Revell Shows Production System - How Plastic Kits Are Made
Authenticity starts with research. Jack Campbell (left). research head, shows model maker material gathered for making of HMS Bounty kit. Search for original blueprints and data often sound like a detective story. This is especially true in the case of old time sailing ships. Drawings for ships long out of operation are sought by correspondence, talks with authorities in this field and from museums. Word that a certain photograph or drawing was published in a book a half century or more out of print, launches prowl through second hand book collections and libraries.
First step is building hand made model to serve as master for dies needed to turn out plastic parts in volume. Model maker checks measurements of master model against blueprints and photographs of Martin B-57B prototype.
Construction of hand made model sometimes larger than finished miniature kit helps capture detail. Models, made of wood, plastic, clay, or epoxy rosin, take 5-6 weeks to complete. Bob Hoeppner (right), chief model maker, and assistant check Lincoln Futura.
Tom Hogg, ship model specialist, puts finishing touches to Coast Guard Training Ship Eagle. In this case 13 3/4" model is identical in size to that which hobbyist will assemble. Official plans (in background) were obtained from U.S. Coast Guard.
Director of Engineering Charles Gretz (right) and Hoeppner check hand made model of Russian Bison Bomber. Information on this model was not easy to obtain. Search went into many countries.
Included in many kits are miniature figures scaled less than one inch to foot. Sculptor Harry Plummer completes 9-inch pilot to serve as master from which molds for 31/32" plastic figure will be made.
Plaster patterns from hand-made models serve as guides for duplicating larger parts of ship or plane in steel. Core of a ship's hull is cut into steel from plaster pattern on 1-1 Deckel pantograph. Over forty man hours needed to produce this one component.
Mold maker adds final touches to U.S. Constitution steel production mold. Over 9,000 man-hours required to tool steel dies for this kit of 174 parts.
Steel mold for HMS Bounty ready to be closed up, preparatory to being placed in injection molding machine. Center sprue through which heated plastic is injected is in center of mold. Small runners radialing out from center carry plastic to cavities, filling each part. Only enough plastic for one "shot" is injected into machine during each molding cycle which produces a kit in 30 seconds.
After mold's first soft test-run in injection molding machine, each part of plastic "shot" is re-checked. Tolerances of .002" are normally maintained. When final mold corrections are made, steel is hardened by special heat-treat method. Toolmaker reassembles components of production mold for Martin B-57B; taped on board are first test "shots."
Every 32 seconds Mobilgas truck parts come out of this hydraulically operated injection molding machine. Packing is done at the machine by operator who separates parts from plastic runners. Parts drop from hopper into polyethylene bag which is heat-sealed; bag goes into box with instruction sheet and decals.