By Rob Caswell - photos and text © 1999
While Ravenstar Studios is a relatively new name to the pages of Starship Modeler, this company has been around for a while. As a result, they already have a significant product line. Their subjects include both starships from their own (or an indeterminate) background, as well as original designs inspired by an established background (such as Star Trek). This review covers two related models which fall into the latter category. Both run for $25 each and are only available direct from Ravenstar .
The two vessels were covering are the Archer and Star Runner class border cutters. Both are Trek inspired pieces and, like all Ravenstar's other Trek-background models, are in 1/1400th scale. The Archer was released first. The Star Runner is a new release and is a variant of the same basic hull. They depict smaller escort vessels employed by Starfleet. Note the word "smaller". These things are barely larger than a Maquis ship.
The main difference in design between these two ships is that the Archer carries its engines on outrigger pylons. The finished model is four inches long. The Star Runner pulls the warp engine in and has them seamlessly emerge from the aft of the ship. This design measures four and a half inches. There are other minor differences, but the underlying hull shape is the same.
As far as construction - well, it ranges from simple to none. The Archer's body is molded as one piece, with each warp engine molded separately. The Star Runner is a one-piece cast. No assembly is required. Just clean it up, prime, and paint.
The models don't come with instructions (for obvious reasons) and don't include decals. Personally I see that as a plus. It gives me creative free reign to explore paint and marking schemes.
The basic hull design of these ships seems to carry a family resemblance to the Intrepid class (Voyager) ships. The designs fit nicely within the Star Trek design ethic, but there were two elements I would have liked to see. First, neither ship sports lifeboats. Second is the lack of RCS thrusters. These are not serious shortcomings, as some sheet styrene and custom ALPS decals (or even paint) can easily remedy both areas.
Mastering and Casting
While the masters seem to have some rough surface finishes, I still feel that these models are decent deal for the money. Some of the surface roughness can be treated with a good sanding. If you don't usually prime before painting, I suggest you change your ways when doing these kits. A primer coat will let you identify the areas that need a little sandpaper.
Ravenstar pressure casts their work and the results are refreshingly clean. Both models required only about 15 minutes of clean-up work - all very minor stuff. There was no flash and absolutely no airbubbles.
Ravenstar is in the process of shifting to a new resin. They sent the Archer cast with their old material and the Star Runner using the new resin, which is a dry-feeling white substance. The new resin seems superior and I'm glad to hear they're making the shift.
I did do the one piece of assembly required: fitting the Archer's warp nacelles. I lightly sanded the attachment zones and they went on perfect. No warpage (no pun intended...).
I didn't get these models painted up in time to make this a "review" instead of a "preview", but that's only cause I'm a picky snit when it comes to finishing. When I complete these ships, they'll appear in the Gallery. The models do not come with decals, but if you know someone with an ALPS printer you can probably whip something cool together.
Overall, these little kits really captured my interest. The designs are cool (to my eye) and the production quality was pretty good. They also fill a niche in the Trek universe buy giving us some smaller escorts to put in displays with the larger Starfleet ships. I may get another one or two of these things, since they're (a) neat, and (b) affordable.
Click any image below
^ A front view of the hulls demonstrates the family similarity between these two, small escort vessels. The Voyager lineage is also obvious.
^ With few to no separate parts, these little models are largely painting projects. Pictured is the Star Runner.
^ The pressure cast parts are clear of flash and require minimal clean-up. The Archer is in the older cream-colored resin. The start white of the Star Runner points the way towards Ravenstar's future releases.
^ The small size of these two ships makes them ideal for doing a 1/1400 fleet "diorama", having these accompany anything from ERTL's Enterprise E down to Monogram's smaller Voyager.
^ A US quarter next to the parts illustrates the size of the Archer.
^ Both ships sport a nicely modeled shuttle bay at the rear.
Thanks to Ravenstar Studio for supplying review copies of their products.
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Last updated on 1 July 2000.