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Set HB21

Astronauts and Spacecraft

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2012
Contents 5 figures
Poses 5 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


As with the Airfix Astronauts, this set is on this website because it is part of an overwhelmingly military figure range, but does not come under our area of knowledge. Nevertheless lets start with an identification.

What is the spacecraft? Well it is the Shenzhou, the mainstay of the Chinese manned spaceflight program as at the time of writing. The first mission took off in 1999 and the first manned flight was in 2003. Since then several more manned missions have been successfully completed, with more planned for the future. The spacecraft is 9.25 metres in length and 2.8 metres in diameter, so the model in this set, which is pictured above proportionate to the figures, is grossly too small for 1/72 scale, and to be fair the box does not claim any scale. The main section of the model is essentially one piece (it comes in two halves), which is the propulsion module, re-entry capsule and forward orbital module. The larger and smaller solar panels plug in to form the whole craft, so assembly is simple and very quick, although lacking any illustration of the model on the box you will need our page to know how to put it together! The model is made in the same fairly soft plastic Caesar always use, which is not good for a kit such as this. As you can perhaps see, the solar panels are not as flat as they should be, and there is also distortion in the long elements at the top of the craft. It is broadly accurate, but the warped plastic means this is not a pleasing model.

The middle picture shows the other craft element in this set - the re-entry capsule, but this time separated from the rest of the craft and in true 1/72 scale. This comes as just two pieces - the base/internals and the shell. A large cutaway shows the inside of the capsule, with the two crew lying inside. The outside is quite plain, as it should be, but the inside is quite nicely detailed, although it should be repeated that the two crew are part of the piece and not separate.

Lastly we come to the three separate figures in this set. They all wear a pretty good representation of the Shenzhou IVa spacesuits worn on the earlier missions, although changes have been made in more recent missions. The poses are OK, although the astronaut with the flag is rather jumping the gun as it suggests such astronauts have landed on a foreign body (e.g. the Moon) where they could plant a flag, which at the time of writing has yet to happen. Once again, the Caesar soft plastic has let the flag down somewhat, but otherwise these are nicely detailed figures that look pretty good.

We understand that there is a second version of this set, in which the model of the Shanzhou is replaced with a model, in an even smaller scale, of the Long March 2F rocket used to send the spacecraft into orbit. However it appears that this second version is not widely available, and we have only seen it for sale in Asia.

So, concentrating on the separate figures, they are nicely done and simple enough, with good detail and no flash etc. With only the old Airfix NASA figures available before now this is something fresh for the hobby, although other companies have modelled elements of the Chinese space programme before. The figures are fine, but the bendy craft and the cutaway capsule did nothing for us - give us a man armed with a musket any day!

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