In this series I'll be chronicling the build of the Round 2 / Polar Lights 1/350th Star Trek TOS Enterprise, including adding enhancements in the form of photo-etch parts (Paragraphix) and electronics (a basic Arduino setup for lighting and to turn the Bussard collectors).
I'm hardly a rivet counter and really do not want to be one so I will be making style choices based on what I like, including painting and weathering. I could easily drive myself crazy trying to match paint and relocate bits and pieces to meet the Enterprise's specifications for a particular season or episode. This is basically the path I follow with all of my models and for me it makes the hobby fun!
I am not using the photo-etch set offered by Polar Lights (Round 2 Photo-Etch for Enterprise) which includes parts for the impulse vents, nacelle vents, and pylon vents. I will be doing some scratch-building to replace a couple of these. I have opted to use the TOS Enterprise Supplemental Photoetch Set from Paragrafix to add certain details to the model. As always, Paragraphix has done a stellar job with the detail of all of the parts.
While there are some really good lighting packages and kits for the Enterprise, including one from Polar Lights, I have decided to take a different approach and use an Arduino for controlling the lights and to run the Bussard collectors. Essentially a learning exercise, but the total cost of using an Arduino processor along with all of the electronics and motors is substantially less than any of the kits on the market. I'll be providing complete details on the circuitry as well as the complete code for those wanting to try their hand at hooking up everything themselves.
Confession Time: I am planning a 350th Refit Enterprise build and will be constructing an LCARS Website for controlling the lights and sound, so the electronics here are a stepping stone to a more complex setup involving connecting an Arduino controller to Wifi and making the board Internet accessible.
If you've never built a model this size the first thing you notice is the size of all of the parts and how hefty everything seems to be. Parts are separated neatly into bags and the parts in each bag are associated with each other...mostly. This edition comes with the smooth saucer hull, potentially saving hours of work filling and sanding in order to achieve the look of the hull on the series.
There is very little flashing and only a handful of ejector marks which need attention. Test fitting of some of the parts reveal there will have to be some filling and sanding of seams. The parts are well molded and have sharp detail. The painting guide is nice, but doesn't mention specific colors (as older versions of the kit had) which is probably wise as it avoids some heavy-duty holy wars on the color of the ship as well as its details. I will be going for a slightly different effect on this one and painting it closer to an updated J.J. Abrams color scheme as it looks less dated to me.
I have started on the work to add the PE parts to the bridge, but I am not sure if I will install the bridge as it will not be visible in the location where I plan to display the model. I will be opening the shuttle bay though, and displaying one of the shuttles (I plan to cast more from the one included) leaving the Enterprise.
Round 2 / Polar Lights have always left a little to be desired when it comes to their instructions and the instruction sheet for this kit is no different. There are some places where a little more detail would be helpful, some parts on the sprues go unmentioned on the instructions.
The decals are really clean and crisp, but I may make copies of them to print instead of destroying the only set which comes with the kit. There are other decal sets available from a number of vendors in the event you want to build the kit as one of the others in Starfleet's universe.
All in all this looks like it will be a fun build! I am planning to wire up and test all of the electronics first, then assemble and paint each subsection of the Enterprise separately. Once done and tested I'll wrap everything up with final assembly and display. I am glad to have you along for the journey!
Please Note: The build and the chronolog will take some time to complete as I am splitting time between two physical locations several hundred miles apart, especially during the preliminary stages. The build will be accomplished in both locations depending on what can be packed for the journey and the resources available in the remote location.