Dragon 1/144 Space Shuttle

KIT #: 11004
PRICE: $57.00 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


I can remember as a younger person, the excitement of hearing that the US was going to develop a space plane of sorts. The thought of a reusable space truck that would be able to haul material into orbit brought visions of an increasing human presence in space and the start of even greater things, such as bases on the moon and manned expeditions to other planets.

Like many, I raptly followed the initial tests of the Enterprise and was glued to the television when the first shuttle launched. I thought that now we'd have regular and frequent trips outside the atmosphere. Well, reality snuck in when NASA continuously lost funding and trips had to be more spaced apart. I was also shocked by the loss of the Challenger and the Colombia. However, like most, I realized that one doesn't do things like this and not expect to have failures from time to time, no matter how well one plans. The Soviets backed out of shuttles early after flight testing their Buran and having one unmanned launch.

Somewhere along the line, the idea of a reusable orbiter went away, probably due to budget cuts and the Space Shuttle program ended in July 2011 after 30 years and 133 successful missions. Still, the magic is not gone and the Shuttle is still as popular as ever, even if it is no longer flying.


 Dragon has invested rather heavily into space-based kits, doing a number of Apollo subjects and now the Space Shuttle. The kit itself consists of 85 parts, all superbly molded. One might expect the underside pieces to be a mass of engraved panel lines to represent the tiles, but that is not the case. In fact, though there are quite a few tile decals, none are for the underside and an underside view is not even part of the decal placement guide. Most odd, I think.

Another interesting aspect of the kit is that the upper wing pieces and one half of the fin along with both upper elevons, both engine fairings and the upper forward fuselage are clear plastic. There is detail under the engine fairings and the lower wings and one fin half have framework detail molded into the plastic. The cockpit is quite detailed for this scale and with little to be seen through the windows, the clear upper section provides a building option for those who like 'cut-away' building. The engine nozzle assembly is also nicely done and looks very convincing.

A full cargo bay is included that has a satellite payload. The doors hinge to show the payload and the small launcher platform within. The robot arm is a single piece and modeled in the stowed position. Of course, you can build the Shuttle with the bay doors closed if you wish. A separate satellite with the solar panels extended and a small stand is included. Finally, one can build the shuttle with gear up or down as one wishes. There are a few holes to fill, such as the cradle holes for when it is atop the 747, but nothing major.

The instructions are well drawn and there is plenty of painting information provided during the build using Gunze paint numbers. The decal sheet is nicely printed and like all Dragon decals, will work just fine with most setting solutions. I should note that the only Shuttle on the sheet is the Discovery, though the Atlantis is the box art photo.


 Those who are into real space will find this to be a very nice kit. I find the lack of lower surface tile representation, even if by decals, a bit odd. Not sure if all the clear bits will be such a major selling point as most of us will simply treat them as standard bits and paint over them, but it does make it easier to mask the cockpit windows. A kit that will make for a nice addition to any real space collection.  

June 2015

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