Mike Blackman’s Refit Enterprise
This is the second Enterprise NCC1701-A I have built. The last one was a AMT kit about 20 years ago. It had floppy warp nacelles and drooping dish etc etc. I think all those others like me that built them understand and sympathize here. When I first saw the Polar Lights 1:350 scale model on Ebay last year and read all the positive things about them on the modeling websites such as CultTVMan etc I knew that this was the kit I just had to build. Although the Polar Lights kit is an absolutely fantastic kit, well made and engineered and a delight to build, there were subtle discrepancies in the painting instructions and placement of minor parts and decals in relation to the pictures of the studio model that I used as a reference. Whilst I did not “accurize” this model completely I did do a few things to improve the overall effect and lighting as the object was to not only build a decent Enterprise, but to build one that would photograph nicely. In the words of I.J.Lawrence, a great modeler and all round funny guy, “Don’t get too anal with it”. I followed his good advice and I think the finished product looks great. I even used the same military friends he used to assist me to build this thing i.e. “General Boredom and Major Eyestrain”. At this point I should thank Paramount Pictures’ Mark Dickson for the great reference photos of the studio model. Without them I would have been lost.
I started this project back in June 2007 and completed it December 2007. There was Much experimentation with the LED lighting and I wanted to get this right. The led lighting and 555 timer circuits were all copied from the vast amount of info on the web and to get the LED strobes and nav lights accurate I watched the original movies ST4, 5 & 6 and timed the lights with a stop watch. The timings of the strobes and nav lights vary between movies and when the ship is in differing stages of flight so I used the cruising, or at full stop configuration generally shown towards the end of each movie. The 555 timer circuits were relatively easy to construct and the ones I purchased from Tandys came with comprehensive instructions on how to assemble them. They were very cheap as well.
Painting and decaling were the two things that took the most time. I used Aztec patterns and used 200GSM heavy weight paper as masks, cut them out and tacked them onto the model using a 3Com spray can of adhesive that is used in most offices instead of the dreaded glue stick. This allows easy removal and clean up of residue glue with a cloth lightly damped with turpentine. I coated the masks with Tamya clear acrylic to reduce edge “bleed” from the masks. I find turps better to use on acrylic paint surfaces as it did not remove any of the base coat as did meths. Many thanks to Carlos Zandrando, for the Aztec mask templates. Ahhhh the aztecing… well this is where Gen Boredom and Major Eyestrain come in. It was an onerous task, but the result wasn’t too bad and was well worth the effort. I am building another of these and I think I will buy the Azrek Dummy Aztec masks. For $50 I think I will save about a grand on my labour not too mention saving some of my valuable beer drinking time. For painting I used a spray can of Automotive White gloss acrylic over an automotive dark grey acrylic undercoat. The auto acrylic whites are a little bit off white so it was perfect. These paints are very cheap to buy and the only problem is that the nozzle sizes tend to be a tad too big so you have to paint in fast sweeping motions. The rest of the paint scheme was completed using Tamya acrylics and a double action air brush. Paint scheme as per the Mark Dickson photos of the aforementioned studio model. I got an el cheapo air brush unit on Ebay for about 20 bucks and a compressor for about 30. I advise plenty of practice first then get into it. The gloss finish made decaling much easier as they stick better to a shiny surface. Decals and matt surfaces do not seem to go together well. Others may disagree, but that is why we are individuals. We are not all Borg!