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BATPLANE!
by Scott Beckmann

Batman has always relied on the ability to soar through the skies to aid in his crime fighting. The Batplane, long a vital part of the Caped Crusader's war on crime, features some of the most effective technology. The design of the plane keeps in line the traditional look of Batman and his world. (Quote from the instruction sheet)

The Batplane, what is it? What does it look like? Bat fans have always wondered this but never really got a good look at the aircraft until the mid 1960's when

Aurora released the original version of this kit. I recall looking at the models at my local Ben Franklin five and dime and seeing this kit when it originally came out. Nestled in with the Batmobile, Bat Boat and Bat Cycle was this 99-cent beauty. The box art depicting Batman streaking through the skies on his way to intercept an unknown super villain. It was a must have kit for this budding model builder. I remember opening the kit and being very disappointed in its lack of detail, even in the 60's. This Polar Lights kit held with the original tradition, there is very little detail and it is hardly a challenge to assemble. I will say this is an ideal kit for a young modeler to gain experience with. However, with the much more detailed Batwing kit released in the 1990s or the Batman movie related vehicle kits from the later movies may cause this gem to be left in the shadows of styrene oblivion.

Molded in black (with random kits molded in white referred to as "White Lightning") with three clear parts it takes more time to paint than it does to assemble. 21 combined parts complete this kit and it is entirely black in color. Only detail painting required is the one-piece cockpit and the exposed metal of the landing gear. The red insignias were decals as well as the detail markings for the base. When applied, these simple decals completely transform the appearance of this kit! This is a perfect kit to build on a cold winter day when you have a few hours to kill, or when you want to teach young hands how to assemble a model.

I used Zap a Gap super glue when I assembled it. When I glued the fuselage halves together I scuff sanded the seam to help fill the gaps left behind and aid in hiding the exposed seam. All other parts needed little or no prep work and the kit was assembled in a matter of minutes. Before gluing the cockpit canopy in place, I highlighted the Batman and Robin figure (heads) with bright colors trying to capture the look of the television version of the dynamic duo. The cockpit has no detail and the Batman and Robin figures are nothing more than head and shoulder renditions molded onto a one-piece flight deck. I added a few highlights of silver to try to liven up the cockpit but there just is not a lot to work with. I honestly think this has to be my biggest disappointment to this kit. I love the look of a three dimensional detailed cockpit. This one-piece unit just has no detail.

By far this is the least impressive of the Bat related kits ever made. In its defense, it is a nostalgic piece that accents any 60's television or Batman collection. As a builder this kit is hardly challenging but does have a wonderful display charm to it.

Ironically, when completed, I like this kit. I can't recommend it to a seasoned builder or to a builder who is a stickler for extreme detail. But all in all, it is a wonderful tribute to what got some of us started in building models. It is simple and clean had has a nostalgic look all its own. Priced at around $14.99, it is a little steep for most pockets.

Polar Lights will be releasing two more kits in the Aurora line. The Bat Cycle and Bat Boat are slated for a 2003 release and I personally can't wait for these two kits to complete the series. At least with these kits, I will have the excuse of renting the original Batman motion picture to use as a painting reference.

Until next time, same bat time, same bat channel!