Home ] SNW Back Issues ] Star Trek ] Study Guides ] Science Fiction Shops ] Railroadiana ] Celluloid Pins ]

Back Up

1950s Plastic Space Model Kits:
Buyer Beware
1950s space books
Glencoe Reissues
Lindberg Spaceship kits
Monogram / Willy Ley kits
Revell model kits
Strombecker / Disney kits






classic-plastic-model-kits.jpg (9199 bytes)
Classic Plastic
Model Kits:

& Value Guide

by Rick Polizzi



Nasa and Space Exploration

Feature Article
Strange New Worlds  Issue 14 - June/July 1994

Vintage Spaceship model kits and popular
publications of the 1950s
by Elliott Swanson

(Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Co.)

Circa 1957, Strombecker issued the first kits from the popular Disney productions Man In Space and Mars And Beyond, plus the TWA Moonliner that appeared at the LA Disneyland until 1962 (In 1962 it was toppled by bulldozers and crushed to make way for a new attraction. Viewmaster reel set #855 "Tomorrowland" has stereo pictures of the defunct TWA ship.) The Disney kits were very successful products for Strombecker. They followed these with three more space kits based upon Krafft Ehricke designs developed for Convair. A sense of Strombecker’s enthusiasm can be gained by the company’s 1959 promotional brochure to hobby shop owners.

Glencoe now owns the Strombecker molds. Glencoe began reissuing them as part of Glencoe’s "Blueprint for the Future" series. (The only Strombecker space kit that may be excluded from the Glencoe series is the D27/D27A TWA Moonliner.) Many of the Strombecker kits feature box art by Cal Smith. Three gift sets featuring Strombecker space kits were issued. These are cellophane wrapped with a printed banner. Each includes three kits. No. 713 contains D26A, D27A, and D34; No. 714 contains D32, D34, and D35A; and No. 715 contains D37, D38, and D39. All are extremely rare. Strombecker went out of business in the mid-1960s.

Walt Disney’s Man-In-Space Model Kit

D26-100. 1/288 scale? Issued circa 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun, the fourth stage is in a delta wing configuration. There is an excellent full page color photo of Heinz Haber with the Disney XR-1 studio model this kit is based upon on page 270 of the August 1955 issue of National Geographic. There is a variant with extended wings often encountered in space books, and actually issued as a resin model by D&E Miniatures in about the same scale as the Strombecker kit (see D&E Miniatures section).

Von Braun’s ship is a true classic of '50s spacecraft engineering. The first issue of Strombecker’s kit was in bright yellow styrene plastic. The second issue, D-26A was gray-green styrene plastic. Issued in the UK as "Spaceship," Selcol kit #500. Reissued in 1993 as Glencoe "Three Stage (sic) Ferry Rocket" #05908. Decals and instructions for Strombecker D26 incorrectly show the wing markings as "RX-1" instead of the correct "XR-1." The front side of the instructions for D26/D26A unfold into a wall poster.

The first issue of the kit was issued in a "monochrome" box, with the rocket shown in yellow. The D26A kit has a full color box. Current value for D26: $300-$350. Current value for D26A: $250-$300. Current value for Selcol 500: $250-$300.

Walt Disney’s Disneyland Rocket To The Moon Model Kit

D27-100. 1/83 scale? Issued circa 1957. (pictured on right) Used as a Disneyland theme park attraction for To-morrowland. This passenger carrying rocket is marginal in terms of being a true aerospace design. The first issue of this kit is in a purple and yellow "monochrome" box. The second issue, D27A, was renamed "TWA Moonliner" and had a full color box (photo on left). Issued in the UK as "Moon Rocket," Selcol #502. Current value for any version: $250-$300.

Walt Disney’s Space Station Model Kit

D32-100. 1/300 scale? Issued circa 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun. This doughnut-shaped station utilizes nuclear energy for on-board power, as opposed to the Lindberg 1002 space station which uses solar collectors. The kit cleverly duplicates the supporting guy wires by including a small spool of thread to string between the hub and the outer ring. Issued in the UK as "Space Station," Selcol #501. Reissued in 1993 as Glencoe "Nuclear Powered Space Station" #05909. Current value for D32 or Selcol #501: $300-$350.

Walt Disney’s RM-1 Rocket Ship Model

D34-100. 1/72 scale? Issued circa 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun. This was planned as an orbital recycling job, built around the fourth stage of the "Man-In-Space Ship." Included with the kit is a detachable "bottle" spacesuit with a figure. The ship was intended to carry a crew of four, was propelled by chemical engines burning hydrazine and nitric acid, and had a lance-like extension at the front of the ship containing a nuclear reactor for onboard power. Issued in the UK as "Rocket Ship," Selcol #503. Reissued in 1993 as Glencoe "Retriever Rocket" #05002. Current value of D34: $250-$300. Current value Selcol #503: $250.

Walt Disney’s Satellite Launcher Model Kit

wpe476.jpg (109062 bytes)D35-100. 1/288 scale? Issued circa 1957. Designed by Wernher von Braun. This ship was intended as an alternate use of the "Man In Space Ship" launch vehicle, designed for lofting satellites and putting cargo into orbit. In the Man In Space film, it is seen with "CR-1" markings on the top stage. What’s unusual about this kit is that it is done in clear acrylic plastic, and has paper cut-out inserts to represent the arrangement of internal fuel tanks. It includes a small Sputnik-like satellite and a removable nose cone. According to the dealer brochure, there was also a D35A kit issued. Details on the difference between D35 and D35A are unknown. Current value of D35: $250.


Convair Manned Lunar Reconnaissance Vehicle Model Kit

D37-100. 1/96 scale? Designed by Krafft Ehricke. This and the other two Ehricke kits look like PVC pipe constructions, assembled and used only in space where aerodynamics aren’t a consideration. The box art by Cal Smith is titled "The Dark Side of the Moon." Reissue planned by Glencoe as #07902 (with Nuclear Powered Interplanetary Vehicle). Current value of D37: $150.

Convair Manned Nuclear Interplanetary Vehicle Model Kit

D38-100. 1/96 scale? Designed by Krafft Ehricke. Intended for Venus and Mars exploration, this craft uses nuclear power to heat liquid hydrogen for propulsion. The Cal Smith box painting is titled "Mars Flight Outbound." Reissue planned by Glencoe as #07902 (with Manned Lunar Reconnaissance Vehicle). Current value of D38: $150.

Convair Manned Observational Satellite Vehicle Model Kit

D39-100. 1/200 scale? Designed by Krafft Ehricke. This space station, intended to be manned by a crew of four, was planned to be assembled from fuel and oxidizer tanks of supply rockets. Box art by Cal Smith is titled "Tender Flight Arriving." The little "tender" ship shown on the paintin (which is not included with the kit) is similar to the Ehricke-designed tender ship that comes with the Hawk #513 Convair Atlas Space Station. Reissue planned by Glencoe as #05911. Current value of D39: $150.

End of Article ...
Buyer Beware
1950s space books
Glencoe Reissues
Lindberg Spaceship kits
Monogram / Willy Ley kits
Revell model kits
Strombecker / Disney kits

Back Up


Back Up

Home SNW Back Issues Star Trek Study Guides Science Fiction Shops Railroadiana Celluloid Pins • 5591 Shady Brook Trail • Sarasota FL 34243 • USA
Page last updated July 18, 2011
Site designed by Jo Davidsmeyer
privacy policy

Copyright 1992 - 2011 by Strange New Worlds. All rights reserved.