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Cutting Edge's 1/144 Vostok & R-7 Booster Preview


By John Lester - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1/144 - about 10½"/ 26.5 cm tall when built
Parts: 44 polyurethane resin
Instructions: 1 page, text & photos
Decals: N/A
Molding Quality: 9.5 - Cutting Edge is renowned for the quality of their casting
Detail: 9 - sharp and clean, including engraved panels
Accuracy: 10 - appears spot on from available references
MSRP: $49.99 USD (~$79.69 CAN/ 50.87 EUR) available from Meteor Productions
Overall Rating: 9.5 - a beautiful kit of an important subject

[Boxart]

On 12 April 1961, the Soviets continued their long string of space "firsts" by launching the first human into space. Senior Lieutenant Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin circled the globe aboard Vostok 1 in a 108 minute flight that ended with him jumping from the craft and parachuting to safety.

[Click to enlarge]

Main and strap-on boosters

[Click to enlarge]

^ Detail parts

[Blemishes are very few and very minor]

^ I had to look long and hard to find any blemishes on the kit or with the casting

Image: Instructions are concise and clear

What You Get

What you get inside Cutting Edge Modelwork's signiture robust black box is the first really accurate kit of the Soviet R-7 booster in the configuration used with Gagarin's Vostok spacecraft. Apex/AER and Airfix made plastic kits, which show their age (Airfix) or low-pressure injection, limited run production (Apex/AER). Both require significant work to accurately depict the Vostok 1 launch.

Forty-four or so grey polyurethane resin parts in two bags, plus instructions, make up the kit. Mastered by NASA patternmaker Ben Guenther, the parts are crisply detailed and almost perfectly cast. Cutting Edge are predominantly a manufacturer of aftermarket accessories for model aircraft, and have a well-deserved reputation for high quality products. That pedigree is evident in this kit; I had to look long and hard to find any flaws at all. There was one small gouge on one part; on that same part (the lower part of the second stage) several of the tiny raised panels ringing the bottom of the cylinder are slightly skewed. Unless you get really, really close up, you won't notice either. My review sample also had an odd grey pattern along one side of the central booster. The area has no different surface texture than the surrounding areas, nor is it sticky (as if uncured), or raised or lowered in relation to its surroundings. Prominent though it seems, it should disappear under a coat of primer.

Instructions are typical of Cutting Edge. Pictures and concise text walk the builder through assembly in a logical fashion. The only thing missing is a paint guide (which should be generally similar to the earlier Sputnik configuration).

Assembly and Finish

Assembly will require some care and patience. The lattice-like bracing that holds the strap-on boosters in place are provided as single lengths of very thin resin, which will be a challenge to cut from the casting blocks. Likewise, the triangular bracing that holds the second stage is very thin, and will require careful trimming of the flash between the struts. Otherwise, removing the casting/pour stubs from the parts should be a relatively simple matter with razor saw and sandpaper.

Conclusions

This a fine little kit that should appeal to fans of the early space programs. Due to the fineness of some of the parts, I'd recommend it to modelers with some experience working with small and fragile parts - and who have steady hands. If you've successfully used aftermarket detail sets for smaller (1/48 - 1/72 scale) aircraft, you should have no problems with this kit.


Many thanks to Meteor Productions for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 7 October 2002.