Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Mat Irvine reports
The Moonbus from 2001: A Space Odyssey was first issued as a kit by Aurora in 1968, along with Aurora’s take on the Orion spaceplane from the same movie. The Orion was reissued in 1975, but the Moonbus never reappeared and prices for the kit have tended to go through the roof on certain on-line auction sites.

Retro-engineered Moonbus
Moebius Models - one of those new model companies often dubbed the ‘New Aurora’ - has been contemplating the Moonbus for a couple of years, and now it is available online and in stores. The approximately 1:55 scale spacecraft is a retro-engineered kit - one that is copied from an existing original, with subtle changes made to improve assembly.

Useful improvements
Changes include the addition of locating pins and the like, which are hidden once assembled. But there have also been improvements to visible parts. The cockpit windows on the Aurora kit were single-layer transparencies, with an inner window canopy missing. Moebius have rectified this error. Also, the side passenger windows have been corrected and are now individual window panes, instead of one long strip on each side. The kit includes nine decently sculpted figures, so the craft can be fully occupied if you wish.

More 2001 spacecraft in the wings?
If the Moebius Moonbus is successful - and the way the kits are selling, it seems more than likely - there may be more spacecraft from this most famous science fiction movie coming soon. Apart from the Orion, none have been made in conventional injection-moulded kit form.

The pictures show, top to bottom:
1 The original Aurora box.
2 The Moebius Models reissue - the only real difference is that movie references are absent.
3 Aurora components (left) came in grey and light green, the new kit is in white.
4, 5 My Aurora kit-build shows the removeable roof and interior.
6, 7, 8 Views of the Moebius kit, which looks extremely convincing when completed.

Sample kit supplied by Moebius Models. You can visit the site here.

The Moonbus is also available here.

A recommended reference book to the movie is Piers Bizony’s Filming the Future published by Aurum Press. It is available here, though the last reprint was in 2000, and used copies are not cheap.