December 14, 2018
— A scale model company is celebrating the past and future of U.S. spacecraft with the latest additions to its popular Metal Earth line.
Fascinations, which produces 3D models that come packaged as flat sheets of steel parts, recently introduced two Metal Earth kits that commemorate the July 2019 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and a model of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule that is slated to begin flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station around the same time next year.
Metal Earth's new "Apollo Saturn V with Gantry" and "Apollo CSM with LM" kits each come in a pack marked with an Apollo 11 50th anniversary logo. One model reproduces the launch pad and rocket that began the historic mission, while the other replicates the spacecraft that flew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to lunar orbit and the moon's surface before returning them safely to Earth.
The Apollo Saturn V with Gantry kit includes two thin sheets of steel parts and is described as a "moderate" level of difficulty to build. It includes the iconic three-stage rocket that lifted off with the Apollo 11 astronauts on July 16, 1969, and the launch umbilical tower that supported the vehicle while on the pad.
Once assembled, the Apollo Saturn V with Gantry model stands almost 6 inches tall (15 centimeters) on a base that is 2 inches long by 1.3 inches wide (5 by 3.3 cm). The kit retails for $11.
The Apollo CSM with LM model includes the "Columbia" command and service module that flew the Apollo 11 crew to and from the moon, and aboard which Collins orbited the moon, and the "Eagle" lunar module that Armstrong and Aldrin landed at Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969. The kit includes three and a half sheets of steel parts, including gold-colored parts for the LM's descent stage, and is labeled a "challenging" build.
The model displays the two vehicles docked together on a raised base, such that the whole thing stands 3.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide (9 by 12 cm). The Apollo CSM with LM kit retails for $17.
The two new kits follow Metal Earth's earlier Apollo-themed models, including a standalone LM (without gold parts for the descent module) and a lunar rover.
Metal Earth's other new space model is the Starliner commercial crew capsule.
A licensed Boeing product, the Starliner kit is based on the spacecraft now being built and tested to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing's first uncrewed test flight is targeted for March 2019, with a crewed test to follow in August.
The Starliner kit comes with one sheet of steel parts colored in white, black and brown to match the configuration of the real vehicle. The model, which stands 2 inches tall and has a diameter of 2 inches (5 cm by 5 cm), is also detailed with the Boeing and Starliner logos, as well as the American flag.
The Starliner, which retails for $11, is labeled an "easy" kit to build.
In addition to Apollo-themed and Starliner models, Metal Earth has also produced kits based on NASA's space shuttle orbiters, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the Voyager interplanetary probes, the Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler spacecraft and Chandra X-ray Observatory.