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USS Enterprise NCC-1701

 

Bandai


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S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 0116192
Scale: 1/850
Contents and Media: 56 parts in pre-painted plastic plus lights, cables and electrical fittings.
Price: 6,500 (purchased from Japan)
Review Type: Construction
Advantages: Truly spectacular pre-painted plastic; brilliant engineering; brings this science fiction subject to life; includes clever lighting to main elements of the model; no glue required; display stand included (integrating batteries and switch) plus panels to close off mounting hole in model.
Disadvantages: Variable quality fit (95% excellent; 5% incredibly frustrating); some major joins do not cope well with punishment of construction; very fiddly and cramped main junction for electrical cables; brute force required to make some parts fit; external wiring to warp nacelles.
Recommendation: Recommended to patient modellers

 

Built and Reviewed by Brett Green

 

FirstLook

 

A snap kit? Pre-painted?

Yes indeed, but don't panic. Bandai's 1/850 scale USS Enterprise is like no other snap kit you have ever seen.

The kit includes 56 parts in injection moulded plastic. Most of the parts are pre-painted polystyrene, but there is also a mix of clear and tinted plastic. Some of these parts seem to be a different plastic compound (polyethylene perhaps). Panel lines, if that is the correct term, are fine, crisp and consistent even in this small scale.

The quality of the painting and markings of the plastic parts is absolutely stunning.

It is important to note that this is not coloured plastic - the entire exterior surfaces of the parts have been painted. The characteristic Aztek pattern is both subtle and amazingly involved. The pattern is achieved more with varying texture and gloss levels rather than any consciously noticeable colour difference. It is very impressive. The coloured panels add variety and look great in the box and on the completed kit. The markings are sharp and totally free of any imperfections. The overall standard of finish is far better than most modellers (including myself) would be able to achieve after a week of non-stop masking and spraying.

In addition to the basic shape of Enterprise, the kit also includes six light bulbs, cables and various electrical fittings to permit all the major elements of the model to be realistically lit.

At around 36cm long, the assembled model is not especially big but detail is still easily visible.

 

 

Construction

I heard two reports that this kit could be built in a very short time. Scott T. Hards from Hobbylink Japan finished his Enterprise in three hours, and Dave Williams told me that he had finished his in four hours. Dave commented that the model needed some adult size strength and swear words to get it together though. His observation was prophetic!

I fancied the idea of a pleasant evening diversion, so I cleared the workbench and started work.

It was quite easy to remove and clean-up the parts from the sprues, but care is required not to damage the paint finish on the outside surfaces. Bandai has helped here by moulding the sprue connectors on the inside edge of the part wherever possible.

The base, incorporating the battery box and switch, was assembled first then all the cables were cut to length. A word of advice here - do not cut the cables longer than the template or you will not be able to stuff the excess inside the kit parts. Next, I tested the bulbs with a single AA size battery. No problems so far.

Assembly of the warp nacelles and saucer section went ahead very well. I ended up with a largish seam on the bottom of each nacelle but these cannot be seen from most angles.

 

 

I was not entirely happy with the fit of the nacelle support pylons, and these continued to be troublesome through the rest of construction. Also, the wiring is exposed along a recessed channel on the inboard surface of the pylons. Instructions suggest that a self-adhesive covering strip is applied prior to final assembly of the secondary hull, but I strongly advise leaving this until everything else is finished.

One of the warp nacelles fell off its pylon when I started working on the electricals in the secondary hull. When the nacelle fell off it also stripped off the self-adhesive cover, and pulled out a few extra millimetres of of wire. It was quite a challenge to feed the wire back into the nacelle and I could not refinish the cover strip smoothly. That same nacelle fell off about ten more times during remaining assembly.

All of the electrical wires come together in a central junction inside the secondary hull. I found it fiddly to thread and tie the wires through the tiny holes in the connectors. The next challenge was getting the secondary hull sidewalls and bottom of the hull to fit. I had to disassemble and reassemble the whole secondary hull a few times before I was satisfied with the fit. In the end, there was still a fairly big gap on the top of the port sidewall.

 

 

The fit at the hull top with each warp pylon was not especially good on my kit either.

It should be noted that a fair amount of brute force is required set these pieces in place, but extreme care must be taken to get all the tabs located correctly first, and to follow the sequence of the instructions to the letter. Otherwise, you will risk bending or breaking a locating tab - then you'll really be in trouble!

With the kit now assembled, I added batteries and slotted the model onto the base. I was ready to turn on the lights. Drum roll please... switch on...

Nothing.

I assumed that I had crimped a cable while I was repeatedly reassembling the nacelle and hull, or possibly disconnected something from the main junction with the force of assembly, or screwed up in some other way. However, I decided to eliminate one possible problem. I connected some loose wires to a battery, then touched them to the contacts in the bottom of the hull.

Voila! The ship lit up! The problem must have been in the base.

I dismantled the base and found that one of the connectors in the top of the base was not touching the steel strap in the vertical section. I bent the contact upward to improve contact and the lighting worked perfectly.

Construction took between four and five hours, even with the troubleshooting and self-imposed problems.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In my opinion, the Bandai 1/850 USS Enterprise kit is a fascinating example of what might become a significant direction for our hobby in the forseeable future, and not just in the realm of science fiction.

On the one hand, the quality and complexity of today's injection moulded kits is constantly rising. This is great for experienced modellers, but it must be intimidating to the new or casual hobbyist.

On the other hand, die-cast model aircraft and vehicles have mushroomed in the last few years. Many of these pre-assembled and pre-painted kits pass the test at a distance of four feet, but details and finish is still quite crude compared to their injection moulded plastic counterparts.

Imagine a company like Bandai turning its attention to, for example, modern US Navy aircraft for inspiration. How about an F-14, pre-painted and pre-marked, with perfectly applied patchy weathering and snap-fit engineering permitting completion in 3 to 4 hours.

 

 

It might not be an attractive idea to us crusty old modellers who yearn for paint vapours, procrastination and polystyrene cement; but it might be an a logical step between die-cast collectibles and conventional scale model kits.

Bandai's 1/850 scale USS Enterprise is a remarkable and ambitious model. The finish is truly spectacular even though I was frustrated by some elements of construction.

I do hope that we see perhaps a non-electrified version of this kit; plus more variants of the Enterprise (and Voyager too) from Bandai in the future.

It will be interesting to see how Bandai goes boldly where no model company has gone before!

Recommended.


P.S. My wife has been devoutly and consistently unenthusiastic towards anything related to models over the years. I can't blame her really.

However, when I trotted out Enterprise and turned on the lights, she actually said "Wow, that's great!". Even more encouraging, she immediately wanted to turn out the room lights to see how the model looked under its own illumination.

As far as I am concerned, that is an endorsement that money can't buy!


Model, Review Text and Images Copyright 2003 by Brett Green
Page Created 13 May, 2003
Last updated 09 November, 2003

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