Small Artworks' Eagle Lab Module Preview.

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Small Artworks'
Eagle Laboratory Module Kit Preview

By Rob Caswell - images & text © 2000

Scale: 1/100 - designed to fit the ERTL kit
Molding Quality: 7 - no significant air bubbles and only slight surface texturing
Instructions: 10 - complete and detailed
Decals: 5 - stickers with opaque backing
Detail: 9 - few areas could have used more/crisper detail
Accuracy: 10 - Jim Small is the Eagle Master!
Value: 9 - a little pricey for just a module, but there are a lot of parts
MSRP: $35.00 USD, available from Small Artworks

Parts Layout

You can never have enough Space:1999 modeling choices, I always say. Okay... maybe I haven't always said that, but I'm gonna start right now! Last year SMT finally gave Space:1999 fans what they've wanted for years: a Lab Pod (also sometime called a "Docking" or "Science" pod) to fit the MPC (now ERTL) Eagle. So, if someone already made a Lab Pod, why am I reviewing Jim Small's version? Well, the SMT kit was nice, but it could be improved - and Jim Small has done just that!

SMT vs. SAW?
So how is this kit improved? Simple: it's more accurate and detailed. What does this get right that SMT got wrong? Well, here's the list (and I may be leaving a few smaller details out):

  • All door are accurately shaped and detailed.
  • The sides of the pod contain the correct detail.
  • The pod ends feature the proper detail.

  • The pod RCS thruster housing is properly recessed.
  • The RCS thruster cluster is properly canted.
  • Accurate landing feet are supplied.
  • Pod fastens to Eagle similar to filming models.

That said, the SMT kit is not without its advantages over the Small Artwork's product. The SMT kit is:

  • Better cast, using a vacuum draw system.
  • Less complex to assemble.

Okay. Enough comparisons. Let's take a look at what Jim Small's kit provides. First off, it features his typically clean and convenient packaging. All parts come in a handy ziplock bag which is capped off by a color-printed header card. It's all attractive AND useful!

The kit consists of 29 resin parts, 3 pieces of styrene sheet, 2 wood blocks, 2 metal screws, and a sheet of sticker/decals. Overall I found the casting quality to be slightly better than that found on Small's Eagle Authentication Kit. That may be more a function of fresher molds being used. There were no significant airbubbles and only some slight texture on what should be smooth surfaces. Once primed, I suspect any of this texture will virtually disappear.

As with Jim's other complex kits, he provides a thorough instruction sheet with helpful tips and insights. Useful color pictures that illustrate construction are contained on the back of the header card.

If you're wondering about the sheet styrene, blocks of wood, and screws, let me fill you in. The large piece of sheet styrene is used for making a roof for the pod. Styrene's both cheaper and cleaner than going the resin route, so why not? The two smaller pieces of styrene sit in the spine and are used as one of the mounting surfaces for the pod. This brings us to the screws and wood blocks. The blocks are fitted inside the ends of the pod. The screws go through the "spinal styrene" sheets and into the wood blocks to hold the pod in place.

So that's pretty much the big picture. If you're a hardcore 1999er who demands accuracy, this is the pod you'll want. But it'll also demand more modeling skills than the alternative kit. Still, Small does a good job of walking you through it in the instructions. Personally I'm happy I bought this - no regrets. I'm eager to see this bloated lil' module in my accurized Eagle... but then that brings us to my backlog of projects, and I'll say no more lest John heckle me to death.

RCS housings

^ The housings for the RCS thrusters are properly recessed. The "docking" protrusions must be built up from five separate pieces (not including thrusters!).


^ All four pod doors are accurately modeled. With all this detail, the finished pod will look as good sitting disconnected as it does nested in an Eagle.


^ A plate is provided for the pod bottom. It appears to be a modified recast of the stock kit part.


^ The top surfaces of the "docking" protrusion are nicely detailed and match all the references I've seen.

If you'd like to see larger pictures of this set and other Small Artwork
products, please visit their web site.

Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized? Contact us!

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This page copyright © 2000 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 23 March 2000.