Friday, December 2, 2011

Kit Review: Revell 1:96 Apollo-Saturn V Part 2--build diary, First Stage

A little more than a year ago, I published a review of this kit based on initial impressions. I didn't do much more than some minor pre-assembly--the first- and second-stage engines, LES tower, and other small stuff.

Tonight, in a fit of boredom, I finally opened the dusty box and pulled out the pieces of the rocket's first stage (the S-IC).

The S-IC consists of three solid "rings" (the structural skirts that formed the two ends and the middle of the stage) and two styrene sheets for the main assembly, a flat plate for the bottom, the four conical engine fairings and their fins, and four half-round pieces that hold the rolled-up styrene sheets.

Given the color mismatch between the sheets and the ring sections they join, I decided to roll them inside-out, shoot a thin coat of primer on the outside, and paint the entire rocket a single shade of white.

I am not impressed with the fit of the sheets, though. I made the mistake of rolling and gluing up the lower piece without test-fitting; the holes punched into both sheets made the rolled pieces too small to fit properly. I opened up the holes on the second sheet just enough to get it to fit.

Both sheets are rolled into cylinders and "pinned" together by half-round "pipes" that run nearly the full length of the stage. When I got the upper half of the stage rolled and tried a test-fit (learned my lesson!), I found that neither of the pipes' upper ends join the lower ends properly (a gap of about 19" across on this scale!). There are also sizable gaps along the length of both rolled-up sheets where the "pipes" hold them in place and around the edges where they're cemented to the "ring" sections. Even with careful assembly, it looks horrible.

The engine fairings are just glued on across the corrugations (stringers) of the bottom ring (the rear skirt) with no effort at molding them to the structure. The real fairings were notched over the stringers where they mounted to the skirt's skin. Time to break out the gap-filling Super Glue.

The fairings and the baseplate have molded-in blocky details that aren't seen on the real ship. I'm just going to leave them alone, since there's enough other work to be done just spackling over the gaps around those rolled sheets.

On its display stand, it stands slightly more than 18" tall. It took about 4 hours to get the first stage assembled to this point--no engines or other small details--and now there's the promise of several hours' worth of filling, sanding and prep before shooting paint.

For the $115 cost of this thing, it would have been nice if Revell had made an effort at producing a better kit.

Given the looks of this first major section of the kit, I might have saved myself a lot of effort by buying the detailing kits I mentioned in Part 1 and scratchbuilding the rest of the thing, buying Apogee's 1:70 scale flying monster for about $300, or even going for the Estes 1:100 flying model for $60.

Revell's offering isn't completely hopeless, though. Author 4D posted details of his own build-up in the Airfix Tribute Forum. The level of detail on his Lunar Module alone makes it worth clicking the link.

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