Kit preview of McDaniel Models USS Surya- class .

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McDaniel Models USS Surya- class Preview

By John Lester - images & text © 2000

Scale: 1/650 (same as ERTL TOS Enterprise)
Parts: 5 Vacuformed plastic, 20 resin
Instructions: General guide (2 page), Detailed assembly manual (5 page), and color decal placement/painting guide
Decals: Waterslide (inkjet printed - see review)
Molding Quality: 6 - Acceptable, both vac and resin
Detail: 6 - Acceptable
Accuracy: Not rated (see review)
MSRP: $35 USD (model) $8 (decals) when released; no longer in production but you might find one on eBay.
Overall Rating: 8 - neat subject, should be a good introduction to vac kits

[What you get - click to enlarge]

Star Trek® has always inspired fans to design (and build) all sorts of ships to flesh out the Starfleet armada. Many have been collected and published in the various "Ships of the Fleet" books. One such is the TOS-era Surya-class frigates, which McDaniels Models chose to launch a new line of Trek-inspired models.

[Top of saucer - click to enlarge]

^ Saucer top. The black lines in these photos were drawn by me, to make the shapes easier to see.

Image: Bottom of saucer.

Image: Warp nacelles and hull pieces

Image: Paint/marking guide

[Decals - click to enlarge]

^ Decal sheet

[Bits - click to enlarge]

^ The rest of the bits.

What You Get

The model arrived carefully packed in a large box - which is all the packaging one gets. Inside were three sheets of vacuformed styrene, two small bags of resin bits, a separate bag with the decal sheet, and instructions. Lots of instructions.

The five vacuformed parts make up the saucer (upper and lower halves, plus back plate) and warp nacelle bodies. They are made of 40 thou styrene, which is pretty much standard for vac kits I've seen. (As a side note, Cory McDaniel informed me that future kits would have the nacelle parts made from 60 or 80 thou sheet, in order to make them sturdier and easier to glue. He also stated that he 'll replace any kit part free of charge if it's remastered or recast/drawn during the production run - all you need do is ask). Raised detail is fairly good - not as sharp as the latest injection molding, but certainly acceptable. Panel lines and the deflector grid are scribed. These lines are rather deep and wide, reminding me of what ERTL did to the Enterprise-A kit. The deflector grid on the saucer is OK, but the panel lines on the warp nacelles are not perfectly straight, and will be even more noticeable under a coat of paint. I will probably fill all the lines in - and I would anyway, just as I would on the ERTL 18" Enterprise. I'll either redo them in pencil, or use masks and paint to simulate the grids much more subtly.

The resin bits make up the bussard collectors, nacelle end caps and exterior detailing, nacelle pylons, phaser banks and nav lights. The phaser banks and lights come on one big wafer, and need to be shaved off with a razor blade or similar cutting tool. All the rest are separate parts. Casting is very good - there were few pits, bubble or other flaw, and only a small amount of flash, except on the warp nacelle pylons. These were a bit rough, but easily fixed. Like the vac parts, the engraved lines on the pylons are deep and wide, and a bit crooked. No biggie for me, as these will be filled in as well.

The decals are decidedly better than the first sheet I reviewed (and those weren't bad). They are sharp, perfectly registered, and the colors look right. Decal sheets are available for any of the forty or so ships listed in the book, or you can get a custom-made sheet with a name and registry number you specify.

The rest of the package consists of instructions - and lots of 'em. There's a detailed two-page general assembly guide that provides tips and tricks for working with resin and vacuform parts. It will be worth keeping after the project is complete, just to use as a reference. The five page assembly guide is extremely detailed. It walks one through every step of building this model, and includes color photos of nearly every phase of construction. The marking and painting guide is similarly well done.
Frankly, I'm used to instructions being an afterthought - usually too crude and/or vague to be of much help, when they're even written in English. Huzzah and kudos to McDaniels for what they obviously put a lot of thought and work into!

As far as accuracy goes .... I honestly can't say, not having the book this design came from. I also don't care - it's a non-canon ship to begin with! The design looks neat, and that's good enough for me.

Assembly & Finish

It's been a long time since I've built a vacuform kit, so this should be interesting. The process is not much different than any other multimedia kit - one just has to be a bit more careful with the cutting and sanding phases. As you can see in the images above, I've taken the first step already: outlining the parts. Some prefer pencil for this; I use a black Sharpie marker. Regardless, the intent is to have a visible reference line around the parts, so after they are cut from the backing, one knows where to stop sanding.


For a first effort, the kit is decent, though the deep/wide/crooked panel lines are a bit of a downer. It should not be too difficult to build - even if you've never built a vacuformed model before. The price is not too bad, especially considering what it would have cost to make this completely of resin. Recommended to those who have the interest, a few models under their belt, and plenty of patience. It should make a good introduction to building vacuformed kits. If the quality of their models increases as the quality of their decals have, I forsee great things from McDaniels.

I'm looking forward to building this wee little beastie. I'm not a tremendous fan of Star Trek ships, but I do like designs that not everyone has on their shelves.

Many thanks McDaniel Models for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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