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DML 1/72 Gemini Spacecraft with Spacewalker Build Review

By Chuck Holte

Date of Review February 2013 Manufacturer DML
Subject Gemini Spacecraft with Spacewalker Scale 1/72
Kit Number 11013 Primary Media Styrene, Soft Vinyl (Astronaut Figures)
Pros Spacecraft kit beautifully molded, good fit, easy build Cons Astronauts molded in soft vinyl-like plastic; disappointing decals
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $23.50

The Project

Project Gemini was a key building block program taking the US space effort from the early 1960s with Project Mercury to the seminal Apollo manned moon-landing program.   Gemini capsules were designed for two astronauts, as opposed to one for Mercury and three for Apollo.  Gemini pioneered US concepts for working in a space environment via space walks, on-orbit rendezvous with other spacecraft and finally demonstrated the long endurance spaceflight necessary for Apollo's manned moon landing and return to earth.  Gemini, in early Greek mythology, were twin brothers (albeit from different fathers) Castor and Pollux.  They are still visible in the Gemini Constellation as twin bright stars in the night sky over the northern hemisphere.

Hong Kong based Dragon Models Ltd have recently been releasing much-wanted 1960-70s era US spacecraft kits and prebuilt models based on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs.  This build review looks at their Gemini Spacecraft with Spacewalker kit in 1/72 scale.

The Dragon Gemini kit is packaged in a sturdy 6 ½ by 10 inch top opening box with attractive space walking artwork on the top lid and full-color paint and decal instructions on the bottom of the box.  The kit consists of about 30 beautifully molded styrene parts for the spacecraft, seven vinyl-like parts for the two astronauts, a short length of copper wire for the spacewalking tether, a small decal sheet, and a robust metal and plastic stand for displaying the spacecraft and spacewalker.  Also included was a 7 by 11 inch, two sided, black and white multi-lingual instruction sheet with the parts breakdown and appropriate/adequate assembly instructions.

Overall, I think it is a great little kit.  The spacecraft is well molded with finely engraved and raised surface detail.  The kit provides three hatches; two can be attached in the closed position and fit well in the recessed openings.  The third hatch is designed with tabs to allow it to be displayed in the open position, ala the box art.  I was a bit disappointed the hatches were molded with the window area solid/closed.  I used a small bit in a pin vice and #11 blade to open the windows and after painting used Testors Clear Parts Cement on a toothpick to simulate window glass.   I also replaced the kit supplied "tether" wire between the spacewalker and the capsule with a more substantial, and I think more to scale, bit of telephone wire painted with Testors gold enamel.

I was disappointed to find the two astronauts molded in vinyl-like plastic.  Contrary to popular opinion, the vinyl like material does bond to itself with solvent cement such as Tenax 7R and is paintable with both enamel and lacquer based paint.  My gripe is with the seam lines.  Although not terrible, the seams are somewhat difficult to remove and take away from an otherwise nicely done and important part of the project.

Gemini Gemini

I painted the assembled interior parts with Model Master Dark Ghost Gray enamel.  The exterior of the capsule and the aft equipment sections were prepped with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer.  I used Tamiya rattle-can Pure White lacquer for the aft sections and Model Master Graphite Metallic Black enamel for the manned capsule.   Although reportedly early production kits were supplied with a gold finished aft shield, mine was not.  After painting the aft section white, I applied gold Bare Metal Foil to the aft surface using a toothpick to work the foil into the molded fabric design and trimmed with a hobby blade to finish. 

Gemini Gemini Gemini

Decals, although printed by Cartograf, were a little disappointing.   The major markings are in white and brought a little color to the otherwise dark capsule.  Unfortunately, the numerous finely printed, thin red markings did not have a white undercoat and subsequently nearly disappeared when applied to the nearly black spacecraft.  Other than the transparency of the red decals, all went down on the model well with Micro Sol and showed no noticeable silvering.

Gemini Gemini Gemini Gemini

References used were the excellent Project Gemini, A Bold Leap Forward, a three DVD set from Spacecraft Films, and Michael J. Mackowski's  detail-rich Gemini - Space in Miniature #2 booklet.

Everything went together well, it was an enjoyable build and I'm pleased with the finished model.  I spent approximately 6 hours on the build, at least half of that on paint and decaling.  Recommended for all skill levels.