This ship is found in the semi-canonical "Starfleet Technical Manual" by Franz Joseph. I ordered the the kit out of curiosity; I found the Thomas Model's catalog in the box when I got Federation's Cardassian Scout model. It was my first experience with Thomas Models, and though my kit wasn't perfect (mostly because of my own mistakes!) I must say I was pretty pleased with the design, parts fit, materials and decals.
Score (1-10): 8 | Ease: (1-5) 2 - Not Hard | Verdict: Worth the money.
- Easiest conversion I've ever done. -
Not all markings seen on the Enterprise at the NASM are provided (prominent among the missing markings are the grey "arrows" on the underside of the saucer). The base, a 3/4" tall disk with the TOS Starfleet badge, is too small to adequately support the finished kit - but looks great when secured to a small wooden plaque like those found in any craft store. The solid resin construction does not lend itself to lighting.
You will need to acquire the saucer from the AMT/ERTL TOS Enterprise (kit# 6676 - the old 18 inch one still readily available in stores) to complete this model. I also bought Web Games Classic Enterprise Decal Set (WG0002) - it includes markings for the 18 inch and cutway versions of the Enterprise, plus the TOS shuttlecraft, which is why I wanted the sheet in the first place.
First off - wash the parts thoroughly in warm, soapy dishwater to get all the mold release residue off - worth the effort as this makes the paint adhere much better down the road (some folks say soak parts in "Blech-White" wheel cleaner overnight - it works, but the stuff is highly caustic. Pine oil or one of the new citrus cleaners are probably just as good and less hazardous).
The instructions consist of a single sheet with an annotated line drawing on the front showing parts locations and painting instructions. Assembly was straightforward. First, assemble the saucer section from the AMT/ERTL kit. Though there has been spirited debate over whether the concentric grid on the top side is accurate for the Constitution- class starships from TOS, the Franz Joseph book shows all the Constitution- class variants with it. However, the grid lines on the AMT/ERTL kit are too prominent (at this scale they would be most of a meter tall on the "real" ship!), so sanding is a must. I didn't want to have to rescribe the grid so I didn't sand them completely off ... then changed my mind after the resin parts were glued in. Important safety tip: it's a lot easier to do all your sanding before gluing parts!
After the drilling, the sawing. Use a razor saw to cut off the entire upper bridge dome and the bottom tip of the lower dome. These parts are replaced by resin parts from the Thomas kit. The back of the upper dome on both the Scout and Destroyer variants will require a little finish sanding before you glue them on. After these are in place, glue the one-piece engineering "neck"/warp nacelle piece to the saucer, and the control piece and nacelle end cap to the nacelle. Leave the deflector antenna, its mast, and the red brussard scoop off until after painting and decalling is complete. You'll need a small amount of putty or gap-filling superglue to fill gaps between all these pieces. Finally, I glued down two of the six twin "phaser turrets" that came with the kit on the saucer, one on either side of the upper bridge dome as shown in the Franz Joseph book.
There are two problem areas with the resin pieces. First, the windows on the neck area stick out, instead of being recessed or marked with fine lines. While this makes them easier to paint, it doesn't look as good (OK, that's IMHO, of course) as recessed windows. The effort of sanding them down and engraving replacements was more than I was prepared to do, so I left them alone. More seriously, the forward edge of the nacelle end cap was marred by swirls of excess resin, which I was unable to completely sand down/hide. Thomas recognized these deficiences long before I goy this review done, and new releases of the kit will correct the nacelle problems (as well as providing much more detailed blueprints and instructions).
Painting and Finishing.
Lit windows were painted Testors Radome Tan (FS 33613), with saucer portholes getting a drop of Krystal Kleer over them after painting was complete. The "phaser turrets" were painted Insignia Yellow (FS 33538) with Insignia Red (FS 31136) "bumps" (using the E-A color scheme as a guide). Finally, the ring just behind the brussard scoop was given a wash of flat black to make it stand out.
After everything was dry the ship got two coats of Testor's Glosscote to help the decals adhere better. Very few decals stand up to much handling (and both my sets were no exception!) so I applied mine in three stages. I started on the underside of the saucer, then did the top, using the warp nacelle as a handle for positioning the kit. After the saucer was done I wiped down the nacelle to remove any finger oils, and mounted the kit on the base for final decalling.
Thomas Models' are nicely done, though the prominent arrowhead flashes on the underside of the saucer (as seen on the "real" Enterprise) and saucer windows are not provided. These decals are available, however, on the Web Game sheet. The kit decals needed no setting agents and snuggled right down without silvering. Unfortunately, I found them to be very fragile, and I had considerable difficulty getting the larger pieces in position without them breaking. Web Games' decals were much easier to position because of their thickness. However, the smaller items (such as windows and striping) required setting solution to help them stick on, and some of the clear sections around the numbers showed silvering no matter how much setting solution I applied. The Thomas Models decals looked more like painted-on markings when everything dried, while the Web Games markings are noticeably shiny when the light hits 'em right. Despite all this, I am pleased at the results both sheets gave - none of the flaws show when seen from more than a foot away.
Whatever sheet you decide to use, you'll have to cut out and apply numbers and letters individually. I used a piece of masking tape (positioned at the bottom of where I wanted the decals to go) as a guide, to ensure I had all those letter/numbers in a straight line. I cut out all the letters for the ship's name (Apache, in my case ... just because I thought it sounded cool), lined them up on my workbench, and measured the length of the full name. I then transferred that measurement to a piece of masking tape, marking ticks at either end. The tape was placed as a guide on the saucer using the ticks to make sure I had it centered.
Before applying the final clear coat (Testor's Semigloss), I made sure I carefully wiped down the entire model again with a clean, damp discloth and the tiniest amount of dishsoap. Any residue from water droplets, setting solutions, or finger oils will tend to discolor the paint over time so you need to get rid of as much as you can before clear-coating. Finally, the brussard scoop was affixed and it and the field restoration cap were coated in Future floor polish (for a glossy look).
Where to Find This Kit.
If your local hobby dealer doesn't have one, you can order it from Thomas Models , or snail-mail them at 1723 Bailey St., Lansing, MI, 48910-1744. The catalog I have lists it at $24.95 US, but you'll want to write first to check availability and price.
Web Games sheet WG002 - if you can find it - contains decals for the 18" and 30" (Cutaway) Enterprise kits as well as the TOS shuttlecraft.
Last updated 6 December 2000. This page copyright © 1997-2000, Starship Modeler.