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NCC-1701

Polar Lights USS Enterprise NCC-1701 Build Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2003 Manufacturer Polar Lights
Subject USS Enterprise NCC-1701 Scale 1/1000
Kit Number 4200 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple construction, fast build Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $13.00

Background

Some of us are old enough to have been captivated by the exploits of the crew of the starship Enterprise when they first aired Star Trek in the 1960s. The rest of you who are not so temporally endowed will have seen the any number of the syndicated re-runs that still air today.

Those of us who are Star Trek fans will know that the original starship, NCC-1701, was subject to several engineering changes during its short television life. For the pilot episode, “The Cage”, the warp nacelles featured probes that extended from the front domes and the exhaust ports in the back were different as well. In the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, the front of the nacelles retained the probes, but more conventional exhausts were installed on the rear. During its run on the air, the probes were deleted from the front domes, and the rear of the nacelles acquired domes of their own. While there were other minor detail and marking differences, the starship Enterprise would become an unmistakable silhouette for all sci fi fans.

The Kit

NCC-1701 Polar Lights has stepped in to fill the kit void left when AMT/ERTL terminated their Star Trek license with Paramount. In doing so, they’ve tooled a completely new starship Enterprise, this one a snap-tite kit with some impressive detail. Molded in light gray and clear styrene, this kit contains over 50 parts, some of which you will either discard or store away in your spares bin. Molding is crisp with no flash, and detailing is appropriately raised and/or scribed.

Assembly

NCC-1701 I figured that this snap-tite kit would be a quick build. Sure enough, assembly was straightforward with a minimum of frustration. I decided for my build that I would glue the ship together and fill the seams. How did that turn out? Let’s see:

The first step in this project is to figure out which ship you’re building. You have your choice of three configurations, TV Pilot 1, TV Pilot 2, or TV Series. Based on your decision, you’ll follow the appropriate path in the well-illustrated instructions (kudos to Polar Lights!).

I chose the TV Series configuration. Assembly of the saucer halves was straightforward, noting the differences in the dorsal and ventral domes that were included in the kit. I used Tamiya liquid cement to keep the snap assembly together, then an application of Mr Surfacer 500 to fill any gaps.

NCC-1701 Step 2 focuses on warp nacelles. There were actually four nacelles in my kit, though the outer halves are common to all three versions, and the inner halves were the same for the two pilot episodes. After I painted the interior clear domes with Tamiya Clear Red, I assembled the nacelles per the instructions.

The final step assembles the engineering hull, nacelle pylons and brings together the nacelles and saucer sections. I waited on final assembly until after painting.

Painting

The instructions called for Light Ghost Gray overall, so I masked and painted the hull accordingly (nothing like a little air superiority gray in space!). I painted most of the details called out in the instructions, then applied a coat of Future to the model.

Decals

NCC-1701 Polar Lights provides a sheet of stick-on markings for this kit, and much to my relief underneath that sheet were the waterslide decals. Markings include:

  • USS Enterprise – NCC-1701 – Pilot Episode 1
  • USS Enterprise – NCC-1701 – Pilot Episode 2
  • USS Enterprise – NCC-1701 – TV Series
  • ISS Enterprise – ISS-1701 – Mirror Universe
  • USS Constellation – NCC1017
  • USS Exeter – NCC-1672
  • USS Defiant – NCC-1764

These include the stenciling unique to each version as well.

Once again, I selected the TV Series version. Even though this is a snap kit, patience will be required with the decals as all of the windows are also decals. Some of the decals are rather challenging to apply and will require some skill to achieve a good result. Much to my surprise, these decals were not very responsive to Solvaset (I thought I heard one of them laughing as I applied the Solvaset!). Nevertheless, the decals did settle down acceptably though I did experience a little silvering.

Final Assembly

Once all of the painting and decals were completed, I snapped together the remaining pieces. Much to my surprise, the starboard (right) engine nacelle would not snap into place. A copious amount of cyano has convinced the nacelle to stay in place.

Conclusions

NCC-1701 I am going to acquire a few more of these kits. The first one will help work out that nacelle assembly bug – it more than likely was something I did during gap filling and clean-up. The remainder will capture the color and configurations of the other versions of the TV series NCC-1701. In fact, I think the ship looks mighty nice next to my Bandai movie Enterprise.

At the very low suggested retail price of this kit, I'd recommend this kit to all builders (and Trekkies).

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