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Revell Colonial Viper In-Box Preview


By John Lester - images & text © 2007

Scale: 1/32 (ish) - about 12"/ 30.5 cm long when built
Parts: 30 injection molded plastic, including 5 clear and 4-piece base.
Instructions: Multi-step exploded assembly diagarams plus paint/decal guide
Decals: Silkscreen waterslide; markings for one canon ship plus various additional
Molding Quality: 9 - no flash and almost no mold seams on my sample
Detail: 8 - new detail is well excuted; base kit is quite good for a late-70's product
Accuracy: 8 (ish) - outline and proportions generally accurate; some detail simplified and some a mix between sources
MSRP: $24.95 USD (~$25.12 CAN/ 16.97 EUR)
Overall Rating: An old stand-by made better with new tooling.

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The original Battlestar Galactica came out when I was in my early teens. My brother and I watched it religously (no pun intended!) every Saturday night, and were crushed when it was cancelled. Fortunately, there were models of the main ships from the series, and if we couldn't watch new episodes we could swoop our Vipers and Raiders around the living room and imagine them instead.

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^ What you get

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^ New back end

Image: New back end compared with original issue

Image: Clear parts include radar screen, canopy and engine inserts

Image: New cockpit

Image: Other side

Image: Pilot's body

Image: Head

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^ Pilot, together without glue.

Image: Stand, assembled

Image: Decals

Image: Look close and you see the dots

Image: Instructions

It was a pretty good kit for the day. Alas, it disappeared from shelves fairly quickly and it would be 20 years before it was reissued (in 1998).

And now, ten years later, it's back again. This time, however, Revell has made some changes that enhance the kit.

What You Get

Inside the box are three bags of parts (clear, stand, and Viper) plus a largish decal sheet and instruction booklet. The molds are in good shape; my kit doesn't have any flash and only minimal mold seams - it's actually better than the 1998 reissue I have been plugging away at on the workbench. Detail on the older parts is pretty standard for late-70's Monogram kits: finely raised panel lines, slightly soft detail. The new parts are more crisply rendered. The clear parts are quite clear and distortion-free.

The new parts and revisions to the old parts include a new stand, new "afterburners" with clear inserts, a cockpit and pilot. The four part stand fits into the kit in the same spot as the old "clawed" one we all hated; the old triangular divot there has been made into a hole instead. The stand has a pear-shaped top that tightly fits into the hole. It enables you to pose the completed model at a variety of angles.

The engine exhausts/afterburner piece has been completely redone. The ribbing around the outer edges is thinner and more closely spaced. Gone are the old "bowls"; now each exhaust is a cylinder open at each end, with a star-pattern of bracing towards the inner edge. Clear inserts fit on top of this. The whole thing is set up to facilitate lighting.

The original kit had a solid cockpit canopy and no cockpit. Now, the original canopy is moded in clear and a newly-tooled cockpit tub and pilot are provided. Detail here is crisply rendered. A clear panel is provided for the front computer screen, again as a lighting aid. The pilot comes in four pieces: helmeted head, arms (one gripping the stick) and body. The head fits on a pear-shaped bulb similar to the stands, which enables you to position it a bit more dynamically.

Otherwise, the kit is the same as the previous issues, right down to the hole in the nose cap for the rubberband-powered missiles that were included in the original kit (but in neither of the following reissues).

Decals are bright, glossy and perfectly registered. They include all the orange and grey striping, three different computer screens, markings for Pegasus' "Silver Spar" squadron, and a variety of non-canon Colonial badges (including pilot arm patches) and pilot names. These decals are better than in other recent Revell/Monogram sci-fi releases, but look closely and you'll still see the small circles/dots that mar all Revell/Monogram's non-aircraft kits.

Instructions are typical Monogram/Revell: clear, well-drawn and comprehensive. Paint guides are provided as necessary in each step; paints are given as generic colors ("semi-gloss black", "light grey", etc.) instead of FS numbers or particular manufacturers' brand names.

Accuracy

So ... is the new issue any more or less accurate than the old ones? Somewhat, is my qualified answer. It depends on what you look at: the hero filming miniature(s), the pyro models, or the 1:1 set piece.

The cockpit was patterened after photos of the 1:1 set piece. Some will say the instruments and sidewall consoles are fantasy, and others will say they're fairly accurate. It depends on which particular pictures you look at. The new engine exhausts/afterburners look closer to one of the hero filmining maquettes. The detailing on the back surface between the exhausts is much sharper than the original kit's, and it is quite a bit closer to the original filming model (but not the set piece). I've not seen any images of the original model's afterburners when they worn't all lit up, so I won't comment on the inserts' accuracy. The cockpit canopy is the same as the original kit's, except for being clear, and retains the slight shape and proportion errors of the original (too tall and too thin).

The pilot looks OK, but detail on his face and uniform is fairly soft. The helmet is fairly good, though, so you could certainly drill it out and insert a replacement resin or plastic one. His jacket is buttoned/buckled closed - I don't recall if that's the way they flew or if it was open, as it was when the Colonial Wariors were running around the ship.

Decals in general look good ... aside from the printing issue. Included is the weird silver/grey panels that go on the forward fuselage - these are visible on the 1:1 set, but not on any of the smaller models of which I've seen pictures. Badges for Silver Spar squadron and the original series' Colonial symbol are provided, along with the names of most of the pilot characters. These are not strictly canon, but nice if you want to dress the model up more in the syle of the new BSG.

Conclusions

The original kit builds up nicely - I've built several over the years and never really had any problems. It's a good base for superdetailing. The new parts look like great additions for this old warhorse. There are still aftermarket sets available from MMI (cockpit and pilots) and Moonbase Models (cockpit, engines, rear deck) if you would rather use them, and I understand MMI will also reissue their landing gear, Scarlet Viper and launch rail kits in the future, if those things appeal to you - or the kit's "inaccuracies" bug you enough.

If a fumble-fingered 12 year old could build it back in the day, any one who has ever snipped a part from a sprue tree should have no problems. Highly recommended for all skill levels.


Many thanks to Revell for providing the review sample. 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 © 2008 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 8 January 2008.