By Johnny E. Worthen - images & text © 2000
I've got to say that I've been waiting for this kit since I first saw Starship Troopers back in 1998. My wife agreed to see it with me as part of my birthday present.
Image: Some of the bits and pieces of the original shipment
Image: The sheet on the left is originally as shipped, the one on the right is the replacement.
Image: Bottom of front hull. Nice detail and one big hole.
She thought so much of it that I got a tie the next year. But despite the shortcomings of the film (I didn't mind the blood) I liked it. Naturally, I really liked the Roger Young capital ship. When I found myself "Compassionately Conserved" (i.e. unemployed) I thought I'd make a killer garage kit of the Roger Young, sell it for about $175 on the Internet and retire young. Unfortunately, someone beat me to it.
I watched with anticipation as month after month Monsters In Motion ran ads in many of my favorite modeling magazines featuring their exclusive retooled Roger Young, a.k.a "Starship Carrier." However, whenever I called to order, they told me it hadn't arrived yet; problems with retooling, supplier hadn't shipped them, there was uproar in East Timor, whatever - they never had the kit. Then, one Tuesday morning after breakfast (I'm unemployed remember) I found that they were taking pre-orders on their web site. I offered up the $175 thinking I'd be employed by the time it shipped. I wasn't - I got the kit the next week. This was a mixed blessing: on the one hand, I'd have time to build the model, on the other, I'd be eating Kibble and Bits while I did.
The model arrived in a sturdy cardboard box. The only labeling was the cover art, masterfully color copied and pasted on by professionals. It proclaimed a 1/700 scale, 19" long highly detailed resin kit of the famed "Starship Carrier" from "Hoto Models." I'm a bit perplexed why a Chinese garage kit manufacturer would be afraid to call it "Roger Young." The name isn't copyrighted.
The cover art shows a fleet of five Starship Carriers crossing space with a convenient contrasting nebula in the background. Upon closer examination (a second look) I saw that all the ships in the picture were the same ship, just a bit of Photoshop trickery (first our government, now garage kit manufacturers - when will the madness end?) Nevertheless, the picture was attractive and showed a good looking kit.
Excitedly I cracked open the box, fished through a sea of Asian peanuts and found 37 resin pieces: 2 really large hull pieces, 16 miscellaneous resin, a sheet of small detail pieces with 12 parts and a small separate box containing the gantry and a five resin sprues of guns, all cast in beige resin.
I guess Hoto Models was really proud of the cover art because that was the only indication offered for the construction of the kit. No instructions whatsoever. Not good. With 37 pieces and only a shadowy 3/4 view of the ship on the cover, me and the Tarot Cards board conferred on the best assembly plan.
I broke down and called Monsters In Motion and under the guise of being a respectable modeler trying to do a preview of their kit for a cool sci-fi modeling web site, I got to talk to an underling who said construction should be self explanatory. I said that although I considered myself a god among invertebrates, I really needed some help here. He passed me on to a manager named Julie, who told me that the kit did not come with instructions, but she realized that it needed some. She mentioned the gun emplacements confused her. I mentioned the resin pieces confused me. She told me that they were currently creating a sheet of instructions for the kit and they'd send me a copy as soon as it was done. She said it would take about a week.
Now I had time to find a job before working on the kit. No luck. Two and a half weeks later, I got a letter from Monsters In Motion with a single page diagram showing the general assembly of the kit. For the sake of future generations, I include it here.
Finally having a guide, I did a detailed parts check and found that 2 of my pieces were broken or missing and another two were so badly cast that something needed to be done. Since I already had photos of the kit, I emailed Monsters In Motion pictures of the troubled parts and waited. They didn't respond. A week later, I sent it again asking for some kind of response. Four days after that, I received a curt message saying that they were trying to get replacement parts for me.
More time to job hunt. Three weeks later, I received a box containing the replacement parts. So, although I got the original kit quickly, the whole kit took nearly two months to get on my workbench.
Okay, let's look in the box. The kit is nice. You get a couple of pounds of resin in uniquely shaped chunks. There's not a hollow piece to speak of, so if you're going to try to light this ship, I recommend a halogen spot from across the room.
I checked the model accuracy against a DVD copy of Starship Troopers (I was also looking for assembly tips) and found that the kit is very accurate. The guns are where they belong, the bridge is accurate, the exhausts meet muster - the overall shape is right on. I suspect the makers might have had access to the molds used for the film.
The detail, when not overpoured with resin is sharp and clear. However, whoever cast it or packed it was either lazy or malicious because as I mentioned before some parts were lost, broken or unusable Also, the ones I didn't have to replace called out for a lot of care. There's more than the normal amount of flash resin around the parts (Skyhook spoils me so). I'll be melting plastic with my Dremel tool for this one. Naturally this kit has it's share of pin holes and bubble craters. None are beyond repair, though some will be challenging.
The resin itself, I'm sorry to say, seems pretty brittle to me. If you read fear in these words, you're right. I'm going to have to clean up these messy pieces with a gentleness and kindness I've never known (alcoholic family.) The hull parts will need to be deeply drilled and pinned for support. I pray that I don't offend any of the smaller parts with my sanding lest they crumble like a potato chip. The availability of replacement parts is questionable.
The instructions I finally received from Monsters in Motion are barely adequate but will suffice. However, outside of the box art, there's no indication for painting or other color details. (Johnny, try looking at our Starship Troopers' Studio Model Page - right here. - Ed.)A decal sheet would have been so nice. There's not a lot of lettering on the ship, but there is some and for this kind of money...
There are a couple of pieces that just cry out to be metal or photeteched or steel or styrene or wood or something other than resin. There's the gantry which is cast well for resin with open lattice work (after you cut them out), but I know most everyone who gets this kit and keeps it will consider reworking this part with brass or something. There's also a little antenna array with very fine mesh work which is also done very well for resin, but it too screams for another medium. My piece has a corner nicked out of it. I'll live, but for how long? The guns which come on a little resin sprue should also be replaced with pins or wire. Not a hard conversion, but practically required.It came with no stand, so you can either hang it from you ceiling with 50 pound test or create a base - more conversion.
This kit is not for the novice, the faint of heart, aggressive, impatient, poor, unemployed or Nazi modeler (Nazi's just suck and shouldn't be allowed to model starships at all). When I ordered this kit, it was the only show in town.
I hate to say it, but I wish I'd waited for the reputable Erasmus model. The Hoto kit is highly detailed and when finished will be an awesome piece - probably win awards. I don't blame the over-worked people at Monsters in Motion for more than not responding faster to my emails. The problems were with quality control at the manufacturer. Even with the great detail and accuracy, I can't shake the feeling that I this is some kind of cheap but pricey Asian knock off. If this kit existed anywhere else, I'd swear the Hoto was a recast.
To their credit, Monsters In Motion did a good job at correcting the problems, but there were plenty of them. Considering how long it took Monsters In Motion to sell the kit after so much advertising and having to create their own instruction sheet, I'd say that they've had their share of problems with Hoto too. Hopefully Monsters In Motion has made changes, like supplying their instructions in the box and having someone look over the quality of the pieces before shipping them out. I hope so.
I expected more for $175 and I've considered sending this ship back to China, but I'll keep it, because I really like the subject, am very weak due to giving blood every Thursday, and ultimately, because I'm just stubborn. Besides, the accuracy and the detail really are very good. Not being a novice or a Nazi, I think I can make a respectable ship out of this. Even so, I'll probably buy the Erasmus kit too. If you're reading this Cliff, how 'bout sending me a pity prototype or maybe some canned food?
Thanks to Johnny's wallet and the food bank for making this review possible. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Save a modeler from having to eat dog food - Contact us!
This page copyright © 2001 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 17 December 2002.