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Revell 720

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  • Michael Bludworth
    For some of you, this might be an old story. For others, it may be a bright new day. However, with all the recent talk of old box tops, artists, and the kits
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2005
      For some of you, this might be an old story. For others, it may be a bright new day. However, with all the recent talk of old box tops, artists, and the kits they enclose, I wanted to revisit one of my favorites.
      And not because of the great art! The art is just fine, thank you, entirely servicable for the job at hand. This is the recent Revell issue of their Boeing "720" in UAL colors, kit 85-0243, 2000.
      The artist is Terry Ryan, and like I said, it's a pretty good top. Most importantly, it's accurate to the machine depicted, the 2nd Boeing 720 in UAL service. This particular top came back to mind because I just found a Boeing PR photograph of it's sister ship, N7203U. The posing and postion are indentical to the box top. Not a big deal, but it's important to note that the various "spotting" details of the two ships are identical.
      What those details are, are these:
      Tall tail
      VHF antenna mounted on the fin top
      Ventral fin
      The only thing off here is the antenna, which UAL did not have locted on the fin in their fleet. As a matter of fact, all of the UAL 720 fleet was indentical, except for the first ship, N7201U. It came with a short fin, fin mounted antenna, and no ventral fin.  It was also the Boeing test ship, and before it entered service with UAL it was modified to conform to the fleet in details.
      So, the box art is off in two areas: having  the fin antenna, and the  lack of a ventral fin.
      That's not too bad, and acceptable to a degree. Doesn't really change the image too much.
      The real story is the in plastic, instructions and photos of a "completed model"! The three side photos are of a really, really, poorly built model, with engines angled up and down, and significantly, a short tail without a VHF antenna. Well, not there anymore for it looks like it has been broken off! This continues for the other two pictures, which are just amazing for the simple fact that Revell put them there at all! Who do they think they are, Minicraft?
      The plastic is the old, but classic, Revell 707-120 mold from the late '50s. It still says "707 passenger" on the inside wall of the fuselage. Let me spend a moment with Revell's attempt to "retro" their mold.
      This kit originally came with cockpit glass framing, but no clear part. Later on the framing was removed and a "traditional" clear part added. Likewise, the early editions came with the original short tail. The later "fanjet" edition from Revell gave us the tall tail, ventral fin, and fan engines. Even later, the slightly recessed windows disappeared leaving a blank side. Happily for the model builder, these are the best issues to have, since you don't have to mess with filling windows or making clear pieces. Those issues would be the E-3 and Revell/Germany Lufthansa 707-320 issues. For those of you not familar with this kit, the plastic is not accurate for an E-3, -320, or even the KC-135, which it was also marketed as. Needless to say, it is also not accurate for a 720, which is what this kit purports to be.
      Anyway, on to more fun....I think this was supposed to be a Revell "retro" kit of some kind, because they tried to return the mold to it's original configuration. The semi recessed windows reappear, the framed cockpit returns, and we get a short tail cap and the original "water can" engines. We haven't seen those engines since the original "S" issue!
      But they apparently didn't have the "original" molds anymore, so they "fixed" the many-altered molds they have!
      The remake of the cockpit area destroyed the slope of the fuselage, giving the nose a kinda Caravelle look, not at all like a Boeing nose. The recessed windows are adequate, if a little tall. Thing is, the windows are also on the deal sheet, and those windows are noticeably distorted! Much too angular. Also, we are missing the famous three windows aft of the aft doors, which didn't appear on the real airplane. The JT3C engines have also been redone, and while they look good, they aren't the originals.
      So, in their attempt to "retro" the molds they have really trashed them!  They would have been much better off left alone!
      But the party doesn't stop here!
      The brief "historical" blurb on the instructions give the story and specs for the 707-420 version, with it's RR engines! The instructions also show the short fin cap, and no ventral fin, which is wrong for a UAL 720. At this point you might ask: Didn't the first UAL have a short fin and no ventral fin?  And you would be right, except that the box art and decal sheet are for the second production airplane!
      Lastly, we get the decal "Placement guide" which shows the tall tail, fin mounted VHF antenna, and ventral fin.
      Looking closely at the photograph of the real thing, right at the front top of the fin, in the background, you can see a piece of water in the background. But, because of it's placement, could be mistaken for an antenna poking out from the front of the fin! I suppose that's the source of that bit of confusion.
      So we have the following aircraft depicted:
      The original real airplane
      The box art
      The side photos, which are what the instructions and parts show
      The placement guide
      ....and none of these are the same!
      So, in conclusion, as we sit here and casually look back at the art of model kits some 50 years ago, it pays to keep your eyes open for what's happening now! Sure, the Lindberg and Aurora Migs don't look like Mig-15s, and neither does this Revell 720!
      The original Revell 707 is one of the most classic kits of all time, and has proved it's value to Revell by it's regular release into the market. This "720" issue is significant because it's just about the only variant of the 707 which Revell hasn't released a kit of!
      For those of you building, I'd use the E-3 issue, and this kit does have nice decals, but you need to count the window rows!
      And lastly, I have to wonder at the choice of the aircraft depicted. This the 2nd UAL 720, so it's N7202U. You could pronounce that slowly, and perhaps uncover a hidden message from Revell: "It's a 720  - to U!"
      I'd have to rate this one of the best "boner" kits of all time, and an amazing way for Revell to take us into the 21st Century!
      Michael Bludworth
      PS: It also comes with the classic Revell "globe" and swivel stand....

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