By John Lester - images & text © 2002
It's been well over 30 years since Aurora released a kit of the Orion III Spaceplane from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of only 2 vehicles from the film ever to see mass production as a model kit.
Image: Front end, showing cockpit area
Sadly, it was only reissued once, in 1975, before Aurora folded. Even more sadly, the Aurora kit was genearlly considered the best of the two kits made when the movie was released (Airfix made another version, which has a slew of shape and accuracy problems). Part Time Models released several versions of accurized resin recasts of the Aurora kit, but those are also no longer available (to my knowledge).
Into this void steps Wilco! Models with their latest release, a resin recast of the original Aurora kit.
What You Get
Inside the box are four resin parts that make up the model, a resin base, a piece of wire and a small sheet of decals. Instruction sheets were not done when I received the review sample, but will be included with retail kits.
The resin parts are cast well enough, though there were some flash and bubbles on my kit. Detail is fair, and consists mainly of engraved lines. The engraving across the top of the fuselage is a bit crooked - I'm not sure if that is doe to being pulled to quick from the mold or if that's what the master looks like. It's also wider and less defined than the rest of the kit. Several small bubbles mar the raised ribs in front of the cockpit and the side window framing, but they should be easily fixed. Also apparent are a couple of sink marks (from the origianl kit used to master this one), and of course they're in the most difficult place to fix -- in the fine corrugations at the back of the main fuselage piece! The base is a simple resin slab with holes in which the wire "stand" will fit.
Decals are provided for the Pan Am markings that fit on the fuselage. Printed by ink jet on waterslide paper, they're reasonably sharp (though if you can find the old Tangents ALPS-printed sheet, that would be a better one to use).
As for accuracy - this being a recast, it has the same flaws as the original. It's far better a starting point than the Airfix kit - so take a look at Michael Dentzer's article on accurizing the Aurora kit elsewhere on this site for what you need to know.
Assembly should be straightforward - you only have four pieces after all, and it's obvious where they go! Clean up will be a bit tougher, but nothing any reasonably competant builder can't handle.
Unless/until the PTM Orion Version III becomes available again, this is your last, best hope for an accurate Space Clipper. Recommended.
Many thanks to Wilco! Models 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!
This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 19 April 2002.