RE-WORKED 1/72 EAGLE 4 FROM MPC

US firm MPC has re-issued it’s recent Eagle Transporter with new parts to create one of the later configurations of this classic sci-fi spacecraft, as Stu Fone discovers.

US firm MPC has re-issued it’s recent Eagle Transporter with new parts to create one of the later configurations of this classic sci-fi spacecraft, as Stu Fone discovers.

The British sci-fi TV series Space:1999 might not have been as successful as, say Star Trek but it did introduce a classic spacecraft design. This was the Eagle Transporter, which was created by Brian Johnson following his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey (he would later contribute to Alien and The Empire Strikes Back).

In the Space:1999 continuity, the nuclear-engine Eagle was envisaged as something of a workhorse, with its design, utilising various centrally mounted pods, allowing it to change function as required. Example roles included passenger transport, cargo/pallet carrier and rescue.

Above: All parts are well moulded, with the Eagle’s characteristic ‘beak’ replicated faithfully; 
Above: All parts are well moulded, with the Eagle’s characteristic ‘beak’ replicated faithfully; the lattice-type frames are for the craft's engine and service modules.

Its modular design was an instant hit with viewers – especially the evocative scenes of pallet/grapple-equipped Eagles trying to prevent nuclear stockpiles from detonating in the pilot episode ‘Breakway’. The basic configuration, with the crew compartment and engine section joined by a skeletal spine was continued with the Mark IX Hawk interceptor seen in the Season 1 episode ‘War Games’.

While Space:1999 lasted just two seasons, the Eagle’s design influenced sci-fi projects to such an extent that Star Wars director George Lucas rejected the original design for the Millennium Falcon as he felt it was too similar. That didn’t mean it was abandoned, though, as it served as the basis for the Rebel Blockade Runner-class spaceship.

Above: There’s a choice of extended or compressed landing pads for the main ‘pods’, which allows the model to be portrayed in flight or on the ground – a stand is supplied for the former option.
Above: There’s a choice of extended or compressed landing pads for the main ‘pods’, which allows the model to be portrayed in flight or on the ground – a stand is supplied for the former option.

MPC’s new-tool 2019 Eagle boxing provided for the basic 1/72 transport, VIP or rescue variants, but it’s latest Eagle 4 (MPC979) introduces a changed central pod and a set of auxiliary boosters (the former were introduced in Season 1 while the latter were first seen in Season 2). The new pod was known by two designations (depending on the episode): laboratory and booster, while the additional engines were identified as being a spine-mounted booster pack. While the former was seen in several episodes from Season 1’s ‘Guardian of Piri’ onwards, the latter appeared in just three and the combined ‘fit’ was first seen in the Season 2 opening episode ‘The Metamorph’.

Above: Spot the ‘greeblies’  – the outer faces of the service and engineering modules used parts from Tamiya’s Panther kit, while the top of the former module has lunar module halves as adornment.
Above: Spot the ‘greeblies’  – the outer faces of the service and engineering modules used parts from Tamiya’s Panther kit, while the top of the former module has lunar module halves from the Airfix 1/144 Saturn V as adornment.

This is a scale-accurate replica of the larger 44in (approximately 1/24 scale) Eagle model used for close-up shots and while it doesn’t have an interior, the exterior captures the subtle nuances and ‘greeblies’ used on the studio model. These include several items ‘donated’ from Airfix’s 1/144 Saturn V rocket (including the lunar lander and Stage 2/3 J-2 engine halves) and 1/72 SR-N1 hovercraft, plus Tamiya’s 1/35 Panther engine decks (on the service and engineering modules) and what looks like a Centurion turret.

Above: Even the underside received the kit-bashing treatment – note the J2 engine halves from Airfix’s 1/144 Saturn V kit.
Above: Even the underside received the kit-bashing treatment – note the J2 engine halves from Airfix’s 1/144 Saturn V kit.

Small-screen inspiration

MPC’s kit follows the Eagle’s design in that ‘core’ elements – comprising the ‘beak’, podded landing gear, lattice fuselage spine, service and engineering modules plus propulsion – are retained, being presented on 17 styrene runners. These are joined by three new frames that provides parts for an all-new pod and boosters supplied on three extra frames, plus separate upper and lower panels.

Above: The Eagle’s lattice spine comes as a two-piece ensemble, with the upper structure presented as a single item. 
Above: The Eagle’s lattice spine comes as a two-piece ensemble, with the upper structure presented as a single item. 

Moulding is excellent throughout – to the point that the ‘greeblies’ are readily identifiable – although some attachment gates are rather thick. The ‘beak’ is supplied as horizontally split halves, and each of the two modules has separate upper and lower lattice sections; the enclosed structure is a faithful replica of the studio model, and it’s great to see the attention to detail MPC has lavished on this kit.  

Above: Separate, smaller landing pads are provided for the laboratory/booster pod; these have fixed structs. The manoeuvring thruster is one of four to adorn the pod’s side sections.
Above: Separate, smaller landing pads are provided for the laboratory/booster pod; these have fixed structs. The manoeuvring thruster is one of four to adorn the pod’s side sections.

The new laboratory/booster pod is just as impressive, capturing the ‘cut-pyramid’ style side extensions accurately, along with the smaller landing pads. Note, while the main landing pads can be configured in flight or landed modes (with different oleo sections) those on the pod are fixed in the latter form (a check against video footage showed this was how they were portrayed in Space:1999).

Above: An all-new laboratory/booster pod is supplied on two runners with separate upper and lower panels; each frame also provides half the parts for the spine booster pack.
Above: An all-new laboratory/booster pod is supplied on two runners with separate upper and lower panels; each frame also provides half the parts for the spine booster pack.

It's the same story with the booster pack, which is built around a central ‘hub’, onto which the propellant and magnetic (sic) tanks are then added, followed by the two large angled thruster nozzles. If you’ve already got a standard Eagle then this alone will make for a standout addition, even more so with the new pod.

Above: The spine booster pack’s core elements are provided on a new runner, along with revised engine bell frames for the Eagle’s main propulsion nozzles. The former also has ‘greeblies’, with tank-kit parts enhancing the top panels.
Above: The spine booster pack’s core elements are provided on a new runner, along with revised engine bell frames for the Eagle’s main propulsion nozzles. The former also has ‘greeblies’, with tank-kit parts enhancing the top panels.
Above: The main exhausts are complex items, so as to capture the bell-shaped structure accurately; the smaller parts on the right of this photo are for the underside nozzles.
Above: The main exhausts are complex items, so as to capture the bell-shaped structure accurately; the smaller parts on the right of this photo are for the underside nozzles.

If the kit parts are good, then the decal sheet is a delight – all of the stencilling and markings are included, from the Moonbase Alpha logos and black panels on the ‘beak’ to the stylised crosses that surround the manoeuvring thrusters. There are even striped sections for the fuselage spine to help ease painting. The markings are well-printed on gloss carrier film, and the tonal demarcations are crisp, plus the writing is legible under magnification.

As with other MPC kits, remember to keep the box, as the lower half has all the decal and painting guidance – the Eagle is predominantly white, but has irregular light grey patches that will need masking. If you’ve ever wanted to build an Eagle Transporter, this is the ideal scale to opt for; being 14⅔in long, the size is manageable (especially when compared to the 22in 1/48 kit). It’s available at MPC stockists through importer Amerang, with a suggested retail price of £109.99, although several retailers are marketing it for less.