Pegasus Hobbies, a southern California hobby store that introduced a line of 1/48 scale World War II snap-together aircraft models in 2008, has been expanding its repertoire to science fiction.
The first of these is the Martian War Machine from George Pal's 1953 film "The War of the Worlds." These copper-and-green "tripods" - they hover on legs of electrical energy, you know - chased Dr. Forrester and wiped out soldiers by the score in the Cold War reading of H.G. Wells' 1898 novel.
Molded in translucent ivory plastic, the kit captures the manta ray lines of the movie craft. Included are a stand with an Earth-shaped base as well as colored clear parts for the nose, wingtips, and "eye."
The thick plastic looks almost appliance-like, but its smoothness is perfect for applying a metallic finish.
Pegasus doesn't advertise the model as a snap kit, but with its engineering and tight fits, it could be (although I glued it). The upper hull fits over the lower hull, hiding the gap between. I applied three layers of Tamiya putty to make it completely disappear. The other major gap is on the side of the eye stalk; the end of the stalk has a long tail which is shown much shorter in the instructions. I had to trim some of it to fit.
After priming, I airbrushed the body and eye stalk with Hawkeye's SnJ Spray Metal bronze, then misted Hawkeye's copper, streaking it front to back.
I thought the nose and wingtips looked too green, so I sprayed them with Tamiya clear yellow. The eyepiece has a clear red insert for the clear lens, and the entire assembly slips neatly into the eye stalk. A screw is included to attach the stalk, but the fit is snug enough without it. The nose and wingtips also slip in, but the mating surfaces don't match perfectly; I filled gaps with Testors clear part cement.
The spacious interior would make it easy to light this model, giving the Martian invader real pizazz.
The hardest part of the finish was airbrushing the planetary display base. I sprayed a transoceanic cloud pattern as I saw it in satellite weather photos.
The War Machine was a fun, quick project, and it looks every bit the menacing movie threat. Experience with metallic finishes will result in a great replica. It's a hoot, and a welcome addition for fans of classic science fiction.
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