Sunday, February 28, 2010

Project: 1/1000 Refit Enterprise

The Enterprise has been an iconic image within the Science Fiction genre for decades. There have been many variants of the ship, from toys to model kits, and while all these attempts have been worthy in one form or another, the new Polar Lights (a sub brand of Round 2, specializing in Sci-fi, monster kits and the like, in the tradition of the old Aurora model company) goes into a league of its own. There really hasn't been a good quality mid-scale kit of the refit version of the ship in styrene, with Polar Lights 1/350 scale kit clearly on the large end, while a small scale (1/2500) version  was included in the 3-ship Enterprise set (including the Original version, as well as the -D version from Next Generation). There was of course the old AMT/Ertl 1/537 scale kit, but it was in an odd scale ("box" scale, or scaled to be of sufficient size to fit in a standard sized box), as well as having a lot of questionable details.

Polar Lights had put out a snap-tite kit of the Original series Enterprise, as well as a Klingon D-7, and launched the new 1/1000 scale (a nice compromise between size and detail). Both were received positively, not just because of their quality, but also because of their abandonment of the dreaded box scale. This gave SF modelers the feeling that they were finally a "respected" branch of the hobby (military, naval, and auto modeling branches had abandoned "box" scale sometime in the early '60s). Alas there were road blocks in the way: Polar Lights, which had aquired Ertl/AMT along with their collectable car lines, was aquired by Racing Champions, which had little interest in the injection molded SF kit industry, so the lines were cancelled and all of the classic Trek kits (along with a fair number of classic Star Wars kits as well) languished while RC concentrated on NASCAR collectable toys.

Hope emerged from Round2, aquiring a lot of the classic AMT and PL molds, and now producing kits of their own.

And it was worth the wait.


The new Polar Lights kit has been much anticipated, and not just by me. 1/1000 is close to being a "perfect" scale: big enough to hold good detail, but small enough that you can have an actual collection. 

Comparisons to the old Original fit of the Enterprise that had been released previously is natural. Although the Refit kit is a "snap-tite" kit, there has been no real compromise in detail, and in terms of construction is significantly better than the old kit, but with a similar number of options. Like the original kit, it uses an extensive amount of transparent parts, a nod to those that with to light up their kits. In addition construction is logical and almost effortless. This is the single best kit of the Enterprise on the market today in the "mid-range" scale, and far better than the old AMT kit.

Surface detail remains very good, and a respectable representation can be made from the kit.
 The biggest surprise -- a welcome one -- is the extensive decal sheet. Aimed at aiding modelers in portraying the correct "aztec" pattern of hull paneling, it represents these patterns as conventional water-transfer decals. While not an original method (aftermarket manufacturers have done something similar in the past), this is the first commercal kit to my knowledge that adds this feature. All of this comes on a set of three decal sheets!

If you could buy only one Trek model, this definitely should be it!

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