Gemini (Revell) after-action report

Total time building 452.75 hours (that’s about 2.69 24 hour-a-day weeks).

Begin date August 20, 2016; end date April 24, 2017.

Vendors:

Revell

Kit #8618 – NASA/McDonnel Gemini Space Capsule; 1/24 scale

Archer Transfers

Set #AR88001 – Resin Rivets; Various scales

Airscale

Set #AS48 USA – Instrument Dial Decals; Generic: WWII USAAF; scale 1/48

LVM Studios

Gemini Interior Detail Set 1/24 scale

RealSpace Models

Gemini Detail Set 1/24 scale

Space Model Systems

Set #GS24 decals

My Opinion

The molds for this model were cut back in the mid 60s so I thought I knew what I was in for. There would be accuracy and fit problems. I didn’t realize how optimistic that opinion could be. By the time I got this thing done, I had a thorough realization of how optimistic I was. I’ve read blogs and reviews from other builders of this kit how they thought the fit was “okay” and detail was “good.” CLEARLY these builders and bloggers operate to much looser standards than I do. “Okay” is NOT the four-letter word I’d use. “Shit” comes closer.

I’d wanted to build this spacecraft to replicate Gemini VIII and that was just not possible. Yes, there are a fair amount of detail photos out there. The problem is that for the most part the available photos do not indicate which damned capsule they’re showing. So the result is more generic than specific. Doesn’t please me at all.

There aren’t a lot of after-market bits for this kit and with the exception of two crew figures, I purchased them all. With the exception of the decals, made by Microscale Industries and marketed by Space Model Systems (#GS24), which were quite amazing in how clearly legible even the smallest decals were, the exterior made by RealSpace Models and the interior made by LVM Studios were disappointing (to say the least).

The LVM interior details were mostly PE brass and though they built nicely (though incomplete), they were too large for scale. Had I not moved the walls of the interior out, I can’t imagine how they’d fit.

The majority of my bile is directed towards RealSpace Models. What absolute garbage. Though the parts initially look more accurate than what the kit provides, the initial look didn’t tell the story. The hull parts are too large (I didn’t use the nose piece since I didn’t model an orbiting Gemini, which is the only time that section would be exposed). And saying “the quality of the resin castings” in the same sentence takes humor to greater lengths than I’m comfortable with. There was no “quality” to these resin castings. If they were pressure-cast, well, maybe the pressure should have been higher than one PSI. Any attempt to work these castings showed bubbles EVERYWHERE. Everywhere. They showed up on the exterior. And when I used denatured alcohol to remove a blown paint job, I discovered that the alcohol would also remove the exterior surface of the resin castings which in turn exposed MORE bubbles. (The alcohol also made whatever formulation resin that was used flexible. If I were ever to use RealSpace parts again…which I am not…that trait might be used to some advantage.)

452.75 hours was a long time to spend on what is essentially a simple model. The single biggest time consumption was spent making the AM parts fit (to whatever miserable extent they “fit”).

I do not expect it will show well. [And though I made it to the show that I wanted to attend with this build, it didn’t show well. It got beat out by another Gemini capsule that, even in 1/144 scale, was even LESS accurate than this one. No…don’t get me started on the judging…]

The only bright spot to this build is that it’s DONE and I do NOT have to deal with it ever again.

17 responses

  1. Bravo!
    Really like the Glam shots of the finished work.

    That was one heck of a battle.

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    1. Battle. Yes. Quite. SO glad I’m not doing *this* one again!!

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  2. Your after-action report is useful on a number of levels. It’s a clean roll up of time and supplies with a synopsis of the pros and cons. Another, probably unintentional, use is as a learning tool. It has given me a few ideas for what I need to track on my own projects to better understand what I have invested into them.

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  3. I’m glad the after-action report is of use to you!

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  4. Thank you so much for this. I have the kit and the LVM/RealSpace AM coming soon. This will be so helpful to avoid falling into all the pitfalls you encountered.

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    1. You’re most welcome! I think the major pitfall with this kit is the approximate fit of the parts. I don’t know what the work-around is for that short of cutting new dies for it. If you’ve found this site I suspect you’ve done online research so you probably already know that Revelle’s kit was based on the engineering mock-up and *that* differed GREATLY from production capsules. Unless you want to use the LVM parts as references to build your own OMS packs, there’s no way around their dimensional inaccuracies. I don’t know if it’s due to my fundamental laziness or that I was working on a tight deadline, but I neglected to look at references for the access panels on the service and retro-rocket modules. Mine are WRONG…so don’t use those as a reference. I’d be interested to see how your build goes so please get back to me on it. (Misery loves company, I’m told.)

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      1. Hi rapierfighter! Small nitpick: the OAMS thrusters are RealSpace parts, not LVM.

        I am and always have been a complete Mercury/Gemini/Apollo freak, so I was well aware of the discrepancies on the model, which I first built as a small child (not very well!)

        It does look a daunting challenge. This is my first model build for nearly 30 years. I have never worked with resin or photo-etch. However, I like a challenge. I may try to build up the OAMS packs with Milliput on a plasticard base traced from the RealSpace parts (the outlines look reasonably OK).

        I have a small advantage over you (though your evident mastery of model-making is something I can’t hope to emulate): I’m not working to a deadline. If it takes me a year, it takes me a year.

        With all the “fun” you had with the crew compartment tub, adding wings and fillets, I’m thinking of scratchbuilding one from plasticard to save myself the trouble. It’s not a complex part, and I have a vernier caliper so I can get the measurements exact.

        One thing I’m nervous about is fitting the replacement AM window coves. Of course, I’ll cut undersize and sand back in tiny increments to try to get the exact fit to minimise puttying, but it’s a small part, and it looks like I need an angled cut to accommodate the resin replacements. The curvature of the panel makes it challenging. I may start with some Dremel cutting wheel slots in the centre of the area and work outwards. May I ask how you did it?

        Thanks to your hard work and skill, I know in advance about the error in the RCS ring orientation, the dimensional inaccuracies of the LVM parts and the bubbles in the RealSpace parts, so I won’t have to discover them the hard (and frustrating) way like you. I think a coat of Mr. Surfacer on the resin parts should fix at least the micro-holes, and the bigger ones can be puttied.

        I will be hoping to model Gemini IX-A in orbit, with an exhausted Gene Cernan trying to strap on the AMU in the back of the Service Module, although I’m finding it difficult to get much info on the AMU dimensions and look. shapeways.com has replacement Gemini astronauts, including a spacewalking Ed White. I’m thinking I can remove the HHMU and reposition the arms and legs as required. For Cernan’s “chain mail trousers”, I was thinking of fine denier pantyhose nylon painted dark grey.

        I’m looking forward to this, and I’m NOT going to rush it. And I’m going to be referring to your build log a lot!

        I’ll be happy to keep you apprised of progress when I start the build.

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        1. Well, duh. Yes. RealSpace parts, not LVM. T’anks.

          Okay, let’s straighten something out. Though my ego appreciates the kind words, I am *not* a master model-maker. I am, however, truly barmy. They’re often mistaken for the same thing.

          Also, don’t sell your skills short. If you looked around my website at all, the M4A3 was the first model I’d done in about 24-25 years and my skills back then WERE NOT what they are now, even though the hands were steadier and the eyes worked a lot better. Back then I was a LOT more trepidatious than I am now. I just decided to really push my skill level this time (which ALWAYS needs it, otherwise I’m always doing the same model in different form). In short, if you want to get better, never start a build you know how to finish. You’ll have to learn something new to get to the finish. Emulate no one…be the best *you* possible.

          Excellent idea regarding the chain mail knickers! I was going to use pantyhose for the cabin velcro but the texture was too large for scale. (Pantyhose is also good for finding those SODDING SMALL parts that fly away, seemingly into an entirely different space/time continuum. Rubber band a piece of pantyhose over the nozzle of a vacuum – hoover if you’re a Brit – and pass it around the floor. One of the bits of shitte that gets sucked onto the pantyhose will be the SODDING SMALL part you almost lost.)

          Also followed your link to the AMU info. NICE! Were I to try another one of these (WHICH I AM NOT…there isn’t a gun big enough to force me to!) that link would have been quite useful!

          So…the window coves. What drove that particular bus was my concern over just about any adhesive totally ruining the clear parts. What I did was to make a part to fit in *front* of the opening out of .010″ clear styrene card. Yeah…there was more than a little diddling to get the clear panel to fit (and yeah, it required some putty…don’t let the putty scare you away…take a toothpick cut to a chisel tip to apply the putty EXACTLY where you want it and mask over the rest of the surface to keep the putty from where you don’t want it) and use Archer’s rivets to put back the fastener detail…it’s easier to do than you would think. Once the clear panel is in place and puttied, it’s just a matter of masking the area you want to stay clear. And there you’ll have a just about perfect window port! It also does another service by making the gap between the inner and outer panes more to scale.

          When it comes to the instrument panels, if you want to go the route I went with the artificial horizons (sort of reminds me of my love life, actually…and you DO NOT want to go THAT route!!) and replace the flat PE section on the instrument panel with something rounded, I can pour a couple of the parts I used from resin… If you want to go that route, we can take this conversation to email-land. The resin parts will be free.

          Glad you found the ‘site of some use!

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          1. Hello again! I am a Brit, so knickers and Hoovers it is!

            The window coves are the concave hull pieces between the window and the nose. I’m reasonably cool about the actual windows.

            I love the advice about starting a model you don’t know how to complete!

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            1. Oh, thank you so much for the offer of the cast resin 8-balls! I would so grateful. It’s a really jarring note on the LVM PE.

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              1. Happy to help. I’ll try sending you an email to see if the address is correct.

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            2. Ah! THOSE things! I used the resin parts that RealSpace provided. If there’s a “trick” to those parts it’s in not cutting the old part ALL the way through to the hatch openings. I cut *just* short of the openings and filled things with superglue.

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          2. Oh, and are you a Brit, rapierfighter? I did wonder when I saw your favourite expletive, “sodding”. I’ve never seen an American use that.

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            1. Nope…I’m a Yank. I did, though, drive a Triumph TR-4A and TR-3B AND I rode a BSA Lightning. I suspect some of the British slang rubbed off on me. Cheers!

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              1. Ah! I used to ride a NorVin! Cheers, mate!

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                1. Posted a note to your writing blog.

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