Kit review of Comet Miniatures Moonbus: Part 1 (as delivered)

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Comet's Metal Mini Moonbus Preview

By Pat Sklenar © 1999

Overall Ratings | Getting Oriented | Opening the Box

Overall Rating        (1 Bad <<>> 10 Excellent)

Quality: 6 | Accuracy: 8 | Instructions: 5 | Decals: n/a

Verdict: Small. Not cheap, about $25 in the US with shipping. On the other hand, no other kits of this subject are currently being offered.

Getting Oriented

2001: A Space Odyssey - The Moonbus was used for point-to-point travel on the lunar Ssurface early in the movie. It didn't get a lot of screen time, but it's one of those designs that makes you wonder why NASA or the RSA hasn't already built something just like it. The only real flaw I've seen in the design is the lack of rocket exhausts aimed so as to provide forward thrust. A minor problem. :)

This 75mm (2.5 inch) white metal model of the Moonbus is still available from Comet Miniatures in the UK as kit number MM-14 for 6GBP (British Pounds). I found this kit on eBay and have seen it offered there several times since. I've also seen it in Comet Miniatures catalog as recently as their Fall/Winter 1998 issue. If you want to build a model of the Moonbus and don't want to spend over $250 (the price an unbuilt 25 year old Aurora version commanded recently), this is probably your best bet.

The model comes in a simple carboard & plastic bubble-pack. The package consists of : One main cabin, three sets of landing skids, six rocket exhausts and one antenna. The bottom image gives you a better idea of the size of the model ... that's a penny sitting amongst the parts.

Opening the Box

( Homemade shock absorber prototype next the kit provided landing gear. I'll need eight of these per gear. )

While the kit looks like it will build into a fairly accurate representation of the Moonbus shown on screen, it does have its problems. First and foremost, the main cabin piece has many pits and divots across its top surface. These will need to be filled and sanded and then the surface detailing (minor) will have to be re-engraved. The pitting is barely visible in the fourth picture (with the penny) towards the front left corner of the cabin - over where the pilot would sit if this were a modern aircraft. The detail on the landing gear is rather soft as well. But I'm not too worried about that, because ...

In terms of accuracy, the biggest problem I have with this model is the landing gear. As you can see in the upper scan the landing skids hang from a central "pillar" with three shock absorbers on either side (inboard and outboard) and a single longer shock angled down both the front and back for a total of 8 shocks at each gear. In the picture below it you can see my proposed solution. I hope to trip down the mounting "block" to much slimmer pillar and them mount eight home made shock tubes around it as shown in the source photo.

I also intend to drill out the openings at the bottom of the rocket exhausts.

Painting will be pretty simple. The "original" was a dirty, grayish white with fairly significant weathering - mostly blackening around various vents and streaking around the windows. I'll do the windows in gloss black and over-paint with clear green in the passenger cabin and clearr red in front of the cockpit. I'll due a flat black, or flat dark grey for the anti-glare panels. Black or burnt metal for the inside of the rocket exhausts. A moderate wash of dark gray will pretty much finish it up.

Finally, for display I plan to create a "lunar surface" on the top of a small wooden plaque and will mount the completed model above it with a small brass or acrylic rod.

[Box top]

[Paint Guide, such as it is]


[What the legs should look like]

What the legs should look like.

[What they do look like]

What they do look like.

[Bits Again]

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