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Polar Lights' NX-01 Enterprise Preview


By Larry G Johnson - images & text © 2004

Scale: 1/350 - about 24"/ 610mm long when assembled
Parts: 274 injection-molded styrene parts in grey and clear
Instructions: One double-sided fanfold sheet, with exploded diagrams and English & French text
Decals: Waterslide, markings for one ship
Molding Quality: 7 - very few obvious problems with sink holes, ejector pin marks, mod seams, etc but there are some fit issues
Detail: 7 - lots of it, but it's a little thick and soft
Accuracy: 8.5 Ė some minor issues
MSRP: $49.99 USD (~$66.75 CAN/ Ä 41.88 EUR) available from hobby shops and other retailers
Overall Rating: 9 - see review

[Box art]

[Click to enlarge]

^ Parts I: The saucer parts

[Click to enlarge]

^ Parts II: The off white parts

[Click to enlarge]

^ Parts III: The clear parts

Image: Forward saucer detail

Image: Aft saucer detail

Image: The engineering deck and nacelles

Image: Nacelle aft closeup

Image: Lots of porthole plugs

Image: Warp nacelle clear bits

Image: Fit issues

Image: Four-part stand

Image: Instructions

Image: Decals

Image: Big Saucer!

One hundred or so years before James T. Kirk commanded the NCC-1701 Enterprise, Jonathan Archer commanded the first Earth Warp 5 Starship, the NX-01 Enterprise. With the first vessel of the fledgling Starfleet, Archer must defend Earth against a threat from a mysterious region of space known as the Expanse in which an alien race plot the total destruction of the humans' home planet.

Enterprise has met with mixed reactions by the Star Trek fans. Some hate it for messing up the general Star Trek continuity; some appreciate it as good science fiction in a television world where we see less and less; others say its okay Sci-Fi but not good Trek. The ship itself is met with debate about its technical appearance surpassing what should have been a higher tech level in TOS Trek. Some call it the Akiraprise due to itís resemblance to the Akira class seen in First Contact. I call it a really big honking, kewl model in 1/350th scale.

The Kit

This monster is composed of a total of 13 trees - 7 trees of 122 off-white styrene parts and a whopping 152 clear parts on 6 trees. The 4 warp nacelle halves, two saucer halves, and starship shaped base are separate in their own bags. I like to show a picture of all the parts together but itís not possible with the size of this kit. It took three pictures to show all the parts. The box is the standard tray lid variety with a study bottom, and the parts, and decals, are all in plastic baggies. Mysteriously enough, one of my kitís bags was opened and many parts were broken off loose, even though the kit was sealed in the shrink-wrap. I donít know if this is attributable to Polar Lights packing it badly or rough handling in transit. You also get a big fold out instruction sheet, an errata sheet, and large sheet of waterslide decals.

At A Glance

The plastic is the stuff typical of Polar Lights, kind of thick and a little too soft. Panel lines are engraved and a little deep. They also stop short of the superstructure. Detail is very good otherwise. Except for the depth and shortness of the panel lines, the parts look close enough to the real CG ship for me.

Test fitting the saucer halves I can see it has some minor fit problems. It looks like the starboard boom housing on my kit is a little warped. Gluing and taping it in place with the rest of the boom inserted should rectify this. This is, by the way, a "Skill Level 2" glue kit - or so says the box, anyway.

Most of the clear parts are window inserts. They fit against the inside of the kit with clear rod fitting into the portholes. With this many windows, the kit begs to be lit and some interior could be scratchbuilt. Perhaps we will see an after market bridge with some 1/350th brass figures. There are also clear inserts for the warp nacelles as well and two part bussard collectors.

Polar Lights must also have heard complaints about the quality of their display stands. A model the size of the NX-01 would necessarily warrant a strong stand. A 12" x 6.5" base is provided in the shape of starship and three clear styrene rods support the saucer and the nacelles.

Of course this means holes for the rods are provided on the model. These will have to be filled if you donít wish to use the stand provided.

The instructions are basic but more than the usual one step blow apart Polar Lights usually provides. A little more explanation would be helpful to newbies but what is there is more than adequate for experienced modelers. An errata sheet clears up errors in several steps. For painting the instructions suggest metallic colors: steel, aluminum and gunmetal; and provides a sample Aztec pattern. Several shaded drawings of the NX-01 are provided. The Polar Lights web site is listed for reference pictures of the NX-01.

The large decal sheet is nicely printed and in register and there are a lot of them. Decaling this monster will be as much work as building it.

When complete this will be a big model, about two feet long and a saucer 15Ē in diameter.

Conclusion

Sci-Fi fans will debate the merits of Enterprise as long as itís on the air but this long-awaited kit looks like it will build up into a very nice looking model. It could be better engineered (and probably a lot more expensive) but for the money itís a lot of plastic. I can definitely recommend it. Itís big, itís a lot of parts, it will look sharp with a good bare metal finish, oh and itís big! With this large kit in my hands I am now anticipating the 1/350th refit Enterprise Polar Lights announced. If both kits prove popular, maybe we will see a 1/350th Díderidex! (If only I had an auditorium to display that in...)


Many thanks to Larry's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 13 April 2004.