Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Best Hobby Kits This Side of Jupiter!

A huge part of being a 70's Star Kid was building spaceship models. I have no idea if kids today even still build model kits, but when I was growing up, it was both a frustrating and rewarding way to add to my burgeoning sci-fi memorabilia collection.

Here's a comic book ad from 1980 featuring the Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers model kits from Monogram. Presumably, the TV revival of Galactica: 1980 encouraged Monogram to try and move some unsold Battlestar Galactica overstock from a couple years before alongside the newer Rogers kits.

To see my adolescent build-ups of these same models, go HERE or HERE.

And here's an ad from '79, promoting AMT's line of Star Trek- The Motion Picture model kits. I had the Enterprise and the Vulcan shuttle, neither of which survived. I had all the classic AMT Trek television kits, too, but I always ran into the same problems. On the various Enterprises, the engine pylons always drooped under the negligible weight of the nacelles. I don't know if anyone else had those problems, or if I just kept getting defective kits. The "neck" of the TV Klingon Battlecruiser also tended to droop, as I recall....


  1. These McQuarrie designed ships from Galactica and Buck Rogers come from a great time for me in terms of iconic spaceships, not a single ship in any of the Star Wars prequels lived up to these classic craft from the mid 70's to mid 80's era of Sci-fi !!

  2. My dad was a genius when it came to helping me build the models. He solved the drooping nacelles and Klingon "neck" by using popsicle sticks inside the structure. Worked like a charm. He also was great at finding the center of gravity of each model and then off-setting it so they would hang from my ceiling in cool swooping battle poses by one string. I had the Enterprise, Klingon Battle Cruiser, Romulan Bird Of Prey, the weird glow in the dark "Interplanetary UFO" that kind of looked like the Botany Bay and later the Buck Rogers fighter all in a big dogfight hanging from my ceiling. It was cool I must say.

    Great blog by the way. I've posted a few times and will move beyond "anonymous" soon I promise.

  3. You recall correctly about the drooping necks of the Klingon battle cruisers, and I also had a problem with the primary hull of the Enterprise not staying closed (the top section of mine was warped slightly, and it kept popping up, leaving a gap).

    I also remember that the Klingon ships came in two colors; black and a dark green. No idea why.

    And did anyone actually purchase (and install) that "lighting kit" that was advertised inside the box of the Enterprise? I always thought it would be neat, but never thought I'd be able to actually do it. Loved the fact that the decal sheet had all the names of the ships from the Franz Josef Tech Manual, though.

  4. I agree with Andrew about the ship designs... classic and modern. Where are today's icons of sci-fi design? They all seem a bit bland somehow.

    I had the Viper and Cylon Raider as a kid. Wish I had them now to build over again with better skill! I also had models of the robots from The Black Hole.

    I don't think many kids build models today. It's one of those hobbies that just hasn't stayed popular with kids, perhaps because today we have toys that are extremely detailed, don't cost much, and require no "work" to get the finished result. The only ones still building kit are those that do it because they love it, not just because they want the end result.

  5. I purchased the Galactica and Basestar models back in 1996, when they were re-released in their classic boxes. I still have them. Last year, I saw another set of re-releases at my local Hobby Lobby store. Apparently they had some new parts to make them more accurate. If you want to see a lot of cool models, go here:

  6. I loved building all those ships (and any others I could get my hands on) as a kid. I think my mom or dad helped me figure out how to keep the Enterprise nacelles from drooping. We put one side on, let it dry, then put the other on.

    I don't know if kids build models any more, but I found a Star Wars Y-Wing at Michaels a few months ago. I bought it, with the intention of finally building and detailing a model with all the care and attention I had read about in hobby books: filling in gaps with putty, weathering it carefully with an airbrush, etc. We'll see if I ever get around to it. :(

  7. It's a pity the big three American companies (AMT, Monogram and Revell) had absolutely lousy quality in their mold design and construction. Back then, if you wanted decent quality models, you had to go with the imports. Hasegawa-Minicraft and Tamiya were pretty good, but unfortunately didn't make licensed SF kits.