Starship Modeler - The complete information source for modelers who build sci-fi, fantasy and real space subjects

Sci-Fi and Other Robots and Vehicles

While starships are probably the most identifiable image associated with science fiction scale modeling, machines that prowl planetary surfaces are just as popular. That's why we created an area dedicated to the robots and other vehicles which are a critical staple of modern science fiction.

We'll cover any sci-fi vehicles- from the Aliens APC to SeaQuest's "Stinger" attack sub. It's an all-encompassing area for vehicles that don't fly through space. We welcome your contributions to this area. If you've got a kit you'd like to write up, check out our contributor guidelines, then drop us a line and let us know what you'd like to do.

For more images of mechs and vehicles, check out our Readers' Gallery.

Robots

Stop Looking At Me!!!!

Image: Rob Caswell's Fuchikoma.

Robots and mechanical men have been a staple of science fiction almost from the start. They have often been used as metaphors and for authors and artists to pose moral and ethical questions about our unbridled uses of technology.

Isaac Asimov foresaw the problem of mechanical "near beings" running amok in the early 1940s and in the course of writing robot stories for Astounding Science Fiction magazine, worked out the code of conduct he called the Three Laws of Robotics. The laws first appeared in book form in I, Robot, in 1950. But they haven't always been portaryed as dangerous or evil - witness "Robot" in Lost in Space or many Japanese anime with robot heroes.

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Vehicles

Flight Display Bike

Image: OneZero's Bike

Star Wars. The Star Wars movies are crowded with vehicles of all kinds, in addition to galaxies of starships. Several have been produced as kits - both injected plastic and resin. Many more are available as toys, which can be readily converted or used as blueprints for scratchbuilders.

References:
STAR WARS: The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, Smith, Chiang & Vigil, Del Rey Books, 1996
STAR WARS: Incredible Cross Sections, Reynolds, D-K Publishing, 1998, 1999 (2 books)

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Back view of The Beast

Image: Rob Caswell's Colonial
Marines' APC

Aliens. The 80s were a sort of Dark Ages for SF modeling. The major companies were putting out fewer and fewer kits, and the cottage industry had yet to blossom. With that, it was a complete surprise to see Halcyon Movie Classic models emerge (seemingly) out of nowhere to support one of that decade's best SF films, Aliens. While many loved the film, few expected to ever see kits released from the movie. Released in 1987, the Colonial Marine APC was the first offering served up by the fledgling company.

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Eaglesque Alpha Tank

Image: One of Moonbase Alpha's Defense Tanks

Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha had a number of vehicles, from the Moon Buggy utility vehicles to the Laser tanks. Laser Defense Tanks played a small roll in the scope of the Space: 1999 series, only really appearing in one episode. Still these vehicles were well remembered by fans during these military-sf-action-deprived years before Star Wars. The fan consensus is that these tanks (there were three different designs) were Moonbase Alpha ultility vehicles that were later converted to defensive roles when the Moon was thrust into the interstellar frontier. All three designs were built by the show's model maker, Martin Bower, and used the 1/25th Tamiya Chieftain tank chassis as a core to build on.

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Everything we have is out there lookin' for it...

Image: James Bryson's Sky One.

Other Gerry Anderson Gerry Anderson's first foray into live action television was 1969's UFO. While live actors was new to Anderson, the stars were still the great vehicles created by Derek Meddings. Set in the mod future of 1980, UFO followed the challenges of a secret international organization dedicated to fighting a covert battle against aliens with eyes on our organs (sometimes, though their ultimate goal was never made clear before the show's cancellation). Earth employed an army of submarines, mobiles, satellites, and Moon-based weapons to battle their humanoid foes. Unfortunately the mainstream models for this show were rooted in the worst of the Japanese '60's "models as toys" tradition. However some good kits have crept in through the cottage industry since the late eighties.

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Flying Derringer

Image: OneZero's Valley Gunship

Manga/Anime are a rich source of inspiration for scratchbuilders and kit manfacturers alike. No concept is too fantastical to make it on to the page or screen, from the organic shapes of Nausicaa's glider and the Valley of the Wind gunship to the brutally fast Cyberformula racers..

References:

  • Nausicaš manga (Perfect Collection 4 volumes)
  • Hayao Miyazaki Nausicaš watercolor collection
  • The Art of Nausicaš

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[Lil' Beauty]

Image: Jim James' Black Beauty.

Comic Book/ Action Heros - No matter who they are, or what their powers, most crime-fighting, world saving action heroes share one common trait: they have neat toys to play with. From the minimalist simplicity of Thor's Hammer or Captain America's amazing Shield, to the caverns full of gadgets owned by Batman, these "toys" often rely on fantastic technology - and if not, surely exhibit fantastic designs.

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[Off we go, into the wild blue under ...]

Image: Brian Byrne's Seaview.

Other Sci-Fi - As with spacecraft, there are far more vehicles featured in sci-fi literature, tv and movies than can be adequately categorized on just one page. And as with spacecraft, the designs vary from a gritty realism to flat out flights of fancy - but that's what make's them so much fun to build!

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Last updated on 27 May 2016.