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MPC Space: 1999 Eagle

Fans of Gerry Anderson’s only live-action TV series Space: 1999 have long desired a big-scale kit of the iconic Eagle transporter. The utilitarian craft, clearly inspired by the Apollo program, were arguably one of the short-lived sci-fi show’s highlights.

For many years, the only models were MPC’s 1/72 scale kit — re-issued several times by Airfix and AMT/Ertl — and an Imai offering in 1/110 scale. There has been at least one resin 1/48 scale Eagle.

The original miniatures were 1/24 scale, chosen for the availability of scale items such as ladders and because it worked well for filming. MPC’s model is half that size, so it scales to 1/48 and is about 22" long.

The major components are molded in white and the landing gear and engines' bells are gray. In theory, you could build it without painting. Detailed color and decal instructions are given on the sides of the box's lower tray.

The design of the engine bells impressed me. Instead of splitting them along the centerline, the components consist of two rings that stack along seams. This eliminates ugly seams.

If you prefer one-piece bells that don’t even need paint, MPC offers two metal detail sets. The Deluxe Accessory Pack (No. MKA014; $137.99) replaces the main engines, the VTOL engines, and the landing-gear oleo struts with terrific metal parts. The Small Metal Parts Pack (MKA016; $29.99) includes 16 turned-aluminum RCS thrusters. I used both sets on my build.

Unlike the smaller kits, this one features impressive detail not seen before in plastic Eagles. The frame around the connectors is open revealing the internal structure. The moldings are good and you can see the model parts used by the original prop builders, including German tank engine decks and lunar modules.

The surface detail is first-rate with sharp edges and clean lines, but the framing that links the major sections is marked by obvious mold seams. They aren’t difficult to remove — a few scrapes with a knife and sanding are all that's needed — but there are a lot of struts in the model. I filled ejector-pin marks on many of the struts, too, so initial construction is slow.

Fits are mostly good, but I used filler on the boxes, landing-gear pods, feet, and some strut junctions.

The cockpit includes a detailed back wall with a door and vents, and two pilots mounted on massive posts. No seats or instrument panel are provided, but the tiny windshields hide the omissions.

I clamped the side equipment packages (parts Q21 and Q22) to get a better fit, but they needed considerable cleanup, especially the flat shelves in the middle, to look OK. On the other hand, the tanks for the propulsion system join perfectly. The frame they fit into is fiddly to assemble, but sturdy once built. The passenger pod goes together quickly, but I used filler around the ends to refine the joints.

I sprayed light gray, then masked random panels and squares. Tamiya spray-can white primer finished the ship.

The decals provide a lot of panels and stencils and optional Moonbase Alpha insignia to match different filming miniatures as well as the black areas around the windows and engines. They performed well with help from Microscale solutions.

I added the engines and landing gear. The springs for the legs fit precisely and the working suspension performs well. But the fits are close so take care not to foul the mechanism with glue.
The Eagle is not a difficult build, but it can’t be rushed either because of the need to clean up most of the parts before assembly.
The finished model is big, sturdy, and impressive and certainly looks the part. Kudos to the researchers and designers for giving us an Eagle to be proud of.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2016 issue.

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