Mike Mackowski has made something of a name for himself by his relentless pursuit of All Things Real Space in Miniature. This, his ninth publication along these lines, continues the saga as he delves into a number of models both real and speculative regarding the infamous Gemini space program from the 1960’s.
One of the lingering frustrations of those interested in this era of NASA is the issues surrounding the most (at the time) available copies of this iconic spacecraft. Revell released two version of this craft – one in 1/24th scale and an identical item in 1/48th as a companion piece to their Mercury capsule of the same scale. Both versions were released onto the market before the Gemini capsule had actually flown, so that both reflect the prototype version of this craft, which has some notable (and fairly hard to correct) differences from the actual operational version. At the time of this writing, there are still no other readily-available kits of this spacecraft in the larger scales, so if you can find them at all, you will still have to contend with these flaws. In addition, later versions of the smaller variant of this kit are definitely showing their age, with short-shots and other fit problems.
Mike does his best to help guide the modeler through these issues, mostly through aftermarket bits that go a long way to correcting the kits. Unfortunately, even with these items the fixes are not particularly easy, and Mike shows how these add-on items often need to be corrected themselves. Not a particularly happy modeling experience, unfortunately.
All in all, Mike walks us through nine different Gemini-related modeling topics, using both the 1/24th and 1/48th versions of this kit as well as some full aftermarket kits. There are suitable diagrams and pictures used throughout to get a feel for the conversions and how best to approach them. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the kits available (including the aftermarket items), compromises often have to be made, which may annoy some of the rivet counters among us. Personally, I consider this a fairly normal obstacle in any modeling, and applaud Mr. Mackowski for making noble attempts, often with truly outstanding results. But it still makes me hope that some manufacturer at some future date will release this craft in some of the larger scales, preferably with operationally-accurate details.
My beef with this publication, if there is one, is with the quality of the pictures themselves. The upload versions of these documents apparently contain full-color pictures, but the printed version is all in black and white, and the reproduction quality is a bit spotty. Many of the pictures are too dark to be as useful as they should be in picking out detail, and this left me with a feeling of frustration, as I would very much like to tackle some of these projects myself. As the print version is also the more expensive, I feel your best bet is to go with the downloadable version, save a couple of bucks and also get more clarity into the bargain.
This quibble notwithstanding, this seems to be an excellent series of resources for the real space modeler, and certainly provide a wide range of interesting projects to delve into or at least consider. As a person who has done some of these “fantasy” versions of the ubiquitous Gemini spacecraft in the past myself, Mike’s projects have whetted my appetite to take another shot at a few more. My thanks to Space in Miniature for producing this interesting book and to IPMS/USA for letting me peruse it. Fun!