Nostalgia – there's nothing that warms the heart more at times. Being the age I am, I remember Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, a marionette based Sci-Fi show which originally aired in 1965-66. The cool weapons and craft, the evil villains, the puppets – all very cool! Lately, Aoshima has been reissuing kits from the original series and this review will deal with my favorite, "The Mole."
For those not knowing , the Mole is a 30-ton drilling machine with thermal imaging in the nose, made to rescue people trapped underground. It appears in 4 or 5 episodes. What's in the box? Lots of things. First off, the kit represents the Mole itself and its tracked transporter. It is meant to be motorized, with the transporter tracks moving and the Mole’s drill bit spinning. This creates a lot more parts for wiring and lighting. There are 251 parts in all, and they are bagged superbly with each of the mechanical parts being in specific bags of not more than a few parts and the location being tagged in the instructions. There is also an excellent set of decals. The Mole parts are colored yellow (as is the Mole itself) and the transporter is molded in blue. The drill bit and nose are chromed. The two things that are not in the kit are the motors to make it move. A quick Google search and you can find them, but it would have been nice if they came with the kit.
Because the kit is motorized, that means two things. First, there are lots of parts used for motorizing, from electrical contacts to gears, etc. Second, it means that there are things such as switches and the like on the kit to allow things to be turned on/off and change batteries. In the end, for me, I wanted on of these on the shelf and didn't care about the motors, so I dove into the build.
The build goes in two distinct parts – the Mole and the Tractor. Let's look at the Tractor first. Construction of the rails that hold the Mole is straightforward. For the Transporter proper, you start with the rollers and add the drive track and gear. Even though I was not motorizing the kit, I add the gearing and switches. It gave a more solid feel to the kit. All the parts fit well and the directions are good. I kept the rails and tractor separate for painting. There is a rod and two pins that can be added later to hold them together. Last thing was the tracks. Because they are meant to move, the tracks are rubber and the cleats are added one at a time (44 total) with super glue. They work like a champ but I left them off for painting.
The Mole was next, and I did add the light that goes on top (a red LED), which is added first. The majority of the internal wiring was left off. You do need to add a lot of the gears, as the support for the drill must be added to hold it. There are also multiple clamps that need to be added to secure things. To be safe, stick to the plans and add all the parts. Once the interior parts are done, glue the halves together and add the detail parts. For the drill itself, I stripped the chrome off with bleach – there were large ejector pin marks and seams and I wanted a clean-looking drill. A little sanding and filling and I was ready to paint.
Painting is simple. The Mole is yellow and the tractor medium blue. There was a little sanding done first on the Mole's seams. There are some details which were painted by hand, and then everything was glossed for decals. The decals performed perfectly; no silvering or settling issues. I added some washes for depth and flat-coated both parts. I added the Mole to the tractor and we were ready for underground rescue!
I liked this kit. If you wanted a true contest winner, you would need to cover the motorizing parts and switches and do more detailing. If you want a great remembrance of marionettes saving the people of planet Earth from their base on Tracy Island, this kit is perfect. Recommended to all fans of the Thunderbirds!
My thanks to Aoshima and Dragon Models USA for the review kit and IPMS/USA for the chance to review it.