By: Lauren M. Oliver

Ertl has done a fairly good job on this model as compared to most of their Star Trek line. This kit comes in 36 pieces, 9 of which are clear. All parts that need to be clear are clear. The saucer section comes in two main pieces, an upper piece, and of course, a lower piece. Fit on the saucer is excellent and the trough where the two pieces join should be there, no need to fill it. The secondary (or stardrive) hull also comes in two main pieces, a left and a right half. The fit on these two parts is not stellar and needs some work. My major gripes about this kit are as follows: The warp engines need some work on the bottom (ie: puttying and sanding to get some panels blended together into 1 continuous panel) the tunnel that houses the deflector has some (ugly) recessed panel lines that shouldn't be there and need lots of puttying, sanding and super glue to correct, the struts that connect the stardrive hull to the nacelles don't bend at an angle near the root like they do on the studio model, the recess where the ship registry and banner go on the stardrive hull has a raised panel that should be filed and sanded away, & lastly, the RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters that go from the upper and lower halves of the saucer don't line up (the lower part of the thrusters needs to be filled and painted on in a different location). I must also mention the fact that this model is in the same scale as Ertl's previously released Enterprise NCC-1701-D (how thoughtful of them). During the course of this article I will describe to you how the deficiencies of the kit will be corrected and how I will modify, and detail the kit so the two hulls can disconnect.
The first task I tackled was the one presented by the deflector housing. I began by applying Squadron White Putty to the recessed panel lines with a toothpick. After the putty had dried fully I went at it with some 200 grit sandpaper. I then applied another layer of putty since the first coat inevitably shrank. Once again I waited for it to dry until I sanded. Next I spread super glue onto the putty (once again using toothpick). The super glue took an hour to dry whereupon I sanded it with the 200 grit then moved on to increasingly finer grits until the piece regained its original luster. The clear deflector part was then painted (on the back) with a custom-mixed orange and when this had dried it was glued to the housing. So much work!
Next up was the problem of the nacelle struts. I began by taping together the two halves of the left strut and then laid them down on a flat surface and made a 90 degree cut to the immediate right of the first flush vent (the depression with all the raised panel lines going forward). I then took the tape off the pieces and glued the halves together with super glue (keeping the cut apart sections separate). I then took the cut-apart piece with the grid (the cut-part that connects to the nacelle) and filed away at the surface where it had been cut so that it would connect with the other part at an angle. The cut-up piece was then glued back together with super glue and the joint where they met was filled with putty (then sanded, then filled again & sanded, then coated with super glue and polished). I repeated this on the right strut.
Correcting the channel on the stardrive hull where the ship banner goes was tough. To start with I taped off the surrounding area with many layers of Scotch tape to protect it from scratching, then I took out a model file and started grinding, and grinding, and grinding, until finally the "panel in the channel" was flush with the rest of the channel, whereupon any small bumps left were sliced off with an X-Acto knife and any imperfections filled with putty (and so forth). The channel was then sanded smooth and polished with increasingly finer grit sandpaper. This was repeated on the other side of the star-drive hull.
Assembling the halves of the stardrive hull was nerve-wrecking. To begin with, I glued the deflector housing to one side of the hull with plastic glue, and when that had dried I strengthened the join with super glue. I had already sliced open a place for one of the IC (Integrate Circuit) connectors to be glued so I went ahead and super glued it there. The IC connector would connect with another connector embedded in the saucer, this way I could hold the 2 hulls together securely but still have them be able to disconnect. I then took the halves of the star-drive hull and glued them together. Once again I used super glue to strengthen the join. Now cam time for puttying (ughh!). Any & all gaps were filled the aforementioned puttying process. One minor change I made to the stardrive was to leave off the stand connector.The hole where this piece (& the rest of the stand) would go was used instead as the place where a brass tube would go. This tube was super glued in & some resin poured down it for extra reinforcement. A brass tube of a smaller diameter fits inside to support the model.
The saucer section has only two things wrong with it as far as I can tell. The first is that an entire line of windows (or most likely the secondary navigational deflector)is missing, but they would be too small to be noticed even if they were added to the model. The second problem is that the thrusters on the bottom of the saucer are in the wrong place, they don't match up with the upper saucer ports. Just fill the lower thrusters with putty, let dry and sand flush with the surface. Later you can paint the thrusters on in the right place, a very simple fix.
NOTE: Construction pictures to come soon!

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