USS Enterprise, Star Trek Into Darkness
1:500 scale Revell
In 2009, producer/director JJ Abrams released “Star Trek”, which was planned to be the first in a new series of films, designed to reboot the ailing franchise. The movie became a huge hit, pulling in over $385 million worldwide. Many fans of the franchise were less than pleased with the film, however, feeling that Abrams and the writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, had played fast and loose with established events from Trek’s history and had been disrespectful of Gene Rodenberry‘s original vision of the series. Fans of the new film would then counter with the fact that the Trek history and timeline had become so convoluted and full of inconsistencies, that the only way forward was to give the franchise a fresh start and free it from the shackles that had been set over the past 40 odd years.
Many people were also less than impressed with the appearance of the new ‘old’ Enterprise, nick-naming it the JJ-Prise. It certainly has somewhat of an ungainly appearance, with overly large engines contrasting against a rather slim engineering hull, giving the ship a rather top heavy look. However, the ship does have plenty of fans who consider it a beautiful looking design. Abrams, although confessing that he wasn’t particularly a fan of Trek, did admit that his version of the ship has a little of the Refit Enterprise in it. Most notably the so-called Aztec paint pattern. He recalled watching “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and being struck by the look of the Enterprise, when she was first revealed in the famous space dock scene.
In May this year, the sequel to the 2009 movie hit the screens. Named “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, the box office was once again set alight, with worldwide earnings (at the time of writing) totalling $328.5 million. Whether you love it or hate it, it seems that this new version of Star Trek is (for the foreseeable future, at least) here to stay.
Revell’s new kit arrives in a large box, which for once is a conventional top-opener with a separate lid, as opposed to one of their more familiar end opening cartons. Inside we find 42 parts moulded in white plastic, 2 sprues of clear parts, holding 49 pieces and a large decal sheet. Overall quality of the plastic looks very high indeed. If you were expecting something along the lines of the original series Enterprise (which they released last year), then you’d be mistaken. There are no heavy trench-like panel lines here. The surface detail is excellent and much more refined. I do wonder if this is Revell responding to the criticism of that earlier kit and upping their game.
The instructions are in Revell’s typical style, but this one is quite a book, being 24 pages long. The construction is covered in 51 steps, with paint and decaling taking up the remaining 6 steps, although Revell do include additional paint diagrams showing the Aztec pattern, during the build sequence.
We begin at the same starting point at which most miniature Starfleet vessels begin with, the saucer. The bridge is a mutilayered assembly, with each deck level being a separate piece. I assume this has been done in this manner, rather than with just a single piece moulding, to avoid it suffering from soft edges and details. If that is the case, then it’s worked very well. There is some very fine surface detail on the exterior of the bridge, yet this multi-part approach hasn’t affected the fit. Sliding each piece within the next and then into the upper saucer, the join seams are nigh on impossible to make out. It’s very impressive, the fit really is that good . I would recommend holding the parts together and then applying liquid cement, from the inside, to avoid marring the exterior.
There are some clear inserts to add from the inside, for the bridge dome and the 3 large windows which run around the forward edge. The planetary dome on the underside of the saucer is a similar multi-piece assembly, with more clear inserts to add. The saucer halves themselves are large, impressive looking parts, at just under 11” diameter. The grid patterns are represented by very fine recessed lines, while there are also numerous small raised panels and tiny little details dotted around the surfaces of both parts. Comparing it to screen shots found on the net, it appears to mimic the appearance of the digital model very faithfully. Before the 2 halves are joined, there are several clear inserts to be added, for the banks of windows that run around the rim of the saucer. At the rear, the impulse engine slots into place and I find it strange that Revell didn’t mould this in clear, also. They state on the side of the box that the “Kit (is) suitable for the addition of lighting” and the clear parts supplied actually outnumber the opaque pieces, so it is curious why it was done this way. It is another nicely moulded part, though and it features a fine rendition of the hexagonal grill pattern on the impulse exhausts.
With all the internal pieces added, the 2 saucer halves can be brought together. There are 5 chunky locating posts which securely lock the 2 halves in place. So well in fact, that it’s actually quite tricky to get the 2 pieces apart again if you are just test fitting them, so care will be needed to avoid damaging the parts (more on this later). Unfortunately, an unwanted side effect of those thick internal posts, is that there are some slight sink marks on the exterior surface. Thankfully, they are quite shallow, so it shouldn’t be a major issue to rectify them, but some care will be required around some of the grid lines.
At this point in the instructions, Revell have actually supplied the modeller with scaled down illustrations of the upper and lower saucer halves, showing the position and pattern of the Aztec paint job, which is a thoughtful touch. They also call out the paints at this point, too. They recommend a mixture of white, light grey and silver, mixed to 2 different ratios. There is a darker band on the underside of the saucer and they once again recommend 2 differing paint mixtures.
The saucer is completed with the addition of the upper impulse deck and the raised structure which runs from the back of the bridge, down to the impulse deck. This part also has clear inserts for the row of windows at the rear and, what I presume to be, the impulse crystal.
The engineering hull is moulded in left and right halves, and each half incorporates the neck pylon and outer halves of the warp pylons, which should ensure that there‘ll be no droopy warp engines here. Once again, the exterior surface is reproduced with a mixture of engraved panel lines and raised details, to the same level of finesse as witnessed on the saucer. I did notice, however, that the recessed panel lines do get a little shallow as they approach the underside join line. It’s not a major issue though and once you’ve cemented the 2 pieces together, a couple of light passes with a scriber will sharpen them up. As with the saucer, Revell once again include a paint diagram at this stage, featuring the distinctive panelling effect on the ship’s surface. They also recommend adding decals at this point, but it’s not something I’d be inclined to do, preferring to leave the decaling until the end.
If you intend to use the kit supplied stand, then the instructions point out that the mounting holes will need to be opened up on the underside of the secondary hull and their positions are clearly marked on the inside surface. We have more clear window inserts to be added on the inside, plus 2 internal bulkheads, which are hollowed out to enable lighting and wiring to be routed through them. The shuttle bay doors are a single piece moulding and it simply slides into place at the rear of the hull. On the underside, there is a separate insert to be added, which forms the recessed area in the lower hull. It locates into to a series of moulded guides on the inside. Some test fitting showed that this works very well, although the tiniest amount of adjustment might be needed at the rear end, just to ensure a flush fit with the hull. A few swipes with a sanding stick should be more than sufficient. With that accomplished, the 2 hull halves can be brought together. Generally everything appears to line up pretty well, but there is a small amount of misalignment at the forward torpedo launcher. It might just be an issue with my copy of the kit, though. There is a locating pin right in this section and I think removing it and then tightly clamping the part together, should provide a more accurate fit.
With the 2 hull halves together, the one piece inner pylon moulding can be inserted into place. It’s actually quite a tight fit and some pressure will be needed to get it fully in position, so make sure your hull halves have had plenty of time to set, otherwise you risk popping the hull seam back open again. Speaking of seams, once the inner piece is in place, it looks as if there will be some work needed where the inner pylon part meets the hull, at both the forward and rear edges. A little test fitting, along with some careful adjustment and shimming here and there, prior to assembly, should reduce the amount of filler work required, but I don‘t think it is entirely avoidable, unfortunately. It’s not a massive job, but it may prove a little tricky to clean up, just because you’ll be working in-between those 2 curvy pylons. Some thin sanding sticks may prove useful, at this point.
The forward end of the engineering hull receives the deflector housing, at this stage of construction. It is a single piece and has plenty of detail moulded into it, providing a nice area of visual interest. The deflector itself, has 2 opaque plastic backing plates and the clear dish simply slots in place. If so desired, an LED could be placed behind the dish’s mounting peg, in order to replicate the on-screen appearance. I tried holding an LED in place and the dish does light up quite nicely. With a little experimentation (maybe sanding the rear surface of the dish, to help evenly transmit the light) and some selective painting, I think you will end up with a very acceptable result.
Moving on to the warp engines and we begin with the Bussard collectors, at the front of each nacelle. These assemblies are dominated by the large clear domes. They feature some great detail, with fine incised grid patterns, combined with some chunky looking raised frames. They will be a real focal point on the finished model, so some careful masking is in order, here. A separate clear crystal is attached to the upper edge of each piece and an opaque plastic cradle locates on the bottom side. The whole thing is then fixed to a backing plate. Revell supply a circular decal to apply to each back plate, which represent the internal fan detail, although I’m not sure how convincing this will look. If you wish to light this area up, then the back plates have openings in the centre to place an LED or run wiring through. I know that at least one aftermarket lighting manufacturer has already released a light kit for this model, which reproduces the blue spinning light effect.
As with the saucer and the secondary hull, Revell provide illustrations detailing the paint pattern to apply on the nacelles. It is largely made up of small blocks of square and rectangular panels. The nacelles are quite impressive looking chunks of plastic, with numerous cut-outs requiring the addition of clear inserts. If you do choose to light your kit, then the engines will look quite spectacular. Some of these clear pieces are quite delicate, however and in my review sample, one of them was, in fact, broken in half. I’m fairly confident that it will glue back together with no problems, though and that it wont even be noticeable, once completed.
Once cemented together, with the external rear panels added, the nacelles can be attached to the pylons and here we have some rather novel, tongue and groove style joints. They hold the engines securely in place, very well indeed, with a lovely tight fit (mine was only taped together to check how well it would work). Very impressive.
The instructions show adding the saucer now and it also locates very securely, using a series of long pins on the neck attachment point. Once again, it is a very tight fit, that requires a fair amount of pressure to get a flush finish. I think I would recommend giving the location holes in the lower saucer, a quick twist with a round file, just to open them up very slightly and to make it easier to connect the lower hull. If you’d tried pressing the completed saucer on, without doing this, I can just see the seam on the saucer edge cracking open under the pressure. In fact, it may be better to add the lower saucer to the completed secondary hull, and the cement the top half of the saucer in place.
Another word of warning here. The kit isn’t really designed to keep adding and removing the saucer. There are 2 locking tabs on the forward edge of the neck, which click into place in the lower saucer half. When I tried to remove the saucer, after my dry fitting session, one of these tabs broke off, with part of the neck. If you want to test fit the parts, then I would suggest filing down these raised tabs. This will avoid damaging the plastic, but shouldn’t have an adverse affect on the fit of the parts.
Once altogether, it really is a big impressive beastie. My pictures here, show the main parts taped together and onto the kit stand. The engines are mounted on to the pylons without the assistance of tape, though, as is the saucer, which is very impressive considering the size and weight of these pieces. The completed model measures out at just over 23 inches long.
Revell have supplied a large decal sheet, containing the registry, names, pennants, hull striping and markings. It is printed in Italy, therefore I suspect it’s the work of Cartograf, which means the quality should be assured. The images are sharp and crisp, with bold colours and featuring some nice metallic effects, too. Excess carrier film is virtually non-existent on most of the decals, with only things like the NCC-1701 and USS Enterprise logos appearing to have a minimum amount. I will say that, running a finger over the sheet, they may be the tiniest amount thicker than usual, but I don’t foresee a problem with their use.
Well, disregarding whatever I may think about the design of the ship, I have to say that I am really rather impressed with this kit. It is a marked improvement over their previous TOS Enterprise model, in terms of detail and engineered fit. Even built straight from the box, you will end up with a large, impressive looking display piece. Add lighting and that complex Aztec paint job and the result should be stunning.
We can only hope that this is a sign of things to come, regarding sci-fi subjects from this manufacturer.