Spaceship 1 from "Weltraumschiff 1 Startet" (1937)
About the Design
"Weltraumschiff 1 Staret" ("Spaceship 1 Launches") was a technically ambitious science fiction short produced in Nazi Germany in 1937. The film, which runs just 23 minutes, depicts the preparations, launch and flight of the first manned rocket to the moon. (Crewed by Aryan males, of course.) Although short on character and drama, the film is known for its excellent special effects, particularly its dramatic rail launch sequence. (This sequence would be virtually duplicated by director George Pal for 1951 sci-fi class, "When Worlds Collide.")
In the late 1950s, producer William Clayton and director Frank Ladd, working with New York's Hayden Planetarium, acquired the rights to the now all-but-forgotten German film and used its SPFX as stock footage for their new animated series, "The Space Explorers" (1958). Cobbled together from various film clips and original animation, the multi-part package was syndicated to local children's programs throughout North America. It played regularly in local markets for nearly 10 years, inspiring a sequel, "The New Adventures of the Space Explorers," in 1961.
Most American audiences are today familiar with the design only as the "Polaris II," as it was named in"The Space Explorers" series.
About the Kit
Patterned by Marc King and cast by Replicant Casting Co., the Polaris II kit was released by Fantastic Plastic Models in early November 2008. This was a relatively simple model with a single solid-cast body, two winglets, a tail piece and exhaust vane, plus a large twin-railed display stand and launch sled.