Pedro's 1/350 TOS Enterprise

Discussion in 'General Modeling' started by Pedro, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    Yes folks, that's right, I'm posting yet another 1/350 Polar Lights TOS Enterprise thread! I'll try not to bore you with the work that everyone does, and will instead focus on things that I'm doing that are (I think) unique or at least good eye candy. I also want to make this post a 1 stop "what I would do differently" thread, perhaps helping anyone who will build this kit in the future through some gotchas. Wish I had written them down as I went, I've forgotten a lot of them!

    I'm using the PL light kit, primarily for the engine effects which would be hard to come up with on my own. I did make quite a few adjustments to the lighting, which I'll go over. The model is about 90% done, but I'll start at the beginning. I'll leave the gotchas list at the end bottom of this post and update as I think of things to add. So...

    Things I'd Do Differently Next Time

    • Take care with saucer bottom windows. Molding flash marred some of these so they had to be opened back up. Take note, there are windows that are visible on the INSIDE which should not be there and aren't supposed to go all the way through! Do not open these with your knife like I did.
    • Take measurements, a rubbing, some kind of record of the grid spacing before filling/priming. It's much more difficult to figure out later.
    • Light block BEFORE filling windows!
    • Apply viewscreen decals more carefully, make sure they line up with photoetch parts (or apply on top of photoetch).
    • Use cool instead of warm white LEDs on the bridge ceiling.
    • Light block clear shuttle bay parts with white paint.

    I'll start posting buildup pics and info shortly, stay tuned...
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  2. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    I started by filling the grid lines. No debate, fine pencil lines for me. Nothing to see here, lots of Bondo spot putty and Duplicolor Primer Filler. I LOVE this primer for this kind of project! Spray it on thick, wet sand with 500 grit after about 45 minutes, and save a lot of re-puttying!

    That done, it's time to think about windows. I don't like the window inserts that come with the kit. Really cool idea, but not very well executed, the fit is poor and inconsistent. I filled the windows with Envirotex Pour On epoxy, which I started using like 20 years ago in the Monogram Voyager days (never did finish that Voyager!). It's the clearest I've found, and the very long cure time lets you work out all of the bubbles more easily. A piece of scotch tape goes over the window on the outside, and I drip some resin next to the window and let it flow slowly in to minimize bubbles. I still got a lot in the corners, most were removed by working them with a toothpick. Some made it through, I poked out and re-filled those windows. The result is a perfectly flush window with a slightly matte texture perfect for lighting!

    The small round windows were instead filled with pieces of stretched clear sprue, too small for the resin trick. In the pictures you can see some of the dreaded corner bubbles.
    IMG_3627.JPG IMG_3631.JPG IMG_3632.JPG

    I foolishly did a bunch of these before light blocking, making extra work masking from the inside. I started with black spraypaint for light blocking but ended up going with foil tape over the inside of the whole ship. If I had that to do again I'd use the old standby of black then white paint.

    Next up, the bridge. Gotta go for now, but here's a spoiler...
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
    brandomack likes this.
  3. trekriffic

    trekriffic Sr Member

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    Nice work. That bridge looks sweet!
  4. blakeh1

    blakeh1 Sr Member

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    Looking forward to seeing the rest of it. That bridge is indeed awesome
  5. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. Trekriffic - I referenced your build a lot, really nice work on that one! I really like what you did with the bussard scoops and raising the LEDs. I wasn't quite brave enough for that, not very comfortable with soldering delicate stuff. ;)
  6. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    So, the bridge! After seeing a few really well done bridges on this kit this became a major focal point for me, I worked on this for probably a month. I started by taking a note from Trekriffic and using the opaque center part mated with the clear part for the control panels around the outside. I primarily did this because I wanted to do some reshaping on the center consoles and felt that it would be really difficult to see on the clear part.

    I used a sharpened small flat screwdriver as a chisel to scrape around the center consoles and captains chair to make them look raised off of the floor and better match the set. This made a big difference in the look, along with a couple little plastic bits to add missing detail on the front and the red alert light(?) on top of the console. I also cut off the terrible molded on station chairs. Why didn't Polar Lights supply the chairs as separate pieces??
    bridge1.JPG .

    The screen decals are missing the rows of smaller rectangular screens that go all the way around above the control panels. For this I shrank a graphic I found on the web and printed it in black on clear decal paper. Another big win for not a ton of work, and there's just enough room for them under the kit decals. I did pick up the Paragrafix photoetch set mainly for the bridge parts. The photoetch screens were applied over the decals, which turned out to be a bit of a problem as they didn't all line up perfectly. I fixed this later with black sharpie to fill in the resulting gaps.

    New chairs were made from styrene rod. I filed off the side of the rod at an angle, then sanded that flat angle into a curve to form the seat and shape the back. Brass rod forms the base. These are tiny, my eyes hurt!

    Then on to painting, installation of railings, etc. I fashioned the turbolift doors from slices of the light blocking bussard parts from the photoetch kit, they're the perfect width. The last photo shows the piece lit from below by a flashlight. Looking good!
    bridge3.JPG bridge5.JPG bridge6.JPG bridge7.JPG

    Lastly, after test fitting this into the B/C deck it became clear that there's some kind of power outage crisis, we need Scotty, the bridge is too dark! I decided to fix this with 4 small SMD LEDs installed in the ceiling surround. I picked up pre-wired warm whites on Ebay since they're so hard to solder. Used my dremel to grind out recesses for them and wired them up. I had to play with resistors to get the brightness right and not overpower the backlit controls. If I had this to do again I'd use cool white, but it looks pretty good. I ended up diffusing these with thin styrene (sorry, no pic). These run on 12V and plug into one of the spare slots on the saucer board.
    bridge_lights.JPG bridge_lit.JPG

    Ahh, much better! Next up is the tiny crew...

    I decided to try to approximate this scene with the photoetch figures:

    I selected appropriate figures, thickened them a tad with white glue (wish I had done more!), and painted them under a magnifying glass. I tried to go so far as putting the collars and starfleet logos on them, some came out better than others. :)


    Just Captain Kirk took probably an hour to bend into an appropriately confident Kirk-ey pose, but I'm quite pleased with how they turned out! Everyone is here, I think there are 13 figures total on the bridge. Poor Sulu and Checkov had their lower legs amputated to fit, but they didn't complain.
    IMG_4292.JPG IMG_4293.JPG IMG_4687.JPG
    IMG_4694.JPG IMG_4695.JPG IMG_4691.JPG
    IMG_4696.JPG IMG_4693.JPG

    Thanks for looking!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
    Wedge Antilles and jah5150 like this.
  7. Bones_68

    Bones_68 Sr Member

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    That looks cool! Amazing how much detail you managed to pack into such a small space.
  8. rbeach84

    rbeach84 Sr Member

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    R/ Robert
  9. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    I finally have some time to post another update. This work was done some time ago, fixing up some misc details on the kit.

    The intercoolers are molded rather badly considering the time that went into designing this kit. The ones that sit inside the nacelles are fine, but the ribs on the 4 on the rear of the engines have an ugly profile, presumably molded that way to overcome draft issues. Pretty easy to fix, if a bit time consuming. I sanded off the offending ridges and replaced with .010 Plastruct styrene rod. Used up my whole stash! But the do look much better. Original on the left, new on the right:
    intercooler1.JPG intercooler2.JPG

    I had some worry about the 3 lights at the rear of the secondary hull as well. Dry-fitting revealed that this would be one heck of a seam, and the 3 little holes would likely be lost in the filling. And there was clearly no way that the kit clear part insert was going to work. So I came up with a way to move the seam off to the side of the holes. This is a piece of a sprue runner label from some other kit (you know, the flat piece with the kit name or whatever on it). I cut out a rectangle where the lights should be and attached this bit of sprue with 3 holes drilled in it to one side of the hull. I then lubed the other side up with chapstick as a release and built up the other hull half with a mix up CA and cornstarch, making a tight fit with less filler to add later. I'm not describing this well, but here are the pics so you can see what I mean.
    taillight1.JPG taillight3.JPG taillight2.JPG

    You can also see above the mess of the inside shuttle bay walls, which I had to grind the heck out of to get the bay and lighting to fit! It's a mess in there but you don't see it after the model is together. A sanding drum in the dremel was the main tool used here, there plastic really is quite thick and you can get away with removing a lot.

    And speaking of the shuttle bay, here it is! Fit issues aside, I really like this part of the model. But the light kit is inadequate for the job. I ended up scrapping the light harness and using mostly my own white LEDs (note that the individual LEDs that come with the kit are very yellowish compared to other warm white lights). All the LEDs were ground down as much as possible with my dremel, you can grind right down to the little metal innards and get a pretty thin light. I also ground away some areas of the clear side wall parts and pretty much thinned the whole thing to get it to fit better. I used magnet wire for some of the LEDs as it's thin and space is at a premium, particularly at the back where the bundles end up coming together. This is actually 2 circuits, again using a spare plug on the board. I have 8 LEDs in the bay:
    - 2 fore and 2 aft on the sides plus one on the back for the windows
    - 1 fore and 1 aft on the top for the ceiling (cool white for contrast with the windows
    - 1 under for the aft running lights
    - 1 on top for the rear dome and 3 running lights on the spine
    shuttlebay6.JPG shuttlebay1.JPG shuttlebay5.JPG
    shuttlebay4.JPG shuttlebay3.JPG shuttlebay2.JPG
    I also put a couple photoetch figures in the back window with a faux wall behind them. I like the added 3d effect of the figures instead of silhouette "shadow casters".

    Light blocking was done with paint and some stick on vinyl. If I had it to do again I'd light block with a base of white first to make things easier. Paint and decals are standard issue, went with gloss for the floor because it looked cool. I did add a few decals from the spares box to simulate some of the signage seen on the studio model. The hull does fit around it, just barely. Frankly I wish they had made the whole thing 10% smaller so it fit without all the extra hassle! But I'm happy with the result. :)

    shuttlebay7.JPG shuttlebay8.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  10. blakeh1

    blakeh1 Sr Member

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    Simply amazing.

    Must resist urge to start modeling Trek stuff
  11. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    Posting these little episode bits makes it seem like such a quicker project, I swear this model has been tons of work! ;) Anyway, she's in the painting stage now. Because I bought a craft cutter recently I thought I'd have a go at cutting my own vinyl masks for the windows and markings. I found that my cutter (Silhouette Quickuts) isn't really precise enough for cutting out the NCC-1701 markings. For whatever reason I tend to end up with less than perfect 90 and 45 degree angles, most likely as it's moving while turning corners no matter what settings I try. So I gave up on painting those (the real model had decals anyway!). I did however cut out all the window and striping masks from vinyl, which worked great. The window masks have been on for at least 2-3 months and buried under lots of heavy paint coats, but still peel off without difficulty. But, I'm getting ahead of myself...

    After masking all the windows I primed everything with Tamiya grey spray bomb. The base color is a mix of Tamiya XF-12 and flat white. The kit suggests "lighten slightly", but kept pouring in the white, I think it ended up about 70/30 grey/white. Even at this ratio I feel it could be a little lighter but I'm happy with the color overall.

    After spraying everything I drew the grid lines on the saucer with a 2H pencil, sharpened every other line. The 2H gave me much finer lines than I was able to get otherwise. These were lightly oversprayed with the base color to lighten them. Sounds simple, but there was much overspraying, re-drawing, wet sanding overspray, etc to get them to the level I was happy with. Apparently I'm a greasy fellow if the fingerprints on the model are any indicator!

    Panel lines
    After overspray

    Then I started masking off various markings/striping. Little flaws were fixed after with a fine brush. I actually painting the markings on the bottom twice, had to sand off the first try as the paint went on too thick and created noticable steps between colors. Second try I did a white base coat, then hull color, then red/yellow/grey to reduce stepping.

    markings1.JPG markings2.JPG markings3.JPG markings4.JPG

    Next up was the rust ring. Masked and airbrushed with various shades, then lightly oversprayed with the hull color. Too much overspray, so I wet sanded some of with 500 grit, then had to re-draw the panel lines in that area.

    rustring1.JPG rustring2.JPG rustring3.JPG

    Next post I'll talk about some of the major accidents I've had to fix. :)
  12. blakeh1

    blakeh1 Sr Member

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    Those panels lines look great wit that overspray. Helps tone them down and look more in scale
  13. glorbes

    glorbes Active Member

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    Wow. Amazing detail on such a tiny scale. The bridge and shuttle bay look fantastic,
  14. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! Ironic I think that the first time I've ever had to resort to a magnifying glass in modeling is on a rather huge model. :)
  15. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    I said I'd post about accidents but that's no fun. Here are some pics of the weathering I've done so far, might do a bit more on the secondary hull. I tried as best as I could to replicate the streaking found on the studio model. This was all done by airbrush, mostly very very thin brown or dark grey/black paint. Oh, and the strip on the neck is a custom mix of XF-12 color with some dark grey. What do you think, more weathering on the secondary hull? How about the saucer?

    saucer1.JPG saucer2.JPG saucer3.JPG saucer4.JPG hull1.JPG
  16. ivanj05

    ivanj05 New Member

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    I'd leave the weathering alone, I think you've hit just the right blance between just enough and too much. Amazing detail work on the bridge and shuttlebay.
  17. Pedro

    Pedro Well-Known Member

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    Some info about the lighting. As I said, I primarily relied on the kit for lighting, with some modifications. The dorsal lighting is a mess if you install as on the kit, I got much more even results by putting the two LED strips facing down/up into the neck, much less hot spots. Due to the close proximity of the LEDs to the windows in this part of the model relative to the rest of the hull, I added some extra diffusion material in the form of a cut up cat litter package (milk carton would be about the same). Unlit windows were back painted black then covered with foil tape to light block. I did slightly tint the resin on the yellow window, you can't really see it in these pics though.

    lighting1.JPG lighting2.JPG

    I had a heck of a time getting enough light up into the bridge control panels to compete with the overhead lights! I finally ended up with 4 LED strips in a tight little array as pictured here:

    Here's one that puzzled me for a while. I wanted a solid on light on the saucer rim navigation light, with blinkies on top and bottom (not sure if this is accurate or not, but...). I came up with using a 1/16" acrylic rod as a light transmitter, like a fiber optic. It's not as bright as I'd like, but it does do the job. Because of the less than ideal light transmission I had to but the source end right up against and LED. The shaft of the rod is wrapped in foil tape to keep the blinkie light from bleeding in.

    Now the disasters I mentioned! First, due to pure negligence the ship took a pretty good fall off of a chair. Keptin, look out! She's pretty durable, all that happened was cracking of the filler putty around the neck and one nacelle pylon. Whew! But the real disaster came when I attempted something foolish. When clamping the secondary hull halves I accidentally pushed in one of the rear running light domes. I thought ok, no biggie, I'll drill out the back and push the clear part back into place, right? Yeah, until you drill through the LED and kill the light. :p

    I ended up cutting a hole in the bottom and threading a new LED through the hull to the board at the front. This was NOT EASY! Do not attempt it if you can avoid! The surface repair is no biggie, however threading the wire through the jumble in there was not nice, but I pulled it off. Here are some pics to prove it. ;)
    repair1.JPG repair2.JPG repair3.JPG

    Well, that brings me up to about where I am today. Working on the base, which will be a combo of the kit supplied part, some lit retro-ish buttons, and a wood plaque for more stability. Then the last of the details and this baby is done!

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