2009 July - Product Lab
Reviewed this month are Moebius Models' Flying Sub, Czech Model's 1:32 F-80C Shooting Star, the Apollo 27 from Pegasus Hobbies and much more!
Published: June 9, 2009
1:72 Apollo 27 Rocket from Pegasus Hobbies
Product: Pegasus Hobbies' "Apollo 27" rocket joins its growing line of such science-fiction subjects as "The War of the Worlds" Martian War Machine and Area 51 UFO. The retro-looking rocket ship brings to mind the 1952 Collier's "Man Will Conquer Space Soon" series, with its Wernher von Braun-inspired illustrations of circular space stations, big-finned moon shuttles, and other futuristic visions.
Performance: This can be a young beginner's first model or an empty palette for more-advanced modelers. In the first case, the model pieces fit tightly for a press-together assembly needing little or no glue and precious little paint. If, on the other hand, you want to fill and sand seams, detail the cockpit, and otherwise "pump up" this Apollo, all those compound curves, masking, and smooth, white surfaces will flex your modeling muscles.
The six-step assembly is clearly shown and so simple that, well, even a child can do it. Too bad there wasn't a child around to show me that the canopy and cockpit tub have notches to ensure correct orientation. (I did figure that out - it's right there in the instructions.) There is no detail in the cockpit; I added some spare instrument-panel decals to the walls of the tub to give the crew something to do.
The astronauts are indistinctly molded - license to sculpt, some might say - leaving the shape of their helmets to conjecture. At first glance, I thought of old-time football helmets (see Emlen Tunnel, Giants, 1951).
There are no painting directions for the figures (or much else throughout the kit), so I went for a Michael Rennie/Mercury-program look with chrome silver suits, white helmets, and dark-blue-gloss visors. A thick dab of white gloss rounded the helmets and made the astronauts look less like Chicago Cardinals.
When you glue the pilots to their couches, sand off their backsides to ensure a good bond. Once the canopy attaches to the tub and is trapped inside the fuselage (Step 4), the cockpit is irretrievable. It's part of the press-together plan of the entire model, but I'd rather have had a canopy that glued to the top and stayed out of harm's way until then.
The "hyper-dynamo-tension" rocket engines are assembled in steps 2 and 3, but I left off the nozzles until later for easier painting. Toward the same end, I joined the fuselage in Step 4 but left off the outrigged engines. Slicing open the loops that anchor parts 3 and 4 on posts inside the fuselage allowed me to slip them through the sides and glue them later, making sanding and painting much easier. One more note about Step 4: Although it's not shown in the drawing, the cockpit tub should be attached to the canopy before both are installed.
Now, about that painting … I figured the plastic is white, people use Tamiya matt white for primer, so one spray can, one model - right? No. Although I washed and rinsed the pieces thoroughly, parts of this plastic seemed to repel paint. I backed up, used Tamiya white primer, followed again by Tamiya matt white, and everything was fine. No big deal - just be sure you prime it first.
The most complex part of the project was masking and painting the roll pattern at the end of the rockets. If Junior (or Juniorette) wants to match the box art in this regard, you might help them out with some black decal sheet (or even stickers).
Although the instructions don't provide much painting guidance, decals are explained in five clear, well-written steps - great for kids.
After spraying the roll patterns flat black and applying the decals (which went on fine), I attached the rockets with 5-minute epoxy. This let me make sure the ship would stand level, as it must rest on all four of the outrigger engines. One more way to jazz up this kit - and perhaps a thought to future boxings of it - would be a display stand to put Apollo 27 in a more-active attitude.
Still, what a gas! I'd recommend this kit to beginners as well as advanced modelers who could load it up and surround it with all manner of gizmology. It took me about 12 hours, but that's mostly because I filled seams, sanded, painted, sanded, painted again … just prime it first.
Marketing: Boomers, their babies, and a few of their babies' babies will get a bang out of this fun build. It all but snaps together, yet there's enough challenge here for old salts. A lunar landscape would be a fine display base, but a stand for an inflight pose would be really snazzy!
Also see the review of Pegasus Hobbies' 1:48 Martian War Machine
Reviewed by Mark Hembree
Product: "Apollo 27" rocket
Maker: Pegasus Hobbies
Stock No. 9101
Availability: See www.pegasushobbies.com
Easy assembly for kids
Inviting pallette for more-advanced modelers
Sparse painting directions
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1:32 Flying Sub from Moebius Models
Product: Staying the course of producing the Seaview submarine from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," Moebius Models has released a big 1:32-scale model of FS-1, the Flying Sub from the 1960s TV show.
The hull is molded in yellow plastic; interior parts in light gray. The clear parts are well molded, especially the front windows. Also included is a large, clear plastic stand. The 6-page instruction booklet is printed in full color and features several exploded diagrams as well as color photos of a model under assembly.
Performance: Unlike other projects, I started the sub by painting all of the components. I found that the front piece (03) did not fit well to the upper and lower hulls, so I glued it in place on the lower hull and filled the gaps with Squadron white putty. Once dry, I sprayed the upper and lower hulls with Tamiya white primer, then chrome yellow spray lacquer. Unfortunately, the instructions do not give you an exterior painting guide; I painted the trim with Tamiya's blue spray lacquer according to the box art and a few still shots I found on the Web.
The interior parts were painted according to the painting chart on the instructions. I spent a lot of time picking out the small knobs, panels, and switches with various colors. I cut small circles out of a solid, light blue decal sheet to use on the small screens of the instrument panel. You have the option to install a hatch on the lower docking ring or use an alternate part that allows you to attach the model to a large clear stand. It looks like Moebius might have originally considered adding landing gear, as the bay doors have detail on the insides and unused pegs that might be locators for the bay enclosures. I knew that the lower docking ring would be under a lot of stress, so I melted over the locating pins as well as using glue to make sure it would not come loose. I modified the upper docking ring as shown in the instructions so it could be removed to better display the interior.
The fit of the interior pieces is very good. I especially like the interlocking tabs on the wall panels, which produce a snug, precise fit. Because I had already installed the nose piece on the lower hull, I had to modify the front window pieces so they would fit. I simply removed the lower half of the lower locating tabs so they could be slipped into place. With the interior in place, I glued the hull halves together, filled the upper seam of the front nose with epoxy putty, then touched up the paint work.
Marketing: Moebius used studio plans and a 3-D scan of a prop from the show to make its Flying Sub what it calls "the most authentic model kit rendition ... to date" - and I have to say the model really looks the part.
I spent about 21 hours building my sub. If your customers have any interest in vintage TV science fiction models, this kit is a must. Already, there are aftermarket additions available for the kit, including lighting packages and vinyl painting masks. Any modeler who is comfortable painting large glossy models will enjoy this kit.
Reviewed by John Plzak
See the review of Moebius Models' "Lost in Space" Chariot.
Product: The Flying Sub
Stock No.: 817
Maker: Moebius Models
Availability: Check with your distributor
Big model, full interior
Lack of detailed paint and assembly directions
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1:32 F-80C Shooting Star from Czech Model
Product: Developed in the waning days of World War II, the Lockheed P/F-80 Shooting Star has always been a good-looking aircraft. And like the box art that shows Saggin' Dragon, a P-80C-10-LO, attacking ground targets in Korea, this new kit from Czech Model is a real stunner.
A large-format, full-color, 12-page instruction booklet includes a brief history of the P-80's C variant, a parts map (no numbers on the sprue), and exploded drawings in 31 assembly steps. Color chips and FS numbers are provided along with three pages of two-and three-view drawings of colors and markings.
The gray plastic parts have flash and mold seam lines that must be removed before assembly, and sink marks are evident on the landing gear doors and fuselage.
Separately bagged cast-resin parts must be removed from their molding plugs. Some parts, such as gun barrels and instrument-panel light fixtures, are small and difficult to remove from the plugs, and nearly impossible to hold during cleanup.
Photo-etched metal parts include a rearview mirror and a four-part, pre-painted instrument panel. An optional plastic instrument panel with raised detail also is provided.
Two sets of resin wheels, as well as one set in plastic, come with no instruction on which set to use for which aircraft. I used the plastic wheels on mine.
Performance: Assembly proceeded with no trouble from the cockpit to the nose wheel well, tailpipe, instrument panel, rudder pedals, seat and gunsight. The fuselage halves fit well and the panel lines match. I delayed installation of the gunsight, gun barrels, tip tanks, windshield/canopy, landing gear/doors, pitot, and navigation lights until the last.
Problems began with joining the inner intake pieces to the lower wing panel, and the lower wing panel to the fuselage. The intake parts leave gaps to fill at the leading and trailing edges of the wing. The upper wing panels fit the fuselage and the lower wing panels without problems. But the outer intake panels fit neither the fuselage nor the inner intake parts. I used a motor tool to thin the inner walls of the outer intake panels, unsuccessfully attempting to achieve a better fit.
The landing-gear mounts are strong, but the nose-gear strut is weak. (I added about 2.5 oz. of lead to the nose for balance.)
Drawings and box art indicate the correct choice of wingtip tanks. Not explained is which set of navigation lights to use on the wingtips. Photos show P-80s using underslung tanks with tip lights. I found no photos of upper and lower lights. Although photos show it on T-33s, the P-80s probably did not have a red fuselage warning light.
I painted with SnJ aluminum plus various shades of Model Master Metalizer. Unable to find blue FS35180 paint, I used Testors No. 1111 dark blue and added a few drops of white.
The decals - Aeromaster, printed by Cartograf - include a full set of stencils and are among the best I've ever used. They settled tightly with a little Micro Sol.
Marketing: Measuring out closely to published figures, with the correct stance, this plane is made for display. The difficult wing-to-fuselage joint and the ill-fitting intakes make this kit an above-average challenge, but I enjoyed the 37 hours I spent building it.
Reviewed by Al Jones
Product: F-80C Shooting Star
Stock No.: 3203
Maker: Czech Model
Excellent decals and instructions
Optional plastic or resin wheels, wingtip fuel tanks, and navigation lights
Poor intake and wing-to-fuselage fits; impossibly small resin parts
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1:24 Porsche 956 from Tamiya
Product: Tamiya has added its full-detail Porsche 956 endurance-racer to its line of recent reissues. Originally released in the mid-1980s, this version of the veteran Tamiya kit includes markings for Richard Lloyd Racing's Canon-sponsored car which finished second in the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tamiya's kit arrives in off-white, silver, and clear styrene. In addition to the beautifully printed Cartograf decals, the kit also includes a set of self-adhesive masks for the side windows and windshield. The 17-step instruction book includes a detailed marking guide. Painting instructions are given in Tamiya paint codes.
Performance: Construction starts with the chassis and the mid-mounted six-cylinder engine. The model's rear bodywork can be removed to reveal everything behind the cockpit, including the engine, transaxle, turbochargers, and the rear suspension. Adding some plumbing and wiring would really make this compartment come alive. Like its full-size counterpart, the model's cockpit is spartan. Seat belts are included on the decal sheet, but with the car's panoramic windshield, it's easy to tell they lack dimension. Replacing them with scratchbuilt or aftermarket belts would really improve things.
Most of the car's livery is supplied on the decal sheet. I spray painted the body with Tamiya's Pure White (TS-26); the rest of the scheme and markings came from the decal sheet. The Cartograf decals were fantastic to work with and fit perfectly. I used a little setting solution here and there, but for the most part all of the markings pulled down over the car's compound curves. I painted a few impossible-to-decal areas, such as the rear undertray, using Tamiya Bright Red (TS-49). It matches the red on the decal sheet nicely.
I dipped the kit's clear parts in Pledge with Future Shine before installing them. The headlight covers and windshield fit particularly well; I attached them with white glue.
Marketing: It was an easy decision to build this 956 kit when it crossed my desk - I love endurance racing, and years ago when I worked as a photojournalist, all of my gear was Canon.
The finished model looks great, even though it may not be up to state-of-the-art molding standards, the kit still builds into an impressive model straight from the box, and makes a great starting point for modelers who want to add extra detail. Best of all, the fantastic Cartograf markings make decaling the model much easier. Your customers may be interested in other reissued Tamiya models, like its Martini Porsche 935 Turbo.
Reviewed by Matthew Usher
Product: Tamiya Porsche 956
Stock No.: 24309
Removable rear bodywork reveals fully detailed engine and drivetrain
A few minor sink marks and mold-separation lines
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Moebius' Big Franky
Product: Last kitted by Aurora back in 1964, Gigantic Frankenstein has long been on the list of "must haves" for nostalgic modelers. Moebius reverse engineered the old Aurora kit after obtaining the license for the Frankenstein movie monster from Universal Studios. This kit is a behemoth, with lots of plastic, but not too many parts: 27 major components and a number of individual chain links. Also included is a black-and-white instruction sheet that perfectly completes the kit's classic feel.
Performance: Big Franky's hands, head and shoes are all molded in bright green plastic, while the body and pants are a dull tan. Washing the model's parts is important. The mold release solution leaves a greasy residue that will retard both paint and glue if not thoroughly removed.
We built Franky in a number of subassemblies. Just dry-fitting the head halves together reveals that not only was the subject resurrected from the mid-'60s, but so were the fit challenges. Many of the joins are very thin; applying pressure to close some gaps causes the whole assembly to deform.
After tacking the head together with Plastic Weld cement, we put a thick layer of 5-minute epoxy along the seam inside the head and let it harden. While the shirtfront fit the front of Franky's neck flawlessly, the join between the collar and shirtfront was uneven and partially blocked the left hole for one of the model's neck bolts. This was corrected by building up the collar with some epoxy and by carving the transition smooth with a moto-tool, making sure to clear enough away for the neck bolts on both sides.
The hands and arms went together well. We filled minor gaps around the fingers with putty. The shoes went together effortlessly. The pants and body were a little tougher fit, since the halves are so large. Again, we used both super glue and epoxy to reinforce the joins.
We used Testors contour putty to fill any remaining gaps and smooth transitions, then applied Gunze Sangyo Mr. Surfacer 500 and 1000.
For paint, Franky is big enough to warrant an airbrush and even spray cans. After applying Tamiya primer, we spray painted the jacket with Tamiya NATO black. The pants received a base coat of French blue, the shoes gloss black and the shirt racing white, all Tamiya spray can colors.
We added shadows to the jacket by airbrushing flat black within folds and for highlights added a few drops of white in NATO black and airbrushed it on top of folds. We added similar dark and light tones to the shirt and pants.
For Frankenstein's skin tone, we mixed a greenish-gray base coat, then airbrushed it over the face and hands. To detail the scars and lips, we airbrushed a thin mix of Tamiya field blue and clear red.
We hand-brushed the leather stitches with red-brown, painted the eyes buff with brown irises, applied a wash of clear red for a bloodshot appearance, and airbrushed thin earth tones on the shoes and pant cuffs.
We sprayed the chunk of "headstone" material gray, misted on black, then picked out the letters with dark washes. After spraying the chain's links flat black, we misted on platinum. The neck bolts were painted Testors burnt iron, then dry-brushed with copper.
For final assembly, five-minute epoxy once again came to the rescue. It was essential to dry fit each piece before applying epoxy. A little touch-up fixed flubs in the paint from assembly, after which we attached the chain and headstone.
Marketing: Gigantic Frankenstein is a fun build. The large pieces may present a bit of a problem for young modelers, but it would be a perfect team-build for an adult and child around 12 or 13. Point out to price-conscious customers that it's a very unique model, can really be a winner with kids and will provide around 15 hours of building pleasure, and countless more as a conversation piece.
See the review of Moebius Models' Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde
Reviewed by Tim Kidwell and Aaron Skinner
Product: Gigantic Frankenstein
Maker: Moebius Models
Stock No.: 470
Availability: Contact your favorite model distributor
Great retro kit
Very fun to build
Some fit and build challenges
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The Saucer Fleet from Apogee Books
Product: One of Apogee Books' most popular titles, The Spaceship Handbook (2001), focused on 20th-century rocket and spacecraft designs, both factual and fictional. Now, authors Jack Hagerty and Jon C. Rogers turn their attention to another type of airborne object - flying saucers. Their new book, The Saucer Fleet, is a 328-page hardcover with more than 400 color photos and images.
Hagerty and Rogers are far from being the raving fanboys some would expect to be so fascinated with imaginary spacecraft. In fact, their credentials are quite impressive: Hagerty is a consulting engineer to the semiconductor and medical equipment industries; Rogers has an extensive history in the electronics and aerospace industries. The wealth of knowledge and wisdom that these gentlemen have brought to the book is, at times, overwhelming.
Performance: Many regular folk would turn and run at the mere mention of a book dedicated to flying saucers and their place within the modern psyche. I'm glad I'm not that regular because I read this book cover to cover and found it to be wonderful! Firstly, though, from the book's preface: "It's not about Area 51, Roswell, or almond-eyed Greys." Phew!
No, this book is an extraordinarily well-researched look at the development of the flying saucer as a popular, instantly recognizable icon and a look at the people responsible for the most well-known designs in various media - newspapers, film and TV - along with many lateral leaps, including relevant occurrences in the history of the entertainment business and within the larger picture of history.
I learned so much. For example: Did you know that before George Pal finally brought "The War of the Worlds" to the big screen in 1953, some of the other moviemakers who had made a start on the project included Cecil B. DeMille, Sergei Eisenstein, Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Harryhausen?
Or were you aware that a man named Fred Barton makes and sells full-sized, exquisitely detailed reproductions of many famous robots, including Robby the Robot from "Lost in Space," Gort from "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and many others? I'm scared to ask the prices, but I just gotta have me a Robby one day! Or a Gort guarding my front door!
And I bet you didn't know that the Jupiter 2 from "Lost in Space" is the only space vehicle known to include a bathroom. I would suppose that, like me, you did occasionally wonder what happened when nature called - way out there in all that emptiness, without even a tree to crouch behind!
The Saucer Fleet is sensibly presented, beginning with a foreword, preface and introduction. The opening chapter, "The Coming of the Fleet," explains the intention of the book, where the information within stands from an historical perspective and why it's important. The rest of the book then focuses on a carefully selected group of famous flying saucers from various mediums.
First is "The Day the Earth Stood Still," followed by "Twin Earths" - a remarkable looking adventure strip that was apparently syndicated worldwide but which sadly I don't believe ever reached my own homeland of New Zealand. Then come "War of the Worlds"; "This Island Earth"; "Forbidden Planet"; "Earth Vs. Flying Saucers"; a famous Disneyland ride featuring fly-'em-yourself saucers (with a new version possibly in the making); "Lost in Space"; and finally, "The Invaders." Each chapter follows a similar pattern, which might include a breakdown of the story, a look at the vehicles, an "archeological report," a modeler's note and an epilogue.
The wealth of information Hagerty and Rogers have brought to the book is, at times, almost overwhelming. But they can both also write - really well! For example, there's a beautiful tale told by Jon Rogers, who recounts the recovery of a memory due to a recurring dream involving his grandfather and flying saucers.
And although I was not expecting to read the segments relating to the finer details of the designs and the suppositions made about what could be in those areas of the spacecraft that the audience was not allowed to see turned out to be quite fascinating.
This book is not just aimed at sci-fi model makers, although for them it will be a virtual godsend. I have a large box filled with model kits I'm hoping to build on a rainy day - or realistically, maybe a rainy year or two. My models are mostly sci-fi designs - many are Gerry Anderson vehicles - but all are TV- and movie-related.
For example, one of my favorites is a model kit of Jupiter 2, the spaceship from "Lost in Space," and now, with the aid of this marvelous book, I can actually see myself doing a pretty decent job of its construction (and I am by no means a modeler) largely due to the beautifully rendered data drawings into which Jon Rogers has put a mind-boggling amount of detail based upon, one must suppose, literally days of research.
There were times when I began to wonder if it was healthy or even sane for grown men to spend so much time and effort on the study of machines which are, at the end of the day, just props for the telling of an entertaining, and occasionally thought-provoking, story. I'm sure that their wives must have pointed this out to them once in a while!
But then I would be brought back to Earth - sorry, I had to say that - by the book's quality and the seriousness of the context in which they were placing all this research. They make very convincing arguments as to how the development of these concepts and designs were very closely linked with the overall state of mind of the people of the time - Americans in particular. The impact of the McCarthy witch hunts, the Cold War, the constant threat of atomic annihilation and many other factors all had a direct bearing on why these films and television programs were made and why the public was so intent on seeing them. That really is the crux of the whole book, in some ways.
Other than that, it's also a very loving look at an incredible time in the entertainment industry and the amazing talents of a handful of people who created visions that still resonate with many to this day. I must admit, I was doubtful as to whether the concept of the "flying saucer" as a popular icon could make for interesting reading - let alone there being enough material relevant to that topic to fill a book - and I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wrong. This was a fun yet fascinating read, and not just for those with an interest in popular culture or science fiction.
Complaints, I hear you ask? Proofreading could have been a little more thorough. No mention was made of the Gerry Anderson TV series "UFO," which was seen in many parts of the world, had scary aliens like "The Invaders," and featured really unique alien spacecraft. Still, I understand that the authors couldn't include all the flying saucers from the last 50 years, and it was obviously not their intent to do so.
What they have done is create a wonderfully informative, very entertaining and visually splendid survey of a somewhat overlooked aspect of modern civilization - and they really couldn't have done a better job. I am thankful.
Now, what about a similar treatment on robots?
Marketing: Anyone interested in the entertainment industry will find this book an excellent addition to their collection; modelers will find this an invaluable reference.
Reviewed by Martin Phillipps
Product: The Saucer Fleet by Jack Hagerty and Jon C. Rogers
Publisher: Apogee Books
Availability: Call 888-557-7223 or visit Apogee Books
Factual look at fantastic topic
Incredibly detailed drawings
Great guide to pop culture
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Global Ody-see from ody-see.com
Product: Now here's a company that's truly global in a concrete sense as well as a conceptual one. Ody-see.com, based in Wellington, New Zealand, notes that its vision is to create "a world of greater understanding of our cultural and natural environment using the most innovative and popular educational games ever developed." Global Ody-see, the company's launch product, is a fun, effective way of doing that.
You'll notice right away that Global Ody-see is not your ordinary board game. For example, the playing surface consists of three sections of three-dimensional images that, when joined together, form a striking topographic map of the world that's nearly 3 feet wide and 1½ feet tall. Inside a plastic bag are a mode die, a movement die and 12 player tokens. The instruction sheet comes with clear, concise instructions.
Performance: There are two ways to play this game. In the home city version, the first person to reach their home city after visiting all of their place card and/or Ody-see card destinations wins. In the time limit version, the first person to reach the highest number of place card points within an agreed time limit wins.
Play begins with the draw of the home city cards, which determine your starting point and token color. Next, each player gets place cards: six with the home city version, 10 with the time limit version. Home city and place cards stay face up; the remaining cards face down. Players' cards must represent at least three of the six regions of the world.
Each place card lists a city and information about the country it's in. For example, the "Christchurch, New Zealand" card indicates that one of the country's special features is the Southern Alps. Place cards also contain various symbols and point values, ranging from 1 to 3.
The player with the highest home city number starts by throwing the mode and movement dice. The mode die face indicates the travel type; the movement die contains numbers 1 through 6. A green mode die indicates surface travel; the player moves the number of spaces indicated by the movement die. Better yet is the blue mode die, which indicates air travel; this allows you to move the number of spaces indicated by numbers on the blue mode and movement dice.
Since your goal is to get to the cities on your place cards, this will determine the route you take, and this takes some thought and close scrutiny of the board. Ah ha, you're learning geography whether you realize it or not!
Sound simple so far? It is, until your mode die turns up white with a big black "O" on it. Lucky you! You get to draw an Ody-see card, and this is where things can get tricky. You may have to answer a question about one of your place-card countries, in which case, an opponent can pick and choose any card from your pile and quiz you on one of the features, such as the currency of Peru. Answer? Nuevo sol, of course! If you answer correctly, you may get to move double your dice throw. If not, you move no additional spots.
You may also draw a card that sends you to a far-flung section of the board, like McMurdo, Antarctica, which can change the entire course of the game. Either way, it pays to study your place cards while other players are making their moves so that you learn a little something about the countries you're visiting in case you have to answer questions about them later.
The game is for two to six individuals, or as many as 12 if you wish to form teams, and ages 8 and older. A typical game takes from 45 to 75 minutes. We played both home city and time limit versions; each took about 40 minutes, not that we noticed; we had so much fun, we nearly lost track of time.
Marketing: Although large, this game is very easy to demo. It is educational, and can be used to teach geography and cultural facts, and would be good at home or in a classroom. More versions, including Ancient Ody-see, are coming soon.
Reviewed by Sue Brettingen
Product: Global Ody-see
Stock No.: ODS-GLO-ENG1
Availability: ACD Distribution; call 800-767-4263 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Educational and entertaining
Fun blend of skill and chance
Can be played singly or in teams
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Formula D from Asmodee Editions
Product: Asmodee Edition's Formula D (a revised version of the original) is a racing game in which up to 10 players compete against each other, piloting race cars. The gigantic board comes in two pieces. One side forms the seminal raceway in Monaco. The other is a fictional course through the streets of a nighttime cityscape.
Twenty different cars are provided - 10 Formula 1-types, and 10 GT cars. A set of polyhedral dice are included, ranging from four to 30 sides, along with dash boards, wear point markers, gear shifters and character cards. Two full-color rule books also accompany the game: one for beginners and the other for advanced play.
Performance: The cars have six gears each, and each gear is represented by a different die: first gear is a four-sided die; second gear is a six-sided die; third gear is an eight-sided die; etc. First gear allows a car to move one or two spaces on the track, while sixth gear, a 30-sided die, allows a car to move 21 to 30 spaces.
Every car starts off in first gear, and each subsequent turn, players decide whether to shift up or down, depending upon how fast they want to go. This makes a difference in the corners, since players can't simply blaze through tight turns and chicanes in the highest gear. Rather, corners require players to make one, two or three stops along the way, thus limiting a car's speed and rather accurately replicating the shifting and gear management required in Formula 1 races.
Cars take damage for imprudent driving, like overshooting turns, colliding with other cars or skipping gears while downshifting. This damage is tallied in the form of wear points (WP), and tracked on the car's dashboard.
Whenever any of the cars WP runs out, the player is out of the race, having crashed or suffered some other catastrophe.
One of the very cool innovations of this version of Formula D is the inclusion of street racing rules and characters. While all cars in a Formula 1 race have the same number of WP, each street race character has his or her specialty: some might have better tires, while others have better brakes or gear boxes. Each character also has a special ability that a player can utilize during the race, like dropping debris in the road or utilizing aggressive driving to bang up opponents.
There are optional rules, like weather conditions, tire selection, pit stops and team races, each adding something a little different to the game.
Marketing: Formula D is a fantastic game with solid rules that can be played with up 10 people! That's a big selling point right there. It is also easy to learn, and can be replayed again and again, without fear of it getting old. The advanced rules definitely add to the experience, and the optional rules can always be thrown in for added excitement.
Formula D doesn't lend itself to in-store demos. However, if you have a game night, it wouldn't be a bad idea to schedule Formula D as one of the games played - schedule it for a number of weeks in a row.
If you sell more than just games, think of some cross-marketing you can do in your store. For instance, if you sell die-cast Formula 1 race cars, display a copy of Formula D with them. Not only can customers enjoy the look of their favorite cars, but they can feel the excitement of racing in a board game.
Finally, new tracks will be released. The first expansion set, Sebring and Chicago ($29.99), is already available. Another release is planned for later this year, with more coming in 2010.
Also see the review of Asmodee Edition's Giants.
Reviewed by Tim Kidwell
Product: Formula D
Publisher: Asmodee Editions
Stock No.: FD01US
Availability: Call 514-504-8461 or e-mail Asmodee Editions
Fun, fast-paced game
Lots of high-quality pieces
Expansions and add-on sales
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