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My 44" 1/24 Spine Booster scratch build

I wanted to build the 1/24 studio scale Spine Booster but the problem with this build was that the Spine Booster appears in only a few frames of the first episode of season 2, called "The Metamorph".

If I understand the story correctly, the original studio Spine Booster was built Nick Allder and Terry Reed (not br Martin Bower). It is uncertain who has the original studio or if it even still exist.

The one seen most often and which I also took as the original (on the Catacombs website) is not the studio model but a close to accurate commission build by Chris T. for Andy H. when he bought the original Eagle
3 from from Brian Johnson. It has since been sold several times.

To my knowledge, there's about a half a dozen other scratch builds
but only a few have been documented. Unfortunately, the threads no longer work or the link to the pic no longer exist.

The best documented build is by BigRab who hosts pics of his complete build on his Fotki page which is excellent reference.

My first source and much of my build is credited to BigRab who without his Fotki page of his build, his help and guidance it would've taken me much longer to get the information to begin my build.

Second source was the pics of Eagle 3 that were provided on disc for a fundraiser on ETF several years ago. There were a half a dozen hi res pics which some can be seen on Catacombs website

Before I continue, I wish to thank the following for their contributions and help towards my build:
Chris T., BigRab, Peter H., Keith S., Nigel H., Julian H., Jim B., Colin SMT, Darren Peters and Mike Reader (for his S2 alum bells).

Is my build 100% accurate? No. It's a build that is my interpretation if the studio and one that I'm happy with in the end.
It's a build that I spent several months studying pics, drawing it out on
graph paper, making several cardboard mockups, speaking with others, sharing information and receiving help from others.

I was provided some rough sizes/dimensions but I wanted to come up with my own sizes.

I studied the pics (currently available) and I compared kit parts and EMA tubes. I spent many evening with MS paint drawing specific size boxes derived from known kit or EMA parts and comparing it to the main body and cylinder tanks to come up with the sizes. I did sizes in inches, mm's. There were many revisions and sometimes I was battling over 2mm.

As mentioned elsewhere, I did have 5 or 6 model kits, and I got some cast from BigRab but Colin from SMT provided ALL the kit parts. He's thinking of making them available so contact Colin if you need kit parts for your build.

The drawings I made were converted to 3D by Julian. He also used a CNC router and precision cut the styrene according to my plans.
Same thing, if you want blueprints or styrene cut, contact Julian for a price on these.

I know this is not the way the original studio was built but it was my intent to build it my way and build the main body tanks similar to airplane bodies with a few frame inside.

For the front channel part, I ended up buying several different size channels and Plastruct 90533 was the one I picked. Hindsight, it's a tad small but
it looks okay.

Here, I'm contemplating should I use short struts and butt it to the underside or use long struts and go through the bottom.

For these, I used 1/4 " (6.4mm) square Plastruct 90810.

Figuring that the Spine Booster will go on and off many times, I figured butting it with glue would not hold and in the long run end up breaking so I went with cutting square holes and running a long strut into the main body tank. This made it nice and strong.

First, I drilled a hole and then with the xacto knife I square it off.

Notice the Terry/Spring clip. As I couldn't find these at the only single hobby store we have in town or at the hardware stores, I ended up ordering them
off Ebay. I decided to use the ones that were pre coated so it doesn't scratch my Eagle spine every time I attach/detach it.

The type I got were 6mm closed type or Clip CLOSED Super Type Storage Terry Grip Sizes 6mm.

Here, I only placed (no bits are actually glued on at this point) the bits on the top to see how it fits and looks.

I also ordered a 3/8th round tube that separates the 2 main body tanks so until I receive it, I won't be doing much more.

That's pretty well it for now. I think the next thing I'll do this week (I hope anyway) is to cut and add the panels to the 4 large side cylinder tanks (that should be fun). :cry::cry:
Oh...I forgot to mention this, all the kit parts I bought from Colin. He does incredible looking cast and it's hard to tell which are his and the originals. If you're interested in building a Spine Booster, contact him at as he is making a kit of these available and also some decals too. You can see some of his cast here:

Here are some of the kits I bought and I would still need to buy several more kits if I didn't get them all from Colin.

And here some more of Colin's kit parts:


Purple Bob

Very nice work Richard... Looks like you got then to within less than a mm of the original. Or at least as close as is possible.

Best Regards,
Purple Bob.


Will be interesting to follow this build have played the smallest part in helping get it started.
I have been asked to produce several sets of the styrene panels so far (and already). I will try to get a run on the machine this week; if anyone else is interested let me know. I not the email address is formatted oddly but feel free to PM me (rather than hi-jack Richards build thread).
Thanks Richard, looking forward to seeing how this goes.
Boosting morale.....

See, this is why I love the Forum - you get the chance to see really high-quality work right up close - look at those Terry clips....look at the detailing on the tanks.... Once again, Richard, your attention to detail and beautiful workmanship just shines out of the screen. There's that nice Mr Moonhugger as well, playing down his involvement but, nevertheless, providing the means for other ETF members to push their own projects on to a higher level.

I've always loved the Spine Booster, as it seems such an over-the-top piece of ancillary equipment (want an extra 30% power over a short space of time? Just strap a fuel tank to the weakest part of your Eagle and hang on!), yet it is so perfectly in the spirit of the rest of 1999's technology. It just looks so good, sitting atop the spine.

There are those of us who'd love to have a Spine Booster at this scale, so please keep posting close-ups and details.

Kindest regards

Thanks Patrick, always nice to hear from you.:thumbup:

Here's a few notes if tidbits of info worth mentioning if you're following along with this build.

1. The 3 inside frames.
NOTE, if you decide to use long struts and have them go into the main body, make sure the inside frames that go on the (left/right) insides are far enough away
not to obstruct the position/sq holes where the struts will go into. The struts begin about 1/2 in, so have the 2 frames within the 1/2 and you should clear it.

2. Locate tank centre (and make many reference lines)
The Main tanks are identical angles both Left and Right sides (except for the notch wherethe channel goes on the front).

Find the complete CENTRE of the SIDE of the main tank and draw a line on both sides and the top. That's wherethe EMA elliptical domes will go.

The 1:1 plans come in handy for this. As well, it's very helpful to enlarge a side view profile to match the 1:1 plans to locate the correct position of parts.
The 2 kit bits just below the tank top are located 2" away from the centre line.

3. Clad the front and rear top with .020 styrene
Julian provides sufficient 2mm styrene to put styrene on the insides of the front and the rear top section of the main body (once the sides and tops have been put on).
I also put a piece of 2mm styrene inside where the small channel will go over.
On top of the 2mm that I used for inside the front/rear top, I cladded with .020 styrene.

4. Large side EMA cylinders.
Before putting on the panels, glue your saddles into position first. The 4 large side cylinders have panels of various sizes (1/2", 1/4", 3/8, 3/16)
glued on. Again, with a side view enlarged to match the scale of the 1:1 plan, you can take paper and copy the widths/sizes from the photocopy to the tank.

I'm sure many will find better ways but these are things I came across.
Tonight I finished placing the various size panels on the Left Front large tank.

I also glued on the2 kit bits now before priming and painting. I also drilled the centres of the EMA elliptical domes and glued in coat hanger wire
and also drilled the centres of the tops of the 2 main bodies where the elliptical domes will fit into.

I have to say it again, Chris Trice did a fantastic job.
This evening, I finished the RF tank. It was much easier doing the panels for this one as it's a mirror image of the LF tank so I copied the part, flipped it over to the other tank :wtf:

It over Still took 3-4 hrs of cutting and gluing

2 down....2 to go

I can't seem to be able to edit my post above so I'll add this here.

LESSON LEARNED: When doing the tanks, cut 2 of each panel so you have the identical parts ready for the opposite side mirrored tank. (I'll do this for the rear tanks) :p

Purple Bob

Just a quick update tonight. I primed the 2 front tanks and I'm very happy with the result.

And so you should be..... You have a good eye for getting the detail right. Those look really good. Can't fault that build in any way at all.

Best Regards,
Purple Bob.
Well done Richard.....

You may have laboured for all that time but, please be assured, these couldn't look any better. At the risk of repeating myself, this kind of project is fascinating, and the close-up photographs which show all of that detail are really really good. I feel sure that, once you've completed this, it'll set off your Eagle beautifully.

Let's see more lovingly crafted panels and top-notch priming please!!

Kindest regards

Thanks Patrick. :)

EMA Part List and Prices

Again, I want to acknowledge and thank Chris T., BigRab, Peter H., Keith S., Nigel H. and Colin (from SMT).
Not saying it's 100% accurate, but it's darn close

KIT BASHING - models and kit parts

As mentioned, Colin (from SMT) has made a Spine Booster kit pack. This pack includes all the parts needed to build
the Spine Booster and several new parts which were later discovered. This kit pack is ideal and you won't have to buy 8 or 9 model kits just to
use 1 or 2 parts from each:)

I did have 5 of the kits on hand, but I would've need another 4 or so kits. It was well worth getting Colin's kit pack.