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Aurora [ MORE REVIEWS ] [ NEW STORIES ]

In-Box Review
148
Nike-Hercules Guided Missile
Nike Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform Kit
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

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Introduction
Welcome to the final review of the late-great Aurora Model Company series of 1/48 missiles! Nike Hercules [sic] Guided Missile with Launching Platform was kitted in the late 1950s as kit 379-129; ”-129″ was the MSRP of $1.29, and one got a lot of model for that. We’ll judge this venerable kit today.

Special thanks to Alan Bussie of Old Model Kits for his contribution of kit release notes, as well as making this model available for this review.

Missile History
Development of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules took place in the early 1950s and deployment commenced in 1958. A total of 145 missile batteries were deployed. Most of these were converted Nike-Ajax units. Deactivation of Nike-Hercules batteries in the United States commenced in the early 1970s and was completed by 1975, with the exception of batteries remaining in Alaska and Florida. These batteries were deactivated in the late 1970s. Foreign countries, mainly NATO allies, deployed this system as well.
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

    Length- 41 ft. with booster

    Diameter- 31.5 inches

    Wingspan- 6 ft. 2 in.

    Weight- 10,710 pounds with booster

    Booster- Fuel Solid propellant

    Sustainer Motor- Solid propellant

    Range- Over 75 miles

    Speed- Mach 3.65 (2707 mph)

    Maximum Altitude- 100,000 ft.*

    Guidance - Command guidance from ground installations

    *Many web sites contain inaccurate information concerning the maximum intercept altitude for the Nike Hercules. They list the maximum intercept altitude as being 150,000 feet. This is incorrect. The maximum intercept altitude of the Nike Hercules is 100,000 feet. Please refer to page 13 of TM 9-1400-250-10/2.

- Ed Thelen's Nike Missile Web Site.

Kit Release History
In 1958 Aurora joined Revell and Monogram in the ‘Missile Craze.’ Early injection molded missiles were flying off the shelves and so entire lines were quickly planned. But the boom was a bust - as quickly as the sales soared, they crashed to the ground…but not before much of the line entered production. This combination of events - poor sales and short production runs has made all of the Aurora missiles rare and their Nike Hercules among the rarer ones.

To make matters worse, Revell had a superior (but larger scale) version of this same missile for ‘58 with a launcher, which created an over-saturated supply for a quickly vanishing market! The Aurora Herc was the 6th and final missile released in 1958; Aurora’s last missiles were released in ‘59. By 1961 the kit was no longer in the catalog; that means that it was most likely discontinued some time during 1960, meaning the production run was only between two and three years. The Aurora kit was never reissued and the mold whereabouts are unknown. The Revell kit has been reissued many times!

Because sales were poor, no box variations have surfaced; the first box is likely the only box. It featured the 1.29 price extension, the Parents’ Magazine Seal and the oval logo with the ‘Northern Lights’ behind the AURORA text and ‘Famous Fighters’ in the border of the oval outline. Even though the PM Seal was dropped during the final years of production, it still appeared on the Herc. Aurora was probably still using up the stock of original boxes ordered for this kit.

The white missile parts were usually in a stapled, factory sealed bag. The olive drab launcher parts can be found factory sealed or loose. The kit was packed with tissue paper inside. The box top was either sealed with two thin strips of clear tape from the box top to lower tray or a full seal of clear cello.

In The Box (and bag)
Aurora packaged Nike-Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform in their standard rectangular lid-tray box. Box art is a clearly exciting launch sequence!

Inside are sprues for essentially two models - the missile and the launcher - plus decals and the instruction sheet. Sprues were contained in plastic bags. Unfortunately for this review, the MIM-14 missile parts are still in the factory sealed bag and thus I was not allowed to break the seal, making detailed shots of it impossible.

There are 66 parts. The breakdown is:

26-piece missile
36-piece launcher
4 crew members

Molding is overall fair with hardly any flash, a few shallow sink marks and minimal mold seam lines. Unfortunately there are several visible ejector circles, although happily they are shallow. Corners and edges are a mixed bag, major parts being sharp but molded detail being “soft.”

Four figures are included. They have shallow detail yet they are “good.” Not the quality of Monogram’s figures of that time, but okay. Typical of the era, they are single-piece moldings. The hands are over-scaled. Two are individual figures in plausible poses. The other two are molded as a single piece, curiously carrying an ambiguous short structural component.

Instructions, Decals, Paint
Aurora used a single big piece of paper for the instruction sheet. It is clearly illustrated in the ‘exploded’ style with halftone graphics and a photo of the assembled kit. Aurora distributed their own brand of model glue and paints and both of those are hawked on the sheet. A concise history of the missile system is provided. The back is a multi-panel sales brochure advertising all of Aurora’s models, illustrated by their categories: Whirlybirds, Giant Bombers, Modern Day Fighters and Famous Tanks.

The missile is assembled through five steps, including the joining of the missile to the booster. The launcher is assembled in three panels of seven steps. It is an “action” model that can elevate. It takes the place of the clear styrene stand that supports most Aurora models.

Decals and painting are minimal. Only a nose band and the booster tubes are shown painted, and only in one color - red.

Conclusion
If you want a 1/48 Nike-Hercules, Aurora’s is the only option unless you are a scratchbuilder. It is not the only N-H missile model. Revell made one, too. But Revell’s issue was in their short-lived series of odd 1/40 scaled military models - perhaps to defend their 1/40 Douglas A-1 Skyraider’s base?.

This Aurora offering is not a bad model. A bit of cleanup and the parts should look good. It is large enough to add any extra detailing. Most of the parts are beefy enough to accept some carving, drilling and sanding if you deem that necessary.

If you don’t have an Aurora Nike-Hercules, try to acquire one. It is a fun and unique model. If you have one of these kits, enjoy yourself and build it. I would!

Again, special thanks to Alan Bussie of Old Model Kits.com for his contribution of kit release notes, as well as making this model available for review.
SUMMARY
Highs: Okay molding and detail.
Lows: Soft molding and detail.
Verdict: This Aurora offering is not a bad model. A bit of cleanup and the parts should look good.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 379
  Suggested Retail: See Text
  Related Link: Nike Missile Web Site
  PUBLISHED: Oct 07, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 61.17%

Our Thanks to Old Model Kits!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Kits like this make me extremely nostalgic and pine for those halcyon days of youth when we'd buy kits for a couple bucks, assemble them the same day, trash them in rough play, and move on to the next. Which one of you out there as a child never played with their (poorly assembled) models in the sand box? I rather liked firecrackers myself. Maladjusted? Probably not. Anyways, this great kit was one that I can remember enjoying for longer than most. A re-release would be appreciated and I promise that I won't blow-up my next one...
OCT 09, 2016 - 05:14 AM
Hi Frank, I remember the synergy between models, firecrackers, and fun! Glad this walked you down memory lane. There will be more Aurora model reviews in the future. Keep watching.
OCT 10, 2016 - 04:32 PM
I would build all summer long tanks, jeeps, arty, even ships waiting for the day when the water was shut off to a trickle in the irrigation canal that bordered our property. My mom didn't think we knew but the shoebox full of firecrackers was very easy to find. Ammo dumps were created from a stack of firecrackers with the fuses all wound together. Others were sacrificed to the single razor blade from dad's side of the cabinet as we sliced the sacred explosives apart and poured out the precious insides to create a powder magazine for a battleship. Other were placed as IEDs under unsuspecting troops. All that work for one afternoon of fun... and then it was time to rebuild and rearm for the next Saturday afternoon battle along the banks of the Ridenbaugh canal... a campaign that went on for several years! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.
OCT 11, 2016 - 02:30 AM
Monogram acquired Aurora's molds, but most were lost in a train derailment, so they are gone forever (though Polar Lights has copied some of the Aurora kits for reissue). The Nike Hercules was also kitted by Revell in the larger 1/40th, and is available in reissued versions. Renwal also did a Nike Ajax in 1/32nd sclae, which was also reissued by Revell after they acquired the molds. I don't believe there were any kits of the Nike Zeus version.
OCT 12, 2016 - 05:27 AM
[/quote] Monogram acquired Aurora's molds, but most were lost in a train derailment, so they are gone forever (though Polar Lights has copied some of the Aurora kits for reissue). The Nike Hercules was also kitted by Revell in the larger 1/40th, and is available in reissued versions. Renwal also did a Nike Ajax in 1/32nd sclae, which was also reissued by Revell after they acquired the molds. I don't believe there were any kits of the Nike Zeus version.[/quote] I've heard the "train derailment" story before, which I believe is a true event, but in a recent interview of Revell-Monogram I think they said the reason so many Aurora molds were lost was due to poor storage and copper/bronze mold liners, causing the molds to deteriorate to a point they were no longer usable. This happened before Monogram acquired the molds. Renwal made the 1/32 Nike Ajax, Revell made the Nike Hercules in 1/40 scale-- both of which have been re-released by Revell-Monogram in the History Makers and more recently in the SSP programs. The Nike Zeus was intended to be the ICBM intercepting member of the family, but never fielded, and was terminated in the development stage, which explains why no mainstream kit manufacturer released it. It simply cost to much to develop (estimated to be $15B), with too many technical difficulties in actually getting it to intercept an ICBM. The Ajax and its big brother were intended to intercept "air-breathing" targets. Both the Renwal Ajax and and Revell Hercules are ok in outline, but are inaccurate in surface details, I've compared them to the actual missiles at the Fort Lewis Military Museum, along with a fellow modeler, who has made accurizing the Revell Hercules a pet project. Both use typical 50s and 60s modeling technology, such as raised panel lines, which is to be expected, with the Renwal Ajax being more actuate then the Revell Hercules. I've seen the missile body of the Aurora kit once in my lifetime, so I can't comment much on its accuracy, but in shape and outline it looks like it fits the bill. Monogram released a US Missile kit, in about 1/277 scale (if I recall correctly) that contained an Ajax, a Hercules, and may have had a Zeus-- I just traded mine a few weeks ago as I didn't think I'd ever build it. VR Russ
OCT 12, 2016 - 09:20 AM
When I was in the army I was stationed at a Nike Herc antiaircraft battery. I really wish that a 1/32 or 1/35 scale model was available.
OCT 14, 2016 - 06:38 AM
Al-- you and I both, but that's the big problem--it's probably just you and I and a few others. I am continually amazed to see more new missiles of modern Russian and late war German WWII stuff out there that really never performed, while for several years the air defense missile forces of the US, Canada and The UK have gone ignored. Thousands of Nikes, Bomarcs and others ringed the US and our allies, and many veterans served in these units-- there isn't even a decent Hawk kit out there, although the old 1/32 Renwal and Life-like 1/40 (Adams) kits came close. You'd think some manufacturer would take a look at what was once offered and improve upon those kits-- I'm still waiting for the old Lacrosse kit in 1/35. Hobby Fan (AFV club) released the Lance in tracked and trailer form, but there are so many others-- the Pershing, Honest John, David etc. that would be great to have in 1/35 scales-- but I fear not enough of us remember these systems. VR, Russ
OCT 14, 2016 - 11:27 AM
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