Kit preview of Polar Lights' Drej Alien.

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Polar Lights' Drej Alien Kit Preview

By John Lester - images & text © 2000

Scale: 1/8 (?) - about 9"/23cm tall
Parts: 34 injection molded styrene
Instructions: 1 page, foldout, pictorial.
Decals: None
Molding Quality: 9 - probably the best yet from Polar, and in translucent plastic no less.
Detail: 9 - while the subject lacks for fine surface detail, the odd shapes and curves are nicely rendered in the kit.
Accuracy: 10 (or N/A) - Looks like a Drej to me.
MSRP: $20 USD available from hobby shops everywhere
Overall Rating: 8 - Nicely done kit that will be hard to make look anything but a model (see review)

Polar Lights is apparently the only US kit maker willing to step out even a little bit on a limb these days - and if you need proof, this kit is it. The animated film Titan:AE bombed at the box office this year; Polar couldn't know if it would be a success when they bought the license, but they were still willing to produce an all new mold of the film's bad guys anyway.


[Sprues for ]

The company has only gotten better with every release. This latest kit is a long way away from the first issues of their Lost in Space Robot - in materials, in molding, and in fit.

What You Get

Inside the colorful clamshell box (not as flimsy as a Revell-o-gram box, but no longer as built by a Chinese tank factory) are thirty-five pieces, nicely molded in a translucent blue. They're all inside one bag, and mine were a little scratched from rubbing together, but nothing that can't be fixed. The plastic is hard, but not as brittle as one might expect from (mostly) clear parts. There is almost no flash, as befits a brand-new mold, and all the parts on my kit were crisp and free of other defects (as you can see below). The only other thing in the box is the instruction sheet, which shows an exploded view of the model and has a paragraph of text outlining assembly. It's quite adequate.

[More parts ....]

[The claw]

^ The two large circles in the "palm" area are sockets for the pins that align the back half of the "hand". Notice also the wrist - there are people who can make that edge disappear, even when viewed at an angle, but I'm not one of them.

[... parts is parts.....]

[Look, Ma, more parts!]

Assembly & Finish

I've cut most of the pieces from the sprue and dry fitted them, and I like what I see. Fit is better than any of the other Polar kits I've built - not perfect, but as good or better than all but the latest ERTL kits. There are some "steps" between halves, but that can be fixed with sanding sticks and patience. Testor's liquid cement appears to work just fine on the plastic (something that could not be said for their earliest kits). Far better is that I don't see any serious gaps which might require putty - which would be a killer on a model molded in almost clear plastic.

Not that it really matters how much filler might be necessary, because there is no way I'll be building this and NOT painting it. The closeup of the creature's hand at left shows why: no matter how good the molding, there's no way to hide the sockets/ pins that align the two halves of every part. Just as bad: I have yet to assemble two clear parts and totally eliminate all traces of the seam bewteen them. No matter how perfect the outside surfaces match, just turn the part slightly and you can see where the halves meet.

Were this a solid resin kit .....

But it's not.

It was a cool idea to mold the kit in clear blue, but for me, it doesn't work. That's OK though, because I have a good idea how to make the critter look better using some not-so-advanced painting techniques and my trusty airbrush. First, I'll build him up in subassemblies, paying strict attention to removing all trace of seams. Before gluing the assemblies together, I'll polish the kit with jeweler's paste (available in big, cheap tubes at most supermarkets in the US). After making sure there's no residue left, I'll spray the entire model with a very light matte grey. Then I'll come back over it in random stripes and swirls with the brightest gloss white I can find. Then, a metallic blue enamel, lightly - probably something like Testor's "Steel Blue", which doesn't cover very well and needs lots of coats to make it opaque .... not that I want it to be opaque, mind you. Once that's dry, I'll build up layers of clear blue (either Gunze or Tamiya acrylics, or maybe alternating patterns of both) until I get the look I want. Between every coat, I'll spray the entire model with a clear coat - there's no better way to give an illusion of depth to something like this.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, but there's no masking involved, just painting. All one needs to make this work is patience, an airbrush, and a couple of jars of paint. It could well be a great way to learn to airbrush, or get more proficient at it.


Polar Light's Drej Alien is reasonably sized, reasonably priced, and probably easy enough to build most folks can do it over the course of a weekend. It'll take some effort to make the kit look like it's not just plastic bits glued together .... but that could be said for any model. Bottom line - I like it.

Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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This page copyright © 2000 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 17 July 2000.