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Polar Lights Star Trek USS Defiant

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/1000 scale sci-fi kit with a detailed decal sheet

The USS Defiant NX-74205 first appeared in the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Search”. Originally designed to fight the Borg, it played a significant part in the ensuing Dominion War and was eventually destroyed in the seventh season of Deep Space Nine. Later, its sister ship, the Sao Paulo, would be renamed Defiant. The ship also was seen in the feature film Star Trek: First Contact. The Defiant featured many firsts, including the first ship designed by Star Fleet whose sole purpose was combat, and the first ship authorized to use a cloaking device.

AMT released a Defiant years ago in 1/420 scale. Now, Polar Lights has issued a new kit of the ship in the popular 1/1000 scale. The small “Snap-it” kit contains just 30 parts. Molded in a light blue plastic they show excellent detail and thin, deep panel lines. The clear sprue supplies parts for the warp engines (front and rear), the nose insert, rear impulse engines, and phasers.

The large decal sheet features all the ship’s markings as well as many gray and tan panels, eliminating the need for complicated masking and painting. The instructions feature large, clear assembly steps as well as a detailed painting and marking diagrams. You have the option of mounting the finished model on a stand or, if you prefer a different display, a detailed plug for the stand hole.

I started assembly with the nose. Although it is a snap-together kit, I used Tamiya thin cement throughout. Before installing the clear nose piece (110) I painted the back of it with a Molotow chrome pen to give reflection to the clear blue that would be painted later. While I was at it I did the same to the other clear pieces that would later be painted with clear blue or red.

Next the main hull was glued together. I filled a few shallow sink marks and the seams where needed. After adding the side pods the main seams only required a light sanding to remove them and a little epoxy putty to blend them into the hull. Then, I added the rest of the parts, but left off the front warp engine nacelles (105) and the rear impulse engine nozzles (102).

I sprayed the entire model with a mixture of Tamiya flat white and about 20% Tamiya light gray using the stand’s metal rod as a handle. This gave me a nice slightly blue light gray base. I brush-painted small details with a couple of Vallejo grays.

The decals were applied over a coat of Tamiya clear gloss. The gray and tan panels of the decals are translucent. This is not a problem over a single base color and it actually helps in aligning them. The decals responded well to the Microscale system, but I found that I needed Solvaset to get them to conform to the heaviest details and compound curves. I also found them to be a bit brittle and a couple broke trying to work them into acute bends. Once the decals were dry, I sprayed semigloss clear. The clear parts were unmasked and painted clear red or blue as appropriate. Finally, I added the front warp nacelles and the rear impulse nozzles.

I spent about 10 hours on my USS Defiant. It only took a couple of hours to assemble and paint the model, but about eight hours to apply the decals. The finished model looks great and while some modelers may gripe about the panel lines, I think they look fine, giving a nice panel effect without needing any wash or pen lining.

The finished model matches perfectly in length and height to the dimensions I found on the internet, but the width was about .15 inch too narrow — close enough in my book. I think that just about any beginner could successfully assemble this kit (with or without glue) but it will take some skill to apply the decals correctly. I think this kit would also make a good choice for a first try at adding lighting to a Trek model.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2019 issue.
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