1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887 (COMPLETED)

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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I've had a couple of these old USS Reliant kits in storage for years. A friend gave me one of the new Aztec decal sets,
so I decided to go ahead and build one of them. There are so many Reliants that I thought I'd go with something different
and build this one as the USS Saratoga NCC-1887 from the beginning of Star Trek IV.

There are some restrictions on this build. I can't spend any money, so I will only be able to use materials that I already have.
The kit I'm building is the Round2 updated version from around 2009 when they first corrected some of the details. I'm using
the second kit, an original 1995 AMT/Ertl, to experiment and try things like custom decals to see how they will look.

There are no accurate aftermarket decals with the correct registry number for the ST4 Saratoga, so I am experimenting
with printing my own. I still have a lot of really good clear waterslide decal paper left over from some previous projects, and
also a decent laser printer, so I recreated the registration markings in Adobe Illustrator.

Some of the decals are under-scaled, and this is just a test using the other kit to see how they will look.
The nacelle decal is correct size, and the saucer name/numbers are about 10-15% too small.
I'm going to print a sheet of the resized decals to use on the actual model. How do they look so far?

SaratogaDecalTest1.jpg SaratogaDecalTest2.jpg SaratogaDecalTest3.jpg

I'll post more updates Tuesday evening if conditions allow for me to paint the base white color.
 
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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

No paint yet, but the saucer halves and the pylons are assembled.

The pylon alignment is difficult on the modified Round2 kit, but I finally managed to get them straight.
Seams on the pylons and saucer were filled with Aves Apoxie Sculpt and sanded to blend them in.

Here's a photo as I was working on that:

Saratoga Pylon Seam.jpg

Today, I'll be adding the back shuttle bay parts and filling/sanding all those seams. It should be ready for paint after that.
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Yesterday I finished the shuttle bay assembly and I also put together the nacelles and part of the roll bar.

I tried to go ahead and primer the parts, but I had to strip the primer from the lower saucer afterward because large areas of it
failed to properly bond to the styrene and it was very grainy. I used Tamiya primer which is usually good, but the cans were old,
and the excessive soupy heat and humidity here probably caused at least some of the adhesion problems. Primer and base coat
painting inside the house is not possible here, so I have to do all of that work outside, which can be difficult sometimes.

I removed most of the bad primer with acetone and sanded the lower saucer. I've got some Dupli-Color Auto Primer that is almost new.
I'm going to try that instead, since I don't have enough Tamiya for a full model, and it's really overpriced for what you get anyway.

Here are some photos showing the lower saucer and the assembled shuttle bay area while I was working to remove the Tamiya primer.

Saratoga Bad Primer1.png Saratoga Bad Primer2.png Saratoga Shuttlebay 1.png

If the temperature and humidity both drop below 75, I will try again with the Dupli-Color primer this evening.
Whenever that is done, I'll paint everything with a white lacquer base coat and go over it with a light coat of
Tamiya Pearl White.
 
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division 6

Master Member
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Wash with a good de-greaser to remove mold release and oils from your hands.
Warm water and Dawn dish soap should work.
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Wash with a good de-greaser to remove mold release and oils from your hands.
Warm water and Dawn dish soap should work.
I did that, but I think it was mostly the heat/humidity that caused most of the problem.
It's high humidity here 3/4 of the time so I'll have to wait until later in the day to do any painting.
I had some similar problems with my 537 Enterprise-A, but nowhere near this bad.
 
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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

The primer and base coat are now done, but I didn't have enough time to get to the Pearl White today.

I used Krylon White Lacquer over Dupli-Color dark gray auto primer. It gives some shading to the recessed details and panel lines.
I didn't have any real issues with the Dupli-Color, but there are still a few very small imperfections in the lower saucer that I will
probably leave as they are and conceal with some light weathering when the model is finished.

Tomorrow evening, if the weather allows, I'll add a light coat of Tamiya Pearl White and start masking and airbrushing the different
detailing and accent colors with acrylic paints. If I can finish all of that and have some time, I'll try to clear coat it with Future to get
it ready to start working on the decals.

Saratoga Base Coat1.png Saratoga Base Coat2.png
 
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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

After a light coat of Tamiya Pearl White, I finished most of the detailing colors and accent colors. I painted the lower
sensor dome but forgot to get the bridge. Nothing too difficult here, just lots of careful and tedious masking with 3m
3/32" pinstripe tape and Scotch blue painter's tape. Many of the other details are provided in the Aztec set so it will
save me hours of masking and paint time later in the build.

The roll bar has a lot of little things about it that are frustrating. I have to paint the flat torpedo launcher pieces before
assembly for all the parts to fit together correctly, so there will be seam issues that have to be dealt with afterward,
and the paint will also have to be touched up with a brush around the edges of those parts to blend in. Attaching the
roll bar to the pylons is going to require a lot of extra filling, sanding, masking and repainting, mostly due to the poor
fit/alignment of the original AMT parts.

This evening I'll do the last of the small paint details I couldn't get to yesterday and airbrush the model with Future floor
wax to clear coat it for decals. I might also start working on the decals if I can find my heat gun to make sure everything
is dry.

The color of the shuttle bay trenches looks a little dark here, but it should be fine after the aztecs and other decals are in place.

Saratoga Detail Paint.png
 
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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Clear coat is finished and I was able to complete the aztec decals for the lower section and the bottom of the roll bar.
I used Micro Sol and Micro Set for the decals because it really helps to blend the decals into the surface of the model.

I'm going to add all of the decals that go over the top of other decals :facepalm after all of the aztecs are done and completely dry.

I'll have to do the decals for the upper roll bar and the upper pylon sections last so they are not damaged during the
process of trying to attach the part and filling/repainting over the seams. I didn't really want to do the lower ones beforehand,
but there isn't any other reasonable way to do it without the risk of damaging something.

Saratoga Aztec WIP.png
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

After many hours of decal application the upper hull is almost completely finished, including my custom registry decals.
I wanted to use the 'U.S.S. Saratoga' decal from the Aztec sheet, but it was too large to be screen accurate to either version
of the Saratoga. I had to use my own decal for that, but still turned out very good.

Much of the decal time was spent worrying with the various thin red pinstripes and working to make flat decals fit curved surfaces.
The pinstripes for the shuttle bay trenches came from the Reliant sheet and were too brittle and old to use. Fortunately, I was able
to save the upper registry stripes and the Starfleet emblems and the shuttle bay numbers without too much unexpected difficulty.

I have a JT decal set somewhere with all the spare pinstripes that I'll need to replace the brittle old kit decals.

I also finished the last of the detail painting for the bridge dome, impulse engines, and the metallic reddish nacelle details and the
violet/purple nacelle grills. The masking and painting for just the 4 small curved sections of metallic dark red took nearly 3 hours.

The red color for the impulse and front nacelle detail sections was a mix of red, McKenzie Polytranspar Iridescent Shimmering Red,
and a few drops of black to darken the overall color so it more closely matched the original.

The inboard nacelle grills were painted with McKenzie Polytranspar Iridescent Shimmering Violet.
I used a piece of blue 3m masking tape to trace the curve of the end of the grill, then cut it out to
mask the black curved inset. The color looks really good over black and is a great match to the
original.



Saratoga Upper Hull Finished.png Saratoga Inboard Nacelles.png Saratoga Nacelle Attached.png
 
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division 6

Master Member
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Nice work.

I have one I plan to build as the Miranda, still looking for a possible source for custom decals but will probably have to make them myself.

I'm considering trying my hand at masking and painting the while thing for practice when I get around to doing my 1/350 refit.
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Nice work.

I have one I plan to build as the Miranda, still looking for a possible source for custom decals but will probably have to make them myself.

I'm considering trying my hand at masking and painting the while thing for practice when I get around to doing my 1/350 refit.
If you just need names and registry numbers, I could probably do that. I already have a template and decal paper.
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

I'm finally done with all of the decals. I used decals from 4 different sheets for this model: The original brittle old Reliant decals, the aztec set, an old JT Graphics DS9 Saratoga, and my own custom sheet with the large name and registry numbers and the nacelle registry decals. For the pylon pennant decals I had to cut the Starfleet emblems from the Reliant decal sheet and combine it with the decal from the JT Saratoga set, which had a TNG era emblem. I individually cut out the custom registry number decals so I wouldn't have to do a lot of trial and error printing to figure out the arc and spacing of everything.

Today I will clear coat everything with Future, and probably do a dull coat with a 70/30 mix of Future and Tamiya flat base later this week. After that, I'll attach the roll bar and do all the seam, paint, and decal work for that area. When that's done, I'll mask and do another clear coat and dull coat over the roll bar seam area and the model should be finished.
 
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DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

Model is completed except for dull coat. It turned out better than I expected but there are still quite a few areas where I couldn't really get it as good as I wanted.

Saratoga Completed 1.jpg Saratoga Completed 2.jpg Saratoga Completed 3.jpg
Saratoga Completed 4.jpg Saratoga Completed 5.jpg Saratoga Completed 6.jpg

Enterprise-A + Saratoga
Enterprise + Saratoga.jpg
 

DB537

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: 1:537 Star Trek IV USS Saratoga NCC-1887

And here it is 100% Completed.

I added a dull coat, and it turned out ok, but it caused some uneven chalky color issues with the nacelle grills. Because of
that, I had to lose the purple inboard sections to fix it. Masking to repaint both colors would have damaged the surrounding
decals. If I ever build another Miranda class I will mask off those grill sections before the dull coat next time.

After the dull coat and the nacelle grill repainting, I airbrushed the entire model with a couple of very light mist coats of black
to give it a more grayish overall appearance and to tone down the contrast of the aztec panels and the various paint colors.

Last of all, I used a couple of Tamiya Weathering sets to add some light random weathering to various areas of the model.

Saratoga Completed 8.jpg
Saratoga Completed 7.jpg
 

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