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Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser

AMT 1/500 Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2011 Manufacturer AMT/Round 2
Subject Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser Scale 1/500
Kit Number 0698 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Outstanding decal sheet, new lighting, great price Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $34.95

First Look

Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser
Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser
Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser
Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser
Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser

Round2 Models continues to reissue a nice array of kits that haven't seen the light of day in decades. Here is one that I was rather pleased to see announced at the last iHobbyExpo trade show, the Interplanetary Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser. Those of us old enough to remember that Paul McCartney was in a band before 'Wings' will remember this gem as well.

First released in the late 1960s, this kit was billed as the Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser that appeared on the side of Star Trek kit boxes hinting that this might appear in a future original series episode but such was not the case. Nevertheless, the design was intended to fulfull a role on some science fiction series but never got there. According to Star Trek designer Mike Okuda, the Leif Ericson was designed by Matt Jefferies, the same designer of the original Enterprise. While the Leif Ericson was written into some of the storyboards for the animated series, it never made it into production.

Despite the 'real-world' setbacks, the Leif Ericson did indeed make it to store shelves and I believe reissued once or twice in the subsequent decades. I haven't seen one since I was a kid! Here it is once again from Round2 Models and with a twist. Last year, we saw this kit's cousin released - the UFO Mystery Ship - and it had improvements over the original release with a nice decal sheet that provided those 'mysterious' markings as well as details for inside that shuttle bay.

This time around, the kit has been changed again. The folks at Round2 Models are always making improvements or restoring the fidelity of the classic kits. If you look at the sprue shots of the 'UFO Mystery Ship, the long forward fuselage was molded separately, but here it is integral the the main fuselage of this release. What's more, Round2 has restored the clear (red) parts from the original model that didn't make it into the UFO Mystery Ship.

While this some nice work on Round2 Models' part, they didn't stop there. They added a display stand that not only holds this model up (not included in the previous kit) but they've also added lighting, wiring, switch, and battery holder so you can light up your starship as well. Nice! The original release many decades ago may have also been lit with 'grain of wheat' (GOW) bulbs just like the original release of the USS Enterprise, but this kit has been modernized. Gone are the hot GOW bulbs and instead we have white LEDs that have wires pre-soldered into place. Simply follow the instructions and your engines will illuminate powered by a pair of AAA batteries.

Just like the UFO Mystery Ship, this release has a nice decal sheet that provides markings for the SSC Leif Ericson and some generic numbers to put any registration number you'd like onto the hull.

I'm impressed with the improvements made even since Round2 Models' put the UFO Mystery Ship out the door over a year ago. This kit should even be an easier build and even features the lighting of the original (Beatles-era) release.

My sincere thanks to Round2 Models for this review sample