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Polar Lights 1/350 scale "Star Trek" Enterprise NX-01

Kit: No. 4201
Scale: 1/350
Manufacturer: Polar Lights
Price: $59.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 275 parts, decals
Pros: Builds into a large, impressive-looking model
Cons: Fit problems hamper assembly
Two years ago, UPN launched the fifth "Star Trek" TV series. "Enterprise" predates the timeline of the original 1960s show and details Earth's early steps into deep space in the mid-22nd century.

Polar Lights recently acquired the license to make "Star Trek" kits, and the company's most recent release is a large (1/350 scale) model of the NX-01 Enterprise. The square box is stuffed with almost 300 parts. Mainly molded in light gray plastic, the major components are large and have slightly soft detail and deep panel lines. Almost half of the parts count is made up of clear pieces used for all the ship's windows. Big clear parts are also provided for the warp engine side panels and domes. One large sheet of instructions covers assembly, painting, and decaling. An errata sheet is included to correct a few typos. A well-printed decal sheet is included.

The first step of the instructions advises the builder to paint all of the major components before assembly. I followed the advice, but test-fitting the warp engine nacelles revealed the fit was so poor that they would need to be assembled before painting. I used epoxy putty to fill the seams on the nacelles. The worst fit was at the front by the dome supports and the lower panels.

The "real" ship features what is known as an "Aztec" scheme, with multiple shades of the base color repeated in a patchwork pattern. Although the kit's painting diagrams are black and white, color images are available on Polar Lights' web page (www.polarlights.com). I decided to paint my Enterprise in a simpler fashion using Tamiya flat aluminum darkened with gloss black. I painted several panels Tamiya metallic gray to break up the monotony. Smaller details were picked out in titanium gold, flat aluminum, and steel. Future prepared the model for decals.

Polar Lights' decals are a little thick, but react well to both Micro Sol and Solvaset. The placement instructions aren't always clear for the ship's tons of small stencil decals.

After I finished the basic painting and decaling steps, I started main assembly. It took me almost three hours just to add the clear parts. Test-fitting the rear hull assembly showed major fit problems especially around the impulse engine panels and the warp pylons. I assembled the rear hull then installed it as the saucer halves were brought together. The saucer halves fit well until you get to the rear where they join to the rear hull. I had to use clothespins, rubber bands, and even a couple of "C" clamps to hold everything in position while the glue set. Finally the warp engines were added to the pylons. A four-piece stand supports the finished model well.

The finished model is huge - more than 2' long. Scaling up the dimensions showed them to be close to the "actual" dimensions I found on web sites. I spent 27 hours building my Enterprise; most of that went into painting and decaling. While Polar Lights has made a step in the right direction, I wish the kit had crisper detail, and especially better fit. Despite this, the model is impressive and massive, and should be in every Trek fan's collection. With all of the clear parts, the kit would lend itself to lighting. Now if only someone would come out with decals for that Aztec scheme!

- John Plzak

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