My AJA Models 2001 Aries

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SD Studios

Well-Known Member
I actually finished this two years ago, but another thread about the model spurred me on to post some info...I hope this is helpful to others wanting to make a model of this ship.

The BEST replica of this (currently) is the kit made by AJA models. It is about 10 1/2 inches in diameter. (1/3rd studio-scale) This is the one I built.

Scott Alexander has had one in the works for about 47 years. It is much bigger at 15 inches (half-studio-scale) But if you look at the pics on Scott's Atomic City site, the detailing doesn't match the original model. ???

Scott's kit is beautiful, but it is "idealized". Odd. It is also HUGE. I wish it was more accurate and "actually existed". I would have snapped it up in a heartbeat.

If you build the AJA model, you can just do it "Out of the box" or go all "hardcore".

I decided to go "hardcore" since this is one of my favorite ships...EVAR.

That adventure entailed about 200 hours over the course of a year, a fair amount of scratchbuilding and replacement, and a lighting system using an internal 40-watt fluorescent bulb, power taps in the mounting points, a display base, and a complete rebuild of the windows.

The original kit has 150 parts. My "hardcore" version has 450+. The landing gear retracts, and most of the visible piping is brass and steel rods. I also added quite a bit of PE parts and plastic chips to better match the filming model.

Since the windows would be a major "focus point" of the replica, I had to make sure they looked really good up-close. So I built the double-window-frames that are visible and replicated the rear-projection images as seen in the film. I also partially-built the interior of the cockpit to give it some depth. I figured all of that wouldn't be that hard...about 100 hours later...

And YES, the windows are COMPLETELY a-symmetrical. The widths don't match each other, nor do they line up with the quadrants of the ship. And that is EXACTLY how the original filming model was made. To this day, I can't figure out why they did that. WHY make one window MUCH wider than the one next to it and off-center??? WEEEIIIRRRDDD.

The paint-job was done in numerous shades of off-white and gray to match the high-rez pics on the DT site. Those were a GOD-SEND. The filming model is also covered in lots of dripping stains and oily patches. If the ship is leaking so badly...why not fix it??? So I replicated the process they used to match properly. I don't like it, but it is accurate. I mapped out each stain and drip with a pencil first and then painted them in with dark gray paint (Don't use BLACK!!!)

Also the anti-glare panels on the original model were dark gray... NOT BLACK like everyone paints them...that makes it look like a toy. Don't do that!!

The base color is Montana Colors, Diamond Gray." I love that stuff! It dries in like ONE MINUTE!!! But you have to learn how to use it or it will look awful.

I took screen-grabs and various behind-the-scenes interior shots and printed them, so the people were sized properly at 1/48th scale.

I then back-lit them with a 40 watt bulb. I needed a BRIGHT light that would light all of the windows evenly with no spot-lighting or shadows but not TOO bright so as to be out-of-scale-bright.

My LED test failed. But the fluorescent bulb worked like a charm, but now the model would have to be plugged into a wall socket...Oh is full of little trade-offs.

The base was made to replicate a section of the Clavius landing pad.

Better pics in a bit!!

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Scott Graham

Sr Member
Wow! Cool idea on the windows too. I also love the design of this ship.

I've been tempted to get this version since I've also been hoping the 15 incher would be done eventually. It would be cool to have the 1/32 Discovery and Aires at the same scale.

I noticed that AJA's now going to need 10 orders before putting it back into production to pay for new molds. I just might get on the list. He's also made an interior kit for it. I might have to get on the list for it.

Great job! Looking forward to more pics.


Well-Known Member
A great build of a great model ! There's really no limit what you can do. I stayed fairly basic with mine, but still love it !

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phase pistol

Master Member











Active Member
Nice, all pictures look great!! Currently at work where is this kit available? I would like to purchase one in the future...

Thanks in advance!



New Member
Just noticed this!!!
Thanks for posting these incredible photos of your completed model SD & JHY, very well done. (y)thumbsup
Also, i'm glad you noticed the deliberate assymetry of the passenger windows! The extra piping around the engnes is real accurate!




New Member
Hey, Great work on the model.
Any news about if/when the kit will be back in production? I've got the cash burning a hole in my pocket as I write, haha :)

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Captain April

Sr Member
The Aries design is so cool but totally makes no sense, the landing gear don't need to retract, nor does it need the cowlings. the off center hatch also doesn't make sense. As for the windows being different sizes and again off center, that is clearly a result of time constraints and little screen time. We barely get a look at the ship in the movie then it's gone. Great build by the way.


New Member
Beautiful work guys. Inspiration to get going on mine.

This is one of the best designs ever next the Orion and the Moonbus.

I have to chime in and say that truly very few spaceship designs in movies and entertainment actually "make sense". If we continue along this line of thought, than the Discovery, Moonbus, and space pods makes no sense either. None of the designs need spheres, and the moonbus doesn't need a slanted nose or slanted sides. It could be just a rectangular block with landing legs like a passenger car for trains. Kubrick also rejected a few things for the Discovery including solar panels, shock rings, nuclear explosion shields, and support cables. He may have been trying to get the Discovery to subliminally look like a femur. It wouldn't have looked like that if it had big ugly solar panels. The Orion made the most sense but lacked vertical stability fins. If it had winglets or vertical stabilizers like the X-20 or even a big ole' vertical fin like the space shuttle that would've made more sense. Especially with such a long fuselage. Kubrick consulted with leaders in the aerospace industry at the time and it's mostly idealized technology. In the end it's all for entertainment, extrapolation, and fun!

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Mike S

New Member
Curious if AJA still offers this kit? Just became aware of it. Watched 2 screenings of the 70mm re-release and now I need an Aries.
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