Archive for October, 2010

Production Model Construction

Posted in Production on October 22, 2010 by gregk1

A series production-era Enterprise model is the easiest of the three versions to build using the stock Polar Lights/Round 2 model kit. For ease of reference, all construction tips (even those which are lifted whole from the first and second pilot sections of this blog) are presented here.

(click on photos to enlarge)


The holes for the upper saucer’s navigation lights are too close to to saucer edge–they need to be moved in very slightly. This can be done by drilling or filing the holes inward, then filling in the outer edges with putty so that the holes aren’t too big. However, kit parts 32 each need to be cut in half, so you have four separate lights to work with, instead of two sets of two. This will allow the upper saucer’s lights to fit in the repositioned holes.

Also, due to a quirk in the mold, the B/C deck structure on the upper saucer has a slightly raised “lip” on the upper front edge, which can prevent the bridge dome from sitting flush. This needs to be sanded down to achieve both the proper fit and the proper look.

As for the lower saucer:


* The copyright information needs to be sanded off.

* The molded-in running light on the bow edge is representative of the second pilot version,  and should be removed.

* The scribed triangle-markings need to be filled in and sanded smooth (these markings were not etched on the original model), but leave the raised rib at the base of each triangle intact.

* The molded-in running lights at 4:00 and 7:00 represent the second pilot version, and need to be removed.

* The impulse engine housing’s crosshatched texture is correct for the production version, but the scribed lines are not, and should be filled. 

* On the clear lower saucer sensor dome (part # 31), gently scribe shallow lines across the surface, from 12:00 to 6:00, 9:00 to 3:00, 10:30 to 4:30, and 7:30 to 1:30.



* The scribed lines on the sides of the connecting dorsal should be filled in and sanded smooth.


* On each of the clear front endcaps, the three rectanglular shields are slightly misshapen. Check reference photos, subtly reshape them, and the change the angle of the front edge of each shield.

* It should also be noted that there’s a slight alignment problem with the nacelle endcaps. The outer edges of the rectangular shields should line up perfectly with the edges of the gray-colored “T” panel on the underside of each nacelle.

However, as is indicated by the green line in the photo below, the T-shaped panels are slightly larger than the width of the endcap shields.

In terms of accuracy, the scribed T-panels should be filled and sanded smooth, anyway. However, to address this problem, one can either remove the alignment tabs on the endcap pieces so as to slightly adjust the positioning of the caps on the nacelles, or one can mask and paint the T-panels with a slightly thinner width than the scribed originals, so that they don’t “bleed” beyond the edges of the shields.

* On all four nacelle pieces, fill in the scribed “T” panels on the forward ends.




* You may wish to discard the stock display stand. I prefered to drill a hole in the bottom of the secondary hull and inserted a small brass tube which would serve as a sleeve for a smaller brass tube that would fit into a simple wooden plaque/base.

* Since this is intended as a snap-fit kit, you may want to lightly sand some of the pegs and connectors for a looser, more controllable fit if you’re gluing/filling the parts.

* The best way to attach the nacelles onto the pylons is to do some minor sanding of the pylon tabs (for a looser fit), then snap-fit/glue only the INBOARD nacelle halves onto the pylons. The nacelles can be held in place by wrapping a rubber band around the nacelle halves to keep them aligned while the glue dries. Once this assembly is solidly glued, then attach the outer nacelle halves.

Production Overview

Posted in Production on October 22, 2010 by gregk1
The Enterprise as it appeared in the weekly series

The Enterprise as it appeared in the weekly series


After the second STAR TREK pilot was accepted by NBC, the weekly TV series went into production. Once again, the opportunity was seized, and revisions were made to the show’s cast, sets, costumes, and props.

And, once again, the Enterprise herself received a facelift. From the start, Gene Roddenberry had been pushing for more detail on the model–belivabilty was crucial to the fledgling series’ success. This final round of changes were intended to increase the model’s sense of scale and add more visual interest.

At the time of the first pilot, the Enterprise had been designed as a vessel which was theoretically around 500′ long, with a crew of 203. However, it seems that this was changed fairly late in the game (during the big model’s construction) to a 947′ long ship–doubling the vessel’s size.

By the time of the series proper, it was decided to beef up the crew compliment to 430, which would better fill out a larger ship. The revisions made to the 11-foot model were specifically designed to make the ship appear larger–to that end, the bridge dome was reduced in height, the main sensor/deflector dish reduced in diameter, and more windows added (which gave the illusion of more interior decks). Various tiny technical markings were also strategically placed, supplimenting the existing technical markings and structrual frame marker numbers.

A grid pattern composed of radial lines and concentric circles was lightly drawn on the upper and lower saucer section–apparently over the objections of Matt Jefferies, who wanted as clean and simple an exterior as possible for the ship. The saucer was also heavily re-weathered, and additional weathering was added to the rest of the model.

Most notable of all was the addition of the warp engine nacelle lighting effect. The original wooden engine domes were removed, and replaced with translucent orange-ish domes which revealed an elaborate setup within. Multicolored Christmas tree lights were installed inside each dome, and a motor rotated a set of “fan blades”. The pulsating lights and spinning fan blades gave the effect of the engines generating the massive amounts of power needed to achieve warp speed.

The changes made to the 11-footer were also copied on the smaller, static, 3-foot model, which appeared in a few episodes (such as “Tomorrow is Yesterday”). The majority of effects shots involving the 11-foot model were filmed early in the first season, although a few episode-specific shots (such as the Enterprise pulling up alongside the S.S. Botany Bay in “Space Seed”) were filmed as needed later on. Still, due to a tight budget, and the constant reuse of stock footage, the three seasons of STAR TREK utilized shots of all three versions of the model, although is is generally assumed that the theoretical starship “really” looked like the production version by the time of the weekly series.

This final incarnation of the 11-foot model remained essentially unchanged for the series’ run, with the following exceptions:

* Early publicity shots of the completed production-version model (some of which can be seen in Stephen E. Whitfield’s THE MAKING OF STAR TREK book) feature the lower saucer’s registry numbers in their first- and second-pilot orientation (i.e., the starboard side’s number is upside-down when looking at the ship head-on). However, this variant was never filmed–at least, not in shots used in the series itself. The numbers’ orientation were reversed when filming for the series began, so the starboard side’s number would be more easily readable from the most oft-used angles of the ship moving toward camera.

In these publicity shots, it also appears that the engine nacelles are missing the “fan blades” which rotate underneath the clear domes.

* A few shots of the production model feature a not-quite-correct flopped-decal orientation for the underside saucer registry numbers–a la the second pilot’s flopped decal shots. In these shots, however, the numbers don’t read correctly no matter which way the film was flopped! More often than not, these shots were used in episodes without being flopped at all. And, on a few occasions (“Shore Leave, “The Ultimate C0mputer”, etc.), existing non-reverse-decal footage of the model was flopped, even though this made the numbers read backwards!

* In the majority of the effects shots filmed early in the first season, the lower saucer has red (port) and green (starboard) blinker lights at 3:00 and 9:00. In a few shots, the lights reverse their positions (red-starboard, green-port)–presumably, the light bulbs were swapped in anticipation of the afforementioned reverse-decal shots.

However, in some first season shots, and virtually all second season shots (no new footage of the model was filmed for the much-maligned third season), the lower saucer’s lights are both white. And, in “The Immunity Syndrome”, there’s one shot where both lights seem to flash all three colors in sequence–both white, both red, both green!

After the series’ cancellation, the Starship Enterprise models sat in storage for years, before…well…we’ll get to that!

Loose Ends, Part Deux

Posted in First Pilot, Second Pilot on October 20, 2010 by gregk1

A few more tidbits:

* After much deliberation–and rechecking my resources–I decided to add the nacelles’ faux formation lights to both of my pilot models. I’ve not found any hard evidence that these lights were on the 11-foot model during either pilot, but two factors convinced me of a very reasonable likelihood that they were there:

A) I found photographic evidence that the lights were on the 3-foot model in its original, first-pilot configuration. Since that smaller model  has been something of a Rosetta Stone in terms of figuring out and/or confirming details of the first pilot version of the 11-footer (the blue dorsal, the saucer’s formation lights, etc.), it only makes sense. Both models were derived from the same construction plans, and, aside from some shapes and proportions, are virtually identical–at least in the first pilot.

B)  It makes sense that the non-functioning red/green lights were there for the first pilot, and were then supplemented by the working blinkers in the second pilot. Matt Jefferies was an aviator and an engineer–his design for the Enterprise contains a number of familiar U.S. Air Force elements, the red/green formation lights among them. It would be odd to have left these lights off the 11-footer (but not the 3-footer) until the series’ production revisions to the model began.

REVISION–The faux lights were indeed there during the pilots.

* After checking and rechecking my references, and discussing the matter with other fans, I remain convinced that the dorsal and bolt cover were indeed a blue-ish color in both pilot episodes.

REVISION–This is correct.

* I recently came upon some photos which indicated that the antenna spike on the main sensor/deflector dish might have actually been  a silver and gold/brass/rust mix. In some photos, it looks as though the base of the antenna (and perhaps the round ring near the tip) were silver, while the rest was gold (or perhaps the same color as the dish itself).

Many model builds have sported a gold antenna, or a dish-colored (copper-rust) antenna. A few have had the mixed color scheme described above.

After rechecking photos and screencaps, I’ve come to the following conclusion:

I think the entire antenna is silver/chrome. But, due to either optical illusion, or the shiny antenna reflecting light from the copper-colored dish, part or all of the antenna can look gold/copper at times.

Photos I’ve seen of the Master Replicas studio-scale  replica also seem to exhibit this effect–in some photos, the antenna looks entirely silver (which, so far as I know, it really is), while in others, it looks gold-copper-ish, at least in part.

REVISION–The full antenna assembly definitely appears to have been an aluminum/silver color, not gold or brass.

Loose Ends

Posted in First Pilot, Second Pilot on October 16, 2010 by gregk1

Nothing’s pefect in this world, and it’s rare for everyone–or even anyone, ofttimes–to agree on something.

The original Starship Enterprise models have been a topic of heated debate for decades, the 11-footer in particular. Many fans have been consumed with a desire to perfectly replicate it down to the last detail, if they can’t have the real thing. This sort of passion has brought out both the very best and the very worst in fandom.

The best, because many great people (too many to name here) have worked dilligently over the decades to study this artifact, and unravel its mysteries so as to spread knowledge to all who seek it. At their best, fans of this model have shared, discussed, and fabricated their own models in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere which has encouraged fun and growth–which is what hobbies like this are all about.

The worst, because some have needlessly gotten into bitter arguments and feuds (both online and perhaps even in person) over ridiculously minor details. Others hoard information carefully, so as to dole it out to hungry fans for their own self-aggrandization–these egocentric individuals want to be hailed as the self-procalimed “experts” they think they are. Its sad–but not surprising–that passion for this fictional subject would occasionally lead to more negative and destructive emotions.

I am not infallible. The purpose of this blog is to share–to provide a resource for those who seek information on this subject. But I would not be so bold as to claim that this is the end-all, be-all on the subject. There are surely still things to learn about the original Enterprise.

However, I do think that my research–and my models, if I can be so bold–are just about as up-to-date and accurate as possible, given the publically available resources.

That said, I’m perfectly willing to admit that I could easily be wrong about some things, and openly invite discussion and outside research from you, the fans.

There are still a number of details I’M not even sure about. Here are a few of those details.


First, the simple bit–

There appears in some reference materials to be a round, unlit window (indicated in the photo below) on the second pilot version, which was not there in the first pilot or the series. This may also be a mere smudge, or an optical illusion. The quality of available reference materials is not the best, and this makes it hard to tell. I saw this smudge/window in enough different reference images to commit to depicting it as a window on my model. But I’m still unsure. Pretty much all the other window patterns I’m very sure about.

REVISION–This was indeed a window.

Now, the not-so-simple one–

I’m quite sure that the connecting dorsal (and the “linear accelerator” on top of the saucer, which served as a cover for the dorsal’s mounting bolts) were a blue-ish color in the first pilot. Sort of a pastel blue color, perhaps with a glossy sheen. The color clearly appears on both models, 3- and 11-foot, in the first pilot.

The second pilot is a different matter.

Although I can still perceive a distinctly blue-ish tonal difference between the dorsal and the rest of the hull, it seems less obvious than the first pilot’s bright blue-ish color. Was it dulled down to remove the glossy effect? Misted with the hull color (or completely repainted)? Was it touched at all, save to cut in the holes for the illuminated windows?

This matter–and my choice to paint my models with a blue-ish dorsal and bolt cover–has proven highly controversial among modelers. Some have supported my decision and agree with my research. Others have vehemently argued against it, saying that the tonal difference is the result of shadows or uneven lighting schemes or bluescreen “spill” (which wouldn’t apply to the first pilot, since the model was shot against a BLACK background).

Multiple shots in multiple episodes/photos, with both the big and small models, all show a distinctly blue-ish tone on both the dorsal and the bolt cover “linear accelerator” on the upper saucer.  References for these versions are spotty, however, and many of these reference images are color-corrected and restored films clips–and the color-correction could easily have eliminated a blue dorsal if the person doing the correcting didn’t know it was there.

Still, this blue-ish color can be seen in still photos, film clips, onscreen, and even in broad daylight, as in the now-famous “delivery” photo.

As my primary resource, I’ve used the original STAR TREK episodes themselves, in several formats. Although film stocks, compositing quality, remastering/color-correction, and other factors vary, I still maintain that the tonal difference of the dorsal (which more often than not looks blue or blue-gray) is consistently there across a wide range of shots and angles, both on DVD and Blu-Ray, from the first model shot in the first pilot to the very last shot of the last episode of the series. It’s not always visible, but it’s visible enough to have convinced me.

And, interestingly, the unaired version of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” seen in the third season’s Blu-Ray release reveals a distinct difference in the tone of the dorsal from the rest of the model. In fact, the 35mm print used for that version’s BD incarnation shows a number of interesting color differences–the uniform shirts look greener, for instance (which makes them closer to their real-life avocado green hue). The weathering is also more apparent in the unaired BD version of the episode than the aired version, due to the different transfer’s color timing, apparently.

So, I stand by my assertion that the second pilot dorsal was, at the very least, painted a different color from the rest of the hull. It appears to be a blue-gray-green-ish color. This is more prominent in composites that are more washed-out and/or don’t skew toward blue tones.

(some of the following links will have to be cut-‘n-pasted into your browser)

The delivery:

11-footer, first pilot:

3-footer, first pilot:

11-footer, second pilot:×03/wherenomanhasgone001.jpg×03/The_Paradise_Syndrome_133.JPG×04/TOS_2x10_MirrorMirror0020-Trekpulse.jpg×04/TOS_2x10_MirrorMirror0021-Trekpulse.jpg

There’s also the distinctly blue-ish (gray-ish? green-ish?) leading edge on the production Enterprise, which makes sense if the dorsal was already blue, and they decided to repaint all but that edge, as an aesthetic choice.

The tone of that stripe on the production dorsal looks suspiciously similar to the tone of the overall dorsal in the pilots.×06/doomsdaymachine_000.jpg×03/changeling0002.jpg×24/The_Ultimate_Computer_156.JPG

And an interesting discussion about all this can be seen here:

So, to sum up, I’m not 100% about all this, but I am sure enough to assert that the dorsal and bolt cover were indeed a blue-ish color in both pilots.

That said, I’m always open to discussion and suggestion, and if better information and/or references come to light, I’ll be happy to amend the relevant portions of this blog to reflect the updated information.

But feel free to paint your models however you want! I get the feeling that many people who argue against the blue dorsal do so because they simply don’t WANT it to be blue. Fine! Paint it however you like! This is supposed to be a FUN hobby!

REVISION–I seem to have been mostly correct. Metallic blue for the first pilot dorsal, a more muted (and flat) pale blue-gray for the second, and green-gray for the stripe on the production dorsal.


The production version of the Enterprise features features a faux navigation light on the top of each engine nacelle–green on the starboard engine, red on the port. There were clearly similar faux lights on the saucer during both pilots.

There may also have been a clear/white faux light on the bottommost “deflector fork” on the ventral secondary hull during the series’ production, but its existence is still unclear.

The question is…were these nacelle/ventral lights ALSO there in the pilots? Or were they added for the production version?

My research doesn’t indicate that they were there during the pilots, but you never do know. Reference materials–especially for the angles needed to see if those lights were there–are few and far between. It’s also hard to tell if these non-functional lights were on the 33-inch model in its original, first-pilot configuration–but that model has the faux saucer lights, like its big sister.

REVISION–The faux lights were there in the pilots, and the one on the bottom secondary hull was actually a rounded bolt head that was painted the main hull color.

Changes From Pilot 1 to Pilot 2

Posted in Second Pilot on October 15, 2010 by gregk1

Here is a detailed photostudy of the specific changes made to the 11-foot Enterprise model for the second pilot.  My own models are used in the photos because:

A) I’d rather not use others’ reference photos without permission.

B) It’s easier to take photos of my own models using blueprint-type angles so as to provide a more direct comparison.

All of the annotations in the photos below reflect the REAL 11-foot model. I’ve also “x”ed out some of the windows that were not on the model for the second pilot, but appear on mine for idealization/aesthetic reasons.

The photos are organized so that the first pilot model is diplayed from one angle, then the second pilot model (with notes on the changes) is shown right beneath it from the same angle. Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)






Second Pilot Enterprise–Finished!

Posted in Second Pilot on October 7, 2010 by gregk1

Here’s my completed second pilot Enterprise model. This build was much easier and quicker than the first pilot model, which, as noted, was a major learning curve.

Enjoy the photos, and feel free to use them as reference for your own builds!

Decals and Details, Part Deux

Posted in Second Pilot on October 7, 2010 by gregk1

After your model has been glosscoated, you can apply the kit’s waterslide decals. It’s helpful to have a spare decal sheet or two handy, and they can be purchased directly from Round 2.

Here are a few tips which will allow for a more accurate second pilot model, since the stock decals have a few problems, particularly in terms of the window patterns.

* The kit’s instruction sheet essentially says to apply a mix of first pilot and production-style window decals in order to depict the second pilot version, but this isn’t quite right. To accurately depict the second pilot model’s unique window pattern (which was a mix of illuminated windows and painted, faux windows), one must mix and match decals elements–this can be very tedious and difficult work, but the results are very worthwhile!

* Decal # 36 can still be used for the windows on the saucer bow, but you might want to trim them apart so that you don’t have to worry about fitting decal film over the protruding navigation light.

* For the rear saucer edge, trim off the lower rows of round windows from decal # 35A and 34A.

* For the front saucer edge, trim off the round windows (as well as the lower rectangular windows) from decal # 33C and 33B, leaving two sets of four rectangular windows on each.

* For the B/C deck structure on the upper saucer, trim the round windows from decal # 25A and 26A, leaving two sets of four rectangular windows on each.

* On the saucer underside, trim the black rectangular window from decal # 29A and replace it with a spare white one. Also, trim off all of the round windows, and remove the TINY black text that’s directly underneath the gray rectangular marking.

* If you’re using decal # 28A instead of # 28, trim off all of the round windows.

* Trim the round windows and the rectangular black window on the far left side from decal # 30B. Also remove the TINY black text that’s directly underneath the gray rectangular marking.

* Next to each of the lower navigation lights (at 4:00 and 7:00), add two round, white windows. The easiest way to do this is to use a few spare # 36A decals, trimming out the individual windows. The kit’s stock decals (# 32) feature windows that are too small/inaccurate.

Here’s a photo of my completed model which you can use as reference for matching up the proper window elements:

On the starboard dorsal, create the following pattern from mixing and matching decal elements, then do the same for the starboard side (if you want symmetrical patterns)…

(From top to bottom, row by row, left-to-right):

Top row: Five black rectangular windows.

Row 2: Round/black, rectangular/black, round/black.

Row 3:  Five white rectangular.

Row 4: Round/white, rectangle/white, rectangle/white, round/white.

Row 5 (bottom): Rectangle/black, rectangle/white.

Here’s more photo reference, with each row of windows separated by a green line:

For the starboard side secondary hull,  create the following pattern from mixing and matching decal elements, then do the same for the starboard side (if you want symmetrical patterns)…

Top row: Rectangular/black.

Row 2: Round/black, rectangle/white, rectangle/white, rectangle/white, rectangle/white, round/white.

Row 3: Rectangle/white, rectangle/white, round/white, LONG rectangle/black, round/white, rectangle/white.

Row 4: Rectangle/black, rectangle/black, round/black, rectangle/black, rectangle/black, rectangle/white.

And here’s the appropriate photo reference:

Of course, since the port side of the real model was unfinished and never shown on-camera, one must decide how to handle the weathering and window patterns for that side. I chose to make the window patterns essentially symmetrical and slightly idealized for my model.

However, if you wish to depict the 11-foot model as it was in reality (although some creative license will still be needed for the portside dorsal and secondary hull’s window patterns), then do the following:

* On decal # 33B, trim away all but the two innermost rectangular windows (upper row).

* On decal # 25B, trim away all but the two forwardmost rectangular windows (upper row) .

* Use decal # 28 instead of # 28A on the lower saucer.

So, now that we’re done with the windows, here are some tips for the rest of the decals and details…

* The triangular markings on the underside of the saucer in the first pilot were dark gray pinstriped outlines, with no fill color and no raised rib at the base of each triangle. I used PNT’s aftermarket triangle decals for my models, carefully trimming out the medium gray fill color. One could also create custom decals for this detail, as well.

* The stock kit decals (# 5) depict two rectangular yellow boxes with red outlines on either side of the bridge dome. This is incorrect–the second pilot model appears to have had illuminated panels/windows cut into the dome, as opposed to the kit’s markings. These can be simulated by trimming two spare # 4 decals to the same size and shape as the incorrect decal # 5.

REVISION–The jury’s still out on this one. The 1/350 kit’s decals depict these areas as pale yellow rectangles, without the red borders, but I still think they may have been illuminated cutouts. Do what you feel is best!

REVISION–The red pinstripe around the Bridge dome as seen in the first pilot appears to have been changed to a gray one (rather than being eliminated) for the second pilot.

* For those who choose to discard the stock rear nacelle endcaps and their molded-in grilles, the best way to represent the painted detailing is with custom decals. I created artwork from scratch based on careful study of second pilot-era reference materials, then scaled the art down and printed it on clear decal paper. I present that art here for anyone who wishes to do the same:

The faux red/green lights on the upper saucer (at 3:00 and 9:00) survived from the first pilot to the production version, and the larger, blinking white lights were added right next to them for the second pilot. The faux lights on the lower saucer (3:00 and 9:00) were removed, and the white blinker lights installed at 4:00 and 7:00.

To simulate the tiny faux lights, I applied two small drops of Micro Krystal Kleer with a toothpick to the appropriate spots on the upper saucer. When they dried, I then painted them with red (portside) and green (starboard side).

When all is said and done, you’ll probably want to seal your decals on the model with dullcote, which will also give the model the correct flat finish. Again, be sure to mask off the front nacelle domes and leave them glossy (something I forgot to do for my first pilot model). Also, be sure to use a good decal setting agent and kill those air bubbles under the decals–my models’ decals have suffered from some “silvering”, although I’m getting better at applying the decals each time, and thus minimizing this problem.