One of the greatest spaceship model kits of all-time — or at least my childhood from the 1970s — comes from the stable of the late, great Gerry Anderson (1929-2012), creator of UFO (1970), Space: 1999 (1975-1979) and other dynamic cult-television.
And as a kid, I first learned of the kit in Starlog #21, from April of 1979.
On the back-cover of this magazine was an advertisement from U.S. Airfix called “Starcruiser 1.” A “new-snap together space kit,” this model arose from Gerry Anderson Marketing Ltd., 1978, and featured a spaceship that, uniquely, was actually four vessels in one.
In its entirety, Starcruiser 1 consisted of a forward command module, an interceptor or fighter unit (armed with “neutropedos”), a central main unit with seven powerful engines powered by a “Kryten Reactor,” and a command base which could detach on planet surfaces to serve as an all-terrain transport.
This was not all of the Starcruiser 1 goodness, either. On page 32 of Starlog # 21, an article titled “The Birth of Starcruiser 1” revealed more data. The article featured an “Interstellar Command Technical Profile” of the ship and crew.
Specifically, Mr. Anderson imagined a crew including Mission Commander, Captain Christopher Stevens, Navigator/Astrophysicist Lt. Andrew Dehner, Medical Officer Dr. Brian Moore, and Technical Officer Professor Melita Alterra who was “also responsible for the design and construction of Starcruiser 1.” The Head of Interstellar Command, meanwhile, was “Commander Edward Damion.”
I purchased a Starcruiser 1 almost immediately after reading all this material, at a Toys R Us story in Paramus, New Jersey and saw that that it came complete with an 8-panel comic strip, revealing a “typical mission sequence.” The final comic frame noted: “You can enact the story once you have assembled your Starcruiser kit and then….why not make up a Starcruiser story of your own?”
I loved this Airfix kit and did just that. As the 1970s became the 1980s, the same kit was re-released over the years many times, once molded in black plastic. Another kit (that I never saw) in stores was also released: a large version of the Interceptor fighter.
That was the end of the Starcruiser 1 experience, but not long after its initial release, Airfix released a second, similar kit, but without the imprimatur of Gerry Anderson, called Cosmic Clipper. It too was a many-part spaceship, one that could serve as one unit, or operate as separate vehicles.