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Starship ENTERPRISE
by Scott Beckmann

Space, the final frontier. . . These are the voyages of the starship ENTERPRISE.

These simple words have been a staple in countless households for decades. Children young and old know of the exploits of the starship and it's fabled crew. Over the years several companies have released kits of the different incarnates of the USS Enterprise. Different scales and builder levels, some with detailed interiors and others with little or no detail at all. Up until now, all have been complicated glue kits. The good people of Polar Lights have seized the opportunity to reissue the Enterprise in a smaller scale snap kit. Do not let the small size of this kit fool you. With over 50 pieces this kit is a challenge that takes a sure hand to assemble.

Once again, Polar Lights has released a kit that required little or no prep prior to assembly. One of the more unique things about this particular kit is the option to create up to four different versions of the Enterprise. Two different types of decals are included in this kit, water-slide decals for the more experienced builder and clear adhesive backed "stickers" for younger modelers. Builders can construct either the "Production Series" ship, "First Pilot Version" ship, "Second Pilot Version" ship or the "Second Pilot Mirror Universe" ship. Optional decals are included to construct versions of the USS Constellation (NCC-1017), USS Exeter (NCC-1672) or the USS Defiant (NCC-1764) as well.

The instructions for this kit have little or no dialogue to aid in assembly. The instructions are basically an exploded drawing of the parts with broken lines showing where they are to be placed. I found during the assembly that there were several pieces that were not attached in the proper sequence causing a delay in final assembly. Prime example of this would be the "V" that the engines attach to. This part needs to slide into place before the joining the lower hull parts together. I discovered this problem after gluing and filler putty was applied to the hull assembly. I simply trimmed off the mounting lips on the bottom edge and forced it into place. After applying a small amount of filler putty to the seams and sanding the finish smooth I was satisfied that the parts were sturdy enough to hold the engines in place. Also, understand the engines themselves required gluing to stay in place. This is something to consider when choosing the snap assembly option.

The instructions call for a Light Ghost Gray paint for the ship. I went with Modelmasters Gloss Gull Gray. Modelmasters paint sprays on smooth and sets up with a very professional finish. For the "Mirror Universe" version I undercoated the entire ship with matte dark gray and over-sprayed flat white to create a different type of color/finish. Since this represented a different ship from an alternate universe I did not want to use the same color. The off white achieved the appearance I was looking for.

Clear parts are included for the engine drive covers, outboard running lights, Command Bridge and the undercarriage dome. I found that painting the inside of the clear parts on the domes and engine covers create a more professional look when assembled. The engine intakes are a two-part process however, only the inner part requires painting. The clear outer dome enhances the assembled engine and gives it more depth.

There are no raised panel lines like on previous Star Trek kits. This concerned me as to how the assembled kit would look. Fortunately the decal sheets) provided all the detail windows and striping to set this piece warp speed ahead of its predecessors. Naturally with the complex decal sheets this is not a timely process. This little gem took close to two hours to decal. The mirror version was slightly longer due to the additional insignias. Decal placement on this model is not for a beginner! I would recommend the adhesive decals for all entry-level model builders. The complex water-slide decals are enough to discourage anyone from ever applying decals again.

At around $15 this kit is a good build with a lot of potential. I would only hope that Polar Lights does a companion kit of a Klingon Bird of Prey or similar adversarial ship in the future. Remember, this kit can be very frustrating during construction. But if kits were all easy, what would be the fun of building them?