|The following are reader's opinions of the USS Enterprise-E made by Bandai.|
|Date Reviewed||Mar 26, 2005|
|Overall Rating||Well worth getting.|
|Comments||The first thing I can say about this kit is that I didn't know what to expect. Many moons ago, I bought a fiber-optically illuminated model of Deep Space Nine by AMTL(If memory serves correctly...)
That kit was a major challenge to build. In fact, it's still not finished! It was neither pre-painted or prewired for its lighting system, and every illuminated window had to be drilled out with an impossibly small drill bit, and then needed to have the fiber optics fed through and secured. Any Star Trek fan would know what a Space Station designed in ring-fashion that is meant to be 1.6 kilometers wide with hundreds or perhaps thousands of windows is a heck of a job to work on.
Hence, when I ordered Bandai's 1:1700 scale, illuminated Enterprise-E, I was simply hoping and praying that the construction techniques for these Star Trek models had improved.
I was delighted when I opened the box.
This entire kit is pre-painted. The level of detail on the printing is remarkable to say the least. The printing of the words 'Starship U.S.S. Enterprise United Federation of Planets' along the length of the engineering hull is incredibly fine, and in some cases and I may even say that Bandai went [i]overboard[/i] in their efforts to decorate the ship. She is painted in the same 'Aztec-style' scheme seen on the Enterprise in Star Trek: Nemesis, but her structural detailing is closer to how she appeared in Star Trek: Insurrection. The first thing I checked for was the distinctive 'webbing' that was added to either side of the ship's primary shuttlebay for Nemesis. It's not there, and the saucer flows straight back on to the engineering dorsal hull.
But this is not a major concern. Overall, the kit looks stunning, and it would take a very well educated eye to pick out any discrepencies.
I was further intrigued by the ship's lighting system. It has completely done away with the fiber optics seen on Deep Space Nine, and has replaced them with a set of 6 small light bulbs that are set behind hull-forming transparent panels that illuminate the ship's various windows that have been conveniently, and very cleanly pre-drilled in to the hull. The wiring is centralized in the Engineering hull about where the Warp Core is on the real thing, and is connected to two stainless steel contacts on 'Deck 24' that meet with two similar contacts in the top of the ship's display stand. (Which contains the switch and batteries)
I did a 'dry fit' of the model to see how the various parts went together early-on in the construction of the kit. In hindsight, I'm very glad I did this, as it showed me where I could expect to see possible gaps in the casting. The only really noticeable rifts I saw were the joints between the fore and aft sections of the Engineering hull, and most noticably, a rather large gap that ran between the ventral and dorsal hull sections of the ship's spine. I kept this in mind as I built her up, and thought about how I might fix it.
The wiring for the Nacelle lighting is concealled between two metal decals that run up the nacelle pylons. Admitedly, this doesn't look pretty, and I am still wondering if there was another way that Bandai could have wired the Nacelles. The thing to remember though is that this is an [i]illuminated[/i] kit. It [i]does[/i] have wiring, and it [i]does[/i] have failings because of it. Starships are not the only things I build, and I've built many World War II Naval models over the years. If this were a normal 'paint'n'glue' model kit with no lighting, and simple display purposes, then I could consider these failings almost inexcusible, but you don't buy a lighted kit and expect it to be the most absolutely stunning display piece ever created without investing some very serious work and time to make it look good.
I kept that in mind when building it, and did everything I could to make the ship look better. I wired up all the lights and soldered them in to place. Once this thing went together, it was [b]not[/b] coming apart, so wiring failures are a possibility unless you invest a good deal of time to secure it like the nuclear reactors of a US Aircraft Carrier.
When I say that this ship is not coming apart now that it's been built, I [i]mean[/i] it. As it turned out, the seams on either side of the engineering hull closed themselves up well when I seriously snapped it together and made sure everything was where it was meant to be. This was a relief, but the large seam along the spine was still a very noticeable flaw, so a small amount of Super Glue was applied before I snapped the top of the saucer down. The seal is now closed, and almost invisible.
Once she was finished, all that was left was to 'flip the switch'. The lighting as a whole was very good. Every window is illuminated along with the Bassard ram-scoops, the Nacelles, the impulse drives and the main deflector dish. Thankfully, my glueing efforts on the engineering hull bore their fruits and the seam which I had repaired was completely light-proof.
Having compared DS9's lighting system to the Enterprise's, I can see how Fiber Optics have their advantages. The bulb-system on the Enterprise leaves bright 'hot spots' through the windows which are a dead giveaway to where they are located within the kit. On a fiber optic kit such as Deep Space Nine, you don't get this unwanted 'overglow'.
The difference between bulbs and fiber optics comes down to the question of if you are willing to spend 2 or 3 hours on a ship that looks good, or several weeks on a ship that looks utterly stunning. If you have the patience, skill and determination to complete fiber optical lighting systems, then you'd probably prefer the later, but for a fun, detailed kit that just looks good, I can easily recommend the Enterprise.
In conclusion, the one thing you need to keep in mind with this model is that, like all models, it's completed appearance will be directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you put in. Building these things is half the fun, and I've seen many very mediocre kits turned in to works of art by simple time and patience, and likewise, I've seen many excellent kits virtually destroyed by lazyness. If you are willing to put in that little bit of extra effort to clean this kit up, fill in any gaps with polyfiller or glue, and retouch any areas damaged by removing the parts from the sprue, then this kit will look amazing.
I filled in many of the gaps by glueing the kit together rather than just using the snap-fit design, and I soldered the wiring to make sure it doesn't come apart any time soon. All up, it took me just under 3 hours to build, and the kit looks excellent. But there is still alot of other stuff I could have done to make it even better.
The Enterprise is well made, well painted and easy to assemble. If you ever need a quick, fun weekend build, or a model that you can strive away at to produce a museum-worthy masterpiece, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Bandai's USS Enterprise as that kit.
Five out of Five Stars. ENGAGE!
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