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Creating Space

Creating Space: The Story of the Space Age Through Models Book Review

By Robert Schmitt

Date of Review April 2008 Title Creating Space: The Story of the Space Age Through Models
Author Mat Irvine Publisher Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc
Published 2002 ISBN 978-1896522869
Format 352 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $30.95


First of all, I have a confession; I’m a space fanatic. I grew up in the 60s and closely followed the race to the moon. I still remember sitting in front of the television while Neil Armstrong became the first human to touch alien soil and personally witnessed two Apollo launches from Cape Kennedy. Come to think of it, I initially got into modeling because of the Space Race, so I was thrilled when I came across this fine book by Mat Irvine.

Mat Irvine is no stranger to space or models. He has spent many years working for the BBC as a Technical Consultant and Visual Effects Designer on shows such as The Sky at Night and Blake's 7. He is perhaps best known for his work on Doctor Who, where he is credited with building the robotic dog K-9 for the series. I had the pleasure of meeting Mat in person this year and we’ve discussed his works several times since then.

According to Mat, Creating Space initially started out as a compilation of all the factual space kits that had been produced to date (2002). Instead, it turned into a timeline of spaceflight history as told through the commercial model industry. While the emphasis is on injected styrene (plastic) models, other media such as vacuum-formed, white metal, resin and even card models are included in the book. A special Forward is written by the late-great science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who fondly recalls building and flying model rockets as a child.

At 352 pages, Creating Space is organized into twelve chronological chapters that cover everything from Robert Goddard’s first liquid fuel rocket to the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Each chapter features color illustrations of historical and conceptual rockets, missiles and spacecraft; as well as box-art, advertising sheets, catalog pages and reference photos. There’s even a chapter devoted to futuristic spacecraft such as the Roswell UFO and 2001 A Space Odyssey. One of the nicer touches in this book are the two reference appendices that list virtually every spacecraft, rocket, missile and science fiction model kit ever produced. These comprehensive tables include kit descriptions, scale, manufacturer's reference numbers and the year it was first produced. There's also a useful appendix that lists dealers, web sites and publications; although some of the vendors have gone out of business since this book was first published.

Overall, Creating Space will make a nice additional to any modeler’s collection. I highly recommend this book to spacecraft, science fiction and mainstream modelers.