Monsters In Motion 1/35 Moonbus from 2001: A Space Odyssey

By Gordon Erickson


As a lad of 13 the glory of the next millennium unfolded before me in a dark Everett, Washington movie theatre.  I was enraptured by the technological marvels flying through deep space before my eyes, enamored with the way the future was to be!

In the waning months of the first year of that new millennium we now know that the space program was never anything more to American politicians than a big “up yours” to the Soviets.  Today there are no manned space probe missions to the outer planets nor the giant space ships to take them there.  There is no commercial shuttle service to bases on the moon or to space stations in earth orbit.  There isn’t even a Pan American Airlines anymore.

And since the 1969 Aurora kit there has been no model available of 2001’s Moonbus – until now.  In development for the better part of a year, Southern California’s Monsters In Motion recently released an all resin 1/35th scale kit of this unique lunar transit vehicle.

In Arthur C. Clarke’s novel the Moonbus is a tracked ground vehicle that has the ability to “hop” over small obstacles on it’s underside rocket motors.  For the motion picture it was apparently decided that it would be much more dynamic and visually interesting, albeit improbable, if it flew over the lunar surface instead.  As far as I can tell, all they did to reflect this new mode of travel was to take the caterpillar treads off of the running gear and call them landing legs.

The Kit

My MIM Moonbus arrived in a sturdy white box jam packed with peanuts and bubble wrap to good effect – no parts were broken or damaged in shipping.  The kit consists of approximately 55 pieces of mint-green resin (an interesting departure from MIM’s usual Pepto-Bismol Pink blend).  The centerpiece of this kit are the 2 HUGE castings that form the top and bottom of the fuselage.  The top weighs in at nearly a pound and the bottom a whopping 3 lbs. plus (they are obviously NOT hollow-cast).   In fact, I had some initial concern over whether the resin landing gear could support the weight of the finished model but upon further inspection it looks like they will do just fine.  There are virtually no air bubble holes in the top and bottom and very few throughout the rest of the kit.

There are 2 small sheets of decals, aluminum rods for the landing gear shock absorbers and a sheet of clear plastic for the windows.  My kit came with “interim” assembly instructions with a promise from MIM to send the “final” instructions free of charge as soon as they become available.

MIM appears to have done (most) of their homework on this kit.  Compared to  pictures captured from a DVD of the movie the kit’s details closely match the ones seen in the film.  You will be able to create an impressive replica of the Moonbus from this kit.

There are virtually no air bubble holes in the top and bottom and very few throughout the rest of the kit.

Some highlights of the kit:

  • The SIZE – at 1/35th scale it’s 16 inches long

  • The main instrument panel is a well-detailed match for the original’s as is the rest of the interior

  • There are 2 resin parts to represent the cargo being carried in the passenger compartment and they feature great detail – the one for the left side even has the astronaut’s life support backpacks (you will have to add your own tie-down rings and white nylon rope to secure the cargo to the floor).

  • The 5 astronaut figures (2 pilots and 3 passengers) are individually sculpted and well-posed although I would have liked one of the pilots to have had his hand on the joystick.  The passengers are re-enacting the “chicken sandwich” scene from the movie (they even include the lunch box!)

The interim instructions are adequate for assembling the Moonbus but the colors called out for the interior are questionable.  In fact, they don’t even match the  colors used in the build-up on the web site.  The passenger cabin was filmed in a weird blue-green light and makes color identification difficult.  I plan to do my interior in medium and dark greys.  A copy of the film on VHS or DVD will be very useful in fine-tuning the details

There is on perplexing question in regards to the kit – how to properly display it.  The Moonbus has very small windows and the large resin fuselage castings do not lend themselves well to the wiring that would be needed to light it.  I am probably going to display mine with the top removed.

The decals include markings for the space suits and backpacks as well as some video screen decals although they are the wrong size and shape to fit the screens on the main instrument panel.  The decal sheet also includes the spurious USAA decals (United States Astronautics Administration) which appeared in the Aurora Moonbus kit but never on the movie miniature.  There are even a couple of HAL 9000 eye decals for no reason I can determine.

The one big problem in this kit is that MIM appears to have used the old Aurora Moonbus for their dimensions and that kit was slightly too long in the nose which means the MIM Moonbus is about ¾” too long – you would have to remove almost all of the area between the back of the cockpit seats and the forward bulkhead to get it right.  Unfortunately, that would be a VERY impractical thing to do on this model.


It would be wonderful to have a completely accurate kit of the Moonbus but on the whole I am very happy with my purchase and I consider it a good value for the money.

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