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Moebius Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/144 scale spacecraft kit
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science-fiction epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey has its share of fans and detractors. But whatever side of the fence they come down on, viewers come away from the film in awe of the special effects, especially the spacecraft, which have long been lauded for realism.

Fans who have waited 50 years for a plastic kit of Discovery — the ship that carried David Bowman and Frank Poole to Jupiter — can rejoice in Moebius’ kit. (Short-run resin kits have been offered by several manufacturers in the last 20 years.) Once you are done celebrating, clear room on your workbench — the finished model is more than 41 inches long and spindly as all get out. I worried about running my Discovery into walls, the edge of the spray booth, and even myself during final assembly.

The 60 modular cargo containers for the spine account for 270 parts — and about 2/3 of the build time! There are five different sizes and three end-cap styles. Fortunately, the parts are keyed so it’s hard to make a mistake (but not impossible). The sides and ends attach to the sprues along beveled joining edges and require careful trimming and sanding to avoid damaging the thin outer surfaces.

I assembled the containers with Testors Model Master liquid cement, the stuff that comes in a squeeze bottle with a needle applicator. This slightly thicker glue filled gaps at the edges, eliminating most cleanup. The same glue was used to assemble the propulsion module and its multiple interlocking plates.

The long thrusters built easily, though I had trouble eliminating gaps along the sides. But the biggest headache came when I assembled the 10 cargo-module supports. Despite several rounds of sanding and filling, the white finish always revealed more problems. I wish the supports looked smooth, but the modules cover many of the sins.

By comparison, building the spherical command module was a piece of cake. I painted the windshield with Tamiya clear yellow so it appeared lit from within.

I left the major subassemblies separate for painting, which entailed four spray cans of Tamiya white primer. The instructions suggest painting a few panels gray and applying a gray wash before misting on more white to blend it all together. It worked perfectly!

I epoxied the major components and support modules to the metal rods, then attached the cargo containers according to the instructions. The finished model feels fragile, but the metal spine keeps everything straight. The three stands fit the model perfectly; be careful, as it’s a tad top-heavy.

Moebius’ Discovery isn’t difficult, but you’ll need stamina for the repetitive steps.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2018 issue.
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