On April 12 in 1961 at 7:07am CET, Juri Gagarin was the first human being to fly into space with the “Vostok-1”, where he orbited the earth within 108 minutes. This event represented a high success for all Eastern bloc countries which were in constant competition with the United States of America. Gagarin started in the Soviet place of Kosmodrom Baikonur, the biggest Soviet space mission launch center in southern Kasachstan.
There were five more Vostok missions in which were used to examine human habitation in space. The first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereschkova, was part of the sixth and last mission which was carried out in 1963.
Our model kit “Vostok-1” was produced in the nationally-owned enterprise Plasticart Zschopau and its price was 13,50 Mark. Since the end of the 1950s, the small enterprice VEB Kunststoffverarbeitung Zschopau produced spray cast parts for model kits of ship and airplane models. Among the products were also models of military airplanes, civil airplanes, helicopters as well as the pursuit plane Mig-15 from Russia, the SAAB Draken from Sweden, the L-60 from the Czech Republic, the An-2 which was used for agricultural purposes in Russia as well as the Czech airplane Aero-45 which was used for travel and artistic purposes.
The model kits were popular among both children and adults, whether as a toy for the own usage or as a suitable present. Some models, however, were quite difficult to construct due the many small parts, such as the model kit “Iljuschin-62”.
The model kit “Vostok-1” with the scale of 1:25 dates back to the 1980s and is in a very good condition. The box shows a colorful representation of the individual phases of the earth circulation. The lucky owner had to put together 52 single type parts made of white and silver plastic, 108 parts altogether. One had to carefully take the small parts out of the fixation structure and then glue everything together according to the instruction book. The kit also included glue, paint, stickers as well as a construction for permanent mounting. Even a little cosmonaut figure was part of the package. The instruction book also included a specific description of the technical data as well as information on the preparation and realization of the Vostok mission.
The models were only partly suitable to be played with. The better they were glued together, the more robust they were in the end. They were mainly used for a presentation in a cabinet or on the shelf at home. Some children or teenagers also had the models hanging from the wall of their bedrooms – very much to the regret of the adults entering the room.
A guest contribution by Juliane Knote