RealSpace 1/72 Soyuz TM
The Soyuz (Union) spacecraft series, designed by the Korolyov Design Bureau, has been in service since the first manned launch in 1967. Today they serve as the International Space Station's lifeboat, and with the retirement of the Space Shuttle, the crew and resupply vessels. RealSpace Models' 1/72 resin offering is of the 4th generation Soyuz TM.
What's in the box?
The kit arrived in a sturdy end-opening cardboard box with a photo of the finished model on the outside. Inside were 2 major resin castings for the orbital module and re-entry/service modules, and a separate plug containing the various antennae and struts. There was also a sturdy photoetch for the solar panels and a few greeblies, and a small sheet of self-adhesive "solar panel" material. A single-sided instruction sheet completed the package.
The instruction sheet is fairly typical of earlier resin kits, showing a numbered callout of the parts, a drawing of the finished model, and showing vaguely where the parts go, and a full size template for cutting out the solar panel material.
One of the difficulties with this subject is that spindly delicate things poke out from every side making it virtually impossible to assemble and paint without breaking something. I found that, by leaving the conical antennae subassembly off the rear rim of the service module until it was mounted on the stand, I could at least stand it upright throughout the build. I took the opportunity to add a series of what look like deelybobbers around the rim of the base of the service module, using glass seed beads on bits of brass wire.
Up front is a petaled docking adapter, looking like a cross between a Dalek and a cocktail umbrella. As mentioned above, the ball-on-a-stick docking probe was a goner, so I substituted a glass bead and some brass wire. The kit part for the petaled piece is at best highly asymmetric, and even if one succeeds in removing it from the plug and cleaning it up, it still looks very, very wrong. I salvaged the center portion and added strip styrene petals.
The PE fret is very thick, which makes for sturdy solar panels, and docking collar, but is hopelessly thick and stiff for the shields in front of the dish antennae. I cut duplicate shields from a disposable pie pan and tarted up the strut work on the solar panels with some more bits of Evergreen strip.
The Soyuz has several prominent seams in the thermal blanket which appear to be sealed with Space Duct Tape™ in black and bright orange. Simulating these with painted decal strips really improves the appearance. The solar panels are radome tan with matte white braces on the braced side, and matt white on the solar cell side. The iridescent self-adhesive solar panel material looked depressingly toy-like until cut out and applied. While very wrong as scale duplicates of the Soyuz panels, they give a surprisingly good impression of the solar panels. (First impressions can be misleading.)
The parts and finished model generally look a lot like a Soyuz, though the orbital module seems a little long and cylindrical rather than melon-shaped. A few access panels are not quite where they belong, but the thermal blanket texture makes moving them impractical. The base of the service module should flair out to a sharp edge, but the model chamfers the edge. Again, it is impractical to fix, but doesn't detract from the overall effect. The bracing strut pattern on the inboard bay of the panels is completely wrong and can't be fixed by adding strip styrene – it will bother you but not the viewers. Note that the positions of the 2 parabolic antennae and their brackets are swapped in the instruction sheet.
Overall, it makes a credible addition to one's spacecraft collection, and apart from the problems caused by the bubbles in the small parts pour, should go together fairly smoothly.