|KIT:||Polar Lights 1/350 USS Enterprise A|
|NOTES:||A very large kit|
“Space the Final Frontier…”
Of course, these are the familiar words to anyone who has ever seen a Star Trek TV series or movie (fan or otherwise.)
Once upon a time ago, Star Trek models were to Science Fiction models as WW2 fighters are to aircraft models. However that quickly changed when the folks at AMT/Ertl dumped their entire science fiction line (sometime around 2000) due to abysmal sales of their Star Wars: Phantom Menace models (damn you Jar-Jar Binks!!!)
Polar Lights picked up the rights to the Star Trek franchise soon afterwards. In the past two years, they have made excellent models of the original Enterprise and Klingon warships as 1/1000 scale snap together kits as well as the 1/350 scale NX 01 Enterprise from the now cancelled Enterprise.
After a couple of years of rumors and delays, Polar Lights have finally released the 1/350 scale NCC-1701 Enterprise from the movies.
To me, this is the ultimate version of the Enterprise. The original Enterprise was a beauty, but it looked dated (?) and seemed a bit boxy whereas the movie Enterprise was sleeker, more futuristic and it could look like it could do Warp Six standing still. Sure there are newer designs, but the ships or adventures of the Next Generation (cough, wussies, cough) and its progressively dumber offspring never grabbed me like the adventures of James T. Kirk, Spock and Bones did.
<Warning Soap Box Time>
Why? Perhaps it had a lot to do with the fact that many of the best original Star Trek episodes (not crap like Spock’s Brain) were written by real SF writers (not the TV hacks who polluted the later series) who knew the universe is a harsh place that is not filled with wussy villians, that the road to ruin is often paved with the best of intentions and the characters weren’t infected with some debilitating form of space smugness caused by a looney ideological political correctness infection caused by wearing spandex uniforms. I could go on for an hour about this, but I can already sense that my rant has caused many a reader’s eyes to glaze over from boredom so I will stop and continue with the review.
For those who think otherwise, I’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you somewhere out in the dark back alleys of the Internet—I’ll be the short, balding idiot wearing Spock ears, gold uniform shirt and armed with a phaser that looks like a weapon rather than a wimpy Black and Decker Dustbuster vaccum.
The Polar Lights 1/350 NCC-1701/1701A Enterprise is the biggest science fiction model kit I have ever seen. The box is some 24 inches X 24 inches. When you open the box, you will find several bags of crisply molded parts and the Enterprise’s saucer. In fact, the saucer section’s diameter is as big as the box!!
Did I say it is huge?
The folks at Polar Lights should be commended for this kit. It puts any previous Ertl version to shame and I predict there will be a surge of the Ertl Enterprises for sale on eBay. From what I’ve read on the internet, the kit fits together very well (unlike the most SF model kits.)
Polar Lights has included a stand (it sure needs one) which is a representation of the “dry” dock as seen in first two Star Trek movies. If you don’t want to use the stand, one will probably be placing metal braces inside the model to strengthen the structure.
As for accuracy, it passes the Looks Okay To Me test. I do not happen to have deck plans or photos of the actual movie model to compare to, but it does not seem to have the very obvious shape problems that plagued the Ertl version of this ship nor is it covered with the huge trenches that passed for panel lines. There are those who will find accuracy nits to pick at, but I am not one of them.
I suspect that there won’t be very many anyway because from what I was told about this kit from my favorite model hobby store owner, the designer of this particular kit was a perfectionist Trekkie/Trekker who insisted on getting it right which explains why it took so long in coming and helped drive the folks at Polar Lights crazy.
This kit has little touches that allow the ultra serious modeler who wants to go way above and beyond us mere mortal modelers to go WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND. First of all, there is the arboretum which can be seen through 12 large windows located at the very bottom of the secondary hull. There is enough room in the kit part to put grass, trees and maroon jacket wearing 1/350 photoetched crewmen in a minature diorama. If that isn’t enough to break out the tweezers and the X10 magnifying lens, they also have an optional to open the shuttle bay doors and have provided a detailed shuttle bay, complete with various shuttles for your amusement. Finally, the clear parts are all designed so that you can attach fibre optics to light the Enterprise up. This kit is definitely NOT for those trying to recover from AMS!
The paint guide that comes with this kit are for Testors Model Master and Acryl paints. They were even thoughtful enough to provide masters for all sections of the ship of the infamous Aztec Pattern that was common to StarFleet vessels of the Star Trek movies. According to a SF master modeler I know, if you do it right then the actual painting of the Aztec pattern will take no longer than painting WW2 Luftwaffe mottled camo patterns on a 1/48 scale fighter (of course set up will take up much longer.) However, if you’re like me and prone to doing things the wrong slow way then it will take a decade or so.
The decals sheet is like the rest of the kit, huge! It contains a multitude of stencils similar in quantity to a modern fighter. It contains stencils for both the NCC-1701 Refit version as well as the NCC-1701A (seen at the end of the 4th Star Trek movie and onwards.) Polar Lights Decals are a bit thick and glossy, but in my experience they go down well with all decal solutions including Solvaset.
If you like big 1/350 kits and SF, then this is the kit for you. If you are a Star Trek fan who wants to build a reasonably accurate refit version of the Enterprise then this is definitely the kit for you. If you just like building big kits then this is the kit for you. If you a Star Trek hater, well, you’d probably be better off spending your money elsewhere.
I am sad to hear from my favorite model dealer that Polar Lights is reluctant about doing another Star Trek kit so this is possibly THE Star Trek Kit to end all Star Trek Kits. If this is the end then this is a very good ending indeed (unlike the endings of the various TV series, but again, I digress.)
However, I suspect that this kit, like most large kits, will be collecting dust before it gets built. I know mine will as I’ve got to finish a workbench full of other kits before starting on this one (sigh, where the bloody hell’s a time machine when you need one?) Even so, I look forward to the day when I finish this ship, lift it high over my head and in my best imitation of William Shatner, scream to the heavens, “KHHHHHAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
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