reproduced either by using Alclad Chrome paint (sprayed over gloss black, otherwise it will not come out chrome), or by using strips of chrome Bare-Metal Foil.

Alternatively, the gold lacquer can be removed from the Revell-US issue using rubbing alcohol or similar, enough to remove the lacquer but not the chrome plating.  

Mat Irvine


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the first manned landing, both Revell names have reissued some of their classic space kits – and here ‘both Revell names’ refers to the fact that the two divisions, while sharing the same name, are actually separate companies. Revell-Monogram in the USA is owned by Hobbico, whereas Revell-Germany is, in effect, owned by itself. 

Revell-Germany has reissued five kits -

1  1:96 scale giant Saturn V launcher. At almost four feet tall, this is still the largest plastic kit of a ‘space’ subject ever produced. (Though there are larger flying Saturn V models.)

2  The Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM) from the Saturn V, issued as a standalone kit.

3  1:32 scale Apollo Command-Service Module, with interior. This is the only mainstream kit to have the correct ‘Block II’ radiator pattern for the Service Module, and was originally a Monogram kit.

4  1:48 scale Apollo Lunar Module. This is an old kit and is really a model of the ‘boiler plate’ mock-up, but it still has a certain charm, and does demonstrate the folding legs of the Descent Stage.

5  1:8 scale Apollo astronaut on the Moon. This last item is the rarest of these five kits - the only previous reissue was in the Selected Subjects Program, SSP Phase 11, Summer 1995. Oddly though, the kit is now scaled at 1:8, whereas the original issue was 1:7. However, neither figure is exactly accurate as - if we assume it is meant to be Neil Armstrong - the scale works out to nearer 1:7.5.

Revell-US - still just about ‘Revell-Monogram’ - has reissued just three kits, each tied into ‘Buzz Aldrin Rocket Hero’ sponsorship. These are all Monogram originals, but now carry the Revell logo and each includes a replica of the olive branch ‘Peace Pin’, left on the Lunar surface.

1 1:48 scale ‘First Lunar Landing’ is the most accurate of all Lunar Module kits made by the mainstream model companies. The nicest part of the kit is that you get a diorama base with a ‘shadow’ of the LM built in, figures of Neil and Buzz, plus all six pieces of equipment carried to the Moon by Apollo 11.

2  1:144 scale Saturn V launcher. This is the same scale as the Airfix kit, and is of course also a standard ‘airliners’ scale. Unfortunately, this time it has some wrongly-printed decals. The ‘USA’ and ‘United States’ for the S-1C and S-II stages are printed in black, instead of the correct red. It is very unlikely that Revell will be making corrected decals, but aftermarket sets, containing all these marking and many more besides,  can be obtained from Rick Sternbach’s Space Model Systems, or Tomas Kladiva’s New Ware. The decal error also applies to the ‘USA’ for the third, S-IVB, stage, but as these were not actually used on the manned launchers, the wrong colour here is a bit irrelevant.

3 1:32 scale Apollo Command-Service Module (CSM). This is the only kit shared by both companies, although, as pointed out in the ‘All That Glisters’ post, the European issue does not have the Command Module either gold lacquered, or even chrome plated, while this American issue does.

You can visit Revell-US here, and Revell-Germany here.

Space Model Systems is here, and New Ware is here.

Mat Irvine

Sunday, June 28, 2009


The UK is not short of museums for the air buff, but Imperial War Museum Duxford, UK, has to be at or near the top of the list. A visit there really is a full day-trip, as there is so much to see and do.

If the weather and mood take you, take the time to climb aboard a 1930s Dragon Rapide for a short joy-ride - the video here is a flight we made recently. In the video you can see several glimpses of a top attraction at IWM Duxford, the US Air Force building. It hits the spot for its Norman Foster-designed ‘crashed UFO’ appearance, and splendid internal design, where twin semicircular walkways take you past famous planes of the past, either at ground level, or hanging on cables from the ceiling.

Like most museums of its kind, the USAF building is an ace for modellers, as you can get up really close and see the detail to incorporate in that modelling project. We’ll be doing an in-depth feature on it later this year. Meantime, the Dragon Rapide is a handsome old aircraft (and surprisingly quiet to fly in), but not one that's widely served in the model department - below are some alternatives.

Some nicely made, though pricey diecast 1:72 Dragon Rapides are available from Collectors Aircraft Models here.

And the good old Airfix 1:72 scale offering is available here, prices from £9.50 GBP.

You can download a useful Duxford brochure flyer here.


A quickie post to report that Harvey Earl's gorgeous one-off 'Vette achieved a no-sale at Mecum yesterday.

So, for anyone with deep pockets it's still available!

Friday, June 26, 2009


The Chevrolet Corvette has a passionate following, which makes the Mecum Corvette auction today and tomorrow a magnet for any 'Vette fan with money. And the real star of the sale is Harley Earl's personal runabout, a blue Stingray convertible (top picture).

Earl was a powerhouse of mid-20th century US car design and to thank him for his efforts, General Motors presented him with this unique 'Vette in 1963. It had special metallic blue and white-stripe paint, with matching blue leather inside. The engine was a 300-horsepower unit, with massive four-into-two exhausts running down either side.

Earl sold the car after a couple of years, and it has changed hands several times since. But the car is now fully restored, and the quality of the restoration is likely to be reflected in the price achieved at auction, even in these recessional times.

In the model world Corvettes abound, especially diecasts, though SMN hasn’t tracked down a model of this particular car - let us know if you know of one. There are plenty of others though, including several nicely produced 'Vette varieties from Autoart in big 1:18 scale. Three are shown here, representing (top to bottom) Corvettes from 1959, 1969 and 2005.

The Mecum auction Corvette Stingray is here.

Autoart's Corvettes are here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


One of the most consistent Airfix model ranges has been its sets of 00/H0 figures. Begun in 1959 with two sets - the Guards Band and Guards Colour Party - the range soon expanded to include figures from World War I, World War II, Civilians, Zoo Animals, American Civil War, the Wild West, Tarzan, Robin Hood, and even Astronauts.

All have been to the ‘convenient’ scale of 00/H0 as they were initially intended to fit in with railway layouts, though we are not quite sure where the Astronauts fit in! However, it is only in Britain that 00 gauge, (1:76) is used - everyone else uses H0 (1:87). But people - and animals - are usually pretty adaptable, size-wise.

Over the years there have been many such sets, but there’s never really been a definitive catalogue until now, with the new book Airfix’s Little Soldiers, written by a Frenchman, Jean-Christophe Carbonel - ‘JC’ to all. JC certainly knows his stuff - he always maintains that he learnt his excellent English by studying Airfix instruction sheets, and here he has produced a very comprehensive book. Airfix’s Little Soldiers contains not only the whole history of the subject title, but also the similar scale figures from other manufactures.

It is published by Histoire & Collections in both French and English versions. Le livre est très bon, JC.

JC also runs his own fascinating modelling website. It is (virtually) all en Français, but that make it good for practicing your French - and anyway, there are a lot of pictures!

The photo of JC above was taken at the 2007 ScaleModelWorld in Telford, UK. He is showing off one of his Jules Verne creations - he is rather fond of his most famous countryman in the world of science fiction.

Mat Irvine

You can visit Histoire & Collections here, and JC's website here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


David Shepherd is one of the world’s premier wildlife artists, widely known for his paintings of African wildlife, especially elephants, lions and tigers. He’s a wildlife conservationist of standing, owns several steam locomotives and is a confirmed model enthusiast.

David’s Shepherd’s own rail layout is to 3 mm scale, also known as TT. In Britain, this is slightly smaller than 1:100 scale. It’s an unusual scale these days, and means that most things have to be made from specialist kits or scratch-built completely. David likes the size, as do other TT enthusiasts - it’s visibly bigger than N-gauge, usefully smaller than H0 or 00 gauge.

The layout is packed with detail, showing nostalgic cameos of ‘England as it was’, which give it a similar flavour to the Pendon Museum layouts we’ve raved about before at SMN.

To read more about David Shepherd, you need to get on down and pick up a July copy of the excellent ‘Model Rail’ magazine, which has an in-depth feature on him. The pictures here show a small selection of the 147 colour pages, all packed with good stuff for modellers who are into British model trains.

Model Rail magazine is available through most retail outlets, price £3.30 GBP.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Hobby Master has some fine new offerings for ready-built aircraft collectors. In 1:48 scale, they include a pair from the 1930s, the Boeing P26 and Grumman F3F. These are nicely detailed (the Boeing has machine guns accurately shown in the engine cowling) and beautifully rigged.

The 1:72 scale selection includes a Bristol Beaufighter. There's a neat radar thimble and well portrayed undercarriage. Among the jet-age ‘heavies’ is a Vietnam-era Republic F-105 Thunderchief, the biggest single-engine fighter-bomber flown by the US Air Force. Again, detail is good, this time extending to the engine nozzle area; well done Hobby Master.

And things get very interesting with the diorama sets. The one we show here (bottom) is for an A-4 Skyhawk (not supplied) and includes seated and standing pilot figures, generator, ladder, and wheel chocks.

These models are feeding into suppliers, and should be generally available shortly. You can see them all at the specialist Hobby Master Collector site, here.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Box art is a big sales feature for almost all kits, especially ones destined for a wider audience. For total enthusiasts you could probably put a kit in an unmarked brown box; for the rest of us, the art makes an attractive sales feature and, if it’s good, a factor that may help us to finish the kit accurately.

Back in the golden age of plastic kits (we reckon that means the 1950s and 1960s) there were dozens of beautifully painted box art renderings to entice interest. My own preferred choices were mostly those that involved an action scene of one sort of another. The Renwal Nike-Hercules featured a few posts ago is a case in point, as is the Airfix Roy Cross depiction of the attack on the Bismarck.

And here we have four takes on the same subject, by Aurora, Comet, Monogram and Revell. The Chance Vought Regulus II was a cruise missile, used by the US Navy in the late 1950s. A single turbojet gave the 11-ton machine a Mach 2 cruising speed, and 54 of them were built. Some Regulus II missiles were fitted with landing gear and were flown as reusable target drones (bottom picture).

Old kits like the ones here are enough to make a collector drool at the mouth. And one good source for such treasures is Rairplane kits, a site that’s packed with tasty treats, here.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I looked up from the screen the other day to see (and hear) a VERY LARGE delta wing shape flying majestically over SMN Towers.

WOW the Avro Vulcan (top picture) is one mighty flying machine, and congratulations to the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTTS), for making this single flying example, number XH588, of a British V-bomber possible.

One thing I immediately noted was how clean the exhausts were, with almost no visible fumes from those four powerful Bristol Olympus engines.

Corgi makes a tidy 1:144 scale diecast of XH558 (middle picture), which is available from most stockists. There's also a handmade Delta Bravo model, available directly from the VTTS website, available in wheels up or wheels down versions (bottom). You can visit the VTTS here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Model boating is a wide-ranging hobby, from sailing on a pond with a radio-controlled (RC) model yacht, to speeding across the water with a high-speed catamaran.

And recently the UK Gloucester and District Model Boat Club gave an impressive show as a part of the crowd-packed Tall Ships Festival in Gloucester’s docks, by the River Severn.

Making boats can be therapeutic stuff - my own fave watermobile used to be an RC submarine, which I submerged in a local lake, only to surprise visitors a while later when it surfaced in stealth mode, wearing camouflage to make it look like... a mini Loch Ness Monster!

Read about The REAL Loch Ness Monster here.

The Gloucester and District Model Boat Club has a website here, the Tall Ships Festival is here, and you can view some RC boats here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Always keep your eyes open for goodies - here’s a quickie trio of pictures, snapped in a tiny little corner store, whose main trade is in refurbing old ‘white goods’ - washing machines, fridges and the like.

The store owner turned out to be a keen collector, with a loft stuffed with desirable items. The ones in the shop were just a convenient overflow spot to thin out his collection.

You never know, there might just be that little item to make a collection sing - in my case, after some hard bargaining, I strolled out with the tinplate motorbike!


The excellent Ma. K (Maschinen Krieger) sci-fi universe was created in the 1980s by Japanese artist Kow Yokoyama. And now things are getting interesting, as Hasegawa is working hard on new Ma. K products, including this 1:35 military-scale Lunadiver Stingray. The future combat machine should join the recently-released Falke Armoured Raider after the summer.

Sci-fi combat enthusiasts can start saving now. Suppliers will likely include our friends at HobbyLink Japan. You can visit HLJ here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This week, it’s the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital. It is the biggest airshow in France and takes place every two years, alternating with Fanborough in the UK. Le Bourget is primarily a trade show, where plane-makers compete like polite pit-bulls, whether it’s airliners from Airbus and Sukhoi, or combat planes from Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin.

Le Bourget has seen headlines away from the flight-line too. On this day in 1961, famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev grabbed the opportunity to escape from the repressive Soviet Union, and defect successfully to the West.

For modellers, Le Bourget is a fantastic opportunity to photograph the aircraft and collect details. It doesn’t stop at ‘things with wings’ either, for the show is also strong on space achievement, with major displays from the US, Europe and Russia. And with other countries, such as China, India and Japan becoming spacefaring nations, they too put on a show.

Even so, aircraft are stars of the show, and the biggest of the lot is the Airbus A380 double-deck jetliner. For modellers, there is now a reasonable choice to be had, though the A380’s sheer size means that it's unlikely you’ll ever see a 1:72 scale kit in the stores - even at 1:144 scale, the wingspan works out to some 555 mm (nearly 22 in).

Of the A380 models available, probably the most interesting is the 174-part ‘visible interior’ version, by Revell Europe. Seeing inside (port side only) is particularly interesting because of the two-deck configuration. It’s a pity that there isn’t a below-decks cargo hold underneath though. Filled with pallets, it would set the whole thing off superbly - maybe that’s an idea for a kit-bashing project.

Visit the Paris Air Show here.

Buy the visible-interior A380 here.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The Airfix 1:32 scale Aston Martin DB5, as modified and issued by MPC for the American market, was one of my acquisitions during my last US trip in April, and especially to the Kane County Toy Fair. I didn’t have a chance to examine the the DB5 fully until my return, but it now deserves a bit more of an explanation.

During the 1960s Airfix and MPC had a tie-in that led to Airfix kits being issued in the US market by MPC, and vice-versa. MPC made mostly cars, so that is what Airfix released for British modellers, including such classic kits as the Mako Shark and Monkeemobile. But for the UK ‘all’ Airfix did was to re-do the box-art using its own logo, while crediting the originators by adding - and this was a rare event - “Created by MPC”.

However Airfix did make - and still does - a much wider range of subjects, and those deemed suitable for the US market were invariably not only re-boxed for the US market, but sometimes had the parts content altered as well. With aircraft, it led to adding figures from the separate Figure Sets. With tanks and military vehicles, some of the Trackside Accessories - which wouldn’t normally fit in with American railroad layouts - were used. For example, the Travelling Crane became a dockside fixture, maybe for lifting seaplanes out of the water.

However, one major problem Airfix had with all its 1:32 scale car kits was that famous subjects such as the DB5 - which was certainly known to a US audience - did not come with features associated with home-grown American car kits from AMT, Jo-Han, MPC, Revell or Monogram. In particular, items such as chrome-plated parts and ‘rubber’ (actually vinyl) tyres were lacking. This led to many modifications for the MPC edition (top picture). Adding vinyl tyres wasn’t straightforward, but what could be done relatively easily (middle picture) was to chrome-plate relevant parts, which is what occurred with this Aston. But that wasn’t all. Racing decals were added, and a scene was printed on the side of the box showing a suitable backdrop, maybe the Pacific Coast Highway. There were even newly-tooled parts to make a stand to hold said background!

Some kits went even further. Although this could be deemed sacrilege, many veteran cars had customised parts added as well. The 1907 Lanchester (bottom) had a blown Chevy V8 engine added, along with racing slicks!

Mat Irvine

Saturday, June 13, 2009


We couldn’t resist showing you this ultra-short movie - what a hoot!

It's nicely done too - note the subtle heat shimmer at ground level.

Friday, June 12, 2009


This 84-page magabook is a publication that really ought to be on every kit builder’s workbench. Nicely produced, and printed in colour throughout - though on rather thin paper - Essential Techniques (top picture) is loaded with useful information and attractive photos.

Subjects range across the model spectrum, from simple hints on opening stubborn paint pots to a multi-page feature on making a diorama (middle picture). The feature on masking (bottom) should be a real help for anyone who has wrecked a perfectly good model with wobbly frame lines. An interesting airbrush feature has tips from members of the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS).

FSM Essential Techniques is on sale now at retail stores and is an SMN recommended buy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


If you haven't seen it (and another chance to view if you have) here's THE chase. I've been up and down many of these steep streets, so believe me, the drivers earned their pay!

It's not perfect mind - some sequences are overcranked a little, to speed up the action, and there are continuity issues, but the overall effect is just great.

Also note the different 'voices' of the two cars - you can shut your eyes and know which one's onscreen at any time.


Thanks to FreakKeeper for the YouTube video.


Ask anyone to name a movie car chase sequence and (unless their tastes are very strange) the one that comes top is usually the duel between the 1968 Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt. Oddly though - especially considering the number of other ‘star cars’ available - neither car appeared as a kit for many years. In fact the closest you got was a set of the correct license plates, produced in etched brass from the UK company Miniature Autobits in 1987, but this left you to provide your own Mustang and Charger, probably from AMT and MPC kits.

Revell amended this situation slightly in 2000, when it issued multi-material versions of both Mustang and Charger. These were available as kits with mostly plastic parts and pre-painted metal bodies, or ready-built, with figures. But there has not been a conventional plastic kit until now, when Revell has gone half-way there with the Mustang, and has adapted the metal body tooling and produced it in conventional plastic.

The two new movie tie-ins (top picture) feature the original 1968 Ford Mustang, and the 2008 ‘new’ Mustang. The 1968 model is a re-tooling of the earlier metal-bodied kit, while the 2008 model is based on brand-new tooling.

There are plenty of differences if you compare the metal-bodied Bullitt Mustang (left in the lower picture) with the new all-plastic version. Besides the obvious changes to the body, other details are that the exhaust system is no longer painted, while the chrome runner for the new kit has modified wheels and the extra parts - lights etc - that were on the original completed body. The Frank Bullitt figure comes only with the metal ready-built, not the kit.

Now all we kit builders need is that Dodge Charger!

Visit Revell here.

Mat Irvine

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Reissuing kits isn’t new, but many collectors wanted not only the plastic but the whole paraphernalia that went with the original issue - plans, decals and especially, the box. To this end, Revell and Monogram started their Selected Subject Program (SSP) in the 1990s to recreate some classic kits in exactly this manner, and by 1998 had reissued over 300 kits in virtually original packaging. By then most that could be reissued had been, so the SSP idea ceased as a regular event, although recent years have seen a few reissues in the general catalogue.

The idea of SSPs was initially confined to the USA, but Revell GB (when there was a Revell GB - it ceased as a separate entity in 1997) issued its own range, and now Revell-Germany has taken a similar line with its current ‘Classic Kits’ range. These are not quite the same as the American SSPs, as the boxes are not absolutely identical, but they do use the original artwork. There were ten kits in 2008, and 2009 will see a further ten. To date, half of these have arrived (top picture). Four originate from Revell itself, while the 1:32 scale 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I is a Matchbox kit, Revell-Germany buying the Matchbox kit brand in 1991. Initially the Matchbox name was retained on the boxes, but gradually many kits were absorbed into the main Revell brand, which is what has happened with the Phantom.

Other Revell-original kits in this first batch are the USS Burton Island, one of the original Revell Inc kits from the 1950s, (it first appeared as the icebreaker Eastwind). The 1:32 Bf109F reappears, as does the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile. The latter uses box art from a sample I loaned from my collection to Revell-Germany (top box in the pair above). Unlike previous reissues - such as the SSPs - the new issue shows the whole image of a distant missile being launched on the far left. Previous issues had cut off the nose, under the Revell logo!

The final issue of this batch is the Fairey Rotodyne; it’s arguably the most interesting, as the kit hasn’t seen the light of day for many a year. Three similarly-scaled kits were available during the Rotodyne’s heyday - 1:72 scale ones from Airfix and Frog, and the slightly smaller 1:78 Revell, but the fully detailed interior gives it an advantage over the others.

You can visit Revell here.

Mat Irvine


Later today, Mat Irvine returns to look at a group of reissued 'Classic Kits' from Revell.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Norman Bel Geddes was a mega-designer of the 1930s, and brought a streamlined style to all manner of industrial objects. These ranged from radios and cars to houses and theatre sets. But SMN reckons his crowning glory was the ‘Airliner Number 4’, an outrageous piece of fantasy that had multi-decks, an on-board gym, hangars for smaller planes to take off and land - and Bel Geddes even included plans for a full in-flight orchestra!

The AN4 was never built, but thanks to the excellent Fantastic Plastic company, you can now bring a piece of ‘the way the future was’ onto the work bench.

The Bel Geddes Airliner is a big hunk of kit - even at the small scale of 1:288, the wings still span some 560 mm (22 in). It’s not cheap, but for any retro-lover AN4 will make a fine investment, and look great with other 1930s-era items.

Check out the Norman Bel Geddes Airliner Number 4 at Fantastic Plastic here.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Speech researcher Chris Riley declared the other day that his studies prove that Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong really did lose the ‘a’ in “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind”. This despite Armstrong’s insistence that he actually said it! Other research has come to a similar conclusion, but SMN doesn’t really care - Armstrong put the first bootprint on the Moon, and that’s what counts.

Of the two Apollo 11 Moonwalkers, Armstrong has always been the quiet one; the second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, has been a lot more communicative. And that shows up in the memorabilia available - so Dragon produced a Buzz Aldrin astronaut model, not one of Neil Armstrong. This 1:6 scale figure is something of a collector’s item these days, with eBay auctions asking $250 USD (£155 GBP) or more. SMN Towers has one in the vaults (see pictures above) and the package is very well done, with an open-out box, a fascimile signed letter from Aldrin, and some very nicely detailed equipment.

The Aldrin figure would look terrific in any Apollo model display, as would the Revell 1:48 Lunar Module kit (bottom picture). You might also enjoy the great-looking Buzz Aldrin site, which has a fascinating intro video.

Visit Revell here, and Buzz Aldrin here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


President Barack Obama led a tribute yesterday to the Allied soldiers who stormed the beaches 65 years ago, to start the invasion of Europe and the end of World War 2.

"Friends and veterans, what we cannot forget – what we must not forget – is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century," Obama said.

One of the machines that helped win the war was the humble Jeep - more than 600,000 of them were built during the war. And here's a nice YouTube video build of an Airfix Jeep, made to 1:72 scale, so suitable for display in a million-and-one aviation dioramas.

Video: Thanks to 'Basic Modelling'

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The Akagi was the Japanese Carrier Force flagship at Midway, where she was attached at 10:26 on June 4 by dive-bombers from the USS Enterprise. A single bomb set off fires and explosions among armed and fueled planes that were being readied for an air strike. Another bomb exploded next to the stern, making the Akagi’s rudder jam. The following morning the doomed hulk was scuttled.

Akagi is a long-time favourite with ship modellers, and by far the best kit today is the 745 mm (29.3 in) long Hasegawa model, to 1:350 scale. Also available from Hasegawa are ‘Detail-Up’ brass etches that can take the model to a whole new level - follow the link below to see what can be achieved.

You can view Hasegawa Akagi pictures here, and buy the kit here.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Corgi’s 1:72 scale Junkers Ju-52/3m is due shortly, in Deutsche Lufthansa markings. These show the aircraft which flies joy-rides around Europe. It seems that Corgi’s version has retractable wheels though... well not really, just a slip of the Corgi Photoshop eraser, we suspect.

The real thing has 16 window seats, one per passenger, so there’s no mid-air peering over someone’s shoulder. There is an excellent website, with a terrific video showing the engines cranking to life. If you want a trip, you can book directly.

Visit Corgi here, and Lufthansa’s historic aircraft fleet here.

Pictures courtesy Gero Brandenburg and Lufthansa