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Paragrafix Moonbus Photo Etch Set

By Pat Amaral - images & text © 2010

Scale: 1/55 - fits the Aurora and Moebius Moon Bus kits
Parts: 116 parts in 0.010" photoetch brass.
Instructions: 8 (see below) - There are four pages of detailed text and drawings superimposed on photos of the kit parts
Decals: None (N/A)
Molding Quality: 10 - No defects
Detail: 10 - Very sharp
Accuracy: 10 Certain details are patterned straight from parts that were on the actual studio model.
MSRP: $32.95 USD (~$34.84 CAN/ 26.36 EUR) available from Starship Modeler
Overall Rating: 10 - You could certainly build the Moon Bus kit without these enhancements but why would you?

[Please click to enlarge]

I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was (understandably) clueless back then and the film's political, social and philosophical statements were totally lost on me.

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^ What you get

Image: Details

Image: More

Image: More

Image: Instructions

However, I do remember that I thoroughly loved watching all that cool space hardware! All those vehicles seemed to literally dance in time to the incredible soundtrack.

Now, many years later, having seen the movie several more times, I believe I understand it better. More importantly, I believe 2001 still stands up as great Sci-Fi. The groundbreaking special effects set standards in film making that few if any movies made since have surpassed.

As far as I know, there were only a couple mainstream styrene model kits from 2001. One of these was the Moon Bus. It was, until recently, only released once by Aurora. Moebius Models resurrected the Moon Bus kit in April of this year. The Moebius offering is a retooling of the original Aurora kit. While basically a good rendering of the vehicle that ferried Dr. Floyd and others from Clavius Base to the site where the alien monolith was discovered, it suffers from missing, soft and just inaccurate details, especially the interior (the topic of another, forthcoming article - stay tuned!).

ParaGrafix Modeling Systems (PGMS) has come to the rescue (at least in part) with a photoetch detail set that addresses many of the Moon Bus kit's shortcomings.

WHAT YOU GET

The Moon Bus Photoetch Set consists of 116 detail parts etched onto a 4 3/16" X 5 3/4" sheet of 0.010" bright brass. The sheet comes packed in a plastic re-sealable bag with the installation instructions and a sturdy slab of cardboard (used to mitigate bending of the brass during shipping).

The sheet is flawless. There are multiple levels of detail on several of the parts (there are even item numbers etched on the backs of some of the parts). I can't see any defects or etching artifacts on any of them.

Most of the parts are replacement/enhanced details meant for the exterior of the model. There are a few pieces that jazz up the overhead panels in the cockpit as well as new window frames for the passenger compartment. The set can be used in conjunction with a resin replacement interior from Stargazer Models that should be available in the Starship Modeler Store around the time you're reading this. Look for a review of the Stargazer Moon Bus Interior soon. If you plan to use Stargazer's Interior, you will not need to use the passenger compartment window frames from the photoetch set.

INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are beautifully laid out. The first section focuses mainly on tools needed and conventions used in the latter pages. One detail of the instructions that I found particularly cool was the inclusion of "ber-Detailing" tips throughout. These give advice on enhancing the details of the model to make it that much closer to the "real deal".

My copy of the instructions has a few discrepancies related to the numbering of parts. The sidewall details (part 16 on the fret) are referred to as part 15 in the instructions. The details that go on top of the RCS thruster "bays" (part 15 on the fret) are referred to as part 14 in the instructions. And the Rocket Nozzle Pipes (part 22 on the fret) are referred to as part 21 in the instructions. Lastly I found the section on applying the Rear Bulkhead Details pretty confusing. After some scrutiny, it appeared as if the instructions have parts 13 and 14 reversed. I spoke at length with Paul (Mr. Paragrafix himself) about this and he straightend me out. You have to flip these parts over in order for them to serve their purpose correctly. That little piece of information is missing from the instruction sheet.

Paul has made sure that the issues with the instructions have been rectified. Corrected instructions are available at the PGMS website if you need them however I think carefully studying the instructions prior to assembly should minimize any confusion. Also, for those modelers who are unsure about how to use photoetch in their projects, Paul is in the process of producing a series of "how-to" videos on the subject. The first one is posted at the top of the Paragrafix Modeling Systems home page. There is also a very handy primer here.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I'm pretty happy with The Moon Bus Photoetch Set. It will be an excellent enhancement to my Moebius Moon Bus. I've been quite satisfied with all of the PGMS products I've used. I highly recommend them to anyone.


Many thanks to Paragrafix Modeling Systems for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2010 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 30 June 2010.