I’ll start off by admitting that I had to google the acronyms in the name of this model to make sure I got this right: this is a model of the Command and Service Module and attached Lunar Module (originally designate the Lunar Excursion Module). And let me tell you, this is a gorgeous and very detailed model. And it’s challenge level is commensurate to it’s detail level. But it’s so worth it! Anyways, I nerded out again, and have scheduled this to publish at the 50th Anniversary, to the minute, of the touchdown of the Lunar Module on the surface of the moon. Absolutely amazing that such a feat was accomplished 50 years ago. Stunning.

The LM in this model is nearly identical to that of the standalone Apollo Lunar Module model, scaled exactly the same, at least to the naked eye. Of course, there is the obvious difference in that it contains gold-colored metals in appropriate locations, but it also has a slight variation to accommodate the connection to the CSM. I was hoping to be able to use magnets to make this model separable, like I did with the Saturn V with Gantry, but the method of connection on this model is not readily circumvented. In addition, the stand is designed to balance the full model, and would tip over were you to separate the two sections.

My build of this model is almost a poster-child for my claim that I make mistakes in almost every model I build. In this case, in the first few minutes of the build, I made several mistakes, culminating in a broken tab from which I had to use some 5-Second Fix to enact repairs. I could have used superglue, of course, but chose to go with the UV-cured resin so I wouldn’t have to wait.

Anyways, my first mistake was with Part 2. Seriously. And it was a mistake I was fated to repeat several times in this build. That mistake? Shaping the part backwards / inside-out. Repeatedly throughout the build, I forgot to pay attention to and/or check the Engraved vs. Not Engraved labeling and just went with what I instinctively thought was correct. Let’s just say my instincts were very off this time.

In most of these cases, my instincts told me to roll the piece so the engraved lines were on the inside of the curve, which normally bodes well. Just not so much with this model. The next time this showed up was with Part 9, those cursed little 4 direction thruster cones. And I didn’t realize it until I had fully formed the first use of this part and was halfway through the second. Normally, I would try to correct such a mistake, but these parts are so tiny, and so exacting (and exhausting) that I decided to just be consistent and form them all that way (at least for the LM, the similarly designed Part 55 that’s attached to the CSM – that I did correctly).

It was a little disappointing to leave them that way, but I had already spent so much time and effort forming them into actual cone shapes, I just couldn’t throw that effort away. I was determined to do better with this model than I did with the standalone LM. I just laughed at the idea of shaping those tiny pieces into cones, and used a tiny drill bit to make them cylindrical instead. It was passable, and still doesn’t look that bad, but I was determined to do it “right” this time. All told, I think shaping those cones took up at least a 5th of my time building the entire model. But it was worth it, they look so much better this time around.

Circling back to my struggles in the first few minutes, the next piece I struggled with was… Part 3. I’m not kidding at all. This is one of those complicated parts with lots of folds at non-right angles, so that makes it hard to begin with. But on top of that, I experienced the confusion that @AnimateOrange has encountered a few times (*cough Vader’s Helmet cough*) and talked about recently in a few of his videos. I did not read the blue fold guides to mean what it was intended for them to mean. I folded each fold the way I thought it was telling me to fold, but it was actually supposed to be folded the opposite direction. And I understand that it’s hard to convey a 3D direction in 2D instructions, but most of the time I interpret it the way it was intended. But not this time.

Luckily, it was obvious pretty fast when I tried to attach it to Part 2. As that connection didn’t line up at all. I reversed the folds and took a moment to give a close-up view of how I folded it, figuring it would be nice to include that here in my blog. However, it turns out you can save yourself from the same frustration I forced on myself simply by looking at the etching on the surface of Part 4. It provides a very clear and simple guide to how the fold should end up. I really wish I had figured that out first, but I was able to use the the knowledge to help refine my shaping of Part 3. Wow, all those numbers are getting confusing. Basically, just look at the etchings when you work on this model and it will make sense. Oh, and remember to look ahead to Part 8 when shaping Part 7 (nearly identical). Here’s the snippet in the build video that captures this ridiculous adventure:

Speaking of Parts 3/7 and 4/8… the way I joined those pairs together was what lead to the broken tab that I had to fix with glue. The instruction indicate that you can twist the tab in Part 3/7 that passes through the slot in Part 4/8. Despite my usual preference for folding, I decided to go ahead with a twist here, to make the base connection as strong as possible. I recommend that you do not twist, but instead fold this tab inwards / away from the outer edge of Part 4/8. It makes it a lot easier to connect Part 5 in the correct position between 4 and 8. A twisted tab can prevent the proper alignment of the bottom section of Part 5. Hopefully the instructions section below can help you understand what I’m talking about. I made the initial mistake of switching the twist to folding outward, which blocked the correct alignment. I tried to reverse that fold to folding inward. It broke off. I broke out the 5-Second Fix.

My next big mistake came when I went to attach the first use of Part 15 between the two “halves” of the LM that I’d formed up to that point. I had gotten so mixed up with the details of everything, that I attached that part in the place of the second Part 15, and attached it to the “wrong” half. As a result, I ended up having to perform that section of the build completely out of order with the instructions. It didn’t really cause any problems, but it was confusing to keep track of. Just one of those moments you regret.

Continuing the tales of my struggles, leads us to Part 18, which is one of the little weird shaped bubble-like formations located on the lower half of the “front” and “back” of the LM. These parts are nearly a guessing game when it comes to shaping, and I did my best. However, when it came time to attach the combination of Parts 24 and 25 to the bottom of the completed section, Part 18 caused me problems. The way I had formed it, it extended beyond the bottom of Part 17. That doesn’t really work when the bottom of Part 17 is supposed to be flush with Part 25 in this step. So I tried to adjust the shaping of Part 18… and nearly crushed it flat in the process. I was able to undo that, for the most part, but it never got back to the state where all the edges lined up. So if you can, work on making sure Part 18 doesn’t extend beyond the bottom of Part 17 when you attach it. It’ll save you a good bit of frustration later on.

And now, about Part 26… I had no trouble whatsoever forming and attaching Part 26. So what’s the problem then? Well, I thought it would be just fine to attach it with folded tabs. And it was. At first. But as I continued through the build, I had to rotate and manipulate the model so much that the connection ended up loosening up. That wobble of that cone is possibly my second big regret on this build (second to the thruster cones being shaped inside-out on the LM).

Geez. I really did screw up / struggle a lot on this build. I hope you don’t mind how I’ve dragged on, but I hope that it doesn’t bother you, and furthermore that it might help you not make the same mistakes that I have. Anyways, onwards!

Comparatively, though, the rest of the model is much easier, or at least less complicated. There was only one major confusion I faced, but I will say the following for the interim steps: I knnocked all the fiddly bits all out of alignment while continuing. I’m talking about the thruster cones, the flag-like thing, and the annoying cross-shaped antannae looking things (so much fun trying to shape the attaching strips while not getting the cross section all bent up). But I ignored that until the end. That’s one thing I learned while building the standalone LM: you’re gonna knock it out of alignment. Lots. The only thing you’ll be doing by re-aligning them as you go is weakening the connection points. Because you’ll probably end up dinging it again and again.

So back to the stuff I goofed up: When it came time to attach the stand, I thought I had attached it backwards. It didn’t look right, and I convinced myself that I had it wrong. So I detached it, and proceeded to try to do it right. Only to realize that I had, I believe, attached it right the first time around. Serious face-palm moment there. Luckily the tabs survived the reattachment. Just know that when you get to this point, it might look funny, because the cone that is attached to the stand ends up canted at an angle that just doesn’t seem like it could be right. But it is.

So that’s everything I can think of that I struggled with while building this model. Well, all the big things. But I’ve left off one of the great things about this model… the super-cool miniature replica of the plaque that the astronauts left on the moon. They didn’t have to include this. In fact, I really see it as a bonus, given the fact that they identify this model as a 3.5-sheet model, but it’s actually 4 full sheets, using the extra space to include the plaque. Another reason that Fascinations is such a cool company.

Here’s the YouTube playlist of the videos of the 3 build sessions (totaling about 5 hours) of my entire build. Once again, no sound, no narration, this is just for reference. I don’t know that anyone will ever watch them, but I’m not as talented as the amazing AnimateOrange is when it comes to video editing and narration, nor do I have the energy / capacity to become half as good.