The M.E.L.V-5 Mars Hopper

          Okay, I have to admit up front that this is what one would refer to as an "impulse buy" where money is no object and common sense just left the building.  The MELV-5 or Mars Explorer Lunar Vehicle is the brainchild of Randy Cooper who is considered one of THE great model designers in the industry.  He has done work on the Aliens, Fifth Element, Star Wars, Batman and other movies whereby his work is legendary.  This vehicle is crafted in 1/32 scale and is quite large.  The original design is based off of a hamster sphere which somehow morphed into a vehicle used to explore the moons off Mars.  Is the finished model suitable for the family hamster?  Probably not.

     When the kit arrived via UPS, the shipping weight was listed as nine pounds (4 kg) though a part of that was the shipping box itself. The kit box is quite sizable as well, measuring approximately 24" x 18" x 9" (61cm x 46cm x 23cm) and when you remove the lid, the interior is divided into two bays FULL of sprues. The packaging of the kit as well as the internal packaging of the parts is very good which is to be expected from a company such as Pegasus. There are photoetched parts included in this kit although we went ahead and purchased an upgrade set from Paragrafix and a lighting kit from VoodooFX.  The cost of the lighting was as much as the kit itself but when you see the completed MELV-5 with the lighting turned on you will know that it was worth it.

     This is going to be a long term build and I really don't know when I will be starting this monumental project.  It really is an impressive kit and I would purchase anything produced by Randy in this scale or larger.  There will be a considerable amount of painting which will probably be completed before final assembly of the model.  I anticipate building the kit in sub assemblies being careful to make allowances for the lighting and the inevitable wiring etc.


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