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Polar Lights Discovery USS Enterprise

Build review of the 1/1000 scale Star Trek spacecraft kit you can light up 
U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Aztec Decal Sheet
No. MKA042
Scale: 1/1000
Price: $24.99
Comments: 83 decals
Pros: Zero excess clear film
Cons: Placement guide vague for the nacelles

The closing moments of the first season of Star Trek Discovery surprised fans with a look at a new version of the famous starship Enterprise. Nicknamed the “Discoprise” or, my favorite, “Pike-rprise” by fans, the new design draws inspiration from the original TV series as well as the prequel, Star Trek Enterprise. Spinning fans in the Bussard collectors and the basic shape of the secondary hull reflect the TOS Enterprise, while the rear of the warp nacelles is reminiscent of the pilot version of the ship. From Enterprise’s NX-1701 we get the blue inner warp engine panels, the metallic finish, and, typical of Trek ships since the first big-screen feature, the ship features the Aztec paint scheme. New to the ship are the “potato-peeler” warp engine pylons and the large bridge window. 

The new Polar Lights USS Enterprise in its popular 1/1000 scale Star Trek range is complemented by a separate decal set for the Aztec paneling that I used here, and a lighting kit that includes motors to spin the Bussard collectors (not reviewed here). 

In addition to nicely molded medium gray plastic, the kit includes a large clear sprue with all of the windows, primary hull domes, impulse engines, and numerous parts for the warp nacelles; even the shuttle bay is molded clear.

The instruction sheet features large, clear assembly diagrams. Decaling and painting instructions are printed in color on the sides of the lower box, but they don’t refer to any brands or paint colors. The small decal sheet is well printed and includes the ship’s name and registry numbers, side banners, and a few small details. 

The Aztec decal set consists of three large sheets covering all of the paneling.

I removed the main parts and cleaned them up before painting the exteriors with Tamiya spray-can light gunmetal (TS-42) decanted and applied by airbrush. The inner faces of the clear side panels for the warp engines were painted Tamiya clear blue (X-23) and I used clear red (X-27) inside the impulse engines and Bussard collectors. I backed the clear colors with silver and misted white over the inside of the saucer domes and front window to block the view inside.

After inserting the clear parts into the pre-painted body parts, I built the ship in four major subassemblies — primary hull, secondary hull, and the two warp nacelles with their respective pylons — leaving off the Bussard domes and the sensor dish. 

Although the instructions state this kit can be built with a snap-assembly or glue, I recommend gluing at least the internal parts even if you only snap the main parts together. 

I filled seams where needed, first with black superglue, then with auto body spot putty. The underside of the secondary hull required the most work and even needed an additional application of Mr. Surfacer 500. I masked the blue warp engine panels, impulse engines, and Bussard fans before touching up the light gunmetal base coat being careful not to spray any windows. 

Now came the fun part, adding the wallpaper Aztec decals. This was the first time I’ve used decals for Aztec paneling; in the past, I’ve used masks and painted the pattern. That said, I was impressed with the Polar Lights decals. They are thin with no excess clear film. But they are strong and did not stretch. Rather than being solid, the panel decals, tint the base color. Maneuvering the larger decals can be difficult and water or Microscale Micro Set helped keep them mobile as I positioned them. A wet finger or large damp brush is helpful in removing any wrinkles.

Overall, the decals responded well to Micro Sol, but a few places needed Solvaset to settle the decals over details. 

I did not have any issues following the decal placement guide for the primary and secondary hulls, but the warp engines were a different story. The diagrams confused me. There were no diagrams for the inner surfaces. Also, the decal numbers on the diagrams did not always match the sheet numbers. It took a while, but I eventually pieced the jigsaw puzzle together. After the Aztec decals were dry, I added the kit markings without problems. 

The next day, I ran a new No. 11 blade along all of the panel lines, then gave the subassemblies a coat of semigloss clear. Final assembly was a snap. 

I spent about 22 hours building my “Pike-rprise,” about 10 on assembly and paint, and 12 hours applying decals. Kudos to Polar Lights for the design of this impressive kit. It’s simple enough for a beginner to get good results, but experienced builders can go all out adding extras such as the Aztec scheme and lighting. While I like the way the ship turned out, it begs to be lit. If I eventually build another one you better believe it will have lights and spinning Bussard collectors. 

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