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Polar Lights Model Kits: A sneak peek at the new 1:144 scale C-57D

posted by JamieH 3:16 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We announced our plans last year at Wonderfest to do a 1:144 scale model of the C-57D flying saucer and the project is nearing completion. Here is a behind the scenes look at some of its development.

Everyone is aware of our larger 1:72 scale kit. It is legendary for its difficulty in finding a place to display it, measuring in at 28” in diameter. We knew that the smaller kit would be rather simple and that the interior detail that the larger model presented would not be featured in this one. We did want to maintain the opening landing ramps and offer both the central landing pillar was well as a lower dome cap to replace it to display in a flying position. Other than that, we put no faith in anything found in the large kit. We knew of the upper dome profile so we didn’t trust that and figured the rest of the kit’s proportions would be just as unreliable.

In the early stages, we strongly considered using a system of three pie wedges for each of the upper and lower saucers in order to keep tooling costs in check. We could then use three copies of each part drawn from a smaller tool. Every modeler we mentioned this to hated the idea and after taking another look at things, we determined to go the extra mile and do it right with solid upper and lower saucer parts.

As with most sci-fi subject matter, the first thing we needed to decide on what size would the “real” ship be and what size would we want to make our model kit? We had a ballpark size in mind based on the tooling budget we had allotted.  We just needed to figure out what logical scale might fall within our range. The first thought was to go to half of the scale of the larger kit and shoot for 1:144. With a 28” diameter being cut down to 14”, the kit was going to be too big. My second inclination was to use 1:200 scale based on the saucer diameter I had found in a set of plans that stated a 162’ 9” diameter. That would have provided us with an approximate diameter of around 10”. I also looked into 1:144 scale at that scale and found that to be over a foot in diameter. This was a bit bigger than we had planned, but we decided it would make the most sense, but further research would be needed to nail down that size.

We enlisted Jim Small to do the research and to draw up a set of plans for the kit. As we explored figuring out what size the kit would ultimately be, we found that the proportions of the measurements we had found did not match those of the filming miniature. We felt pretty beholden to the height measurement of 38’ 6” that was based on the movie set which had pictured real men standing under the ship. If anyone wanted to do a diorama using 1:144 scale figures, the height would need to work with that in mind. We then took that consideration and used photos of the large filming miniature to determine the diameter would end up around 144’ which presented a handy 1-foot diameter for our kit.

Jim used screen grabs and photos of the filming miniatures to draw up the plans based on our final measurements. As he worked through the kit, he engineered a simple spring mechanism that would hold the ramp doors open or closed without having to glue them in one position or the other. Besides the detail the ramps present, the other interior detail we added to the kit is the inner motor “cage” that we see rotating in the lower dome when the ship is in flight.

As usual, the factory created a digital version of the ship for us to critique. Thanks to the quality of Jim’s blueprints, we only found a few minor matters to correct. Eventually they supplied a physical mockup that, again, had few things to complain about. The tooling was cut and test shots were sent. We tidied up a few things here and there. Jim did the buildup for us and the product is on track to be released this Spring. Here are a few images from along the way.

23 Responses to “Polar Lights Model Kits: A sneak peek at the new 1:144 scale C-57D”

  1. ModelMan says:

    Boy does that look nice! Just chart a course far away from “The Planet of Giant Cats!” 😀

  2. Mach7 says:

    Looks really nice!

    Do you have a price for it yet?

  3. spock62 says:

    Looks like you guys nailed it…and it comes with a cat too! Glad you decided to go with solid upper/lower saucer parts, the pie wedges would have been a pain to get to look right. The operating ramps/motor cage are nice extras. Between this kit and others your putting out (just purchased the Cadet Movie set),I’ve had to create a “Round 2” budget for my finances! Thanks to everyone involved for putting out some great kits!

  4. Fraley1701 says:

    This is going to be awesome and in a size most of us can deal with! It looks like another great kit from Round 2!!!

  5. Opus_Penguin says:

    This looks great! Looks like another model I will be buying!

  6. spock62 says:

    Regarding the Cadet Series Motion Picture Era Set, I just received it and noticed a problem with the instructions. The decal placement/painting diagrams for the Reliant & K’tinga are incomplete. The call outs for the decals/paint are partially obscured or totally missing. Will you be releasing a corrected instruction sheet on the Round 2 web site?

  7. Ahh… Love the kitty! 🙂

  8. spock62 says:

    That was quick! Thanks Jamie for posting the corrected instruction sheet.

  9. BatToys says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I hope you all will still be making the 1/25 RTR 1966 Batmobile slot car. My suggestion use the prepainted body but make the stripes more red. Working light for siren. Box graphics 1960’s Batman orange/black style.

    Will you be at C2E2 again?


    • JamieH says:

      BatToys- I’ll likely be at C2E2 again, but our staffing plans aren’t final. If I don’t have to work the show, I’ll probably still go on my own time.

      I don’t work on the slot cars, so I’m not sure what that group has in the the works.

  10. Mach7 says:

    At least this got me to watch Forbidden Planet again!

    I think I’m going to have to get this.

    Any chance you’ll offer an accessory pack? The ID monster, tractor, Robbie with car? Maybe Anne Francis?

  11. spock62 says:

    Jamie, are there any plans to continue the Star Trek 1/1000 line?

  12. Mach7 says:

    I realized I hadn’t asked about the Star Trek Exploration set for awhile.

    Any news?

  13. haskell_alan says:

    So when can we expect to see the new C-57D in stores? I have two of these on pre-order through Cultman..


  14. BatToys says:

    I just read Round 2 is making model kits of the Adam West Batman. When can we see a picture? Updated Batmobile kit? Thanks.

    Fans of the Batman Classic TV Series will be doing the Batusi when WBCP and its licensing partners give them a first glimpse at the all-new licensing program for the fan-favorite live-action series. Sure to ensnare the eyes of collectors and ignite the nostalgia for the 60’s series is the Mattel vintage-styled Batman Ken® and Catwoman Barbie® collection, and a BATMAN™ Classic TV Series 6” Figure Assortment, BATMAN™ Classic TV Series TV Moments 2 Pack, as well as a BATMAN™ Classic TV Series Batmobile. Rubie’s will introduce a line of costumes based on series favorites including Batman, Robin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and The Joker. Additional licensees supporting the Batman Classic TV Series include Funko with stylized figures and plush; Mezco with colorfully detailed vinyl figures; NECA with an 18-inch action figure; Round 2 with model kits; Cryptozoic Entertainment with trading cards; and a variety of high-end collectibles from Noble Collection, Sideshow Collectibles, TriForce, Kotobukiya, Medicom and Hot Toys. The Mattel Hot Wheels® brand will rev-up with a high-end Elite Scale Batmobile inspired by the 1966 hot-rod in the series for the true collector; along with many other toy partners who will help bring to life this cultural phenomenon with a Zap! Bam! Pow!

    • JamieH says:

      Hi BatToys- Ummm… Please always credit your sources. (The paragraph above is a portion of a Warner Bros. Consumer Products press release) We haven’t announced anything. You all know that we make our own announcements and if we were doing an Adam West Batman you would have heard it from us first (and probably pretty loudly. that would be a big deal!). We are mentioned because that line is covered under our licensing agreement which has allowed us to do the TV show Batmobile kits.

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