There are a lot of reasons why we build models. For some it is an interest in a subject like airplanes, tanks or ships. For others, it is an interest in history and how these vehicles were used. But sometimes we are just looking to go back to a happy place and enjoy a trip down memory lane.
That was certainly the case with this Academy Phoenix.
I was introduced to this colorful spaceship back in the late 1970s. At the time, afterschool TV programming was rather limited. It consisted of 3.5 channels on a box that looked like this:
Well, sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 one of those buttons provided “Battle of the Planets” – and this little guy, much like every other little guy I knew, was spellbound. It was a colorful space ship adventure show featuring kids not much older than me. It offered hope in a time of earth tones and malaise. I loved it.
Now, at the time we didn’t ask questions about whether it was right to give angsty teens the keys to a multi-trillion dollar machine that was capable of both underwater work and faster than light travel. We didn’t ask questions about the plausibility of docking a fighter plane perfectly up the backside of a spaceship or the complex physics and energy requirements of travelling to and from distant galaxies within the timeframe of a 22 minute episode. Perhaps we should have asked more questions about the bird costumes. But at the time, none of it mattered because we just loved the show.
I was not aware of any toys or models related to Battle of the Planets (or, as I later found out “Gatchaman”) and if there were, I doubt they could have competed with Starwars toys and Space Lego. But here we are some forty years later and Academy has come out with a very good model of the Phoenix. Better late than never:
I had a blast building this model. This truly is a modern kit with as up-to-date engineering as anything you would see in a Tamiya, Meng or Takom box. Many of the parts are attached to the sprues in a way they can be snipped without damaging them. Even better is the effort that Academy took in hiding the attachment of many of the parts along the kit’s panel lines or behind other parts. So gaps and fillers were not required.
The kit is designed to appeal to different types of modelers. For the non-modeler, it can be press fit together and since it is molded in several colors, paint is not required and stickers are provided. For those of us who want to paint, well, the colors are simple and I used Mr. Color sprays this time with very positive results and the Cartograph decals were a pleasant surprise.
For those looking to take it to another level, there is a purpose designed LED lighting kit. This was an extra $15 or so and it was definitely worth the effort.
The model went together fairly quickly and the result on the stand makes for a great display piece. I chose to do mine ‘clean’ but there are options to put landing gear on, attach the little vehicles or have the missiles come out.
I did not take a lot of pictures of the build but I did video all of it for a YouTube video that you can find here or you can click below. Since this was somewhat of a less serious build, I decided to have more fun in the video, I hope you like it.
I was surprised at the quality of this kit. It really opened my eyes and had me question why I have been buying older kits. I mean, there is a sense of accomplishment when I can coax a nice finish from an older kit with some issues. But there is also a lot to be said for straightforward perfect assembly leading to straightforward painting and decal work.
Maybe I am just getting less patient with these tasks? I am not sure. Let me know what you think: Do you prefer this type of building or are you keen to correct old kits and turn them into silk purses?
Otherwise, do any of you remember this show? I was amazed to see so many episodes available on YouTube. I tried to watch one with my daughter. She was rather clear how much she’d prefer watching something else. Fair enough. I learned to avoid re-watching old shows. They never seem as good as I remembered them! At any rate, if you have some memories of the show or anything else Battle of the Planets related, feel free to share in the comments.