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AMT 1/350 scale 'Star Trek' Klingon Bird-of-Prey plastic model kit review

Display options are great, but the landing gear will task you
Kit:AMT1400M // Scale:1/350 // Price:$37.99
AMT (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Detailed painting instructions; landing gear and boarding ramp provided; three display options; sturdy stand
Fit only OK; landing gear frustrating to assemble
Injection-molded plastic (green, clear); 71 parts (4 cast-metal, 1 metal rod); decals
At the risk of being pilloried by fans of the Enterprise, the Bird-of-Prey is the coolest ship design in Star Trek. It’s different, menacing, utilitarian, and — dare I say — beautiful.

In 1995, I was thrilled when AMT/Ertl released a kit of the Bird-of-Prey, branded at that time for Star Trek: Generations, that included optional parts to pose the wings in either cruise or attack positions. The intervening decades saw the kit reissued several times with few changes until 2010, when Round 2, caretaker of the AMT brand, updated it with new radiator baffles and landing gear to pose the ship on the ground as seen several times in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The AMT 1/350 scale Star Trek Klingon Bird-of-Prey plastic model kit is back again in updated packaging, marked for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which marked the Bird-of-Prey’s first appearance.

Molded in green plastic, the parts have decent surface detail. Some of the panels are a little soft at the edges, but they look good under paint.

Choosing to build the ship landed, I selected the indicated radiator parts. The numbers for the ends (parts 46 and 47) are flipped in the instructions, but the mistake is apparent when you test-fit them.

In Step 3, it isn’t obvious that you need to fit either the belly (Part 42) if you are posing the ship gear up, or the gear bay (Part 43) for landing configuration. I left off the gear doors, gear legs, and entry ramp for painting.

The fit of the wing halves and main hull sections are all a bit imprecise and require filler to eliminate gaps. None of this is hard, just time-consuming to make them disappear. I had to do extra work on the seams between the shoulder inserts (parts 9 and 10) and the upper hull, but the most difficult to eliminate were around the edge of the head where the upper section fits into the lower head (Part 6). This should be smooth, but filling and sanding are complicated by a series of raised lines that cross this space. They hamper complete sanding and should run all the way to the edge of the shelf, not end at the seam. I ended up sanding these lines off completely, filling and smoothing the seam, and replacing the detail with a fine styrene half-round rod.

I left the wings, hull, and radiators separate for painting. Checking the fit of everything, I bored out each of the locating holes for the radiators in the hull and wings to make them easier to fit during the final assembly.

The comprehensive painting instructions with detailed drawings of the top and bottom reference Tamiya colors. The only places I diverged from those recommendations were the main body (Grey Green, No. XF-76) and the next darkest panel accent color (Cockpit Green, No. XF-71). Instead, I mixed Flat Green (No. XF-5) with increasing amounts of cockpit green for those areas. Be prepared to do a lot of masking.

The few decals went on fine over a layer of clear gloss, although the Klingon insignia at the cannon fairings required several applications of Microscale Micro Sol and heat to settle over the detail.

The landing gear legs are supplied in cast, white metal, which is probably a good thing, given the weight of the finished model. I glued each leg together with 5-minute epoxy and painted them before installing them in the bay with more epoxy. The metal is just flexible enough that I made minor adjustments to align them.

I recommend adding the wings to the hull before attaching the feet to the legs. The ship balances exactly where the legs hit the ground, so the feet will be level when attached with the wings in place.

Attaching those feet turned out to be one of the hardest parts of the build. Each has two divots to receive prongs from the legs, but they want to roll if not held down. After a couple of failed attempts using 5-minute epoxy, I placed each foot in position and held it flat as I flowed on superglue and then accelerator. The result looks great, but the fragile connections mean the feet fall off the model if I look at them wrong or the wind changes direction. I recommend gluing the finished model to a base to minimize breakage.

If you want to display the Bird-of-Prey in flight, the kit includes one of Round 2’s black dome stands with a metal support rod and posable mount.

While the landing gear almost drove me crazy, I enjoyed building the AMT 1/350 scale Star Trek Klingon Bird-of-Prey plastic model kit. I spent about 20 hours on it, most of that on masking and painting. Though it’s not a kit for a beginner, it can be built into a sharp replica with a little work.
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