Introduction

“Space, the final frontier…”

 

 

In the nearly 50(!) years since its debut, the original STAR TREK television series has had a substantial impact upon popular culture. The iconography of this once-failed series has made an indelible impression–the characters. The uniforms. The props. The sets. The music. The sounds. The stories.

But one element of the series, more than nearly any other, has captured countless imaginations, and has become a symbol for TREK, space exploration, and science fiction in general.

That element, of course, is the U.S.S. Enterprise.

The brainchild of series creator Gene Roddenberry, the Enterprise is very much a character in the TREK canon–she serves as home to our heroes, and takes them from one adventure to another. The Enterprise is a Constitution-class Starship–one of 12 such vessels in the United Federation of Planets’ Starfleet, and bears the registry number NCC-1701. A vessel of peace which is also ready for war, the Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, blazes a trail through the farthest reaches of the galaxy as she explores strange, new worlds and voyages beyond the limits of imagination.

It is not at all an exaggeration to say that the Starship Enterprise is easily the most beloved and famous vessel in the history of space exploration–real OR fictional.

Designed by Walter M.–“Matt”–Jefferies, the ship was realized in the form of two physical models. The first was a 33-inch study version, which ended up being used in several episodes. The second was an 11-foot-long “hero” model used for the bulk of visual effects shots. Donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum several years after the cancellation of STAR TREK, the 11-footer has become something of a sacred relic for fans.

There have been countless representations of the ship–toys, model kits, plushies, balloons, you name it. The design has influenced a generation of artists and designers–so much so that variations–conscious or not–of Jefferies’ Primary Hull/Secondary Hull/Engine Nacelles concept have appeared across a wide range of media.

And, of course, the original design–and the original physical models–have been endlessly studied and copied by artists and hobbyists over the span of nearly five decades.

…which brings us to the point of all this.

Like a great many TREK fans, I was long ago bitten by the Enterprise “bug”. For many years, it has been a goal of mine to possess a super-accurate model of the ship. While there have been several plastic model kits over the years, they’ve mostly been fraught with inaccuracies–as least when compared to the 11-foot “hero” model that now rests at the NASM.

There’s also the Master Replicas “studio-scale” model, which reproduced the 11-foot model’s details (including the lighting effects) at the size of the three-footer. However, this limited-edition piece is expensive, has a few inaccuracies of its own, and suffers from a few of the inevitable ills that come from being a mass-produced item.

For my purposes, I settled upon the excellent 1/1000 scale snap-fit model kit of the Enterprise, originally released by Polar Lights in 2003, recently reissued by Round 2 Models.

Although it’s small (about 11″ long), and a mere snap-fit kit (which can still be glued and finished like a more advanced model), this is the single best commercial kit of the Enterprise ever produced–although it should be noted that rumors of a 1/350 scale (33″) kit have been swirling around for several years, now.

Now, I’m not exactly a pro model-builder. But, in 2007, I went into this determined to fulfill a longtime dream–to build all THREE versions of the original 11-foot model:

* First (rejected) pilot episode, “The Cage”

* Second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

* Series Production

Each version of the ship features its own unique details and charm, since the design was tinkered with several times before series production began. The PL/R2 model kit provides optional parts and decals for all three versions. I planned on using each pilot build-up as practice for my eventual, production-era Enterprise–my ultimate attempt at capturing that elusive dream!

But building them out-of-box wasn’t good enough.

I launched myself into obsessive research–trying to pin down every last detail of the 11-foot model as it appeared in both pilots and the series–from 1964-1969. Really, though, this is the culmination of YEARS of research and planning.

I’ve had many discussions about the most arcane details of the model on various message boards, spoken with experts, and am proud to say I’ve made a few brand-new (so far as I know) discoveries of my own.

I have completed my first and second pilot models. All that remains is the production version, the one I’ve been waiting for all these years.

The purpose of this blog is partly to show off the results of my work.

But the REAL purpose is to provide a resource–a wellspring of information all collected in one spot, which will give model-makers plenty of tips and information which might serve to help them with their own “Enterprise Projects”.

Although the photographs and building tips in the blog will be focused on the 1/1000 snap-fit kit, the information regarding detailing, paint colors, etc. can pretty much be applied to any model of the ship which one is attempting to build, big or small.

Stay tuned.

“Knowledge, sir, should be free to all!”

– Harry Mudd

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3 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. An 11 footer is underway. The info you seek is already out there, and hidden in plain site.

  2. Greg Viggiano Says:

    I posted 68 high res (relatively speaking) photos of the 11-foot production model at the Smithsonian. The model lighting was atrocious so I apologize in advance.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2886742625075.1073741826.1755458417&type=1&l=139f531e57

    There a few shots that may generate some debate . . . such as the bussard collectors having internal pointed stripes and why this was not reproduced in the Round 2 design.

    I hope these photos will allow us to build better models.

    Best,

    Greg V

  3. Amazing dedication! I have one VITAL question however. What precise color did they paint the Master Replicas Enterprise.

    Would be EXTREMELY grateful to know.

    THANKS!

    :)Spockboy

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