From the moment that Alexey Leonov undertook Humanity’s first EVA on the Voskhod 2 Mission of 1965, the question was raised as to how anything could be done in space without the astronauts involved being heavily hampered by their own life support systems. Indeed, right into the 1970s and the construction of Skylab, it was increasingly apparent that serious operations in space had to be augmented in order to be practical.
What was needed was some sort of independent, powered maneuvering system that could improve both an astronaut’s endurance and abilities in useful work.
Though we eventually saw devices such as NASA’s MMU come into service and be improved over the years, the writers and artists who had been inhabiting space since the day the Skylark first launched were not silent on the subject, because what to most people might seem a trivial matter was, to some of the most creative people of the age, a thing of central importance.
After all, one cannot have one’s Space Opera if the ruddy space ships can’t get built in the first place.
This especially troubled both Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick when devising the world of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and especially a device which would, on a practical level, allow crew to operate on the fuel cells, make repairs to the ship, and also provide the key isolation for HAL 9000’s lip-reading scene.
Just a Load of Old Balls
In a film (and book) that is justly known for its predictive (one might also say inspirational) powers, the EVA pods with their robotic arms stood out as one of the most unique elements. The very simple notion on the part of Clarke that, no matter how good an actual life support suit is, no astronaut would be strong or capable enough to complete some tasks without aid, and the idea of adding robotic manipulators to a small ‘ship’s boat’ gave us the iconic image we have today.
Clarke’s original idea was, like many of his nascent concepts, razor sharp in concept, failing only in a world incapable – for the most part – of appreciating them, or realizing them for many years.
Still, the EVA scenes in a Space Odyssey rather stuck in the minds of many writers, artists and creators who added these dinky little devices to their own worlds as one of those practical little elements around which believable fantasy is created.
Once such creator who took to the idea with gusto was Japanese writer Tomino Yoshiyuki who made such units central to the early story line of his seminal Mobile Suit Gundam as the infamous ‘ball.’ Initially (in a ret-con) designated as the SP-03 EVA construction unit, these pods were the units which not only built the colonies of the series before the larger, human-shaped Mobile Suits took over, but also served as a bit of a running gag as the Federation, in their desperation, armed their collection of ancient balls and sent them out to get a good kicking at the hands of the Zeon forces.
When is a Mech not a Mech?
When it has no series to which it can be attached.
This is a troublesome kit for a focused writer like poor old me, and I am sure this little offering really does not pass muster.
I’d love to wax lyrical about the history of some creator or design or the likes, expanding on how and why this model should be considered a worthy (or unworthy) addition to your collection, but I have nothing here upon which to hang a case – save the kit itself.
So… with much trepidation, and a nod to Cacophanus, who is no doubt laughing his arse off at my discomfort, I have to let this lovely little model speak for itself…
Space Pod Crab 03 (Limited Reproduction Ver.) by Wave
I knew nothing of Keiko as a company before building this kit and I know little more now, save that if this is an example of their output, I want to see more.
Generic, non-associated models are a really rare thing these days, and something so imaginatively designed… Well, this was a real treat.
The moldings are, whilst crude, not bad at all, and molded in good styrene (even if the color choice is a bit whappy sometimes).
Going for a Space 1999 look here, to honor the release of the 1/48 Eagle Transporter by Round 2. I know this kit claims to be non-scale, but if this will not pass for 1/48 with ease, I’ll mince my airbrush…
The smoked canopy is a bit of a binder. There is no way to keep it in place without some cement, but the hinges are so close to the area to be joined that it is very easy to have liquid poly get into the joints without knowing it.
All the arms on the module can be set as required (and there are three sets), as well as being combined with the a number of different body configurations (I chose the heavy lift unit).
Seen from below, the arm units can be seen in more detail. They all nest together very nicely, and logically.
The main power plant and counter-weight unit.
Very simple, almost toy-like design and execution. This is not an MG kit, but even right out of the box it builds up very well indeed.
The main core, complete. Around this unit all the variants are built.
Weathering on this pod was carried out in the same way as I did with the Bandai C-3P0. I washed the whole kit down with Citadel Nuln Oil (though Tamiya X19 Smoke would do). After it had dried, I sponged the whole model down using X20A thinner, and a microfiber pad. Keeping the strokes in the same direction as much as possible, it lifted high points and maintained shadows where they needed to be, giving the impression of age, wear, and the passage of time.
Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL
Don’t let my inability to wax lyrical about this kit disguise how I feel… I love it.
Not for the series in which it is NOT featured, nor for the quality of its molding, for it is ‘pretty average’ in that regard. I’m all in for this because we need *more* kits like this – generic, SF ‘things’ which can be pressed into service as they are, or stripped down for all manner of lovely little bits.
And two for one? All the better.
Slight caveat: The original Keiko mold had a translucent version of the kit along with the normal, whereas the Wave version is coloured in white and purple for some odd reason, and required painting up. Not a bad thing as such, but I had looked forward to seeing the see-through version.
I only have to wait for my Round 2 Eagle to arrive, so I can rob out a few decals and have this set up for a Moonbase Alpha diorama.