by: Peter Ong [ ]
Dragon 1/72 “Apollo 17: `The Last Mission’ CSM LM Lunar Rover”
Apollo 17, the sixth and last mission to the Moon, was launched on December 7, 1972 with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Service Module (CSM) Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module (LM) Pilot Harrison Schmitt. Apollo 17 remains the most-recent manned Moon landing and the most-recent crewed flight beyond low Earth orbit.
The kit consists of 16 sprues with a base. Some sprue features are:
• Two photo-etched parts of gold satellite antennas
• A curved metal rod stand
• A gold-painted Lunar Module (LM) ascent stage body reminiscent of gold foil
• Sprues to assemble the Command Service Module (CSM)
• A plastic Lunar surface base with molded-on craters and rough surface texture
• Sprue to construct the Lunar Rover and two astronaut figures, one standing and one seated in the Lunar Rover. Comes with tool rack, satellite antennae, tires, and chassis.
The molding on this kit looks exceptionally exquisite with no flash, errors, and seam lines. The raised and engraved panel lines are very fine, crisp, and precise. Drill holes are free of blobs or flash and appear uniform where need be. Certain pieces of the Lunar Module and Command Service Module come with molded-on surface texture to mimic thermal insulation, a nice feature that looks great as the surface texturing appeals to the eye with its nice seemingly random wrinkle pattern. Some of the parts are tiny and yet they show very nice details, such as the small bell nozzle thrusters on the Command Service Module. Each nozzle has similar shapes and hollowed-out interiors complete with exterior raised surface ridges that appear so fine, narrow, and well-engineered that only a keen eye could see. Thin rods, ladders, and antennas have no flash or surface errors and it’s nice to see molding machinery able to cast such narrow rods. Most of the ejector pin marks are located in the interior surfaces so no filling and sanding are required as these pin marks won’t interfere with the painting process. Some of the gluing pins, especially on the halves, have very large surface areas, making them easier to connect and hold the pieces together once snapped and glued. Overall, Dragon made great advances in their engineering process to bring forth such detail, craftsmanship, and precision looks to the plastic parts.
The Lunar Rover contains features such as a tool rack with molded-on tools, tires with molded-on hubs and threads, chassis with ridged floor pan, nicely accented “umbrella” satellite dish with spars with oblong holes, and thin rods for the cameras and satellite dish. Machine craftsmanship again appears very detailed in alignment and quality.
The two astronaut figures come with textured suits and backpacks. All details on the astronauts such as pockets, hoses, wrinkles, and control units are molded-on with a soft crispness that passes as decent. The standing astronaut has a slight lean forward from the backpack and legs that are close together which contradicts the box art that shows the astronaut incorrectly “Moonwalking.”
A Special Feature of this kit, the gold-painted Lunar Module body, has the proper luster of dark gold metallic that seems to match real photos quite well in terms of color tone. The wrinkles and texturing really does resemble gold foil.
The four small photo-etched antennas have fine mesh detail that make them very nice and a special bonus value for the modeler.
Decals are provided, sealed in a plastic baggie, and features such symbols as the U.S. flag and minute descriptive text. There are a lot of decals so the representation of wordings and symbols appear accurate.
Instructions come in an 11X14 sheet of paper, printed in four panels. The front shows the sprues with optional parts shaded in gray. Inside shows all the assembly steps for the CSM, LM, and rover, whereas the back panel shows how to mount these components onto the base. The CSM rests sideways on a curved metal pole.
Overall, Dragon’s 1/72 “Apollo 17: `The Last Mission’ CSM LM Lunar Rover” has all the hallmarks of a winning kit: Precision engineering, fine details on small parts, textured surfaces, attention to detail, hidden ejector pin locations, nicely engraved or raised panel lines, and extra special features. This kit appears to be one of the best Real Spacecraft kits on market today.