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Alliance's Saratoga Conversion Preview

By By Scott Scariot - images & text © 2004

Scale: 1/537
Parts: 21 resin, 2 styrene
Instructions: 3-page assembly, paint and decal guide
Decals: 1-sheet ALPS printed with markings for the U.S.S. Saratoga
Molding Quality: 7 - well cast. Very minor sanding needed to clean up mold seams, some bubbles
Detail: 8 - Looks good to me.
Accuracy: 9 - Matches the studio model really well
MSRP: $45.00 USD (~$59.26 CAN/ 36.48 EUR) available from Federation Models
Overall Rating: 8 - nice conversion that gives you everything you need for one ship

[Click to enlarge]

The U.S.S. Saratoga was seen just once, in the DS9 Premier "The Emissary". Another reuse of the venerable Miranda class, the Saratoga lost the "roll bar" for two Phaser cannons on either side of the ship.

[Click to enlarge]

^ What you get

Image: Hull correction set

Image: Megaphaser

Image: Phaser mounts

Image: Replacement bridge parts

Image: Decals

Unfortunately, the Borg destroyed the Saratoga at Wolf 357.

This December (2003), Alliance models released a conversion kit to turn ERTL's Reliant kit into the Saratoga. I took the rest of the money I received at Christmas and placed my order. I was impressed that this kit included not only the Phaser cannons, but a correction kit to give the ship its proper width, and an accurate bridge and B, C Deck. Editor's Note: The hull correction pieces are available as a separate conversion kit as well.

The phaser cannons are made up of four resin pieces. Two thin styrene rods were also included. These need to be cut down to make up a spoke pattern on each of the cannons. The forward parts of the cannons are very thin and can break very easily. In fact, I snapped one by just picking it up too fast. All of the parts for the cannons are well cast. There are some seams on the parts for the back half of the cannons.

The saucer correction kit is well cast and should be easy to use. The parts will be glued in position around the lower saucer. Once the top half of the saucer is glued on, the saucer will have the correct thickness.

The accurate bridge and B, C decks are well cast, with just small mold pour stubs that need to be removed.

The decals are ALPS printed. The decal sheet is small but includes markings for one ship, the U.S.S. Saratoga. What is nice about the decals is that the decals for the cannons are marked with orange numbers, while the decals for the ship are numbered in blue. I am fairly sure that the decals can be substituted for JT Graphics Saratoga type decal sheet.

The instruction sheet for this kit is terrific. The 3-page instruction guide is printed in color and completely walks the builder through the building process. This is unlike a lot of the conversion kits I have purchased in the past where you just get some parts and vague drawings on how to alter the stock kit.

Conclusion

I like this conversion kit. It's well cast and the detail looks good. I really like the fact that the kit includes everything one needs to build an accurate version of the Saratoga. The great instructions will help to make construction easier. I liked the fact that decals came with the kit, but I plan on buying the JT Graphics Saratoga type sheet. I think Alliance has a winner with this conversion, it's just too bad that ERTL's Reliant is out of production at this time.


Many thanks to Scott's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 11 March 2004.