The K't'inga -class cruiser, as seen in the Star Trek movies, was to the venerable D-7 of the original series as the Enterprise-A was to the first Enterprise: an upgunned, upgraded deep space cruiser that formed the backbone of their fleet. AMT/ERTL's injection-molded kit, which is the basis for this review, is now reportedly out of production. However, limited numbers of kits are still available from various sources, including many local hobby shops.
This one is OK straight from the box, but to really get the most from it requires gobs of tedious masking and painting, and a fair amount of detail work.
This kit builds a decent-sized model ( 14" x 12" x 4"). Parts fit is generally acceptable, and seams and joints are either easily disguised or not evident. Assembly is straightforward. My kit had little flash and no warped parts. Alas, outside of general dimensions and shapes, it is not a faithful reproduction of the original movie miniature. Major flaws are:
With patience, elbow grease, and bits of spare styrene most of these defects can be corrected. There's enough space inside to light the ship, though the lack of detail and cramped confines of the warp nacelles did not make it worth the effort, IMO.
Assembly is straightforward. Don't put the whole thing together in one sitting; build the "bridge", "neck", and "main hull/body" sub-assemblies, sand, detail, and paint them, then put them together. This way makes handling the model a whole lot easier!
Bridge Sub-Assembly The jagged molded "face" of the bridge is incorrect and must be sanded or filed smooth. I used 60-grit sandpaper backed by a emory board to rough the face smooth, then progressively finer grits (down to 320-grit wet/dry) to make it smooth. Then, using the box photos as a guide, I marked the location of the portholes and drilled them to a depth of 1/16" with a pin vise (because it's easier to control than a motor-tool). The boxtop photo also shows what looks like a searchlight atop the bridge "dome"; this can be made from scrap sprue if you don't have an old ship kit to pilfer from.
Neck Sub-Assembly The top view photo on the box, as well as other photos I've found, show detailing inside the "channel" between the dorsal ridge just aft of the joint with the bridge module. I replicated this with a small rectangle of .010 sheet styrene.
Main Sub-Assembly The most glaring ommission is the detail on the "top" of the main hull, forward of the impulse engine deck. The kit has a single molded strip running this length; fashion two rectangles from sheet styrene and glue on either side of this ridge, fill the seam and sand smooth. The circular detail is also cut from sheet styrene, edges sanded, and glued into position. The molded details along the forward "face" of the main hull were also inaccurate. Fixing this looked like more than I was willing to handle, so I skipped it. The bright gold details at the corners can be made from scrap photoetch brass sheets. The molded "arrowhead" markings on both the top and bottom surfaces are not entirely accurate - but I balked at the effort necessary to sand flat and rebuild these, for very little gain in appearance, so I left them be.
Warp Nacelles The forward edges of the nacelle pylons should have a small rectangular "box" recessed in. I cleaned out the rough shape with a motor-tool, then squared the edges with a Squadron adzing tool and a hobby knife. The outboard sides of each nacelle are lacking detail. This can be built up with various strips of sheet styrene and snips of telephone wire (and its insulation). The inboard sides would require a lot more work to make them accurate ... it can be done by cutting out the part that should be glowing, casting that with clear resin (with a fine screen embedded to get the grill look), and tinting with Tamiya Clear Green paint. Lightsheet behind this would probably give the best glow. Though others have suggested glow-in-the-dark paint and similiar ideas, I think I'll go th lightsheet way when I rebuild this one.
One bright halogen bulb in the center of the body, powered by AA batteries in the base, should be sufficient to provide the "glow" to the impulse engine in the stern and the portholes on the bridge (via fiber optic strand routed through the "neck". In this scheme, you'll want to cut out the impulse engine exhaust and replace the grey kit styrene with clear styrene (sanded lightly on the inside with 320 grit sandpaper to diffuse the light, and airbrushed Tamiya Clear Red on the outside to get the proper tint). You'll also need to paint the interior to stop light leaks - I find a good base coat of black, followed by two coats of chrome or brigt silver (I like Rustoleum Metallic Silver spray). I'd like to hear from anyone who has suggestions on how to make the green glow from the inboard sides of the warp nacelles.
Painting this beast was ... well, I rapidly lost my enthusiasm for the
immense amount of masking required for each color. The effort paid off, though,
with a good looking model. Paints I used (all Testors) were:
I painted the model as subassemblies because they were easier to handle while masking. After washing and drying off the subassemblies in warm soapy water, I sprayed a good base coat of flat black, followed by 2 coats of the base color (Flat Gull Grey). After allowing this to dry for a solid week, I started with the next 'higher' color (i.e., the color that would be applied over the grey, and later partially covered by other colors). Also, the instructions don't show this, but there are white 'flashes' on the inboard side of the top surfaces of the main hull plainly evident on the boxtop photos.
I covered the model in 2" wide masking tape (after reducing its 'tack' by placing it on a plexiglass sheet and removing it), traced the desired markings with a .5mm pencil, and cut them out with a sharp no. 11-blade hobby knife. After letting the white dry for two days, I covered it up with more tape. I used a paintbrush handle and a toothpick to burnish down the tape around the engraved details, then cut out the tape around all the Euro I Grey details. I then repeated the process for the rest of the colors. The painting instructions were incomplete in several areas - especially the for the Red. I used the boxtop photos of the studio model as a guide to produce a more accurate color scheme.
I handpainted all the Bright Gold details. Because my hands are not always steady, i first scribed around the edge of the details by lightly pressing the blade of my knife along the color separation line. The paint then flowed along the line, filling it in and making a sharp demarcation.
The bridge module required much the same treatment. I carefully masked off the dark grey stripes along the face, then painted them Euro I Grey. I then applied Neon Yellow to the portholes with the tip of a toothpick. The Insignia Red details were edged with my knife and hand painted.
All in all, painting took almost a month - mainly because I quickly grew bored with the tedium of masking and kept putting the model aside; I probably accumulated no more than 20 hours on this step. It really paid off in the end, though.
Since I did not light the ship I did not have any wiring or power source to hide. I used a clear acrylic rod 1/4" in diameter (taken from a drink stirrer I found at Wal-Mart) to perch the completed ship above a wooden display base. This base is a piece of 3/4" pine approximately 11" x 5", cut in the shape of a Klingon dagger (the pattern was derived from the Star Trek Omnipedia) and stained a light cherry color.
Many local hobby shops will have one or two of these kits - I saw one in Ron's Mundelein Hobbies recently.
This review is copyright © 1996-8, The Lester Press. Last updated 6 May 1998