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Moebius 1/24 scale "Lost in Space" Chariot

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RELATED TOPICS: SCI-FI / FANTASY
Kit: No. 82430
Scale: 1/24
Manufacturer: Moebius Models, www.moebiusmodels.com
Price: $49.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 175 parts; vinyl road wheels and tracks; steel axles
Pros: Working running gear; faithful replica; campy fun - and where else would you find a Chariot?
Cons: Difficult, brittle plastic; adverse vinyl/plastic reaction; chunky molding; poor fits
Issue Published: February 2009
From the 1960s TV series "Lost in Space," the Chariot was a bubble-topped, tracked vehicle used by the show's "Space Family Robinson" for planetary excursions. In reality, the vehicle was based on a Sno-Cat chassis.

Included are vinyl road-wheel tires, a pair of vinyl tracks, and two steel axles. A 23-piece "B9" robot can be built in entirety, or the upper half can be mounted inside the vehicle. The instructions are a glossy six-panel trifold with color photos, text instructions, and a paint guide for Testors enamels.

Warning, Will Robinson! This plastic is goofy. Tinted gray or not, it's the same as the clear top and acts like canopy plastic - brittle and resistant to paint and glue. The thick molding is riven with flow marks and sometimes hard to discern from the sprue. When in doubt, leave extra; I sliced off some locating pins without realizing it.

There is a chemical reaction causing the vinyl tracks to "eat" the plastic parts. I separated the two immediately after opening the box, sanded the marred parts smooth and filled dents with super glue. Primer and paint on the road wheels should insulate the plastic from the vinyl tracks and prevent further degradation.

Before you glue or paint, thoroughly wash the parts and let them air dry. A primer coat is essential; I found enamel paint adhered better than acrylic. Most parts must be painted before placement, complicating the build.

Instruction photos show completed steps, but not always parts placement. The best parts reference is a smallish exploded diagram. Most important of the directions is to remove parts from the sprue with a saw rather than a clippers. Clip too close to a part and it will show stress marks, even through paint.

As the instructions suggest, softening the tires in hot water will help you mount them. But there are no directions for the flexible vinyl track. It looks like a heat join, but there's not enough material there to melt; I super glued each track several times and stretched it over the running gear.

Two screws attach the chassis to the floor pan, a solid join that makes handling the model much easier. Interior parts fit well with a little carving of locator holes.

Instructions for painting the frame of the bubbletop are to mask the interior, paint international orange, then mask the outside and paint the frame exterior bright silver. However, an aircraft modeling trick works better and more easily: Mask the outside, paint the frame international orange, let it dry, then overcoat it with bright silver. This leaves orange on the inside, silver on the outside. Additionally, Aztek Dummy makes a masking set (available from either www.starshipmodeler.biz or www.culttvman.com).

Now, on a desert planet, who needs silver drapes? Never mind. The curtains are molded in halves; joining them leaves thick seams. The doors' drapes attach to raised locators inside the windows; other drapes are freestanding.

Considering the size of the clear plastic tub of the bubbletop, it fit well. Mine left a gap at the front. Warning! You may think you can clamp the top to eliminate gaps, but a piece of plastic this big and thick will spring back to shape, even if super glued.

Instructions are to tack the doors in place with masking tape, then capture the door pins in locator holes in the clear top and the hull bottom. Growing frustrated with flapping doors, I tacked them in place with white glue and had an easier time.

I tried another aircraft modeler's trick on the bubbletop by airbrushing it with Pledge Future floor polish. I'm not positive it was the plastic, but the Future did not look bright on my bubbletop. I don't recommend it here; just polish it.

The exterior parts fit well with some more carving of locator holes. I was worried about the bumper bars and the step rungs looking straight, but everything aligned well. Adding shiny 3M polyester tape to the road case in the roof rack, I declared my Chariot complete.

Consulting the DVD documentary "Lost in Space Forever," I concluded that the Moebius kit captures the "real" vehicle - tough for beginners, but a good replica of a period piece.

Read more model kit reviews.

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