I started this project, because I was not happy anymore with my present Enterprise model. Due to DVD and Internet, I figured there was a lot of missing detail, and since I love to get as much detail as possible (if not all the detail) on to my models there obviously was only one solution: Build it again!
Foundation to this project is the special version of the AMT/Ertl Enterprise-A including lights and sounds as well as the oversized Galileo shuttle craft. Those of you who know that kit also know the first step: sanding all the parts to get rid of the way wrong paneling. I don’t know how long it took, but I hope I will never have to do it again.
I decided to go with fiber optics to light her at the beginning. It came as far as a fully assembled secondary hull. At that building stage it was missing the botanical garden and the larger windows had not been opened, but it had a nice photon torpedo launcher that was back lit by the spot lights of the dorsal. Of course the spot lights located at the warp pylons where also present, but not at the nacelles end.
I decide to rip the kit apart and start over from scratch. I searched the net for pictures and that’s when I first stumbled across CultTVMan. I collected about 70 pictures of the actual studio model, mostly shot by Mark Dickson (most of them can be found at http://www.paveglio.com/startrek/index.html then go to images). Now I had enough information to start work again, but without those well known replacement parts offered at various sites.
Modifications I did to my kit include:
- Opened the larger windows, somewhat too large now but still OK.
- Increased the diameter of the circular ports to 1mm.
- Added the rectangular Rec. deck windows as well as the circular port at the upper row on either side
- Included the eight missing view ports aft of the saucer rim (opposite Rec deck).
- Opened up the botanical garden (Boy what a job! I even build a small botanical garden with trees, bushes, several resting places, a river and a small sea, but…. more later)
- Corrected the VIP lounge view port size. Build a small VIP lounge using the deck plans as pictured in Mr Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise and can briefly be see when Spock’s shuttle docks in ST:TMP.
- Reduced the docking port size at the secondary hull, although they are a little too small now, about 4mm in diameter, they have the correct size to my new decals (later). By the way the ports also show lighting effect inboard, really nice.
- Added much detail to the photon torpedo launcher.
- Reduced heights of the bridge sensor dome and added the two missing turbo lift bubbles.
- Replaced the Enterprise planetary sensor with Reliant planetary sensor, added detail as well.
- Relocated the middle lower view ports around the rim (four on two circular ports, the middle one needs to be below the first and second from the right.
- Added the missing main gangway hatch at port side of saucer rim (there appears to be a mistake here since most include the hatch on either side, actually it is on the port side only!)
- Sawed the deflector dish apart to include ring of dashed lights.
- Closed the gap between dorsal neck and impulse engine. That is something a lot of people appear to forget, and it really looks silly with that gap (had it on my former model too.)
- Extended the dorsal lip that reaches towards planetary sensor dome, that’s something most other builders appear to forget too (or don’t know?).
- Added the six missing phaser banks, two above hanger bay, four at lower secondary hull right behind display stand opening (actually they should be located exactly at the opening). Of course I also had to rebuild the phaser banks sanded away at the primary hull. Whereby the phaser banks at the lower saucer where placed at their correct location.
- Scribed in the missing landing foot and access hatch at the lower primary hull, as well as the missing docking port, resized the existing docking port to proper size. First I puttied the wrong landing foot and hatches of course.
- Evened the thickness of the hangar bay rim, as well as reduced bay door heights and width a little, since it looks out of scale other wise. I also resized the hangar bay control room section and added the two panels left and right of the bay doors (it’s where the blue lighting detail is located at, unfortunately light is not coming through enough to be visible on my model).
- Reshaped the Bussard collectors (space energy/matter sink) to proper size, since they are way too broad if compared to the original (really difficult to make the two identical).
- Increased the warp pylon thickness to almost double initial thickness to match the struts of the studio model (that’s something left unchanged by most of the other builders too).
- Removed that silly bubble that is supposed to be the magnatomic amplification crystal (right at the end of the inset part that is the Bussard collector) on top of the warp engines. It does not have an arrow shape pointing backwards either! Instead I trilled a hole and incorporated some clear resin here, to have a glowing effect.
- Added some surface detail to the warp engines after assembly, those include four hatches on the bottom right behind the pylon/nacelle connection and one out board below magnatomic flux constriction, as well as small rectangles at the end caps of the nacelles (all of it is clearly visible on Mark Dickson’s pictures of the warp nacelles).
- added surface detail along the rip reaching from dorsal to hanger bay (small rectangles)
- Opened up the warp engine outboard at magnatomic flux constriction, right where the flux chiller begins, to let some light through. It is something I have not seen on any model so far, but can clearly be seen in most of the movies when the Enterprise is shot from behind.
- I did not reduce the size of the impulse deflection crystal, since the overall shape of the impulse engine is wrong anyway. (Upper portion is rounded, but it should be flat)
- Access hatches on saucer top are not modified either, should be a little smaller (imagine five people standing at one: Ilia, Decker, Kirk, Spock, Bones; then it could be the correct size).
For the sensor dish, I chose the lighted AMT kit because the main deflector dish is a lot closer to the correct dimensions then the part included with that other kits. I had to saw the dish apart, ending up with three pieces: the deflector housing it self, the front ring where the clear blue dish is inserted and the ring in between. The material of the housing is very thick. I painted on it the “dashed lights” using a lead pencil, larger at top, bottom, left and right and six smaller ones in between. Then I grasped my precision files, which I already had used to open up the botanical garden and started to file the dashes in. After the overall look satisfied me, I reattached the middle ring, now I had the famous “ring of dashed lights”! But the clear blue dish piece missed the grid detail. I bought some stickers, usually used in a kitchen to label sugar-, salt boxes and so on, and fabricated lots of very thin strips and placed them radial on to the dish, reaching not entirely half way to the center. The part was given a clear coat from inside to seal the strips in. Finally I reattached the dish ring to the rest of the deflector housing. Since you can very well identify where the bulb, LED, or what so ever is located behind the dish, I placed some thin white sheet, labeled with a clear blue foil from the inside to increase the blue, between the bulb and the dish front; it is attached right where the housing connects to the secondary hull. Switch on the lights and you’ll have an almost perfect copy of the real thing!
At one point I wanted to fill the windows with clear resin. While it worked fine for the VIP lounge and the botanical garden, it did not with the rest of the ports. Therefore only these two have “real” windows while the rest has not. Additionally the resin became milky after some time and you can barely see the VIP lounge and the botanical garden. If I had known!
I lighted the kit using bulbs instead of LED, because there is almost no size limitation if it comes to bulbs but there is with LED’s. To create the spot lights I used mini bulbs with a diameter smaller then 1mm requiring a 3V power supply. The spot lights are located where they should be: right below the warp pylons, at the dorsal behind the docking port and the outboard fine at the end of the two warp nacelles as well as aft of the bridge on either side of the docking port.
Secondary hull is illuminated with two 6V bulbs, where one is centred to the main deflector dish. I placed some whit resin, with blue clear foil on one side, between the bulb and the dish to diffuse the light in order to achieve the proper effect. The same clear blue foil was used on the botanical garden ceiling and was supposed to create the blue light effect for the windows, but did not work quite the way I thought. Along the axis of the secondary hull runs some white card board to reflect the light and to hinder to look through the ship if viewed from the side.
The dorsal is lighted by a single 6V bulb; again a card board runs through for light reflection, that bulb gives enough spare light to light the photon torpedo launcher as well. Bridge and planetary sensor dome have there individual 6V bulbs to light them up. At the centre of the primary hull is a single bulb to light the ports at B, H and I decks, including some dime light provided for the VIP lounge. Four 6V bulbs, at the position of the primary hull RC-Thrusters are used to light the saucer rim ports; again some card board for light reflection is used. An additional bulb was required to light the impulse deflection crystal as well as the impulse engine it self. The light shines thru, and when the lighting is turned off the impulse engine has a powered down look. (By the way, the impulse crystal doesn’t glow blue! It’s more like a white/yellow!).
But I did not light the warp engines with those blue glowing panels inboard! At the end of The Motion Picture you can clearly see that the blue comes “on” as they go to warp, not before! My Enterprise is supposed to travel at impulse speed, therefore the warp engines are offline and not glowing!! That’s also the reason why the RC-Thrusters are not glowing either. If the ship is going at full impulse, I don’t think they make much sense, since they are for manoeuvring only.
An additional 3V mini bulb sits at the front of the nacelle and gives light to the magnatomic amplification crystal, as well as to the two spot lights at the tip of the warp engine and the lighting effect at the magnatomic flux constriction. That makes a total of eleven 6V and ten 3V bulbs.
Two 6V flashers are used: one at slower speeds about once every two/three seconds for the navigational lights, the other is set to a faster speed, once a second, for the positioning lights; those are installed inside the display stand. I plan on including another bulb to the display stand tip, in order to create a spot light that illuminates the NCC-1701-A at the lower saucer.
Putting the parts together involved a lot of rework to get rid of the seams. But assembling a model kit is just half of the job. Evenly if not most important is the painting!
Main color is a flat white with some stone grey mixed in to achieve an ivory color. The Aztec was made with the same colors but a slightly darker finish. Since it is almost impossible to create the opalescent colors of the original, my intention was to create some sort of snap shot of that effect, the hull might show such colors if viewed under an angle. To achieve those variations on the Aztec I used a clear coat; one mixed with some gold, another one with silver. Creating the Aztec was a hard one, since I created my own masking. It took me about eight days for the saucer top and another eight for the bottom. As the color was dry I created shades with the above mentioned clear coat mixture (creates a shiny look to those sections too!).
Detail painting was achieved by using the Enterprise pictures as a guide line, where one picture served as a basis for all the colors, it shows the Enterprise from the left side, focusing on the secondary hull and was shot by William S. McCullar! The colors I used are: blue grey, dark grey, mouse grey, stone grey, light grey, anthracite, red with some black in it to match the decal’s red, before mentioned greys mixed with white, as well as in between the various greys to get intermediate colors and a yellowish brown mixture for the RC-Thrusters/Phasers. Although I was not always able to match to the original color, I’m pretty close to it.
Of special interest to me was the section around the dorsal/deflector. It is a really complex paint scheme there and I wanted to match it as closely as possible. I needed six days just to paint that on to the hull, but it looks really cool! About 95% of the paint jobs I have put on to my model are directly based on pictures of the original studio model!! Perhaps it is even closer, but some parts where really hard to recognize on the pictures, so I had to come up with something consistent with the rest. S
The most pleasant part in model building is coming at the end, placing the decals. I have thrown the original decals away, since the overall size of the NCC is too small for the top and too large for the bottom of the primary hull. Old docking port decals are by far too large because of the modification I did; the Starfleet Emblem located at the secondary hull is too small while the red streak is much too broad and some of the markings are missing at all. Well in short, nothing is as it should be. Therefore I ordered some really excellent replacement decals (OK, you are right, I did use some replacements!) at Federation Models (www.federationmodels.com ). Be careful since the sheet is very thin, rubbing or scratching will ruin it, fortunately there are plenty of spare decals to practice with. The new decals also include a means to create the three rings around the saucer. I had to cut it in to small pieces and placed one at a time, it was necessary because a straight decal on a curved surface won’t work, that was hell of a job to place them. But the work paid off, since this looks so much better, if compared to a paint job (did it on the former model).
I should add, that I painted the model almost entirely assembled, just left the warp nacelles detached. Resulting in a minor problem: the starboard nacelle is nicely fitting, while the port nacelle is showing a gab towards the pylon (Although I test fitted the parts several times while assembling, but strange things happen right?). I think I can live with that minor mark.
All in all it took about eight month, not taking in to account the first version of that kit, to get it done.