Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fantastic Plastic's X-71 Space Shuttle from Armageddon

We've seen many variants of the Space Shuttle in the movies and normally most of us would be enthrilled to see them since they are based on Real Science, especially more so when these shuttles were molded from the actual space craft from NASA. Now that the Space Shuttles have been decommissioned, the interest gains momentum as slowly but surely these shuttles will fall into the realm of nostalgia.

I'm sure some of you would have your favourite shuttles, be it the one seen from the movie "LifeForce" or others, but the topic today highlights on one that has a kit being prepared for mass sales. Its the Shuttle from the movie "Armageddon", the X-71 Space Shuttle. Abet there were many discrepancies on the shuttle launch procedures as well as it integrity, but its only a movie. Hence don't take these shuttles as practical, but relive them through the movies.

In the early opening scene, we were treated to a disaster in space when the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed by meteorites. (I wonder if they would still use the Shuttle Columbia's insignia in view of the real life tragedy that be-fell that shuttle). It was initially thought the shuttle was destroyed by terrorise until NASA (in the movie) discovered that a huge chunk of rock was headed for earth.

Hence a plan was hatched, to land on that asteroid, drill to its core centre, and plant a nuclear warhead to break apart the piece of rock so it can safely glide past earth. Don't ask me if this is actual science or whether if this could work in real life, I'm no rocket scientist. But I did enjoy the show. I thought Bruce Willis was great there.

In this movie, we got to see two shuttles launched simultaneously, the Freedom and Independence. I remember reading somewhere that some of the launch sequence were from actual shuttle launches, and that the X-71 were digitally put in to replace the shuttles. How did I know this? Try looking at the scene when the shuttles reached earth's atmosphere just before booster separation. Someone missed out the shuttle on the background and what was shown was an actual shuttle with its rocket boosters.

Like I said, I enjoyed the movie, and everyone would too if only they stop questioning the real science behind the movie. So when I saw the 2 kits from Revell, the Space Station and the X-71 Shuttle, I was so tempted to get them ... until I saw what they did with the Shuttle. The mold on that kit is that of a normal space shuttle, modified a little bit to showcase the bigger differentiation between the X-71 and the real thing.

Thanks to Fantastic Plastic's Virtual Museum for highlighting images of the Revell's kit

As I like the space shuttle, I had collected various kits from Revell, Monogram, Hasegawa and Tamiya, so when I saw that X-71 kit, I immediately knew something was wrong with the overall shape, especially around the cockpit area.

Compare the above images to the actual studio model used for the movie below. You can see a few raised and pronounced curve bulging from the side tip at the head section toward the rear, and the raised hull above where the shuttle doors would have been. Even the window layouts are either wrong or missing in that kit. But they did give a rather cute Armadillo to go along with their kit.

Of course not having an accurate kit doesn't mean she won't get build. As seen in the below two images, George Ting created this magnificent representation of the X-71 still attached to its Rocket Boosters using the Minicraft Shuttle kit with lots of scratch build modifications. The decals were from the RealSpace Model Set.

And as for the rest of us without such skills and knowledge, especially when we can only depend on the Revell kit along with her inconsistencies, it was near difficult to build a more accurate X-71 without for-going hours of research and scratch build modifications, until now.

Fantastic Plastic has listed its 1:144 scale X-71 Shuttle for a slated April Release (which means anytime soon). This kit consist of 37 resin parts, and is molded by Alfred Wong. She measures a cool 10.5" in length and 8.5" wide, and is in scale with Revell's 1:144 space shuttle kits.

And this kit even comes with a comprehensive decal. giving you the option to choose to build either the Freedom, or Independence.

This kit is definitely in my wish list at the moment as she will compliment my fleet of shuttles later on. Need to budget my purchases as I am waiting on other resin kits that's coming out prior the the Wonderfest event in the US soon. But for those who are waiting for a good quality representation of the X-71, the wait will end soon when she becomes available at Fantastic Plastic's Site. You just need to keep checking there, or "like" the Fantastic Plastic's Facebook site to keep yourself updated.

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