Dozens of model Enterprises have been issued over the years, but how does Revell's match up?
To modelmaking fans of Star Trek, Revell will be an unfamiliar name, yet they have produced several kits from the franchise since the mid-1990s. With kits of the USS Voyager, a Klingon battlecruiser, and two different varieties of the USS Enterprise. But who are they?
Getting to Know Revell Models
General modeling enthusiasts will know of Revell USA, a fairly large US model company who were merged with Monogram in 1986. While Revell USA produced a lot of American models, they also had a German subsidiary who operated for the European market. In 1995, Revell-Monogram beat regular Trek kit producers AMT to the rights to produce kits based on the then-brand-new series Star Trek: Voyager. They produced three kits from the show – the Voyager herself, a Kazon ship, and a Maquis Raider – which were marketed under the Monogram name in the US and the Revell name in Europe. Six years later, Revell Germany debuted in Europe only two kits purportedly from the original 1966 series, the Enterprise and a Klingon D7 battlecruiser (two years later they would also release a kit of the Kelvin-verse Enterprise from Star Trek Into Darkness, to date the only available model of that ship).
I recently built the Revell Germany “Classic Star Trek” USS Enterprise, which is described as 1/600, meaning it measures around 19 inches. This is somewhat of a controversial kit amongst European modelers, mainly because there are some differences between the accuracy of the kit, its shape, and its markings versus the original 1966 vessel. The main bone of contention seems to be the gridlines on the saucer section, which have always been a complaint from modelers especially as the original studio model of the Enterprise had a smooth surface. However, something that many are unaware is that this model is not based on the original Enterprise model but Greg Jein's model as seen in the episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine entitled “Trials and Tribble-ations”, produced for the 30th anniversary of the franchise.
For the episode, Jein built a studio model that had gridlines as well as specific colors and markings and he did the same with the D7, with Revell's companion model featuring hull details that makes it feel like an intermediate model between the D7 and the K't'inga from Star Trek – The Motion Picture. On the actual model, the gridlines are fairly deeply scored, if perhaps not the “trenches” some describe. Some modelers have made a point of using putty to fill in the gridlines and then sanded it over to make a smooth surface, but I decided to leave it. From the beginning, I wanted to make my own version of the Enterprise that I always had in my brain from various showings of the show over years and years, as I always try and build to my preference.
Building the Revell Enterprise
I decided the Enterprise I would portray would be the one at the end of the five-year mission. Coming home, ready for a refit. To me, this means the outer hull would be representative of the challenges experienced, so it would require a fair bit of weathering. Not quite the amount you'd use on the Millennium Falcon, but certainly not anywhere near shining. This is a starship that has been through the wringer more than once, so I wanted to see evidence of that.
On a basic level, it is not a difficult kit to build out of the box. Certainly, if I wanted to make something truly close to the studio model, whether it be from 1966 or 1996, I would have done a lot more filling and sanding but as it went there were only minimum modifications needed for everything but the saucer section, where the fitting of the top and bottom halves was awkward to the point where I didn't really get it to a point where it was anything more than satisfactory despite a fair bit of sanding. I also had to enlarge several holes in the nacelle halves in order to be able to fit the intercooler fins and the field shaping coils (the boxes on the underside near the front bussard collectors).
For painting, I used a mixture of Tamiya and Citadel paints after priming it with Tamiya Light Grey Surface Primer. For the various grey shades, I actually looked up the work the Smithsonian did on restoring the original series studio model and tried to match them the best I could with what I had available at the time (which were Citadel paints). The shades of grey I used were Mechanicus Standard Grey, Dawnstone, Administration Grey, and Slaanesh Grey. I also used Citadel's Hashut Copper for the deflector array, as well as Tamiya's Orange, Green, and Red Clear, Flat Black, Flat White.
The decals went on fine, although I was not particularly satisfied with the registry numbers on the underside of the saucer, as they were a little too shiny which meant you could see the clear between the characters. The landing gear triangles also look very basic, and as a point look just like decals and not a part of the ship. However, they all went on well and were not difficult to be manipulated. My only issue is that their placement was different compared to the actual original Enterprise, but again I don't know whether or not this is something that was different on Jein's model. For weathering, I used a combination of the soot and rust colors from Tamiya's Weathering Master B set, along with the Flat Black and a black Sharpie.
Overall this is a decent kit if you want a classic Enterprise that's not going to break the bank, especially at a fairly large scale. Revell also does a version that comes with a lighting kit, which would make the model even more impressive. I think if you're not wanting something slavishly accurate to the 1966 model, this is certainly worth it for the price.