AMT/ERTL 1/650 USS Reliant Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2017||Manufacturer||AMT/ERTL|
|Kit Number||8766||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Unique subject, common scale in series||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||See text|
In the Star Trek universe, USS Reliant was a Miranda-class starship that was developed prior to the timeframe of the first movies that starred the Star Trek original class. The key feature for this are the warp engine nacelles that are of the same generation as the refit USS Enterprise. The USS Reliant's one and only appearance was in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, but other members of the Miranda class have appeared in Star Trek: Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek IV: Voyage Home, and Star Trek: First Contact. Some of these Miranda-class, like the Reliant, have the 'roll bar' above the rear of the main hull, while others do not. Some have outrigger pods off the rear main hull, while others have distinctive modifications to various subsystems such as the impulse engines.
ERTL first released the USS Reliant kit in 1995 and was produced in the same scale as their USS Enterprise. You'll see the scale for these kits range between 1/537 and 1/650, but they refer to the same tooling. This kit is molded in white styrene and presented in five parts trees plus the upper and lower main hull halves, plus one tree of clear parts and one small tree of clear red parts.
The kit is a very simple build though the only options for display are to either hang up the model or let it sit on the warp nacelles. Because of the starship's layout, the completed model will sit on its nose on the shelf because of the forward center of gravity. The instructions advise to add 15 grams of ballast at the rear of each engine nacelle to allow it to sit level on the shelf.
Unlike its scale mate (the original USS Enterprise), the Reliant has the Aztec patterns on the hull surfaces that simulate the subtle color shifts of hull panels which were introduced with the refit Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Unlike the NCC-1701 and NCC-1701A, the Reliant also introduces the blue accents around the hull which later appeared on USS Excelsior and the NCC-1701B and NCC-1701C Enterprises. In short, this model will spend more time being painted than being assembled. If you wander over to CultTVman's Hobby Shop, you'll find some interesting solutions for the Aztec patterns. Aztek Dummy produces masks that will help you to paint the pattern on the hull.
When Round 2 Models acquired the AMT, ERTL, and other molds, they reissue them with various improvements to the molds, decals, and instructions. This Reliant kit has been reissued periodically and is currently available as kit number 1036 with an MSRP of $41.95. What is really interesting (to me) is the decal set that Round 2 produced for this kit and they cost almost as much as the kit itself. This decal set comes on four large sheets and provide the Aztec surfaces and other color details for this kit which limits your painting duties to the base color and a few spots not covered by the decals. What this decal set will do is provide the visual detail without the hours of masking and painting the old-fashioned way.
The Round 2 decal set also provides markings for USS Saratoga which was the Miranda-class vessel that was disabled early in the movie Star Trek IV: Voyage Home.
One of the other trends in sci-fi modeling is lighting starships and the Reliant would be one of those projects that would be ideal for the lighting novice because of its simply hull layout.
Finally, Round 2 produced a dome base with metal stand which can be adapted to display the Reliant properly on the shelf. You can find the kit, decals, details, and the dome base stand at hobby shops that carry a good selection of science fiction products like CultTVman's Hobby Shop.
Whether you're looking a basic project or you want to have all of the visual details, the USS Reliant kit is a fun model that will look great on your shelf when finished.