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Polar Lights 1/144 scale Forbidden Planet C-57D space cruiser

Kit:POL895 // Scale:1/144 // Price:$42
Polar Lights
Accurate shapes; easy construction; thoughtful options; operating ramps
I wish Polar Lights had provided two lower domes.
Injection molded, 39 parts

Science-fiction aficionados have long argued where 1956’s “Forbidden Planet” belongs in the pantheon of the genre. The film did introduce two future icons, Robby the Robot and the United Planets Cruiser C57-D.

Polar Lights has done a masterful job of creating a good-looking, easy-to-build, accurate replica of the C57-D. It includes the ship’s three working ramps as seen in the movie. Alternate parts allow you to build the model landed or flying.

The instructions comprise four exploded-view steps complemented by text, including color callouts. The latter point out that most of the ship is bright silver. Jack Hagerty and Jon Rogers call the body color “matte silver” in The Saucer Fleet (Apogee, ISBN 978-18-94959-70-4). This book is a terrific resource as well as a fun read.

The thick plastic parts show no warping, ejector-pin, or sink marks. In keeping with saucer designs of the 1950s, the ship doesn’t have a lot of surface detail. But the lines it does have are sharp. 

Construction starts with the three ramps and their hallways. I painted all of the components my chosen body color, Tamiya spray-can gloss aluminum. Paint the bulkhead at the top of stairways black to give the impression of depth.

I was dubious about the operational ramps, but they work beautifully. The plastic springs slotted into place easily, and although the ramps were a tight fit they went into place perfectly according to the instructions. The hallways glue into the bottom hull and lock the ramps in place. I left everything alone overnight, and when I tested the ramps they clicked neatly up and down and locked flush into the lower hull. The only downside is the large hinge pins that protrude into the hallways. To accurize the model, I would glue the ramps down and clean up the hinges.

The fit of the hull halves is good, but make sure you align them using the molded keys.

The upper dome slips into place easily. I built my C57-D landed, so I left the engine cage and its clear inserts out. A quick test-fit showed they fit well. The lower dome is molded clear to reveal the engine, and it fits into the lower recess well. I left the landing column off for painting.

After priming, I filled the seams around the periphery of the upper dome and between the hull halves. This was a choice of authenticity on my part.

It took several coats of gloss aluminum to paint the 12"-diameter saucer. I painted the outer edge Tamiya metallic gray and called the C57-D done.

It matches the movie miniature very well, and I really like the engineering of the kit. I’m not normally a fan of operating features, but the ramps work remarkably well. The landing column pushed into place without glue, so it would be easy to interchange it with the retracted version. If I could change one thing, it would be to include two lower domes. They fit so well that they could be left loose, making it easy to display the model either landed or flying.

In the movie, the engine rotates and emits red. The model could easily be lit with LEDs in the housing. Holes between the hull halves mean batteries could be placed inside the upper dome. It fits well enough to be left unglued for easy access.

I spent about two hours building the model and about an hour painting it. It was a lot of fun and should present few problems for beginners.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2013 FineScale Modeler.


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