Friday, March 11, 2011

MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978) Model Kits

And, speaking of classic Space: 1970-era sci-fi model kits - as I was just a few posts ago - here are two of the Bandai kits that were released by Entex in the U.S. that were derived from Toei Studios' Message From Space - the "Comet Fire" and "Galaxy Runner." There was also a kit of what the U.S. package called "The Liabe" - though I don't believe that Meia's ship was actually called that in the film.

Here are some shots of the actual model, which included small-scale versions of the two fighter/"hot rods" pictured above. I had this kit, but these aren't my pix - I borrowed them from a Japanese modeler's site - I couldn't have managed a paint job like that even at my best.

I love that design... man, I wish I still had my model.

A lot of people are baffled by my affection for this crazy film, but a large part of my enthusiasm is simply the wonderful spaceship designs and plentiful space battles. Most cinematic space operas don't really have all that much outer space combat, screentime percentage-wise - special effects are expensive, after all - but Message doesn't skimp on the action. That the plentiful miniature spaceships are so idiosyncratic and stylishly designed is just frosting on the cake.


  1. You may have already known this, but the Liabe (under that same name) showed up as a die-cast model in Mattel's Shogun Warriors line.

    MFS has been in my Netflix Watch Instantly queue for awhile now; I think it's time to watch it!

  2. I remember seeing these at my local toy store back in 1981 and thinking how odd it was that kits were made from a Japanese film few people besides myself had actually seen at the time.

  3. Oops, was reading back through your previous posts on "Message from Space" and realized that I'd already pointed out that Shogun Warriors toy on an earlier comment!

    Watched MFS yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised. I recalled it being closer to "Star Crash" in terms of outrageous badness, but it was better than that. Vic Morrow puts in a credible performance, and--as you say--the effects are plentiful with interesting designs.

    It's still hella strange, what with the flying space walnuts, the old woman's mutant son (from "Pluto"), and...well, I just have to mention the space walnuts again.

    I can confirm that the Liabe was not called that in the English dub. That was the name of the seeds/walnuts, as well as the deity responsible for them.

    I used to have that Liabe model, and after watching the film again, I wish I still did. Another design I liked was the six-pronged Gavanas fighter.

  4. Cool! I'm glad you posted this follow-up; I'd talked a little about the models in the last MFS post.
    It's hard to tell from those pics, but the Liabe (or whatever it was called in the Japanese version) model is not even a foot long. I think the 'wings' might put the width around a foot or so when extended, but I don't have mine handy to confirm. Lots of detail for such a small kit!
    Also, the model had 'firing' missiles that came out from the area where the 'hot rods' docked... they were tiny rod-shaped missiles that would clip into small tubes built under the docking areas, and one could press a small button to 'launch' them... provided one tilted the bow of the ship downward so that gravity would allow the missiles to slide out!! I suspect that the japanese version of the kit may have included springs in the launchers.

    Finally, those photos are indeed very nice, and it's apparent that the model builder has modified the 'hot rods' a bit to get the details more accurate. Inspires me to fix mine up!


  5. That's awesome -- thanks for posting the pics. I really wish that I had seen that model kit back in the day. Like you guys, I love "Message from Space" and now own the DVD (thanks for the link Christopher). It's a guilty pleasure to go back and watch these flicks (just finished up "Star Crash" too). That's why I love this blog!

    David, thanks for re-posting the Shogun link -- that die-cast ship was new to me. I too really liked the Gavanas fighter -- cool design and I loved the Tesla-like weapon that it fired.

  6. Late to the party as usual. I love MFS and now that I own the DVD, my 4-year-old son does, too. One thing I've always found interesting (and have never read anywhere else) is how much the movie borrowed from Star Wars, and how much Lucasfilm borrowed right back. The Comet Fire is pretty obviously the inspiration for the snowspeeders in TESB, and someone goes crashing through a big round window after a sword fight in both movies...

    Anyway, great site. Glad I found it.