By Pat Amaral - images & text © 2004
In 1984, Star Trek fans got to see Captain Kirk and Company duke it out with the crew of a new type of Klingon ship. The movie was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the ship was identified as a scout class vessel known to the Federation as a Bird of Prey. Small and highly maneuverable, the ship was a formidable adversary for the Enterprise. Examples of this new and powerful spacecraft went on to play important roles in the next four Star Trek films as well as several Next Generation and Deep Space 9 episodes.
It wasn't until 1995 and the release of Star Trek: Generations that modelers were treated to an injection molded kit of the Klingon Bird of Prey. Produced by ERTL, the kit received positive reviews as perhaps one of the company's best-designed science fiction kits. The kit was well detailed, relatively accurate and easy to assemble and paint.
Many modelers were disappointed with what they considered a major flaw in the kit's design however. The "real" KBOP had wings that could move into different positions depending on whether it was landing on a planet's surface, cruising through space or doing battle. The kit could only be assembled with one of two options: either cruising mode or battle mode. The wings were not designed to move.
Of course, like all other Star Trek offerings from ERTL, the Bird of Prey is no longer being produced. The kits are still relatively easy to find. There are almost always at least one or two to be had on eBay.
Fortunately, Coby "cobywan" Lorang of Seattle, Washington introduced a remedy to the kit's shortcoming at WonderFest 2004. What he came up with is a cast resin set of plates that fit together to produce the hinge that allows the KBOP's wings to move freely up and down to represent the various flight modes.
What You Get
Coby's kit consists of three major components: a center or core section and two wing sections. The center section is made up of the core and cap, 29 individually numbered core plates and four pieces of square, brass tubing. The tube pieces serve as the hinge pins and essentially hold the whole thing together. Each of the wing sections is made up of a mounting plate and 24 hinge plates or baffles. There are four finely engraved faceplates that cover the hinge pins and serve to lock everything in place once assembly is completed.
All of the resin pieces are molded in gunship gray colored resin that is thin and crisp. There is a little flash on most of the pieces, which will clean up easily. I detected no bubbles or other casting flaws save for some ever so slight warping of one or two of the wing baffles. These will correct themselves when the kit is assembled. I discovered the very tip of one of the baffles in my sample had broken off sometime during handling. The chip is so small that I doubt the flaw will be noticeable once the kit is assembled.
The four-pages of instructions are clear and easy to follow. Each step is well documented with an accompanying photograph showing what to do. There are also a couple of pictures of the kit installed on a completed Bird of Prey. You can also see the hinge in action at Coby's website
Assembly & Finish
In order to accommodate the new assembly, you will need to perform some surgery on the KBOP's hull. A large section of the top fuselage half must be removed and discarded. This looks like it will be relatively simple to accomplish with a razor saw and a new blade in the X-acto knife.
Coby designed the color into the kit to make painting of this part of the KBOP unnecessary. He recommends that if you do paint, you should only slightly dust the outside surfaces as too much paint in this area could interfere with the operation of the hinge. The kit was designed to pretty close tolerances and it looks like if the parts do get paint, it wouldn't stay on long once the hinge is operated a few times. I'm thinking this section will look just fine without paint.
I've test fitted the parts of the kit and it looks like it will go together without any problems. Fitting the pieces together and locking them in with the brass parts may take some time and patience. Also, some experience with multimedia kits is always helpful as is experience with modifying parts to accommodate conversions.
I'm looking forward to starting my next KBOP project so I can incorporate this welcome enhancement to an already well-designed kit. Now, Coby, How 'bout a nice Landing Gear kit to go with the Hinge?
Many thanks to Pat'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!
This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 13 August 2004.