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Polar Lights 1/350 scale Star Trek USS "Grissom" NCC-638 plastic model kit review

Be prepared for plenty of masking and painting for this small big-scale spaceship
Kit:POL991M // Scale:1/350 // Price:$55.99
Polar Lights (Sample courtesy mfr.)
Parts set up for lighting; good fits; decals include several optional ship names and registry numbers
Painting and marking guide printed on the box sides can be hard to decipher with a lack of location lines; optional decals not explained well
Injection-molded plastic (white, black, clear); 79 parts (1 metal); decals; display base

The Oberth-class science vessel USS Grissom appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and was promptly destroyed by the Klingons. The filming miniature did survive and appeared in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine as well as the films Generations and First Contact, all with different markings.

Polar Lights’ 1/350 scale Grissom comprises 79 parts, but almost two thirds of them are clear parts for windows and lights. Thinking of its electrically inclined customers, Round 2 designed the model with holes and supports ready for wiring and lights. Photos on the box are useful for painting and decal placement, but the actual color and marking guide is printed on the sides of the inner tray. That makes the diagram small and difficult to follow. Also, lines linking the decal numbers to the marking locations are missing, which adds to the confusion.

On the primary hull, I waited to add the windows after painting. The parts mostly fit well, but I had to fill small gaps at the rear of the hull. Paint the rear plate (Part 6) before attaching it; I discovered it difficult to paint on the model. The warp nacelles have recessed panel lines molded on the upper surfaces but not the sides; decals are given to replicate them. I left the warp nacelles separate for painting.

The seam along the bottom and around the deck of the secondary hull required filling. Diverging from the instructions, I did not add the pylons as shown in Step 1; they are easy to slide in place later and would otherwise have been in the way for painting and decals. 

After spraying the subassemblies with Mr. Primer 1000, I painted the recessed panels on the primary hull and pylons with Tamiya Light Blue (No. XF-23). The inserts on the secondary hull, the finned radiators on the nacelles, and the center of the upper dome were painted with Tamiya Gunmetal (No. X-10). I masked all of the panels and airbrushed the entire model with Tamiya Flat White (No. XF-2).

Then came the fun part — masking and painting all the trim. I mixed 4 parts flat white and 1 part Tamiya Light Grey (No. XF-66). This was a little darker than I wanted, but I lightened it with a mist coat of flat white. Other Tamiya colors used were Chrome Silver (No. X-11) on various parts around the ship. Clear gloss sealed it all in preparation for decals.

The decals are thin but brittle and can tear or break if handled too much. Cut the larger decals into smaller pieces to minimize damage. Decals 22 through 31 are only used if you build one of the Next Generation ships. I installed the blue striped decal on the bottom of the primary hull slightly off center. Cutting it into smaller sections would have made it easier to align, but you cannot overlap the parts because the background color is transparent and any overlap would show. The panel line decals for the warp nacelles didn’t work well for me. They were fussy and hard to align, so I ended up removing them. If I were to build another Grissom, I think I would scribe these lines and match the painting to the lines.

When I added the warp nacelles to the primary hull assembly, I filled small gaps Perfect Plastic Putty. The clear parts went into the domes, and the upper dome was glued in place. After the pylons were added to the secondary hull, I attached the primary hull.

I spent about 37 hours on my 1/350 scale USS Grissom — about seven on construction and 30 masking, painting, and decaling. A beginner can easily build this kit, but it will take someone with painting skills to do the subject justice. Despite a few challenges, I think Polar Lights did a great job on the kit.

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