Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Revell Goodyear Blimp Columbia

Christmas 1975 brought a lot of great presents: a Steve Austin Six Million Dollar Man action figure, a Crossman air pistol, a Yamaha motocross bicycle, and last but not least, a Revell Goodyear Blimp.

Revell produced the blimp model specifically for the Christmas '75 season. It was available only at Goodyear tire shops. My first Revell blimp was bought for me by my grandparents for Christmas.
I should mention that only a couple years earlier, while we were still living in Cerritos, my Dad got me, my Mom, and my grandpa a ride in the Goodyear blimp Columbia. At the time I was hooked on blimps and zeppelins, having seen the Goodyear blimp fly around the L.A. area, and also having seen the movie ZEPPELIN with my Mom. That amazing ride in the Columbia was the capstone to my fascination with airships, and is one of my fondest memories.
In the early 70s I would have gone ape for a model of the Goodyear blimp, but no such thing existed. The old Hawk Graf Zeppelin, the Strombecker U.S. Navy blimp, and the FROG R-101 airship kits were all gone from hobby shop shelves by the time I started building models. By 1975 however, airship model kits were coming back into light. AMT, who produced mostly model cars and STAR TREK kits, released a very nice, and extremely popular Hindenburg. This may have been prompted by the release of Universal's THE HINDENBURG movie, but I'm not sure which came out first. Then came Revell's Goodyear blimp at the end of '75, then AMT followed up their Hindenburg with the U.S. Navy Akron/Macon kit.
This rebuild is the third Goodyear blimp I've put together. After my first one died, I got one of the 1977 general release versions which came in a slightly bigger box. According to Thomas Graham's REMEMBERING REVELL MODEL KITS, the blimp model was in such high demand, Revell decided to distribute the kit to all stores. I've also seen pictures of a larger scale blimp model Revell released in the 80s perhaps.
The model itself is more like a toy. The picture on the box shows a nice silver colored blimp, just like the real ones, but when one opens the box, he discovers the blimp halves are moulded in dull gray. The box says no painting required, but the dull gray just isn't very exciting. Painting it silver is a solution, but a silver painted blimp would be prone to fingerprints, especially on this model where one has to manhandle it to change the batteries, message paper, and operating switch. At any rate, it's a fun model to build without glue and paint, and brings back a lot of good memories. On all three of the ships I've built, I used the stickers for the Columbia, since that was the ship based out of Carson California, near my home in Cerritos. Stickers were included however for the America, Europa, and the Mayflower. I believe the actual Mayflower blimp was a bit smaller than the Columbia, America, and Europa. All four of these airships have been retired.

No comments:

Post a Comment