Revell 1/144 Mir Space Station
by Michael Dunn
Christmas comes but once a year, and this time around I received the Revell Mir model. Seeing as Mir is not only coming to the end of her prolonged life, but that at the time of writing (Boxing Day) the Russians have lost contact with her, it seems fitting to write this review, and later in the week maybe even build her.
As space stations go, Mir (which means 'Peace' in Russian) is now an old lady. She was launched in 1986 by the USSR, and has seen many changes, not only to herself but to her homeland. Circling the earth at a height of between 350 and 400 kilometres, this 130 tonne habitat takes just 96 minutes to have a 'day' herself. Among the records she holds are the longest stay in space for a man (15 months) and a woman (6 months), and the longest duration of a space habitat (currently 14 years). The original core module has been extended with four other modules. Mir also has capacity for a Progress and a Soyuz capsule to dock, in addition to having a Shuttle attach as well.
The box art is an impression of how she looks, based on various photographs taken on the NASA Shuttle missions. While not totally accurate, it is a decent-enough cover to be of use in assembly and also during painting; if you don't have other painting guides, then this will be better than the painting instructions - but more on those later.
The kit itself is on two sprues. Initially, I thought that the sprues would be identical, but differences on each side of the various modules prevent this. The first sprue, the larger of the two, holds the stand for the completed station, as well as the core module and solar panels, the Piroda module, the Spektr module, the main antennae and a crippled panel, most of the Progress craft, and most of the Soyuz capsule. The second sprue holds the remaining parts of the Progress and Soyuz craft, the Krystal module, the panels for Spektr, the Kvant module, and the support for the stand. In total, there are 30 parts to this kit, which is set as Skill Level 3.
The moulding is very crisp and clean, with barely any flash on; cleanup will just be washing the parts and the removal of the sprue attachments. The level of detailing is a little disappointing; however, I have various sources of imagery and should be able to do fine detail with just enhanced painting. About the only area of fine detailing comes in on the fixed solar panels (as opposed to the concertina panels) where the individual photo-voltaic cells are picked out. However, I guess I am just being picky on this, having waited for a model of Mir for so long.
Moving across to the instructions. As usual with Revell, the title page has a copy of the box-art above a potted history of Mir in both German and English. Moving inside, the usual warnings page in a dozen or two languages, and the symbols and paints page. An insert is popped into the instructions here, with various other warnings. The fourth page has a copy of the sprues, with the parts clearly labelled. It isn't until page 5 that the instructions really begin. Here, the assembly of the core module and the Krystal and Piroda modules is covered in three stages.
Spektr is assembled and added in another three stages, with the assembly of Kvant taking a further two. Page seven shows some detailing parts being added, before Kvant is installed, and finishes with the two stages on Progress assembly and installation. The final page builds Soyuz and adds it, before covering the stand and the final assembly of the completed model onto it. All stages are very clearly laid out, and will hold no difficulties in assembly.
The decal sheet is very basic in looks, consisting of a label for the moulded base. On checking closer, the silver arrow is meant to go into the arrow cut-out of the main decal, with the letter to fit into two other cut-outs. To complete this are two silver lines, to go one either side of the arrow. I think I'll just paint the moulded base instead!
Speaking of painting, this is one area I haven't mentioned yet. Almost every stage of the construction of the habitat has painting instructions. While you will get a decent paint job from following them, I feel that the end result will look sterile; it won't have the little highlights here and there that bring out the best of a model. Added onto this, I am not really convinced as to the accuracy of the colours given either - an example : the instructions say to paint the Soyuz grey, with two while bands, and blue solar panels. I have a colour photo of the Soyuz used in TM-8 (the mission that saw the Kvant-2 module docked with Mir) that shows the Soyuz to be picked out in red! The Soyuz used in TM-9 is, admittedly, in the colours used for the model, although others were painted green or even light blue (eg the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project), or just left white. Other references I have show the underside of some, if not all, of the solar panels to be yellow - a fact not shown on the painting guide. So the watchword here is if you want an accurate paint job, get some decent references and use those for detailed painting - using the box-art will give a good result, but more research will allow you to get a great result.
Overall, I'm happy with this kit. While not the largest around (Heller do a 1/96 Mir), it is in scale with many other space models, it is quite accurate without having masses of detailing parts, and can be quickly assembled and painted, although some research will result in a superior model. I'd give it 7/10.