Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Back to the Modelling Board; Revell's Original Series USS Enterprise

Back in 2013 we were fortunate to review the Revell Star Trek Into Darkness USS Enterprise.

Now we can bring our sequel of sorts with the completion of the Revell kit for The Original Series' legendary starship. However this time, instead of having a bash at building her, I handed control over to someone with a ton more experience and a far steadier hand (and dare I say it about 200% more patience); my Dad.

A Star Trek fan since the original BBC TV airings back in the early 1970's, Dad is the reason I like the show and can be therefore blamed for me taking it to another level. In the past he's constructed the Enterprise-A from The Final Frontier, Enterprise-D, Klingon Bird-of-Prey (here, left) and the Vor'Cha attack cruiser, USS Excelsior from The Undiscovered Country and USS Defiant (personal favourite) so his credentials at the interview for this article were already enough to guarantee we'd be getting some top-notch material. When I said I'd received this kit for review though he did jump at the chance to tackle the starship since it was the mid-1980's when he completed the classic AMT release.

What I can say ahead of his review is that this is light years ahead of that and I can also be certain that the result will be a good deal better than my attempt on the JJ Abrams USS Enterprise

Right, let's get it started....

Opening Up

Saucer section ready for assembly
The Revell kit of the original USS Enterprise comes in an end-tuck carton which is useless for holding parts or sub-assemblies but, from this point, onward to construction. 

The parts come in four packs, one of which contains the clear items. The rest are in a light grey plastic which all look crisply moulded and the etched lines look a little heavy but not unacceptable so no re-scribing should be needed. The instruction booklet is in Revell’s standard format which is very clear and straightforward. I would say, at this point, I do not intend to use the kit windows because this will mean a significant amount of masking when it comes to painting; instead I will fill the apertures with Micro Kristal Klear  after completion.

The Build

Saucer section built and filled
Construction starts with the saucer section into which the navigation lights are inserted first. There is some confusion here because the instruction sheet illustration appears to show the tapered end of the bridge recess at the front of the saucer and it is only by looking at the impulse engine locating holes that the correct orientation is recognised. 

The saucer section went together well with no gaps needing more than a smear of filler. The only complication was the sprue gates which on parts A16, A18, A20 and A21 were rather thick and took some effort in cutting away. This is necessary because the location points in the saucer are inside the gate recesses – now onto the warp engines. 

Hull complete and warp engines attached
The warp engines are quite straightforward from a construction point of view. The complications are in the painting. Parts C29 and C44 were cemented in and the area painted silver. The clear parts A30 and A45 were more problematical because the main is clear orange but the ‘ribs’ in silver were tricky and needed a magnifying light and a steady hand. Parts B32 and B47 were left off until final painting along with A34, A37, A49 and A52 and, because these are the same colour which is a mix, they need to be painted at the same time to avoid shade differences.

Next, the pylons, which are quite ingenious in nature. They consist of a ‘V’ frame and two inner panels. When completed this sub-assembly sits like a saddle across the main hull. Cleverly this performs two functions - it fixes the angle from which the pylons come away from the hull and it means that there is no stress trying to pull the hull halves apart which was the case in earlier versions – well thought out Revell. 

Now I fitted the warp engines to the ‘V’ frame - all was good with just a touch of filler to tidy up the joints. 

Final Construction

Secondary hull complete with engines
Next, the main hull. I fixed the two bracing pieces (D102 and D103) and left them to dry overnight. The following day the shuttle door (E104) was added along with the 90 gm weight. Fortunately there is plenty of room in the hull to accommodate such a large volume. This was super-glued and taped to stop it moving around because there will be no possibility of securing it once the sensor array and the pylons are fitted. The hull went together very well and there seems little need for filler at this stage. This sub-assembly is now taped ready for final assembly.

Final assembly consists of the now-completed warp engine/pylon sub-assembly, main sensor and saucer. The warp engines were attached and left to dry overnight. The main sensor inner (D68 and D69) were assembled and fitted. The only difficulty encountered was the fit of part D68 which needed some material shaving from the main hull to let it fit but this was easily accomplished.

The sensor dish was left off to be painted separately to avoid masking. The saucer section was left off at this stage also because the primer will be easier to apply. Dependent upon fit, it may be that it will be given its final paint coat and attached afterwards. This decision is best left until after the next step - onto painting. 

By Numbers

B35 masked up
I painted all of the ‘non hull’ colour areas around the warp engines, impulse engine and main sensor. The main sensor array was painted gloss black because it is the most effective undercoat colour for the copper. When all of these areas have dried, they will be masked off for the overall assembly colour. At this point I painted the stand gloss black (also the most effective undercoat for the gold insignia). 

Having painted all of the supplementary colours the masking can be tricky. A tip in masking recessed areas such as found on parts B35/36 and B50/51 is to run the tip of a cocktail stick around the edge to give a clear area to trim off the tape. 

The final assembly now completes the hull with the warp engine covers and the main sensor being fitted. All good fits with no filler necessary.

I Name This Ship...

Awaiting final assembly
Decal fitting was achieved with no problems. Colour register is very good due to the depth USS Enterprise and NCC-1701 on the saucer, there is virtually no trace of pigment with no ‘show through’.

The carrier film is very clear and, even on the main I used a decal setting solution on the major pieces and the decals reacted very well. For note you do also get the option to mark her up as either USS Constellation or USS Potemkin.

The final step is a coat of satin varnish overall and putting in the windows with Micro Kristal Klear to which a dash of gloss white or gloss black is added (personal preference). The main thing I would emphasise is the benefit of keeping the hull and saucer sections separate until the last task. This has helped tremendously in the handling of the pieces which, due to the awkwardness of the shapes, would have been very difficult to paint easily. This is possible because of the very good fit of the saucer to hull joints which is tight with no remedial work needed on the joint. 

The project has gone together very well and I would thoroughly recommend that any Star Trek fan with a modicum of scale-modelling experience gives it a try.

Many thanks to Revell for their assistance in the production of this model review.

Massive thanks to Dad for the time to build and review the kit.

All build photographs courtesy of SB2014

Final hero model shots by SKoST with exception of starship with box below (top right image) also courtesy of SB2014

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