Archive for November, 2015
UPDATE: Kits are due to ship from China by the end of November. No promises that they will land in modelers’ hands by Christmas, but may still reach many of you by the end of the year.
Nearly everyday I get an email or note requesting more info on our exciting new MPC Space:1999 Eagle kit. Quite a bit has happened since my last post and I’m overdue on an update. So here you go. Let’s see… where to start…
The parts- We’ve received two rounds of test shots. You may have seen comments from Jim Small or Jay Chladek online about the first set of those. I’ll admit I’m holding back a little bit on this one in order to save something for Sci-Fi Fantasy Modeler’s Eagle special where I’ll be contributing an article. Btw, to pre-order your copy click right here! I’m doing my best to balance the distribution of info between here and there.
I guess I’ll start by saying that beyond flaws in the surfaces of parts caused by the tooling process that there was not a whole lot to be addressed. There were minor fit issues here and there with pins missing, sink marks etc. All were to be expected in a preliminary test shot. Other than that, the kit really assembled nicely once I wrapped my head around a few of the sub assemblies. It is one thing to see all of the parts and understand how the end product is supposed to look and see what assembly “theories” worked out and which didn’t. Even not noticing very slight differences between some of the frame tube parts caused problems in my first attempt. Keep in mind none of the parts get numbered until the next step. A few lessons were learned, but all for the better and the initial build went together satisfactorily.
I always ask for 10-12 initial test shots for plenty of testing and distribution to consultants and select media outlets. Most might think “ooh, 12 sets!” Well, they go pretty fast once you start handing them out. I kept three. One got assembled, one was used to retrace steps in the build to document trouble areas in the parts and one was kept intact for our archive. Three got sent to Jim Small to use for our buildup. That allowed extra parts for immediate replacement for the build and the ability to build a rescue pod in addition to the standard passenger pod. He was also due a copy as a consultant on the project. Our other consultants Daniel Prud’homme and Chris Trice were also sent one copy each. A set was sent to Sci-Fi Fantasy Modeller for upcoming issues. Two sets were sent to Mat Irvine to take along for his SFFM interview with Brian Johnson. One set was awarded to Jay Chladek for winning in the JerseyFest model competition. Let’s see… ten fingers and couple toes… Yep, that was all of them.
Back to the parts themselves, I mentioned we received a second round (only two sets this time) and most of the problems were resolved, but they never all get taken care of even at this stage. There were still about ten points to correct. The biggest problem to overcome was sink marks in the tops of the landing footpads. The parts were originally solid, but had to be broken into two parts each. This required a bit of rearranging other parts on that particular sprue to make room for the second sizable piece. The change resulted in more problems. In some cases, the factory’s work takes us a step backwards and this case was no different.
One of the features of the kit is that we are injecting it in two colors, “eagle” white and gray with windows supplied in clear plastic. This means that if one wants to, he can build the ship without having to paint it. I’m of the mind that is looks a little toy-like in this state, but adding the metal engine bell accessories helps, and just a little chalk dust added to the corners and crevasses would supply a superb look without painting in full. Here is a pic of Jim’s “naked” build with the larger metal bells installed.
Packaging- By the time test shots arrived, we were racing the clock to get everything finished. The instruction sheet needed to be revised to take practical assembly into account, decals had to be test fitted and refined, the test shot needed to be built into a respectable model for the packaging and publicity and I had the extra task of finishing the box lid illustrations. In most of the designs I was considering, I had a second Eagle in the background. I decided to paint that one separately and would later drop it in as needed in photoshop. This served two purposes. The angle I used for it lent itself better on the box ends. So I would need it larger than it appeared on the box face. Secondly, it allowed me a practice painting to exercise my languishing skills and to check my planned technique. If I couldn’t manage this “baby Eagle” as I like to call it, I was sure to fail at the much larger painting. I’ll post more on the illustrations and process on those another day, but I have to say I felt a bit wounded by some of the comments I saw out there when one of our distributors released a sales image of the box face. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and let’s face it you guys love this ship more than I do even in the very intimate role I’m playing in this. I know very few people could have known the hundreds of hours spent on the design, art and package. In the final push, I spent every waking hour for three straight days working on the larger painting. Time heals all wounds though and I feel much better now. Btw, usually when working on freelance gigs and even when I’m doing semi-mindless photoshop here at Round 2 I listen to podcasts more than music. One thing I used to pass and measure the time on this project was finding “books on tape” for free on youtube. My “reading list” was… 2001: A Space Odyssey (I get it now), Starship Troopers (I was struck by how closely the movie stayed to the book while still failing in its portrayal of the material), the first 1/3 to ½ of Stranger In A Strange Land unabridged edition (I didn’t really grok it so I moved on), 1984, A Brave New World and Treasure Island. I feel very well read now…
Other stuff- I was very hesitant to reveal all of the news I made in my last Eagle post because it all felt too good to be true and that any of the deals I mentioned could fall apart at any moment. And I’m sorry that I have to report that one of them did… for the moment. It seems the ability to move decals from Italy into China for pack-in is disastrously problematic without the proper red tape taken care of. This is something that is being worked through presently and we full expect to be able to use Cartograf decals in upcoming Polar Lights, MPC and AMT kits by mid 2016, but unfortunately it just can’t happen in time to include them in this release of the Eagle. We currently and will continue to include them in our Hawk and Lindberg branded kits. The move to change to Cartograf has sent a clear message to our current Chinese decal suppliers and stepped up attention to quality has been ensured. I have tested proofs of the Eagle decals and they performed admirably and responded to the use of setting solution. More updates on the inclusion of Cartograf decals will come when definitive info becomes available.
On the plus side, Mat Irvine’s interview with Brian Johnson seems to have gone off without a hitch. Since the interview Brian has delivered a special behind the scenes treat for Eagle connoisseurs, a rare photo of the Eagle model crew along with a full listing of everyone that worked on them!
Pictured from left to right: Alan Barnard, Sallie Beechinor, Terry Reid, Guy Hudson, Brian Eke, Cyril Forster, Brian Johnson, Andrew Kelly, Terry Pearce, David Watkins, David Lichfield, Terry Schubert
Not pictured: Harry Oakes- DoP, Frank Drake- Cam Op, Les Bowie- Pinewood FX, Alan Bryce- Pinewood FX, Fiona Latto- Sec, Martin Bower- models
AGM Aeronautical General Models- Larry Barr & Wag Evans- 2nd 44” filming Eagle
Mary Robbins (Anderson), Nee Curtis- Sec 2nd Series 1999
Wrapping up- Okay, that’s about all comes to mind at the moment. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
Oh… you ask when will the kit come out? It is November and that was the release date we’ve published, isn’t it? Yes, well, despite our best intentions November is not to be. Currently, it looks like kits should arrive in the nick of time before Christmas. No promises as always, but the honest truth is that is how it looks at the moment. I’ll post an update when I hear they are being loaded onto a boat. Until then… build a deluxe 12” Eagle Deluxe Edition or Moonbase Alpha. As always, Happy modeling!
At long last, here is the promised sneak peek at the new parts that have been brewing to create our upcoming release of the U.S.S. Excelsior from Star Trek. The short history on the old AMT tooling is that the inserts that are needed to transform the U.S.S. Enterprise-B kit into the Excelsior have been lost. So we have had to recreate the missing parts. Like most of our work on new Star trek kits, the CAD work was done by Angelo Bastianelli. If you never picked up our reissue of the Enterprise-B a few years back, we made a few corrections on that one. Most significantly, we completely redid the lower saucer and curved the back wall of the neck. Some might ask if we are just recreating the parts from the old Excelsior kit. You know us by now. We approach these kits like the Six Million Dollar Man. We make them better than they were before, better stronger, faster… Okay, maybe just better, but you get the point.
With this edition, we examined the shape of the lower hull carefully, but found that the shape of the old part was proportionally accurate. Without necessarily meaning to, the new one is relatively close to the shape of the old one. We’ve decided to implement a slide mold this time though so the deflector trench will no longer be a separate part. That also allows us to get the weapon details a little better on the sides of the hull. We are completely redoing the inner “gut” detail of the hull based on Gary Kerr’s research into the model kit parts used when the filming miniature was built. A few compromises were made to allow us to inject the part with minimal fuss, but few will pick up on the differences. The look of the “whalebone” is more accurate now with that detail being split between the inner bay part and the outer hull part.
We had to recreate the top of the saucer as well and this was probably the most significant undertaking. The old part was kind of soft on details, so we made sure this one is up to snuff and a substantial upgrade will be the ability to use parts to build the ship as either the NX-2000 as shown in STAR TREK III: The Search For Spock or as the NCC-2000 as commanded by Sulu in STAR TREK VI: The Undiscovered Country. That means the bridge dome, impulse crystals and hangar bay will all come with swap-able parts. Speaking of impulse crystals, they will come as clear parts regardless of which version you choose.
Here are a whack of photos to take a gander at. I’m sure you’ll pick up on some of the other fun details and features I haven’t mentioned. Right now, it looks like the kit will be out in May.
For those hungry for more Eagle updates. I hope to have another post about that out next week.