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Model kit review: Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Apollo 27

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Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Apollo 27
Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Apollo 27
Kit: No. 9101
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Pegasus Hobbies, 5515 Moreno St., Montclair, CA 91763, 909-982-6507,
Price: $17.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 23 parts (including two pilot figures), decals.
Pros: Easy for kids, inviting to more-advanced modelers
Cons: Sparse painting directions, no decals or guidance for roll patterns

Pegasus Hobbies' Apollo 27 rocket joins its growing line of such science-fiction subjects as "The War of the Worlds" Martian War Machine and Area 51 UFO. The imaginary, retro-looking rocket ship evokes the 1952 Collier's "Man Will Conquer Space Soon" series, with its Wernher von Braun-inspired illustrations of circular space stations, big-finned moon shuttles, and other futuristic visions.

This can be a young beginner's first model or a starting point for more-advanced modelers. In the first case, the model pieces fit tightly for a press-together assembly needing little or no glue and precious little paint. If, on the other hand, you want to fill and sand seams, detail the cockpit, and otherwise "pump up" this Apollo, all those compound curves, masking, and smooth, white surfaces will flex your modeling muscles.

The six-step assembly is clearly shown and so simple that, well, even a child can do it. Too bad there wasn't a child around to show me that the canopy and cockpit tub have notches to ensure correct orientation (er, it's right there in the instructions). Prying apart such tight-fitting pieces without breaking them was a nervous business. Enlarge locating holes for test-fitting if you plan to fill and smooth seams; some of the fits are tight enough to be a one-way trip.

There is no detail in the cockpit; I added some spare instrument-panel decals to the walls of the tub to give the crew something to do. The astronauts are indistinctly molded - license to sculpt, some might say - leaving the shape of their helmets to conjecture. At first glance, I thought of old-time football helmets (see Emlen Tunnell, Giants, 1951). There are no painting directions for the figures (or much else throughout the kit), so I went for a Michael Rennie/Mercury-program look with chrome silver suits, white helmets, and dark-blue-gloss visors. A thick dab of white gloss rounded the helmets and made the astronauts look less like Chicago Cardinals.

When you glue the pilots to their couches, sand off their backsides to ensure a good bond and prevent them from becoming rattles in a space-age maraca. Once the canopy attaches to the tub and is trapped inside the fuselage (Step 4), the cockpit is irretrievable. It's part of the press-together plan of the entire model, but I'd rather have had a canopy that glued to the top and stayed out of harm's way until then.

The "hyper-dynamo-tension" rocket engines are assembled in steps 2 and 3, but I left off the nozzles until later for easier painting. Toward the same end, I joined the fuselage in Step 4 but left off the outrigger engines. Slicing open the loops that anchor parts 3 and 4 on posts inside the fuselage allowed me to slip them through the sides and glue them later, making sanding and painting much easier. One more note about Step 4: Although it's not shown in the drawing, the cockpit tub should be attached to the canopy before both are installed.

Now, about that painting … I figured the plastic is white, people use Tamiya matt white for primer, so one spray can, one model - right? No. Although I washed and rinsed the pieces thoroughly, parts of this plastic seemed to repel paint. I backed up, used Tamiya white primer, followed again by Tamiya matt white, and everything was fine. No big deal - just be sure you prime it first.

The most complex part of the project was masking and painting the roll patterns (those black checkerboards) at the end of the rockets. I quickly abandoned calculations and eyeballed a shape to cut masks for painting the flat-black portions. If Junior (or Juniorette) wants to match the box art in this regard, you might help him or her out with some black decal sheet (or even stickers).

Although the instructions don't provide much painting guidance, decals are explained in five clear, well-written steps - great for kids.

After spraying the roll patterns and applying the decals (which went on fine), I attached the rockets with 5-minute epoxy. This ensured the ship would stand level, as it must rest on all four of the outrigger engines. One more way to jazz up this kit - and perhaps a thought to future boxings of it - would be a display stand to put Apollo 27 in a more-active attitude.

Still, what a gas! Boomers and their babies will get a bang out of this fun build. It all but snaps together, yet there's enough challenge here for old salts. It took me about 12 hours, but that's mostly because I filled seams, sanded, painted, sanded, painted again … Just prime it first.
- Mark Hembree

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