Kit preview of Lindberg's Starprobe.

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Lindberg's Starprobe Preview

By Andrew Gorman - images & text © 2000

Scale: Box Scale, approximately 1/350
Parts: 69 styrene parts, 1 bit of aluminum wire
Instructions: 2 sides of one sheet of paper, with assembly instructions only. Paint is up to your own discretion and taste.
Decals: Low quality, aging waterslide decals. Raid your spares box!
Molding Quality: 5-8? Pretty darn good, considering. Some misalignment, some ejector pins, a couple of tiny sinkholes, but no criminal problems. Just keep in mind this is not a new Tamiya kit!
Detail: Lots of it!
Accuracy: 10 - There is no prototype. This is a spot-on replica of a Lindberg Star Probe Space Base.
Cost: Market Price, just like the lobster. The original issue was 98 cents.
Overall Rating: 10 - An excellent kit!

[Reissued box art]

There are not a lot of space station kits available. Model manufacturers have a definite preference for subjects you can whoosh across the room, but a Space Station silently spinning in the vastness of space, "all alone in the night" has always had an appeal for me. The Lindberg Space Station (or Space Base) has been around since the late 1950's and is currently out of production, but still shows up fairly regularly.

[Parts - click to enlarge]

^ What you get.

[Rivet detail - click to enlarge]

^ Surface detail consists of lotrs and lots of rivets. BIG rivets.

[Detail parts]

^ Parts are typical of the late fifties/early sixties - thick and blunt. Given their age, they're not that ugly ....

[Decals - old and new]

^ Original issue decals (top) and later versions (bottom) - whatever you get, you're better off using stuff from the spares box. You do have a spares box, don't you?
It is a well thought out little kit with a lot of period charm that bears its age with style and grace.

The design is loosely based on Werner Von Braun's design that appeared in the classic Collier's Magazine articles and Across the Space Frontier. The entire station rotates to provide a simulation of gravity (like a space station should), and power is provided by a pre-photo-voltaic steam turbine system. Trough-shaped mirrors on the top of the station would focus the suns on mercury-filled tubes, boiling the mercury to run turbine generators! Temperature / solar gain would be regulated by black and white shutter devices that are molded into the outer surface of the kit ring.

What You Get

The Lindberg kit comes in a sturdy box with dynamite artwork of the station under construction. Its 70 parts are molded in mainly white plastic, with lots of old fashioned rivet detail. The main ring, arms and hub are molded in a top and bottom half, 9 inches/23 cm in diameter. The ring itself is 1"/ 25mm thick. The solar collector trough comes in four separate pieces that are not designed to meet at the ends, probably to make alignment easier for sticky little fingers. The mercury tube is molded integral with the trough, and does not connect to the station's hull. There are two nicely detailed 1 1/2" long "Space Cars" (4 parts each) that press-fit into the station's landing platform, interesting looking heat exchangers, supports, communications antennae, storage tanks, and communications arrays. There are also two rivet-encrusted, teardrop-shaped spin motors. The overall effect is busy, but functional. A scan of the instruction sheet has been on the web for a while at: The site owner graciously gave permission for this link to be used. Be sure to check out the other old kits at the site while you are there.


This kit was first issued in the late 1950's, and it shows. Fit is really not bad at all, but you will need to do some filling and sanding. Lindberg included a lot of surface detail, which in the 50's meant RIVETS! Thousands of them, each one scaling out to the size of your head. Personally, I like them, but they can always be sanded off. The plating they are there to represent is the "meteor bumper", a second skin around the entire station to protect it from impacts. An attempt is made at moving parts, with each of the space cars a press fit into a whopping 3/16" / 5mm hole in the landing platform. I'll probably just pretend the mounting rod is an airlock and leave this be.
The portholes, space car canopies and minimal earth globe stand are molded in red! This is a peculiarity of all the old Lindberg space kits. It look does pretty good if you stick the model together without painting, but real sticklers might have to take a few extra steps and replace these. The windows could be drilled out and filled with white glue, and the tiny space car canopies molded or carved out of clear stock. The detail on the globe stand is pretty lame, just a stippled North and South America and some longitude and latitude lines. The station mounts to the stand on a short length of aluminum wire, which gives a degree of poseability.

Fit and Finish

This kit will need some work. All of the pipes and tubes in my kit are molded slightly off-register with a whopping ridge, but are stout enough to scrape or sand back into shape. Everything else is relatively flash free and dry-fits pretty well, but remember this kit is more than 40 years old! The locator pins are not a help, forcing the small assemblies OUT of proper alignment. Just slice them off and most of the problem is solved. The rivet detail on the main ring does not extend all the way down to the seam, leaving an easier to deal with smooth surface at this very visible joint. You will have to do some filling and sanding here, which can be done without worrying about obliterating surface detail. I don't think that this will be detracting on the finished model. Decals and the rest of the rivets will provide enough visual noise to cover up the bald spot.


Decals are typical of 1970's Lindberg decals, which are not very nice at all. They are just some geometric shapes, a few letters and numbers and 5 blobby US flags. Any well-stocked spares box will have nicer ones. The original issue used very early WWII style roundels as national insignia. Strange, but it looked sharp.

Overall Impressions

This kit is totally cool! Lots of parts, an interesting variation on a classic design, an unusual (for these times) subject nicely molded, big enough to have fun with, small enough to display, and easy to assemble. What more could you ask for? Maybe that it was back in production. Keep in mind that it is an old kit, and either revel in or deal with its age.

Where to Get One

Lindberg first came out with this kit in the late fifties- I have not been able to track down and exact date- when it was marketed as the U.S Space Station (for 98 cents). It was re-released in the late 60's as the "Mars Probe Space Base", and in 1976 as the "Star Probe Space Base". The original issue had the red parts (windows, canopies and stand) molded in transparent, rather than opaque red and had different decals and box art. Otherwise they are the same. The various issues regularly show up on eBay, selling for a low of $30.00 US to $125.00. A quick web search found two Star Probe Space Bases for sale from old kit dealers- one in an open box at $65.00, and a sealed one for $100.00. I found mine (a Star Probe) in an antique shop in Vancouver BC for $29.95 Canadian, which I thought was an excellent deal. The molds for the kit are in good shape and still owned by Lindberg. Glencoe has been rumbling about re-releasing it as the "Solar Powered Space Station", but apparently negotiations with Lindberg broke down. Lindberg could always reissue it on their own.


An out of production kit is a lot like a resin model, an expensive option to build an unusual subject. If the kit were currently in production and available at a styrene price this would be one of the best deals on a science fiction kit ever! If you are looking for a kit of a "Space Wheel" there are just not that many other options, and only one in styrene, the Glencoe Nuclear Powered Space Station. The proportions are completely different, and that kit has a lot of peculiarities of its own. The Deep Space 9 kit is a different kind of beast. I don't know of any resin space stations that are currently available, although the "2001" and "Conquest of Space" versions are rumored to be in the works. Even scratch building a wheel is a challenge due to the lack of good ring-shaped ANYTHINGS to start from. There is also the possible collector value to consider-I'd feel a little bit like a barbarian if I built an original issue model, but the Star Probe version is still common; undoubtedly more common than the full production run of a garage kit, and if you shop around, much cheaper. It could be reissued sometime, but how long are you willing to wait?

Many thanks to Andrew's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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