Since the beginning when the show was first aired, there has been an affinity for the Eagle Transporter with its realistic aesthetically pleasing “nothing but awesomeness” look, it is no wonder that any 1999 fan (or even non-1999 fan) wanted to obtain one of these fine kits either from Fundimensions in the States or Airfix in the UK & Europe. Some of the best artwork was used for the Eagle back then.
Very iconic in the states and a best seller, fans would scoop these up, build and imagine they were flying their very own Eagle with “whooshing” sounds and sometimes blowing them up with the M80 to get the maximum effect. The kit itself was very simple to assemble and apply the decals. Painting, on the other hand, well, that would be rather subjective. I won’t even get into the discussion of the “trying to get to accurate/cannon” with this kit. It just was a lot of fun “back in the day”. The artwork was not only phenomenal, but represented the kit very well. Aside from the Eagle was the not so popular George Barris remake of the original Moonscope car retooled into “The Alien” moon car. The final box art was quite different from the promotional example used in the MPC store promo book. The redemption kit was the Hawk 1 (Hawk: final version) kit for the win. The original Hawk artwork used in the MPC kit reflected the kit which had a lot less artwork than portrayed in the MPC store promotional flyer. The Alpha kit graphics were mere photographs of the kit. On a different note, there was never a Hawk repop from this tooling as the tooling was apparently lost and a newer kit could never be produced.
Although the Airfix artwork was good, it didn’t quite represent the kit as well as the American counterpart. That didn’t stop this kits from selling very well and was released on two different runs (one in the 1983 timeframe; long after the show had been cancelled).
Across the other side of the world, the Japanese company “Imai” had their eyes set to produce an Eagle kit, but took a radically different approach. This kit was more geared towards the young fans of the show not only to make a kit out of the spaceship, but to also turn it into a car. Well, don’t get me started on all of the wheeled Eagle releases back in those days; perhaps I’ll save that for another eLog. The artwork was the stunning part of this stinker of a kit. Originally released as the “UFO” Eagle (remains a mystery on why they chose to use UFO title, and the UFO Interceptor/base/alien ship/moonbase since there were already UFO Series kits out there) box. A very colorful and eye catching box. The second and third releases were more focused on the Alpha Moonbase launch pad with stunning artwork nonetheless. There were a number of later released editions, but those leveraged photographs of the Eagle rather than using artwork. In addition, the Korean model company “Academy” released this kit but was the only release that use an actual photographed built Eagle kit.
To capitalize on the upcoming year of 1999, AMT/Ertl (the licensors by this time) decided to pull these Fundimensions toolings out of storage and produce a repop of these classic kits. New artwork was produced with a similar style theme and feel leveraging a lot of airbrushing. The artist must have not been a knowledgeable fan, especially with the Alpha kit, since we are not looking at Main Mission, but rather incorporated a nice Command Center illustration (looks like something from Seance Spectre of all episodes) for the final release. In the collectible markets, these two kits are perhaps the least sought after kits probably since this generation is sandwiched between the originals and the 20-teen ultra cool repops.
Fast forward to 2015, Round 2 now owns both AMT/Ertl and MPC/Fundimensions. After releasing the repops of the three Fundimensions kits (the Eagle 1 Transporter, The Alien, the updated Alpha kit and as a bonus an added spine booster/lab pod Eagle Special Edition) it was always the ambition to take the ITV license out for a spin, and for the first time ever, produce an extremely accurate edition of the Eagle Transporter setting the stage for other kits to follow suit. Jamie Hood of R2 is one of the production supervisors in charge of not only ensuring the engineering of these model marvels were properly produced, but he is also the main artist/graphics designer crafting one painting after another for all of the upcoming Space: 1999 products to this day. With representing the Eagle properly, he wanted to take this new line of freshly produced splendor to the next level and what better way to represent is to come up with some spectacular concepts for the art and graphics not utilized before (except the droopy “P” 1999 logo”). The result of the first Eagle was pretty dang amazing. He produced two different paintings for the box art.
Round 2 has a number of future Gerry Anderson kits in mind. Here’s hoping that Jamie can keep hold of the reigns as their existing lineup has been nothing less than stellar. With the announcement of the Moonbuggy, the 1/72 lab Eagle from the Metamorph, and the rerelease of the 22″ Cargo Winch, that makes it a grand total of 27 Space: 1999 products that Round 2/MPC alone has produced since 2014. There is nothing but sincere appreciation to Jamie and Round 2 to produce such an amazing line of top quality kits for us old kids to build and “whoosh” around in our “dude-caves”. What is your favorite Space: 1999 artwork?