When the Ares first made its debut apearance in the Axanar Prelude film, I was impressed. Here was a starship design that checked all the boxes. As a “crossover” ship, it brought elements from the reimagined Trek back to the Prime universe and backdated them to look believable. Its design was familiar, with a few easter eggs for those who know to look, but different enough to be its own graceful vessel. While some folks have argued that its looks are too modern for the pre-TOS universe, it’s hard to deny that the ship as a whole is both memorable and beautiul…..and absolutely worthy of a large-scale model!
When the Axanar team announced that Starcrafts would be working with them to bring these models to life, I was thrilled. As a long-time Starcrafts fan, I knew the kits would be top notch. As I’ve already covered in my mini-model review and my D-6 review, the level of workmanship on the Axanar models has been superb…and this large-scale kit of the USS Ares is simply outstanding. The kit is of course no longer available through the defunct Axanar store, but it can still be found if you email Starcrafts directly and check availability. I managed to grab this kit at the same time as the D-6, and I’m happy to finally get a decent review of it. So — no more chatter! Let’s have a look at the kit!
The box is the standard heavy white Starcrafts box. If you have seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Starcrafts does a good job keeping the model well protected with styrofoam peanuts, and the instructions/decals are tucked down at the bottom safe and flat. For this kit, you get two hull halves, warp engine halves (mine were still on resin sprues) a nice heavy base, and a bag of assorted smaller parts.
The “instructions” for the kit are really a set of detailed painting pages. The model itself is very straightforward and needs very little info to put together. Those few questions that might come up (such as what direction the nacelle pylons go!) are easy to see in the printouts. For clarification, the pylon vents are closer to one end than the other. The end that has more space goes towards the hull, the end that the vents are closest to attaches to the engines. 🙂
The decals for the basic model are quite nice. It comes with two ship names, the Ares and the Allegiance (thanks to George Takei‘s promotion of the movie!) and a variety of small details. One of my favorite decals is the glowey bits that go behind the bussard collectors. Look at these things! At first I thought they would be way too small, but I didn’t take into account the lensing effect of the resin dome. When you place the part over the decal, it looks beautiful!
Now, let’s look at the kit itself:
The resin on this model is cleanly molded with minimal parts lines. The engines had the most flash on them, and most of that was easy to remove with a sharp knife and a file. The holes for the impulse engines on the main hull were sealed over with resin flash, but this area was also quickly cleaned with a small file. The kit is MOSTLY built with lighting in mind. Windows are all very easy to drill out, and the saucer windows even have channels routed into the inner halves so fiber optic line can be run easily. Large glowing bits, such as the nacelle domes and the impulse engines, have been cast in clear to make lighting easier. The only challenge you’ll have in lighting this model is the nacelle pylons. These have been cast in a special high-strength resin that resists warping. This feature is fantastic since those engines are a bit heavy, but the drawback is obvious: you’ll need to route out some channels to run wiring into the engines. Since there is some beautiful vent detail on the parts, the only place to run said wires is along either side of the pylon. Challenging. Not impossible.
Exterior detail looks great. The warp engines in particular are a nice combination of NuTrek design and what you might imagine the classic TOS engines looked like before the TOS ships came around. I also like the simple deflector antenna. Even though it’s blue in the show, I think I’m going to light mine with a light bronze and a orange LED in the back. I’d like it to be a little more like the TOS ships in that respect, but hey — we all get to build our kits the way we damn well please!
A quick dry-fit of the model gave me a heads up for a couple potential problems. First off, the main hull halves warped ever so slightly — probably in transit from USPS. This is an easy fix with a little hot water and some very highly technical wooden clamping devices. Clothespins to the laypeople in the group. The impulse engines are very small and a little fiddly to mount, but the old “slow and steady” adage will serve you well in getting these placed. My copy had a little gap where the secondary hulls meet up which will require some putty if I want to light block it, but this is a minor nitpick that is very easily fixed.
Unlike so many resin models, this Starcrafts kit is built hollow with lighting in mind. You’ll remember I mentioned channels routed out to light the rim windows. Here’s a good look at them, along with the rest of the interior. There’s plenty of room here to mount a control board if you choose, and those big hollow engines practically scream for some lighting effects!
All in all, I’d call this another WIN for Starcrafts. I’m going to go a few steps farther and mount a Tenacontrols 1/1000 scale lighting board in this model, so I can get the spinning effects for the bussards. This will also give me some nice blinking nav lights as well. I’ll review that in a separate post in the future.
Whether you choose to light this kit up or leave it as a static display, the USS Ares is going to be a great addition to your 1/1000 scale fleet. If you have one painted up already, please send me some pictures of your finished kit! I’m getting started on mine tonight!