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Out of the Box: Real Space 1/48 Apollo CSM


By Garry Stahl - images & text © 2004

Scale: 1/48 - Approximately 8½" tall x 3¼"diameter (216mm x 83mm) when assembled
Parts: 70+ resin, 30 brass, 1 styrene
Instructions: Three sheets, double sided printing, B&W
Decals: Silk-screen waterslide, lots of really little ones
Molding Quality: 8
Detail: 7
Accuracy: 8
MSRP: $75.00 USD (~$91.73 CAN/ 58.89 EUR) available from RealSpace Models
Overall Rating: 7 - see review

[RealSpace's prototype]

[Click to enlarge]

^ Command module parts

Image: Cockpit parts

Image: RCS parts - note the heavy casting blocks

[Click to enlarge]

^ Service module parts

Image: Three astronaut figures are included

[Click to enlarge]

^ Photoetched brass sheets

As a kid I had, and played to death, a Revell 1/48 scale Mercury-Gemini kit set. I got my enjoyment out of them. Recently I replaced the long gone kits with a successful foray on Ebay. However, the prize acquired, a shortfall I noticed as a kid was brought home once again: There was no 1/48 scale Apollo kit available.

This year Real Space has endeavored to correct that fault.

First Impressions

Inside a tightly packed, sizable box are several large pieces of resin. There is a bubble baggy full of more resin. Also there are two sheets of photoetched brass, plus the instruction sheets and a sheet of decals. There is a LOT of kit present, with over 70 individual resin pieces, 30 brass pieces - both photoetch and stock - and one lone bit of styrene that looks a bit lost.

The resin is a beige colored, easy-to-machine (I carved a bit on a pour stub) smooth resin of hard consistency. Detail is sharp. It is relatively bubble free where it matters. I have found a few medium-sized bubbles, but they are either on the inside or on pour stubs. Most of the parts look to have been poured into open molds. My only real complaint here is that all of the very delicate parts, such as seats, are still attached to large pour stubs, pour stubs that out-mass the part itself. Removal is going of be a problem that requires a delicate touch.

The service module is cast primarily as a resin cylinder with end caps. The engine bell is likewise resin and beautifully made. Most of the photo etched parts go on the service module. These are the radiators that cover the outside, and the high gain antenna. The antenna looks to be a true challenge in the assembly department. It is brass and resin and has a good many tiny parts.

The command module exterior is two larger pieces and a number of small ones that make up the docking probe. The hatch can be either left in the closed position, or carved off and an open hatch glued in place. There is no transparent material for any of the windows. I don't consider this a bad thing as the windows are small, and if you intend that anyone see the interior all the light you can get in there will not be enough.

Instructions are sparse. You get three double-sided pages in back and white. Most of the instructions are on the assembly of the command module interior and the high gain antenna.

The general detail of the kit is beautiful. However, much of the beauty will be hidden once the kit has been assembled. The interior is visible only through the hatch, if you glue it in the open position. The service module has a beautiful bit of detail on the side that connects to the command module. That detail is permanently covered by the heat shield, unless you choose to display the module in an exploded position - an option I will be exploring.

Lacks

While I consider little to be lacking from this kit, it is missing a few things for the amount of detail it has:
  • No escape rocket assembly. The Revell Mercury kit has this detail. Real Space sells a more accurate replacement for this part as well as the entire shell of the Mercury kit. However, it was left off the Apollo kit. Hopefully they will develop and sell and additional kit to correct this.
  • No service module science bay. Later Apollo missions had one bay of the Service module that contained science experiments. Designers left a sixth of the space in the service module empty for exactly this reason. Showing this bay opened would mean major surgery on the model, but would have been a marvelous bit of visible detail.

Conclusions

In spite of the high price it is a large kit and well within the price range for low production resin kits. I would mark the value higher but for the fact or the extensive pour stubs. For $75.00 you are being asked to do a lot of fiddle work that will result in broken parts if you blunder. Likewise I would make the accuracy higher if you could see the detail. The cockpit will be rather like owning a Van Gogh and displaying it in a dark closet.

This is not a beginner's kit. The instructions are spare, the pour stubs a challenge and the sheer number of parts, and the multimedia nature of the kit are intimidating. Attempt this kit only if you have experience with resin and the patience of Job.


Many thanks to Garry'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 © 2004 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 28 October 2004.