Though I’ve been a Star Trek fan for all of my life, and though I’ve been a modeller for a few decades now, I’ve managed to build every other Star Wars/Star Trek model EXCEPT the refit USS Enterprise! Last fall, I decided to right that wrong, and after acquiring a sealed kit on Ebay (one that had the Star Trek III graphics on the box), set about getting her out of drydock.
I had no illusions regarding this kit; I’ve read all about how it had these illogical panel lines etched into the surface, how it looked as if it was a ship made from dry masonry, how the parts didn’t want to fit or were not screen accurate, etc. Instead of stressing out about accurizing it (after all, I have the Round 2 Refit that I can always build if I really feel that strongly about it), I would work with the kit the way it was, as sort of a time piece: since I didn’t build it back when Star Trek III was in theaters, for instance, I would now build it to look the way it would have had I done so.
Yes, the fit was troublesome in places, such as the neck-to-strongback join, which required lots of putty and sanding, but by far the biggest challenge was at least attempting to replicate the paint scheme from The Motion Picture. After reading many different theories as to how it was done, and knowing that I’d probably never replicate it, I first painted the whole kit flat white over a gray primer, which gave the ship a slightly grayish white hue. Then I used acrylic paints (applied by hand) to tint white to varying degrees as I applied the paint: a pearlescent white, a steel gray with white, a gold in white, a rosey color in white, etc., to mimic the look of a pearlescent shimmery paint job. In some of the pics, you can see the shimmer effect at work.
For the strongback, I scanned the decals for my Round 2 kit, shrunk them down to the size needed, then spray-glued them on top of some blue painter’s tape. Then, I cut out the shapes to create masks, which I applied to designated areas so that I could paint the pieces and then remove the masks afterward. The end result surprised me. Not too shabby!
Oddly, the old decals in the box still held up, even though there were a few missing. I used an “Enterprise” name decal from the Round 2 Surak kit, which fit nicely under the shuttle bay doors, and just painted on the missing shuttle docking port ring that should have been there on the starboard side of the neck. I also made two impulse engine decals.
As far as adding anything on, the only real addition were the phaser banks on the underside of the engineering hull, the phaser banks up atop the engineering hull by the shuttle entrance, and the thrusters attached to the deflector shield housing. I simply used a thin piece of flexible plastic and an exacto knife to cut these tiny shapes out after painting them.
Though I didn’t light the ship, I still drilled out the windows and filled them with Micro Kristal Klear. I feel it added a bit more detail to the ship and gave it a sense of weight.
On the whole, I feel this was a nice dry run for the bigger Round 2 Refit, which, with its lighting needs, will be a whole new challenge altogether!