Theme: Classic Space
Price: 17.00 EUR on Bricklink in 2013
Notes: Set number 452 in the US
What is it?
The Mobile Ground Tracking Station is a 6-wheeled vehicle with a compartment for a small command center at the back. It also pulls a 2-wheeled trailer with a satellite dish. It was one of the inaugural sets LEGO launched for their Space line in 1978 that came with a minifigure. In this case, the set comes with a white astronaut. No visor at this time for the astronauts, but yeah they can still breathe in the vacuum of space!
The astronaut is as simple as it can get: all white, basic face, old style helmet without visor, oxygen tank and gold and red colored Space logo.
The vehicle is an overall light gray color with wheels that are in red. Features include:
The Space theme of this time emphasized exploration instead of conflict so there wasn’t any obvious ‘offensive weapons’ in the sets. Not that I didn’t create laser guns and missiles with my imagination though.
The main vehicle is a straightforward bottom up build with the command center being made of various 1×2 and 1×1 bricks building up into 2 essentially open-sided boxes that swing out to reveal the control station inside.
During this time, the decorations on the bricks are printed on and not stickers. I’ve always preferred this although I admit it somewhat makes the printed brick less versatile: you can’t take it off after all. 3 bricks are printed in this set: 2 with the Classic Space logo and 1 slope with a control panel.
LEGO decided to leave the wheels in red for some reason and I decided to swap these out with the more modern light gray wheel with black tire combo. I think it looks better now although it loses the ‘classic’ look somewhat.
Interestingly, the roof-top spinning antenna is made up of 2 transparent round shields which, as it turns out, was only ever available in this set. Rare indeed.
The set I received had some replacement parts (3x 1×1 plates stacked together in lieu of the 1×1 brick) and a missing 4H antenna. I replaced these with the correct parts from my spares.
This set is a classic from my childhood. It’s old fashioned by today’s standard with its boxy shape and plain color. But there’s a certain charm that I like about it: A KISS approach that LEGO doesn’t do much of anymore.
+ Sometimes reality does match what you remember from the past
+ Quite a few playable functions for its time
+ A purposeful and simple design
– The red wheels look off to me
– Being 4 studs wide and panels not existing yet, you can’t fit a minifigure inside the command center with the doors closed
– Spare oxygen tank is not very secure
In 2008, Taiga Heavy Industries was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense to begin developing the ASF-X. By 2016, there were 4 prototypes built for testing: two each CTOL and STOVL variants. Unique to the Shinden II were the forward swept wings and two-tiered thrust vectoring engines.
The ASF-X Shinden II is a next-generation fighter aircraft, combining a striking airframe design with the latest aviation technologies. As a result of Japan’s unique geography, it was designed to undertake aircraft interception and air-to-ship attack duties.
Info from instruction sheet and Acepedia
This kit is part of Hasegawa’s Creator Works line which showcases mecha from various Japanese properties. The AF-X Shinden II is from Ace Combat: Assault Horizons, an arcade flight simulator published by Namco Bandai. The Shinden II was designed by Shoji Kawamori, who designed the mecha from Macross. How can I resist? 🙂
When the box arrived, I was surprised how big it was: easily twice the size of a typical Hasegawa Macross kit. The aircraft itself was also big. I was expecting it to be on-par with an F-16 Viper. Instead it’s about as long as a 1/48 A-4 Skyhawk.
As is typical of Hasegawa, they stuffed the main sprues into one bag although this time, the fuselage and the canopy parts are in their own separate bags. While I usually don’t mind this as much as most modelers, one part did end up breaking off from the tree while in the bag. Less chance of that happening if each sprue tree were in a separate bag.
Also as usual, all parts are very nicely molded with very fine details all round. One nice feature is the fuselage is molded in upper and bottom halves so fitting should be much easier than the typical multi-part affairs Hasegawa likes so much (they do it to use one mold for various variants) which tends to fiddly fits. No full engine trunking but that’s never a deal breaker for me. 99% of people who actually see my stuff don’t peek into the intakes.
Landing gear is included but the kit also includes a stand in clear plastic so the aircraft can be displayed in flight. It also includes a pilot. Nice. The canopy is provided in clear plastic although in most pictures, the Shinden II should have a tinted canopy (much like the F-16 and F-22 Raptor).
Hasegawa gives the options to model the Shinden II in normal or SVTOL mode. The description of the modes from Acepedia:
The ASF-X’s airframe is capable of changing its shape and the direction the rudders and wingtips face as the flight speed changes. Furthermore, it is outfitted with a unique tandem twin-engine design, with the lower engine (located further inside the aircraft) being capable of pivoting to provide VTOL capabilities.
Surprising for Hasegawa, they have included weapons! 6 AIM-120 AMRAAMs or 6 rocket pods to arm the Shinden II with. In most images I found of the Shinden II online, it is almost always shown with 6 AMRAAMs so this is accurate. However, it’s also supposed to be designed for anti-shipping missions so I would have liked an option for that too (rockets for ships? Hmmm). I guess it’s too much to ask. 😛
Decals are provided for 2 aircraft:
Hasegawa also provides a set of serials so the modeler can customize a serial number. Quality is typical of Hasegawa so they should fit fine. For the stencil freaks, there are also a ton of these so they should be happy.
All in all, I like the approach Hasegawa has done with this release. it’s an all-in-one package where you don’t have to add anything from an option set to complete. The parts count is also not too high so you won’t get bogged down with the details and best of all, it has Hasegawa engineering so fit and finishing should be good.
If only they would do this with their aircraft kits.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Now it’s time to put the two halves of the fuselage together. First up, the myriad parts I needed to assemble before hand. Incidentally, all were sprayed white.
Academy provides a long trunking so you can see into the nose intake. Nice.
From left to right: the MLG bay, the belly flap bay and the arresting hook bay. All are decently detailed for their scale.
I decided to cement them onto one side of the fuselage before putting everything together. It took a bit of adjusting and finesse but the two halves fit pretty much perfectly with no noticeable gaps.
I had to sand down the fuselage so the wing can fit flush. Not an issue if one plans to install the wing pivoted.
Like all aircraft kits, I started with the cockpit. The details are basic but acceptable for 1/72. Control panels are recessed but Academy conveniently includes decals.
The ejection seat is made up of 4 parts. It doesn’t have any seatbelt details. This is handbrushed, washed and drybrushed to bring out the details.
I decided to use the decal for the front console.
The cockpit is then quickly assembled, painted and given a wash.
I then did a test fit of the fuselage and it looks to be good.
The kit comes with the option of lowered flaps, slats and pivoting wing. It also comes with rocket pods, missiles, bomb racks and bombs. I decided to keep it simple by closing the flaps, slates and wings. I also forgo with all the external weapons since the F-8 is known as the ‘last gunfighter’: only internal guns for this one.
This is my version of the RGM-79Q GM Quel operated by the Titans of the Earth Federation. It’s my entry into Plamo’s WOOB 07.
I’m combining the upper body and arms of the HGUC GM Quel with the bottom half of the HGUC GM Custom. Why? I find the lower portion of the HGUC GM Quel to be too blocky and it looks disproportionate. It’s a simple matter of swapping parts.
I’m doing some simple modifications to the kit. First up, I added plastic strips at the base of the torso to extend its height by 1.5mm.
I also added some plastic strips inside the torso to extend the neck by about 1.5mm.
I think I’ll swap out the GM Quel thrusters and use a different weapon too.