Friday, January 24, 2014

Space Shuttle "Generic" - Introducing Revell's 1/250 Scale Snap-Tite Orbiter

My friend Emily was gifted around the holidays with what I took to be yet another iteration of the classic Monogram 1/200 Snap-Tite Space Shuttle. When I saw the package that her model came in, I naturally assumed it was the same model in yet another version of the classic kit.
When I saw a picture of her holding it, though, something immediately struck me as odd. It looked smaller. I did a little investigating, and discovered that Revell, the current owner of the dies, had created a smaller version of the venerable model. They chose 1/250 for this new kit. There really aren't a lot of space models in this scale (unless you consider the Dr. Zooch flying "ant scale" Saturn V,  which is the same size as the old Estes' kit, around 1/242 scale). 
After giving it some consideration, I decided to do the only sensible thing. 
I bought one.

Right away, you notice the packaging. I never let this type of packaging dissuade me. Normally, it is associated with toys or overpriced electronics. Once upon a time, though, companies like Airfix and Frog sold many of their plastic kits in a similar manner. 
The nice thing about this packaging is that it allows you to see what you are getting into before committing. It also allows for comparison. Here it is with my original Monogram 1/200 shuttle Enterprise (still under construction).

Let's open it up.

All the parts in the tray...
...and out.
The paint job is good, but not great. There are a few things that need to be corrected from the accuracy standpoint. Most noticeable are the markings on the wings. The NASA "meatball" on the left wing is oversized, as is the American flag on the right. The NASA "worm" logo on the rear of the cargo bay doors is oversized as well. Amazingly, the markings on the fuselage are about the right size. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to fix those errors, as no one makes similar markings the right size or scale.
The marking for the cockpit windows is a little too squished. Not too much, but enough to be noticeable. The gray graphite on the leading edges of the wings is represented, but not the upper section, which are done in black.
This shuttle has no name as well. I refer to mine as Space Shuttle "Generic".
If only NASA had made that many.
When you compare this model to the current Revell version of the Monogram 1/200 shuttle, you can certainly see its heritage.

Most of its parts are just scaled down versions of the older kit.
Building it was a breeze. Assembly time - five minutes.
A few notes. First, when you attach the OMS pods (parts number 11 and 12, for those taking notes) should be attached at step 2. I recommend that from experience with the larger kit, as it will make it far easier to attach the rear of the orbiter (which actually serves as a lock to keep the model together). The landing gear (something lacking from the new 1/200 version, as well as the two little astronauts) are a bit tricky. You want plenty of light. Since these parts are molded in black, and are going into landing gear bays that are painted black and furthermore are molded into a black underside, it can be a little daunting. Also, be careful with the cargo bay doors, as this plastic feels a bit brittle, and those pins are small.
I was disappointed to see that they chose not to include the ESA SpaceLab as an optional payload, even if the one from the original 1/200 scale model is not accurate. They did include the other payload, which they now call a "data exchange system", with a "modulator satellite" on the Canadarm. I doubt that is what Monogram called them (I've checked the original instructions; nothing). 
The finished model looks cute.

Finished model

As a space educator, I see plenty of potential for "make and takes" here. Even science teachers might find this model useful. The serious model builder inside of me, however, is a little let down, but sees possibilities here. 
Still, I recommend this model. It makes a nice little introduction to space modeling, and even has educational potential. 
This first one of mine is going to remain untouched. The same cannot be said if there is a next one.

Shuttle mockup "Inspiration", the only Monogram/Revell 1/200
orbiter in my collection that is complete at this time, faces its
smaller scale descendant.  You can see the "Enterprise" and a TBD
orbiter in the background, both Monogram/Revell kits.

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