Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Enterprise Project: The End in Sight

We started this way back in May. In fact the box for the Revell USS Enterprise dropped on the day of the UK release of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Now, in August, the end is very much in sight; within reach. Considering where this was back on July 17th I didn't think it would ever come together - but it has and (personally) it's gone quite well in most respects. That's not to say there hasn't been incident but on the whole Revell should be proud of the kit they have produced.

We left off with everything painted and ready for assembly - and that's just what's been happening. I have acquired a nice thin, small brush for fiddly detail once the majority is painted and dried but a lot of time has been waiting for glue - not paint - to dry.

Let's take this in the three sections I'd originally planned to build her in, starting with the saucer. As we left her last time I'd managed to stick the two sections together and now we have managed to assemble the impulse drive and reactor top to fit to the rear. Again, great fitting and that pretty much rounded off the construction element of the saucer in one swift move. I've found it quite useful to dab glue on using either a cocktail stick or a pin as it's a lot more exact and saves wiping away oozing blobs. I still need to "dot" the white on some of the elements here and tidy up the edges however it's not too bad...!

The secondary hull wasn't quite so easy. Once it was painted up I also had to paint and fit a lower hull section which sits between the two larger segments. This was a combination of some of the clear elements and white sections. From an "historical" perspective it's something that doesn't appear on the Prime Universe Enterprise, 1701 or 1701-A. This is definitely worth a test fit as it's a delicate piece to put in place. I would also recommend something I didn't do. Take a look further into the instructions and you'll see that, on the decals page showing the underside of the Enterprise, it needs a coat of black matt. Best do this before assembly!

Once the lower section was in place, it was a case of placing the deflector dish mount into place and gluing the whole secondary hull together. Not that I need to mention it, but test fitting the deflector housing is advised. Also get the shuttlebay doors painted first before assembly. These pieces all need to be set in place before putting the other half of the hull on - and make sure they are aligned straight otherwise you might end up with a substantially wonky finish.

Wrapping the hull with elastic bands to ensure it stayed together I was disappointed with the fitting. There was a tiny gap between the two halves so have some filler to hand. As you might be able to see from this photo (left) there is a distinct gap along the centre line as well as around the lower edge of the secondary hull. A real shame as to this point I had been unable to fault the assembly and painting processes.

What I do like about this kit in comparison to the Enterprise-A model I had from The Final Frontier is that the pylons for attaching the nacelles are in three sections - half a pylon on each of the two hull halves and then a central piece which sits between the two. Once in place the two nacelles will slot into the top of them. Its another good, close fit when the rear upper hull section goes on. I would add that your collection of elastic bands will once more be called into use to pull the hull pieces together at the gluing stage.Word of advice - decide NOW if the Enterprise is going on a stand or not as you'll need to cut out a slot in the base of the ship (see picture at the bottom of this blog) and doing it after gluing the hull together will be a serious pain to do. I nearly forgot. Whoops.

Ok. Those steps bring two halves of the hull to a close for construction now for one piece I hadn't even looked at - the two warp nacelles. Aside from a coat of white nothing had been done with these two cigar-shaped engines. Snipping them from the frame and filing the sprue points from them was straight forward enough but this was to be one of the more fiddly operations of the construction process. A lot of clear elements go into the finished items and I'd painted these right back at the beginning of the project. I'd push to add the interior features first and then complete the two ends afterwards. 

The venting elements slot in very well and gluing is best with something very fine and pointed to get precision and avoid over-doing the adhesive. I would also suggest you construct both side by side but only take one element at a time from the clear sprue to avoid confusion as you do so.

The bussard collectors need to be assembled separately and then glued in place. The rear panels to these, as with the deflector mount, are in a metallic silver which is a bit odd as you can't see them when they are all put together. Also you'll need to cut out two circles from the decals sheet to fix inside to give the impression of the inner workings. With the blue being quite a strong colour however you can barely make them out when they are in place. They can also be flimsy before the whole structure sets so be careful where you stand them to dry as there are four pieces making them up. 

The bussard covers also have some detail in white on them. As with the lower piece of hull I mentioned earlier, get them painted up before putting it all together as they will need a couple of coats and when inserted you'll have a job getting to every nook and cranny.

As you can see here (above right), all the clear elements need to be placed into the nacelles before assembly. On reflection I'm glad I painted them all on the inside as it hides any nasty brush strokes. You can also see how the venting slots into place.

What you'll find is, like with the secondary hull, the internal pieces need to be glued and set before attempting to close the nacelles up. Once they are closed then there can't be any alterations so make sure you get them in the right place first time. It will pay off.

Again, grab some elastic bands and wrap the engines as tightly (left) as you can to ensure that solid seal and watch out for drippy excess which will give you lumps and bumps on the join line. Getting to this point and seeing all the sections now assembled was a big thing. It's not been a straight run through to build the ship but it has gone well bar one or two minor hiccups which seem to only have occurred in the later stages.

So one last thing to show you for this time - the two hull sections mated. Test-fitting was a little difficult as it was very tight but after a bit of "guidance" and patience the two hulls went together. If you can see here though there is a slight gap at the top of the neck. You might want to get the filler out again to cover this up although it's not that noticable. I've included this picture of the join for reference (below). 

Purposely I'm stopping here and leaving the final section around applying the decals for an entire post on its own. Trust me, it deserves it. You might have noticed that a couple of the images above do have some of the decals on. In the instance of those attached to the neck of the secondary hull, this was done due to ease of accessibility that would be lost after mating the engineering section to the saucer. I intend to go into more detail over the whole detailing and decalling process in more depth next time.

So just to leave you with one final shot of the model at this stage. Two hulls joined and ready for the final stage. What you should be able to see is the gap between the two hulls and also the inserted lower hull section which is recessed against the rest of the ship. You should also be able to make out the slot for the stand towards the front of the secondary hull.

As a side note, make sure you've ordered some clear matt (Revell number 2) as this will be essential to use after decalling. Covering the starship in a layer of clear matt will protect the finishing touches and save them from getting ripped. Mine is on order!

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