F L Y I N G B L I N D :
T H E H A W K M A N R O C K E T C Y C L E S C A L E M O D E L P R O J E C T .
Completed 1/10th Rocket Cycle.
An upcoming centrepiece of the Gordon’s Alive! collection and a stunning work of art in its own right, this entirely scratchbuilt accurate replica of the famous Hawkman Rocket Cycle now finally exists as a strictly limited edition model kit.
A true labour of love initiated by a lifelong obsession and borne of frustration with no official reproduction (toy or otherwise) ever coming to pass, UK based fan Chris King gathered a multitude of reference and resources to recreate Flash Gordon’s most iconic screen ride. His pursuit of excellence eventually caught the attention of Hollywood where his plans would evolve into something he never could’ve imagined!
Chris takes up the story from here –
“When Bif Bang Pow released their first wave of 9 inch tall Flash Gordon movie action figures, it finally seemed like the 30 year old wait for a rocket cycle vehicle/toy would be over. Sadly, BFP were only able to complete a second wave of figures before their license expired with King Features Syndicate and they did not renew it due to an apparent lack of demand for the product.
Rare bluescreen shot of the Rocket Cycle in action at Shepperton Studios.
I realised that the only way to get a model of the Rocket Cycle would be to tackle the project myself. For the first stage, I thought it would be a good idea to model the design in the computer to iron out any unknowns in the design of the cycle. After seeing Stinson Lenz’s amazing Google sketch-up computer model of the cockpit interior of the Millennium Falcon studio set, I commissioned him to produce the Rocket Cycle computer model.
Using the Google sketch-up software meant that we could rotate and view the model from any angle and this enabled us to overlay the model onto reference photos/Blu-Ray screen shots to see how closely we could match it. After several months of going through this process of marking up/updating and checking against the small number of reference photos available, we got to a point where we were happy that the computer model had achieved the required proportions and Lenz was able to produce plans, elevations and cross sections at 1:10 scale so the project could be handed over to a physical model maker.
Computer Model Versus actual prop.
After advertising for the skills of a model maker on various forums, Pete Fielding of Standing Stone Studios stepped forward to accept the challenge and embraced the project wholeheartedly
Original Rocket Cycle Studio Miniature
I had been sharing progress photos of the project on the Replica Prop Forum and it was this exposure which led to me being contacted by Bryan Felty who was the set designer for an upcoming Seth McFarlane movie TED which was in production and was going to feature an extended cameo by original Flash Gordon actor Sam J Jones. Seth McFarlane was a huge Flash Gordon movie fan and wanted to recreate the Rocket Cycle scene which meant that construction of a full size prop was required. Bryan was also a member of the Replica Prop Forum and was very impressed with the research / development that we’d done on the project to date. Due to the aforementioned lack of decent reference photos of the cycle, he asked for my assistance in the production of drawings to enable the prop department to construct the full size prop. I was happy to oblige and the resulting Rocket Cycle soared splendidly across the sky with Flash at the helm again in the movie.
Rocket Cycle Props – Then and now.
During the construction of the physical model, it became apparent that tweaks were required to the position of the raised “plates” and rivets compared to what had been modelled in the compute, so lots of mark-ups were done to try and illustrate where changes needed to be made. The last part of the project was to mark-up where every single rivet should be located based on the appearance of the prop that was used for most of the shots in the movie. (The same prop was dressed with different rivet numbers/locations depending on which shot you look at – the reasons for this known only to the prop makers).
Some of Chris King’s photo reference for rivet placements – assisted by never-before-seen photos of the original prop (bottom left)
In the end, only 3 models were ever produced – one of them is owned by Jason Lenzi (co-creator of Bif Bang Pow), Chris King (project manager and 7 year old kid turned 41) and the model featured here now owned by Martin of Gordon’s Alive!…”
As of this writing, my kit – the final copy – is being assembled and painted by talented modelmaker Alex Clayson. Below is a gallery of his progress showing the raw fibreglass shell as it is filled for strength before the base can be attached and peripherals added. Chris King was so detail-oriented that he even produced accurate decal sheets for the Hawkman logo and flags – the latter printed onto fabric to create a more authentic appearance. Look out for the finished kit in a future post and then a gallery here all of its own!