Space: 1999 Alpha Moonbase
British sci-fi has always intrigued me and in 1975 Gerry Anderson released a TV series which we youngsters just had to watch, Space: 1999. We didn’t care about the improbability that the Moon could be blown out of Earth’s orbit and hurtled across the Galaxy finding a new planet each week and somehow not collide with anything. All we cared about were the cools ships, neat, futuristic sets and the characters and if you were in your mid teens like I was, especially the female characters.
MPC acquired the rights to the show and released several kits including the Alpha Moonbase. This was really 2 kits in one. Mounted on a 12 x 18 inch vacuformed base you had a smaller version of the moonbase (missing 2 of the Eagle pads) with the travel tubes molded into the base itself. You also got the Mission Control which was molded in a larger scale and included several figures. This was mounted to the right of the base.
Now Round2 has re-released the kit with some changes, mainly to the moonbase. This now comes separately on 4 vacuformed pieces. The box says this is 17 x 17 inches but is actually 18 x 18 when completed. You get 5 new Eagle pads which are slightly smaller than the original pads and have more detail. You also get 6 new Eagles scaled to the base itself. The old Eagles were almost twice as large and while having more details, just looked out of place. The travel tubes are now included as separate bits and there is a cutting guide in the instructions to tell you how long to cut each piece. More about this in a little bit. Decals are provided for the landing pads and new ones for the computers in the Control Center.
The kit displays a lot of flash on the Mission Control parts and clean up was necessary. There are also a lot of injection marks on the wall pieces and figures that should be cleaned up. Because these are all in the building which has open roof parts to look in, they aren’t very noticeable and I didn’t bother with them. The new decals look great and worked well but I did have some crumbling on the two big display decals. Nothing to notice but something to watch out for.
I started the model with the moon base. Trimming the vacuformed parts was easy and the instructions including some info on how to put them together and how to hide the seams. I used baking soda and super glue. Laying out the buildings was easy though placement was a little sketchy for some of the parts and I believe I might not have them all exactly right. The fun part comes when you try to use the cutting chart for the travel tubes. I was a little hesitant after cutting a few of the part so got out the caliper and did some checking. Several of the tube measurements are way too short, some up to a quarter inch so I ended up using the caliper to measure bits and cut and then find if what I had left fit someplace else. By doing this I found out the included tubes were about 20mm too short. This was one tube area and it isn’t that noticeable but it would have been nice for them to include one or two extra bits in the kit. The other issue is the kit still has openings where the old molded tubes fit. These weren’t as accurate as what the new kit layout has. While I didn’t do it, you probably should fill this with some scrap plastic. I used flat white on the buildings and several shades of grey on the moon and did the edge trimming in flat black. I think I will get an 18 x 18 black frame for it as that would make it look a bit sharper and then I could hang it on the wall.
On to Mission Control. The parts are over simplified and really don’t match the original set that well. The two biggest areas are the Commander’s Office which should be about the same size as the Control Room with more details and furniture and the staircase down from the balcony. This is depicted as a spiral case that you build one step at a time. On the show it was a simple angled staircase. Other than that it builds up into a busy area and the new decals really set it off. There are 12 figures included, three each of four poses. More variety would have been nice but you get what you get. You could modify some heads and arms but they really aren’t posed to make that very simple.
It builds up pretty simply just watch out to square up the walls. I painted the walls with a cream color and white lighting panels. The floor is light grey and the chairs gloss white. The figures were fun with their different colored arms indicating which department they worked in. I managed to find an old square jar of Testor’s Purple for the Security guys. 19 cents on the bottle but mixed up it still worked great.
Let’s talk a little bit about scale. There is no scales listed on the box itself but the website gives 1/2000 for the base and 1/115 for Mission Control. I have also seen scales quoted at 1/3200 and 1/1800. Based on the size of the new Eagles I think the 1/2000 scale is probably pretty close but the figures measure about 3/4s of an inch for the Commander which would work out to about 1/96th. If that is true, finding additional figures to fill the room would be easier.
All in all I enjoyed the kit and since it is basically like getting two kits in one I feel it is a good value for the money. It was also nice to relive those days sitting in front of the TV wondering how they were going to get out of this one.
Thanks to Round2 and IPMS/USA for the review kit.