If are of a certain vintage you may remember the film 1983 Blue Thunder-if so you will enjoy this!
The 1983 movie featured a customised Gazelle helicopter modified to look like a sleek, futuristic gunship and it was a pivotal part of the films plot. The story is that the Military were going to test out law enforcement from the air by deploying Blue Thunder in down town Los Angeles in preparation for the forthcoming US Olympics-Crowd control from the air.
And so we are introduced to burnt out veteran Sgt. Frank Murphy, played by Roy Scheider a salty LAPD chopper pilot with Astro Division.
Murphy and his new sidekick, rookie Officer Lymangood also known a J.A.F.O. are picked to test fly Blue Thunder over the skies of LA and in doing so begin to unravel a web of political conspiracy that lands them at the centre of a murder cover up that puts them at risk of being killed themselves.
The helicopter in the film has state of the art surveillance systems, it can peek through walls and windows and record what it sees and hears and it has a super computer that can access any information held by any government agency.
Then its there is the really cool stuff, its armour plated, super fast and has a 20mm electric cannon that no one wants to mes with!
When introduced in the movie an Army Sgt. says “She don’t look normal-She don’t fly normal-That’s because she ain’t normal!
And so Blue Thunder rises from the east and with the sun as her backdrop she looks dangerous!
Please forgive my somewhat dramatic introduction, I’m a fan of this film and don’t apologise for it! If you haven’t seen the movie its worth a watch. Being a cool mix of political thriller and acton movie it is still entertaining today and an enjoyable look at what the 1980’s were like too.
Having always wanted to build my own Blue Thunder I could never find a kit in the UK. There was the old Monogram kit in 1/32 scale which I could never find and there was a rather expensive Aoshima kit in 1/48 that has always been a little too pricy for my wallet.
So my encounter with this kit I now write about came about over an ongoing argument with a modeller I used to know. He found a Far East clone kit marketed as a fictional attack helicopter on a shelf at a model show after seeing the box contents I knew it was a clone copy of the old Monogram kit which still had all the parts to build Blue Thunder. I was roundly told that I was way wrong about this and in fact what was in the box was a Tiger helicopter. We agreed to disagree.
Years later I was stood in the very same modellers garage and saw the strange boxing that I knew to be Blue Thunder. This modeller showed me the model again, the fuselage was warped out of shape and the transparent parts were awful. Above all else it wold not fit, not ever. It was unbuildable. I said it was a shame as I thought I could have made a decent Blue Thunder model out of it. With that, the box and the contents were thrust into my hand and a gauntlet was put before me.
“If you think you can make Blue Thunder out of that, I’d love to see it! ” “You’ll never build it-its impossible!” he laughed.
Well, lets see shall we?
He was right about one thing-the kit, its fit and poor moulding were truly awful. However it was not unbuildable……
Here is the kit as it came to me:
I took the kit, modified the figures and the cockpit and the 20mm cannon. There were no Blue Thunder decals in the kit or available anywhere online so I mixed and matched some spares and painted the model and marked it as a modern day prototype helicopter keeping the 02 markings in reverence to the original Blue Thunder. The kit transparent parts were really bad, but try as I might I could not improve them.
I think at best, one could say its a half decent build of a poorly manufactured model kit. To me its a fun memory from my childhood and a pretty cool looking chopper. It tested my modelling skills and was actually quite enjoyable.
So yes, it was Blue Thunder in that box. Yes it was buildable and yes I did it!
I like to think I did Frank Murphy proud.
Take care and Happy Modelling!