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USS Enterprise-D, 1:1400 scale Round 2 Models


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USS Enterprise-D

1:1400 scale Round 2 Models

Boxart.JPG

In 1986, work began on a new Star Trek television series (The Next Generation). It was originally to be set one hundred years on from the events in the original 60’s show, although that was later reduced to eighty five years on. In December of 86, Andrew Probert was hired as the senior illustrator and was to be chiefly responsible for designing the interiors of the new starship Enterprise. To help serve as inspiration, he brought along some illustrations he’d made some years earlier (just for his own amusement), of a futuristic version of the Enterprise, designed the way he thought it should look. He was bothered by a number of things on the original Enterprise, not least of which was the mish-mash of design cross-sections. He attempted to unify his design by going with a sculpted ovoid theme.

One day, David Gerrold (one of the producers) walked into Probert’s office and happened to spot the illustrations hanging on his wall. He was so taken with the design, that he leaned over and plucked one of the pictures off the wall. He took the illustration straight to Gene Roddenberry, who (as luck would have it) was in a meeting with two of the other producers. Gerrold returned to Probert’s office around 15 minutes later and announced that they all liked it and the design had been approved. Probert was astounded. He’d never heard of a design being approved so quickly. He knew all too well how many revisions and changes that the Refit Enterprise had gone through, before that had been given the go ahead. Roddenberry had asked for only two alterations. He wanted the rear of the nacelles lengthened slightly and requested a bridge be located in the centre of the upper saucer (Probert had his buried deep within the saucer, out of sight). All that was required was some fine-tuning.

Several effects companies were contacted and asked to tender bids to build the new ship and film a catalogue of library effects shots. One of those companies was Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), who happened to be between jobs at the time. They put in a low, bare-bones bid in order to keep their doors open and the required staff engaged. Their bid was accepted and they were given 12 weeks to build 2 differently sized models of the Enterprise. For distance shots, a small 2 foot long model was required, but the main focus was to be on a 6 foot long studio miniature. Working closely with Andrew Probert, a team of ILM modellers, headed by Greg Jein, were given the task of building the big model.

Probert supplied Jein’s team with a full size (6ft) blueprint of the ship. A series of sectional cross-members were created from plexi-glass and were then laid down over the blueprint. Styrofoam was used to bridge the gaps between the cross-members and then the whole thing was skinned with car body filler. Once smoothed out, thin vinyl lining tape was used to create the surface detail. The tape was laid out in the required pattern and then several coats of primer were applied over the entire surface of the model. The tape was then pealed up, revealing recessed panel lines and windows. Once detailed, the completed parts were used as masters, to produce silicone rubber moulds. Casts were then made, using clear glass reinforced plastic.

The pilot episode script called for a saucer separation sequence, so this had to be taken into account from the beginning. The ILM shop came up with a machined aluminium armature strong enough to support the weight of the complete ship, but also allow the saucer to be detached when required. It had enough built in mount points to enable the entire ship or it’s separate components to be filmed from any angle that may be required. Once the clear cast body parts were attached to the armature and the joins cleaned up, attention then turned to the paint scheme.

Probert was very specific with the colours he wanted to go with, even down to supplying FS numbers for the paints. He watched the visual effects shots from the original series and noted that (on screen) the original Enterprise often appeared to be a light blue-grey shade, sometimes with a distinctly green hue. He wanted to replicate that look, to help tie the new series to the old. To achieve it, he came up with a sky blue base colour and then added an Aztec pattern of duck egg blue. However, when filmed under studio conditions, with the intense floodlights, the colour washed out and on screen it appeared an overall light grey shade. The ILM modellers were not happy with the level of detail that came across, either and given more time, they would like to have added more definition to the hull plating, in order to cast some shadow and create a certain amount of depth to the surface panelling. They were out of time though and the miniature was delivered as it was.

A smaller, more detailed 4 foot model was built during season 3 of TNG and this would become the main filming miniature from then onwards, with the added bonus that it was lighter and much easier to handle. The big 6ft model was still needed, however. The smaller model was built as one piece, with no capability to separate the saucer. The series 3 finale/series 4 opener (The Best of Both Worlds) called for the Enterprise to attack a Borg cube, with it’s saucer detached, so the big Enterprise was pulled out of storage, once more.

It’s final on screen outing was for the movie, Star Trek: Generations. Although the smaller 4 ft model was more detailed, it was just too small to be filmed for the big screen. The 6ft model was pulled out of mothballs and was given a complete strip down and makeover. There was plenty of damage that needed repairing and it was completely re-wired. Most notably, the ILM modellers finally had the chance to redo the Surface detail. She was given a new paint scheme, which was much more blue dominant and the panelling was enhanced by using varying gloss and matt panels, so when light was shot across the surface, the hull plating really jumped out.

With her film career over, the big Enterprise-D was sold at auction, in 2006. Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen acquired the model with a winning bid of $500,000 and placed it in his Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, based in Seattle.

The kit

Saucer%20Upper.JPG

AMT originally released their 1:1400 scale Enterprise-D kit right around the time that the series premiered in the late 80’s. During the 90’s, AMT began reissuing some of their sci-fi kits with electronic extras. The Imperial Star Destroyer, the Deep Space 9 space station and the Enterprise-D were all issued with a fibre optic lighting kit (which was also available separately). I actually built the fibre optic Enterprise, shortly after it’s release in 1995. While the light kit was perfectly usable, it wasn’t ideally suited to the Enterprise-D. The warp engines and the deflector looked very impressive, but I was always disappointed with the appearance of the windows.

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The D features uniquely shaped lit windows, like an elongated oval. So while the fibre optics suited the Star Destroyer and DS9 station, with their small pin point of light windows, on the Enterprise they just didn’t look right. If you wanted to light the kit, the only way to accurately portray the look of the studio model, was to drill out each individual window. Years ago, Finscale Modeler magazine printed a feature on lighting the AMT kit, by a modeller named Shawn Marshall. On his model, he drilled a hole to mark the position of each window which was to be opened. He then thinned the plastic behind the window, using a Dremel tool. Additional holes were then drilled, at the top and bottom of each window. Then it was a matter of joining the holes up, cleaning up the edges and trying to keep it all looking symmetrical. Now, multiply this procedure by a thousand or more (the number of windows which would need to be opened) and you begin to see the mammoth task required to light the kit.

Saucer%20Upper%20Close%20Up.JPG

Now though, thanks to Round 2, we have a much easier option. They have re-released the AMT kit, but instead of issuing it in the same blue plastic of the previous releases, they have taken a leaf out of ILM’s book and chosen to mould it entirely in clear styrene. This means that once built (with your preferred method of lighting installed) and painted, you simply scrape the paint away from the windows you wish to be lit. Exactly the same method the ILM modellers used on the studio miniature.

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The kit arrives in their customary Star Trek style box. Lifting off the lid, we are not confronted with a huge amount of parts, however the main pieces of the ship are quite large, so it’s a fairly tight squeeze in there. One nice touch is that the parts are supplied in several bags and where there are multiple pieces or sprues to a bag, Round 2 have put protective foam paper sheets in between, in order to prevent scratching to the surfaces. We are supplied with 37 parts, all in clear styrene, as well as 4 large sheets of decals. The moulds seem to be holding up really well, as there is no evidence of flash on the kit parts and aside from being transparent, they appear to be identical in quality to the model I built back in the 90’s. The surface detail consists of recessed panel lines and windows, raised lifeboat hatches and phaser strips and very fine raised lines marking out the hull plating. I know there are modellers out there who don’t care for these raised plating details, but personally I don’t think they negatively impact on the overall appearance. In fact, I feel that they add a certain amount of visual interest to what would otherwise be a fairly flat, featureless surface (much like the original studio miniature).

Sprue%202.JPG

Obviously, if you decide to light this kit, it is going to determine the order in which you assemble the model, so just for the purposes of this review, I’ll follow the construction sequence as shown in the instructions. Predictably enough, we begin with the saucer. It is split into upper and lower halves, which is pretty standard when it comes to Starfleet hardware. The upper half has the shuttle bay added to the inside and the bridge module is fitted into a recess on top of the saucer. The 2 halves can then be joined together. The Captains Yacht is a 2 part assembly which fits into another recess, located on the bottom of the saucer. This recessed hole also doubles as a mount for one of the stands supplied with the kit, should you wish to display the saucer separated from the Battle Hull. A test fit of the saucer halves reveals a very good join, with no warpage present. On the studio model, there are lines of black windows running around the extreme edge of the upper and lower saucer. AMT have these moulded onto the lower half of the saucer, but for some reason they are missing on the upper half. On my previous build of the kit, I used a Pentel 0.5mm technical pen and simply drew the windows in, using the lower saucer as a guide. Incidentally, this pen came in very handy, as I also used it to colour the unlit windows around the whole of the ship. Actually, I do seem to remember going through 2 of these pens, such is the number of windows present.

Neck%20Upper.JPG

Stage 2 of the instructions deals with the Battle Head/neck area. This is broken down into 3 main components. The Battle Head itself, plus left and right dorsal halves. The rear side of the head has 2 smaller shuttle bays added on the inside and the impulse engine grille is attached from the outside. Then the 3 main parts can be assembled. Some test fitting of the 2 dorsal hull halves revealed a slight step along the forward edge. It appears to be the lower locating pin which is pulling it out of alignment, so it would probably be a good idea to either enlarge the hole on the opposite side, to allow some adjustment, or just remove the pin altogether. The only other comment to make here is that, because of the shape of the dorsal pieces, some of the detail gets a little feint, right up inside the curved area. It’s not really surprising when you consider the limits of the moulding process back when it was first tooled, but it’s something to bear in mind. A good magnifier would come in useful when either painting or scraping the windows inside that curve.

Neck%20Halves.JPG

Neck%20Upper%20Close%20Up.JPG

Step 3 deals with the Engineering hull. The instructions show adding the Battle Head to the upper hull half, first. Then the deflector housing is glued in place, followed by the dish, itself. The lower hull has 2 stand mounts marked on the inside. The instructions go through which one you should open up, depending on whether you decide to mount the saucer separately or build the ship fully assembled. Obviously, that big saucer hanging off the front of the ship affects the centre of gravity quite dramatically. Once you’ve taken your pick of display options and opened the appropriate hole, the 2 hull halves can be joined. On the lower half of the hull, the tractor beam emitter is attached, although truthfully, I’d leave this off until final assembly as it’s a tiny little piece that’s likely to get knocked off. As with the saucer, there are more little black windows lining the edge of the secondary hull, but this time they are missing altogether. Again, on my old model I drew them on with a Pental pen, using some still shots of the ship as reference.

Secondary%20hull%20Upper.JPG

Secondary%20Hull%20Lower.JPG

The next step deals with the assembly of the warp engines. Each unit is constructed from 5 parts. The upper and lower halves of the nacelles come together, trapping the forward Bussard scoop and the left and right halves of the warp engine grilles. It’s very straight-forward and there shouldn’t be any problems here. Personally I like that all these parts are now all supplied in clear. The older model included transparent red bussard scoops and blue warp grilles. To me, that always gave the model a very toy-like appearance, that I just didn’t like. Now it’s possible to tint these pieces, (dark copper for the grilles and a dark grey for the scoops) so when you switch the lights off, you can accurately replicate a powered down look.

Secondary%20Hull%20Close%20Up.JPG

Step 5 adds the completed warp engine nacelles to the Engineering hull. The only thing to watch out for here, is the alignment. Specifically, the right engine. If fitted as is, it seems to have an inherent tendency to lean inboard. My old one was like it. I’ve seen several build-ups on line which were the same and this one is no different. It’s an easy enough fix though, just requiring shaving down the sides of the tab on the top of the warp pylon and then, using a knife to scrape out a little material from the inside of the connection slot, in the bottom of the nacelle. This slackens the fit and gives you some movement to straighten the engine out.

Nacelles.JPG

Step 6 deals with final assembly. The saucer section and Battle Hull are brought together. There is a large pin moulded in the lower saucer connection point. It’s meant to allow the saucer to be removable, but it looks a little weak, to me. As I mentioned, the saucer is quite heavy and I don’t know that the pin will be sufficient to hold it in place, without cement. The 3 shuttle bays have their exterior doors added and the saucer has it’s 2 impulse engines glued in place and that’s it as far as construction is concerned. Attention then turns to painting, or more relevantly, decaling.

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Round 2 have supplied 4 large sheets of decals, which not only cover the ships markings and registries, but also the complex Aztec pattern which adorns the entire surface. Aside from a small amount of detail painting, such as the shuttle bay doors, phaser strips and some areas around the engines, all that needs to be done is lay down your base colour and then add the plethora of detailed Aztec panels over the top. The decals themselves look beautifully printed, with registry appearing spot on (which is infinitely better than the old sheet). The detailing is superb, even down to the little numbering stencils on each of the lifeboat hatches. The colours look to be based on the ship as it appeared in the movie Star Trek: Generations, although it might just be me, but the blue Aztec decals do look a little on the dark side.It might be an idea to go with a slightly darker basecoat, to help blend them in. If you want to replicate the Enterprise as she appeared in TNG, you will either have to paint the pattern or source an alternative set of aftermarket decals. The instructions give colour call-outs for Testors model Master paints, but they also give the correct names for the important colours, too (Light Ghost Grey, Gunship Grey etc), so it shouldn’t be difficult to come up with alternatives.

Stands.JPG

Conclusion

AMT’s Enterprise-D has always been a very nicely detailed kit, that goes together fairly easily and produces a large and impressive looking model. Round 2 note in the instructions that the whole raison d'être for this “special release” was to benefit the modeller who chooses to light their model. I have to say, if you want to build a fully lit Enterprise, then this kit really is the best option to achieve it. Add to that, those lovely decal sheets and this really becomes a great package, that I have no hesitation in recommending.

The way Round 2 describe this as a special release makes me think that this clear version won’t be around for long, so if you want one, I’d suggest grabbing it while it‘s readily available. I have a feeling that once out of production, they will start commanding premium prices on sites like Ebay.

The next release to get the clear styrene treatment from AMT will be the Deep Space 9 space station, which will also come with a new “little” (in scale) Defiant model. Then I believe the Reliant will be the next clear kit.

Review sample courtesy of

logo.gif UK distributors for round2-logo.gif

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Thanx for that review :) I've built up the D a lot of moons ago but that one has long since vanished. Good thing too as the saucer was off by at least 3 degrees from the battle hull. I had no idea how to fix it back then. Best part of this review though is the last bit

The next release to get the clear styrene treatment from AMT will be the Deep Space 9 space station, which will also come with a new “little” (in scale) Defiant model. Then I believe the Reliant will be the next clear kit.

A to scale Defiant with DS9 is just awesome! I had no idea that I wanted one, but I want one now !!!

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Any idea of UK rrp for this? I've seen one on ebay already at £64.95 which, quite frankly is about twice what I can afford or am willing to pay. I'd order from the US but, adding the cost of postage I might not mahe a big saving. I understand the US price is around $45?

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got one in grey plastic only 5 pound it cost me

Wrong movie, but "I reckon you got a bargain". ;)

Any idea of UK rrp for this? I've seen one on ebay already at £64.95 which, quite frankly is about twice what I can afford or am willing to pay. I'd order from the US but, adding the cost of postage I might not mahe a big saving. I understand the US price is around $45?

Regarding the price, obviously it pays to shop around. Like you say, you need to factor in the cost of shipping if you're planning to order the kit from the States, not to mention the lottery of it getting stopped by customs/Parcel Force. I know initially it sounds a relatively high price, but I feel there are a number of things to consider. Aside from the fact that everything is going up in price these days, I understand that it is actually more expensive to produce the whole kit in clear styrene versus the more conventional coloured plastic. Then consider than an aftermarket set of aztec decals for this kit costs around $45-$50 + shipping. This boxing includes them already.

Then consider the time that this version of the kit will save you. As I said before, I was disappointed with look of my fibre optic Enterprise, but I knew the only other option was to do all that drilling work. I know some modellers might relish that kind of challenge, but I know full well that if I attempted it, then one of two things would probably happen. I'd either royally cock it up and it wouldn't ever get finished, or I'd start off okay, but soon get bored with all that repetetive work and run out enthusiasm. It would more than likely get chucked back in the box and once again, not get finished.

I can see me building this kit and building it sooner rather than later. Of course, if you have zero interest in lighting the kit, then you might be better off tracking down an older version of the kit on somewhere like Ebay.If you do want a fully lit up replica of the ship though, then once adding up all the pros and cons, I honestly believe this version of the kit is the best place to start and worth the extra money.

Hope that helps. I don't mean to sound all preachy, just trying to offer some balanced thoughts that may prove helpful in deciding if this kit is for you. ;)

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Wrong movie, but "I reckon you got a bargain". ;)

Regarding the price, obviously it pays to shop around. Like you say, you need to factor in the cost of shipping if you're planning to order the kit from the States, not to mention the lottery of it getting stopped by customs/Parcel Force. I know initially it sounds a relatively high price, but I feel there are a number of things to consider. Aside from the fact that everything is going up in price these days, I understand that it is actually more expensive to produce the whole kit in clear styrene versus the more conventional coloured plastic. Then consider than an aftermarket set of aztec decals for this kit costs around $45-$50 + shipping. This boxing includes them already.

Then consider the time that this version of the kit will save you. As I said before, I was disappointed with look of my fibre optic Enterprise, but I knew the only other option was to do all that drilling work. I know some modellers might relish that kind of challenge, but I know full well that if I attempted it, then one of two things would probably happen. I'd either royally cock it up and it wouldn't ever get finished, or I'd start off okay, but soon get bored with all that repetetive work and run out enthusiasm. It would more than likely get chucked back in the box and once again, not get finished.

I can see me building this kit and building it sooner rather than later. Of course, if you have zero interest in lighting the kit, then you might be better off tracking down an older version of the kit on somewhere like Ebay.If you do want a fully lit up replica of the ship though, then once adding up all the pros and cons, I honestly believe this version of the kit is the best place to start and worth the extra money.

Hope that helps. I don't mean to sound all preachy, just trying to offer some balanced thoughts that may prove helpful in deciding if this kit is for you. ;)

Hi Smiffy

Don't think your preaching at all. :D . That's a very fair response and, I do appreciate it. It's very helpful. I wasn't aware that the decal sheets were available separately (and expensively!!) so, taking that into account, it DOES make it look a lot better value than it first appears. I have a fibre optic lighting kit which I had intended to use on my Pegasus Martian War machine but, I guess I could just as easily use it on the Enterprise.

I notice also that there is an AMT DS9 with fibre optics on evilbay right now for £115!! Now THAT is silly money I reckon. Still, that's just my own opinion :lol: . I did actually have one of the original AMT Enterprise D kits in the larger (1/1000?) scale. I never built it. The complexity of the paint scheme put me right off!! :lol: . I think this kit offers The Best of Both Worlds!!.

I have to Confess that Sci Fi is not my main sphere of interest modelling wise but, I do occasionally indulge for a bit of light relief. I actually still have Original AMT kits for USS Reliant, USS Excelsior & USS Enterprise ©

One again - thanks for the info

Allan :thumbsup:

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Hey, no probs. ;)

When all's said and done, I still think ours is not an expensive hobby compared to some.

Lol! :lol: Tell me about it!! You're right of course!! I'm glad I don't like football for instance!! :D .I'm SERIOUSLY tempted so I might just throw caution to the wind here!! :lol: .

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