By John Lester - images & text © 2004
Polar Lights' second 1/1000 Star Trek® (Original Series) kit is finally available, and fans are mostly happy. I know I am.
The Klingon D-7 Battlecruiser is a 1/1000 scale "Level 1" snap-fit model with features for the novice and experienced modeler alike.
Image: Bag 2 - neck, head and warp engines
Image: Bag 3 - details
Image: Chromed sprue and clear bit
Image: Instructions are typical for Polar Lights
What You Get
Inside the standard clamshell box with the nice artwork are 4 bags of parts, decals, stickers and instructions. Parts sprues are individually bagged - a nice touch, as it keeps them from getting scratched and prevents "escapes", and something I wish all manufacturers would do. Inside the bag of with the chromed bits are two more (one each for decals/ stickers and the small, clear red piece).
The bulk of the kit is molded in the standard grey styrene we've come to know and love. My kit had only the barest mold seam lines and no flash or other molding flaws. Detail, where it is present, is fairly soft .... but that's consistent with the original filming model. The tabs connecting parts to the sprue trees are small and mercifully easy to cut (unlike the beams ERTL has taken to using). The separate sprue of chromed parts provides details for the warp nacelles, wingtips and "head"; the chrome should strip off easily in a bath of pine oil cleanser (or bleach, or oven cleaner, or .... but pine oil cleansers - like Pine-Sol® here in the US - are the least toxic option) if you feel it's too shiny. There are two optional sets of "shoulder" details, one each ribbed and smooth, to build either a standard Klingon or a Romulan variant.
Instructions are the standard Polar Lights fold out sheet. You get several exploded diagrams showing parts placement, text describing three or four assembly steps, plus a painting/marking guide. One side is in English; the reverse, in French. The assembly sequence is logical and not at all difficult to follow. Color call outs are given matched Testor's Model Master line. They're a best-guess approximation to Pantone colors, and require you to mix several colors to get the exact "right" shade. The marking guide provides side/top/bottom views of four different ships, two Klingon and two Romulan (remember, the Klingons and Romulans were selling technology to each other at the time). There are enough "spare" markings that you can improvise off those "templates" for any number of custom finishes.
Duplicate markings are provided on two sheets, one of conventional waterslide decals and one of self-adhesive stickers. All are perfectly registered and appear to have sufficient color density so that the underlying colors won't bleed through.
Assembly & Finish
Assembly is easy enough my 8 year old neice could do it; I had the kit together in under half an hour. That doesn't mean there are not problems with the result.
The neck and bridge area parts fit tightly, and the only minor problem is getting the torpedo launcher to stay properly aligned while you squeeze the main boom/bulb halves together. Similarly, the warp nacelle and impulse engine halves fit tightly. The rest of the ship .... not so much. Maybe it's the geometry, maybe it's the tooling, but there are significant gaps between all the rest of the sub-assemblies, including one between the top and bottom hull halves you in which could plant corn. Not a problem to anyone who has built an ERTL kit - just whip out the glazing putty and the sanding sticks.
Unfortunately, the gaps are only half the problem. The fit between the warp nacelles and the hull, the chrome inserts and the larger pieces, the impulse engines and the impulse deck, and the boom and the main hull, are all so loose that a good sneeze can make your model explode. That's where the frustration comes in. It's easily dealt with - simply glue everything in place, putty and sand as you would any other model. Most modelers will do just that without thinking, but I can see my 8 year old neice being unhappy (mom doesn't let her have model glue, not the good stuff anyway).
I've also read that the boom sub-assembly cannot be properly aligned with the main hull, reportedly because the parts were either short-shot (not enough plastic to fill the mold) or improperly tooled (mating surfaces shaped wrong). Neither problem is evident on my kit, though I note that the small plastic tabs that are supposed to lock the assembly in place are too small, and the geometry of the area too awkward, for the joint to be very robust without gluing.
The kit is not without problem areas. Anyone who has built a glue kit or two can slam this one together and be happy with the result. Novices, on the other hand, will be frustrated with the poor fit. That said, it's a perfect subject for any modeler to practice their basic modeling skills, and it does offer plenty of opportunities for the super-detailer and the kitbasher alike. I know I'm going to get a bunch as soon as Target can keep them on the shelf...
Recommended for all skill levels.
This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler. First published 25 February 2004. Last updated on 22 October 2004.