Monday, May 02, 2005



Kit numbers: Enterprise: 4200
Klingon: 4202
Issued: 2003, 2004
Scale: both 1/1000 (according to manufacturer)
Price: approx. $12.99 (2005)
Availability: purchased Feb. 2005 through Ace Hobby, also available on E-Bay
Water Slide Decals and Stickers: multiple versions included with both
Special Materials included: Enterprise - some clear parts; Klingon - some chrome parts and one very small clear red detail

The Polar Lights (Praying Mantis) U.S.S. Enterprise Kit has now been around for a few years and has a reputation for being the most accurate to date, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The downside is that it is a “snap-together” kit and is also the smallest of the major Enterprise kits issued thus far (with the exception of the 1980’s & 1990’s starship “sets” from AMT).

When assembled the Enterprise is approx. 11.3” long, 5” wide and 2.75” tall. The completed Klingon model is about 9.9” long, 7.1” wide and 2.3” tall and appears to be a little larger than it should be when compared to the Enterprise (both are not at exactly the same scale). Both come molded in a light gray plastic, the Klingon ship being slightly darker.

The biggest problem with both kits is that there is no practical way of testing the fit before assembly because it was designed as a “snap” kit. Many parts are very difficult to take apart once “snapped” together. Therefore, you may wish to “disable” or remove the “tabs” and “pins” if you wish to make a more permanent and better fitting model using glue. I built both models straight out of the box without removing the pins and tabs, but I also used glue. The fit of most parts would have been much better if I had removed all of the “snap” features. I recommend that you cut and sand the parts to a relatively “loose” fit and then glue them on.

On the Enterprise, the forward Warp Engine caps (“Buzzard Collectors” for you fans) and upper & lower bridge and sensor domes are represented entirely in clear plastic, which means you’ll have to paint part of them with a color that matches the molded plastic color of the ship, or repaint the whole ship.

Major caveats: When assembled, the Enterprise warp engines will not align correctly! Their orientation will be off by a few degrees (as if the engines themselves “rotated” on their mounts). Some kind of modification has to be made to either the pylon or the engines, or both. I also had trouble assembling the spheres to the rear engine caps (one of them cracked). They will not fit unless you remove the “tabs” and glue them in place. Also, the stands that come with both kits are very flimsy; the Enterprise stand is virtually unusable without reinforcement or replacement.

I’ve heard reports that the “boom”/”neck” on the Klingon ship goes on skewed, but I did not have this problem and if you remove the “tabs” you will have more control during assembly.

I found it easier to assemble the Enterprise Secondary Hull first (without the Main Sensor Antenna), then attach it to the unassembled lower saucer. Test fitting revealed that it is extremely difficult to attach the Secondary Hull later because the force required to snap it in may damage other parts. Also, you may want to save assembly of the Warp Engines and the Main Sensor Antenna as the very last steps. This allows the model to be handled easier during construction without damaging the delicate pylons or the antenna.

But they look good when completed. The Enterprise kit has many virtues. First, I do find it to be the most accurate yet (especially if you want to duplicate the larger “11-foot” studio model instead of the smaller “3-foot model with no lights” seen less frequently on the TV show). They finally got rid of the circular ridge on the bottom of the saucer – that ridge was only on the “3 foot model”. The top of the saucer is clean – no raised “gridlines” as on the first AMT kit (it is now known that the famous gridlines were only drawn on the “11-foot” model as very thin lines which can’t even be seen on the TV show, and the 3-foot model never had gridlines at all).

Second, the Enterprise kit contains extra parts & decals to allow you to build all three versions of the ship – the first pilot version (seen in “The Cage”/”The Menagerie”), the second pilot (“Where no Man has Gone Before” when they added lights) and the final production version (when they added the engine effect lights). This is the first time that this is possible in any commercial model kit of this subject.

Third, the decals are excellent - especially the ones for Enterprise, which also allow you to build a “U.S.S. Constellation”, “Exeter”, “Defiant” or the conjectural (but never shown) “parallel universe Enterprise” from “Mirror, Mirror”. This subject depends heavily on its decals for its appearance, and be warned that there are many of them - patience will be required!

The Klingon kit contains extra decals to build different versions (including a “Romulan” version).
It allows you to build a version which is very close (but not exact) to what was shown on the 3rd Season TV episodes (“Elaan of Troyius”, “Day of the Dove”, “The Enterprise Incident”).

All things considered, I am glad that I bought these kits. Now that I’ve completed them and know what to expect, I plan to build several more in various different versions. As long as you are aware of the fit problems and compensate for the relatively small size, you should be able to build an attractive and accurate model. As I Sci-Fi fan I can honesty recommend them and would rate them 8 out of 10.

-Louis G.

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