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Stargazer Models' Firefly-class Starship Kit Preview

By Allen B Ury - images & text © 2006

Scale: 1/288 - about 9"/ 229mm when built
Parts: 35 resin, plus wire and styrene.
Instructions: 3 pages assembly guide, plus 2 page exploded diagrams with decal placement
Decals: Inkjet-printed waterslide; markings for solar panels and ship name
Molding Quality: 8.5
Detail: 8.5
Accuracy: See review
MSRP: $99.95 USD (~$98.01 CAN/ € 69.00 EUR) available from Starship Modeler
Overall Rating: 8.5 - see review

[Please click to enlarge]

[Please click to enlarge]

^ What you get

Image: Main hull

Image: Beehive

Image: Decals for the ship's name and solar panels

[Please click to enlarge]

^ Cargo hold

The “Firefly”-class cargo ship featured in Joss Whedon's Firefly TV series and its feature film spin-off Serenity is perhaps one of the “fugliest” spacecraft ever to serve as a “hero” ship in movies or television. As the Firefly sieries was originally conceived as an “outer space western,” perhaps Whedon and his art directors figured that it was only fitting that his characters fly around in what can only be described as a “flying horse” - albeit one with a bulbous glowing firefly-like tail - but the ship's lack of aerodynamic lines, stubby “wings,” pot-belly midsection and swollen backend sorely tested the limits of one's aesthetic tolerance.

Still, like most Firefly fans, I couldn't wait 'til someone made a decent-sized model of this hideous beast.

Riding to our rescue was the U.K.'s Stargazer Models, which previously had kitted excellent models of the Orion III Space Clipper, its “fictional' Orion II precursor, and several other sci-fi classics. My model arrived immediately following the kit's release boxed in the usual thick white corrugated cardboard container. “Box Art” as it is consists of a photo of the assembled (but unpainted) model, another shot of its component pieces and a scan of the instruction sheet.

Almost made it unnecessary to open the box.

But I did.

And here's what I found.

What You Get

The kit consists of 35 pressure-cast resin pieces, the largest being the main “body,” the “firefly” tail, the cargo container and the rear “yoke.” The larger pieces are virtually flash-free, while the smaller pieces are enclosed in a very thin layer of flash that should take about 30 seconds to remove. I found no sign of voids or air bubbles. Some of the external detailing looks a little “soft,” but I've seen worse. A lot worse.

Instructions consist of an “exploded” view of the model, plus typewritten step-by-step assembly instructions.

There's what looks like a home-printed decal sheet with colored “panels” one adheres to thin styrene plastic, a sheet of which also comes with the kit.

Oh, there's also a length of wire one is expected to use to created “piping” detail on the ship's exterior. It will be interesting to see how THAT works out….

Is it Accurate?

Although I'm a fan of both Firefly and Serenity, I must confess I'm no expert on the minutia of this starship's design. From the pieces laid out before me, I can say that, to my uneducated eye, it looks like, when they all come together, I'm going to have a model of the “Serenity” - one that will be an absolute blast to paint and finish. (The grungier, the better!)

Editor's Note: According to Stargazer, the model is based on the CGI model from the TV series, and most closely resembles the version seen in 'Train Job'

Is it Worth it?

For the money, the “Firefly”-class Space Ship is a definite value. Even in 1:288 scale, the model is pretty big - the body alone is five inches long - there are lots of pieces and the casting rates an 8.5 out of 10. (I'm taking off points for the “softness” of the details and the flash.) On the downside, I'm not crazy about the wire-as-piping idea and am definitely not looking forward to see how many stubby fingers manage what looks like a painfully delicate operation.

Still, overall, it looks like this model is everything it should be: well-engineered, challenging, but not impossibly complex. In short, it looks like fun.

Thanks, Stargazer, for finally kitting this old space horse.

Many thanks to Allen's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ 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 © 2006 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 11 March 2006.