One of the most appealing aspects of building scale models as an adult is the nostalgia that goes along with it. When I was much younger, back in the disco days of the mid to late 70s, I built quite a few models. Of course, as most of us did, I generally spent little time on the build, and more time on playing with the finished kits. As I got into my early teens, I did start taking more time to try and be a bit more precise, but still not to the lengths I go to today.
But it was a fun time, and building models today keeps me connected to those days.
The hobby also brings back memories of the play time, when the imagination was at work. Sometimes it was flying the model kits around, making all manner of engine and weapon noises, and shouting to my friends that I’d shot them down. Of course, they’d claim that I in no way shot them down, that clearly I had missed, and round and round we’d continue to go.
Sometimes, we’d step into the world of our adventure, so to speak, and pretend we were the characters. Whether it was Kirk and Spock, Han and Chewie, or Apollo and Starbuck. And for some reason, in our minds, the best place to do this was in a tree.
Perhaps it was because it was up in the air, or maybe just because we loved to climb trees, but looking back, I’m not really sure why the limbs of the pines in my yard became our cockpits. Who can really explain the mind of a pre-teen boy anyway?
It did allow us to imagine some cool concepts. I recall one of us would often climb higher in the tree to provide “top cover”, and later climbing down to the same level to “help out”. We’d even “bail out” at times, taking life-and-limb threatening leaps from the tree.
It was all great fun, and the only regret I have looking back is that those times passed all too quickly. The years have gone by, and now things like taxes and arthritis and colonoscopies have to be dealt with. And the thought of climbing a tree is… well, basically an impossibility.
I can still build models that my 10 year old self would have thought were really cool. And do them in a way that he would have thought was amazing. Probably worthy of not even blowing up with firecrackers, which was a really big deal in the late 70s world in which I lived.
And while I loved Star Wars and the X-Wing fighter, Battlestar Galactica’s Viper was simply more accessible. I could see it each week on TV. Not having a VHS player at the time, movie vehicles were essentially “see it once, hope you remember it”. Sure, I could find photos and lunchboxes and toys, but to see them flying around? Every week I could watch the Viper screaming through space, going after the Cylons. So the Colonial Viper was a frequent subject for our tree climbing adventures.
And all that brings me to Moebius’ 1/32 Colonial Viper Mk. I.
Oh, so you actually have a point to all this, Jon?
As I’ve made my “pivot” to things other than airplanes, I’ve had this wonderful process of “discovery”, finding kits new to me that have really brought back the fun to my hobby. I’d seen Modelmaking Guru’s build of the Mk. II Viper, using Revell’s reboxing of the Moebius kit, and that sent me in search of the Mk. I version from my childhood. A birthday gift card and quick trip to Amazon resulted in the kit landing squarely on my front porch.
The kit consists of five sprues molded in a cream color, and two sprues for clear parts. All were packed in bags to prevent too much damage from rummaging around, and the clear parts were also wrapped in packing material- nice touch. A decal sheet provides the various stripes, with marking options for two different versions of the filming models.
The parts are a bit thick, though not overly so. The sprue attachment points are a bit thick in places, but if you nip them away from the part, and then either trim away the rest with a hobby knife, or file it away, it should not leave any serious nub marks.
Detail on the parts is quite good, with enough relief to make applying weathering and highlighting techniques very effective. In many ways, the detail reminds me of how Citadel’s Warhammer 40K kits look. Not quite that exaggerated (or quite as sharp), but definitely a great candidate for drybrushing and shading.
The kit can be built gear up or gear down. If built gear up, a small generic display base is provided. I am planning to build this one gear up, as I think the landing gear look a bit odd. (Not Moebius’ fault at all- blame the special effects department!) They look oddly tank-like.
Clear parts are provided for the engine exhausts, so if you’d like to add lighting, that will help out. I’ll probably just paint over them, and use various red, orange, yellow, and white paint effects to simulate the engine’s glow.
Panel lines are a bit wide if you’re used to “traditional” aircraft recesses, but I think I like the slightly exaggerated size for a scifi subject. There is plenty of surface detail to work with, so if you like highlighting panels and so forth this is a great palette.
A pilot figure is included, and in my opinion is sufficiently detailed and crisp enough that some good basic painting, washing, and a touch of highlighting will make it look pretty good under the canopy. The cockpit is a bit sparse, with some very simple raised detail to paint. A decal is included for the forward “situational awareness screen that glows and makes pinging noises”, or whatever it’s called. I may add a few bits of scratch work in the cockpit, just to provide a bit more relief. There are photoetch sets available, but they appear to cost more than the kit itself, so unless you just suffer from a horrible case of AMS (Advanced Modelers Syndrome), I can’t understand why there would be a need to go to that expense. Still, to each his own.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the starting point. Having watched several build videos of the kit, I have no doubt that there will be the need for some test fitting and sanding. But I’m OK with that, really.
When it’s a fun kit, one that I know will bring back happy memories of childhood days long past, I don’t mind a few lumps and warts.
The walk down memory lane will be worth it. Just don’t fall out of any trees on to it!