Polar Lights 1/350 USS Enterprise NCC-1701 & NCC-1701A Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|USS Enterprise NCC-1701 & NCC-1701A
|Options for 1701 Refit (Star Trek TMP) or 1701A (Star Trek V), open hangar bay w/shuttlecraft, visible arboretum
The Star Trek USS Enterprise is probably one of the best known silhouettes in TV and cinema history. Somewhere in time, the original cylindrical-engined NCC-1701 that appears on TV reruns nightly was modified into the version that appeared in the first two Star Trek movies. In reality, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum (NASM) was the proud recipient of the larger starship model when Paramount was cleaning out its prop storage. The NASM spent a tidy sum of money to restore the model before putting it on display.
When Paramount decided to finally launch production of the Star Trek first movie, They approached the NASM to get the Enterprise back. The NASM politely declined to return the model (and given that the starship was beat up and destroyed in the third movie, this was indeed a logical decision!).
This forced the prop designers to come up with a new version of the Enterprise that would also show some visual improvements to account for the passage of time between the TV series and the first movie a few decades later. This new look incorporated slimmer warp engine nacelles that are displaced wider apart than the earlier version as well as some other visual enhancements. One significant change was the paint job. Gone was the bland overall light gray starship - in its place was a ship that used several shades of gray in an 'Aztec' pattern across the hull along with light blue and other eye-catching details. This Aztec pattern that would appear on all future starships would become a challenging detail for modelers to replicate.
The kit is molded in white styrene and comes in a box approximately 16.5 inches square and about 5 inches deep. According to the box, the kit is comprised of over 150 parts, and on opening the box, they weren't kidding! I don't know what I was expecting, but having built the Bandai 1/850 scale Enterprise, you'd think I wouldn't be shocked at the sheer size of this model. The saucer section alone is over 15 inches in diameter!
The detailing on the surface of the kit is scribed, though a bit on the heavy side. There is no sign of flash on any of the parts. You can see in the photos on the right just how nice this model looks.
In a model this size, another important factor is engineering. The model has some impressive design work in how it goes together. It has some heavy duty locator pins and spacers to ensure that everything goes together properly. Even more impressive is that the folks at Polar Lights had the saucer section halves and engine nacelle halves shipped dry-fitted together to ensure the least amount of warpage in the plastic by the time it reaches your bench.
In terms of complexity, if the instructions are any clue, all of the assembly steps are printed on one side of a 17 inch by 22 inch sheet of paper. The decal placement for the two versions occupies the other side of the sheet.
A few of the nicer touches in this kit are:
- The shuttle bay doors can be displayed open to reveal a detailed shuttle bay inside, complete with shuttlecraft
- A detailed arboretum which can be viewed through the large windows in the sides of the engineering hull
- A VIP lounge visible through the large windows at the rear of the dorsal bridge dome
- Different parts needed to replicate the subtle differences between the two starships, including two lower engineering hull sections
A big and heavy piece of plastic is molded to represent the general look of the space dock depicted on the box art, and this serves as the base for the model. A set of clear parts connect to the base and to the underside of the model to provide support.
While no provision is made to illuminate the finished model, the designers have clearly thought about lighting this beast up with many of the design decisions made. If you look at the clear parts, the inboard sections of the engine nacelles are clear, as are the impulse engines. The ceiling of the arboretum is clear, and where parts aren't clear, there is still room to work in various types of lighting. Likewise, the base is deep enough to accommodate a power switch and batteries inside.
Markings are provided for two versions:
- USS Enterprise, NCC-1701 (refit) as it appeared in Star Trek I
- USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A as it appeared in Star Trek V and VI
There are loads of stencils and markings included for the exterior and visible interiors.
If you opt for either movie version of this starship, the instructions have templates that you can use to create Frisket paper masks to replicate the Aztec patterns used on the movie models along with Testors ModelMaster paint numbers for each color used. If you want a starship without the challenge of Aztec painting, you still have choices. Either paint the model with the base color and apply the decals and call it quits, or assemble the model, paint the whole thing gray or Alclad aluminum, and display the model as a 'factory desk model'!
WOW!! I am still in awe over the size and engineering of this kit. I keep mulling over the different possibilities for lighting and detailing this model.
If you are a fan of the original Star Trek, this model is definitely a must-have!