By Jay Chladek - images & text © 2013
^ Clear parts
^ The rest of the clear parts
^ Sprue "C" - stand and details
Image: Sprue "D": More stand, more details
^ Sprue "G": Nacelle details and secondary hull half
^ Sprue "H": Other hull half and pylons
Image: Sprues "J" & "K": Nacelle halves
Image: Saucer parts
Image: Engraving detail
Regardless of how one feels about the reboot of the Star Trek franchise on the movie screen with the two films directed by J.J. Abrams, one thing is for certain; the U.S.S. Enterprise is the most recognizable element of both the 2009 film and its sequel "Into Darkness". While merchandise from the two films has been plentiful with toy versions of the ship being offered in a few different scales, model kits have been slow to appear. Polar Lights cancelled their plans to do a model in 2010 and Paramount licensing's legal department has also made it tough for anyone to do resin kits of the ship at anything approaching a decent size.
Enter Revell of Germany into the mix. Two years ago, they shocked the model industry by announcing they obtained a Star Trek kit license for the European market. The first kit was a reissue of the Monogram U.S.S. Voyager, but they followed that up with all new kits of the classic original Enterprise and Klingon D-7 Battle cruiser. While those kits did have their share of accuracy problems, they were generally good quality, fit together very well and showed many that a new player had emerged on the Trek modeling scene. So there was eager anticipation when Revell announced early this year that they were doing a kit of what many call the "JJ Prise" from the current film series. Now that the kit is out, just how good is it?
What You Get
The kit comes packaged in a rather large box, which unlike many other Revell of Germany offerings, has a separate lid and floor. I like these better than the side opening boxes the company seems to prefer as it is much easier to store half built assemblies during building. Dimensionally, the box is slightly larger than the old AMT/Ertl Trek boxes, while also being taller.
Open the box and you are greeted by LOTS of bagged parts trees. The majority of the pieces are molded in opaque white styrene, with two clear parts trees are provided for the windows, bussard collectors, sensor domes and many other features found on the ship. The 24 page instruction book, while being Revell of Germany's usual mix of illustrations and symbols that require a little bit of deciphering, is relatively easy to follow. They've got some nice five-view diagrams for paint and decal placement.
It is obvious from the start that Revell designed this kit for lighting. To my knowledge, Revell has no plans to offer a light kit for this model. But they did a thorough job in preparing the model for it as the pylons are hollow and allow for wires to pass through easily. There are even two strong backs in the secondary hull that look like they could also double as battery holders. This was a feature I first noticed on the 1/600 TOS Enterprise.
It also looks like they took a page from Polar Lights as the warp nacelles each feature a disk assembly (part G43) that mounts inside the bussard collector. These parts are intended for a decal to fit over them to represent the glow effect, but the back side has a round socket molded in the center. So if a hole is opened up inside the socket, a spinning motor shaft (or wiring for a chaser light circuit board) could easily be installed.
Detailing of the parts is very crisp and looks accurate to photos of the CGI model. There were some slight changes made to the ship from the first film to the next, but the detailing seems to represent the ship as it appeared for the majority of "Into Darkness". The ship at the end of the film featured a much larger impulse engine deck, but we will have to wait for the aftermarket industry to give us that assembly. For those that felt the recessed lines on Revell's 1/600 TOS Enterprise were overdone and too large, I am happy to report that here they seem to have the right effect based on what the studio model had. The saucer deflector grid looks good and the recessed panel line splits on the secondary hull look positively petite, like a thick layer of primer could obscure them if one isn't careful. There are some raised panel lines as well, with some of them corresponding to features on the decal sheet. If desired, they can be removed easily enough with a few swipes of sandpaper. There is a similar raised line running around the saucer edge, which I believe is a by-product of molding the saucer in one piece, yet with cutouts for the windows. Again, a little sanding can take care of that. The parts are also nice and thinly molded, yet stiff. This was presumably done to cut down weight so that elements of the model wouldn't sag under the strain, even with lighting installed.
While this is intended to be more of an inbox review rather than a buildup, I did take the opportunity to test fit a couple sub-assemblies, like the saucer halves. The parts fit is VERY good. A decent quality plastic weld glue should get this model assembled in almost no time if you don't plan to light it, although I expect some filler will be needed in spots. BTW, be careful test fitting the saucer as the five main alignment pegs practically snapped together, making it very difficult to get the assembly apart once again. So sand the pegs down a little if you plan to do repeated test fits, or you might risk bending or cracking something when pulling the saucer pieces apart.
As to the kit's size, length for the completed model is given as 588 mm. Converting that to inches, we get a length of a little over 23 inches, which is comparable in size to the old AMT/Ertl movie refit Enterprise kit. The "actual" size of the Enterprise from the JJ Abrams films continues to be a source of debate. Revell lists the scale on the box as 1/500 and given how the AMT/Ertl refit scaled out to 1/537, both models built side by side would not look out of place with one another. Comparing the saucers from the AMT/Ertl kit side by side, it is very similar in diameter with the Revell kit being ever so slightly larger. Regardless of how big one might feel the JJ Abrams Enterprise is, with this kit, a modeler can do some very interesting kit bashes with AMT kits such as the Reliant and TOS Cutaway Enterprise.
Painting and Decal Options
The kit comes with a rather large decal sheet, featuring over 80 individual decals. They were printed by Cartograf in Italy and feature a matte finish to them. The markings look more or less accurate , with the only obvious flaw being the shape of the large "7" decal for the upper saucer. But a little decal surgery will correct that easily during application. Given the number of decals provided, you most certainly want to take your time applying them. Some of the panels provided would also likely be better served with paint, but at least you have the option to choose what direction you wish to go.
The paint instructions utilize Revell of Germany's paint line, although A LOT of the recommended colors are paint mixes. Personally, even if I had access to the Revell colors, I would probably do better to just get pre-mixed paints in the colors I need anyway. The instructions show an "Aztec" pattern for the upper and lower saucer hull, plus a multi-panel effect for the secondary hull and warp nacelles. The saucer aztec in the instructions looks accurate, but it is hard to make out whether the panels on the secondary hull or nacelles are the same way, as I imagine there likely are some more interesting patterns in there rather than simple squares and rectangles. I imagine screen captures will become plentiful online pretty soon.
Aztek Dummy now has a set of pre-cut paint masks to use with this model in order to achieve the proper look. From what I understand, it won't be long before we see some aftermarket aztec decals available for this ship well. But if one didn't want to wait, a scanner, photo editing software and the ability to print paint masks on photo frisket paper would probably do the same job just as easily.
Admittedly, it is a bit tough to judge the accuracy of something where an actual studio model doesn't exist and access to the CGI files is highly restricted. We've only got a few commercially available replicas of the ship in an affordable price range, starting with the Playmates and Hot Wheels miniatures. Then there is the very nicely done yet very expensive QMX Enterprise. Based on what references I've been able to find, it looks to me like Revell has done an excellent job with the new ship. Proportionally, it looks to have the long and sleek lines of the original as opposed to the Playmates toy that seemed to be squished proportionally from front to back. Of the small details that are provided, they also look right.
What clear parts are offered seem to correspond to where the lights and windows should be. There are some small blinker light details missing here and there, but nothing that can't be overcome by some modeling know-how. The saucer impulse engines are molded in gray plastic instead of clear, but an hour with a pin-vise to punch through the hole indentations can take care of that - and the gray plastic makes the task of light blocking this sub-assembly relatively easy.
I really like what I see with this kit. I get the sense from looking at the parts that Revell of Germany did not try to go the cheap route at all and the utilized lots of resources to get this kit looking as good as it does. A couple Europe-based modelers have already started doing online builds and from what I can see, it looks like the kit builds as well as it looks. While this kit may not be quite Fine Molds Star Wars kit quality, it is certainly better than previous Revell of Germany offerings and one of the best Trek kit offerings I've ever seen. It is unfair to compare it to Round 2's recent offerings though as both companies obviously have different approaches to their subjects.
The only minor issue facing modelers is the fact that this kit is NOT available for retail sale in the United States and this is down to licensing issues. Round 2 has a license for Star Trek kits in North America. But at the same time, Round 2 currently does not have a license to do kits from the JJ Abrams films while Revell does. I believe eventually this kit will be available in the USA through Revell since Hobbico now owns both Revell USA and Revell of Germany, but it could be a long wait as the matter gets sorted. As I see it, the more model companies doing licensed Trek kits, the better off the hobby industry is. Fine Molds and Revell have been doing Star Wars kits for years in their respective markets and we've benefitted from their efforts.
In the meantime, European modelers have access to a very nice kit for about 35 Euros and thanks to the internet, the kits can be ordered relatively easily from kit vendors that ship internationally (or who have imported them into the states through other sources). Shipping these kits to the US can get expensive due to the large box and the contents weighing about 2.5 pounds BEFORE they get packed in a shipping box. So don't be surprised if you spend in excess of $70 getting one when shipping costs and exchange rates are factored in. I ordered mine from an eBay vendor in the UK and paid about that much. The model took about a week and a half for it to arrive on my doorstep and I am fully satisfied with my purchase.
In final conclusion, this kit shows me that Revell of Germany is going all in with Star Trek models. I hope it is a long and happy future for them as from what I can see, they have done an excellent job with this new kit. Now I just have to see how well it builds. Already we have aftermarket stuff coming for it as Paragrafix is doing an etch set for it while Evans Lighting and Tenta Controls have both partnered up to do lighting kits for it. Built out of the box, I think the model will look great. Add these extras, the results likely will be STUNNING!
Many thanks to Jay's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!