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VA Miniatures's 1/537 Saucer-Mounted Shuttlebay

By John Lester - images & text © 2008

Scale: 1/537 - fits the various versions of AMT's movie Enterprise (refit/-A)
Parts: 2 resin, 1 slab of styrene.
Instructions: On the back of the package
Decals: 1 ALPS-printed waterslide marking for the floor
Molding Quality: 9 - no obvious issues
Detail: 8 - matches the crazy engraving from the later AMT issues
Accuracy: N/A
MSRP: Available from Federation Models or directly from VA Miniatures
Overall Rating: A neat little addition to the ktbasher's arsenal

I admit it: I am a sucker for oddball conversions - especially with Star Trek style ships. So, VA Miniatures latest creation is right up my alley: a saucer-mounted shuttlebay for the venerable AMT USS Enterprise (refit) and USS Enterprise-A kits.

[Please click to enlarge]

[Please click to enlarge]

^ What you get

Image: Back side of the main casting

Image: Opening the saucer took about 20 minutes of scribing

Image: In place

Image: Done

What You Get

Inside the bag are two resin parts, a slab of sheet styrene and a decal. The resin parts consist of a section of the upper saucer with an opening for the shutlles, and a fan-style door. The styrene and decal are for the floor of the bay. Simple instructions are printed on a card stapled to the parts bag.

Casting is nicely done; I found no pinholes, bubbles or other flaws on my sample. The main piece is intended as a drop-fit replacement for a section of the saucer - anywhere between the third and fifth rings engraved onto the model. It is covered with a scribed pattern that matches the later editions of the base kit.

The decals and instructions are very simple - but this is a very simple accessory.

Using It

I have very few Trek kits in my stash anymore, but I do have one AMT refit I've held onto in order to build up as a Dreadnaught conversion. My kit is a "smoothie" - one of the first issues after ST:TMP came out, before AMT went nuts and engraved an utterly fictional panel pattern on it. I think the engraved detail on this, while more restrained, is still too deep and wide. As I intend to fill it all in, I'm not really worried about rescribing anything that gets messed up while I add the shuttlebay..

To install it, I first used a black marker to mark off where it would go on the saucer. Then I took my heavy duty scriber (actually an engraving tool with a super-hard point) and ran it back and forth in the engraved lines on the saucer which I had marked. This was tedious, and the kit's plastic relatively thick, so it took 20 minutes or so to pop a section free of the saucer.

There's a ledge around the resin hull piece that fits on the underside of the kit saucer. I coated this with superglue, press-fit the resin in place, and clamped as much of the edges as I could reach. When this had cured I ran another bead of glue all around the edge of the part, to fil lin the gaps where I had carved out too much plastic. When that had set, I started filling in all the engraved panelling with spot putty. All this took maybe 15 minutes spread across three evenings - sanding the putty smooth took longer.


This is a very simple conversion with which to spice up your next movie-era kitbash. It's well made and easy to install, a near-perfect introduction if you've not yet worked with resin detail pieces. Recommended to all skill-levels.

Many thanks to VA Miniatures wallet for providing the review samples. 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 © 2008 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 17 January 2008.