|The following are reader's opinions of the USS Enterprise (refit) made by Bandai.|
|Reviewer||Cary L. Brown|
|Date Reviewed||Oct 2, 2003|
|Overall Rating||Well worth getting.|
|Comments||This is the best Enterprise I've seen, short of the Northstar Enterprise (which costs in the thousands of dollars!). There are issues; however, most of the issues are either fixable or explainable.
Please realize that I'm writing this as a "nitpicking" guide. Overall, I'm quite happy with the model. But there are imperfections, and they ARE worth addressing.
There are a number of coloration issues that I don't agree with. I'm really most disappointed that the painted panel detail on the secondary hull is SO much more prominent than that on the primary hull. I'm not talking about the "engineering paneling" area, I'm talking about the "white" areas of the hull. I suspect that Bandai referred to the exact colors used on the hull as seen in the Smithsonian here, but failed to take into account that the smaller the model, the less color variation is appropriate to give you a proper sense of scale (this is a trick I've always used). Otherwise, you end up with a "toy-like" quality, which is unfortunately present in the secondary hull.
I have reviewed my DVDs of the Trek movies and have concluded that the paint scheme used on the bridge and upper primary hull superstructure is inaccurate. Possibly, the model was repainted at some point, but I go by what's seen on-screen as my guide, and that was never evident. For example, the sensor domes (top and bottom) should appear to be exposed metal (I use aluminum with a bit of white added to lighten it in my models), for instance, but in this model it is simply white.
The engineering panels are one item that particularly annoys me. I've got a poster of 1701 from the first movie, with a high-res image of the ship, and those areas were grey, tinted SLIGHTLY towards the dark-blue range. In the other films, on screen at least, the colors continue to match this. Maybe this was painted greenish at some point for special-effects purposes, knowing that the green would wash out in the green-screen process? In any case, the color does not match what is seen on-screen, so as far as I'm concerned it's wrong. The good thing is... this is an EASY repainting task, and I've already done it.
Harder to fix is the presence of the medium-grey panels on the lower primary hull. There are a pair of wonderful high-resolution shots of the underside of the Enterprise p-hull in ST-TMP, and it's clear that these panels were not distinguished from the rest of the hull exterior. There is one exception to this... there are four panels that represent landing pads that are supposed to be darker, and those are among the panels which are painted grey. In order to fix the (as I see it) incorrectedly-painted panels, it would be necessary to replicate the Aztec pattern. An alternative, though a costly one, would be to obtain a second 1701-A kit and cut sections from elsewhere on the primary hull underside to replace the "wrong" areas. Time or money, in either case... and it shouldn't be necessary.
There are four reaction-control thruster stations around the navigational deflector array. On the model you merely see four coppery-colored areas. These should, in fact, be the same color as the RCS thrusters on the primary hull (mustard-yellow). The RCS thrusters on the rear corners of the warp nacelle "intercooler" fins should also be mustard yellow.
Looking at the hangar deck area, again based on ST-TMP and ST-TWOK in particular, you will note that the "black deck" around the hangar doors is not present, and there are two areas (sensor pallets?) to either side of the doors which should be dark blue-gray (with three horizontal light-blue lighted strips) which, in the model, are painted hull color. These are easy fixes.
Finally, the phaser turrets are painted a uniform mustard yellow. This is fine, but to make them more accurate, there should be a very fine red outline, and the turret "balls" should be metallic. Again, refer to the flyover shots in TMP as a reference. The lone exception are the single-station phaser turrets at the bottom of the secondary hull... they lacked the yellow-lined-with-red warning areas in the first two movies, though they were given this treatment later (clearly visible in ST6).
As for the design of the model, on the other hand, I have only one issue, and that's an explainable one. The darker gray ring around the deck2/deck3 superstructure... something that I've always thought was probably the exposed element of the subspace antenna... is supposed to be inset. However, this would have been impossible to mold properly. The AMT model "faked it" and this model simply forgoes this entirely. Ideally, the top layer of this "sandwich" would have been a separate part, but I understand why they took the approach they did. This is a great opportunity for an after-market part, though, to fix this issue.
The lighting system is really very nice. There are a few issues, but these are understandable omissions in most cases due to the complexity of putting them in.
I understand that Paramount (for some reason) required Bandai to remove the blue tint from the navigational deflector. This is, again, a very easy thing to fix. In my case, I just put a layer of blue gel behind the lens. You'll notice that when the system is "down," as seen in spacedock at the beginning to TMP, the dish is just grey. Later, as it "warms up," it starts to turn a warm orange color. Once it's at full output, it's a hot blue color. So, the lack of colored plastic here allows the modeler to make this into whatever "activation level" he wants. Of course, most of us will want the blue tint... but you have the option.
The warp engines look nice, but I have chosen to "fix" them to look more like the effect in TMP. If you look closely, you'll notice that the inside grill is NOT blue. In fact, it's almost a pink color, and is not a continuous panel but rather a series of tranparent stripes in the black inner grill. While the effect built into the model is really quite adequate, I plan to use a bit of LightSheet, with a pale pink gel over it as a replacement. Also, on the OUTBOARD warp engine cooling grills, there should be a light source at the forward edge of the grill - I'm not sure how to implement that yet. The spotlights on the lower edge of the forward nacelles are present only as dimples in the plastic. I doubt I'll be able to make "real" spotlights there, but I plan to use acrylic rods to at least put point-lights in those locations. The same light source will also light another acrylic rod that will go straight upwards to represent the "amplification crystal." This will be pale blue, as it is in the films.
I dislike the metallic tape that serves to cover the wire channels on the inside nacelle pylons. It's a really good solution to make a quick-and-dirty model look nice, but for a really good model, it's necessary to putty this and paint over. Besides, I'm going to have to run a few more wires down here! This will be a tedious process, since it will be necessary to avoid damaging the paint job outside the working area, but it should be worth it.
There are two areas that should be lighted that were left out, and that's a shame. The Botanical Gardens, and the Officer's Lounge. They could have been done, perfectly adequately, with the lighting system as provided. Fortunately, again, these are relatively easy to add, and there are articles (including one on CultTVMan's site, I believe) discussing this.
Lastly, the primary hull outer panels are ... OK... but to make a really top-flight model the gaps between them need filled, and the horizontal striping (sensor strips?) need to be painted a darker color (in the model, they're present but only as scribed lines in the sections). I think that Bandai realized that we'd want to fix this, so they didn't bother to add detail that would be lost in the fix!
Regarding fit, well... there are a few issues. The worst is the secondary hull, which was a bear to get together when snap-fitting my test version. However, for my "accurized" version, this will all be loosened up and glued together. Once this is done, the actual fit between sections should be quite tight.
Yes, that's a lot of complaints, but don't take it the wrong way. This is a really magnificent model, and will take a heck of a lot less effort than any other Enterprise model produced 'til now to make an accurate representation of the movie starship. But it still takes a bit of work to make it... well... PERFECT.
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